Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts

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My blog has stayed pretty stagnant lately but it's certainly not indicative of my kitchen! I've used (no joke) three bags of flour in as many days. We've been busy and enjoyed Christmas. My KitchenAid, Ms. Empire Red, got a new boyfriend for Christmas. Don't worry, I'm still in love with my KitchenAid but I am excited to have the Bosch for bread making. I've always felt a little guilty about overusing my dearest mixer on big batches of cinnamon rolls or brioche! Yesterday, after all the commotion died down, I made a big batch of wheat bread, rolls, a batch of orange rolls and a batch of cinnamon rolls. My Tall Man, Mr. Carbohydrate himself, is enjoying my present too.

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So about this French Fridays with Dorie recipe. It's really simple- some sugar, spices, nuts, and a egg white. I had my son do the whole thing (with a little direction) and he had fun and enjoyed the final product. Get the recipe from Dorie's wonderful book here. I'm going to try another sweet cinnamon version next and soon, because I think these would be great for any party (or to snack on around the house, what we did!)

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I have lots of yummy recipes to post and hope to be back soon. Merry Christmas from my house to yours!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Apple Orange Holiday Cupcakes

Apple Orange Holiday Cupcakes
Last week at a Christmas party, my girlfriend and I were laughing at another friend's ridiculous food aversion. "No way will I eat onions, they're like tapeworms!" she repeated and we laughed. "Come on, everyone knows onions are nasty." Another chimed in against onions and added another equally repulsive (to her) food- tomatoes. Natalie and I just had to look at each other and laugh. When she said, "Well if you don't like onions or tomatoes I don't think I could make you anything for dinner" I had to agree. I can't imagine never eating those delicious foods again (come on, lasagna, best food of them all) but do understand the ridiculous food aversion.

Apple Orange Holiday Cupcakes
My number one, can't do it food is coconut. No way on the texture (I'll refrain from posting what I identify it with since this is a food blog after all) and the flavor (sunblock? Apply not eat, thank you!) So when I saw this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from Cobbler du Monde was an Apple Coconut cake I knew that wouldn't do. For a minute I even thought about growing up and making it with coconut since it was for my husband's coworkers anyway, but it turns out there isn't even any coconut in my house, which makes since considering I do all the shopping! So I just upped the apple, added some orange zest and juice to sub for the rum, and made it my own with a little more Greek yogurt (regular plain yogurt would work just fine, too) and a little less oil. Of course since I was already off the radar of the original recipe I added some orange zested frosting, why not? They are cupcakes, after all, and try as I may to grow up in my food preferences, frosting will always trump cake around here. Since they felt a little muffin-y I went light on the frosting, for me anyways. Really though, the orange, cinnamon, and vanilla pair so nicely with the apple and my house just smells like Christmas. Not bad for about 15 minutes of work (20 if you count the dishes). See the real deal with the other TWD bakers and come back later this week for a fun giveaway.

Apple Orange Holiday Cupcakes
Apple Orange Holiday Cupcakes
from Anne Strawberry
loosely adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

1 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
3 apples, peeled and cored (a mix of whatever you have on hand, I used galas and granny smiths)
zest and juice of one orange 
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
6 ounces plain yogurt (I used Greek Gods)
5 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350. Line about 18 muffin tins with paper wrappers, set on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the dry team (flour, powder, soda, cinnamon, salt).

Peel and cut the apples into a small dice (I like to use my apple peeler). Zest the orange and then squeeze the juice from one half into the bowl- combine to prevent browning.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together for a minute or so. Add in the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and mix until nicely combined. Fold in the dry ingredients with a silicone spatula, being careful not to overbeat so the cake stays tender. Lightly mix in the apples and scoop into prepared muffin tins using an ice cream scoop.

Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool and frost with my favorite frosting, whipped cream, or apple jelly.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies 
Did you know Christmas is almost here? I'm sure that, unlike me, you're on the ball and all ready. I actually made these brownies for a Halloween trunk or treat party (as evidenced by the styrofoam plate and hastily shot picture) and haven't had a chance to post yet. My little chickens keep getting sick and like nice children they are sharing their germs with their parents, so we've all been a little crazy! Today I finally got the lights on the tree and my little man is excited to cover it (or the lower half anyway) with ornaments. We made some homemade cinnamon ornaments that were quick and fun- I can't wait to share them with you next week. My house smells wonderful. I love Christmas time even though it's plenty busy!

It feels like we have some get together every spare minute in December. These brownies are the perfect accompaniment because they come together in a flash (five or ten minutes, really, and you can taste the brownie batter along the way so you won't mind the time, or is that just me?) I swirl in some softened cream cheese and a can of Lucky Leaf cherry pie filling and they actually feel fancy, are super easy, and taste SO good. I didn't used to like cherry pie filling. I'm not sure what I was thinking there, but now that I'm a "grown up" I've changed my ways. Lucky Leaf is also having a recipe contest that you can read about here. I have a few more cans of their yumminess in my pantry that I'm going to experiment with. Let me know if you enter- and you should, there's a prize and a trip to their bake off!

Cherry Cheesecake Brownies
from Anne Strawberry

1 box of brownie mix, prepared in a 9 x 13 pan lined with parchment or generously greased- I like Betty Crocker
1 can Lucky Leaf Cherry Pie Filling
1 stick (8 ounces) Neufchatel (reduced fat) cream cheese, softened (regular cream cheese works just fine too, use what you have!)
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350.

Make the brownies as directed on the box and pour into a pan lined with parchment so you can lift the brownies out later. Spoon the pie filling evenly over the top.

In a mixer or bowl, combine cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla until perfectly smooth. Using a large spoon, divide it over the brownie batter in random piles. Use a butter knife to swirl everything together and bake for about a half an hour or until they reach your desired "doneness".

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Best Ever Lemon Cake

Lemon Cake 

{printable recipe here}
Did you have a great Thanksgiving? I hope so! Ours went a lot different than planned. We were going to go to Utah to see family but decided against it due to bad weather. We ended up staying home and I was happy to relax. Since we made our plans so late in the game, dinners were already planned so we were going to scoot on in to dinner with my tall man's family and a later dinner with my cousins and not really worry about cooking at all. My husband left first thing to play football with the guys from Church and while the kids and I were getting ready to go meet them at the park there was a knock at the door- my tall man with a nasty dislocated finger. Our plans went out the window and we spent some time with the nice, patient people at urgent care and the er. The doctors laughed about how many guys were in with football injuries, my husband said over and over again, while he sat with a throbbing, tangled finger for a few hours, "I'm never playing sports again" (believe that when I see it), and we ate turkey sandwiches while we waited on xrays. It was memorable to say the least.

Thanksgiving Baby StrawberryBaby Strawberry at Thanksgiving Dinner
We did make it to our dinners and had awesome food and better company. The rest of the week flew and here we are, December already. I've been working on a handmade felt advent calendar (like the pottery barn kids one here) and it's not done yet! My poor, hungry husband has been eating sandwiches and breakfast for dinner while I stitch away as often as I can. Good thing my kids are little and don't know one day from another. I did squeeze in this lemon cake and it's a winner. It's made with a mix (once again, half of my readers just unsubscribed and the other half are finally thinking about making one of my recipes) and ridiculously delicious. The recipe comes from a Church friend, Cyndi Reis, who is an amazing cook. She brought us dinner after Baby Strawberry was born and this dessert was the start of the show. We offered to share with my brother in law who was over but after we tried the cake we realized we shouldn't have shared, if you know what I mean! I knew I needed to the get the recipe right away and truly value my photocopied recipe cards Cyndi brought over. I figured it was time to put the recipe on my blog so I wouldn't risk it being lost/colored on/cut into pieces by my little preschooler.

Really, try this cake, even if you're against mixes. The cake is moist and flavorful. I'm all about the frosting and can usually take or leave the cake but this lemon cake is really better than frosting (I can't believe I said that!) It's so good I might have to put down my sewing and make it again. And I forgot to post the winner for the CSNStores Giveaway- Naomi. Shoot me an email (it's on the top right).There's lots of baking to be done with Christmas right around the corner. I'll be back soon!

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Cyndi's Lemon Cake
recipe adapted from Cyndi Reis

{printable recipe here}

1 boxed lemon cake mix (I like Betty Crocker)
1 small box instant lemon pudding
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla (that and the zest are my addition and optional but recommended!)
4 eggs

Combine ingredients in stand mixer and mix for five minutes on medium. Pour into ungreased cake pan (about 9 x 13 or two 8-9" rounds) and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare glaze:

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup orange juice
3 cups powdered sugar

Warm butter, water and juice in microwave for about a minute, or until they are just warm and will nicely combine. Stir well and pour over powdered sugar. Mix until smooth.

Prick cake all over with a fork and pour glaze on top. Enjoy!