December 28, 2011

TWD's last- Thumprint Cookies (and Christmas)

Oh my how the time has flown. This week is the LAST Tuesdays with Dorie recipe and the end of the year! I remember the shock I felt at how heavy the book felt when I first opened it and the end has come. Since I joined TWD I have gained the confidence to try new recipes, make substitutions and adaptations, burned through a million boxes of butter, and made a lot of new friends. I'm so grateful to Laurie and Dorie and all the other helpers along the way for such a wonderful experience (and a million favorite recipes).

Dorie chose this weeks recipe. These cookies came together in less than five minutes- butter, peanut butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a little flour. Scoop and roll in egg whites and then chopped nuts (I used cashews since I had those on had), make a little 'thumbprint' and bake. Dorie suggests filling them with jam but I piped in some melted white chocolate. The end product is peanut buttery, crunchy and delicious (albeit rich!) My kids LOVED these and I am glad to have some extra dough in the freezer for another day. See the rest of the bunch here.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! We sure did. Baby Strawberry and I love her new play kitchen Nana built. It's shiny and red and came complete with her own KitchenAid (what more could a girl ask for?) Well, I do hope Santa drops off Baking with Julia a little late for me. I think my kitchen wouldn't be complete without a Dorie recipe each week- though there are certainly plenty of Baking recipes in permanent rotation around here!

December 20, 2011

TWD- Apple Pie and Classic Brownies

 Oh I can't believe Tuesdays with Dorie is coming to an end! I've loved this event so much, meeting new people, trying new recipes, learning new skills and gaining the confidence to tackle any random recipe. This week's assignment was a rewind- trying out an old favorite or something you didn't get to previously. Like so many of you we are busy busy this time of year, with lots of opportunities to bake and limited time to photo and blog! This week my tall man needed a treat to take to work so I made Dorie's classic brownies. I frosted them with a simple chocolate frosting and sprinkled on silver sanding sugar. I cut them into individual portions and put them in cupcake liners- they looked festive and were easy to serve out (a win win!) Of course I don't have a picture so here is a previous version as well as a link to the recipe.

Sunday I made Dorie's All American All Delicious Apple Pie for a family birthday party. I didn't want to serve anything particularly Christmas-y since it seems like December birthdays get ripped off pretty often! I used some new pie crust cutters a friend gave me for my birthday to quick and easily decorate the pie top with flowers. They were simple to use and super cute (and the ones I found on Amazon have a strawberry, I might need those eventually!) The recipe itself is perfection. I've made this pie a million times and while I think there are a few Dorie inspired recipes that are more so my favorite, this pie must be one of the true favs from the sheer number of times it's been baked. Don't miss Dorie's buttery, delicious pie crust (my husband's favorite!) I always double the recipe and freeze a couple of disks of pie crust so I can pull them out and have a delicious, homemade dessert without the time or mess.

See more of this week's Dorie recipe's here and have a very Merry Christmas. We'll be eating ham, rolls, potatoes, green beans, and all of our favorite fixing on Christmas day. I haven't decided on a dessert yet but if you have a family favorite or traditional Christmas dessert please do share- I'd love some ideas!

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
3/8 cup very cold (frozen is even better) Crisco (plain, not butter flavored), cut into 4 pieces
About 1/2 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing—what you're aiming for is to have pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley.

Pulsing the machine on and off, add 3 tablespoons of the water—add a little water and pulse once; add some more water and pulse again; and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. If you've got big pieces of butter, that's fine. The dough is ready and should be scraped out of the work bowl and on to a smooth work surface. (be careful not too add too much water- if the dough looks dry after adding most of the water, pinch it with your hands to check if it's coming together, and finish combining it by hand)

Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough at least 1 hour before rolling. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

December 12, 2011

Gingerbread Houses (& a winner)

Our 2010 Gingerbread Houses
I'd like to thank everyone who entered the Chex Mix Party Giveaway from MyBlogSpark! I loved hearing about everyone favorite neighbor gifts to give and receive (check out some of the awesome suggestions in the comments here!) The winner of the giveaway (thanks to is Laraine Eddington!  Get me your address and we'll have it shipped out to you! She has the funniest blog, check it out!
This is my little man's gingerbread house from last year- a small milk carton + graham crackers + royal icing (don't forget all the candy you can pile on!) My family makes these every year and it's a ton of fun for all ages! Definitely a favorite Christmas tradition. We are staying busy around here and enjoy the excitement and fun little kids bring to the holidays. They're already pretty hyped and the big day is still a bit away. It's going to be sporadic around here as usual but we're enjoying this special season with our families and that's the best part of all.

PS Need Cookie ideas? Millions here!

December 7, 2011

Chex Mix Neighbor Gifts

Have you made your neighbor gifts yet? Growing up my mom always gave out boxes of white chocolate covered oreos but I haven't gotten into a groove of my own yet. We usually make cookies or something easy to do with the kids. I was really excited when MyBlogSpark contacted me about doing a Check Party Mix-Change as a fresh take on a cookie exchange. Our group made three kinds of Chex Mix from the recipes provided in the party kit and (they have a crazy huge list!)
Chex Caramel Chocolate Drizzles- I added Chocolate Cheerios and Dried Cherries (yummy!)

Then we drizzled on a bunch of chocolate for added deliciousness (can you tell this one was my favorite?)

 My Tall Man's favorite- half of the Chex is covered in white chocolate, the other in peanut butter chips, tossed together with Reese's Pieces and Cashews (that I should have toasted- but remember, it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful delicious and this went fast anyways!)

Last but now least- Muddy Buddies. I've never made this before but after I read the recipe I had a little Joey from Friends moment (remember with Rachel's Shepherd's Pie Trifle?) Chocolate? Good. Peanut butter? Good. Powdered Sugar? Good. No wonder I've always liked this stuff.

We loved making these different varieties of Chex Mix together and it was a fast, fun, and delicious activity- no stress, hardly any mess, and something for everyone. I have a gift pack to giveaway to one reader courtesy of MyBlogSpark. The winner will recieve a $20 giftcard to buy ingredients and decorations to go with the 2 boxes of Chex Mix cereal, recipes, and takeout containers to share your treats in. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment letting me know your favorite Christmas neighbor gift to give (or receive!) US Residents only and giveaway will be open until Saturday night.

"Disclosure: The Chex Party Mix-Change product, information, and giveaway have been provided by Chex through MyBlogSpark."Opinions are my own.

December 6, 2011

TWD- Bittersweet Brownies

Brownies are my favorite treat to bake. The batter (delicious!), the ease, the endless variations-  they're a bakers dream. Plus, who doesn't love a brownie (besides my non-chocolate eating husband, but he still loves the smell!) A few weeks ago I made Dorie's Bittersweet Brownies- using semi-sweet chocolate of course. This recipe, chosen by one of my favorite bloggers, Leslie, is the last brownie recipe in the book for Tuesdays with Dorie. I can't believe it! See the recipe on her blog here. Brownies make the perfect neighbor gift and there are a million types to choose from. Here are a few of my other favorites from Dorie and you can see a bunch more in my brownie category.

Come back tomorrow for another great neighbor gift idea (Chex Mix three ways) and a special giveaway from MyBlogSpark!

Classic Brownies (four ways)

Brownie Buttons

York Peppermint Brownies

Katharine Hepburn Brownies

French Chocolate Brownies

 Quintuple Chocolate Brownies