Yum Yum!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Easter Sugar Cookies

Who's ready for Easter treats?!

I love this recipe out of my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and they recommend a frosting that is okay, but I think it is too thin and runny for what I wanted. But it had been a long time since I'd made them and I couldn't remember what frosting I had used before that I loved, so I paired it with one out of my new Hershey's book (great idea by the way!). Later of course I remembered the recipe I used before, they just call it by a weird name and put it in the sauce section instead of the frosting section so I wasted a lot of time looking for it.
As I've been going through recipes lately I've realized there are a lot of things I would like to go in a change about my recipe books, just to make them more user friendly. But, since I can't do that, I tend to write little notes on the pages, so next time, I'll remember what frosting recipe to use!

Alrighty, cookie time!

I swear I must have looked at sprinkles every time I was at the store this month, but in the end I decided not to buy sprinkles, but to make my own colored sugar. I am so happy I did! It was fun, easy, pretty, and yummy too. I actually watched a tutorial on you tube and I was glad I did before I got started because I picked up a few tips I would have never known.

For the sugar, I started them Saturday morning(and used them Sunday) because it needs time to dry before you use it. I added a few drops of color to 1/4 cup sugar and shook it up, then set out to dry.




Sugar Cookies

2/3 C butter
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour

1. In a large mixing bowl beat butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl. Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat in flour, you may have to stir in the last of it by hand. Divide dough in half, cover and chill dough about 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

2. Preheat oven to 375. On a lightly floured surface, roll half the dough at a time. Cut with cookie cutters and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 7-8 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms barely brown.




Once the cookies had cooled I frosted them...And I actually cut this recipe in half because I didn't have that much powdered sugar and it turned out to be the perfect amount for my cookies.

Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting

1/3 C butter
4 C powdered sugar
3-4 Tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat butter with mixer until creamy. Slowly add half the powdered sugar, beating until well blended. Slowly beat in milk and vanilla. Gradually add remaining sugar and beat until smooth. Add additional milk, if necessary, until frosting is desired consistency.



And a quick look at my helper...

To top the cookies with my colored sugar, I just plopped them face down and gently patted them down.

Ta-Da! Beautiful! Magnificent! So perfect for an Easter party!


I loved how these turned out! Perfectly soft. And I was really happy with the frosting/sugar effect. It was like biting into a thin layer of a sugar crust before sinking your teeth into soft frosting. These cookies disappeared fast!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fun with Apples

I wanted to try something fun and "healthy" this time. So even though I once again did not bake these, I figured they were fun enough to share!


White Chocolate and Cookie Apple (I used Girl Scout's Dulce Du Leche Cookies)

White Chocolate and Twix Apple

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Scrump-diddly-umptious!

I decided I needed to make one more round of bread since I probably won't be able to bake anything for a while with my trip and the big move coming up. So I chose to do the white bread recipe out of my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It is different from the other bread I posted about, I think I like this one a little better but it takes a bit longer to make and uses up the milk so sometimes I don't want to do it.






White Bread

5 3/4 to 6 1/4 C flour
1 package active dry yeast
2 1/4 C milk or buttermilk
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp salt

1. In a large mixing bowl combine 2 1/2 C flour and the yeast, set aside. In a medium saucepan heat and stir milk, sugar, butter, and salt just until warm and butter almost melts. Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface of the dough. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in size (45-60 minutes).

3. Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grease bread pans or cookies sheets.

4. Shape each half by patting or rolling.

5. Place the shaped dough halves in the prepared pans, seams side down. Cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double (about 30 minutes).

6. Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until bread sounds hallow when lightly tapped (however, I find that 20 minutes is perfect for me).



Our favorite way of enjoying homemade bread is to toast it in the broiler with a chicken filling. To make the filling I mix boiled/shredded chicken, grated cheese, garlic salt, bell pepper, and mayo.



Oh yes, and a big thank you to Dill who played happily so I could bake!

I finished my painting!

Remember that painting I gave you a sneak peek of? It is done!
Honestly, I'm so proud of myself for completing it before my trip and the move and I'm really happy with the way it turned out!

Friday, March 19, 2010

St. Patty's Day Fruit Dip

For my last St. Patty's dessert hoopla I skipped baking and made a fruit dip.




Fruit Dip
1 brick cream cheese
1/4 C powdered sugar
a few drops of food coloring
chopped candy bars (I used Twix)

Blend together everything except the chopped candy bar. Gently stir in the candy bar pieces and save a few to garnish the top.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bagels

Phew, I did something good. Honestly, I was a little afraid after my last disaster.

I discovered this recipe online a while back from the company that makes the yeast I have, and I've made them a few times now. They are really tasty!


The key to bagels is that they are boiled then baked. A bagel that hasn't been boiled is a biscuit with a hole in the middle.

Of course you have to have cream cheese with bagels! But I just realized my spreading job was a mess. I guess I was in a hurry to eat it.


Bagels

2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 C warm water
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp sugar (divided)
3 C flour


In a mixer, combine yeast, 1 cup flour, salt and 2 Tbsp sugar. Add warm water to dry mixture and stir on low speed. Beat for 2-3 minutes more on medium. By hand, stir in remaining flour to make a firm dough. Knead 5-7 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turn, and cover. Allow it to rise until it is doubled in size and your fingers leave an imprint if pushed into dough (I find that 30-45 minutes is good and I like to set it in the oven over a shallow dish of warm water). Turn onto floured surface and punch down. Divide into 4ths and each of those into three parts-12 total (I actually found that I like to make mine a little bigger than that, but it is up to you). Shape each part into a smooth ball. Punch a hole with your finger and pull a little. Heat a pot of water to boiling and add 2 Tbsp of sugar. Place a few bagels in and simmer 3 minutes, turning once. Remove and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

You may have noticed that my bagels aren't exactly smooth. I think they are cute and "rustic" but maybe I just haven't been patient enough to roll my dough into smooth balls. Let me know if anyone has any luck.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Festive Flop

I learned an important lesson in brownie making the other day:
Marshmallow brownies need a specific marshmallow brownie recipe.

Let me explain, I wanted to make something St. Patrick's Day-ish. And Travis was wanting marshmallow brownies. And I figured I would take a brownie recipe I had that you are supposed to mix in mint patties and switch them out for green marshmallows. But all I got was one big gooey, sticky, stiff, ugly brownie tar goo.

I'm embarrassed to be blogging this at all, but hey, this is amateur baking here! The good news is, I don't have to rewrite the recipe, because trust me-you don't want it.

Dying the marshmallows (this step should have given me a clue that this wasn't exactly going to work, but I continued anyway).

Oh, the brownie mix is looking good, but don't let it deceive you.

Still hopeful that this is going to work...






Ugh. Really? Did I create that? At least I can say this, it may look like one big gooey, sticky, stiff, ugly brownie tar goo...but it tasted pretty good!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

I'm feeling festive!

Since St. Patty's day is coming up, one night for dinner we tried out Irish Soda Bread. It is sort of like a biscuit type bread and I really enjoyed it!


Of course you can't have just bread for dinner (well, you can I suppose), so I made a cheesy potato soup. It was a great match! I didn't follow an exact recipe for the soup, I rarely do when it comes to stuff like that, but I will share what I did.


Irish Soda Bread
3 Tbsp softened butter
2 1/2 C flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C buttermilk
1/2 C raisins (optional)

Cut butter into flour. Mix in sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt until fine and crumbly. Stir in raisins if using them. Stir in buttermilk slowly. Turn onto floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Shape into a round loaf. Cut an X shape 1/2 inch deep. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake 35-45 minutes at 375.

-Since I didn't have buttermilk I added a dash of vinegar to regular milk, it works just the same!
-I cut the recipe in half since it was just for the two of us and it baked for maybe 25 minutes.


Cheesy Potato Soup
I cubed a potato and boiled it in water with a chicken bullion cube until soft. Then I put the potato and broth into the blender until smooth. I poured it all back into the pot I boiled it in, then added shredded cheese, dried parsley, salt and pepper. And Voila! Cheesy Potato Soup! Delicious!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie. Is it just an excuse to eat pie crust for dinner? Who cares! I looooove pie crust, especially my Great Grandma Summers' recipe, it is the best!

And I realize this isn't a dessert recipe, but I did bake it, so it definitely made the cut to be blogging worthy.

Oh, and I was inspired to make it a little St. Patrick's Day festive!





Pie Crust

1 1/3 C flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 C Crisco
3 tbsp water

Mix flour and salt. Cut in Crisco until mixture is uniform. Sprinkle with water, tossing lightly with a fork. Shape into a ball, roll out on flour surface (I like to do it in between two sheets of wax paper).

If using as a bottom crust, line pie plate, cut off excess edges, flute edges and prick bottom and sides if pre-baking.

For top crust, fill pie plate with filling, then flip the rolled out crust on top and flute.

Bake at 425 10-12 minutes

*Do no over work crust! I try to handle it at little as possible and it turns out deliciously flaky!

Pot Pie Filling


Since I am an amateur and all, its totally okay for me to not go all out on everything, right? For my filling, I mix cream of chicken soup, frozen veggies, and cubbed boiled chicken. It tastes pretty good to me, especially when all I really care about is the crust!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Birthday Butterflies

Some people may think it a little sad to have to bake their own birthday cupcakes. But I say "Bring it on!" I actually had fun thinking about all the possibilities and I ended up choosing pink butterfly cupcakes for several reasons. I wanted to use a fun idea out of my cupcake book, I love cherry frosting, I wanted to do something unique to impress my sister, and I also had all the ingredients. So, yellow almond cake, cherry frosting and white chocolate butterflies were the perfect thing!

Making the white chocolate butterflies was tricky. I had practiced them a while back, and luckily this time they turned out much better. Basically I melted white chocolate in a ziplock bag in the microwave. Then I cut a tiny tip of one of the corners off and pipped it like frosting. I drew out some butterflies and flowers and then put wax paper on top so I would have a template to follow. I also included a little food coloring to fill in some butterflies.

The cake recipe is one from my Better Homes and Gardens book (which I LOVE by the way).

Yellow Cake
3/4 C butter
3 eggs
2 1/2 C flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla (but I used almond extract)
1 1/4 C milk

1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grease and flour cake pans/cupcake pan (I don't know what I had to grease and flour but I did). In a bowl stir together flour, baking powder and salt.
2. Preheat oven to 375. In a mixing bowl beat butter on medium to high for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, beating until well combined. Beat 2 more minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well in between. Beat in vanilla (or other extract). Alternately add four mixture and milk, beating on low until just combined. Spread batter into greased pans.
3. Baking varies. 20-25 minutes for two 9 inch pans, 30-35 for 8 inch pans (the recipe didn't include times for cupcakes, I think it took somewhere around 25-28 minutes, I just kept an eye on them). Frost after they have cooled.




The cherry frosting is a Betty Crocker store bought kind. Maybe it is a cop-out, but I really really love it! I think they stopped making it for a while and I searched the shelves whenever I walked by. One day last year I saw it and was extremely excited about it. It tastes just like I remember!

Of course I couldn't have birthday cake without ice cream. And thanks to a sweet deal this week, I got a good kind for an amazing price! I picked out cherry chocolate chip because it seemed like it would go great!

The overall verdict? Definitely a yummy birthday treat! However, the almondy cake was masked by the cherry frosting. But I loved the way the ice cream and frosting tasted together! And I was definitely proud that they turned out so pretty.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I heart homemade bread!

This weekend my sister came up to visit, so I had to wow her with my baking skills. I made bread, since it is one of my most favorite things!
I have two recipes that I like, and for this time I chose the one out of my Lion House Bakery book. The recipe is called "Jesse Evans Smith's 90 Minute Bread". I don't know who Jesse Evans Smith is, but I sure like their bread!

I figured I would throw in a picture of myself, you know, to make sure I get the credit for all the good treats and you don't think it is really Travis behind the scenes (I don't think he could make bread this good!).

Two loaves, ready to rise.

Yea! They rose. And that one grew huge!

Baked to perfection!


I have found a few alterations that work for me, so I included my little comments in there.

2 C warm water
2 Tbsp active dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1/4 C sugar
3 Tbsp veggie oil
4-5 C flour (but I always end up using more in the kneading process)

Grease your bread pans (or in my case, cookie sheet). Pour water into a large bowl and sprinkle yeast over it. Sprinkle salt and sugar over yeast and wait until yeast bubbles and comes to the surface. Stir in oil. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour and whisk smooth with a wire whisk or wooden spoon. Add 2 more cups of the flour and mix until dough gathers into a ball (I tend to add another extra cup here). Sprinkle flour onto work surface. Turn dough onto it and knead in flour until the dough in no longer sticky but is elastic and slightly stiff, about 10 minutes (this is where I add an extra cup or two of flour to get the right consistency, otherwise it is usually really sticky). Divide dough into two loaves. Shape each loaf and place onto greased pans, lightly cover with plastic wrap (I use towels, which seems to work fine). Let dough rise until it peeks over the edge or doubles in bulk, about 45 minutes (I like to allow mine to rise in the cool oven with a shallow pan of hot water underneath). Pull out and preheat oven to 375. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until brown (but I have found that 20 minutes is perfect, I don't know why).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Painting a Baker

Okay, so my other hobby is drawing and painting. And I realized recently that I haven't painted anything since before Dillon was born. And when I started doodling again I got to drawing baking type things since that is what I'm into at the moment. So, I figured it would be appropriate to blog about my baking painting on my baking blog!

Yes, I'm in the very beginning stages, but at least it is under way!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chocolately Chocolate Cupcakes

Alright, time to start talking about BAKING on my BAKING blog!
I decided something totally chocolaty would the perfect start. So I picked a recipe from my new Hershey's book and got to work. By the way, I got this book as a baby shower prize last weekend and I was super duper excited (I was the only one in the whole room who guessed all 10 baby foods correctly, but I also have a baby who is just starting so I'm pretty aware of what they all smell like).






For the Cupcakes
1 2/3 C. flour
1 1/2 C sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 C shortening
1 1/2 C butter milk or sour milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pan with paper cups or non-stick spray.
Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Add eggs, shortening, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat on low for one minute, scraping bowl. Beat on high for three minutes. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Baking 18-20 minutes. Cool before frosting.

Chocolate Butter Creme Frosting
6 Tablespoons softened butter/margarine
2 2/3 C powdered sugar
1/2 C cocoa
1/2 C milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat butter. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk and vanilla, beating to spreading consistency. Additional milk may be needed.

And just as a was going to make the frosting I realized I didn't have enough powdered sugar. A big thanks to Travis for running to the store for me!

I'm really pleased with the way these turned out! Rich and chocolaty, just perfect for a chocolate lover such as myself! I also grated a milk chocolate/almond Dove candy bar on top for a pretty topping!

But sometimes my little helper ends up not helping! At least he is still adorable!