Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Old Fashioned Sugar Cream Pie



Hi, friends. Got time for a story?

The other day, I was driving somewhere and out of nowhere, had this memory of sugar cream pie. Two points if you've heard of this, and bonus points if you'd had it. I feel like this is one of those homespun, Western Ohio-type of recipes that few city-folk have ever had. Maybe I'm wrong...but, anyway, I had this strange hankering and decided to make one. Luckily, my mom had given my brother and me lots of old recipes for Christmas one year in a book and for some reason, she included three versions of sugar cream pie.

The first one came from my Grandma "Doc," my grandma on my Dad's side. Her real name was Helen, but my grandpa's nickname was Doc and everyone knew him as such. His real name was Ralph, but no matter. He was Doc to everyone. I suppose the nomenclature of my family isn't important to this story so I'll get on with it. Grandma Doc was a superb pie-baker. Kind of a cranky lady, but really good at making pies. So Mom included hers in the book of recipes she gave us, and naturally I chose this one out of the three on offer. It flopped. Big time. And I don't know what I did wrong.

After scraping the whole thing into the sink and fairly crying over it, I decided to try number two in line. Now this one comes with a great story. There was this diner called Flo's at the corner of State Route 12 and U.S. 224 in Alvada, Ohio. Ever heard of it? Look it up on a map, I dare ya. The street view on Google Maps will crack you up. So anyway, there was this place called Flo's, which--before it burnt down and was replaced with a second-rate version of itself--served truckers their pie and coffee and even offered showers and beds upstairs. (It was really called Flo's, ya'll. I couldn't make that up.) My mom waitressed there through college, and she got this sugar cream pie recipe from a trucker. He apparently had a square jaw and buck teeth, but a great smile. He wrote his recipe out on a paper placemat--which my mom still has--and she copied it for me here:



Despite needing to bake it for much longer than this said (which might be due to my oven, which I have always suspected to run cooler than some), this one turned out perfectly. So, this may seem silly...I actually think my family thought I was nuts...but I teared up a little when I took a bite. It tasted exactly like my childhood. I haven't had sugar cream pie in probably 25 years. But when I inexplicably thought of it the other day, I had a distinct memory of its taste and texture. Funny how that happens. It's been said often that food evokes one's memories, but I don't think I've ever experienced this phenomenon quite so vividly as I did with this pie. I remembered my Grandma and Grandpa Doc's garden and the way their kitchen looked; the counter at Flo's; and the way the trucks sounded on the highway when I was falling asleep at night. I imagine my mom, young and with an apron on, talking to the trucker about the pie options for the day, and how he--probably a little homesick--told her all about his family's sugar cream pie recipe. I love that my mom--then a college student--stuck it in her apron pocket and kept it. These days, do you think that would happen?

Anyway, I really enjoyed making this after so many years. I hope if you haven't tried it before, you'll give it a go.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Throw a Donut and PJ Birthday Party



Hello! How is it already Thursday? Have I mentioned that life is crazy for us right now? I have? Oh, just 53 times? Sorry about that. It's the running theme, I guess. Well, in that vein, we had promised our favorite five-year-old a "friend" party for her birthday last week; however, since we've been so nuts, I sadly did not plan it out for weeks ahead of time the way I would have ordinarily. So. I had a little help from Google, some clever, crafty bloggers, and Betty Crocker.

She loves donuts, so we came up with the idea to throw a Donut and PJ Party on a Saturday morning. Here's where the help came in:


I downloaded these cute invitations here (from Emmy + Gabbie)

I stole the idea for tissue paper poufs from here (from Project Nursery).

I used Betty Crocker's idea for creating donut cookies here.

I followed the instructions for creating a donut matching game here (from Oh Happy Day). (We played the game as a group, and sent guests home with their own set of cards in their goody bags.


Finally, in lieu of a cake, we picked up some old fashioned donuts from the grocery store, along with tubs of donut frosting and TONS of sprinkles, so the girls could decorate their own breakfast treats. I'd say between those, the donut cookies, and the fruit salad, I sent them home sufficiently sugared-up. It was definitely a fun morning. But I couldn't have pulled it off without my laptop and color printer, and the goodwill of other bloggers who share their great designs.

Happy Fifth Birthday, Bear!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies



Du-udes. If you like make-your-back-teeth-hurt-kinda-sweet-stuff, then these brownies are for you. So pin this recipe, make 'em on a rainy day, and make sure your fridge has a full gallon of milk in it because you're gonna need it.

Incidentally, this is my grandma's recipe.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies
1 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
6 T. baking cocoa
1 c. flour
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow cream
1 c. peanut butter
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 c. Rice Krispies

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs.
Stir in the cocoa, flour, vanilla and salt.
Spread in a greased 13x9x2 baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until brownies test done.
Cool completely in the pan.
Spread marshmallow cream evenly over the top of the cooled brownies in the pan.
In a small saucepan, melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips over low heat. Stir in the cereal.
Spread over the marshmallow layer.
Chill before cutting.

Yield: 3 dozen

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Lavender Shortbread for Easter



Hello! Does it feel like spring where you are? Wellll, our daffodils are up, but they currently have snow on them. Sigh. But nevertheless, Easter's on its way. So the littlest and I made this lavender shortbread to celebrate spring and it is dee-licious. With the addition of the colored sugar edges, they are perfect as an Easter treat.



Lavender Shortbread
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. dried lavender
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. flour

Cream the butter, powdered sugar, lavender, vanilla and salt until smooth. Beat in the flour.
Divide dough into thirds and wrap in plastic, similar to the shape and size of a toilet paper tube. Chill for about an hour.
Unwrap one log at a time, roll in colored sugar, and slice into 1/4-inch rounds.
Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.
Let cool slightly before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Hope you have some fun plans for Easter! Until next time...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Cinnamon Chip Scones



Guys, I don't know about you, but I look forward to my afternoon cup of coffee like nobody's business. And if I have a treat to enjoy along with it, all the better. It's one of those simple pleasures that make life happy, don'tcha think? The girls and I made these yummy scones last weekend, and we all said they taste like a cinnamon roll. They were so good. I've been enjoying one each day this week with my coffee and couldn't wait to share them with you.

Cinnamon Chip Scones
Combine 2 ½ c. flour, 1/3 c. sugar, 3 tsp. baking powder, and ½ tsp. cinnamon.
Cut in ½ c. cold butter.
Stir in 2/3 c. cinnamon baking chips. (These were a bit challenging for me to find...I ended up finding them at Wal-Mart with the chocolate chips. They're Hershey brand.)
Whisk 1 c. half and half or heavy cream with 1 egg. Stir into crumb mixture.
Knead dough 10 times on floured surface; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and pat into a 9-inch circle. Cut into wedges.
Brush with more cream, then top with a mixture of ½ tsp. each coarse sugar and cinnamon.
Bake at 400 degrees for 14-16 mins.

Hope you make and enjoy these...you deserve a break in your day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Power Granola Bites



Hi there! Hope you're having a great week so far! So about this time of year, I start thinking about bathing suits. And not in a good-it's-almost-summer-way. You know what I mean. My pasty white saddlebags are bound to make their appearance soon, and although I'm not gonna get all crazy on ya and promise that I'm gonna exercise, I will tell you that I try and eat better and drink more water this time of year.

I've been seeing these no-bake granola bites on Pinterest from time to time, so I thought I'd make my own to suit my family's tastes. Turns out, I'm really the one that ate most of these. Two or three of them make a perfect breakfast with a cup of Greek yogurt. So here's how I made 'em:

Power Granola Bites
1 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. ground flax
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. dried cranberries
2 T. honey
2 T. unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together and chill for at least half an hour. Remove from refrigerator and roll into 1 inch balls. If you find your mixtures is too dry, this recipe is very forgiving. Just add more applesauce and/or peanut butter a tablespoon at a time until it will stick together for you. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Here's to eating healthier!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Copycat Peanut Butter Cup Cookies



Alright! Stop whatch're doin'...('cause I'm about to ruin the image and the style that ya used to. I look funny...) Sorry, once I started with that first sentence, I just had to keep going. You know you were thinking it, too!

But seriously, I'm gonna wax poetic about these cookies. They are seriously some of the best I've ever made. I'm not sure whether to thank my friend Christine (hi Christine!) for telling me about them or curse her name because I've gained 2 pounds since Friday. So consider yourself warned. Christine slipped me one of these babies while our girls were in storytime at the library last week. I think I might've attracted stares because of the sounds I was making as I ate them. She had no choice but to give me the remaining three she had on her, which I promptly hid from my kids. (I'm not proud. But it's the truth.) I had to make more, if for no other reason than I felt guilty about the hiding and figured I'd better share some with my family. In truth, they really are too good to keep to myself.

So here's the recipe...it's originally from All Recipes, but I renamed them.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Filling:
3/4 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. peanut butter

Cookie:
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

For the filling, mix the peanut butter and sugar together. Form into approximately 30 balls and flash freeze on a baking sheet.

Meanwhile, beat the butter, sugars and peanut butter together until smooth.
Add in the vanilla and egg and beat to combine.
Gradually add in the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda until blended.
Remove the peanut butter centers from the freezer, and shape the cookie dough around the ball until completely covered.
Flatten the cookies with a sugar-dipped glass.
Bake at 375 for 7 to 9 minutes, or until tops of cookies just begin to crack.

Now I challenge you to two things: 1)Try to eat just one and 2)Try to get the Humpty Dance out of your mind. Sorry.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Lemon Pudding Poppyseed Cookies



Hi! You may be sick of me lamenting the weather directly after my greeting, so I'm sorry to subject you to my whining once again. But seriously. The slush? The salt? The freakin' cold?! I had to have something spring-y today, so when I felt like baking, chocolate chip cookies just wouldn't do. Raiding the pantry turned up some lemon pudding mix, which led me on a search for something I could make with it. I turned up some recipes, but landed on this one for Pudding Sugar Cookies by Jadi's Favorite Recipes because she claimed they "melt in your mouth." Sold. I made some tweaks, though. Here's my version:

Lemon Pudding Poppyseed Cookies
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 c. confectioners' sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 package lemon instant pudding mix
4 c. flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. poppyseeds

In a large bowl, cream the butter, oil and sugars with a hand mixer for 4 minutes.
Add the eggs, vanilla and pudding mix and beat for 1 minute more.
Combine the flour, cream of tartar and baking soda and gradually add this to the creamed mixture. You'll probably have to stir it by hand to incorporate it all at the end.
Stir in the poppyseeds.
Place rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Slightly moisten a 1/4 c. measuring cup and dip the base in sugar. Use it to flatten the cookies slightly before baking.


Our youngest was a huge help in this department


Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. Or, if you have a convection oven, at 325 for 8 minutes. Don't overbake!

These just tasted like spring to us. I think they'd be perfect for an Easter buffet, baby shower, or wedding shower, too. Served with a fruit salad, they'd be a great light dessert. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Cherry Chocolate Scones



Happy Wednesday! As I type this (on Monday) I've got 3 little girls with me at the dining room table working on an art project singing at the top of their lungs to the Disney tunes on Pandora. Love it. Is there anyone out there who doesn't get choked up listening to "Let It Go" from the Frozen soundtrack? No? Just me, then.

So this weekend we're gonna have to address Valentines and decorate boxes. I LOVED Valentine's Day when I was in school. Now...well, it seems more work for parents but I'll try to channel my grade-school enthusiasm while helping our kiddos. I do love the treats associated with this holiday, though. Any excuse for wine and dark chocolate! So here's a little confection I came up with. I took a basic scone recipe, added some chocolate chips, and threw in some cherry juice for a little flavor and color. They were quite good! Hope you try 'em!

Cherry Chocolate Scones
2 c. flour
2 T. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. cold unsalted butter
3/4 c. heavy cream
4 T. maraschino cherry juice
1/2 c. chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the chocolate chips and stir gently to incorporate them.
In a measuring cup, combine the cream and cherry juice.
Add to the flour mixture and stir just until dough forms.
Turn out onto a floured surface, knead until uniform and pat out to 1-inch thickness. Cut with a cookie or biscuit cutter and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake at 450 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Happy (almost) Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Orange & Dark Chocolate Muffins



Hello, hello! I've been a bit busy lately. I'm going to start selling some of my handmade items at a local store, so I've been trying to create enough inventory to get going. I'll be sharing more about this when I get all set up; but, suffice to say, I've had my hands full. Today, though, my youngest and I had a lazy morning in our PJs before I had to take her to preschool. We played a few rounds of her favorite Curious George game, and we made these delicious muffins. They were a bit of an experiment, but they turned out great! And it was fun asking her opinions about what we should do as we went along.

I've been having fun baking with citrus lately. The Lemon Thyme Bread we made a couple of weeks ago was a hit, so this time we decided to combine orange with chocolate for some pre-Halloween treats. Here's how:

Orange & Dark Chocolate Muffins
1/2 c. butter, softenend
2/3 c. cocoa powder
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. orange extract
2 eggs
3/4 c. milk
1/3 c. full fat sour cream
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. flour
2 tsp. orange zest
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease or line a muffin tin with liners. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter, cocoa powder and sugar.
Add the extracts, eggs, milk and sour cream and mix until combined.
In a smaller bowl, combine the baking powder, salt, flour and zest.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until smooth. For me, the consistency was almost like frosting.
Divide the batter evenly among 12 muffin cups and top with chocolate chips. We also sprinkled some orange sugar on top just for fun.

Happy early Halloween!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Lemon Thyme Bread



Hello! It's hump day! (We've gotta come up with a better name for that.) But anyway, it's mid-week and I'm back today with a new recipe we tried and loved. I'll give you the goods, then chat at ya for a bit about it.

Lemon Thyme Bread
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. sour cream
1 3/4 c. flour
2 T. fresh thyme leaves
1 T. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in 1 egg.
In a glass measuring cup, combine buttermilk and sour cream.
In a smaller bowl, combine flour, thyme, lemon zest, baking soda and salt.
Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.
Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 40 to 50 mins.

So here are my thoughts on this delectable little recipe:
  1. This would be fantastic with lavender instead of thyme for a different spin. (Have you ever baked with lavender? It's so delicious! If you missed my Lavender Vanilla Cream Biscuits from awhile ago, here's the link.)
  2. I think this type of bread makes an excellent welcome-to-the-neighborhood or thank-you gift, or just an I'm-glad-we're-friends-let's-have-some-coffee gesture.
  3. As said gifts, try pouring the batter into cardboard liners like the one I used. I got three loaves out of one recipe this way.
  4. I've had a hankering to make this, so I did. But actually, it might "go better" in the spring for an Easter breakfast with a fruit salad, or a Mother's Day brunch. Also excellent for baby and/or wedding showers.
And that is all. Go. Bake. Love.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Mini Morning Muffins with Cinnamon Cream Cheese



Good morning! Hope your week is stellar so far.

A looooong time ago, I posted about a trip we took to a local apple orchard, and these muffins. Fast forward a few years, and they're still one of our favorite kinds of muffins to make. I like 'em because they're healthy (whole wheat flour, carrots, raisins), and the kids like 'em because they taste good (of course). So I decided they were worth posting about again.

Morning Muffins
Cream 1/4 c. butter and 1/2 c. brown sugar.
Add 2 eggs, 1 c. sour cream and beat well.
Stir in 1 c. shredded carrots, 1/2 c. coconut, and 1/2 c. raisins.
In small bowl, combine 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Stir into creamed mixture.
Spoon into greased mini muffin tin. Bake 375 for 15-20 mins. Freeze, then thaw as needed.
Yields 24

In an effort to shake things up a bit, though, I made them mini this time. Turns out, we're even bigger fans of them this way. I pack 2 in our oldest's lunchbox and that works out so much better because the regular-sized muffins are, truth be told, a little daunting for our little ones. I also made some cinnamon cream cheese to spread on them, which makes lunch a bit more fun. Not to mention yummy.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread
1 block cream cheese, softened
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Stir all together, and refrigerate until needed.

To pack these in lunches, I slice a couple of muffins in half, spread some cream cheese on both halves and sandwich them back together to contain the mess a little. Hope your kiddos like these as much as mine do!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Classic Snickerdoodles



Hey guys! Well, I can't take credit for this recipe at all...it's from my trusty red-and-white-checked Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. But I needed a cookie recipe because I wanted to be sure to have something for our oldest when she got off the bus yesterday. After her first full day of school (she just started first grade!), I thought she'd be ready for something comforting. (As a funny side note, when she did walk in the door, she threw down her backpack and announced that she just wanted to "chill-ax." Whaaaa?! One day of first grade and she's already talking like a teenager!)

Anyway, these cookies never fail me. They are always the perfect texture and are never too thin, which is often the case for me and cookies. In light of how much success I've had with this recipe (and because these days my creative juices are running dry), I thought I'd just share one of our favorites with you. Hope you like 'em!

Classic Snickerdoodles (Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 1996)

1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
2 T. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium mixing bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds. Add 1 c. sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Beat till combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer, then stir in remaining flour. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Combine the 2 T. sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, then roll them in the cinnamon-sugar to coat. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10-11 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Whole Wheat Blueberry Biscuits



Hey guys! Well, it's still raining. Our backyard has become a wetland. Seriously, I'm waiting for a blue heron to take up residence. So, we spent the morning at the library and had a quick picnic lunch outside between rain storms. And now we're home, the girls are settled in with a movie, and I'm crossing my fingers that soccer is canceled tonight because I can't even imagine what the field looks like. Anyway, it's a good day to bake, so I'm offering you a recipe that comes in handy for quick breakfasts and overnight guests.

I blogged a recipe for healthy blueberry muffins awhile ago, and they are indeed delicious. Our local Aldi store had blueberries on sale for 99 cents this week, so I bought some with the express purpose of baking more of those muffins with 'em. But then I thought I'd try putting blueberries in biscuits this time. The result wasn't too sweet, or too dry. Very much like a biscuit, except with a hint of fresh blueberry flavor. Pretty good, in my humble opinion.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Biscuits

2 c. whole wheat flour
4 tsp. baking powder
3 T. sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, chilled
3/4 to 1 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. fresh blueberries

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar in large bowl.
Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Mix in buttermilk, only until mixture starts to hold together. If mixture looks too dry, add up to 1/4 c. more buttermilk a little bit at a time.
Turn out onto a surface dusted with white flour and pat into a disc. Roll out to about 3/4 inches thick, and cut with a biscuit cutter.
Bake on parchment-lined cookie sheet at 475 for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Hope you enjoy these with your morning tea or coffee!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Hand Pies (Eating Al Fresco)



Well, hello there! Thanks for joining me...

Over the weekend, the girls and I made these awesome little portable pies. We had them for dessert on Father's Day, but what they'd be super-perfect for is a picnic. We take a lot of picnics during the warm months, do you? We're always schlepping our meals places this time of year...like to the playground, the beach, or to the Valley for concerts. Sometimes, we just feel like eating outside for no other reason than we can. Over the years, I've shared a few picnic-friendly tips with you guys and I've always stressed that we should make these meals special for ourselves as well. Kids could eat PB & J's every single day...and sometimes they do hit the spot; but, it sure is nice to have something in the cooler or picnic basket (like one of these or this) that feels like a treat for us adults.

Speaking of treats, I guess I better get on with giving you the recipe for this picnic-worthy dessert kids and adults would love. (For the record, these did take a little time. For some reason, I'm willing to put extra effort into homemade sweets. I take shortcuts cooking dinner, making crafts, doing chores...but when it comes to dessert, I take my time.)

Strawberry Hand Pies (only slightly adapted from Country Living)

2 1/3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. fresh strawberries, chopped (After how well these turned out, I'm hoping to make raspberry and peach versions, too.)
3 T. strawberry jam (I used strawberry freezer jam made from the same fresh strawberries and I think this helped with the fresh flavor)

In a large bowl, combine 2 1/4 c. of the flour, baking powder, and 1 tsp. of the salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add 1 egg yolk, 1/2 cup ice water, and 1/2 tsp. of the vanilla and mix until just combined. (If the dough is too dry and crumbly, add 1 T. of ice water at a time.)
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead 2 to 3 times, just until dough comes together. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while you make the filling.
In a medium bowl, combine strawberries and jam, plus remaining flour (1/8 c.), remaining vanilla (1/2 tsp.), and remaining salt (1/4 tsp.).
In a small bowl, beat remaining egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water for egg wash; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut dough into 6 rounds.
Roll 1 round into a 6-inch circle. Spoon a heaping 2 T. of the filling onto half of circle, leaving 1/2-inch border. Brush the edges with egg wash, then fold dough over filling. Using a fork, crimp the edges to seal hand pie. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking pan. Repeat with remaining dough rounds and filling.
Brush with remaining egg wash. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden.

And just for fun, here's a word on dining al fresco from Manny of Modern Family. If you're not watching this show, you're missing out. Seriously. Belly laughs every single episode.

Gloria: "Manny, why did you have breakfast alone outside?"
Manny: "I felt like eating al fresco."
Jay: "Does that mean he had his pants off? Because if I can't, he can't!"
And some eye candy, too. Don't worry, our picnics look nothing like these.







Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Recipe(s) of the Week: Rainbow Cake and Fruit Kabobs



Hey there! Is it just me, or is June f-l-y-i-n-g by? It's kinda sad that our daughter has only been out of school for a week, and I already sense summer slipping through my fingers. I think it's because we have so many weekends already spoken for. But the feeling of "not enough hours in the day" is so typical of my Type A personality...I always feel the need to be productive in some way. That being said, we spent the morning after our youngest's 4th birthday relaxing and I did relish the idea that we had nowhere to be and nothing pressing to do. During the school year, it's always go-go-go. Today was the first day that I released the reins a little, and it felt good. We played on the swing, went to the park, read books, took naps, drew with sidewalk chalk...it was a nice day.

Anyway, I mentioned that we celebrated our baby's 4th birthday yesterday, so that's what I'm here to tell you about. She requested rainbows this year, so I ran with that. I hesitated titling this post "Recipe of the Week" because it's really more about method than ingredients. But for lack of a better word...it is about food after all.

We usually celebrate birthdays simply in our house. Dinner followed by a cake of the birthday girl's choosing, a few gifts, and balloons at breakfast. For some reason, this was one of my favorite birthdays so far. Maybe because she was so thrilled by the old-fashioned swing tied in our front-yard tree with a big red bow, or maybe because the colors were just happy, but I was reminded once again of how the simple things are what really make kids feel loved. So anyway, here are the deets on the cake:

Rainbow Cake
Nap Rating = 3+ naps (My recipes don't normally require nap ratings like my crafts do, but in this case, I felt the need to be completely honest...this sucker took awhile to make! But it was totally worth the look on her face when we cut into it.)

I really wish we had remembered to take a picture of the top of this cake before we cut into it, but we were so excited to see how it looked inside, we forgot. So the pic above will have to suffice. You can find lots of recipes for rainbow cake on Pinterest, but I just used a vanilla box cake. You will need:

  • 2 boxes of white cake mix
  • 3 cans of frosting (yep.)
  • gel food coloring
  • 2 or more cake pans
  • Pam
  • parchment paper
  • about 1/4 lb. of each color M&Ms (I bought mine in bulk and they were already separated by color)

Steps
  1. Trace your cake pans onto parchment paper and cut 6 rounds.
  2. Mix up the 2 cake mixes according to the package instructions. Just make sure to double the eggs, water, and oil.
  3. Separate the batter into 6 bowls. To make the amounts in each bowl relatively equal, I would suggest using a large ladle to scoop one ladle-full into each bowl, then repeat until the batter is gone.
  4. Color each bowl of batter a different color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. Follow the directions on the back of the gel and it should come out pretty well. I found violet to be the hardest.
  5. Lightly spray your cake pans with Pam and line with parchment paper.
  6. Bake at the temperature indicated on the box, but you'll probably need to reduce the bake time because the layers won't be quite as thick. I have only 2 cake pans, so I baked the red and orange, then the yellow and green, then the blue and violet. The parchment paper made it easier to get the cakes out and immediately re-use the pans without having to wash them.
  7. Let the layers cool completely, then stack them with frosting between each layer. Make sure to put the violet on the bottom.
  8. Because of the precariousness of this assembly, I gave the cake a quick crumb coat at this stage (i.e. a thin layer of frosting), put three bamboo skewers through the whole thing, and put it in the fridge. In my opinion, this made the whole thing more stable to frost later.
  9. Frost the rest of the cake, then put the M&Ms on the top in a rainbow pattern.

Now the kabobs were much easier...they hardly require an explanation. I used strawberries, mandarin oranges, pineapple, kiwi, and blueberries; but, you could also add purple grapes at the end. Here they are:



So there you have it. One rainbow birthday = one happy girl. What traditions do you have for your kids' birthdays?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Six Week Raisin Bran Muffins



Hey there, everyone! So let's get right down to business this morning. This week's recipe is awesome because it helps make breakfasts, snacks, and even lunch easier. The magic is, you mix up these muffins, cover 'em up, and put 'em in the fridge until you're ready to bake them. They keep for 6 weeks! (Or even longer if you're me and not afraid of rolling the dice a little.) I bake a dozen at a time, and keep them on the counter for hurried breakfasts, throw them in lunch bags, or give them as snacks. And because they're full of bran, they're very filling and good for you, too. Enjoy!

Six Week Raisin Bran Muffins

4 eggs, beaten
1 qt. buttermilk
5 tsp. baking soda
3 c. sugar
5 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 c. vegetable oil
15 oz. box of Raisin Bran (I've tried to use generic brands before, but none of them work as well as the original by Kellogg's)

Mix all ingredients in the order given in a BIG bowl. (Trust me, if you think you have a bowl big enough, go one size bigger). Fill a greased muffin tin and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Rolo Cheesecake Bars

I felt like baking today. Going about a week without my oven made me really excited to use it again. I know, I'm weird. But I also just wanted some quality time with our youngest, so we got out the mixin' bowls.

We had a half-eaten bag of Rolos that I wanted to use, so I Googled some recipes using this candy, and came across this recipe for a cheesecake bar. It just so happened I also had some cream cheese and graham crackers for the crust, so clearly it was meant to be.

One mistake we made was cutting into these before they were cool. The Rolos did not stay intact and really just got swirled into the cheesecake batter because of this, which didn't affect the flavor, but it did alter the experience for me. Next time I'll try to be more patient.

So here's the recipe, adapted from the one I referred to above.

Rolo Cheesecake Bars

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs

1/4 c. sugar

6 T. butter, melted

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 c. caramel sauce

1/3 c. sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 c. mini Rolos

chocolate sauce (for drizzling)

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter and press them into the bottom of a greased 8 inch square baking pan.

Bake at 350 until lightly golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cream the cream cheese, then mix in the caramel sauce, sugar, egg, vanilla, extract and mini Rolos. Pour the mixture on top of the prepared crust.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until set.

Drizzle with chocolate sauce. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Toasted Coconut and White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies



Hi there and happy Wednesday to you! I hope you're feelin' some spring where you are...it sure has been beautiful here this week. I don't know about you, but I feel schizophrenic when the weather turns nice. On the one hand, I always have projects to finish indoors; but, as soon as I take the kids out to play, I see all of the things that need to be done OUTdoors. Like clean the garage, rake out the flower beds, pull out the patio furniture, and fertilize. Ack! There just aren't enough hours in the day, despite daylight savings time.

So what did I do today, in spite of all the things that need to be tackled inside and out? I baked. Yep. I was feeling overwhelmed by everything else, so I decided to make a mess in the kitchen just to complicate things. But man, it was worth it! These cookies could very possibly be a new fave around here. SUPER good, I must say. And I'd also like to add that even if you're not a coconut fan, you'll still like these. My kids aren't super-crazy about coconut, so I didn't tell them what was in them...and they loved 'em!

Toasted Coconut and White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. flour
2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 c. coconut
1/2 bag of white chocolate chips

In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla together. Set aside.
Mix all of the dry ingredients (except the chips) together in a separate bowl.
Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.
Fold the chips in.
Drop onto a baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until the edges turn a light, golden color.
Devour.

I dare you to eat just one of these...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Bread with Cinnamon Butter



We are a banana-eatin' family. We eat them plain, with peanut butter, on cereal, in smoothies, and if there are any that manage to escape those fates...we bake with 'em. Our most recent experiment (before this one) was Peanut Butter Banana Muffins with Nutella Swirl.

I once posted about several different ways to use up bananas...but we've since tried a new recipe for banana bread, and it's super-delicious. I had some buttermilk hanging around the fridge that I wanted to use up, so we tried this recipe from My Kitchen Addiction and it worked out great. Of course, I couldn't leave well-enough alone...I had to make some cinnamon butter to go on it. Here are both recipes:

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Banana Bread (slightly adapted from My Kitchen Addiction)
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. buttermilk

Lightly grease a standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition to make sure the eggs are fully incorporated into the mixture. Beat in the bananas.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Gradually add the dry mixture to the banana mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Bake at 325 for about 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cinnamon Honey Butter
This is a no-measure recipe...I just mixed the following:
Half a stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
About 1 T. honey
About 1 T. brown sugar
About 1 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt

Mix well and serve on bread...delish!
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