Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sharin' the Love With Other Blogger's Treats

I recently made ZestyCook's Chewy Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I'd seen them a while back and have wanted to try his recipe since.  These are a GREAT cookie.  With the melted butter, they are a little like having a blondie in cookie form.  I took Cory's advice and just slightly underbaked them.  They are perfectly chewy.  I love the milk chocolate as it is a good change from all the dark chocolate I've been using lately.  Too bad I'm not eating chocolate chip cookies right now either.  (I did sneak a little--they had to be tasted so I can give my opinion, yes!  Everyone's heads nod in approval to that!)

You can get his recipe on the link above.  Well shiver me timbers, I didn't change a thing!  What?  It can't be.  I was especially excited when I'd started making these, then realized I am out of vanilla--not to worry, these don't have vanilla.  A lot of flavor comes with the melted butter and lots of brown sugar.   The next best thing about these, they are super easy.  I melted the butter in a small, microwave safe bowl, then stirred the rest by hand in another bowl.  No mixer needed and minimal dish clean up!  Thanks for the great cookie recipe, Cory.  I'll be giving these away today!



Next up, I had practically dreamt about these little delights since I saw Cathy at Noble Pig post them weeks ago.  And when I saw that it's only 30 calories and 3 carbs for two of the little phyllo cups (empty), I couldn't wait to try them.  What, nuts are very nutritious and honey is a natural sugar!   They are just as the title suggests--The Lazy Cook's Baklava and are so super simple and DE-licious!  Take the premade frozen phyllo cups and fill them with chopped nuts.  Bake for 8 minutes and drizzle lots of honey with a touch of water over them.  Cool and serve.  Hello--so easy!  And can I just say--very addictive.  I could have eaten them by the ton, but that wouldn't have been nice, since I'd only made 15 and taken them to a baby shower earlier this week.  Eating one was my splurge of the night and well worth the wait!  Next time you're in a pinch for a quick little treat with company or just a little craving, make these!


I almost can't look at the pictures, I want more!  ;)


Cathy's recipe suggests cashews, pistachios, and almonds.  I was a little short on pistachios, so I also used some pecans.  Put whatever nuts you like!


Did you see that?  Here's one more picture in case you missed something. 


Perfection!  Thanks, Cathy!


One more bit of spreadin' some love--goes to Elyse at Confectionery Creations and Risa at Baked Perfection for coming up with some really fun (and yummy!) Cookie Dough Pops.  They came up with an eggless cookie dough, made balls of dough, froze them with a stick inserted, then drenched them in melted chocolate.  Heaven on a stick--especially if you're like me and you really like cookie dough!  Great idea, Gals!  So I felt the need to make these.  I even copied Risa's (go see) pops and drizzled them with some blue tinted white chocolate--I was making them for my friend's baby shower.  I did have a bit of a hard time getting the pops to stay on the stick while I was submerging them in the chocolate, but after talking to Elyse, she let me know that a quick little dip of the stick in some melted chocolate before freezing the pops make them stick like glue.  I didn't know that at the time I made them and was only able to get six pops.  I wrapped them up nicely and fully intended to take them to Rachel as part of a congrats on the new baby boy arrival.  But--I forgot to take them!  Oops!  So, the boys enjoyed them the next day.  They are good!


The boys ate them at different times and I was only able to get pictures of Taylor and Sam enjoying them!  Awesome, Elyse and Risa!


Silly Sammie!


"Look at Mommy holding the camera."


Nope.  Still, CUTE!

And finally, you know what the Bible says, "Train them up in the way they should go and they will not depart from it." (that's in my own words, but close I think.)  The other day Sam asked me for a spoonful of Nutella and a spoonful of peanut butter.  I gave him half a banana to go with it.


He had probably three spoonfuls of each before he decided that was enough!  Ahh, a kid after my own heart!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TWD--Chocolate Cream Tart and Some "REAL" Good Cookies

Hi all!  Hope you've had a great week.  For Tuesday's With Dorie this week, we all made the Chocolate Cream Tart on pages 352-53 in Dorie Greenspan's great book, Baking From My Home to Yours.  You can find the recipe this week on Kim's amazing blog, Scrumptious Photography.  She is SO not kidding about the title of her blog.  Her photos are always just that--scrumptious!  Another thing I love about Kim's blog is that she always post the nutrition information about the things we bake at TWD, but it's hidden, so you don't have to look if you don't want to know, but I really like seeing it.  Thanks, Kim! 

So, about the tart--it was just okay for me.  And I really only had a bite, but it's the same thing every time.  I just don't think I love bittersweet chocolate.  I think I would have liked it more with regular ol' semi sweet, or even milk chocolate, but I made a 1/2 recipe in a six inch round cake pan and used a 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate.  I used 2% milk instead of whole milk.  I made the chocolate shortbread tart also.  It was not my favorite.  I REALLY wanted to make this again with the Sweet Tart Dough, but ended up not getting that done.  On what sounds like a real downer here, the tart was well received and eaten by some friend's of mine.  They all liked it.  Kevin later had a piece and said it was good, but definitely rich.  I'm also enjoying making these fillings and custards and the like in some of Dorie's recipes as I haven't made things from scratch like that until joining TWD.  It is so simple.  The filling/custard came together without a hitch and I love how easy it really is when it thickens on the stove.  I also committed a terrible "sin" here and just topped it with "the other white stuff" (Cool Whip).  Also because I thought it was too bittersweet, before the topping, I drizzled a little caramel ice cream topping over it. 


Bad lighting.


This is how I took it to some friends.


After bringing a little of it home and it sitting in the fridge covered for a day, I served some to Kevin and the boys and decided to snap a picture of a slice, but the "whip" had been mashed, so I smoothed it out.  Still, I thought it took a pretty good picture.


So really, I plan to make this again someday with the non-chocolate crust and not such a bittersweet chocolate.  Thanks, Dorie and thanks for the fun pick, Kim!  Thanks for stopping by my blog, especially all the fellow TWDers.  I really enjoy being a part of this great group!


On a different note, but scrumptious to me, I made these cookies today that Anna at Cookie Madness posted.  They are a healthy cookie with raw cane sugar, oats and oat flour, banana and instead of soy milk, I used skim milk.  There are no eggs in the recipe and one little teaspoon of oil.  I knew that would mean cakey cookies, but that was okay.  These cookies also have a few mini chocolate chips in them, which makes them all the better.  I would call these muffin tops.  When you're purposely depriving yourself of super indulgent goodies, these kinds of cookies will do. 

They were good like this:


but EVEN BETTER in sandwich form with my favorite peanut butter  (Naturally More) in between, then chilled in the freezer for 10-20 minutes.  Yum!


That's what I'm talking about!


Great snack!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Snow Cone Time! And Super Easy Spring Snacks!

Today the temperature is in the lower 80's and it seems quite muggy out, probably because it rained a little last night and this morning.  At any rate, it's WARM.  Even when it's only 60 degrees out, the boys come in from outside asking me if they can have a "water party" because they're "SOOO HOT" (said with a big whine!).  I have told them if it's 85 or more we can talk about a water party, which to them just means getting out the kiddie pool and playing with the hose and water guns.  It's only supposed to get up to 82 today (Darn, no water. ha)  But Taylor did talk me in to buying some snow cone syrup while we were at the store today and insisted we make snow cones with our GREAT (read as cheap) hand cranked snow cone maker.  So we went to town cranking out the ice.  It really wasn't too bad, but a nice little arm workout.  Taylor and Sam LOVED it.


Such intensity in his face!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!  (That'll be stuck in your heads now, sorry!)  Taylor also saw these rubber reusable snow cone cups and we bought a 4 pack of them, too.

Squeeze that syrup bottle!


"Hey, Taylor, look at the camera."


So much fun!



Taylor was snack for preschool again a few days ago.  They are talking about springtime this week and I always try to think of a snack that is appropriate for the week's theme.  Well, I couldn't think of anything and ended up buying some Honeymaid graham cracker bumble bees and some fruit roll ups.  That would have been plenty and  it really was, but for some reason while I was working out early that morning, I thought of these cute bird's nests and decided to make them last minute, literally, moments before we needed to leave for school that morning!  That's how easy they were and shock my shorts, Taylor just asked me to make more of them today.  This is a really picky kid, but he actually asked me for something that had peanut butter (no brainer, what kid doesn't like peanut butter--besides the ones allergic), honey, some oats and Wheaties!  "Taylor ate Wheaties, Taylor ate Wheaties!"  Shhh, don't tell him. ;)  I wasn't even sure they would hold together and firm up, but I knew if you take peanut butter and sticky honey that they were bound to do some holding together.


I don't even have a recipe and totally made this up.  Here's a good guesstimate of what I threw in the bowl.

Peanut Butter Honey Wheaties No Bake Cookie Mounds

about 3/4 cup honey

about 3/4 cup peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural)

about 1 cup old fashioned oats

about 4-5 cups Wheaties cereal, crushed slightly (Total would work, too, or Raisin Bran)

Put the honey and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Nuke it for about 30-60 seconds, stir to combine.  Stir in oats and cereal until well combined.  Scoop into balls and flatten slightly, setting them on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper, let set.  For even quicker set, put the sheet in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  Perfect.

(For bird's nests, add 2-3 jelly beans to each one, pressing down slightly, before letting set.)

While I was scooping them into the nests, Taylor exclaimed that they needed chocolate chips!  While I fully agree, I explained to him that bird's nests don't have chocolate in them.  ;)  Since he wants me to make them again (I'll get whatever fiber I can in this kid!), I'll put some chocolate in for him.

Pretty healthy, I'd say!  I know I kept picking on the leftovers that day. 


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

TWD--Four-Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

Tuesday again!  That means all the members of the Tuesdays With Dorie group are making Four-Star Chocolate Bread Pudding from Dorie Greenspan's awesome book, Baking From My Home to Yours.  The recipe can be found on pages 410-11 in the book, but you can also get the recipe from Lauren at A Baking Blog (a.k.a. Upper East Side Chronicle).  Check it out, if you like bread pudding, this one's for you.

I don't recall ever having had bread pudding before.  I wasn't terribly excited to make this, but moreso because of the whole milk, heavy cream and lots of eggs!  Well, I decided to go ahead and make half the recipe and lots of lower fat substitutes.  Now that means I don't really know if this turned out how it should have or if something went wrong.  A half recipe made six perfectly full ramekins.

Ready for the oven after resting and begin beaten by a spoon. ;)


The chocolate I ended up using was a dark chocolate bar with orange peel by Chocolove.  I thought the orange flavor would be really good.  The bar also had little bits of almond in it.  So I took it a step further and added some slivered almonds as well.  I only wish I'd have had some orange to add some zest, especially after tasting it--the orange flavor was quite subtle, but good!  This recipe was actually very simple to make.  I wish that meant more people (i.e. Kevin and boys) would have liked it more and eaten it all up.  (I made this on Sunday and there are still 2 1/2 ramekins full in the fridge.  I actually meant to offer some of this to Tes tonight, but completely forgot.

When I put them in the oven to bake, I wasn't sure how long to bake the little dishes, so I set the timer for 15 minutes to start.  Somehow someone turned the timer off at some point and as I went about other things, realized it wasn't set and I had no idea how long it had been baking.  A knife inserted in the center came out clean, so I called it good.


I also added the dried cherries as well as some orange flavored dried cranberries.  I really liked it having eaten about 1/4 of one.  Scott ate all of his, Parker, Taylor and Sam tasted it and didn't like it and Kevin took a few courtesy bites for me.  He said it wasn't bad, just not his thing.  Scott liked it, but mentioned that there were too many nuts.  I really liked the chew from the nuts and dried fruit, but it may have had a little too much.  The custard part wasn't super creamy and there was a lot of bread (maybe too much?  I measured the bread on my scale to get 6 ounces.)  I used part of a loaf of Italian sweet bread that I found at the local grocery store bakery.  No brioche or challah to be found nearby!  So the short of it is--I liked it, but would go for something else chocolate if I had to choose.


I was out of whipped cream, but did serve this with a little added Cool Whip.  Ahh, even better now.


Here is the recipe as I made it.

Chocolate Bread Pudding, adapted by Katrina from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

6 ounces Italian Sweet Bread

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup orange flavored dried cranberries

1  1/2 cups fat free milk

1/2 cup heavy cream (I wish I would have just used 2% milk or something)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Egg Beaters with touch of yolk

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3.2 oz. bar of Chocolove Orange Peel 55% Dark Chocolate, chopped

2 oz. bar of Lindt Orange Extreme Dark Chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Have six ramekins ready and a roasting pan big enough to hold them.

Cut the bread in to 1 inch cubes.  Spread it out on a baking sheet and bake  in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.   Toss into a bowl with the fruit and nuts. 

Bring the milk and cream just to a boil.

Fill a pot or teakettle with water and put it on to boil.  When the water boils, turn off the heat.  Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolk and sugar together in a bowl.  While whisking, slowly drizzle in a little of the hot milk mixture to temper the eggs so they don't curdle.  While continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the rest of the hot milk.  Add the chopped chocolate and whisk it in gently until it is melted and the custard is smooth.  Pour the custard in with the bread pieces.   With a ladle, spoon enough of the custard-bread mixture into each ramekin to fill them.  Let sit on counter for 30 minutes. (I actually only did about 15 minutes.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put each of the ramekins into the roasting pan, line the sides of the pan with paper towel and carefully pour water into the pan to fill it about half way up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake for 15 minutes (then test with a knife inserted in the center to see if it comes out clean).  Transfer to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.   Serve with a dollop of whipped cream. 


Does that look correct?  I really have no idea, but I personally liked the combination of flavors and I like that it still worked great with all the lower fat substitutions.  At any rate, it was fun to make it and I can now say I've made and tasted bread pudding and CHOCOLATE at that! ;)  Thanks for the great pick, Lauren.  Check out Dorie's REAL recipe on the link to Lauren's blog above and go check out all the other bread puddings out there on the  Tuesdays With Dorie blogroll. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

Flower Fruit Cookies and Snake Pizza!

Back again today.  I really thought the kids would love this one, but they weren't nearly as excited as I wanted them to be.  Well, I guess my constant helper, Taylor was in on it, but Scott wouldn't even help at all and Parker did two of these cookies just to be a good sport.  The annoying thing is that none of them want to eat these.  I love fruit pizza and that is pretty much what these are with a sugar cookie base, a cream cheese topping and fresh fruit.  As much as I like them, I didn't and haven't had one.  I think I saw the idea for these also from Mandy's blog, Gourmet Mom-on-the-Go, although I've made them before.


I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe for these.  Then whipped up 4 oz. of cream cheese and about 3 1/2 oz. marshmallow creme.  Like I said, Taylor had the most fun with these.  Try to guess which ones he made. ;)


I thought they turned out really cute/pretty and were fun to make. 


Maybe they'd be more fun for a girl's birthday party or sleep over.  Boring boys!  jk


Stinkin' cute photo intermission:


Would you look at that face?!  

The other day while outside, Sam decided he's big enough to get on Taylor's bike and he thinks he can ride it.




He decided he was cold, so we got a jacket.





Okay, let's have some pizza.  I got the idea for this fun pizza once again, Mandy's blog, Gourmet Mom-on-the-Go and as soon as I saw it, I thought the boys would love it.  We make homemade pizza a lot.  The kids usually each get a small piece of dough (I've been making this whole wheat pizza dough since I found it on Joe's blog, Culinary in the Country.  It's  a great, simple recipe.), anyway, they usually make a small pizza of their own and get to put whatever toppings on that they want, a tradition we did for year's at my house growing up.  Who doesn't like pizza!?

Mandy made her snake pizza with cut bagels, but I just did it this way.


Look out, SNAKE!  (Really, how cute is he?)

DSCF2242 Unfortunately, he met a rather unexpected demise!  Chomp, chomp,.....mmmmmm.   Burp.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sick Day #2--Doggie Fruit Snack

For today's fun snack, after Scott got home from school and Sam woke up from his nap, we made these CUTE Doggie Fruit Snacks that I found on Mandy's fun blog, Gourmet Mom-on-the-Go.  It was a good time to do these, since Parker is sick and Scott is grounded (bummer for him!  He failed a test in school that he wouldn't study for and that was the deal we made.).  These are so fun and easy, just like the frogs from yesterday.  I'll have to see if I can be creative and think of more on my own.  Or better yet, let the boy's imaginations take over. 

Wanted to do a group picture, but guess who wouldn't be in it?  I do have a son who is almost 11, but you just about wouldn't even know it sometimes.  You can see lots of  younger pictures of him on the sidebar, but for the last few years, Scott just will not be in pictures if he has any say in it.  Sigh.

This is Scott's Doggie.


Parker's doggie.  (He's feeling better!  He still had a fever this morning, but hasn't since.  He's quite back to normal, but I won't let him go play with friends and it's killing him.  It's a gorgeous 70 degrees outside today!  They are both grounded from their Game Boys and Wii for the weekend, and since there is no school tomorrow, that will really stink for them--and me to be honest!  I know, I know, what mean, horrible parents!  They were both caught in their beds the other night (when they should have been sleeping) playing their Game Boys.   Ought-O!  Bye-bye Game Boys.


Taylor!  I think it's funny that in every picture of Parker and Taylor they always seem to have the same expressions on their faces.  Cute faces, though!


Sammie!  (Remembering he just woke up from a nap.  I don't always let his hair go crazy like this, but no matter to me--it's cute!  (Mom!)


Next rainy or sick day, try these cute puppies with your kids!


I'm kind of bummed, I completely forgot that I bought some strawberries just for their ears and couldn't for the life of me remember, even after opening the fridge where the strawberries were staring right at me, to get the carrots.  Sigh.  The strawberry puppy is pretty cute, too.  You could really use all kinds of things for these!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Feverish Boy, BORED at Home, Hungry = Edible Froggy Snack

Parker is sick (again, I swear he was just sick a few weeks ago--darn school!).  He woke up at 2 a.m. last night, barely making it up the stairs because his legs hurt so bad and said he didn't feel good.  He had a fever of 104.2!  We worked through getting some medicine in him and getting him calmed back down and asleep on the couch. 

Needless to say, he didn't go to school and won't be tomorrow.  Just as well, there is no school on Friday--snow day!  No, there is no snow.  It's a "free" snow day that wasn't used during the winter.  Anyway, I saw these super cute, super easy fruity frogs and decided the boys and I needed to make them.

It was fun and literally only took minutes. 


Quarter an apple, remove core.  Slit the center for mouth.  Slice grapes in half the long way,  Cut four halves into threes for toes.  (The original recipe said to make little balls of cream cheese), we used some thinly cut large marshmallows, stuck a chocolate chip on with peanut butter for the eyes.  Also stuck the marshmallow to the apple with a  little peanut butter.

The boys loved them. (Not the greatest picture of the three, but we had to photograph quickly as Sam was eager to grab his.)


Each frog is so unique and aren't they just the cutest? 


Parker told me he wants to make a monkey.  I told him I had no idea how.  He kept thinking of other things that would be good to make.  He thought of this sunflower all on his own and put it together while I was in another room.  Pretty cute and clever!



It will be fun to see what else we come up with as the week drags on. ; )