Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cookie Carnival—Sassy Cinnamon Cookies


I really can’t believe how fast November has come and gone.  I thought I’d get my post up for Cookie Carnival. 

Cookie Carnival

One of the cookies we could choose to make this month is Sassy Cinnamon Cookies found at the Betty Crocker website.  These cookies are snickerdoodles on steroids.  They are a thick cookie with that familiar snickerdoodle taste with pecans and cinnamon chips added for extra flavor and crunch. 

The recipe suggests making the cookies with 1/4 cup balls of dough.  HUGE.  I make them with about two tablespoons of dough and they still turned out plenty big.  They are good.  The only change I would make if I made them again is to either bake them less time (I baked mine 12 minutes and they are just a little too crispy) or I would bake them at 350 degrees instead of the 375 degrees in the recipe.  We like soft and chewy snickerdoodles, they are actually one of Kevin’s favorite cookies.  But he didn’t care for how crispy these were.


You can join and bake along with Cookie Carnival, too.  Check out how over at Tami's Kitchen Table Talk.  She’ll also posts a round up of everyone’s cookies each month.  (Thanks, Tami!)


TWD—Devilish Shortcakes and Last Week’s Rewind—Blueberry Pie

Last week I mentioned that I planned to make Dorie’s Blueberry Pie for Thanksgiving, but didn’t post it yet because I was making it for Thanksgiving.  Dorie’s recipe is specifically for a double-crusted pie, but I put streusel on top. 

The pie was fantastic and a big hit with our 25+ pies and desserts with our crowd of 60 for Thanksgiving.  This is the only picture I was able to snap of it.



I made the Devilish Shortcakes on Monday, just in time to also snap a few photos so I could share in my participation with TWD this week.  The shortcakes were chosen by Tania of Love BIG Bake Often.  I started putting the ingredients together without thinking about how big the recipe is, so I went ahead and made all the scones, but only baked six and froze the other 13 for making another time.

Easy enough, but I did cheat and use the food processor to cut in the butter to the dry ingredients.  I sprinkled the tops of the shortcakes with some turbinado sugar before they baked. 


To the freezer.


For dessert.

I could only envision these one way.  Nutella slathered on both sides, sliced bananas, whipped cream with a drizzle of chocolate syrup.  Oh, yes I did.



We also had sliced, macerated strawberries to put in the cakes.  Scott had one, Taylor had one, I ate some and made one for Kevin when he got home from work late.  And he ate it and said he liked it!  (He doesn’t really love traditional shortcake or strawberries.  Here’s his.


We’ll be happy to pull a few more of these out of the freezer sometime and bake them up!  Thanks for the fun, different pick, Tania.  She’ll have the recipe on her blog.  Check out other TWD Bloggers shortcakes, too.

Oh so much more to share with you coming up soon, including another CSN Stores giveaway and lots of holiday baking ideas. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

FFWD—November Round Up—Potato Gratin, Roast Chicken and Caramel-Topped CHOCOLATE Semolina Cake

I decided last month after finding it hard to get French Fridays With Dorie posts up every Friday, that I would just do one post for the month with a quick recap of the things I made.  So while most FFWDers post every Friday, I plan to post on the last Friday of every month. What?  I know, it’s not Friday.  Well, cut me some slack, it was a holiday weekend, but I do want to get this post up before November is gone.

I made three of the four recipes that were chosen this month.  The one recipe I didn’t make was for Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flans, page 146.  I just couldn’t get it done, I wanted to try it, but certainly not with gorgonzola cheese.  I just don’t “do” moldy cheeses.  So I really was going to try it with another cheese and still plan to sometime because I do love pumpkin.  I may even just try a small, scaled down version of this soon because I have some pumpkin in the fridge to use up. 

Weeks ago though, I did make the Pommes Dauphinois (Potato Gratin), page 360.  How cute are these little individual gratin dishes I found months ago?  They are only about 1/2 cup each. 


I made about 1/4 of the gratin recipe and three little gratins (one was in a 1/2 cup round ramekin.  What is not to love about potatoes and cream baked with cheese?  The cream is infused with garlic and the potatoes are seasoned with a little thyme in between the layers of potatoes.  Topped with Gruyere cheese and baked, these really are a dinner treat.  I only took a bite of the one I served Kevin.  I just couldn’t do that much fat in my dinner at that time.  But for sure, someday when I’m really going to splurge on dinner, I will surely make the gratin again.



I made the Roast Chicken For Les Paresseux a couple weeks ago for a Sunday dinner.  It was pretty easy and the chicken was nice and moist, but neither Kevin nor I really like bone in chicken or dark meat.  So I felt like it was a lot of work and a lot of meat no one really wanted.


I need a Dutch oven.  I’m going to put on one my Christmas wish list.  The only thing I had that would even slightly work to cook the whole chicken in is the ceramic bowl to my Crockpot.  It actually worked fine, but I think it was a little small for the whole chicken and the potatoes and carrots, so I didn’t get as much browning on the chicken as I would have liked.  It also made it so I had A LOT more juice/liquid/stock in the bottom of the bowl underneath the chicken, the piece of bread underneath pretty much disintegrated.


That liquid was probably close to 2 inches deep.  We didn’t use it for anything.  Then, see if you notice anything wrong with this next picture--


Did you figure it out?  Well, I had NO clue until I was carving in to the chicken.  Here, does this help?


Nice chicken butt shot (sorry, Mom).  Well, turns out the whole thing would have looked a lot better AND been much easier to carve if it hadn’t been UPSIDE DOWN.  Maybe the breast side up might have even browned up nicer.  Yep, I cooked the bird upside down, photographed it upside down and had no idea the whole time, until I was carving it and though that chicken had the worst breast meat I’d ever seen.  Ahh, see, we don’t eat much whole chicken around here.  That and I’m just a dork.

We actually did enjoy the nice moist chicken once I figured out where it was.  sigh   Let’s move on.

Today (Sunday) I decided to give the Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake (pages 438-439)  a try.  Since there is Cream of Wheat in the cake, I remembered in the past, I had bought some chocolate Cream of Wheat.  When I went to find it at the store a week or so ago, it was Malt-o-Meal that makes the chocolate one.  Looking at the ingredients of both regular cereals, they were the same, so I went with the chocolate Malt-o-Meal to give this cake flan-like dessert breakfast treat at try.  I knew no one would eat this with plain Cream of Wheat and raisins.  It had to be chocolate.  So not only did I used Chocolate Malt-o-Meal, I also added mini chocolate chips in place of the dried fruit.  Scott loves Chocolate Malt-o-Meal, so I think he’ll eat the cake.  He hasn’t tried it yet.  I taste a few bites of it.  It’s okay, but not something I’d ever make again.

I also had issues with the caramel.  I’ve made Dorie’s caramels on the stove before, but this one was different—it was sugar and water with a splash of lemon juice.  I did everything exactly that the recipe said for the caramel and two times it turned to crystal within minutes.  It never caramelized.  I was quite annoyed.  What was the problem?


Kevin thinks its a high altitude—too much water issue.  He didn’t come up with that idea until I decided to make a different caramel—using the method from some of Dorie’s other recipes.   I put 1/3 cup sugar in a dry skillet, let it start to turn amber and smoke a little.  Then I added 3 tablespoons of cream and stirred it over the heat until it smoothed out.  I removed it from the heat and added one teaspoon of butter.  It looked much better and I forgot to take a picture of it.  I poured it in to the hot baking pan, which I only had a nine inch round pan and not an 8 inch.  Then topped it with the “cake” batter and baked it. 


I was happy that it came right out of the pan and the caramel looked good.  The cake is thin because I used the bigger pan.  I think it turned out exactly how it was supposed to. 



It really does taste okay.  But I would never consider it a dessert that I’d make for company or anything.  Not sure I’d ever even make it for breakfast, though it has everything you’d eat for breakfast, milk, eggs, Malt-o-Meal—and chocolate. ;)  I’m always glad when I try something new.  Now on to December recipes in between lots and lots of holiday baking!  Stay tuned for all that.  (And make that potato gratin sometime—it’s heavenly!) 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies—Stained Glass Cookies

12 Days

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and remembered to think about all the things you’re grateful for.  We had a great day with lots of family and of course, food!

When I woke up this morning after our big, full (literally), busy day yesterday, I realized it was Friday and I had not baked up anything to share for the Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies (Week 9!).  So I got Scott to join me and make some cookies that he’d found and wanted to make for a school project.  For their assignment, they are to read any 10 recipes they want, then pick one and make it.  Scott flipped through a lot of my cookbooks and ended up choosing Martha Stewart’s Stained Glass (Trees) Cookies.  I got everything ready for him, then had him read each direction in the recipe and he pretty much did all of it with little help from me.

The sugar cookies (which we didn’t do all Christmas trees) are then cut out in the middle and broken candy pieces (we used Jolly Ranchers) are set inside.  When the cookies bake, the candy melts and looks like stained glass.  They turned out quite well and Scott definitely had fun, especially with the candy. 



Scott’s favorite part was smashing the Jolly Ranchers in a plastic bag, that and I think we was happy we didn’t use them all so he could eat a couple.  In the whole bag of candy, there was only one blue one (blue raspberry).  Scott decided to make one tree with a blue Y in the center because he loves BYU.  They play their last game of the season tomorrow, their biggest rivals, University of Utah.


DSCF2370We used pretty big cutters for these, but you could make them smaller and make sure the centers for candy are big enough.

DSCF2367  Here’s the recipe for Stained Glass Trees Cookies from Martha Stewart’s Cookies book, which can also be found on her website.  Sure wish the kids’ school assignments always involved baking in the kitchen!

Check out all the links for great holiday cookie ideas below!  Week 9, Friends!  Thanksgiving is over, Christmas is RIGHT around the corner!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pillsbury Pie Crusts Spark Giveaway Winner

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and are safe in your travels.  The blizzard is over here in Utah,but the frigid temperatures and snowy roads remain.  We don’t have anywhere to go and I’m just having fun in the kitchen today.

I wanted to let you know about the Pillsbury Pie Crust giveaway.  Today I had Random.org choose a winner.  Out of 74 comments/entries the random generator chose #41 which was Kerri---

Blogger Kerri said...

I "liked" pie on facebook

November 21, 2010 6:00 PM

Kerri has a great-looking blog, Kerri's Texas Kitchen that you should check out sometime.  Congratulations, Kerri.  I sent you an email, please contact me with your mailing address.  Thanks!  Thanks to My Blog Spark who will send you this great prize pack from Pillsbury.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TWD—Rewind and Pillsbury Giveaway Reminder

I’m planning to make Dorie’s Double-Crusted Blueberry Pie for Thanksgiving with some of the gobs of frozen blueberries I have.  I haven’t made the pie yet because it’s not quite Thanksgiving.  I’ll post it sometime this weekend.

In the meantime, check out the Apple Strudel Pockets and Pillsbury Giveaway I posted recently.  Go to that link and enter to win!  Deadline to enter is tonight (Tuesday, November 23) at midnight MST.  US residents only. The winner will be chosen randomly Wednesday morning.


This giveaway from Pillsbury is provided by My Blog Spark.  Click the link above to leave a comment on the giveaway post.

WISHING YOU ALL A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  I’m certainly grateful for all the many wonderful things I’ve been blessed with in my life.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Apple Strudel Pockets and a Pillsbury Giveaway

A couple months ago (almost), at the height of apple picking season, I agreed to do a post, review and giveaway from My Blog Spark and Pillsbury for their ready-made pie crusts.  But I had neglected to send them my new address and to my dismay, they shipped a package to me at our old address in Kansas.  Oops.


Well, I was lucky enough to be shipped a new package so I could try out Pillsbury's pie crust, receive some other fun goodies, make something yummy with apples and pie crust, share it with you and give away some of those same goodies!  I think that’s pretty cool.


So here’s the deal.  I had never used Pillsbury’s pie crusts before.  I make my own.  BUT, I was happy to try their crust, so I made some great Apple Strudel Pockets with some sweet Golden Delicious apples I’d picked right from the grocery store.  (I really am bummed that I didn’t make it to an orchard, we are for sure going to do that next year!)  Now is the time of year where you CAN get some great apples in your grocery stores, and maybe still at your local fruit stands.  And now is definitely the time of year that you NEED to be baking up some yummy desserts with apples!  I have recently made two different apple pies, so with the Pillsbury crust, I wanted to do something different. I’ve been seeing lots of different blogs posting their versions of homemade Pop Tarts and the like and decided that is what I wanted to do.


These are so light and flaky and easy to make.  They aren’t really like Pop Tarts, but more like Toaster Strudels.  I just made up the apple filling.  And I spooned a little glaze over them.  They are really good!



I would totally make these again and I have decided that I need to keep a box of Pillsbury pie crusts in my freezer for certain things!  I had fun with scraps of the dough and made some mini sized ones that were like apple filled ravioli.  I think making a bunch of the smaller ones would be a great mini dessert for a party.  They boys liked these, the husband ate one or two and I liked them a lot (enough to convince myself they weren’t here so I didn’t eat too many)!  Here’s what I did to make them.

Apple Strudel Pockets, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 box Pillsbury ready-made pie crusts, thawed

2 apples of choice (I used Golden Delicious), peeled, quartered, then grated

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

4-6 tablespoons brown sugar (to taste, I started with 4 and ended up adding more)

1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (to taste)

Powdered Sugar Glaze-

1 cup powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk (or to desired consistency)

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel, quarter and grate the apples.  Put the butter in a medium sized saucepan and melt over medium heat, once it has stopped bubbling, add the brown sugar.  Let the mixture caramelize a bit.  Add the apples and cook for about ten minutes.  About halfway through the cook time, add the cinnamon.  Set aside to cool while you roll out the dough.

Unroll one pie crust.  Cut edges so it is a square.  Roll out to flatten a bit and to smooth together any holes in the dough.  Cut into desired sized squares/rectangles using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter.  Spoon some of the apple filling onto every other shape of dough, not too much, leaving about a half inch border around the edges.  “Paint” water around the edge of the dough with a pastry brush or your finger.  Lay a matching-sized piece of dough over each one.   Press the tines of a fork all around the edges of each one to seal the dough together.  Repeat with second pie crust. 

Lay them on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until golden.  Let cool.  While cooling, make the glaze.  Combine powdered sugar, salt and vanilla in a medium sized bowl.  Add milk one tablespoon at a time, whisking together.  Add the other tablespoon a little at a time until desired consistency and whisk until there are no lumps.  Spoon and smooth a little of the glaze over each pocket.  Let dry.  These are great for an on-the-go breakfasts or a treat/dessert!


Want to win some fun stuff for your apple baking from Pillsbury provided by My Blog Spark?  Here’s what you need to do to enter--

*Leave me a comment here telling me two things—do you put lemon juice/zest in your apple pie?  (I have recently discovered I don’t care for the lemon zesty taste taking over the apple taste.  So I was just wondering what ya’ll think.)

*Enter again leaving a separate comment telling me something you have made with pie crust and/or apples lately.

*”Like” the Love the Pie page from Pillsbury on Facebook and come back to leave me a comment here telling me that you did.


In the prize package—measuring cups, apple slicers, apple cutting board, glass pie plate, hot pad, apple timer and one coupon for Pillsbury pie crusts. 

You have until Tuesday, November 23, at midnight, MST to enter.  Limited to US residents only.  A winner will be selected at random and notified via email (so make sure I have a way to contact you).

Thank you to Pillsbury for providing me these products that you could also win if chosen.  They were provided by My Blog Spark.   

Friday, November 19, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies—Toasted Coconut Lime Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Oh my, I SWEAR I just posted last week’s cookies for the Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies and now here we are again (week 8).  Have you done any Christmas shopping yet?  I have not.  (Gulp) I recently saw and had to buy some intriguing looking chocolates at the grocery store.


I hadn’t ever really thought of pairing lime and chocolate together, but these are actually really good.  Then I got to thinking what I could bake with them.  I thought of coconut.  Coconut and lime go great together.  I pulled out this recipe from Cooking Light (April 2010) and made my changes and I have to say these are some tasty cookies!


I made a bunch of mini sized cookies to go along with the others I’d previously done and piled them on a plate.


I made some of them, then decided to put one of the lime chocolate balls on top of a few just as they came out of the oven.


I then decided to do some of the cookies with the chocolate balls inside.  Those are my favorite.


Toasted Coconut Lime Chocolate Chunk Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys! (adapted from Cooking Light, April 2010)

1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
4.5 ounces whole wheat pastry flour (128 grams)  (You could use all purpose flour as well)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 ounces dark chocolate,  chopped
zest of half a lime (about 1/2 teaspoon) or more to taste, I plan to try up to 1 teaspoon next time

Key Lime Milk Chocolate Balls, from Florida Tropic (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Arrange coconut in a single layer in a small baking pan. Bake at 350° for 7 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring once. Set aside to cool.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until blended. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Beat in vanilla, lime zest and egg. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in toasted coconut and chocolate.

Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. (If using lime chocolate balls, wrap some of the cookie dough around the chocolate and roll in to balls.  Bake  for 8-10 minutes.  Let sit on baking sheets for two minutes then remove to cooling rack.  If you’re putting chocolate balls on the top of the cookies, do so as soon as you remove them from the oven.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TWD—Cranberry Lime Galette with Chocolate

Surprise!  I added chocolate the the Cranberry Lime Galette for Tuesday’s With Dorie this week.  This week the recipe was chosen by the gals at Celestial Confections.  They’ll have the recipe on their blog.


I put off making this until yesterday, which I kept debating whether I should do it or not.  Afterall, I did just made three bundt cakes.  But I had everything I needed for the galette, including the dough.  I had some leftover pieces from of dough (two small ones) from a pie I’d made recently to take to a ladies church activity.  The pie I made was Ina Garten's Deep Dish Apple Pie.  I’d made this once before a year or two ago.  This is a great apple pie and her crust is perfect. 


So I rolled out the two small pieces of leftover dough.  Whipped up the filling ingredients, which were…easy as pie!  In place of the nuts suggested in Dorie’s recipe, I used pistachios.  I also used graham cracker crumbs instead of bread crumbs.  I just happened to have some.  The reason I decided to add some chocolate is because the only dried cranberries I had were part of a mix of cranberries, pistachios and chocolate chunks.  I chopped it all up and added it to the cranberry mixture.  Then I decided that wasn’t quite enough chocolate.  So I chopped up some bittersweet chips, only a couple tablespoonfuls.  I sprinkled the top of each with some nuts and chocolate as well as putting some on the bottom of the crust.

The two little galettes baked up perfectly.  Except that I didn’t photograph one of them that decided to have a little dam burst on part of it, so it was a little ugly.  That’ll teach it—it got eaten first!  I still have part of it and the other one and lots-o-cake. 


I really like the flavors in this galette—tart cranberries with a hint of lime, pistachios, and chocolate, I think it goes well and helps cut a little of the tartness from the cranberries.  I also like the bit of chew the dried cranberries add.  I would make this again. 

Check out the bundt cakes I made for National Bundt Cake Day in honor of Mary, The Food Librarian, oh yeah, and because it was my birthday, too!

National Bundt Cake Day—Cinnamon Ripple Sweet Potato Bundt Cake, Red Velvet Bundt Cake and Banana Bundt Cake

It’s all been building up and building up to this—the actual day.  My birthday National Bundt Cake Day is finally here.  Mary, The Food Librarian has been rockin’ out bundt cakes for 30 days leading up to today.  She loves bundts, big bundts.  It has been such a yummy experience to see what bundt she’ll post next.  I’m not as cool as Mary, so I have only made four bundt cakes during the last month, but does it count for more that I made three of those in the last 24 hours?

I’m not sure if you got that today is also my birthday. (Ha, that’s just for you Megan---it’s. my. birthday.  Should I spell it out?  hehe kidding, I’m kidding.)  Anyway, just for fun, I made two bundt cakes yesterday as we had people over to eat cake and sort of celebrate then since Kevin had to work until late tonight.

I often have the Food Network on in the background of whatever I’m doing in the kitchen.  On Saturday, Paula Deen’s show was on and she was making a Cinnamon Ripple Sweet Potato Cake.  It looks great.  I decided that I wanted to make that bundt.


There are supposed to be pecans in the cinnamon ripple of the cake.  I toasted them.  Finished the cake, put the batter in the pan, added the ripple, then more batter, stuck the bundt in the oven, turned around and saw the pecans still sitting on the sheet pan I roasted them on.  Ugh.  The only other change I made to the cake was Paula’s cake had a white rum glaze on it and I decided to do a chocolate glaze.  Since I forgot the pecans inside, I sprinkled a bunch on the top.  Also just for kicks, I did add some mini chocolate chips to the ripple and the top of the cake.  The only other change I made was Paula’s recipe called for sour cream and I used Greek yogurt instead.


We liked the cake okay, but it didn’t have enough sweet potato flavor.  There were also some spices in it, but not enough.  It almost just tasted like a yellow cake with the cinnamon ripple and chocolate glaze.


I very much preferred this Marbled Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake I made a few weeks ago.


Then I also decided to finally make a Red Velvet Bundt Cake.  I have never made any kind of red velvet cake before.  This recipe I used is from the LA Times, which was a recipe they posted from Kiss My Bundt Bakery.

The cake is sure pretty and love the red color.  All of us that ate some of the cake weren’t super thrilled with it.  It tasted like the main flavor was oil.  (The recipes uses oil instead of butter.)  It didn’t really taste like the red velvet cake I’ve had before.  It does make me want to try some other recipes sometime.


The best part of the red velvet cake was the cream cheese frosting, which I changed a bit from the Kiss My Bundt recipe.  I added more powdered sugar than the recipe called for.


The cake was really oily.  Bummer.  But I’m glad I tried a red velvet cake finally and I’m sure I’ll try some other recipes.


After feeling a little disappointed about the two bundt cakes I made for my birthday National Bundt Cake Day, I decided to make another one today.  I also wanted to use the new bundt cake pan Kevin got me. 

So I whipped up half a recipe of one of my favorite cakes---Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours.  The half recipe made six perfect individual bundts.  This pan is great—the cake just slid right out and all I did was spray it with cooking spray.


That’s my kind of bundt!


I love banana cake.  I just put a nice dollop of some of the cream cheese frosting left over from the red velvet cake in the center of each one and sprinkled on some pecans. 


That’s my bundt story.  Check out all the big bundt love on Mary’s blog!  (Thanks for the birthday shout out, Mary.   So sweet of you.)

Thanks also to everyone who came and left a nice birthday greeting on my surprise post from Kevin today!  I feel super blessed.  That really made my day!