Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Root Beer Float Brownie Sundaes with Root Beer Syrup Recipe

Root Beer Float Brownies 8-31-11

I have no idea what made me think of root beer IN brownies, but the other day I Googled to find out if such a thing existed.  Well, at first I was thinking more of cookies-and found that there are tons of recipes out there for cookies, blondies, brownies, cake, etc.—but most of them use root beer concentrate/extract and I was looking for something that uses actual root beer.  After my search, these Root Beer Float Brownie Sundaes were created.

The more I Googled, I found just what I was looking for and it didn’t take too much looking once I decided it was brownies I wanted root beer in.  Never fear, I found just the right brownies on one of my oldest-loved blogs (and by old, I mean about 4 years ago when I started reading food blogs.)  The brownie recipe, which includes 8 ounces of root beer, is from Nicole’s blog, Baking Bites.  Nicole has great, tried-and-true recipes on her blog and I know she spends lots of time perfecting recipes before she posts them. 

To get that floaty-creamy like flavor as well as root beer taste IN a chocolate brownie, Nicole uses white chocolate along with the semi-sweet chocolate and some root beer.  I only ever-so-slightly adapted the recipe.  I didn’t have any white chocolate, but did have some white chocolate chips and used those.  But never fear, these were not vanilla chips, which I don’t love and rarely buy, they are actual white chocolate chips with cocoa butter as the main ingredient.  I say that because I know chips are different in their ingredients to keep them in chip-shape when baked.  These melted down just fine with the other chocolate and made a great brownie.

The brownies are ever so cake-like, but it’s a good, dense, fudgy cake.  And they are good.  As Nicole instructs on her blog (post linked above and below), the brownies really are better the next day—just a little bit fudgier and with a little more root beer flavor prominent.


Without further chatter—here’s what I did for these.

Root Beer Float Brownie Sundaes, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 recipe for 9x9 pan Root Beer Brownies from Baking Bites (includes 8 oz. root beer)

Vanilla Ice Cream (I happened to have some homemade vanilla that was great!)

12 ounces (1 can) root  beer soda (I used Mug brand)

Make the brownies according to the recipe.  Let cool completely.  Chill for a few hours and/or overnight.  Cut in to squares. 

Simmer one can of root beer in a small saucepan until it reduces substantially.  You can make more if needed.  One can reduced down to about 1/4 cup of syrup in 10-15 minutes.  We made 5 sundaes and drizzled spoonfuls of the syrup over each.  It didn’t take too much—it’s concentrated!

Serve the sundaes with a brownie, then vanilla ice cream and the syrup drizzled over the top.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

TWD—Cornmeal and Fruit Mini Muffins


For Tuesdays With Dorie this week, Caitlin at Engineer Baker chose the Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf on page 43 of Baking From My Home to Yours.  Caitlin will have the recipe on her blog.  Kind of last minute, I decided to cut the recipe in half and make mini muffins.  So instead of making a loaf, I made mini muffins, other than that, I followed the recipe exactly.  Well, I suppose I sprinkled some sliced almonds on top of each muffin.  But I used an apple and some dried apples as suggested. 


The muffins were just okay.  Kind of a bummer.  I wish I would have added more cinnamon and some walnuts inside or something.  They were also a little dry.  Maybe I baked them a couple minutes too long.  Oh well.  You can’t win them all.  Stay tuned, coming up next I’ll share some Root Beer Cupcakes I made that were REALLY good!

I do want to check out other Cornmeal and Fruit Loaves that others made over at Tuesdays With Dorie and see how they faired.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cookie Carnival—Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies w/Chocolate Filling


August Cookie Carnival is upon us and I’ve got a great cookie to share although I didn’t totally follow the recipe we were given.  The original recipe is for Sweet Banana Peanut Butter Cookies found on Canada’s Food Network site.  I opted not to make the banana filling and went with a chocolate filling instead.

The cookies are a basic crisscrossed peanut butter cookie that bake up chewy and flat, perfect for making them into a sandwich cookie.  I made a few slight changes to the recipe, I used Bestlife Buttery Baking Sticks instead of butter.  I used an all natural/organic peanut butter and I used whole wheat pastry flour.  All of that makes these cookies healthy, right? ;)

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies with Chocolate Filling, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

Cookie Dough:

1/2 cup Bestlife Buttery Baking Stick (no hydrogenated oils, less fat than butter), you could also just unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 grams)

1/2 cup brown sugar (110 grams)

1 large egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup all natural peanut butter (use any peanut butter you’d like) (128 grams)

1  1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (all purpose flour is fine, too) (180 grams)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw), for the tops of the cookies (regular sugar would work fine, too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Cream together butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Scrape sides of bowl.  Stir in peanut butter.  In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and salt) and whisk to combine.  Add to peanut butter mixture and stir or beat just until blended.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet and crisscross them with a fork dipped in turbinado sugar (once the fork has been pressed into some dough, the sugar will start sticking to the fork).  Bake for 9 minutes, until cookies begin browning around the edges.  Let cool on baking sheet for a couple minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Filling:

4 ounces dark chocolate (I used Ghir. 60% chips)

4 tablespoons heavy cream

2 cups powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk

Heat the cream in a microwave safe dish in 20 second intervals in the microwave until almost boiling.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate in a large bowl.  Let sit for a minute.  Stir the melting chocolate in with the cream with a spoon slowly until they are incorporated together.  Add the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla and stir to combine.  Add milk as needed for the smooth consistency you’d like. 

Dollop half the cookies with the filling and top with another cookie, pressing down until the filling comes to the sides of the cookies. 

Cookie Carnival--PB Sandwich Cookies w/chocolate filling 8-25-11 

Really, is there a better combination than chocolate and peanut butter?

Join in the Cookie Carnival fun.  Just baking and sharing a new cookies once a month!

Cookie Carnival

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Zucchini Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Almost to the end of my zucchini!  My mom recently told me about a cake she made that used up some of her zucchini.  I decided it sounded and looked really good.  So I made the cake into cupcakes and used my own version of cream cheese frosting.  And the cupcakes were really good!

DSCF6590 My mom found this recipe at Tiffany’s blog, Eat At Home.  I adapted it with different amounts of flour and sugar.

Zucchini Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

2 1/4 cups (270 grams or 9 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour

1 3/4 cups (355 grams or 12 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups finely grated zucchini (270 grams or 9 1/2 ounces)

1 cup finely grated carrots (80 grams or 2 3/4 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.  I got 20 cupcakes.  Set aside.

Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to combine.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs and vanilla until well blended.  Stir in the zucchini and carrots.  Bake for 24-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into one of the cupcakes comes out clean.  Cool for 5-10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Frost the cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting, by Katrina, Baking and Boys! (This can be doubled, but since some people around here don’t like frosting, I don’t make a full batch.)

4 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar (220 grams)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Cream together the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add the salt and vanilla and combine.  Then add the powdered sugar one cup at a time and beat well until desired consistency.  Put the frosting in a piping bag and pipe onto cupcakes if desired.  (This made enough to frost about 14 of the 20 cupcakes. 

DSCF6586 These cupcakes are perfectly moist from the zucchini and carrots and nicely spiced with the cinnamon.  But the best part is definitely the bites with the cream cheese frosting in them! ;)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

TWD—Golden Brioche Loaf and Brioche Cinnamon Rolls

TWD--Brioche Loaves 8-22-11

This might just look like a regular loaf of bread, but this is not quite the same.  This is the kind of bread you’d really want to splurge on.  


I took a lot of pictures and still feel like nothing could do it justice.  Maybe if I tell you that this recipe, which would make two loaves of bread, or in my case a loaf of bread and twelve cinnamon rolls is so flaky and buttery that you almost can’t believe it.  Just know that this bread (or whatever you make with it—sticky buns, anyone?) had three sticks of butter and three eggs!


This recipe is easy, but time consuming.  Though the mixer does all the hard work.  The time consuming part is just letting the dough rest.  It spends a few hours rising once the dough is made, then it also spends a night in the fridge.

Brioche Cinnamon Rolls 8-22-11 I knew since this recipe was not low-in-fat, that I’d not being having much of it.  So I loaded the cinnamon rolls with a cream cheese and heavy cream laden icing.

Cream Cheese Icing, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

2 cups powdered sugar

2 ounces cream cheese

4 tablespoons cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla and mix, then add the cream a tablespoon at a time and beat after each addition until icing is desire consistency.  Scrape the sides of the bowl often.  Spread or drizzle icing over cinnamon rolls.


Both the cinnamon rolls and even just a plain slice of bread are heavenly.  Love the texture and flakiness.  I would probably only make this again for a really super occasion because I cannot afford to eat things like this but once in a blue moon.  I can only imagine that this would make some delicious French toast.  The cinnamon rolls were devoured by the boys and I gave a few of them to some neighbor friends.  Most of the loaf of bread went into the freezer so I wouldn’t “sample” any more of it.

You need this recipe that was chosen by Margaret of Tea and Scones and she’ll have the recipe on her blog.

It will be fun to hop around Tuesdays With Dorie land and see what everyone made with this really fun dough to work with.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pineapple Sherbet (Sherbert)

DSCF6539 Do you say “sherbet” or “sherbert”?  I say sherbert—and I say it with pride.  It drives Kevin bonkers.  He gave me a stuffed monkey for our 9th anniversary (someday I want to hold a real chimpanzee!), and for fun, I named the monkey Sherbert.  You say tomato, I say tahmaut0…..anyway, I had a big can of pineapple juice and I opened it for using just a little bit of it.  Then it sat in the fridge for a few days.

I decided that  juice needed to churn into a frozen treat and my version of pineapple “sherbert” was created!  I think it’s perfect.  I like a little dish of a frozen treat just as much as the next gal, but I cannot afford for it to always be a decadent, fattening ice cream as I’d really wish.  Thank goodness I really like this kind of thing, too!  It was easy to make.

Pineapple Sherbert or Sherbet, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

3 cups no-sugar added pineapple juice, divided use

1/2 cup lite coconut milk***

1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk***

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

***you could use one cup of any dairy you’d like—all milk, buttermilk, yogurt, etc., I just happened to have 1/2 cup of coconut milk to use up and had just bought some buttermilk, so I thought I’d try it.

Put one cup of pineapple juice and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Take one tablespoon of the remaining two cups of pineapple juice and mix with the cornstarch in a small cup or bowl.  Pour into heated juice and whisk until mixture slightly thickens.  Remove from heat.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the milk, remaining juice and vanilla.  Pour the heated juice into the cold milk and juice mixture.  Set the bowl in an ice bath.  Whisk together every few minutes until mixture is cold.  It won’t take but 20 minutes or so.  Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Freeze in an airtight container.  Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before serving to soften slightly.

DSCF6535 Kevin and I had our14th anniversary in June.  I still have the monkey and still call him Sherbert and enunciate the BERT everytime, it’s all in fun, you know. 

This post has been added to Recipe Sharing Monday at Jam Hands

Jam Hands

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cherry Cheesecake Bars

Cherry Cheesecake Bars

Last week when we had a family get-together (when I also made the Chocolate Shortbread Coconut Toffee Pecan Bars and five other desserts), I also made these Cherry Cheesecake Bars.  I’ll have to make them again soon because they were a big hit and I only tasted a little bite off one of my kid’s serving.  These bars went fast!

I got this recipe from Cooking Light website, but it was in July 2011 magazine.  I changed it a bit since their recipe uses fresh cherries, but I only had some canned tart cherries, so I used those and made the cherry puree my own way.  The shortbread crust was great and the lighter cheesecake filling was just right, especially with the cherries swirled throughout the top.

Cherry Cheesecake Bars, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

2 cups all purpose flour (9 ounces)

6 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (1/2 cup plus two tablespoons or 5 oz.)

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ice water

14 ounce can tart cherries (no sugar added), with the juice, which is about 1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

red food coloring (optional)—it really brightens the color of the canned cherries

12 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

2/3 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray, mostly the sides of the pan.  Place the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Add the cold butter and drizzle in the water.  Pulse about 10 times until the mixture resembles course crumbs.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and press it evenly into the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool completely.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Place the canned cherries juice included, two tablespoons of sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil for a minute or so until thickened.  Remove from heat and add the almond extract and red food coloring.  Put in blender (be careful of hot things in the blender!).  Blend until pureed.  Pour the cherry mixture into a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and strain it.  Set aside.

In the bowl of the food processor, place cream cheese, Greek yogurt, 2/3 cup sugar and vanilla extract and process until smooth.  Add eggs and pulse until combined.  Spoon cream cheese mixture over cooled crust and spread evenly.  Dollop the cherry puree over the cream cheese mixture and make knife swirls across the top to swirl the cherry and cream cheese together.  Don’t swirl too much to get the best effect.  Bake for 35 minutes or until set.  Cool on a wire rack, then cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  Cut in to desired size bars.


Perfect summer treat!  And goodbye summer break—the boys are ready for school (and so is mom)!

DSCF6405 Ready for 8th grade!  Scott is hiding the expander in his mouth as he gets ready for braces!


4th and 2nd grade, here come Parker and Taylor (they’ll put shirts on for school. ;)


I think Sam almost always has a chocolate face (my kind of kid!).  Ready for his last year of preschool.

Look at the size of this carrot Sam ate the other day!


And finally, can’t leave out the Professor—ready or not—he’s about to start school, too!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Poppy Chow---A Special Secret Recipe Club Post

Here we are again with another Secret Recipe Club post for August.  Why?  Because as a group, when we heard that only one blogger didn’t get something posted from their blog, we all banded together and decided that as many of us as could would make and post something today just for fun.  Surprise, Connor's Cooking!


You’ve probably seen or heard of General Mills Chex Muddy Buddies (also sometimes called Puppy Chow)—this is the same idea, except instead of making it with cereal, it’s made with popcorn--Poppy Chow.  Cute.  I was drawn to the fun name and I knew my boys like the Chex Muddy Buddies version of this treat, so after seeing it over at Connor’s Cooking, I decided to make a batch.

It’s simple as can be, pop up some popcorn--


Melt some chocolate, peanut butter, a little butter and some vanilla together--


Add it to the popcorn and coat all the popcorn with the heavenly chocolate/peanut butter mixture--


That is not all though—after that, generously coat the chocolaty popcorn with a nice dusting of a little more sweetness—powdered sugar.


Let it set for as long as you (and your kids) can stand to wait before serving up the treat for the evening!


There’s just one word for this stuff---


You can get the super simple recipe at Connor's Cooking.  She found the recipe at Tasty Kitchen.

Secret Recipe Club'

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Double Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cookies (*They’re Possibly Vegan!)

Double Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cookies 8-16-11My in-laws were leaving town and gave me a bunch of zucchini from their garden.  I’m having fun using them up!  You would never know these super duper Double Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cookies HAVE zucchini.

I’m very happy with the way they turned out as I just playing around with my Grandma Tiny's Zucchini Cookies.  I posted those cookies last year after finding an old hand-written recipe from my grandma for them at my parents house.   Her zucchini cookies are really good (and they’re vegan as they are made with oil and have no eggs).  Those cookies have cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and are just a basic zucchini cookies, but I think they taste great.

Yet surprise, surprise I was thinking about chocolate and how I could incorporate it into a cookie with zucchini.  It worked great to add cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa, which is why they look so dark.  I plan to try them with some natural cocoa as well.)  These are also studded with dark chocolate and pecans.  I really like the texture of them, too.  They aren’t cakey and are almost brownie-like, but they still have that benefit of health from the zucchini.  I also used whole wheat pastry flour ( fiber!).

Double Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup finely grated zucchini

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1  1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour  (150 grams) or all purpose flour

4 tablespoons dark cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup dark chocolate, chopped (or chips)*  These may or may not be vegan depending on what kind of chocolate you use.  (I used 70% Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate)

1/3 cup pecan, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together with a wire whisk the oil and sugar.  Add the vanilla and grated zucchini and whisk to combine. 

Combine all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add to the wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula just until all incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate and pecans.  Scoop into tablespoonfuls about two inches apart on the baking sheets.  Bake for 9 minutes. Let cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets.  Then remove from sheet to cool completely on wire rack.   Makes about 2 dozen.  


I strongly suggest if you have loads of zucchini like everyone else it seems and you like chocolate like I like chocolate that you make these cookies.

TWD—Tropical Crumble

Bananas and mangoes in a fruit crisp.  I wasn’t sure what to think of that.  But that was our recipe for Tuesdays With Dorie this week.  When I saw that we were going to make a tropical crumble, I thought it would maybe have pineapple and coconut or something, so I was surprised when I looked at the recipe and saw that it has bananas and mangoes. 

TWD--Tropical Crumble 8-8-11

Also interesting to this recipe was the streusel topping—it had a lot of butter.  But you know me, I couldn’t follow along with that—I only used half the amount of butter it called for and it was Bestlife buttery baking sticks.  I also used Bestlife for the filling, which starts out melting butter in a skillet, then browning the banana and mangoes.  I already knew I don’t really like cooked bananas, but wanted to give this a fair try.  I did like the addition of lime zest 

I also omitted the fresh ginger, but added some extra ground ginger.  I don’t always like fresh ginger in things.  We had some friends from Kansas visiting when I made this and they really liked it.  I tasted some and while it wasn’t bad, it was not something I’d  eat again. 

You can get the recipe from Gaye from Laws of the Kitchen.

It was even a little better served with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream!  The crisp, buttery, sugary pecans that were almost like pralines were the best part of this, but I’m really glad I only used half the butter for the streusel.


Tuesdays With Dorie—the place to go find more tropical crumble.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Apricot Empanadas---Secret Recipe Club

Apricot Empanadas--SRC--8-7-11

I don’t like to read novels.  There I said it.  Don’t hate me, but I don’t care for the Harry Potter series or any other fiction (not that I hate any of it).  I just can’t sit and read things that aren’t true.  That said, I do enjoy reading non-fiction.  I love it when someone writes true, heartfelt things that have really happened to them.  I think that is one of the things I love about most of the blog world.  We are all here writing about things we love and find important in each of our lives and sharing it with others.

This month for the Secret Recipe Club, I had the pleasure of getting (randomly selected) one of my favorite food bloggers.  Will Suzanne of Thru the Bugs on My Windshield please stand up and take a bow?  I got to meet Suzanne last year.  She lives in Texas, but through her and her husband’s travels all over the country, sometimes on motorcycles with bugs on their teeth windshield, Suzanne came to Utah last year.  We met---


in Salt Lake and had lunch at a fabulous Mexican restaurant, Red Iguana.  Before that, I hadn’t actually been acquainted with Suzanne’s blog for very long—she hadn’t been at it that long.  But food bloggers become friends very quickly I’ve learned and the chance to meet any of them is always such a fun, welcome thing.  It only seems right to meet for food’s sake!

Suzanne is warm and friendly and she’s witty, thoughtful and just one of those kinds of people who are wonderful to just sit and chat with (over chips and salsa, of course, hehe).  She’s got a great sense of humor, too!  Suzanne made me feel like I was meeting up with an old friend. 

I have spent the last month, since learning I had Suzanne’s blog for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, reading pretty much every post Suzanne has written (she started her blog in March of 2010).  I know, why would I bother reading all her posts?  For the Secret Recipe Club, all I needed to do was pick a recipe from her blog and make it.  As I was looking at all her yummy posts and great photography, I couldn’t stop.  Suzanne’s writing is entertaining, thoughtful, and REAL stuff.  None of that magic wand wizardy stuff.  She writes in a charming way and always throws in just enough and the right kind of humor—like this---

This Dairy Queen photo (from Suzanne’s blog), has a little caption under it that says “Texas Stop Sign”.  If you’re on the road, wind in your hair, riding your bike and you see one of these signs—STOP!

Maybe you’re on a hundreds of miles empanada run on your motorcycles.  That’s what Suzanne and her husband did all in the name of some empanadas.  That’s dedication and determination and well, just a little bit crazy!  I love it!  While on this bike ride through New Mexico, they ate at a place that Suzanne described as having a tasty morsel that never pleased her palate more—and they were apricot empanadas.    She later recreated them and sold me on the deal as well.  (You must read this post (Empanada Run) and see all of Suzanne’s photos.  She’s got leather boots on and is sitting on a bike for the first time when she was a teenager and then tells about how she became crazed with motorcycle riding.  She’ll reel you in hook, line and sinker and you’ll spend a few hours trying to read all her posts.  They are that good.  THAT is my kind of reading.  Real stuff.  Real people. 


Ready for the oven, my pretties!

I followed Suzanne’s recipe for the sweet dough exactly as she had written and it is a great dough to work with and simple to make.  I’m happy that the dough is put into two disks—because I have one of those ready in the freezer for when I just need another apricot empanada (or two)—and then I’ll need to run, run, run after that!

Suzanne’s apricot filling is made with reconstituted dried apricots, but I had some fresh ones from last summer in the freezer and decided to use those and make a filling with them.  That stuff is good and could be used for all kinds of things!  I also made a thick blueberry compote to try in a few of the empanadas, but although good, they don’t hold a candle to the apricot filled ones.  I almost need to stop talking about them or I’m liable to get that extra dough out of the freezer sooner than later.

Apricot Empanadas, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, from Suzanne, Thru The Bugs on My Windshield

Empanada Sweet Dough: (Made the dough exactly as Suzanne did)

3 cups all purpose flour (360 grams)

¼ cup sugar (50 grams)

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons ice water

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

½ to 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Add the flour, ¼ cup sugar and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, pulsing a few times for each one. After 8 tablespoons have been added, add one egg and pulse together. Add remaining butter one tablespoon at a time, then add the second egg. Pulsing a few times after each, add a tablespoon of the cold water at a time just until the dough starts to form a ball.

Remove the dough from the food processor and form it into two disks. Wrap each separately in parchment paper and chill them in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Apricot Filling:

2 cups frozen apricots, (or fresh, pitted and cut into quarters)*

½ cup water

1/3 cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

*You can also use dried apricots—the amounts and directions are different, you can get that on the link to Suzanne’s blog

In a medium sized saucepan, combine all of the filling ingredients. Stir together. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes. Mash with a fork when the fruit is soft. Stir occasionally while the filling is simmering. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about ¼ inch thick. Cut circles 3 to 5 inches in diameter, depending on size you’d like. Set each round on a baking sheet, then fill each with just a teaspoon or so of filling. (Don’t overfill.) Fold over and secure edges with fork tines. Be careful not to press down too hard. If the dough is really soft, set the baking sheet in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to firm the dough. (You can freeze empanadas and have them ready to bake, just add a few minutes to the baking time and bake them while still frozen.) Fix about 12 to a baking sheet.

Mix together the 2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle the tops of each empanada with it.  Pierce each with a fork so they have a little steam room inside.   Bake for 25 minutes or so. You can also store a disk of the sweet dough wrapped in parchment and then a zip lock bag in the freezer to use later.


You know, I’ve actually made a number of other recipes from Suzanne’s blog—like this Fresh Crispy Pear Salad—loved it and so did the company we had over that I served it to a few months ago!


I have also made a version of her Very Southwestern Stuffed Poblanos.  I didn’t get those blogged, but check out her post!


I could not have been more thrilled with my secret blog this month and would love to get together with Suzanne again sometime.  That is what this wonderful world of food blogging is all about.  Thanks to Amanda for her hard work in getting this fun group up and running.  She’s even put it all together on a new website—check it out!  Secret Recipe Club

The Secret Recipe Club'

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chocolate Shortbread Coconut Toffee Pecan Bars


Whew!  That title is a mouthful and so are these bars!  This past week I ended up making seven different goodies for a family get together.  These are one of the things I made.  The day I made them, I was out of eggs and went searching for some kind of bar treat that didn’t all for eggs, but that was packed full of lots of flavors.  These were great!

One thing I liked about these is if you don’t like coconut, you don’t have to add it.  Same with nuts or even the toffee.  But these bars have a nice chocolaty crust.  Looking at them, you’d think it’s a thin brownie layer, but it’s more of a shortbread with just a mixture of flour, powdered sugar and cocoa combined with butter and pressed into a pan and partially baked before adding the toppings.

Hiding in between that shortbread layer and all the toppings is a nice fudgy layer made with sweetened condensed (I always use fat free, you know, to make things healthy!) and melted chocolate.  It’s a perfect thing for holding all those different toppings.

I think these would be good, fun and easy for any holidays with the toppings you like and sprinkled with festive colored sprinkles when they come out of the oven.  Give a little press down on the toppings and they will stick to the gooey, fudgy layer.  I found the recipe for these on Allrecipes, but adapted it quite a bit.  On Allrecipes, they are called Coconut Chip Nut Bars.


These could even but cut smaller.  They are quite rich and sweet.  Even a bite sized portion could be put in little paper liners for serving.  My favorite trick for getting bars or brownies out of a pan nicely is to always line the baking pan with foil.  Once they are cooled, just lift out using the edges of the foil that hang over the sides.  It usually works well enough to then stand the whole bar or brownie on it’s side while you peel the foil off.  Then lay them on a cutting board and cut into desired size pieces. 

Chocolate Shortbread Coconut Toffee Pecan Bars, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (210 grams)

pinch of salt

3/4 cup powdered sugar (83 grams)

5 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used 1 tablespoon dark cocoa just for fun.)

1  1/4 cups cold butter, cut into pieces (I used a combo of butter and Bestlife Buttery Baking Sticks, as that is what I had on hand.  It seems to have worked just fine!)

1 can (14 ounces) fat free sweetened condensed milk

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, divided use

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup flaked coconut (I used about 60 grams)

1/3 cup toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil and lightly spray the sides with cooking spray.  Set aside.  In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, powdered sugar, salt and cocoa.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Add the cold butter and pulse again just until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Press the mixture firmly into the pan (it will be crumbly, but will press down nicely).  Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium sized saucepan, combine the condensed milk and 1 cup of chocolate chips.  Stir together on medium heat until all melted together.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour over the crust and spread evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips and the pecans over the top.  Then the toffee and coconut.  Gently press down into the chocolate layer.  Bake for 18 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Remove from pan by lifting foil edges and carefully remove foil from bottom of bars.  Cut on a cutting board into desired size bars.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

TWD—Carrot Spice Muffins

I’m late, I’m late!  Well, not really, since it IS still Tuesday.  But I usually post the night before at midnight.  We’ve had company.  I made the muffins.  The only change I made was using whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour.  And while the muffins taste great, they are the most crumbly muffins I’ve ever had or made.


I don’t know if it was the flour or that’s just how these are.  I wanted the crowns to dome up more, too.  Oh well.  Like I said, they taste good, but you just need to made sure you eat one over a plate at the table.


You can get the recipe from Nancy at The Dogs Eat the Crumbs.  Her muffins look great!

There are more muffins to check out at Tuesdays With Dorie.