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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holiday Baking Part I

I had lots of fun with my holiday baking this year. There were a few bumps in the road, but for the most part, everything was a success. My first cookie was supposed to be a Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookie that I found on Tasty Kitchen. Well I made a few, and in my opinion, they were just so-so. I thought to myself, how can I improve this cookie? So here is what I came up with. We will just call them....

Happy Mistake Cookies


2 cups Sifted All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoons Salt
¼ cups Canola Oil
4 ounces, weight Unsweetened Chocolate (melted)
2 cups Granulated Sugar
4 whole Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
5 whole Candy Canes, Crushed (the Large Ones)

Preparation Instructions

1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the oil, chocolate and granulated sugar and blend on medium speed. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. There may be some small clumps of sugar in the batter at this point. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed, stopping once to scrape down the sides. Mix until just incorporated, about 2 to 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky.
3. Gather the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
4. Position the racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
5. Pour the crushed candy canes onto a plate or into a shallow bowl. Roll the dough into 1/2-inch balls. and roll each ball into the candy cane pieces, so that all sides are covered. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets.
6. Bake for 10 minutes for soft, chewy cookies, or 12 minutes for crisp cookies, rotating the pans halfway through baking. The cookies do set up, so if you want them soft, take them out after 10 minutes. Let cool completely on cooling racks. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.

MMMM, so who doesn't like a peanut butter filling?

Here's what you'll need:

8 TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 c honey
1c peanut butter
1/2 c powdered sugar

Cream the butter on a medium speed for several minutes. Add the honey and peanut butter and beat just until combined. Add the powdered sugar little by little until combined.

Now we can make the cookie sandwich. Take a small amount of the pb mixture and put it between 2 cookies. Once you are done, it helps to chill them so they can set.

Time to melt some chocolate (well, and some butterscotch)!

You'll need:

1 bag butterscotch chips
2 -3 bags milk chocolate chips

Grab a double boiler or whatever other contraption you have that works. Fill a pot eh, maybe halfway with water. Bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, if you are going to use chunk chocolate, chop it up pretty small. The easiest way to do this would be to grab a bag of butterscotch chips and 2 bags of milk chocolate chips. Once the water boils, turn it off and place your heat proof bowl inside the pot. *Make sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water*. Melt it down until it is ready for dipping and then start dipping away. Lay each dipped cookie sandwich on wax paper to harden. Decorate them if you want.

Voila! You're done!

Pumpkin Roll

You will probably see several pumpkin posts here. I made the mistake of cooking 3 baking pumpkins so I have a TON of it. My mom used to make this for us. Of course she would do a healthier version. She was known for that.

Pumpkin Roll


  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (I skipped this)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)


oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with parchment paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.

BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

printable version

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things


Yes, I am aware that Pioneer Woman just titled a blog post with this EXACT same title. It was pure coincidence. I am sure that you are probably thinking that we planned this, but I assure you, we did not.

Anyway, I was in my kitchen the other day and as I was grabbing for one of my cooking staples, I dreamed up this post. So here it is...

1. Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch baking pans. These cook things unbelievably even. And when you wash them, they don't even need to soak and the grime literally melts right off!

2. Penzey's Spices Cocoa Powder. I have the regular and the dutch and I can't decide which one I love more!!! I use so many of their spices and love them! Warning: the website kind of sucks, so just join their mailing list or visit a store. You will become an instant fan, I promise.

3. Bak-klene baking spray. Eliminates the need to grease and flour. Thanks to Veda for this one (although she always mistakenly calls it "silicone" spray). Sorry, I don't have a good link, but they sell it at Williams-Sonoma. It is awesome, and one can lasts forever.

4. Kuhn Rikon paring knives. I originally bought these from Williams-Sonoma at the recommendation of my lovely cousin Emily, who also recently informed me that they (often) carry them at TJ Maxx for much less!

5. Atlas Pepper Mill. This thing is so smooth and effortless. The pepper just falls from it. Yeah, it used to be shiny and copper....

6. Out of our Gourds Hot Pepper Seasoning. I got this stuff as a gift from my dad's ("it's complicated") friend Jeri. I put this on almost EVERYTHING! It is so spicy and has a great flavor....YUM!!!

7. Scrubbing microfiber dish cloths. I am trading in my W-S dish cloths for them. They work so much better! I got them at TJ Maxx. $2.99 for three! These babies would make a great stocking stuffer!

I think that is all for now. Happy shopping :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I am so behind on updating this blog! Anyway, we took these senior photos of my adorable cousin Emily. It was a beautiful (and a little bit chilly) day at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. Here are a "few" of my favorites...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chocolate Cake should be illegal.

Beatty's Chocolate Cake

Cook time: 35 minutes


* Butter, for greasing the pans
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
* 2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cups good cocoa powder (I use Penzey's Dutch Cocoa)
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Source: Ina Garten aka Barefoot Contessa

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I HATE mosquitos!

I went over to take family photos for some good friends of mine. It was baby E's 1st birthday session as well. Unfortunately, we only lasted about 10 minutes because the mosquitos were SSSOOOOOOO bad! Oh well, we got a few good shots...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One More Zucchini Post: cupcakes...mmmmmmm

These are AMAZING!!! I omitted the all spice because I didn't have any and replaced w/ 1/2 tsp of instant espresso powder just for funsies. I also find that a good quality cocoa powder really makes a difference. This time I used Penzey's dutch cocoa powder and they came out so much better than the regular grocery store stuff (even better than Ghirardelli). One last thing...I shortened the baking time quite a bit. My minis only took about 20 minutes and the regular sized cupcakes took about 25. Make them. You will not be disappointed. I promise.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups (360 mL) brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) melted butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1/2 cup (120 mL) buttermilk
2 cups (480 mL) grated zucchini
1 cup (240 mL) chocolate chips
2 cups (480 mL) unbleached flour
1 cup (240 mL) cocoa, sifted
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt
2 tsp (10 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) allspice
1 1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease large muffin pans and line with muffin cups.

In a medium bowl mix together the sugar, butter and oil. Beat in eggs, one at a time until well Incorporated. Stir in vanilla, buttermilk, zucchini and chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and mix until well combined. Spoon batter into large muffin pans.

Bake in the center of the oven for about 35 minutes. Don't overcook them or you will lose all the moist goodness - you want them to look almost done in the oven - they will continue to cook for a few minutes after you pull them from the oven from the residual heat). Cool on a wire rack. Icing is optional. I used this recipe for Cream cheese Frosting.

Yields 9 large cupcakes or 20 standard cupcakes.

Adapted from: 101 Cookbooks

And originally from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook by Audrey Alsterburg & Wanda Urbanowicz (Big Ideas Publishing, 2001) - reprinted with permission

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