Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rugelach


These cookies are totally worth the extra work it takes to make them. They are filled with buttery goodness. I am going to make these every year now.

RUGELACH
2 c. flour
1 c. very cold salted butter (must use real butter- margarine sucks)
6 oz. of cold cream cheese
1/3 c. sour cream
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. walnuts (optional- I put walnuts in half)
1/2 c. chopped raisins
3 t. cinnamon
Chop the butter and cream cheese into little blocks like the size of a pat of butter quartered. Mix the flour, butter and cream cheese with a pastry blender or your fingers. Just barely mix in the sour cream. Divide the dough into 4 blocks. Cover with wax paper then put in a Ziploc and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Remove from the refrigerator. Roll out the blocks of dough,one at a time,on a lightly floured surface. Make it into a large circle (like the size of a pie crust). Mix together the remaining ingredients. Spread 1/4 of the filling on top of the dough circle. Using a pizza cutter, slice the circle into 8 slices. Starting at the fat end, roll up the dough. Place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes at 350. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tips for Making Cookies

I have probably made thousands of cookies by now. When I first started making cookies it was not near as easy as it is now. Over the years I've figured out a system that saves time and makes the cookies consistantly good.
  1. have at least 2 cookie sheets- keep one in the oven and be working with the other
  2. line them with parchment paper, you can reuse parchment usually twice but after that you will need to change it
  3. use a cookie scoop (also known as a melon baller)
  4. set the timer on the oven every time you put cookies in
  5. take the cookies out of the oven when they are still slightly soft
  6. let the cookies rest on the sheets for one minute after you remove them from the oven
  7. after one minute, put move the cookies to a wire rack
  8. don't substitute margarine for butter or vice versa
  9. crisco makes a crisper cookie than butter
  10. most kinds of cookies are better if you make the dough the day before and refridgerate overnight
  11. you can scoop out your cookie dough on a cookie sheet and freeze the balls to bake later, it just takes a couple minutes longer to bake
  12. don't store soft cookies and crispy cookies together or they will all be soft

Monster Cookies

Let the cookie season begin! Yesterday I made 8 dozen Monster Cookies. I based my recipe off of Pioneer Woman's (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/09/monster-cookies/) with some modifications. I have 2 dozen wrapped up and in the freezer for Christmas. I am starting to wonder how many pounds I am going to gain this December. I made two batches of this recipe and it made 8 dozen. Since I don't have the holy grail of mixers I have to mix each batch in its own bowl.

Monster Cookies
2 sticks (1/2 Pound) Butter (salted) Softened
½ cups White Sugar
1-½ cup Brown Sugar, Packed
2 whole Large Eggs
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
½ teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1-½ cup Oats (either Quick Or Regular)
3/4 cups M & M's (more To Taste)
1 cup Chocolate Chips (milk Or Semi-sweet)
3/4 cups Peanut Butter Chips
1 cup Rice Krispies

Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and until combined. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Mix into the wet ingrediants. Then add the rest of the ingrediants except for the rice krispies. Add those last and mix lightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes with tablespoon size scoops.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Baking Update

For Thanksgiving I tried Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet cake:
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/the_best_chocol/

I have to say, my recipe is better than hers. Although I've been making her recipes for months now, that is the first time I've said that. Here is my chocolate sheet cake recipe:

Chocolate Sheet Cake
CAKE
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 c. oil
1 c. water
1/4 c. cocoa
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
FROSTING
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. cocoa
1/4 c. milk plus 2 T milk
1 t. vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar
Grease and flour a sheet cake pan. Set oven to 400. Mix dry ingrediants. In a large bowl mix all the wet ingrediants. Gradually add the dry to the wet. Bake for 20 minutes.
For the frosting, in a small saucepan melt the butter. Add in cocoa, milk and vanilla. Boil. Remove from heat and add in the powdered sugar. Pour over cake. I usually add chopped pecans on half of the cake.

Also this weekend, I made a yellow cake with yummy pioneer woman frosting. The cake is an easy doctored mix recipe. It is:
Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
CAKE
yellow cake mix
instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. oil
8 oz. sour cream
Mix all together and bake according to directions for your pan size.
FROSTING
3/4 c. sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. milk chocolate chips
2 T. butter
Add to a saucepan and cook until melted. Stir together. Pour over hot cake.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Congo Bars


Well I attempted an experiment this weekend. It did not work. I thought wouldn't it be awesome if you could make Oreo Balls in a pan and just have Oreo Squares. We love Oreo Balls, but I hate rolling and dipping them. (Oreo Balls- mix one package of crushed Oreos with one box of cream cheese. Roll into truffle size balls. Chill. Dip in white chocolate.) Anyway, it did not work. The bars were too squishy on the bottom and too hard on the top. At least the kids enjoyed eating the mistake.



I did have one baking success this weekend. Congo bars have the texture of a brownie, but are chocolate chip blondies. These are super rich.


Congo Bars
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 lb. light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
11.5 ounce package milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)


Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Combine butter and sugar using a mixer until blended.
Add eggs, one at a time to sugar mixture, mixing on low in between each addition.
Add vanilla, almond extract, and vinegar and mix.
Add flour and mix until combined.
Stir in chips and then pecans.
Grease and flour  a 13 X 9 pan and spread batter evenly into dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until top is golden brown. Make sure you don’t over bake.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Recap of My Weekend Kitchen Activities

Sorry I only took a picture of one item I made this weekend...
Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares. They are delicious. And they happen to be gluten free. Here is the recipe:
1/2 c. Butter (I always use real butter)
1/2 c. Brown Sugar
1 t. Vanilla (I always use real vanilla, not imitation)
1 Small Jar of Creamy Peanut Butter
2 1/2 c. Powdered Sugar
2 c. Milk Chocolate Chips
1 T. Crisco

Melt the butter. Whisk in brown sugar, peanut butter and vanilla. Then add in the powdered sugar until it is smooth. Press into a 9 x 13 pan lined with parchment paper. Melt the chips and Crisco. Pour over the top of the peanut butter mix. Let cool until set. Cut into small (1 inch) pieces. Very rich. This makes quite a bit and would be a good candy to have for the holidays.

I also made some Oatmeal Raspberry Bars, but I will not be posting the recipe because I was not satisfied with them. They are just okay. Not fabulous.

I know I have stuck to baking items so far, but I am going to branch out today and post the other two items I made this weekend.

The first one, Chicken Tortilla Soup, is a recipe I got from work. I love it. Every time we take it anywhere everyone else loves it too.
Meat from 1 Rotisserie Chicken
2 Cans Cream of Chicken Soup
2 Soup Cans Full of 1/2 and 1/2 (just use the empty cream of chicken can)
1 Soup Can Full of Milk
4 c. Chicken Broth
1 Can Rotel
8 oz. Velveeta
1 Package Taco Seasoning
1/4 c. dried minced onion
Mix everything together in your crock pot. As soon as it is warm and the cheese melts it's ready to go. If you are going to let it cook longer be careful because the cheese will get all gloppy and curdled looking if it cooks too long or too hot. Serve with crumbled up tortilla chips and shredded cheddar.

Next is my recipe for Chili as adapted from a Martha recipe. We love this chili.
2 lbs. Hamburger
1/2 c. Dried Minced Onion
1 1/2 T. Minced Garlic (from a jar)
2 T. Paprika
1 1/2 t. Cumin
1 1/2 t. Oregano
1/2 t. Cayenne Pepper
1 T. Chili Powder
1 1/2 t. Salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. cornmeal
1 Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Bush's Chili Beans
Mix it all together in your crock pot and cook all day on low.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cranberry Swiss Dip

I don't have a picture and the dip itself is not all that pretty, but here is the recipe.

Cranberry Swiss Dip
8 oz cream cheese
1 c. shredded swiss cheese
2/3 c. dried cranberries
1 t. orange zest
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Mix it all together and put in a little crock pot. I served with Almond Nut Thin crackers.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Homemade Brownies and a Pumpkin Roll

What a day. We did not get as much accomplished as we planned. I did get to bake a little. First I made homemade brownies. These are a very fast, easy base. You can add chocolate chips or nuts or M&M's, or whatever you want to these. They would also be good with peanut butter chips.

I have really been wanting to try King Arthur Flour's Double Dutch Process cocoa. (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/double-dutch-dark-cocoa-16-oz). Of course I can't find it around here and I will have to order it online. I think it would be awesome in these brownies.
BROWNIES
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 c. oil
2 t. vanilla
2 T. coffee
3 eggs
3/4 c. cocoa
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1 c. flour

Mix oil, butter and sugars in a microwave bowl. Heat for a 90 seconds. Whisk. Heat for 30 more seconds. Cool a little, then whisk in the eggs, vanilla and coffee. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Gradually whisk into wet mixture. Pour into a 9 x 13 pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

I used Libby's Pumpkin Roll recipe for the most part. Instead of using cloves, I substituted 1/4 t. of nutmeg. After I finished mixing these up and was pouring my mix into my parchment lined pan, I was thinking the mix looked a little short. While I was pouring I also started thinking about how much I like pumpkin flavored cake. That's when I realized, I forgot to put in the pumpkin. I had to scrape the mix off the parchment and put it back in the bowl to add the pumpkin. Still tasted great. Just airheaded.

LIBBY'S 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 substituted 1/4 t. nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure 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)

FOR CAKE:
PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. (I use 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.

FOR FILLING:
BEAT 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.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cherry Drop Cake

What a busy weekend! Since we've had so much going on, I thought about not baking at all, but when I went to the store I was tempted. So I decided to do quick and easy.


Cherry Drop Cake
1 can of cherry pie filling
1 can of crushed pineapples, drained
2 sticks of butter, melted
1 yellow cake mix
1/2 c. of chopped pecans

Mix the pie filling and the pineapple. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 pan. Mix the butter and the dry cake mix. Drop the cake mixture on the cherry mixture. Spread it around gently. Sprinkle pecans over all. Bake around 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Apple Cake

My innaugural post.

Normally I like to bake because it is relaxing. Today however, my 9 year old son Jack, kept coming into the kitchen yelling because his 3 year old sister Lucy, was spitting on him. The fight culminated with her wiping her snot on him and him calling her "a disgusting moron." Not really relaxing.

The cake was good anyway. (No snot or spit actually made it into the cake).


Apple Cake

2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. oil
3 eggs
2 t. butter vanilla extract
3 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
3 1/2 c. chopped, peeled apples
3/4 c. chopped dates
1 c. walnuts

Glaze:
1 c. brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

Mix sugar and oil. Beat in eggs and extract. In a separate bowl mix flour, cinnamon and baking soda. Gradually add dry mix to wet. Add in apples, dates and nuts. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until done.

While the cake is cooling, mix the glaze ingrediants in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Remove from heat.

Flip the cake over so the bottom is on top. Poke holes in the cake and pour the glaze on it. Flip the cake right side up and repeat.