Year in pictures?

Yeah, I’m a bit behind here. And rather than try and write detailed posts for everything I’ve done since January, I’m just dumping a bunch of pics and one liners about each item and if anyone wants a recipe let me know and I’ll provide the link, this way I can start fresh going forward into holiday baking season!

Is anyone listening to me (if peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis). And I just lost my last reader to that somewhat obscure reference.

Here goes (and not even necessarily in chronological order because lord knows how my computer decided what order to load these)…

1. Spritz Redux: We remade the spritz that got jacked in the prior post for New Year’s Eve. Made in yellow with gold sprinkles. The 4 year old (at the time) was super excited about a cookie gun. Sigh.

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2. Chocolate cream pie – this was for New Year’s Eve too. It was awesome.

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3. I don’t even remember what I made these for but I think they were cake batter cookies. They were good.

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4. Superbowl Sunday football cupcakes. Nothing special, just chocolate cupcakes but frosted in football shapes.

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5. Valentine’s Day sugar cookies with my makeshift royal icing (I never have meringue powder on hand and am too squeamish for raw eggs so I usually just mix milk and powdered sugar). We used these for teacher gifts for preschool.

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6. Valentine’s Brownie Pops. Red velvet brownies cut into heart shapes, frosted with buttercream then shoved onto sticks. Except they were too heavy/dense to keep on the sticks and would roll over as soon as you picked them up. Tasted good though!

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7. St. Patrick’s Day thumbprint cookies. Just your typical chocolate cookies with hershey’s kisses, we just made them holiday appropriate with green sprinkles. I actually found them pretty blah.

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8. Chocolate chip cookie dough pie. The crust is a giant cookie. YES.

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9. Chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream. OMG this frosting. I can’t share these recipes because they were from a dear friend who owns a bakery in California and is sweet enough to share recipes with me to use for the birthday of our twins we lost to prematurity. But this cake and frosting especially was AMAZING.

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10. Passover macaroons. Nothing special/fancy about these but we liked them. They’re not burnt, the bottoms are dipped in chocolate.

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11. Matzo crack. Like Christmas crack but made with matzo. I used sliced almonds for the topping.

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12. Easter cookies to follow Passover. Yeah, we’re confused. Just regular sugar cookies with royal icing but I got meringue powder and made real royal icing this time. It was a pain in the ass.

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13. Easter nest carrot cake cupcakes. These were all about presentation but also yummy! We brought them for Easter brunch at our best friends’ house.

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14. Purple cake. This was just a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, purple because it was the day of our annual March of Dimes March for Babies (and their trademark color is purple).

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15. Pumpkin whoopie pies. These are from just a week ago. I intended to just make soft pumpkin cookies and ice them but they were so cake like they reminded me of whoopie pies so I found a cream cheese frosting recipe and sandwiched them. BIG hit.

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16. Halloween cupcakes. Recipes from my bakery owner friend, both vanilla/almond cake (I tend to swap vanilla extract for almond) and the orange had vanilla buttercream, purple had almond buttercream. Monster and bats.

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17. Tart cherry cobbler. We stupidly signed up for a fruit/veggie CSA this summer (stupidly because we don’t have time to cook all the obscure things they sent and the kids wouldn’t touch most of it). But we did get nice fruit for baking. I had helpers.

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18. Chocolate cake with salted buttercream frosting again. Remade this for Gammy’s (my mom’s) birthday.

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19. Peach cobbler muffins. Another made with CSA haul, we got SO many peaches.

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20. Memorial day berry trifle. Not really “baked”, especially since we used store bought angel food cake for the cake part, but it looks pretty and is a prepared dessert?

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21. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. These were more of a regular cookie (vs cake) consistency than the other pumpkin cookies we used for the whoopie pies. Delicious.

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Ok. Hopefully I’ll remember to post after each treat going forward so I can include more info. Thanks if anyone is still checking here ever!!!

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Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

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Oh my dear lord. These are one of my FAVORITE things I have made. Recipe from Annie’s Eats: http://www.annies-eats.com/2013/04/12/peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles/ There are others on the web but this was the one I’d pinned and it was amazing.

Pretty easy to make , too, although mine never look as nice as the source.

Ingredients:
creamy peanut butter
confectioners’ sugar
unsalted butter, at room temperature
crushed pretzels
bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (i used Ghirardelli chips actually)
milk

Specific amounts at Annie’s link. Pretty easy to make – mix PB, sugar, butter and pretzels together. I had to use my hands though to kind of massage it, just mixing didn’t work that well. Then roll into balls and freeze for a bit. You can see here where 90% of the butter is embedded in that one ball up front/right.

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Meanwhile, melt the chocolate.

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Dip the balls in the chocolate (I don’t think it’s possible for me to post about making truffles without saying – “I wanna dip my balls in it“). Yes, I’m (a) old, for remembering the State, and (b) immature).

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Then make the drizzle from PB, sugar and milk, and drizzle atop it. Eat. Repeat (the last step, that is). Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. You get the picture.

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YUM. I could not stop eating them.

Pistachio Cake Mix Cookies

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Ok, I know I raved to high heaven about the s’mores bars in my prior post, but these? I’m pretty sure I can say that these are my favorite thing I have baked so far. They have my two favorite things – white chocolate and almond extract. And? Mix based so CRAZY easy.

Found these while searching Pinterest for St. Patrick’s Day cookies. I wanted something besides the typical sugar cookies frosted and/or cut to be St. Patrick’s themed. These came up and I fell in love.

All you need is a box of pistachio pudding mix, a box of cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil and almond extract (green food coloring optional). And white chocolate chips, or regular chocolate chips or whatever else you might want  to sprinkle in. I did white chocolate chips. (Full recipe, etc. at original link at “Eat Cake for Dinner”).

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Mix the cake and pudding mixes together. Then add the oil, eggs, almond extract and food coloring (I did 2 drops) and mix with a hand mixer. Stir in chocolate chips. Form into balls about 1 inch diameter and put on lightly greased cookie sheet. Top each with 2-3 chocolate chips.

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Bake at 350 10-12 minutes (I did about 13 in our slow oven).  Remove, cool and go crazy with deliciousness.

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I may try with other combos of cake mix and pudding flavors. Banana pudding? Butterscotch?! Can’t wait to experiment…

Mince Meat Cookie Dough

This is just getting shared because it’s utterly comical.

We came home from vacation on Thursday to an empty fridge. Friday picked up necessities but forgot baking stuff (eggs, etc.). I had planned on making Valentine’s cookies with the little ones only to discover upon pulling out my various recipes that we were missing eggs, together with various other necessary ingredients.

In an attempt at improvisation I decided we could just make eggless cookie dough to eat raw. But they REALLY wanted Valentine’s cookies. So I decided to add some red food coloring too…

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Tasted fine, but not pretty. A facebook friend pointed out that it looked like ground meat. Cookie FAIL.

Cookie Dough Dip

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Ok, my confession. I wasn’t that crazy about this one. But I think it’s just me (although my husband agreed). Maybe our expectations were off because we (or I at least) were expecting true cookie dough and this was too cream cheese-y, but we were both “meh” on it.

Recipe came from about 30 different blogs all with identical recipes so I’ll just reproduce here since I wouldn’t even know which to link back to.

Ingredients:

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3/4 -1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used semisweet, many called for milk)

To Do:

  • Cream butter and cream cheese together.
  • Add everything else and mix until completely combined.

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  • Top with chocolate chips as garnish
  • Serve with various dipables (graham crackers, apples, animal crackers, etc.). We used madeleines from Costco.

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So, wouldn’t make it again. But I might make eggless cookie dough (or make cookie dough with pasteurized eggs) just for eating straight or maybe to be thinned out with cream or something to make more “dip” like, but the cream cheese ruined this for me.

Peppermint Brownie Pie

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This pie was for the same party as the cupcakes in my prior post. It was also my very first time making my own pie crust instead of buying a frozen one – surprisingly easy!

Recipe came from Midwest Living (I actually bought one of these at the grocery store last week, putting the final nail in the coffin of my hopes of ever being young or hip again). Link back to original recipe here.

Ingredients (for pie crust)

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 4 – 5 tablespoons cold water

Directions

  1. Stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cold water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat moistening dough, using 1 tablespoon cold water at a time, until all the dough is moistened (4 to 5 tablespoons cold water total). Form dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten dough.

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Shortening grosses me out. That there, my friends, is a cup o’ lard. Yummy.

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If you’re like me, and reading the above instructions, you get to “flatten with hands” and think you’re done. Color me confused when there’s no way that was thin enough to be big enough to cover the pie dish…lucky me jumped back to the filling recipe (appears before the crust in the original recipe site) and found that it THEN instructed to roll it out and put it in pie dish.

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I did this all at once, then covered and put my pie crust in the fridge overnight. I pressed the edges with a fork to make it pretty.

Ingredients for Filling

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  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • Pastry for 9-inch single crust pie (see above)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup mint-flavored semisweet chocolate pieces (couldn’t find them so we just used chocolate chips and mint extract. The recipe for this, not on the main page but on the lead in page, said to use 1/2 tsp mint extract. I couldn’t find that when on my iphone though so ended up finding a similar recipe which called for only 1/8 tsp so my brownie pie wasn’t very minty. Hubby thought it was perfect though as he usually thinks I over-mint things. See e.g. Mint brownies, Peppermint buttercream).
  • Whipped cream (store bought – seriously).

Directions

  1. For filling: In a heavy small saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently. Cool 20 minutes.

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  1. Meanwhile, prepare and roll out pastry. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry; trim and crimp edge.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate mixture and chocolate pieces. Pour into pastry-lined pie plate.

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  1. Bake pie in a 350 degree F oven about 55 minutes or until filling is evenly puffed and edges of filling are slightly cracked. Cool on wire rack (center will sink slightly as pie cools). Serve with whipped cream. Makes 10 servings.

Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Cookie Bars (with Candy Corn)

These WERE as good as they sounded. And I may or may not have a salted caramel problem…

Recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod blog. And again, only reproduced in part here so you have to visit the blog (that’s going to be my new rule for unique recipes from other blogs).

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I made them a long time ago (in October) so don’t remember it all that well. Step 1…you put your ____ in a box.

Oh wait, that’s not step 1. Step 1 is making chocolate chip cookie dough.

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Step 2 -Squish half the dough into a greased pan.

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Step 3 – melt yummy caramel and pour over the cookie dough.

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Step 4  – put remaining cookie dough on top and sprinkle with sea salt. BAKE!

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Step 5 – make a last minute decision to squish a bunch of candy corn on top as soon as you pull it out of the oven in an attempt to festivize it for the Halloween party you’re attending.

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Step 6: “CUT” it (and by cut, I mean hack at it like a serial killer until you can extricate a piece, rinse, repeat, then try to use your hands to squish enough pieces back together into a semblance of what looks like a bar).

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They ain’t pretty, but they were DELICIOUS. Would definitely make again.

It’s fall! (aka Pumpkin Bread)

Recipe via google (which brought me to this Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread recipe). I had this one bookmarked from previous years, and it’s virtually identical.

Nothing much to this. Take the wet ingredients plus sugar and throw it in a bowl and mix it up. Throw the rest of the ingredients in another bowl and mix ’em around. Add bowl #2 to bowl #1 and mix it again. Split between two loaf pans and bake at 350 for 50 minutes (or 58 if you have my underachieving oven). The recipe said 3 7×3 loaf pans but I don’t even know what that is so I used standard sized 9x5x3 (or thereabouts) and made 2 instead of 3.

Ingredients. Easy/Peasy (Lemon Squeezy).

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Pans greased and floured. Maybe not enough though (see below).

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Bowl of liquid pumpkin goo (eggs, oil, pumpkin, water and sugar. The oil kept trying to separate.

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My “helper” getting in on the action. He tasted the “yummy salt” (spices), and got a bit too much ginger and was none too happy about it.

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Although the recipe didn’t call for it, because mine would be consumed mostly by a 1 year old, a 3 year old, and a young at heart 42 year old, I added chocolate chips. Which were promptly picked out one at a time by my sous chef for immediate consumption.

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Two pans o’ pumpkin bread, ready to bake.

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Two pans o’ Pumpkin Bread, fully baked.

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One pan that grew so fond of it’s pumpkin flavored companion it couldn’t let go altogether. :-/

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Which at least gave us something to munch while the rest cooled…

 

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Luckily the other came out perfectly – until a certain someone tried to pick a chocolate chip out of it.

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Final sliced product (and failed attempt at food porn photography).

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THE END!

Toll House Pie!

This has been one of my favorites so far! I’ve had it pinned on pinterest a while and wanted to make something delicious on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s pretty much like a tollhouse cookie but not fully baked and all gooey. AWESOME.

Nestle recipe, courtesy of this blog:

Toll House Pie
From Nestle
Makes one nine-inch pie
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts [I left out the nuts because I don’t like nuts in my cookies and figured I wouldn’t here either]
Sweetened whipped cream and vanilla ice cream, optional [we used fat free vanilla ice cream]
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Ready the pie shell (if using a frozen pie shell, you do not need to thaw it).
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the eggs on high until light and fluffy. [I didn’t know what that meant, but this looked right to me]:
Add the flour, sugar, and brown sugar and mix well. Beat in butter and vanilla.
Add the chocolate chips [and walnuts].
[This was when I sampled the mixture and discovered it was a very different consistency than actual cookie dough – much lighter and fluffier and not nearly as good. It was also not as salty (no salt added) which is one of my favorite things about cookie dough.]
Spoon the dough into the pie shell…
and bake for approximately 1 hour until a toothpick inserted halfway from the edge and the center comes out clean (at the suggestion of the blog from which I found the recipe, I added a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips to the top of the pie halfway through baking, since most of the chocolate chips apparently sink during baking).
Cool on a wire rack and serve warm with whipped cream and ice cream.
This pie can be made ahead. When to serve, rewarm in a 300 degree F oven for 20 minutes.
It was DELICIOUS! The hubby said it hadn’t sounded that great to him in theory but he loved it too, and our little man couldn’t get enough. DEFINITELY making this one again.
Oh, and I didn’t screw anything up!