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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Spritztastrophe

I won’t share the full details since I’ve made and blogged this before, but just in case anyone thought I no longer had the more than minor mishaps, may I present Ex-spritz-it A:

 

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I think it was a combination of being on too low a rack in the oven and that for some reason the recipe I’d printed last year said 12-15 mins baking when it really should have been 8-10 (as I found when I googled and found another blog with the same recipe). Not sure why last year they were fine but whatever.

Brownie Oreo Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Yes, you read that correctly. I have only one word – OMG (ok, that might be three words, but whatever). I saw these on pinterest, linked back from a blog, but it’s not even really a recipe so I think I can just instruct you here.

 

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Get a pack of Oreos.

Spread about a TBSP of peanut butter atop two Oreos and stack them inside a cupcake liner in a muffin pan.

Prepare boxed brownie batter. Pour 2 TBSP of prepared brownie batter over each Oreo stack. Bake for about 20 minutes (probably about time on package).

Enjoy the deliciousness. These were SO rich but probably one of my favorite things I’ve made and so easy.photo 1

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Pumpkin Truffles

These were good – we broke in the fall season with these as our first pumpkin based treats. Easy to make and yummy!

 

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Recipe via Pinterest/Blog “Simply Designing”. Not much to even repeat (and specific amounts, instructions, at source site, ingredients as follows:

  • white chocolate chips (or white Candiquik which we used and worked just fine).
  • canned pumpkin puree
  • cream cheese, softened
  • gingersnap cookie crumbs (I beat the crap out of them in a ziploc).
  • graham cracker crumbs (see note above re: crap, beating out of)
  • powdered sugar
  • orange zest (I skipped this – not worth the effort)
  • ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Pretty much melt a bit of the white chocolate mix that melted portion with everything else other than a small amount of graham cracker crumbs set aside, put in fridge to set, roll into balls, dip in remaining melted white chocolate and sprinkle remaining crumbs atop.

YUM!

Banana Cream Poke Cake

Happy birthday my Fat Man! I pinned this one months ago knowing I’d make it for the husband’s birthday since there is NOTHING he loves more than banana pudding + Nilla wafers. Super easy recipe – pretty much make a cake in a pan, poke some holes in it and pour pudding over hte holes, then top with whipped cream (store bought, no less) and crushed nilla wafers. Enjoy for fewer days than you should because “people” keep eating a couple inches off every time we open the fridge.

 

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Full (and slightly more detailed) recipe at the Country Cook: http://www.thecountrycook.net/2012/06/banana-pudding-poke-cake.html

 

Ingredients:

1 (10 oz.) box yellow cake mix
ingredients needed to make cake (eggs, oil & water)
2 (3.4 oz.) packages instant banana pudding
4 cups milk
1 (8 oz.) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
20 vanilla wafers, crushed

Instructions as described above or at original source link. YUM! I’m definitely planning on trying some other variations on poke cakes based on this attempt.

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…

Sugar Cookie Bars (Valentine’s)

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This was attempt 2 at Valentine’s cookies (see prior “Mincemeat” post).

Thought I’d finally take a crack at the sugar cookie bar recipes I’d pinned repeatedly. Randomly decided on this one:  Sugar Cookie Squares.

Ingredients:

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1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1 Tbsp sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 recipe vanilla frosting, recipe follows
Frosting:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp half and half
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
Several drop food coloring (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 13″ x 9″ baking dish, set aside. In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy about 3-4 minutes. Stir in egg and egg white.
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Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until blended. Slowly add dry mixture and stir until well combine. With buttered hands, gently press (so gently almost patting) mixture into buttered baking dish.
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Bake 16 – 19 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and edges are lightly golden. Cool completely, then frost and cut into squares.
[To make frosting, in a mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, whip together butter and powdered sugar and half and half until fluffy. Stir in vanilla and salt. Add in food optional food coloring and mix until well blended.]
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So, I followed the directions precisely. They look nice, right? Except they were underbaked…nay, UNbaked. They were raw cookie dough with frosting atop. Eh. Good with chocolate chip cookies, not so much sugar cookies. Worse, I’m aware my oven is slow but baked them longer than instructed, waited until edges golden, toothpick clean, and still, mine weren’t baked through. Everyone still ate them, don’t get me wrong, but I wasn’t happy.

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Red Velvet Valentine’s Cookies with Cream Cheese frosting

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Finally – Valentine’s baking success!!!

Found this recipe on pinterest and chose it among 3 contenders, in part because it used a box mix which meant much easier to make with a 3.5 year old helper while the 1.5 year old napped. Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies from Two Peas & Their Pod.

Ingredients:

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1 box red velvet cake mix (original recipe used Duncan Hines, I used Betty Crocker; I’m sure it doesn’t matter what brand you use)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for rolling the cookies
Heart shaped cookie cutter, optional

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside. [Note – I have no effing idea what a silpat is. LOL. I used parchment paper. Which as I learned with Hanukkah cookies, is very much NOT interchangeable with wax paper (the latter of which should NOT be used in an oven while baking.]

2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and flour. Whisk until clumps disappear. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake mix, flour, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Take about 1 tablespoon of cookie dough and form into a ball. Roll the ball in powdered sugar until fully coated. Place cookie dough balls on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges are set and cookies begin to crack. [Another note – the recipe seems to imply you can roll the dough into balls BEFORE rolling in the sugar. Not so much. It was painfully sticky and gooey, and I messed up my first cookie trying to do that. After that, I would get a dollop with my tablespoon (I very much overfilled each to make bigger cookies to accommodate my cookie cutter size), drop the whole dollop into a shallow bowl of powdered sugar, then roll it until it could be handled easily, THEN roll into a ball.]

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3. Let cookies sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes. If desired, cut cookies into heart shapes, using a heart shaped cookie cutter. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack and cool completely. Eat the cookie scraps:)

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I didn’t get a pic of the scraps but I think my son ate about 12 cookies’ worth of scraps. LOL. He was a fan. I wouldn’t kick them out of bed either.

Note [from original recipe] -you don’t have to cut the cookies into heart shapes. They are great round too!

So, instead of leaving it at that, I really wanted to do some decorating as well (part of why I had originally shied from this recipe, as I love decorating desserts) so I decided to take it up a notch and borrow a cream cheese frosting recipe from one of the other contenders to decorate our cookies.  Frosting from Joy the Baker’s Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe (adapted by her from Hummingbird Bakery cookbook). The original recipe was a cinnamon cream cheese, but I just wanted regular cream cheese frosting so I left out the cinnamon.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 1/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted (I never actual sift. Oh well.)

3 Tablespoons butter, room temperature (As usual I cheated and stuck in microwave to desired consistency.)

4 ounces cream cheese, cold (Joy the Baker used room temperature, mine was probably midway between cold and room temp)

Beat the powdered sugar and butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment (I don’t think I have a paddle attachment so I used the standard attachment).  Mix on medium-slow speed until it comes together and is well mixed. (I think I did something wrong because mine was still pretty much just powder after this step but I continued as instructed).

Add the cream cheese all at once and beat on medium to medium-high until incorporated. (Again, still way too dry, so I took it upon myself to VERY slowly add whole milk until desired consistency. I probably added 1 tbsp total).

Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for 5 minutes, or until the frosting becomes light and fluffy.Do not over-beat as the frosting can quickly become runny.

My own additional step – add one drop of red food coloring (liquid, not gel) to make pink.

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Then, I put the frosting in a frosting bag with a small decorative tip and piped onto each cookie, and sprinkled red and white crystal sugar on the frosting.

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HUGE fan of these. So much that I considered making more after they were gone in a day (we wrapped up a decent # of them for various Valentine’s gifts to teachers, nanny, etc.).

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.