Archive | February, 2010

Mom’s Red Velvet Birthday

21 Feb

This weekend I felt like I was rewarded for something – I managed to finally get Saturday night off to spend with my family celebrating my mom’s birthday, and also happened to get Sunday & Monday off, too!

My mom always wants the same cake for her birthday – red velvet, which is fine because it’s pretty and it’s still February. This year I decided to use a recipe from the Food Network, from Sonny Anderson. It got good reviews, though I didn’t get to taste is because of the cocoa powder and no chocolate until Easter for me! I did get to eat all of the extra frosting though – my favorite, favorite vanilla buttercream. I always play around with the vanilla content to get a great taste, but I just really like the ratio of butter to sugar.

My mom wanted cupcakes, but I wanted to make a cake since it’d been so long, so I made both. The recipe calls for a jelly roll pan, but instead I went with 2-6inch circles and 12 standard cupcakes.

It ended up being perfect for the party since we only had 4 cake eaters. We sliced the cake and sent the cupcakes home as leftovers, with a few remaining for my parents the next few days, and since my mom’s birthday isn’t actually until Monday, she’ll have some leftover for then. Happy Birthday, Mom! 🙂


happy valentine’s day! (a.k.a. sugar saturday)

13 Feb

I wasn’t sure if or when I was going to be able to bake something for Valentine’s Day, which made me so upset since it is such a dessert-y holiday, but my problem was solved this morning when Sonny (my dog) woke me up at 8:15am. So on less than 5 hours of sleep and no chance of spending anymore time in bed, I got up and went to the kitchen. Since no one else was home I blasted the radio and started looking for recipes, only to discover that we have no butter or brown sugar in the house. Or chocolate. So that made things SUPER difficult and made this quite the adventure. Since I had no butter, I ventured to the Crisco website because I figured I’d have better luck there than anywhere else and I settled on Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies, but I made them pink for Valentine’s Day! Then I realized I only had 1/4 cup of sour cream, so I used yogurt. And the frosting is half Crisco, half I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter… but you know what? It turned out great and these cookies are delicious.

On to one more recipe. Why? I have no idea, I just wanted to make something else… probably because I was hungry for more cookie dough. Actually I needed a recipe that called for brown sugar because I made my own with granulated sugar and molasses since we are out, so I wanted to use it. Again I played substitution games on this recipe. I wanted to make something chocolate but didn’t have any chips, so I found a cocoa-oatmeal cookie recipe, substituted the butter (Crisco and Can’t Believe again), used my homemade brown sugar and swapped the chocolate chips for white chocolate. I decided to make a GIANT square cookie to test out my new pan and so that I could cookie cut my dessert.

You will honestly not believe how delicious these little hearts are. So good, almost like a perfect brownie because they are moist enough to be super-yummy, but dense enough to let the cookie cutter do its job. These were so good that I had to forego my plan to wear whitestrips while I cut them and eat some scraps along the way, but I did save an entire container of ends and middles for my dad. I love how the white chocolate chips show through and the oatmeal adds a great quality, plus it amazes me that i used weird substitutes and arrived at a great ending.

One problem with so many substitutions is that it leads to many, many taste tests, so let me say I am stuffed with cookies right now, probably on the verge of a sugar coma, and have to be a perky waitress at 4:30pm til about midnight or later… eek! Wish me luck and have a sugar-coated happy Valentine’s Day!

giant best friend b-day brownie

10 Feb

How many of you have had a friend for almost 20 years? Well I have… and I”m only 22! I met Stevie on the very first day of kindergarten when we were 5 years old, and we’ve been friends ever since. We went to elementary school, junior high and high school together, though in our senior year she moved from down the street to about an hour away in Dekalb. So that was super weird for me, but luckily we still keep in touch and she comes to Schaumburg to visit all the time. For her birthday on Monday we went for pedicures and a lunch/dinner at Olive Garden. Yummy Chicken & Gnocchi soup, salad, breadsticks and a strawberry-limoncello martini! But we didn’t have dessert because I made that for her to take home. A big, giant, plush, milk chocolate brownie filled with mini chocolate chips, full sized almonds and a peanut butter swirl. Can’t ask for much more than a baker-best friend who knows what ya love, Happy 23rd Birthday Stevie!!! 🙂

retreat treats

8 Feb

Good morning! It has been a super busy week for me, working over 50 hours this week made me exhausted, but I did have enough time to dessert cater my mom’s quilt retreat this past weekend. I think I mentioned in another post that she runs quilt retreats and this winter retreat was in my hometown, Schaumburg, so my dad and I delivered the treats Saturday afternoon. I had my mom choose six recipes and I baked them all during my (minimal) time off last week. Let me say that they were all great recipes! I couldn’t believe how yummy some of them were. I, of course, had to taste them all to make sure they were yummy enough to serve 🙂

I started off with the brownies I posted about on the 28th , in addition to those dark chocolate chunkies, I made apple pie bars, lemon-lime bars, s’mores granola bars, weight watchers caramel cookies and samoa bars. I spent one of my days off researching recipes and fell in love with this site — Recipe Girl — The simplicity of the site, the great organization and the lovely pictures made me print out the recipes and have my mom pick from her list. What a good choice I made because they all turned out great.

The apple pie bars were oh-my-god amazing. I had to half this recipe because I didn’t have enough apples, but it was more than enough. In fact, I think I might’ve used too many apples or something because my bars were way thicker than they were supposed to be, but I WILL make this recipe again – maybe next thanksgiving!

The lemon lime bars were quick and easy. I’m not the biggest lemon bar fan, but these were still pretty delish. I was amazed with the great crusts on all of these bars. Usually I have problems with shortbread crusts because they are too fragile, but these guys all stood up to the toppings!

The S’mores granola bars are a tasty twist on rice krispie treats, and probably a bit healthier for you since they are packed with oats, too! I twisted this recipe a bit myself by using coco krispies instead of plain rice krispies. I only did this because they were on super sale at Target, but I think they added to the yumminess, making each bite a little more chocolatey. I also decided to add more than the recommended marshmallows and chocolate chips, because why not? 🙂

The weight watchers cookies were obviously not as exciting. You all know my mom likes the low-pointers to be available, these were a little boring but easy and cute. I bet they’d make good mini ice cream sandwiches! (I also had to half this one because I ran out of brown sugar… planning was a little off this time, whoops!)

Finally, the Samoa bars. In case you aren’t familiar with what a Samoa cookie is, you may recognize them as Caramel De-Lites, both the same Girl Scout Cookies, but named differently depending on where ya live. Well my mom was super excited about these and said everyone loved them as well. The crust was fantastic and the filling was really really easy. I decided to top them with chocolate chips and them dip the bottoms in chocolate like the recipe called for. So cute.

Well that’s the retreat wrap-up. You’d think I’d be all baked-out from it, but actually I mixed up some fun brownies for one of my best friend’s birthday last night (pics tomorrow), and I feel like I should bring Valentine’s treats to work this weekend? Hmm, we’ll see! Enjoy the delicious pictures!

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