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Forgotten Sweets

27 Feb

I’m sitting at home, sick, well sick-ish. Sick enough that my throat is not allowing me to swallow and I sound like a freak, so definitely too sick to go talk on the radio for two hours today. But not sick enough to sleep all day or just be content watching movies in bed. Also I have no TV in my room.

Getting back on track here. I am well enough to realize that I never did my Christmas post and I’m very behind in dessert writing. Does it matter? No, but I like sharing my desserts, especially during lent when I can’t eat any. So this will be a slew of forgotten sweets. Whoops.

Let’s start with what I referred to as “Fake Christmas.” We celebrated Christmas with my immediate family – all 13 of us – on Michael’s birthday this year because when Christmas is on a Tuesday, things get messy. We were all busy on different days and couldn’t find the right time to exchange gifts, so we had fake Christmas and Michael’s birthday together on the 15th. It worked fine, but hopefully in the future, when Christmas is not on a dumb Tuesday, we will get it together.

I was extremely excited to make this three layer red velvet cake covered in chocolate! I saw it on Pinterest, which is where most of my dessert inspiration comes from these days. It was pretty easy and my nephews were mesmerized by the deep red color, and of course the puddle of chocolate ganache that covered everything. You should absolutely put this on your 2013 holiday baking list.

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Since we were also celebrating my brother’s birthday, I threw together some minty brownies, his favorite flavor combination. I’m not 100% sure but I believe these are my famous Bailey’s brownies with added dark chocolate and mint chips.

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And, to top off the day, I made some Christmas punch. I honestly don’t remember the entire recipe. I think it was raspberry sorbet, orange juice and sprite zero. I left it kid friendly, with the choice to add in some white wine for the rest of us. Madeline and Michael loved it, Michael forgot to put the wine in.

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On to real Christmas! Sugar cookies are a staple for our family. Though my mom debates me on this, I always say that these cookies are the only holiday cookies I remember from my childhood. Whether I’m right or wrong, they are the most important cookie of the season, and the only cookie I can guarantee my mom will help me with, on our scheduled Sugar Cookie Day, of course. At this point, we are pros. We have a huge assortment of cookie cutters and know which ones make the best cookies, though we do attempt to make snowflakes each year despite the high percentage possibility that they will break.

 

 

 

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I slacked off a little this year. I think I only made about 12 different cookies, when I prefer making 18. I know that sounds crazy, but once I cover the handful of cookies that I feel like I have to make each year, I want to experiment with new ones. This December was a little crazy and flew by super fast, so 12 was all I could bake. We all survived.

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I referred to these as pop tart cookies, though the recipe called them french toast cookies. These guys actually really frustrated me because I was trying to do too many things at once and forgot to add cinnamon to the batter, and then we accidentally thought they were sugar cookie dough rolls for a while, but in the end they turned out cute and different, which is always my goal. They were also pretty delicious – and my dad attempted to help me frost them. They were a little big, so I think people were less likely to grab them from the dessert buffet, but I was happy to have them as leftovers. Now I want a pop tart.

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I apologize that I can’t figure out how to flip this mouth-watering coffee cake picture. Good thing you are probably reading this from a lap top or a phone, you can rotate your device. I made this for my mom’s Christmas brunch with her friends, it was also super yummy, pecan cinnamon coffee cake. I do recall this recipe being very strange. I think I ended up mixing more of the dry ingredients in with the wet ones, so be careful with these instructions.

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My FAVORITE christmas dessert is a cranberry bliss bar. These are amazing and were developed to copy a Starbucks dessert. A delicious combination of dried cranberries, white chocolate and cream cheese. I find it so weird that I love these because I’m not a white chocolate fan and I do not like cream cheese. Weird, right? But these are a huge exception to those rules. I love them, so will you, that is all.

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More Bailey’s Brownies. What can I say? They’re really good and everyone needs extra Bailey’s at Christmas.

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Here begins a selection of drop cookies. Traditional Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Raisin, Mint Oreo Chocolate Cookies, (amazing even though I totally messed up the recipe) Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bark, and some sort of layer bar that I think I made from a few bags of leftover stuff. They were also really delicious and while I’m typing this I will try to find the recipes.

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I try to Pin all of the things I make so that I can find them later, success for this one. The bark was not supposed to be giant chunks. This is again what happens to me when I accidentally try to do nine million things at once. But you know what? This was the best tasting thing ever in life, so it’s ok. More odd shaped scraps for me and my dad.

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I adapted this recipe from the leftover things I had on hand: weird tasting chocolate marshmallows, super old coconut and chopped pecans. It was actually really really good. Kind of mushier than I think the crust was supposed to be, but another accidental taste of awesome.

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Dark Chocolate Mint Oreo Cookies. Growing up I never understood why Michael and my friend Stevie liked mint chocolate things so much. I hated them for about 16 years. Finally, I’ve come to my senses and realized the intense satisfaction that comes from mixing them together. Plus this recipe has crushed Oreos in it.

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Oatmeal cinnamon chip (an ingredient you must buy) raisin drop cookies can from the recipe on the cinnamon chip bag. Sometimes that is just the way to go.

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I used the “Mrs. Field’s” Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe I found for Septemberfest for these guys. I think they were better as a giant bar, but still pretty good.

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I made these because I really like Pretzel M&Ms. I didn’t like them as much as my drop cookie recipe, but you live, you eat and you learn.

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Fudge. This is actually another recipe my mom made every year for christmas and I make at least 5… ok 10 times a year. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably had it and you love it too.

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Is it a holiday without Oatberries? These were leftover from my unsuccessful attempt to be on the new CBS baking show. That was frustrating because the “taster” ate about 1/16 of one of these. At least I went to round two, that is my goal with most things in life.

 

 

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I was planning on adding my February desserts to this list but I’m too hungry now, plus it’s lent and I don’t know if I have the willpower to look at brownies any more. I still have 32 days left!

Hopefully you did not give up dessert for lent and since there is more snow on the ground than I’ve seen in two years, you can pretend it’s Christmas. Play some deck the halls and make one of these recipes – let me know how it goes!

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Sweet’N Low Seasonal Sips

30 Dec

As part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program, I recently received a wonderful package from Sweet’N Low, including a super cute cocktail shaker!

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I was challenged to create a low-sugar drink with my Sweet’N Low packets and since I’ve recently joined the peppermint mocha loving club, I decided to tackle my own version of the coffeehouse favorite.

The first ingredient I used was a simple cup of coffee. I used an instant coffee packet, but you can easily use a cup from your carafe or from a single serve machine.

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Pour your coffee in a fancy mug and then add a tablespoon of cocoa powder, for the mocha! Of course, the cocoa is unsweetened and that’s where the Sweet’N Low comes in. I used one packet for my single drink, but this part is really to taste, sweeten your drink as much as you like.

Next 1/2 a teaspoon of peppermint extract. Here’s where you can spike your drink with a splash of peppermint schnapps if you want. That’s one of the things I love about making individual drinks, you can fit each drinker with their favorite flavors.

Finally a swirl of whipped cream topped with a few chocolate chips and a peppermint candy, a low-calorie way to enjoy a sinful drink!

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Thanks to Sweet’N Low now I can enjoy peppermint mocha even after I start my diet tomorrow – cheers!

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Two Bite Jiggler Shots

24 Aug

I thought the worst had happened.

Last Friday I was prepping for our annual Brewers tailgate and I couldn’t find my Jell-O lounge recipe for jiggler shots. I started freaking out a little because despite the countless times I’ve made these babies, I never bothered to memorize the ratio or boiling water to cold water to jell-o to alcohol. I panicked for five minutes and then I got to work with my best friend Google.

What I discovered is my dear Jell-O lounge doesn’t exist anymore. Maybe Kraft thought that Jell-O, generally marketed toward children, didn’t need its own adult-only section on their website. Obviously they are wrong, but it’s their company, so you know, I’m not going to write a complaint letter or anything.

Luckily I remembered the actual recipe title, Cosmo Bites, which I have never actually made. I always pick my own flavors of liquor and Jell-O mix. Google search Cosmos Bites and the recipe does still exist in the Kraft database!!

Remember what your teachers and parents tell you, what goes on the internet, stays on the internet. So who do I thank for my recipe discovery, Al Gore?

Anyway, back on track. I used leftover pear vodka from Elizabeth’s bachelorette party, strawberry Jell-O mix, the correct proportions of boiling and cold water, lime juice and a lot of silver tequila. I was going for a strawberry margarita flavor. They were delicious.

This picture shows I was slightly lazy when I made them, I didn’t know where my other baby muffin tins were so I just made an extra enormous shot. We are it with forks.

The rest are my favorite go-to two bite jiggler shots. Any suggestions for next weekend’s?

Only after I wrote everything above did I realize I never took a picture of my creations. I think this is a first. So here is a picture of last year’s jigglers, and two pics from last weekend – our tailgate group and the aftermath of the day. 

Brunch is Better than Lunch

11 Apr

Lunch just makes me think of my dad asking for a sandwich. Boring. Brunch is filled with all of the things you could ever want, really, there are not rules at brunch.

I think next year I’ll give up something other than dessert for lent.

My reasons are multi-fold. Number 1, it wasn’t actually as difficult as I expected it to be. This may be because I turned to pizza and toast as “fun foods,” or because I wasn’t really able to spend a lot on ingredients, Number 2, I didn’t gain anything but a stomach-ache for the last three days when I reintroduced (and by that I mean overloaded) myself with candy, and Number 3, I just missed baking, making and writing here! I’ll just have to rethink this in about 10 months.

I have three things to write about, but I think I’ll do them backwards, because the best was the most recent – Easter brunch! Because my parents were on a cruise up until 9:00pm the night before Easter, I was the leader of the brunch. I have no problems doing that, just hand me a credit card and a full day for prep work and I’m ready. Plus it helped that I have fun little people to bake for and fun grown-ups who supplied the champagne.

I spent some time (ok, I spent a few days) deciding what I wanted to make (technically these aren’t all desserts, but they all did bake in the oven). I wanted an easy, overnight french toast and then a completely opposite egg bake – no bread. We had toast, of course, but I wanted to make something slightly healthy or at least give my eaters a choice.

I found a super awesome recipe for what I called the Egg Bake, and then I michelle-ed it. The recipe calls for spinach, green onions, mozzarella cheese and 8 eggs. I changed it by swapping out the onions for asparagus (which I chopped and roasted the day before), and then I used a bigger pan, 9×13, so I used 2 cups of cheese and 10 eggs. It was super fantastic and relatively healthy.

Then I made another egg bake with the exact same idea, but much heartier ingredients – bacon and potatoes. I cooked some frozen hash browns in a wok and spread them on the bottom of a 9×13 and topped that with super easy oven-roasted bacon. Seriously, go buy some bacon, foil cover a pan, and then 25 minutes later at 400 degrees you’re gonna be very happy. I topped the potatoes with the bacon, a bag of cheddar cheese and 11 eggs. I cooked both at 375 for about 40 minutes.

Next up – apple fritter french toast! I’m usually anti-store brand items, mostly just Jewel and Dominicks brand. I don’t know if maybe we had some weird cookies, oatmeal or what growing up, but I just didn’t like those. Target, however, always has delicious store brand items. I spent about 10 minutes in the bakery aisle, and came upon pure genius, apple fritter breakfast bread. I had a yummy looking recipe picked out, from the Pioneer Woman, but wanted to make it my own, so I swapped the bread for the apple fritter loaf, used half and half instead of cream and accidentally used softened butter in the topping. It was really good, but I definitely want to try it with the right topping and see the difference. I was most excited that all three of my “bakes” turned out, cooked, warm and yummy.

As for dessert, I went to my staple, chocolate covered strawberries. Remember the video? Always throw a little shortening in the chocolate so they look pretty.

Finally, chocolate chip, Oreo, brown sugar, giant brownies. Betty Crocker never steers me wrong. I mixed up the red box, added in 3/4 of the snack size bag of mini Oreos, half a bag of dark chocolate chips, half a bag of milk chocolate chips and about 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Mini Oreos seems liked a better idea than chopping up big ones, I love chocolate chips and I had some weird yearning for brown sugar, so that’s where the add-ins came from. I decided to cut them huge because they looked pretty, but mostly because they were unbelievably gooey and I knew I’d have trouble if I tried to cut them smaller.

We also had pineapple, toast (thanks mom), champagne, and of course, Easter candy.

 

Then I took a 4 hour nap.

Happy Easter!

Pancake Buffet

26 Feb

I’ve been wanting to celebrate food holidays for a while now and excitedly got the chance to have a food holiday party this Saturday thanks to Food Buzz!

You know I got to be a part of their amazing 24×24 program on New Year’s Eve, which may have been one of my best parties to date, and I got to participate again – this time with a pancake buffet!

Food Buzz picks the day and submit the proposal, so for me, I used this opportunity to google what February 25th means in the food world – and it’s the end of National Pancake Week!!

So to celebrate a bunch of my friends came over and we had the ultimate pancake buffet – complete with multiple flavors and mimosas, of course.

At a regular brunch buffet, you get your mix of entrees, but do you ever get your choice of pancake mix-ins and toppings? That was the goal with my party. I wanted to make every guests pancake dreams come true – success.

First I set up the buffet with an assortment of fruits, syrup, whipped cream, pecans, powdered sugar, cinnamon and for the sweet tooth, chocolate chips.

While we mixed up our mimosas,

I baked up an apple dutch pancake. It was my first attempt of a baked pancake, and in the future I might bake the cake at a lower temp because I burned the top a bit and felt as if the middle was a little soft, but it was still a great mix of apple slices and fluffy dough. Yum! I’m sure my dad would like that the next time I’m home.

Next I whisked together the wet and dry ingredients of a basic pancake recipe. You know I’m only a fan of boxes when they contain brownie mix, so pancakes had to come from scratch as well – and they were cute and perfect. I decided to make little guys because, well because my cookie scoop was the perfect size!

My guests then picked from my topper buffet and dressed up their baby cakes!

Everyone loved that they could customize their plates and mix and match – especially with both salty and sweet options!

I’m so excited that I got to have this party and send a huge thanks to Food Buzz – hope to participate again soon!

PS – thanks to Jenn for the awesome PJ flair!

Ohh – and Jordan for making sausage patties to add to the table!

HAPPY NATIONAL PANCAKE WEEK!

Triple Treats for your Sweet

19 Feb

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. Flowers, romance, fun…

forget that, I’m just concerned with the chocolate.

In preparation for the sweet holiday, I decided to make three desserts for my roommates (and me) last weekend.

There was the simple dark chocolate kiwi, the sticky cookie dough truffle bars and the swirly strawberry puree champagne.

They were all delicious.

The kiwis were so simple and so cute, unbelievably cute actually. I peeled and sliced and then tried to stick candy sticks in the fruit. Some of them didn’t hold so well, but they were all able to be doused in melted dark chocolate. I’m not kidding when I say these were amazing. I’m pretty sure I ate them all and I’m also pretty sure I’m dipping some more kiwi in chocolate this Saturday to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

Chocolate covered cookie dough balls were equally as chocolate drenched, but a little more difficult, but only really due to my impatient-ness. Mixing the dough was fairly simple. Basically, you make your favorite cookie dough recipe but sub a can of sweetened condensed milk for the eggs and baking soda and/or powder. This makes the dough salmonella-free. Then the patience part came. You should really keep these balls in the fridge or freezer for an hour. I just didn’t want to wait that long to continue my chocolate dipping, and my Sweet Talk episode, so a few of my cookie dough balls were melty when dipped. I managed to wait a bit longer for the rest but the shape was a little droopy because of my insistence to continue. Still a fun activity and twist on the popular cake ball trend.

 

Finally, something sweet to drink! Take some frozen strawberries, puree them in a blender or mini blender or any way you can puree them, pour in a glass and then add the bubbly. Champagne over strawberries took a new, delicious twist.

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Delicious Declarations

1 Jan

Thank you, Food Buzz, for helping me host an amazing New Year’s Eve brunch!

I am so excited to tell you all about my fun party. It all started at the beginning of December when I received an email from Food Buzz, with the prompt – How will you spend the last day of 2011? The prompt was for their monthly program, 24×24, which calls for submissions to answer the prompt. They then pick their favorite 24 proposals and grant them a stipend to hold their party, as long as it takes place on the designated day, therefore there are 24 meals around the country in 24 hours, hence the 24×24.

This was my proposal submission:

This will be a celebration and preparation for the new year. I will have each brunch attendee bring a dish that represents their new years resolution, whether that means get healthier, learn to make muffins, travel the world, get a new job, whatever it is the dish will represent it. Every one will share their story on my webcam so that I can turn it into a video that we can save for the next year to see if the resolutions came true. This is a positive experience, no negativity allowed. The location will be my parents house in Schaumburg and we will decorate with sparkly decos and other happy exciting elements. I will be inviting all of my close friends and family. We will, of course, have champagne and toast to the resolutions.

This is unique because the food is representing the future and the individual goal. It’s a new twist on an old standby. I’m picking brunch because it’s such a communal event, with a relaxed environment but also has a celebration flair. Plus, this will accommodate everyone who may have other plans for the evening. Even children can participate in the events. Like I mentioned above, each attendee will shoot a video of their dish and their resolution, I will then post those on my blog along with pictures and a summarization of the event – I can’t wait!

I was really excited then and I’m even more excited that it was a success. Everyone participated, celebrated and asked if this could become an annual tradition – absolutely! I hope you all had sweet celebrations and enjoy our resolutions!

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