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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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Testing…Testing

19 Aug

Last week I got a text message, “Why do my chocolate chip cookies always go flat on me?!”

I answered Elizabeth by sharing that the temperature of her butter or over-creaming the butter and sugar was probably the issue, and that lead me to my weekend cookie experiment.

I was in charge of cookies for our 3rd annual Brewers tailgate yesterday and I thought that was the perfect time to do some testing. First though, I had to fulfill a request of oatmeal butterscotch cookies. Thanks, Hershey’s.  (and so sorry for the blur, I may have been too excited to get on to my experiment to stand still)

Then I tackled my experiment. Since chocolate chips cookies are my fave and easily a crowd pleaser, I wasn’t worried about having too many cookies and grabbed two recipes for the weekend. First, the cold butter, puffy cookie, and second a softened butter, chewy cookie.

As the first recipe explains, you begin with chilled butter cut into cubes, much like pie crust, and the batter you create is thick and smooth, but tight, almost like a rough peanut butter.

These are pretty mess-less and easy to make because if you don’t have a cookie scooper or dough disher, you can roll these into balls without being sticky!

For the chewy cookies, look no further than Martha Stewart. I mean, she’s pretty much the cookie queen, right? This recipe was almost identical, except the recipe called for softened, room temperature butter and a deep creaming with the sugar, this dough looks a lot more like a thick cake batter and is prettttttty sticky!

Definitely needed a scooper to help me out here.

For both cookies I used half dark chocolate and half milk chocolate mini kisses, for scientific experiment consistency, of course. Plus, you know I like to mix things up.

The verdict? They were both delicious, but I kinda like the puffy ones better. It might’ve been the cuteness factor. Your thoughts?

Cinna-Chocolate-Pretzel Brownies

5 Aug

Sometimes you (I) really want chocolate. Those are times when it’s nice to have a box of brownie mix available for some deliciousness. Now, if you’re like me, you love a regular brownie, but it’s just not as fun as putting your own spin on it. Enter: Cinnamon Dark Chocolate Pretzel Brownies.

Enter: Amazingness.

I began my baking with the idea that I wanted to use buttermilk in my brownies. I did some googling and cake upon this recipe – BAM! successfully allowing me to use my ingredients!

I changed it up a bit, using 4 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup oil, Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix, a BUNCH of semi-sweet chocolate chips, a handful of butterscotch chips and my two perfect add-ins: cinnamon extract and as many crushed pretzel twist as I could fit in.

The batter was so amazing it almost didn’t get baked.

I baked my invention at 350 degrees for 35 minutes and my taste buds went to heaven for a while with each bite.

Imagine a crunchy, salty pretzel half, dipped in decadent dark chocolate chewiness with a hint of surprisingly delicious cinnamon. Sweet, salty, slightly spicy. I’m salivating writing this.

 

I chopped them up into mini brownies and brought them to my nephew’s 2nd birthday party. They didn’t last long but this is a recipe that will very soon be repeated.

 

 

 

Brownie Cookie

14 Jul

There was an accidental inside out Oreo purchase at my house last week, so I needed to figure out something to do with them. I remembered I’d read about pouring batter on cookies and I decided that’s how I would spend last Sunday afternoon.

Step 1: Take whatever cookies you have and lay them in a 9×13 pan lined with foil.

Step 2: Make brownie or cake batter. This part was slightly experimental too because I didn’t have enough oil for the brownies. I subbed a little extra water and room temperature Crisco.

Step 3: Notice how strange it is that there is a STOP sign on the Oreo package.

Step 4: Pour your batter evenly over the cookies.

Step 5: Bake as you would normal brownies (or cake if that’s what you choose to use), and let cool.

Step 6: Cut into pieces and admire your awesome dessert. Then bring them to work.

Speedy Summer Sweets

7 Jun

Oh I love alliteration in my headlines.

This summer, well so far in May and June which has felt very summery, I’ve been going back to my dessert roots.

When I first started making desserts for my friends and family, mostly my dad, I wasn’t really baking, just creatively combining ingredients. This non-baking desserts is perfect for two things – warm weather and dessert-ing with children.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I tackled two of this speedy summer sweets.

Although we have a fire pit in the backyard, we don’t use it very often, so I decided to make s’mores on the oven. Be careful if you do this because stoves can be tricky – make sure you don’t over burn your marshies!

On Memorial Day my sister and family came over and Madeline and I mixed together some red, white and blue snacks. We made vanilla instant pudding (with red sprinkles stirred in) and layered frozen strawberries, the pudding and fresh blueberries in sugar ice cream cones. I wish I had one of those ice cream cone stands for this project, but otherwise they were really cute and a healthy way to celebrate the patriotic holiday.

Slightly Stolen Simple Sweets

27 May

The restaurant I work at has a very popular dessert they call “Banana Cream Pie.”

I always tell my tables, “it’s sort of like a banana cream mound, it’s really good though – you’ll like it!” And they always do.

Last week my grandparents were staying with us and one day we baked bread and made sauce and had my aunt, uncle & cousin over for dinner so I figured I should make something for dessert, since I would be embarrassed to have a meal here with nothing sweet at the end.

The night before at work I was watching the dessert prep chef put together the mound and I thought to myself, “this is so ridiculously easy, it’s funny how good people think it is, I mean it is really yummy, but so so easy.” That thought and the important factor that Tuesday was National Vanilla Pudding Day, led me to my slightly stolen simple sweet. My version, which I will call, Vanilla Banana Cream Mound.

Step 1: Crush graham crackers to your liking. I basically cracked one sheet per dessert plate so they were chunks not crumbs.

Step 2: Make or buy vanilla pudding. I used fat-free/sugar-free instant pudding and skim milk (we just ate bread, sauce, pork and noodles, people, this was a lite dessert). Top the crackers with the pudding. (By the way at work we use banana pudding).

Step 3: Divide one 8-oz container of cool whip amongst your plates. Again, lite cool whip, I didn’t measure just glopped. We don’t use cool whip at work, just whipped cream but I liked the idea of mixing the two.

Step 4: Slice bananas and surround your mound with the slices.  As many slices per plate as you’d like.

Step 5: Top the cool whip with whipped cream, fat-free Reddi Whip, one can for 8 plates.

Step 6: Sprinkle silvered almonds a top your creation

Step 7: Finish with a caramel drizzle. You’re done! Enjoy!

What I love about desserts like this is that they’re quick and yummy but also so versatile. You don’t like bananas? ok, use a different fruit. Almond allergy? Get rid of them. Prefer chocolate pudding and crushed Oreos? Yum, invite me over. Just use your imagination and create something fun for your friends and family, isn’t that the whole reason for dessert anyway?

Mother’s Day Breakfast and Dessert

14 May

I hope all of the mothers out there had a great Sunday filled with relaxing family events and yummy eats! We tried to make all of that happen for my mom yesterday and I think we did a pretty good job. She got to enjoy a day full of planting and gardening with Michael’s help and thanks to Tommy & Jaime and Marilee & Jay’s Home Depot gift cards.

From me, my mom got breakfast, and Starbucks. I’m on a budget, but I think she enjoyed her gifts.

I started the breakfast the day before by pre-cooking bacon, much like I did on Easter. Baking bacon is the smartest, cleanest way to get to deliciousness. I used the bacon for breakfast pizza.

The first pizza featured a sautéed combo of 8 eggs, spinach, mushrooms and bacon. Basically you just scramble your eggs mixed with toppings and once they’re done top them on the crust, cover with cheese (mozzarella on this one) and pop in the oven for 5ish minutes. Honestly I wasn’t happy with the crust. I bought whole wheat just to make it healthier, but I think in the future I would either make my own crust or go with something a little thicker. This was cracker-y and we ended up buttering the ends to make it better, which kind of defeats the whole wheat.

I topped the other with an easy mix of bacon, eggs and cheddar cheese. Both combos were pretty yummy and it was great to be able to mix the tops and then 5 minutes before breakfast heat them up.

An impromptu addition (which turned out to be a huge hit) were pineapple yogurt mini muffins. I decided to make these at about 8:45 yesterday morning and decided we needed a side dish. I found this recipe but made a few changes. I used one Chobani 2% Pineapple single serve container, one 6 oz Dannon Light & Fit Pina Colada container and a few spoonfuls of Fage 0% Greek Yogurt. I used about a cup of drained canned pineapple as the fruit mix-in and I left the topping out. These muffins were so moist and delicious.

Perfect for a certain 1-year-old that loved them and definitely a healthier recipe. Yum.

I plated the muffins, with some breakfast sausage, perfectly sweet pineapple chunks and huge strawberries.

For dessert last night I made what I’ll call a 5-minute choose your flavor cheesecake in a store-bought graham cracker crust. I like homemade crusts but didn’t really have time so I opted to buy one, either way the pie was so quick and easy! I used the remaining cup of pineapple chunks from breakfast and tossed them in the mixer followed by one 8oz brick of cream cheese and one tub of cool whip (you decide the fat content for both items), then I added two chopped and peeled kiwi and a few splashes of pineapple juice. I mixed everything, poured it in the crust and let it sit in the fridge for 8 hours.

It was the perfect creamy pie to end the beautiful day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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