Thanksgiving Treats

28 Nov

Oh, Thanksgiving. My favorite, most delicious holiday, and the day I always make a dessert trifle.

All of you FRIENDS fans must remember the Thanksgiving episode where Rachel makes the crazy jam, custard and beef trifle. Since that is my favorite show of all time, and one of my favorite episodes, for that past six or so years I’ve been making a trifle to celebrate the holiday. No beef though, just sweetness.

I always make my trifle a little different, and this year I went with a simple combination of Bailey’s brownies, fresh whipped cream, melted chocolate and crushed mini Oreos.

Bailey’s in brownies is amazing, I’ve already made some for my next dessert event, so easy too! I just subbed most of the water in the recipe for the liquor. They smell and taste decadent.

My whipped cream recipe is simple as well. Just whip up some heavy cream with a spoonful of powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla. Be sure to chill the bowl and the whisk before beginning.

I really enjoyed the combination of thick brownies and lots and LOTS of whipped cream.

 

We also got together the Saturday after Thanksgiving at my house where I attempted to make French Silk pie. I figured it’s time for me to start working on some desserts I’m not too familiar with for my audition next weekend!

The crust was so easy and delicious. I used Carla Hall’s Perfect Pie Crust from The Chew. It was flawless. The flaws came later, when I attempted to make a filling from an App on my phone. Major fail, it was grainy and gross. Since I didn’t want to spend the entire night in the kitchen, I made a quick decision to melt an entire bag of milk chocolate chips and spread that in my crust, then I made some more whipped cream and topped it with that. Honestly I thought it was pretty delicious. It was nothing like french silk pie, but it was pretty yummy and I’d like some right now!

I also made mini pie crust cups for ice cream – loved these! Plus, they were great to send home with my nieces and nephews to enjoy whenever they wanted a crunchy cup.

Saturday morning I spent the day walking around Chicago tasting chocolate with my sister-in-law to be, Erin, so I have to say I had a really sugary few days – I hope you all had a sweet Thanksgiving weekend too!

Oh – and I made these mac & cheese cups as an appetizer!

And of course, honey butter!

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Some Sweet Advice on Celebrations & Competitions

18 Nov

Three things inspired this post today.

First, Thanksgiving is coming! This year we are going to my aunt & uncle’s house, so I don’t need to worry about assisting my mom with mashed potatoes or mac & cheese. Instead I’m focusing all of my efforts on the sweet side of things, and of course, honey butter.

Second, my former high school Journalism teacher, Ms. Syed, started following me on Twitter and invited me to come to her 1st period class’s bake-off! I was more than honored to be invited. Unfortunately, the BIG Radio Shopping Show is too far away for me to make it from Conant to Aurora by 10am. After I regretfully declined, she asked me to give her bakers some advice.

Finally, I’m gearing up to audition for the CBS Baking Show in three weeks and have been thinking about practicing some sweets that I don’t make too often.

The two things on my plate plus Ms. Syed’s first hour freshmen reading students’ bake-off made me think of some important baking advice that I want to share with you guys. These are especially important around the holidays.

Practice what you’re going to make before the big holiday or competition. By this I don’t mean you need to make the exact same item beforehand, but what you can do is practice the technique. If you’re planning to make a pie, make a tart with the same dough a few weeks in advance. Maybe you’re going to have secret ingredients in the competition to make a drop cookie. Master the chocolate chipper before you go to the bake-off.

Know what you’re not good at. Personally, I’m not good at cheesecakes. I think I’ve made one successful cheesecake in my life and so if I were going to be providing dessert at a big event or proving I’m a good little baker, I wouldn’t start with this one. However, I should probably work on it for my audition.

Always have parchment paper on hand. Whether you’re putting together cookies, cakes, brownies or even covering pretzels in chocolate, you will always be more successful with parchment paper. Pause and actually cut the paper to the size you need. Take it from the girl who does everything too quickly, this is a step when you should breathe and slow down.

Make something you want to eat! The most fun and rewarding part of baking is eating the results, right? Even though baking doesn’t always give the same opportunities to taste test like cooking does, it’s good to have a reference point so that you know what it’s supposed to smell and look like. Then when you do taste it, you’ll know that you did a good job.

Have fun. Dessert is an extra. It isn’t required in life. It’s something you get to pick, plan and polish off. It makes people happy and hyper, that’s why it pairs so well with coffee. Everyone loves the person that brings desserts!

Good luck CHS bakers!

Essential Thanksgiving Element: Honey Butter

9 Nov

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday. Aside from the fact that my family goes on the same nature center walk every year, which I love, it’s also a holiday surrounded by food and drink. Sure, most holidays involve a delicious meal, but there’s always some other element to the day that makes you scurry from the table onto the next activity. Of course I love opening presents, Easter egg hunting, Trick or Treating and all the other fun holiday things, but let’s get serious here, I love food the most. And, you know, champagne & wine that comes with it.

There’s one element that I make sure to bring to the Thanksgiving table every year, honey butter. It’s quick and easy, but it adds a huge punch of deliciousness to dinner, and leftovers!

Here’s what you do:

Soften a stick (or two) of butter when you wake up Thanksgiving morning. Easy, right? Take care of all of the other things you need to do that day, whether you’re in charge of the turkey, the mashed potatoes, or like me, desserts, just let that butter hang out. Unless you live in the tropics, don’t worry about the butter getting too soft. Just be sure to keep it away from the oven.

You might forget you have that butter waiting for you, but you’ll remember as soon as you take the rolls/bread/cornbread out of the oven and you’re about 10 minutes from eating. Don’t panic, this is a two-minute recipe.

Put you stick(s) of butter in a mixing bowl, even though it’s not a lot of ingredients, I usually use a good size bowl because it’s just weird to use a hand mixer with a little bowl. Then grab your honey from the cabinet. Here’s the fun part – squeeze as much honey as you can into the bowl. I’ve never made the butter too sweet, so as long as you’re not using the whole jar, you should be fine. There really isn’t a measurement for this one, just to taste, which you are totally allowed to do on Thanksgiving! Turn on your beaters and whipped the honey and butter mixture until it looks super smooth. Then, taste test that butter until you get a perfect flavor.

You’re done! Of course since it’s Thanksgiving, you’ll want to put the butter in a fancy little bowl or something to serve, but on any other occasion, you can use a Tupperware. It’s amazing, especially with cornbread or sweet Hawaiian bread.

Once you master this, try adding vanilla extract for an extra flavor burst! Or cinnamon, or even something crazy like cayenne!

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

There Were Desserts

8 Nov

the last two months, there just wasn’t typing/writing about them. Why? You may ask? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because I started working on social media campaigns for my job as part-time host of the BIG Radio Shopping Show, maybe it’s because I’m currently spending an hour a day watching General Hospital, or maybe it’s because I just forgot. Oops.

Either way, I’ve definitely been making and eating some deliciousnesses since those amazing jell-o jigglers. 

Here they are.

SEPTEMBERFEST was filled with Nutella Cupcakes

 

Cinnamon Swirl Breakfast Bread

Cute Pancakes including one for Sonny

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

And some of those super fantastic cinnamon brownies!

 

Next up – My sister’s birthday. I threw together some festive fall treats for Marilee’s celebration, and then I double dipped these items for a celebration the next day too, celebrating choosing dresses for my brother’s wedding with the other bridesmaids!

Cinnamon Chip Brown Sugar Drop Cookies

Funfetti Bites

 

And an amazing pumpkin cake with whipped brown sugar cream cheese frosting, which I surprisingly loved.

 

And, of course, Halloween meant some chocolate treats. Halloween Oreos filled brownies. Amazing.

 

Questions? Comments? You know where to find me! Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

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.

 

 

 

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