Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Candied Almonds

Hope everyone had a great Christmas!  I know we did!  As part of our family gift-giving, I always make a little package of goodies for family and friends. This year, with the moving and work and everything going on I decided to go ultra easy and quick.  I made these secret turtle candies that I learned from my mother-in-law (sorry guys she won't let me tell you all the recipe) and candied almonds!  Those I can share with you cause I found them all on my own!

They are super duper easy!  It does take an hour and 15 minutes or so total to make, but most of that can be spend hanging out with the family or relaxing and recuperating from all the holiday festivities.  They are super tasty and very addictive and would probably make great snacks for a New Year's Eve party or a great gift to the host of a party you may be attending.  My main tip would be to buy the almonds at a bulk store or out of the bulk bins if your grocery store has them.  A pound of almonds can be kind of spendy this time of year!

Pre-measuring you ingredients saves a bit of time later!

Put the egg white, vanilla and water into a bowl large enough for all the ingredients.

Whisk until frothy.

Stir in the almonds and toss until well coated.

Fold in the sugar and spices.

Stir until all the almonds are well coated.

Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 1 hour at 250F, stirring every 15 minutes.

Enjoy!  But try not to eat the whole pound in one sitting! :)

Candied Almonds
adapted from this recipe

1 lb. almonds
1 egg white
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 250 F.

Whisk together egg white, water and vanilla in a bowl large enough to fit all the almonds.  After whisked well and frothy, fold in almonds and toss to coat. Sprinkle on sugar, salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and stir until all the almonds are well coated.

Pour almonds onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and spread nuts into a single layer. (Don't skip the parchment paper otherwise you will have a super messy cookie sheet to deal with later.)  Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before eating...or you will burn your tongue!  Trust me, I know! lol

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mini Eggnog Cupcakes with Rum flavored Swiss Meringue Buttercream

These cupcakes came to me while I was shopping a few weeks ago.  I saw a tub of buttered rum at the grocery store and I felt the need to buy some and use it in something. Those of you who know me, know how I feel about eggnog.  I think it's gross...though I've been told I can't really judge it until I've tried it warmed up with rum added.  Maybe someday people, but until that day, I stand by my hate of eggnog.  And since everyone keeps asuring me nothing pairs better with rum than eggnog, I figured they can't all be wrong. That being said, the fact that I made these cupcakes is a miracle as I taste absolutely EVERYTHING that I take out in public to ensure that there are no odd tasting goodies coming out of my kitchen!    Of course the day I made these cupcakes there was no tub of buttered rum to be found at the grocery store.  No worries...there's always rum in my house!  (Got to have it on hand in case I get the inkling for pina coladas!)

Sorry for a lack of pictures this time guys!  It didn't occur to me to put these on here until about half way through making them.  Don't worry, the next post will have plenty of pics!

Mini Eggnog Cupcakes 
makes 24-36 mini cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup eggnog

Preheat the oven to 350 and prep the mini cupcake pan by filling it with cupcake liners of your choice.

Sift or whisk together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  (Flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.)  Set aside for now.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated.  Add in the vanilla extract and mix well.  

Now add in the dry ingredients, in thirds, alternating with the eggnog.  ( Add in 1/3 dry ingredients then 1/4 cup eggnog and repeat until it is all mixed together.)  Beat on medium speed just until well mixed.

Fill the cupcake liners evenly, using an ice cream scoop, measuring cup or place all of the batter in a gallon size ziploc bag and cut the corner to form sort of a piping bag and squeeze even amounts of batter into each liner.  ( I did that this time...I think I will always do that for cupcakes.  It makes it so much easier!  Saw it on an episode of Paula Dean's show featuring the authors of Hello Cupcake)

Bake for 9-11 minutes.  Watch these closely, mini cupcakes can over cook quickly but make sure they are done all the way through by inserting a toothpick to check that it is still not gooey inside.  Cool completely before frosting.

Rum Flavored Swiss Meringue Buttercream
adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe

3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 sticks butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 shot (1 oz.) of rum

Combine egg whites, sugar and salt into a heatproof bowl (use the one from your stand mixer if you have one) and set atop a pan of simmering water on the stove.  Whisk constantly until the mixture is warm to the touch and the sugar and salt have dissolved.  It should not feel gritty when rubbed between your fingertips.

Place the bowl in your stand mixer, if using one, and whisk starting on low and working up to medium-high.  If using a hand mixer make sure you also gradually increase the speed and be in for a bit of an arm workout on this one.  Continue whisking until stiff (but not dry) peaks form and mixture is cool.  Test this by turning off the mixer and pulling the whisking attachment out.  If a peak forms and doesn't flop over, you reached it!  If not, keep going but be sure to stop before it gets dry.  You want it to still be sleek and glossy.

Turn the speed down to low and add the butter a few Tbsp. at a time, ensuring that it is well mixed before adding more.  Once all the butter is added, pour in the vanilla and rum.  Switch to a paddle or beater attachment and beat on low for a about 2 minutes to ensure all air bubbles have been beaten out and the mixture is smooth.

Place in a piping bag with your favorite decorating tip attached and pipe onto cool cupcakes.  Sprinkle with nutmeg for some color and try not to eat them all!  : D

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chocolate Mint Layer Bars

Hey there everyone!  I know I disappeared for a bit, but we were relocating!  I now have my own kitchen back, none of my kitchen stuff yet, but lets just get right into the baking!  Christmas is coming and my kitchen is running pretty much 24/7 this time of year.  No time to waste!

This recipe is actually from one of those free recipe cards you see just about everywhere this time of year.  I was walking down the seasonal baking display at our grocery store and saw these delicious mint chocolate chips that I loved last year.  They were buy one get one free so I just couldn't resist!  Plus they had recipes right there!  They were calling my name...I couldn't leave them there unbaked on the shelf.

This recipe is super duper simple!  Took maybe 30 minutes and 25 minutes of those were the bars baking in the oven.  They taste and look great!  Hint, hint guys!  Awesome idea for Christmas goodies for bake sales or gifts!

Small ingredient list today!

Using a food processor or rolling pin, crush the Oreos up finely enough to be used for a crust.

Like this!

Just plop the butter in the pan and melt it up while the oven is preheating.

Add in the cookie crumbs when the butter is all melted and carefully stir (that pan is hot remember?!)

Press into the bottom of the pan to form the crust.

Sprinkle on the chopped nuts and coconut.

Add the sweetened condensed milk and chips and bake 20-25 minutes!


Scrumptious Chocolate Mint Layer Bars
Makes 24 bars

2 cups Oreos, finely ground (about 1/2 package or 15 cookies)
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
1 cup flaked coconut
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 2/3 cups (10 oz. pkg.) dark chocolate & mint chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

Using a food processor, grind up the cookies.  If you don't have a food processor you could pick up the little one I have at Wal-Mart for $10 or go old school and put the Oreos in a large ziploc and crush them using a rolling pin or meat tenderizer.  (If you use a meat tenderizer be sure to pay attention to which side you use.  The pointy side WILL make holes in the bag and therefore make a large me!)

Melt the butter in a 9" x 13" baking pan in the oven.  When the butter is all melted, remove the pan from the oven and pour in the cookie crumbs.  Mix carefully and press into the bottom of the pan to form the crust.  Next sprinkle on the nuts and coconut.  Pour the condensed milk over the coconut and nuts as evenly as you can.  Top with the dark chocolate & mint chips then bake for 20-25 minutes or until the coconut is lightly browned.

Cool in the pan on a cooling rack.  Once completely cool, cut into bars and serve!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Triple Chocolate Cookies! YUMMY!!!!

When my daughter and I were shopping for her new school clothes a few weeks ago, we stopped at the mall food court to recharge in between stores and grab some lunch.  We went to a little cafe/sandwich shop there that had these amazing little triple chocolate cookie chippers that my little one and I have both been craving ever since.

Of Course, she wanted me to just go back and buy more, I however decided to try to recreate the recipe at know so that we could have them over and over instead of just when I have time to go to the mall.  It's a baking version of the whole teach a man to fish, he'll eat for life philosophy... kind of deep for a cookie craving, huh?!

Anyway, we mostly just went with the recipe of the back of a bag of Nestle white chocolate chips...the results were pretty close and we ate them all in about 24 hours!  (All 8 of us...not just my daughter and I!)

Wihisk or sift together your dry ingredients.

Cream together butter and sugars.

Beat on medium high until fluffy.

Add in the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.  Add in the chips.

Press the dough out onto a piece of wax or parchment paper.  Form it into a rectangle about 1/2" thick.

Cut into 1" squares.

Place on cookie sheets about 1 1/2" to 2" apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for a minute before moving them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Now try not to eat them all in one sitting! : D

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 5 dozen cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Beat butter, both sugars and vanilla together in a mixing bowl until fluffy and creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, being sure to mix in completely between additions.  Add flour mixture in a bit at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula when necessary.  Add in both chips and stir until well incorporated.

Place a large piece of parchment or wax paper down on a flat surface like an island or counter.  Scoop the cookie dough out on to it and flatten into a 9x13 sized rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into squares about 1 to 1 1/2 inches.  Place on baking sheets about an inch apart and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Allow to cool for a minute on the cookie sheets, then move to a cooling rack.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancakes!

This idea kind of stemmed from two things, one my craving for delicious pancakes and my family's love of all things bacon.  With as popular as the bacon/chocolate combo is these days I felt I needed to finally hitch myself to that particular bandwagon.  Before you totally reject this recipe, you know cause seriously bacon and chocolate is weird in pancakes, I must tell you I slaved over this one.  I sort of wrote it myself...well I used an old hand written pancake recipe scribbled into one of my notepads and tweaked it until it tasted just right...and now that I have guilted you all into reading further...I think you should all try it too!

Now, I doubt it is truly a nutritious breakfast, but it was a special treat and we all enjoyed it very much.  The trick is, sigh...don't judge me, the trick is to put actual bacon grease in the pancakes in order to provide more bacon-y flavor.  You should all try it at least once.  They are delicious and lots of fun to make with the whole family!

Whisk together your dry ingredients.

Add in the wet ingredients and whisk until there are only small lumps left.

Like this!

Add in bacon pieces and mini chocolate chips.

Mix well...

Cook on a preheated skillet until small bubbles appear.

Flip and cook until lightly browned on each side and cooked through.

Top with maple or chocolate syrup and serve!

Bacon Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Makes about 12-18 full size pancakes depending on size

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
3 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 cup bacon grease
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
4 pieces bacon, chopped

Start by cooking up about 1/2 a package of bacon.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Whisk in the milk, egg, melted butter, vanilla and bacon grease.  The mixture will have some small lumps but will be mostly smooth when done.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips and bacon pieces.

Pour 1/2 cup or so of the batter into a preheated skillet and cook until bubbles begin to appear. Flip over and allow to cook until both sides are lightly browned and the pancake is cooked through.  Serve with maple or chocolate syrup, fresh fruit and extra bacon along side!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Zucchini Cupcakes

Our garden, as previously mentioned, seems to think that we only need and want ginormous zucchinis and so has been mass producing crazy sized versions of this vegetable.  After doing a couple of pasta dishes, I realized that my zucchini arsenal of recipes was tapped and I turned to baked goods in order to use up some of our years long supply.  I have never tried zucchini in baked good form.  I know, I know, crazy!  But I just have never gotten around to it I guess.  For my first zucchini baked goodie, I chose cupcakes of course, and, while I myself did not really enjoy them (I guess I don't like zucchini baked goods...) my family and friends seemed to like these cupcakes and so I will share them with you too!

One of our ginormous zucchinis.  Yup, that is a Morton salt container back there...

Shred your zucchini using a cheese grater or food processor in order to get about 2 cups...

Gather up all of your ingredients.

Whisk or sift your dry ingredients together.

I made a double batch, so I have extra eggs and oil.  Had to use up as much of the zucchini as I could!

Mix all of your wet ingredients together.

Add in the flour and mix until combined.

While the cupcakes are in teh freezer, prepare the frosting using a hand or stand mixer.

Blend until smooth and creamy.

Remove cupcakes from the freezer, frost and enjoy!

Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 24, adapted from i am baker

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups shredded zucchini (1 med. or 1/3 of a ginormous one...)
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare cupcake pans. (Also check to make sure you have some freezer space available for the cupcakes, you'll see why.)

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cinnamon, salt and baking powder.

In a seprate larger bowl, mix together the zucchini, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Add in the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Scoop into cupcake liners using a 1/4 cup measuring cup or ice cream scoop.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Place trays directly into the freezer after they come out of the oven and leave for about an hour.  (Just do it, trust me!  Or else your cupcakes will sink and become tough and not taste as good.  I know, my first tray never made it to the freezer...)

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-oz package cream cheese
1 stick butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until smooth and creamy.

Frost the cupcakes when then are completely cool.  Make sure to refrigerate any leftover cupcakes because of the cream cheese in the frosting.