Friday, November 16, 2012

Nutella Pockets



Holy Cow, I just realized that Thanksgiving is next week.  Seriously, I just checked the calendar and sure enough, next week.  If you are looking for a quick and easy Thanksgiving Day contribution to the dessert table, these little Nutella pockets are just the thing.  In a little over 30 minutes, these were put together and out of the oven.  I saw these on Pinterest (of course) and chased the link to Things That Sparkle, but it appears that she found these on Pinterest too, so I am honestly not sure where they came from originally.

Nutella Pockets

2 tubes Pilsbury Crescent Rolls (I like Pilsbury, but use whatever brand you like)
1/2 small jar Nutella (give or take)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Unroll crescent rolls.  Take each triangle and cut in half.  Plop about 1/4 teaspoon or a tad more into each crescent roll.  Roll up the crescent roll and seal the edges.  In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon and sugar.  Roll the pockets in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Place on cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Turtle Bars




Leave it to a church lady to take something as complicated as a turtle and turn it into a tasty bar cookie.  Church ladies are the queens of the bar cookie and this one is no exception.  All of the flavor of a turtle in about 1/10 of the time.  My only complaint is that the bars were a bit challenging to cut.  Were I to make them again, I would use pecan pieces instead of whole pecan halves and I would reduce the baking time by a few minutes.  I have reflected these changes in the recipe below.

Turtle Bars adapted from the WHFM Cookbook

Crust 
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
Mix together butter, brown sugar and flour.  Press into the bottom of an greased 9x13" pan.  Sprinkle pecans over the crust

Don't do what I did, chop up your pecans for easier cutting in the end


Caramel Layer
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
 In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook butter and brown sugar.  Stir constantly until boiling.  Allow to boil for about 1 minute.  Pour  over crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Nothing like pecans bathed in caramel


Topping
  • 1 12 ounce package chocolate chips
 When bars come out of the oven, sprinkle immediately with chocolate chips.   

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies



Back in the days of grade school, making friends was a piece of cake.  You just look at the kid next to you in class and say "wanna play?"  Even in college, it sort of the same thing.  You just knocked on the door of the room next to yours and say, "wanna go get some food?"  Then you grow up and get married and it seems so hard to meet people that both of you like.

Dave and I have been fortunate enough to find a few such couples that we absolutely love to hang out with.  One of these couples is welcoming a daughter into their lives in December and so a few of us hosted a baby shower at our house last weekend.  My friend Denise proposed mini cupcakes because they are the perfect amount of frosting to cake and they are easy to eat.  How right she is.  I make these mini lemon meringue pies to go with the mini cupcakes.  They are, in my humble opinion, almost the perfect way to eat lemon meringue pie.  No filling squishing out all over after you cut the pie and no fork required. 

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies

makes about 24 mini pies

Crust
1 9 inch store bought (or homemade) pie crust dough

Lemon Curd adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
8 egg yolks
2 full eggs
2 cups sugar
2/3 cups lemon juice (I like to use Real Lemon bottled lemon juice because I am lazy and don't like to squeeze lemons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 2 lemons

In a medium large saucepan mix together sugar and egg yolks.  Add in lemon juice and cook over medium heat until thick and coats the back of the spoon.  Do not let it boil if you can help it, it will make the eggs in the curd curdle.  Remove from heat.  Strain the curd through a mesh strainer.  Stir in vanilla and lemon zest.  Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the curd.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Swiss Meringue adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
1 cup granulated sugar
4 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Over a pan of simmering water, whisk together egg whites and granulated sugar until mixture reaches at least 145 degrees.  Using the whisk attachment of the stand mixture, beat the egg white and sugar mixture until stiff peaks form.  Add in vanilla and beat to combine.  Don't be concerned if this takes a long time.  The egg whites are cooling as they are being beaten.

To assemble the pies:
Unroll pie crust.  Using a circular cookie cutter, cut out circles of pie crust about 3 inches in diameter (this size will vary depending on the size of your mini cupcake pan).  If you do not have a circular cookie cutter, you can use a drinking glass about that size.  You may need to reroll the pie crust to get more circles.  Tuck the circles of dough into your mini muffin pan.  Prick the dough on the bottom and sides with a fork.  Bake crusts at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.

Once cooled, pop crusts out of pan.  It will be easier to take them out now than when your whole pie is assembled.  Spoon lemon curd into the pie shells.  Pipe meringue on top of the lemon curd.  I used a #21 Wilton tip.  Using a creme brulee torch, lightly go over the meringue to brown it.  If you do not have a creme brulee torch, you can put the pies on a cookie sheet and stick them in the oven under the boiler for like a minute.  Pay very close attention if you do this.  I had a friend set her whole lemon meringue pie on fire using this method.




Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mini Cupcakes with Rose Toppers


As it turns out, a five petal Wilton rose is the perfect topper for a mini cupcake.  Here is a tutorial from Wilton about how to make them.

Cream Cheese Buttercream
1 8 ounce block cream cheese at room temperature
2 sticks butter at room temperature
2 pounds powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat together cream cheese and butter.  Add in vanilla and beat to combine.  Slowly add in powdered sugar and beat to combine.  Color as desired.  To pipe flowers, it is best to leave the icing on the thicker side.  You may need to add a tablespoon or 2 of water to thin it out to piping consistency.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Giving Thanks and a Little Giveaway!

The holidays are starting to sneak up on us.  The calendar flipped to November and all of the sudden it's Christmas in the store, the weather is cold and it is dark outside at 4:30 (at least here in Illinois).  I already have cookies and candies bookmarked that I want to try for this holiday season.  It's easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of it all.

I like to take a little time out each year and write letters in November to those I am especially thankful for.  Those people who day in and day out keep me sane and who I cannot imagine living without.  I started doing this a few years ago, when I lost some family members and realized that I never took the opportunity to tell them that I loved them, that I cared about them, that they had a profound impact on my life.

The first year I wrote these letters, I was surprised about how challenging it was to pour my grateful heart out onto paper, even to those closest to me.  My list of recipients was short, not because I am not thankful for many, but because these letters were hard to write.  But, each year it gets a bit easier and my list gets a bit longer.  I have become very fond of this tradition I have started for myself and each year I have a different card designed and made for me.  For the first couple years it was a kind co-worker who made cards on the side and this year I had the above cards made by a dear friend.

As a thanks to you wonderful readers, I am giving away 5 of these super cute cards designed and made by my sweet friend Denise so that you can send a few thankful letters to your loved ones.  To enter: leave a comment about who you are thankful for by November 9th, 2012 at midnight central time.

*This giveaway is sponsored by me.

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