Monday, October 28, 2013

Magic Cookie Bars




The best thing that my mother-in-law gave me was my husband.  He is kind and funny.  He challenges me and encourages me.  I don't know what I would be without him.  Today, we have been married 7 wonderful years and I am so lucky to have him.

Probably the second best thing my mother-in-law ever gave me was the recipe for these cookie bars.  They are easy to make and the chocolate/coconut combination is to die for.  Whenever I am looking for an easy crowd pleaser, this is one I turn to.



Magic Cookie Bars from Suzanne Goodell

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 cups walnut halves, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (or 1-12 ounce package)
  • 3 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
Pour melted butter into a 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle in the graham cracker crumbs over the melted butter.   Press the graham cracker crumb/butter mixture into the bottom of the pan to form a crust.  Sprinkle walnut pieces onto the crust.  Next, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the walnuts.  Then sprinkle the coconut over the chocolate chips.  Open can of sweetened condensed milk, pour over the coconut, covering as much of the coconut as possible.  The parts of the coconut without the sweetened condensed milk coating tend to burn.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Allow to cool.  It takes quite a bit of time to properly cool, however these are delightful melty and a little bit warm.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Alfajores (Dulce De Leche Cookies)



Look at this hot mess.  There is dulce de leche running wild all over my alfajores.  I almost totally scrapped this project-maybe stretched into a Test Kitchen Tuesday fiasco because these babies are MESSY.

But, and it's a big but, then I tasted one and oh man, these buttery shortbread cookies filled with sweet caramel were AMAZING.

So, I know they look crazy, but they taste so so good.  Maybe use a little bit less dulce de leche and definitely wait until the cookies are cool to put the caramel in the middle.


Alfajores adapted from foodnetwork.com


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • Dulce de Leche

Take all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and sugar for a spin in the food processor.  This eliminates your need to sift.  Cut up the butter into chunks and whip in the food processor while it's running.  Process until dough comes together.  Remove from food processor, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.

Remove from refrigerator.  Dust work surface with flour and roll dough out about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut out cookies.  I used a pumpkin cutter, you can use a round cutter or really whatever you feel like.  Try to make sure you have an even amount of cookies because we are making sandwiches.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.  Spread the inside of one cookie with dulce de leche and place another cookie on top.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Test Kitchen Tuesday-Pumpkin Waffles


So, I did that thing that you are never supposed to do in science and I took a recipe I have never made before and right off the bat changed 2 major parts and then it didn't work right and now I have no idea what part wasn't quite right.  But they look pretty, right?

I had run out of eggs, but I have done some reading about using flaxseed meal and water to make "flax eggs."  And I was impatient so I didn't even make them right because I didn't grind my own flaxseed meal and I certainly didn't let them sit overnight.  Also, given that it is October, I felt like of course these waffles should have pumpkin in them as well.  Ah, the breakfast hunger beast was rearing its ugly impatient head.

Well, these waffles turned out to be heavy and just kind of meh.  I can't say they tasted bad-especially dressed with whipped cream and syrup but they definitely leave something to be desired.  So now, back to the drawing board.  Probably flax eggs aren't really the right thing for this recipe but it would be helpful if I made them right.  Also trying the original recipe first before making so many changes.

Any suggestions for improvement are welcome.

Mediocre Pumpkin Waffles


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 9 tablespoons water


Mix together flaxseed meal and water and allow to sit for 10 minutes.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together flours, sugar and spices.  Add in pumpkin, butter, and flax "eggs".  Batter will be thick.  Pour into hot greased waffle iron.  Cook until done.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mummy Oreos



Last year it was Nutter Butter Ghosts.  This year, Oreo Mummys.  They're easy, they're cute and best of all, delicious.


Mummy Oreos

  • 1 package Oreos
  • 2 packages Candy Melts
  • Candy eyes

Melt candy melts according to package directions.  Plop Oreos in the melted white chocolate place on wax paper.  After dipping 5-6 Oreos, place candy eyes on top of the dipped cookies.  Once all of the cookies are dipped, take remaining white chocolate and fill a piping bag or zip top bag.  Snip the very tip off the piping bag/baggie and zig zag the white chocolate over the dipped cookies.  Allow to dry.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Honey Sweetened Peach Chutney



Confession time: I made this chutney weeks ago but have been afraid to try it.  I originally made the recipe because I thought my husband would love it, but I was afraid I would hate it.  Dave has been asking me why I hadn't tried it and I had to admit my fear.  He started laughing of course!  How silly to be afraid of food, especially one I had made!

As it turns out, this chutney is lovely.  And even more lovely with some soft goat cheese spread underneath it on a thick slab of crusty bread, this has become my new PB & J.  Equal parts sweet and tangy, it makes your taste buds do summersaults but in a good way.

Jelly jars full would make an excellent Christmas gift, if you can keep it that long.  That had been my original plan, but I'm not sure that I will have any left.  I pretty much exactly followed Marisa's recipe exactly so you should go over there to get it.  She also has great advice about how skin the peaches.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

And Sometimes It Works...Dulce De Leche in the Crockpot


A few months ago, I wrote a post about how Pinterest successfully sucks up my time but often executing the recipes turns out to be a total disaster.  Well, I had seen Crockpot Dulce De Leche floating around for a long time and just never got around to trying it.

This past Saturday, however, I had a little extra time around the house so I peeled the wrapper off a can of sweetened and condensed milk and threw it in the crockpot on low and 8 hours later when I opened the can I had thick creamy beautiful caramel.  I am in love.  It was hard to resist not eating this straight with a spoon from the can.  So hard, in fact, that I did eat some straight from the can.  It would be dreamy over some ice cream or as a fruit dip.

Dulce De Leche in a Crockpot


  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Peel label off can of sweetened condensed milk.  Put in crockpot.  Fill crockpot with water so that can is submerged.  Turn crockpot heat to low and wait 8 hours.  Turn off crockpot.  Allow to cool.  I actually turned off my crockpot and left it set overnight to cool.  You do not want hot caramel burning your face.  If we wanted that, we could have cooked it on the stove.   Remove can from water, open and enjoy.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy 1 Month Birthday Lotus!


My darling baby niece turned 1 month old on Saturday, so of course I had to bake her a cake.  Her 3 year old brother did her a favor and blew out the candle.  And then had us sing happy birthday to him and blew out another candle.  Because we don't spoil him or anything.

Orange Buttercream


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 5 drops orange oil (or about 1 teaspoon orange extract)
  • 5-7 tablespoons water


Beat together butter, salt, and orange oil.  Slowly beat in powdered sugar.  Add in water one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.  Frost cake.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Monkey Muffins



My goal with these muffins was to create something that tasted like a cinnamon roll but was individually portioned.  And then I realized that cinnamon rolls are already individually portioned...

So yeah, these taste like an inside out cinnamon roll that you can easily pull apart.  So easily that you can eat about 3 while debating with your husband about how much couch will actually fit into your living room (and not really sharing with him).


Monkey Muffins

makes 12-15 muffins

Dough

2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Topping

1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, combine: milk, water, sugar, butter and yeast.  Stir to combine.  Add in egg and whole wheat flour.  Stir in all purpose flour.  Dough will be thick.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic about 7 minutes.  Alternatively, knead with the dough hook on your stand mixer for about 5 minutes.  Cover and allow to raise for about an hour.

Prepare a muffin tin (possibly 2) with muffin wrappers.  If you are not going to use muffin wrappers, grease the cups very well.  Once the dough is risen, turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a minute or two.  In a small bowl, melt butter for the topping.  In another small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon for the topping.

Tear off a small ball of dough and roll it in the melted butter, then in the cinnamon and sugar.  Put three sugar/cinnamon covered balls into each muffin cup.  Repeat until all the dough is used.

Cover with a clean towel and allow to raise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake muffins for 18-20 minutes.  Allow to cool and enjoy.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Caramel Apple Cider



So my Target has a Starbucks.  I don't know if all Targets do, but mine does and every time I'm finished overspending at Target I am always temped by the smell of coffee that costs too much.  I gave up drinking regular coffee a couple years ago for health reasons, but that doesn't detour me from the decaffeinated versions of all their delicious beverages.  Not being a huge fan of the pumpkin spice latte (I know, blasphemy) I often turn to their caramel apple cider dink in the fall.

 One day, while watching my barista make said carmel apple drink, I had a moment of realization that I could recreate this at home for a lot less per cup.  Especially given that this is that time of year when I still have left over ice cream toppings in my fridge because it was just summer like three minutes ago.

I have been making my Caramel Apple Cider with store bought caramel sauce and Redi Whip cause that is what I had in the fridge but if you are feeling especially sassy, this caramel sauce would be really dreamy mixed up in some apple cider.


Caramel Apple Cider

makes 1 serving

  • Apple Cider-this year I got some here, but in the past I have gotten great cider here and here
  • Caramel Sauce-storebought or homemade
  • Whipped Cream

Pour apple cider in a microwave safe mug.  Heat for a minute to a minute and thirty seconds.  Drizzle in a scoop on caramel sauce.  Top with whipped cream and more caramel sauce.  Feel awesome cause you didn't spend $4 at Starbucks for this drink.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Reynolds Cupcake Wrappers Reviewed

Classic silver wrappers on my Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
One of my pet peeves when making cupcakes is when I buy pretty cupcake wrappers and then you cannot even see the pattern once the cupcakes are baked because they are soaked through.  Totally unattractive.  Especially for chocolate cupcakes.  For a long time I have been using Reynolds plain silver regular sized cupcake wrappers because silver is a nice neutral color and they don't soak through.  Also, I can buy them at almost any grocery store.  My cupcakes look much nicer and photograph much better and I don't have to run around to a hundred stores to find pretty wrappers.

Some hot pink action on Mrs. McIntyre's Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes

In the last couple of years, I have noticed that Reynolds had started coming out with patterns on their wrappers.  I was elated.  Now I get fun wrappers that don't soak through!  Even better, I have found mini cupcake wrappers by Reynolds.  So far all I have found are the plain silver, but it is a step in the right direction.

Pretty flower pattern on my Ballerina Cupcakes

Oh, and by the way, Reynolds has no idea who I am, I am not being paid for this post.  I just really liked these wrappers and thought you should know.

Finally, some little bitty wrappers for tiny cuppies


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Savory Sunday-Roasted Carrot and Goat Cheese Hand Pies


These warm, savory pies are just the ticket for a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Roasting the carrots gives them a surprisingly hearty, almost meaty flavor and then the briny combination of Kalamata olives and soft goat cheese puts these hand pies over the top.



It would be a huge time saving step to use store bought pie crust here.  I myself have been tempted several times given that pie crust is the bane of my existence.  However, this homemade pie crust is hearty and has a subtle sweetness that balances the salty of the filling of these pies.  So take the time and make the crust.  You will be glad you did.

This recipe is from the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook.  I am for real in love with this book.  Dave and I used to live in Seattle and Tom Douglas restaurants were always high on our favorites list.


Roasted Carrot and Goat Cheese Hand Pies adapted slightly from the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Whole Wheat Pie Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 stick very cold butter
  • 1/2 cup non-fat Greet yogurt
  • 3/4 ice cold water

In the food processor, mix together the flours, salt, and sugar.  Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and while the food processor is running, toss in the butter one piece at a time.  Once all the butter is in the food processor, spin it around until the butter is in pea sized chunks.  Next, throw in the Greek yogurt and process.  Finally, add in the ice water and process until the mixture comes together.  The mixture will be a bit crumbly but it should stay together when you squeeze it.

If you don't have a food processor, buy a pie crust.  Just kidding.  You can use a pastry blender or be like my mom and use two forks.  It works just as well, just takes a little more elbow grease to cut the butter and flour together.

Put the pie crust in the fridge to firm up for about 15 minutes.


Carrot Filling

  • 1 leek
  • 1 3/4 pounds carrots, cut into slices
  • 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock or water)
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (we use dried sometimes)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic


Toss the sliced carrots with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper (seriously, cover the baking sheet with parchment) and bake at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, clean and finely chop the leek.  In a medium sized skillet, saute the leek in the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.  When the leek gets soft, toss in the garlic and cook for a minute or two until the garlic turns brown, but don't let it burn.  Then pour in the chicken stock and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until the the liquid is reduced.
Once the carrots are done cooking, take half of the carrots, the leek mixture, and the Kalamata olives and take them for a spin in the food processor.  Toss the carrot pieces with the food processed mixture.

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg beaten
Crack an egg in a bowl.  Beat lightly.


To form hand pies:

Divide pie crust dough into eight pieces.  Roll out each piece.  If you are a bit particular like me, you can cut the edges so you have a rectangle, otherwise circular hand pies taste just as delicious.  Spoon 1/8 of your carrot mixture and put in the middle of the pie crust.  Sprinkle with goat cheese.  Fold crust over.  Using a fork, seal the edges of the crust.  Brush with egg wash.  Cut 1-3 vent holes in the top.

Repeat for other pies.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until pie crust is done.  Cool and enjoy.  These reheat nicely therefore making a lovely Monday lunch.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Whole Wheat Ginger Crinkles




What is the red ninja called?

Ginja.

Are you laughing?

That joke was told to me by a 5 year old at like 4 am on the bus ride to the airport back from Wyoming.  I cracked up.

Anyways, these cookies have a really solid amount of ginger.  Although not more ginger than cinnamon or cloves so I am not really sure why they are called ginger crinkles and not clove crinkles.   Basically, these cookies are the total fall spice package.

Ginger Crinkles

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg

Cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the egg.  Mix in baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.  Add in the flours.  Drop by the tablespoonful onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.v

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cinnamon Swirl Yeasted Pumpkin Wheat Bread



So on Saturday, Dave and I went to this Mexican restaurant where I was challenged by our server to eat my whole burrito for a free ice cream.  Seriously?  Challenge accepted.  That was the sweetest rice pudding ice cream pop ever.

What does this have to do with pumpkin cinnamon bread? Not much.  I just felt the need to share my victory.

This is a fall riff off of my cinnamon raisin bread.  Because this is the time of year when you add pumpkin to everything.  Just roll with it, you'll be glad you did.

I will be submitting this bread to Yeast Spotting, the weekly bread round up hosted by Susan at Wild Yeast.



Cinnamon Swirl Yeasted Pumpkin Bread

Dough

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2-3/4 cup water

Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

In a large bowl, mix together whole wheat flour, oats, brown sugar, melted butter and pumpkin.  Stir in the yeast. Add in the flour and add in enough water to create a tacky but not sticky dough.  What does that mean?  The dough doesn't stick to your finger when you touch it, but there is still a stickiness to the dough.  Knead the dough until it comes together and is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes by hand or 7 minutes with a stand mixer and dough hook.

Cover and allow to raise about and hour.  Mix together the cinnamon and sugar.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface.  Divide the dough in half.  Roll out the half of dough into a large rectangle.  Brush the dough with water.  Sprinkle 1/2 the cinnamon sugar mixture onto the dough.  Take the outside edges of the dough and fold them in.  Roll the dough up and place it into a greased loaf pan.  Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Cover and allow to raise another hour.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake bread for 25 minutes.  Rotate.  Bake for another 20-30 minutes until the bread is done.  Allow to cool.  Enjoy slathered with some salted butter.  Or if you are feeling really sassy, maybe some cinnamon butter.

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