22 December 2010

Happy Holidays and Recipe # 52 - Pfeffernüsse

I did it! Fifty-two new recipes in 2010... well technically fifty-three. Woooooooooo gooooo me!

I'm pretty excited about this one. My husband's family is of German/Scandinavian decent and I wanted to make a holiday cookie this year that reflected that. Luckily for me, my favorite blogger posted many cookie recipes for December, one of which was Pfeffernüsse. It's a spice cookie that is like all the wonderful scents of the holidays made edible. I was also excited to use cardamom for the first time. This cookie is easy to make and I liked that I could make the dough a day ahead to spread out my holiday baking.The recipe can be found here: Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker.

12 December 2010

Recipe #51 - Sweetheart Chocolate Mousse

Hello! It's a lazy Sunday in our house. We took the pooch for a walk, then walked to the grocery. I decided I wanted a decadent dessert to finish off the weekend. My thought was that it would almost take away the sting of having to go back to work tomorrow. Just nine business days of work and then I have a wonderful ten calendar days off to finish the year! Woo! 

10 December 2010

Recipe #50 - Rugelach

Recipe number fifty. Can you believe it? It's been such an eventful year AND I've baked 50 new recipes that I've never made before. Just two to go! Go me!

This recipe came from my favorite blog, Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker. I'm sure I've mention Mr. Bullock-Prado's blog before. If you're not following it, you should be. Her writing is fantastic and her instruction just as wonderful. On her blog, she is celebrating Cookiemas, which I must wholeheartedly endorse. It's better than any holiday ever. EVER!

So with that, I give you rugelach.The only deviation from the provided recipe I took was in the jelly/jam flavors. One of my favorite places in the world is Stonewall Kitchen. They are based out of Maine but have expanded all over New England and Maryland. I made the rugelach with their Cinnamon Apple Jelly and pistachios and then also with their Wild Maine Blueberry Jam (we gave little jars of this as part of our welcome gift for our out of town wedding guests).

04 December 2010

Recipe # 49 - Brickle Bundt Cake

Hey! The computer is back! We picked it up on Thursday and man, did I miss it!

So, moving on, this morning I baked a Brickle Bundt cake for T's brother's birthday. Pretty simple recipe. It's something his brother had mentioned a couple of times. Their mom used to make and T's brother really liked it, so I thought I'd try it out to surprise him!

23 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our computer is on the fritz. Apparently, the fan needs to be replaced. It was making a terrible clicky clunky sound. I took off the covering, vacuumed the fan, put the covering back on. The clicky clunky sound was gone, but now it was loudly whirring. Whirr. WHIrr. WHIRR!!!!

So it's been shipped off for repair. Best Buy can't replace fans. They don't even sell them, they informed us and then asked if we backed up everything (we did, of course, being so wise). Bon Voyage little one.

We miss you.

Honestly, trying to respond to e-mails, track on Weight Watchers and respond on Facebook is challenging on my wee little smart phone. Fortunately, I can access Weight Watchers from work. Nothing else, though. Boo.

Any who... we're preparing for the annual Thanksgiving gorging, in which we are grateful for... Tums. I'm making cloverleaf rolls , apple pie and garlic mashed potatoes. Tim will be roasting the turkey, making the stuffing from scratch and gravy. We'll be traveling to his brother's house to celebrate with his middle brother and my sister.

I love this time of year. Perhaps because it was my mother's favorite holiday and she always seemed so happy (she would have been 56 years old today). Today I am grateful for the ten short years I had her in my life and for the memories I have of her untainted by my teenage angst years. Every time I bake an apple pie I think of her. Tonight I'll be making my pie crust and peeling and slicing apples. Tomorrow I will assemble the pie and bake it. I love the aroma of a pie baking in the oven. It always transports me to our first house and my mother in the kitchen around Thanksgiving. She did not bake often, but she did bake one pie for Thanksgiving and to this day, apple pie is my favorite. Thanks Mom!

Happy Thanksgiving!

17 November 2010

Recipe #48 - Chunky chocolate chip Reese's Pieces peanut butter cookies!

 My husband loves cookies. I love him. So when he asks me to bake cookies at 8:00 at night, I can't help myself.

Recipes # 47 - feta, roasted red pepper and basil muffins

 This recipe is from The Art and Soul of Baking, which I've mentioned a bunch of times this year. This book, has without fail, the best recipes and instructions in it. I've never had a recipe go awry. Everything has been delicious and come out beautifully. My husband has great taste in cookbooks!

Recipe #46 - Persimmon cookies

A friend of mine and I decided that we would try out a food co-op called Bountiful Baskets and split the basket because so much produce comes in one basket. The first week we tried it we received persimmons. I'd never heard of them and had no idea what to do with one. After a bit of searching I found a cookie recipe.

10 November 2010

Seven more recipes to go...

Yep, seven recipes and I will have completed my New Year's resolution.

I've been thinking about what to do with this blog after that. I have seven "followers" but no comments. I know I started this blog for my self, to track my progress with baking, but a blog really isn't a blog without readers, is it? As such, I'm considering scrapping it.

I look at all the baking blogs that I read and some of them are so engaging. When reading, I almost want to be friends with the author. I admire their style and ability to make their entries both education and entertaining. I don't know that I have the writing skills to achieve that. I wonder what their first year of blogging was like. Does it take time to build a base of readers? Perhaps I should find a blogging for dummies type book.

It's also a bit of an internal struggle... I'm very private, yet want to share. I want readers, but I worry about those overly critical mean comments that I see on some blogs.

Any how, I've made some persimmon cookies that I write about later this week.

31 October 2010

Recipe # 45 - Blueberry buttermilk waffles!

I bought the most gorgeous plump blueberries at the grocery yesterday. I could have saved them to nibble on or toss in my greek yogurt for breakfast. I could have, but did I? NO!

I woke up this morning craving blueberry waffles. Walking D, all I could think of were the plump little berries bursting with juice and how great they would taste with the new syrup I bought from Stonewall Kitchen yesterday. 

I decided to try a new waffle recipe and I substituted buttermilk for the regular milk because I had some in the refrigerator that needed to be used. They waffles were fluffy and really good, but I might add a bit more salt next time around.

I love the smell and sound of the blueberries baking in the waffle iron. They hiss and pop a bit and the smell is beautiful. If we decide and can have children, I hope these smells remind them of home when they grow up. 

30 October 2010

Recipes #43 and #44!

Happy Halloween everyone!!! This is one of my favorite holidays. Not so much for the dressing up and trick or treating but for the the Celtic holiday of Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween). It's about honoring the dead, celebrating the harvest and the end of summer. From my Irish calendar, "Samhain is Irish for "summer's end" and marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The festival celebrates nature's cycle of death and renewal, a time to acknowledge the beginning and ending of all things in life and nature." Admittedly, I also enjoy the macabre parts as well. I loved dressing up as a kid, being someone else for an entire night, walking around seeing all the jack o' lanterns lit and the way everyone decorated their yards.

In honor of Autumn and the harvest I made pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes with cream cheese icing on Thursday. I took them in to work to celebrate Halloween!

These cupcakes are moist and flavorful. I used bittersweet chocolate chips which provided a nice balance to the cream cheese icing. 

 Click below for more!

26 October 2010

Recipe #42 - Cornbread

I'm not feeling well so I thought chili and cornbread would fix me right up. Apparently not, as I've been sick for three days now and I made it on Sunday.

I used an Alton Brown recipe for the cornbread. I liked the creamed corn because once in a while a little kernel would pop in your mouth. It had a nice texture. I recommend dropping the temperature about 25 degrees or the bread will be dry, since it keeps baking in the skillet after you remove it from the oven. I also made a chili recipe from Food Network. Super easy to make and delicious.

Click below for pictures!

03 October 2010

Recipe #40 Creme Brulee

We're back! The wedding was amazing, the whole day was AMAZING! So much fun! We've been married two weeks now and love it.

Admittedly, I was itching to bake on our honeymoon and the minute we got home I made some sugar cut out cookies with the lobster and scallop cookie cutters I received as a wedding gift. 

We also received a culinary torch and creme brulee dishes as a wedding gift. Naturally, I made creme brulee this weekend. It is one of my favorite desserts, but sadly I've only had truly great creme brulee once. I've tried it at many restaurants and based on how mediocre some of them had been, I was a bit intimidated about making it. I figured if a restaurant can't get it right, it must be difficult to make.

Not true!

I found an Alton Brown recipe. I love his recipes, they always work just as they should. More...

11 September 2010

Two week haitus.

aaaaaaaaaaand we're off!

04 September 2010

Recipe #39 - Whoopie Pies

So... holy moly... two weeks from today, we get married! eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


This week I was able to meet a long time pal and co-worker from my company's East Coast office. She brought me a wedding gift,Whoopie Pies : Dozens of Mix 'em, Match 'em, Eat 'em Up Recipes. She is so very thoughtful and I am very grateful! So in honor of this lovely token, I made the classic whoopie pie with butter cream filling. They are wonderful, chocolaty and decadent! Thank goodness I'll be giving them all away!

28 August 2010

Recipe #38 - Macarons

I'll be honest. These little heavenly cookies intimidate me. They're beautiful, often made with bright hues and gorgeous fillings. They look like edible perfection. I, on the other hand... I'm messy in the kitchen. You can often find me with flower in my hair and something caked to my shirt as I've forgotten, yet again to don my apron.

I'd read that macarons are difficult, temperamental  little creations. You need a delicate hand and over folding can ruin the cookie. I was terrified. Then I said, "You know what... I can do this, I will do this."

I did it! eeeeeeeeeeeee! I DID IT! They aren't quite as pretty. As all the pictures I've seen. I didn't toy with coloring. I just wanted to get them to work. You bake them in two stages and after the first bake I looked at them and said, "*expletive* I messed these up!" I put them in for the second bake and what to my wondering eyes did appear? *gasp* They worked! I did it! I'm a baking genius! Ok... let's not go that far, but I was really excited! (Sidebar: Prior to the second bake I try to describe to T what they should look like. His response, "So... like little hamburgers?" This is why I'm marrying him, because he never fails to make me laugh... not just giggle, but a full belly laugh.)

I didn't add any flavoring as I like the mild almond flavor they have. I filled them with a simply chocolate butter cream. I'll experiment more in the future with fun flavors (Tartelette has a recipe for Creme Brulle macarons, yum! This is also where I found the recipe I used: Macarons, from Claudia Flemming's The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern.).

So here are some pictures:

22 August 2010

Biscotti night, recipes #36 and #37

Last night my friends Kirstin and Stacy came over for a girls night. Kirstin is my personal trainer and has been helping me get in shape for the wedding. I thought it would be nice to "train" her on what I do well since she has been so gracious to train me these past months.

Admittedly, although I feel stronger, I don't know that I look any more in shape. I had hoped to lose a considerable amount of weight before our wedding, but the scale hasn't budged more than a couple of pounds. My existing clothes fit better but I haven't moved into a smaller size. On the one hand this is fine, because my dress fits perfectly and won't require alterations. On the other, wedding photographs last forever...

Yet, I have decided to view this, not as a failure to reach my weight loss goal but as a success in maintaining my weight during a stressful life event. This alone is amazing as I'm an emotional eater. Secondly, my arms are now stronger to hold my soon to be husband and my heart is healthier so that I may live a long life with him. For this I am truly grateful.

Kirstin wanted to learn how to make biscotti. I turned to my two favorite baking blogs for recipes. These women give great instruction and wonderful dialogue on their experience with the recipe. I highly suggest you read their blogs.

17 August 2010

Recipe #35 - Peach cobbler

I was visiting my friend, Carrie, this weekend. We spent most of the weekend in Solvang, CA, wine tasting and relaxing. It was wonderful. On Sunday we headed back to her place. She has a peach tree in her yard with dozens of ripe beautiful peaches. I made her a peach cobbler with them. It's a very simply recipe that I found from Paula Deen on the Food Network site. It came out beautifully and was delicious. The peaches almost melt in your mouth and the crust is delicately sweet.

It made me so happy to bake something for her. The peaches gave off an incredible aroma while baking and made the house warm. Fantastic weekend with a fantastic friend and fantastic peaches!


01 August 2010

Recipe #33 and #34 - Parmesan Herb Popovers and Herb Crusted Pork Loin

Every few Sundays we try to have T's two brothers over for dinner and this was one of those Sundays. On these Sundays I like to bake something for dessert or a bread to go with dinner. I'm really enjoying having family dinners at our home. We didn't have a lot of family dinners at our own house growing up after my mother passed away when I was ten years old. It's been nice to have this experience now and to really feel like a part of something that I feel I've missed out of for many years.

I chose Parmesan Herb popovers from The Art and Soul of Baking, yet again (Bridget, I hope you're enjoying the book!). This is my go to book to learn to bake anything. I have not had a recipe fail yet.

In addition to this new family tradition we are beginning, I've also started a cooking goal along with my baking goals for the year. A co-worker and I have decided to choose a protein each week and then find one recipe that we'll both make with it.

This week we chose pork and this recipe from Melissa d'Arabian of Food Network. T and I made garlic mashed potatoes, which I boiled in vegetable bullion with two or three cloves of garlic and grilled asparagus as sides. Dinner was delicious and we are so full!

25 July 2010

Recipes #31 and #32

My sister came up for the weekend so we could go to her dress fitting for her bridesmaid dress. Just 54 days until our wedding, T and I are so excited!

I woke early on Saturday to whip up orange cranberry scones for breakfast. They filled the house with a wonderful aroma with the fresh brewed coffee. Simple enough to make and so lovely to savor.

Later that evening, T was headed to a poker game with his friends. I always make something for him to take along. He always acts embarrassed, stating he's the only one that arrives with baked goods, but I know he and the guys love it. I decided to try out peanut butter cup rice krispies treats, that I saw on one of my favorite blogs, Brown Eyed Baker (both of the recipes in today's post are from there). I've mentioned Michelle's beautiful blog before, so if you're not following her, get on it!  

They are amazing and should probably be illegal in all fifty states. T won his poker game and it was unanimously decided by all the guys that these are the most addictive treats ever. Pictures below! 

Just twenty recipes more to reach my goal for 2010!

17 July 2010

Leave the oven light on. Recipes #29 and #30.

I have a confession. I love to watch every thing I bake through the oven door window with the oven light on. I'm obsessed. I can't help it. It amazes me to watch something from start to finish. I would be crushed if we didn't have an oven window, because obviously I can't open the oven door every two minutes, it would ruin the process. I feel like the rise of the bread or cake or the browning of the crust is air in my lungs or the beating of my heart. I feel thrilled to see each item becoming what I hoped it would. T is the only one who witnesses my gestures of joy and goofiness.

In person, I'd like to think I'm fairly reserved with my emotions. I used to be less reserved but experiences have made me feel that at most times it's best to not wear one's heart on one's sleeve. If I like you, I bake for you, I feed you.

Tonight we're having new friends over to visit and we're making them dinner. I decided I would make Cloverleaf dinner rolls from my favorite baking cook book, The Art and Soul of Baking and a Fresh Apple and Toffee Tart from Hershey's Recipe Collection, a gift from T's parents for our wedding shower, that I've yet to try a recipe out of.

10 July 2010

What to do. What to do.

It's guys night out, so T is at a baseball game with his friends. Although I had options for going out, I decided to stay in because life has been hectic every weekend for the past month and is only going to get more hectic.

I'm feeling antsy though. I should be relaxing on the couch with a glass of wine, a movie and my pup. I've finished all the errands and chores for the weekend, leaving tomorrow wide open.

I'm antsy to bake.

It always seems to calm my nerves.

I have so much on my mind. Our wedding is in seventy days. I keep wondering if we're doing enough. Should I have centerpieces? I don't want them really... they'll get in the way of the giant bowl in the center of the table for lobster, clam and mussel shells. Should I have favors, even though I decided to make a donation to The Arizona Human Society instead? Should we have a brunch on Sunday for our out of town guests? So much to think about...

So tonight, instead of thinking I shall bake Starry Starry Night cookies from Gesine Bullock-Prado's book, My Life From Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time. You should pick it up, it's a great read. Charming, funny and wonderful. Her macaroons are fantastic.

29 June 2010

Cake decorating equipment and storage.

I've accumulated quite a bit of cake decorating equipment. We don't live in a very big space and trying to store is all is difficult at best.

Then I saw this!

The Stanley Fat Max! It's perfect! The bottom compartment holds my fondant rolling pin, silicone mat, cake boards, buckets of fondant and gum paste. The second compartment is sectioned to hold my fondant and cookie cutters, foam shaping pieces, cupcake papers and little items that could easily be misplaced. The top compartment has two sections, the bottom holds my pastry/icing bags, rulers, scissors and smaller rolling pins and the top holds all my food coloring bottles, icing tips (there are over 50) and shaping tools, exacto knives, paint brushes, vanilla pen/brush. It's incredible. Everything but my turntable fit! It closes up to easily be wheeled into our spare room closet, tucked out of the way until I need it. The way in which it expands when opened leaves my table clear for use and my tools with in reach right next to me.

Ah! It's so nice to be organized!

27 June 2010

Recipe #27 - Coffee Cake

I know I said I was going to cut back on the baking until after the wedding, but I can't help myself. It's my stress relief and one of my favorite ways to spend the weekend. Also, I received this little beauty from T's parents as a bridal shower gift... so now I have no choice but to keep baking to test it out!

I woke up at 6:30, walked the pooch, baked the apple pie and decided to make a coffee cake for breakfast to surprise T. The streusel filling and topping, brown sugar, cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa and toasted pecans is amazing. I love the look and smell of butter and sugar creamed together, it's a beautiful thing. The cake has sour cream in it which makes it so moist and wonderful. Just look at that vein of streusel! YUM!

26 June 2010

Apple pie.

What is it about apple pie that is so soothing and comforting?

After a lovely night out we came home to take out the dog and I to start an apple pie for baking in the morning.

Standing in the comfort of my cozy (ie; small) kitchen peeling and slicing apples, occasionally sneaking bits to the dog, I felt content. Thinking of my mother who slipped me pieces of apple before gently placing them in the pie crust waiting to cradle them, wishing for the crisp cool November days back east and the smell of apples baking in a warm oven.

I know I will have sweet dreams tonight.

I know I have it good.

24 June 2010

Recipe #26 - Cranberry white chocolate chip cookies.

It's charity bake sale time again at work! I've made one new recipe, the cranberry white chocolate chip cookies and two favorites that were requested, mini coconut cream pies and seven layer bars.

I look forward to the bake sale each year. It's fun to package everything up and deliver it to be sold for a good cause. The proceeds are used to buy food for the local food bank. I always put a B on my boxes.

18 June 2010

Guinness chocolate cake, again.

I've made this cake a bunch of times. I made this particular cake for my bridal shower tomorrow. I'm carrying blue hydrangeas at our wedding and our wedding cake will be covered in chocolate fondant.

It's a Guinness chocolate cake, Jameson ganache and Baileys butter cream icing covered with dark chocolate fondant and decorated with gum paste hydrangeas that I made. Not too bad first my first try at them!

17 June 2010

Recipe #25 - Blueberry cake.

This is a very old recipe from a grandma. I'll post it sometime later as an edit. Too sleepy now.

03 June 2010

Recipe #24 - Marble cake!

Gah! Not much to say here. Life is super busy! Three and a half months until the wedding! eeeeeeeeeee!

12 May 2010

Monster cookies, one word, yum!

This cookies are worth the time and effort. I read about them on Piece of Cake: Freshly Baked Stories, Recipes and Photos. I love Shauna's blog. Her entries are wonderful written and the recipes she posts have wonderful details, tidbits and her writing style makes me want to try each recipe. This recipe did not disappoint. Check out her blog!

09 May 2010

07 May 2010

Orange Cookies!

I made these for T. We had his dad send us the recipe for his paternal grandmother's orange cookies and I used an orange from my friend's grandmother's orange tree. They're grandma cookies! Great with a nice cup of tea.

28 April 2010

Blackberry raspberry pie.

My friends birthday is tomorrow and he loves Marie Callender's Razzleberry Pie. After looking at the main ingredients, blackberries and raspberries, I searched for a recipe and decided to make the pie from scratch. I found a great recipe at Epicurious. The pie smells incredible and I hope my friend will be thrilled. We're serving it warmed with vanilla bean ice cream.

25 April 2010

The Art and Soul of Baking - Sur La Table - Chocolate Chip cookies.

Yummy! I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips and a handful of butterscotch chips. Soft and wonderful!

Oh! I almost forgot, I had a chocolate soufflé with the girls last week. We also tried a Grand Marnier soufflé. Both were absolutely amazing (but pricey, $17.00 a piece). Breaking the top and pouring crème anglaise in gave off a wonderful aroma and they melted on the tongue. I can't wait to try making one again with traditional ingredients.