Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Cookies

These are the cookies that I made during my baking extravaganza yesterday. Between being pregnant and taking care of a toddler, this literally took me all day. I started at about 7:45 am and finished at about 5:30 pm. As you can see, there are 3 different kinds and they are all delicious. I made two of them last year and tried another for the first time yesterday. They all turned out wonderfully. It was a long day on my feet, but it was worth it for the yummy cookies! Enjoy!

Chocolate Snowballs
by Mary Lou Welsh from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars 2008

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Shape into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes or until the tops or crackled. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Roll cookies in the powdered sugar.

Peppermint Snowballs
by Judith Scholovich from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars 2008

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour

2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candy or candy canes

1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candy or candy canes

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar; add vanilla. Stir in flour; knead until mixed well. Reserve 1/2 cup of dough; shape remaining dough into 1-inch balls.
For filling, combine cream cheese and milk in a small bowl. Stir in sugar and candy; mix well. Make a deep well in the center of each ball; fill with 1/4 teaspoon filling. Use reserved dough to cover filling. Reshape if necessary into smooth balls.
Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes. Combine topping ingredients; roll cookies in mixture while still warm. Cool on wire racks.

Fudge-Filled Sandies
by Jeanette Ray from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars 2009

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Additional powdered sugar

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon shortening

In a large bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour and pecans; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Roll into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle (I used my finger), make an indentation in the center of each.
Bake at 325 for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Roll warm cookies in additional powdered sugar; cool on wire racks.
In a microwave (or in a double boiler) melt chocolate chips, stir until smooth. Stir in the corn syrup, water and shortening. Spoon or pipe into cooled cookies.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bacon Pesto Pasta Bake

Oh yes. Pasta filled with deliciousness. This dish was extremely easy to make and clean up and was very satisfying. I wish I had had some garlic bread and a salad to go with it - then it really would have been perfect. This dish is flavorful and very cheesy, just the way I like it. I hope you like it too! Enjoy!

Bacon Pesto Pasta Bake
from Budget Bites

14.5 oz penne pasta
1 10 oz jar pesto
1 pint grape tomatoes
6 oz bacon (half of a regular pack)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crispy, and dry between paper towels. Crumble. Cut the tomatoes in half. Preheat the oven to 350 and coat a large casserole dish with cooking spray. When the pasta is done, drain and return to the pot. Mix in the pesto, tomatoes, bacon and 1 cup of cheese. Pour into the casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Gratin

This is the side that I brought to Thanksgiving this year. I found it on, one of my very favorite websites. I get all kinds of recipes there and the pictures are gorgeous. This dish turned out delicious, although I think it is definitely a dish that needs to be made and served immediately. Or, if reheated, do it in a microwave. It is really cheesy and the sauce is very yummy. I know that cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are two veggies that are iffy on many people's lists, but trust me, try it. Enjoy!

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Gratin
Adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten

3/4 head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
3/4 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered lengthwise through core
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
3/4 cup grated Gruyère (or Swiss) cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare a large bowl filled with cold water and ice. Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5-6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain. Throw the cooked cauliflower into the bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking any further. Bring the pot back up to a boil and put in the quartered Brussels sprouts and cook for 3-4 minutes. The cauliflower should be completely cooled. Drain them and set aside. After the Brussels sprouts are done, throw them in the bowl of ice water. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyère and the Parmesan.
Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 x 11 x 2 baking dish. Placed the drained cauliflower and Brussels sprouts on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyère and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is browned.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Frosted Brown Sugar Cookies

I made these cookies last year while I was experimenting for Christmas traditions, and as you can see, they've made a comeback this year. They are delicious. They are soft and the frosting is to die for. The frosting requires some cooling time, but even with that I had these cookies completely done within an hour and a half. They have a very deep flavor and are just wonderful. I hope you try them and share them! Enjoy!
Frosted Brown Sugar Cookies
by Loretta Patterson from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup powdered sugar

In a small mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg and sour cream; mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.
For frosting, in a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat; add brown sugar. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar. Cool for 20-30 minutes. Frost cooled cookies.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chips Galore Cookies

And they mean chips galore. I was surprised by how much we could pack in these cookies! They are absolutely delicious. I prefer them straight out of the oven, but they are still good with milk a few days after. I messed with the "chip" proportions on this because I didn't like some of the things, and others I just didn't have enough of, but they turned out wonderfully all the same. I'm sure that you could substitute pretty much anything you wanted to in the chip part of this. These are huge, rich and satisfying cookies that will certainly be making a comeback next holiday season! Enjoy!
Chips Galore Cookies
by Bennet Barlean from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars

1 cup butter flavored shortening
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans (I used 1/2 cup)
1 cup milk chocolate chips (I used semisweet and upped it to 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
3/4 cup English toffee bits or almond brickle chips
3/4 cup flaked coconut
2/3 cup vanilla or white chips (I only used about 1/4 cup)

In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
Drop by 1/4 cupfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hasselback Potatoes

Here is the long awaited savory recipe! I actually forgot to take pictures of the one I intended to put on here, but that's ok. I have seen these recipes on foodgawker a lot and they always looked so good. But my problem is that I always forget to think about side dishes when I make my grocery list. This week however, I remembered and we made these delicious potatoes. To be fair, Brett actually made them. They turned out wonderfully! They were soft on the inside and kind of crispy on the outside. I'm so glad I finally tried this, and you should try it too! Enjoy!

Hasselback Potatoes
6 medium sized potatoes (I used Yukon gold)
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
30g butter (I have no idea how much this is)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. Put the potato on a cutting board, flat side down. Start from one end of the potato, cut almost all the way through, at about 3 to 4 mm intervals. Arrange the potatoes in a baking tray and insert the garlic in between the slits. Scatter some butter on top of each potato. Then drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle some salt and black pepper. Bake the potatoes for about 40 minutes or until the potatoes turn crispy and the flesh is soft.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Banana Cream Pie

I am so bummed that I did not take a picture of the inside of this pie and I am sorry for that. Trust me, it is very pretty inside. And delicious. I was so happy with the way this pie turned out. I have come to realize that pie crust is actually very easy if you have access to a food processor. I have used two different crust recipes now that use the food processor and they both turned out beautifully. I know that this pie has a lot of directions, but don't let that deter you! Many people think that lots of directions means that it is complicated, but really all that it means is that it is possible that it will take up a lot of time. I wasn't particularly overwhelmed with the amount of time that this pie took to make and a lot of it can be made ahead. If you're willing to take the time to cook, it can happen. I find that it is actually rather uncommon that a recipe is very technically complicated. Give it a try! Enjoy! And I promise that the next post will be a savory recipe!

Banana Cream Pie
from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the custard
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup packed brown sugar, pressed through a sieve
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

3 ripe but firm bananas

1 9-inch single crust made with Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough, fully baked and cooled

For the topping
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sour cream

To make the custard
Bring the milk to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until well blended and thick. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk - this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle - then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking constantly (make sure to get into the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes before removing from the heat.
Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky. You can either press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the custard to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the custard until cold or, if you want to cool the custard quickly, put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir occasionally until the custard is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes. (If it's more convenient, you can refrigerate the custard, tightly covered, for up to 3 days.)
When you are ready to assemble the pie, peel the bananas and cut them on a shallow diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
Whisk the cold custard vigorously to loosen it, and spread about 1/4 of it over the bottom of the pie crust - it will be a thin layer. Top with half of the banana slices. Repeat, adding a thin layer of pastry cream and the remaining bananas, then smooth the rest of the pastry cream over the last layer of bananas.

To make the topping
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream until it just starts to thicken. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently fold in the sour cream.

To finish
Spoon the whipped cream over the filling and spread it evenly to the edges of the custard. Serve, or refrigerate until needed.

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
About 1/4 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing - what you're aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 3 tablespoons of the water - add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface.
Have a buttered 9-inch pie plate at hand. You can roll the dough out on a floured surface or between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap or in a rolling slipcover. If you're working on a counter, turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured. If you are rolling between paper, plastic, or in a slipcover, make sure to turn the dough over often and to lift the paper, plastic or cover frequently do that it doesn't roll into the dough and form creases. if you've got time, slide the rolled-out dough into the fridge for about 20 minutes to rest and firm up.
Fit the dough into the pie plate and, using a pair of scissors, cut the excess dough to a 1/4- to 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself, so that it hangs over the edge just a tad, and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. Alternatively, you can finish the crust by pressing it with the tines of a fork.
Refrigerate the crust while you preheat the oven to 400. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil, fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust and fill with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and, if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Transfer the pie plate to a rack to cool to room temperature before filling.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pumpkin Scones with Autumn Spiced Glaze

I got this recipe from one of my favorite cooking blogs, Baking and Books. The girl who runs the site is interested in much of what I am interested in, and she always writes about interesting food facts. Although she is a vegetarian Jew who keeps kosher, and I am not she gives some awesome recipes. Including these pumpkin scones!
They turned out beautifully and the glaze is just delicious. The recipe makes 6 scones, so it is perfect if you are cooking for two or if you are having a small get together. I ate them for breakfast, but they would be great for a girly breakfast or tea party. For the recipe on Baking and Books, click here. Enjoy! I will be making two recipes today that I will post in the next few days, and one of them is actually a savory recipe!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lemon Meltaways

Brett's request was that I make the Chocolate Caramel Thumprints. These were the ones I chose to make. And they aren't kidding when they say meltaways. They are a crumbly little cookie, which gives the impression that they are melting in your mouth. The frosting is the star of this one. It is lemony and delicious. These cookies take hardly any time, and you can make the dough ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it. They are really pretty too, and would be a perfect addition to a holiday cookie tray. Enjoy!
Lemon Meltaways
from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1-3 drops yellow food coloring (optional, I did not use this)

In a large bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy; beat in lemon juice. Combine the flour and cornstarch; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Shape into two 8-inch rolls; wrap each roll in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.
Unwrap and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes or until the cookies are firm to the touch. Remove to wire racks to cool.
For frosting, in a small bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon peel, and food coloring, if using. Frost cooled cookies.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints

Let the holiday baking extravaganza begin! Last year I tested out several cookie recipes in search of the best to make our Christmas traditions. I found 4 winners: Frosted Brown Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Snowballs, Peppermint Snowballs, and Frosted Chocolate Cookies. This year I am continuing the search. At Brett's request, I began with Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints.
These cookies are not hard to make, but they require time and many dishes. :) But they are delicious! I think we may have already found a winner to add to the collection.
Next week I'll be making Lemon Meltaways, so look out for that post. Enjoy!

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints
from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans

12-14 caramels
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk, milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and salt; add to the creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until easy to handle.
Roll into 1-inch balls. Beat egg white. Dip balls into egg white and coat with nuts. Place 2-inches apart on greased baking sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make a 3/8- to 1/2-inch indentation in the center of each ball. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Meanwhile, in a large heavy saucepan, melt caramels with cream over low heat; stir until smooth. Using about 1/2 teaspoon caramel mixture, fill each cookie. In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and shortening. Drizzle over cookies.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fall is in the air.  At least for today, because according to it will be hot again tomorrow.  But I couldn't help breaking out the fall recipes.  I am so ready to bundle up, drink hot chocolate, and get in the holiday spirit.  These pumpkin cookies are the best that I have ever had.  They are full of spice, chocolate, and that fall pumpkin goodness.  They are also ridiculously soft and huge, so kids will love them.  And so will you.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Delightful Delicacies blog

Cream together:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In separate bowl, mix:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of cardamom
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Combine the pumpkin mixture and the flour mixture until just combined.  Add 1 cup chocolate chips.  Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes on greased baking sheet.  Makes about 24 large cookies.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Yes, I failed to put something savory on here once again.  But you will understand when you see it.  Chefs sit around and talk about what they would eat for their last meal.  Some have elaborate fancy meals, some have home cooked favorites.  I don't know exactly what my meal would consist of, but I know without a doubt that it would include this.
This is my ultimate comfort food.  I can't remember ever having a Christmas morning without my grandma making it, and that's what it makes me think of.  I have to make it when I'm not at home for Christmas, which is so worth it.  Sometime in June or July I need a fix of my coffee cake.  And that happened last night.  I wanted something sweet, and this popped into my head.  Once that happened, I had to have it.  It's so easy, that I think you should go and make it.  Right now.  And fall in love with it.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
from Glenda Emigh

1 box yellow cake mix
1 large box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans (optional, I never use them)

In a mixer, combine cake mix, pudding, sour cream, oil, and eggs.  Do not over mix.  In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon and nuts, if using.  Pour half of the cake mix into a greased angel food cake pan.  Pour a little more than half of the sugar mixture over the top.  Pour in the rest of the cake mix and top with the rest of the sugar mixture.  Bake at 350 for about an hour.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chocolate Love

Chocolate Love is I'm pretty sure the same thing that people call Robert Redford in a Pan.  It's one of Brett's favorite desserts, and so I decided to make it for him for father's day.  It's kind of hard to take pictures of, and isn't very pretty in the pan or on the plate, but it is absolutely delicious!!!  The recipe is one that Brett's mom gave me when we got married, and I bring it out for Brett's special occasions.
It's chocolatey, creamy and cold.  I have literally been fighting with myself to not just sit down and eat it for lunch today.  We did have a little bit of trouble with the crust this time, but just pop it in the freezer for a few minutes and it should turn out just fine.  It's easy, it's cheap, it's fattening, and it's fantastic!  Try this one next time you are in a hurry and need a dessert!  I also realize that I have only done desserts on here so far, so I will try to post something savory next time.

Chocolate Love
from Carol Lee

1 cup flour
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we use pecans)

1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 large instant chocolate pudding, prepared
1 large container Cool Whip

For the crust, cut together flour and butter.  Mix in nuts.  Press into a 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Cool.
For the filling, mix sugar and cream cheese in a mixer until smooth.  Spread on crust.  Fold one cup of the Cool Whip into the pudding; spread over cream cheese mixture.  Top with the remaining Cool Whip.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rhubarb Crumb Bars

I have finally entered the world of rhubarb.  Up until yesterday I had never even tasted it.  I have been wanting to for a long time, and I don't know what stopped me, but I finally found some at the farmer's market this past Saturday and bought it on an impulse.

Then I realized - dang, I actually have to make something out of this.  So I started searching.  I love the food blogosphere.  I pretty much immediately came up with more recipes than I could ever use, including a Martha Stewart recipe for Rhubarb Crumb Cake.  I have also never made anything by Martha Stewart, so I had two firsts yesterday.

I'm happy to say that I was successful with both!  Martha's recipe was right on, and the rhubarb was awesome.  Just the right amount of tang to offset the sweetness of the cake and the crumb.  It is delicious, and I'm having a hard time not eating the rest of it for breakfast this morning!
Rhubarb Crumb Bars
from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus room temperature butter for pan
1 cup flour, plus more for pan
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 lb rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter and 8-inch square baking pan.  Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.  Butter and flour parchment and pan, tapping out excess flour.  For streusel, whisk together butter, brown sugar and salt.  Add flour and mix with a fork until large crumbs form.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  For cake, in a medium bowl, combine rhubarb, brown sugar and 1/4 cup flour.  In another medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder and salt.  In bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time.  With mixer on low, beat in vanilla, then flour mixture.  Spread batter in prepared pan.  Sprinkle with rhubarb and top with streusel.  Bake cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes.  Let cool completely in pan.  Using paper overhang, lift cake from pan.  Cut into 16 bars.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cherry Pie

I have been scared of making pies for a long time.  It's scary!  Crust is so hard to master, and making them cute is much harder.  Pies always sound so homey to me - like something that a true domestic goddess makes and then lets cool on the window sill.  After my bread turned out (I had serious problems with yeast until recently), I decided that pies would be the next hurdle to tackle.  And I'm glad I did.  Brett loves cherry pie, but I have always hated it because I hate the canned stuff.  It's disgusting.  So I told him that during cherry season I would try a fresh cherry pie, and that's exactly what I did.  Here it is just before going in the oven.  The lattice isn't perfect, but it worked.
The dough was ridiculously easy.  I just put the ingredients in the food processor and let it go basically.  And although I did dirty up quite a few of the dishes in my kitchen making this, the most labor intensive part was rolling out the dough, and that's only because it was really cold.  The final product was more than I could have hoped for.
It was beautiful!!!  I can't believe it turned out so well.  The bottom of the pie didn't even get soggy.  The crust was flaky and delicious, and the filling was 100 times better than the canned stuff.  When cherries are cheap (or if you grow your own, when you have more than you know what to do with) this is the way to go!  Trust me, you don't need to be scared.  It is way easier than it looks, and I will be making a lot more pies from now on!

Cherry Pie

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chilled unsalted butter
4-6 tablespoons ice water

Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse once or twice to combine.  Add in the butter and process until coarse crumbs form.  Add the ice water, one tablespoon at a time, until dough forms a ball.  Divide into 2 equal portions and flatten into discs.  Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

1 cup and 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 lbs whole cherries, pitted and stemmed
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 425.  In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch, salt and 1 cup of the sugar.  In a large bowl, mix together the cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Mix the sugar mixture into the cherry mixture and set aside.  Roll one of the pie dough discs into an 11" circle and use to line a 9" pie pan.  Pour the cherry mixture into the lined pie pan.  Dot the cherry mixture with the butter cubes.  Roll the second pie dough disc out and using a pizza cutter cut into 1" pieces.  Create a lattice with the dough strips and crimp the edges together with the crust.  Brush the lattice pieces with milk and sprinkle with the remaining sugar.  Cover edges of the pie with foil to prevent over-browning.  Place pie on a baking sheet.  Bake on center rack for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375.  Continue cooking until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes.  Let cool completely before eating.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

I am so excited to have a recipe to share with you!  I am bummed that my camera doesn't take beautiful pictures (and neither do I), but you can still see the results.  I tried my hand at Dorie Greenspan's Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream today.  And you get to see how it was done!
Cast of characters: whole milk, heavy cream, vanilla bean or pure vanilla extract, eggs, sugar, peppermint extract, and chocolate chips.

Don't worry, the recipe will come in a minute, but I wanted to show you a technique used while making the custard.  All ice creams begin with a custard, and in order to know whether it is done or not, run your finger down the back of the spoon that you are stirring with.  The track you make should remain clean, like this.
If the custard runs into the track, keep cooking.  By the way, aren't those some lovely drips on the counter?  Nothing stays clean in my kitchen when I cook.

Brett decided that his mint ice cream had to be green, so my finished product doesn't look exactly as it should.  During the freezing process I added some green food coloring to make the husband happy.  Here is the completely finished and frozen product.
It's beautiful, isn't it?  I was so proud.  It is absolutely delicious and definitely worth a try.  It's so satisfying to make your own ice cream!  It feels good to eat something you made with your own hands.  I have lots of ice cream recipes, so I'm sure you'll see more.  I hope you try this out!
Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 to 1 1/4 teaspoon mint extract or oil (I used 1 1/4 teaspoon)
1 cup chocolate chips or chunks

Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan.  If you are using a vanilla bean, put the seeds and pod into the pan, cover and set aside for 30 minutes, then bring the milk and cream back to a boil before continuing.  If you are using vanilla extract, wait until later to add it.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until very well blended and just slightly thickened.  Still whisking, drizzle in about one third of the hot liquid - this will temper (or warm) the eggs so they won't curdle.  Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid.  Pour the custard back into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring without stopping until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon.  Do the test I showed you earlier.  Immediately remove the pan from the heat and strain the custard into a clean heatproof bowl.  Discard the vanilla pod, or if you are using vanilla extract, stir it in now.  Stir in the mint extract.
Refrigerate the custard until chilled before churning it into ice cream.  This should take 2-4 hours.  Scrape the chilled custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Pack the ice cream  into a container and freeze it for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Adventures in Food

This is what I hope to do with this blog, have adventures in the kitchen!  I love trying new things, new gadgets, new recipes, and just everything I can get my hands on.  I haven't created very many recipes of my own yet, but I know they will come as I get more familiar with the kitchen.  But don't worry, I have probably a million recipes (most of which I haven't tried yet) and I want to share them with you!  I have a few ideas up my sleeve for the first few posts, so please stay tuned to see what will happen!

My hope for getting comfortable and creative in the kitchen is that my children will too.  I want them to have good memories of cooking with mom and the desire for home cooked meals.  I love the idea that they will want to bring their friends over to eat, want to help in the kitchen, and make these same dishes for their own families when they get older.  I will make sure to post pictures and recipes and what I thought of the dish.  Enjoy!
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