Friday, December 31, 2010

Best of 2010 - Happy New Year!!!

Wow! It is the last day of the year! It sure flew by! This is my 250th post for the year!!! Can you believe it? With 250 posts, I thought I should do a round-up of some of my favorite recipes from 2010. Happy New Year! May 2011 be your best year yet!

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~DESSERTS*~*~*~*~*~*~* Pineapple Zucchini Cake



Buttermilk Biscuits

Monday, December 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Stollen

The challenge for Daring Bakers this month was Stollen. Stollen is a traditional German cake/bread, almost like a fruit cake. It has candied fruit peel and dried fruit (I used raisins and craisins) and is so delicious. I lived in Germany for 7 years and loved going to the Christmas markets (that is where the cups you see in the picture came from). There was always Stollen for sale and the beautiful loaf covered in powdered sugar called my name more than once!

I was excited to be able to make Stollen this year. It brought me back to Germany and the fact that it was delicious was an added bonus!

One funny tidbit... My Stollen was almost stolen! :) After shaping the Stollen, I had scraps on the counter. I left the kitchen and then heard the paws of my Rhodesian Ridgeback hit the counter.... She was eating the dough scraps!!!! Luckily I had moved the dough that was to be baked further back so she didn't get it all!

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

See you after the New Year....

It is vacation time and that means that posts will be on hold until after the holidays (with the exception of my Daring Baker post that is scheduled for the 27th and hopefully a best of 2010 post at the end of the month).

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and you are able to enjoy family, friends, and good food!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cranberry Orange Cookies

Every year I try to make at least one new cookie for my holiday cookie tray. This year, this is that cookie. And boy am I glad it was!

I love cranberries. Fresh cranberries or dried cranberries - I'll take them either way. This recipe calls for dried cranberries, but I had some fresh that needed to be used, so I tossed them in some sugar and used those instead.

The orange zest and cranberries go so well together. These cookies were the perfect addition to my cookie tray. So soft and delicious! They will definately be a regular from now on!

Cranberry Orange Cookies
Recipe from Fake Ginger

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped (I used 1/2 cup fresh)
1 tablespoon orange zest

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest

Preheat oven to 350.

Using an electric mixer, mix butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add to butter mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in cranberries and 1 tablespoon orange zest. Chill dough while you make orange sugar.

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest. Use your fingers to rub the 2 together until everything is combined and mixture is fragrant.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in orange sugar. Place on baking sheet and flatten slightly.

Bake 10 – 13 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TWD: Apple Coconut Cake

Apples. Coconut. Cake. So delicious! So moist! So easy! One of the best apple cakes I've ever eaten.

Thanks to Amber of Cobbler du Monde for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

(Sorry for the super short post... Crazy busy this week!!!)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Chex Mix

Oh my gosh... I had SO much fun making this mix! I was in need of something to take to Anya's Christmas party this week and when I saw this mix I knew it would be perfect. It was a little time consuming because of the Santa hats made out of Bugles, but they are so cute and so worth the time. Seriously, a Bugle dipped in melted cherry chips is A-MAZ-ING!


Holiday Chex Mix
Recipe from Cookies and Cups

3 cups mini pretzels
1 cup craisins
2 cups Rice Chex
2 cups holiday colored M&M's
8 oz. white chocolate for melting
Santa Bugle Hats (instructions below)

Mix pretzels, craisins, and chex; pour melted white chocolate over the top and stir to coat. Spread out on wax paper to let harden.

Once the chocolate is hard, mix in bugles and M&Ms.

Bugle Hats


White Chocolate, melted

Cherry Chips (or red candy coating), melted

Dip Bugles in red coating and place on wax paper to harden. Dip bottoms in white chocolate and place on wax paper until set.

Friday, December 10, 2010

FFwD: Beef Daube

Beef Daube is a French stew cooked with red wine. While this stew takes 2 1/2 hours to cook in the oven, it is so easy. The meat is browned, wine is poured over it, the pot is covered, and then it is put in the oven. The meat literally falls apart and the sauce is so delicious! I served it over a bed of mashed potatoes. This was a great dinner and totally comforting.

Go buy Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan for the recipe! The book is awesome and you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Egg Nog

I love egg nog. I mean, seriously LOVE it. And I love to make it. Yes, I know I can go to the store and buy a gallon of it, but, it's me. And I like to make things. Homemade egg nog is one of those things I like to make. :)

I have been making this egg nog for 2 years and am not sure why I haven't posted it before. It is thick and creamy and delicious. The addition of the orange and lemon zest gives it extra flavor, but if you aren't a fan of zests, you could leave them out.

And, please, forgive the picture. I wish I had stuck a cinnamon stick in it or sprinkled some nutmeg on top. Something. But, this was the last glass and it was 630 am and if I didn't get a picture FAST, there would be no picture. Yes... it is THAT good! :)


Egg Nog

12 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream

In a large saucepan, whisk together the yolks, sugar, nutmeg, and zests. Stir in milk and cream. Place over low heat and, stirring contstantly, heat to 160 degrees, about 2o minutes. (If you don't have an instant read thermometer, you could also test by whether the mixture coats the back of a spoon.)

Immediately remove from heat and strain into a pitcher. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about an hour.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday Treat Ideas

Things have been so crazy busy around here lately that I haven't started any holiday baking yet. I know that is probably unheard of for bloggers, but it's the truth. I am not planning on making too many new things this holiday season, so I thought I would post a round-up of some of my favorites for you. It will give you something to look over until I can get some new recipes posted!

I hope all your holiday planning/baking/shopping is coming along. This is my favorite part of the year and I am enjoying all the craziness of it! 17 1/2 days until Christmas! :)

Sugar Cookies

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Buttermilk Pancakes

Sundays are pancake mornings at our house. This wasn't a conscious decision but one that just kind of happened. Every day I ask my daughter what she wants for breakfast and 4 or 5 Sundays in a row she said pancakes. Now I don't even ask her... She wakes up and will say, "It's Sunday... that means it's Pancake Day!"

This gave me the opportunity to perfect my pancake recipe. Now, I know that most people have their favorite so I don't intend to claim that these are the only "best" pancake recipe in the world. But I will say that these are the best for my family and we absolutely love them! Classic, delicious buttermilk pancakes will make any morning a good morning!

Buttermilk Pancakes

1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 1/3 cups buttermilk (You can add an extra TBSP to thin them out a bit if you don't want them too thick)
3 tablespoons oil

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together wet ingredients in another bowl. Mix wet into dry.

Cook pancakes on griddle until done.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hot Cocoa Mix

Here is the recipe for hot cocoa mix that I promised in my marshmallow post. This makes for a great homemade gift and, since I have to perform quality control before food leaves my house, I can tell you that it makes a great cup of hot cocoa! The addition of a homemade marshmallow on top was great, too!


Hot Cocoa Mix

6 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 (5 ounce) package non-instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup powdered chocolate drink mix (I used Ovaltine; could also use Nesquick)
1/2 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

In a large bowl, combine powdered milk, chocolate pudding mix, chocolate drink mix powder, creamer, confectioners' sugar, and cocoa. Divide the mixture between two 1 quart jars. Seal, and decorate as desired. These can be stored in a dry area for up to 3 months.

Attach a tag with the following instructions: Dissolve 1/3 cup cocoa mix in 1 cup boiling water.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tomato Soup

Happy December!!!! I absolutely love this time of year. All the baking, all the family time, Christmas, my hubby's birthday.... the list goes on and on. I realize that since it is now December that I should start posting cookie recipes but I figured that if you are like me, this is also an extremely busy time of the year.

Since you are probably busy too, I thought you would appreciate and SUPER quick, super easy, super delicious dinner for a busy weeknight!


Tomato Soup
Recipe from Taste of Home

2 cups milk
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or about 1 TBSP dried)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender; cover and blend until smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan and heat through.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Homemade Marshmallows

Marshmallows in a bag from the store are now a thing of the past for me. After eating these, there is no way I could ever go back. Amazing doesn't even begin to describe them!

I was in need of a homemade gift for a gift exchange this week. Since food is what I do best, I decided to go with that. I am making a jar of hot cocoa mix and including some of these marshmallows along with it. (The marshmallows I am including are Christmas tree shaped... didn't get pictures of those!)

The best part of this recipe (besides how easy it is!) is that it really is two marshmallow treats in one. Once everything is mixed you have THE BEST marshmallow fluff. Seriously, the jarred stuff has nothing on this. If you want actual marshmallows, you just spread in a pan, let set for a few hours, and then cut into whatever shape you want. You could also change the flavor by adding a different extract, dipping in chocolate, etc.

These would be perfect additions to cookie trays for the holiday season or even as a seperate gift along with some hot cocoa mix (which I will blog soon).


Homemade Marshmallows
Recipe from Alton Brown

•3 packages unflavored gelatin
•1 cup ice cold water, divided
•12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
•1 cup light corn syrup
•1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
•1/4 cup cornstarch
•Nonstick spray
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

For regular marshmallows:
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

For miniature marshmallows:
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line 4 half sheet pans with parchment paper, spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray and dust with the confectioners' sugar mixture.

Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round piping tip. Pipe the mixture onto the prepared sheet pans lengthwise, leaving about 1-inch between each strip. Sprinkle the tops with enough of the remaining cornstarch and sugar mixture to lightly cover. Let the strips set for 4 hours or up to overnight.

Cut into 1/2 inch pieces using a pizza wheel or scissors dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining sugar mixture and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Apple Crostata

This month we were challenged to make a crostata, which is basically a free-form, rustic pie. We were allowed to choose our own filling and I decided on an apple filling with a crumble topping.

I thought this was a perfect challenge for Thanksgiving. Once the dough has been made and chilled, it is rolled out, filled, and the edges are folded up around the sides. Pie doesn't get any easier than that!

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, fun, and lots of good FOOD! I have so much to be thankful for and one of those things is YOU! Thank you for stopping by my blog and for the kind comments. They mean so much to me! Have a great Turkey Day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cookie Carnival: Sassy Cinnamon Cookies

I love cinnamon chips. I know that they aren't available everywhere and that people stock up on them when they find them. That is what happened with me. I haven't seen the cinnamon chips in stock here in El Paso but had a nice stash in the freezer from Arizona. :) I like to ration them out so they last longer!

These cookies were a great use for them. These are HUGE cookies (1/4 cup of dough per cookie) and are delicious. They taste like huge snickerdoodles with cinnamon chips. Definately a great cinnamon cookie!

The only change I made was to omit the pecans and increase the cinnamon chips by 1/2 cup to compensate a bit.


Sassy Cinnamon Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cinnamon chips
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350.

In large bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until creamy. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Stir in cinnamon chips and pecans.

In small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Shape dough by 1/4 cupfuls into balls. Roll in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Place balls 3 inches apart on large cookie sheet (do not flatten).

Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until set and light brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

The Cookie Carnival is hosted by Tami of Tami's Kitchen Table Talk... stop by her blog to join in on the fun!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TWD Rewind: Cran-Apple Crisp

This week for TWD we were allowed to pick a past recipe that we would like to make. I immediately started looking at all the fall-ish/holiday recipes that I didn't get a chance to make. There are so many that I want to make but decided to pick a recipe that I didn't have to go to the store to get ingredients for!

I had cranberries in the freezer leftover from the the Cranberry Shortbread Cake and I always have apples on hand, so this crisp was the way to go. The filling is a mixture of apples, fresh cranberries, and craisins. The topping is your basic crisp topping of oats, sugar, and butter. The recipe does call for coconut, but I was out so I didn't use it.

I took this crisp to a friends house and we all loved it. I served it with vanilla ice cream but it would be equally good alone or with fresh whipped cream. Or, if you really want to holiday it up, you could do like I did on a different apple cranberry crisp and use an egg nog sauce on top. YUM!

You can find Dorie's recipe HERE or you could use the one I made 2 years ago HERE. Both are great recipes, so you can't really go wrong! :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Granola Bars

Break out the Kleenex.... we all knew this day would come. Today marks the end of Pumpkin Mania. I will give you a minute to dry your eyes.

This is the last pumpkin recipe I have in my draft folder and while I still have one large can of pumpkin left in the pantry, I don't see any new pumpkin recipes in the near future. Pumpkin on Thanksgiving - YES. But new pumpkin for Thanksgiving - no.

These pumpkin granola bars are absolutely delicious and didn't last long around here. I didn't have all the ingredients on hand when I made them, so I changed a few things. How I ran out of honey I'll never know, but pure maple syrup was a good substitute. Also, I was out of applesauce, so I increased the pumpkin. Not sure how I ran out of honey and applesauce at the same time, but the changes still resulted in a great bar.

I hope you enjoyed all the pumpkin recipes over the last 2 months. I know I did!

Pumpkin Granola Bars
Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod

3 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup applesauce
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 by 8 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk oats, spices, and salt together. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk brown sugar, pumpkin, applesauce, honey, and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour over oats and stir well, until all of the oats are moist. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Evenly press oat mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. The pumpkin keeps the bars moist, so make sure they are golden and set-you don’t want them to be under baked. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

5. Using a sharp knife, cut into bars. Remove from pan and let cool completely.

Makes 10-12 granola bars

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