Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of 2011

Wow... 2011 is coming to an end! Crazy!!! I can't believe it is the end of the year already. 2011 has been a good year and I am looking forward to seeing what 2012 brings.

As far as my blog goes, this has been my lowest posting year. Life has gotten busier and I haven't had as much time for new recipes and blogging. But, I still somehow managed 136 posts and there are great recipes in that bunch! I thought I would share some of my favorites to mark the end of the year!

Thanks for stopping by and reading... hope your 2012 is filled with joy, happiness, and LOTS of great food! :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

THE LAST TWD: Kids' Thumbprints

Well, we all knew this day would come... the very last recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours. I can't believe that after 3 1/2 years of baking with this group that we have finished. That's it. No more Dorie recipes on Tuesdays. I am going to miss this group. I have learned so much and have discovered SO many recipes that I have fallen in love with. Here are some of my faves:

Golden Brioche Loaves (Which I turned into the most AMAZING french toast!)
Quick Classic Berry Tart (My recipe pick when I hosted!)
Banana Cream Pie (SO good!)
Tall & Creamy Cheesecake (I made an eggnog version that was TO DIE FOR!)
Quintuple Chocolate Brownies (5 types of chocolate... need I say more?)

The very last recipe was chosen by the amazing Dorie Greenspan... kids' thumbprints. They are tiny and filled with goodness. The recipe calls for chunky peanut butter and to roll the dough in nuts. I used smooth peanut butter and rolled the cookies in turbinado sugar. I filled half the cookies with Hershey's kisses and the other half with blueberry jam. They were delicious little cookies!

Dorie Greenspan, thank you for writing such an amazing book that has taught me so much. Thanks for being so involved in our group. Also a huge thank you to Laurie who started the group and to all the others who have helped it along the way. Finally, thanks to all the bakers of the group! Everyone has been so helpful and encouraging along the way. This has been a great ride!!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Blogiversary, Shelby!

Today is one of my favorite blogger's blogiversary... Shelby of The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch! She is celebrating 4 awesome years of blogging! Shelby was one of the first friends I made through my blog and she has always been an inspiration to me. There have been many times over the last few years where I wished I lived closer to her... I just know we would have so  much fun together!

In honor of her blogiversary I am sharing my recipe for chocolate covered cheesecake bites. They are teeny, amazing, and oh so delicious! I hope you'll make them and enjoy them!

Make sure to stop by Shelby's blog to wish her a happy blogiversary! Also, check out the links for those who have also posted in honor of her blogiversary!

Finally, Shelby is hosting a giveaway. Go to her post HERE to find out how to win a $50 gift card!

Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Bites

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, melted

16 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla

24 oz semisweet chocolate
3 TBSP shortening

Line 8" square pan with foil; spray with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine all crust ingredients; mix well. Press into bottom of prepared pan.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour filling over crust.

Bake at 300 for 40-45 minutes or until edges are set. Center will be soft. Refrigerate 1 1/2 hours; then freeze for 2 hours. Cut into 48 pieces.

Melt chocolate and shortening. Cool for 2-3 minutes. Dip cheesecake bites; set on wax paper. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Store in refrigerator.

*Note: I find it easier to pull only a couple bites out of the freezer at a time while dipping. It makes dipping easier if they are still frozen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

30 by 30: Homemade Vanilla Extract

It's been 3 months since I've turned 29 and I have been SLACKING in the 30 by 30 department. In my defense we have moved since then so for about a month I was without my full kitchen. Time to get busy knocking things off my list.

Making my own vanilla extract is something I've always wanted to do but never got around to doing. Not sure why considering it is probably the easiest thing I've ever done. You buy a bottle of vodka, slice a couple vanilla beans open, and put them in the bottle. Seal the bottle, wait a while (some people say as short as 1 month... I waited 3). Then you have a nice large amount of vanilla... perfect for all that holiday baking!

To see my 30 by 30 list click HERE.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

TWD: Rewind.... Split Level Pudding

This week was a rewind recipe and I debated for a while about whether to make something I have already made and loved or to try a recipe I skipped. I finally decided to make something I skipped and started flipping through the book to find one that jumped out at me. This pudding won for two reasons. 1- I love pudding and homemade pudding is amazing. 2- I had all the ingredients I needed.

The pudding has chocolate ganache on the bottom and a creamy, delicious vanilla pudding on top. LOVED it!

One more week of TWD.... Crazy to think it is coming to an end!!!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Egg Nog Meltaways & White Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

These are two new cookies I made this year. I made them for a few teachers at my daughter's school. They are amazingly delicious and will be on all future cookie trays!


Egg Nog Meltaways
Recipe from SugarCrafter

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 Tbsp rum (or 1/2 TBSP vanilla extract)
1/4 cup eggnog
1 cup powdered sugar, for rolling

In a medium bow, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the rum and eggnog.

Add in the flour mixture gradually until well-combined. Cover and refrigerate the dough an hour or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1″ balls and place on the baking sheets about 1″ apart.

Bake 12-14 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes before rolling the cookies in the sugar. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

White Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Recipe from Culinary Concoctions

3 cups flour
2 tsp. Ginger, Ground
1 tsp. Cinnamon, Ground
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg, Ground (I used fresh)
1/4 tap salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 cup white chocolate chips

Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl.
Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add molasses, egg and vanilla; beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies just begin to brown. Immediately press about 5-6 white chocolate chips into center of each cookie. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TWD: Unbelievably Good Chocolate Blueberry Ice Cream

The name of this recipe says it all... this is UNBELIEVABLY good chocolate blueberry ice cream! It starts with a basic chocolate ice cream and then blueberry jam is swirled in. It was FANATASTIC! I will definitely be making this again next summer! :)

Thanks to Laurie of Slush for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TWD: Earl Grey Madelines

Earl Grey is my husband's favorite tea so when this recipe came up on the rotation I knew I would be making them! I love the subtle taste of the Earl Grey and the lemon zest... so good! I think the 12 minute baking time was a little long, though... should've taken them out around 10 minutes. They still tasted fantastic!!! They will be gone quickly!

Thanks to Nicole of Bakeologie for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at her blog.

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