Tuesday, July 31, 2012

4 years of blogging & Petit Fours (30 by 30)

4 years and 855 posts... Happy Blogiversary to me!

A lot has happened in 4 years. When I started this blog I was living in Germany with a newborn and a 3 year old and my husband was deployed. I am now in El Paso with a 7 year old and a 4 year old and we are getting ready to move once again (to HAWAII!!!!!). My posting has changed over the years, too. When I first started blogging I would post daily. Then we moved to El Paso and the blog took a back burner for a while... only a few posts a month. This back and forth has continued and I am back to posting not so often. I am definitely still cooking and baking but after 855 posts I am not always making new foods.

I have had so much fun with this blog. It has been a great outlet for me and I have "met" some fabulous people. I love having a place where I have all my recipes and I've even turned it into a book (well... 2 books so far!). I don't plan on stopping any time soon... we'll see where this blog takes me! Who knows when a daily posting will come back or if it will just be a post here and there. Either way I will be baking and cooking and enjoying life!

Thanks to my readers who have been here from the beginning and thank you to the new readers who are still discovering my blog. I appreciate you stopping by and love hearing from you!

And to celebrate my blogiversary I made some cute Petit Fours! They are from my 30 by 30 list and are so yummy! I won't post a recipe but there are hundreds out there. Pretty basic stuff, though. Take cake (regular or pound cake), cut it into squares, layer with jam, and top with ganache or poured fondant. Easy peasy and delicious!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

30 by 30: Bananas Foster

This was a super fun dessert to make... mostly because I got to start a fire! :) Start to finish this takes less than 10 minutes and is SO delicious! Lighting the rum on fire was pretty fun, too!

Bananas Foster
Recipe adapted from Food Network

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 under ripe bananas, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup dark rum

  • Melt butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over low heat. Add brown sugar, allspice and nutmeg and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring sauce to simmer. Add bananas and cook for 1 minute on each side, carefully spooning sauce over bananas as they are cooking. Remove bananas from pan to a serving dish.

    Bring sauce to a simmer and carefully add the rum. If the sauce is very hot, the alcohol will flame on its own. If not, using stick flame, carefully ignite and continue cooking until flame dies out, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. If sauce is too thin, cook for 1 to 2 minutes until it is syrupy in consistency. Immediately spoon the sauce over bananas and serve. Serve with waffles, crepes, or ice cream.

    30 by 30: Buttermilk Fried Chicken

    This chicken was so amazingly delicious... I can't wait to make it again!!!

    Buttermilk Fried Chicken
    Recipe from Delish

    Buttermilk Soak
    • 3 cups buttermilk
    • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 teaspoonscayenne pepper
    • 4 pound medium chicken wings, thighs, and drumsticks
    Flour Dredge
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    Vegetable oil for frying

    Make the buttermilk soak: In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk with the salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate for 4 hours.

    Make the flour dredge: In a large, resealable plastic bag, mix the flour with the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne and shake to combine.

    Set a rack on a baking sheet. Working with one piece at a time, remove the chicken from the buttermilk soak, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the coated chicken to the rack and let stand for 30 minutes.

    In a deep skillet, heat 1 inch of oil to 350 degrees F. Set another rack over a baking sheet; line with paper towels. Fry the chicken in batches at 315 degrees F, turning once, until golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 160 degrees F, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the paper-lined rack and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

    Thursday, July 12, 2012

    Banana Pecan Mini Muffins

    I had some bananas that were turning brown and my daughter suggested making banana bread. I didn't feel like waiting an hour for the bread to cook so mini muffins were the way to go! I usually don't add nuts to my banana bread but I LOVE the addition of pecans in this muffin. I will definitely be making these again!


    Banana Pecan Mini-Muffins
    Recipe slightly adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini
    Makes 48 mini muffins

    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1 egg
    2 ripe bananas
    1/4 cup milk
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1 cup pecans, chopped

    Preheat oven to 350 and grease mini muffin pan.

    Cream butter and sugar in bowl. Add egg, bananas, and milk; mix until well combined. Add dry ingredients; mix just until combined. Fold in pecans.

    Pour the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the muffins are nice and golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes then turn out on a rack to cool.

    Biscoff Oatmeal Cookies

    It was a rainy, gloomy afternoon yesterday so the kiddos and I decided to make some cookies. I was leaning towards oatmeal raisin cookies and then I remembered I had a jar of Biscoff in the pantry so Biscoff cookies were a no-brainer. These cookies are insanely delicious and I can't wait to make another batch!


    Biscoff Oatmeal Cookies
    Recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod

    1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons of flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
    1/2 cup Biscoff Spread
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    1 large egg
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter, Biscoff spread, sugar, and brown sugar and beat on
    medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extra and beat until smooth.

    4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended. Chill the dough 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

    5. Form the cookie dough into rounded tablespoons and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are golden and just firm around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove with a spatula onto a cooling rack.

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

    Baked Beans

    Okay, so it is hard to get a good picture of beans but let me tell you... these beans are AMAZING! I found the recipe at Pioneer Woman and I have to admit that I was a little hesitant because it uses pork and beans as the base. But, if PW says that it is better than soaking beans all night, then who am I to argue? I altered the recipe a tad (basically just to make it easier by throwing them in the crockpot) and they are the best baked beans ever! Seriously, we LOVED them! I can't wait to make them again!

    Baked Beans
    Recipe slightly altered from Pioneer Woman

    8 slices bacon, chopped
    1 medium onion, cut into small dice
    1/2 medium green pepper, cut into small dice
    3 large cans (28 ounces each) pork and beans
    3/4 cup barbecue sauce
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup distilled or cider vinegar
    2 tablespoons Dijon

    Fry bacon in large, deep sauté pan skillet until bacon has partially cooked and released about 1/4 cup drippings. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. Add onions and peppers to drippings in pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

    Mix beans through dijon in crock pot; add bacon, onion, and peppers. Cook on low until heated through.

    Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

    You can't go wrong with chocolate banana pancakes!!! YUM!

    Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

    1 1/2 cups flour
    2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 egg
    1 1/2 cups buttermilk
    3 tablespoons oil
    2 bananas, mashed
    1/2 cup chocolate chips

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

    Cook pancakes on griddle until done.

    Blueberry Banana Bread

    A yummy twist on classic banana bread!

    Blueberry Banana Bread

    6 TBSP butter, softened
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    2 eggs
    4 bananas, mashed
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 1/2 tsp baking soda
    2 1/4 cup flour
    1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)

    1/4 cup flour
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    2 TBSP butter

    Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs through vanilla, mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix just until comined. Fold in blueberries. Pour into greased loaf pan.

    Mix topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of bread.

    Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

    30 by 30: Cake Pops

    I finally got around to making cake pops! I made some patriotic pops for the 4th of July and they were a hit! I have made cake balls a hundred times before but finally put them on a stick! :) I won't be including a recipe because it really is just cake and frosting dipped in chocolate and there are so many tutorials out there that are better than what I could tell you! :) The picture is just proof that I knocked out a 30 by 30 recipe! 

    30 by 30: Blueberry Cream Cheese Hand Pies

    Hand pies are a quick and easy way to get the pie flavor without having to make an entire pie. Plus, you can carry these around and not have to worry about a plate & fork! :)

    Blueberry Cream Cheese Hand Pies
    Recipe from Tracey's Culinary Adventures

    Pie Dough2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water

    8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
    3/4 cup sugar, divided
    2 teaspoons lemon zest
    1 large egg
    10 oz frozen blueberries
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    For Assembly
    2 tablespoons heavy cream
    sanding sugar

    To make the pie dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar and salt on low speed just to combine. Add the butter, and mix, first on low and then increasing the speed to medium low, cutting the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the mixer on low, add the cold water, beating just until the dough comes together.

    Turn the dough out onto your work surface. Divide it in half and shape each piece into a disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

    Preheat oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

    To make the filling: In a medium bowl mix the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the lemon zest and egg until smooth. In a second bowl, toss the blueberries with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, the lemon juice and flour.

    Place one of the disks of pie dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a square about 1/8-inch thick - don't worry if it's not perfect, just trim the edges. My square was roughly 10x10-inches. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces (so for me, it was four 5x5 squares). Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture into the center of each square, then top with about 2 tablespoons of the blueberry mixture. Brush the edges of the square with the heavy cream, then bring opposite corners together to form a triangle. Press the edges together, then use a fork to crimp them. Brush the top of the pie with heavy cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Repeat with the remaining 3 squares of dough, then do the same with the second disk of dough, making a total of 8 pies.

    {Note - I did have leftovers of both the cream cheese and blueberry fillings - I probably could have made several more pies.}

    Transfer the pies to the parchment-lined baking sheets. Cut a small vent or two in the top of each pie. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, or until the pies are golden brown (the filling may bubble out of the vents a little too). Transfer to a wire rack and allow the pies to cool completely.

    Macaroni Salad

    Pioneer Woman calls this the best macaroni salad ever and she is totally right! I made this for the 4th of July and then made it again on the 5th because it was gone WAY too quickly! I could eat this every day... so delicious! Definitely a keeper and it will be a regular at BBQs in the future!

    Macaroni Salad
    Recipe from Pioneer Woman

  • 4 cups Elbow Macaroni
  • 3 whole Roasted Red Peppers, Chopped (more To Taste, Can Also Use Pimentos)
  • ½ cups Black Olives, Chopped Fine
  • 6 whole Sweet/spicy Pickle Slices, Diced (about 1/2 Cup Diced)
  • 3 whole Green Onions, Sliced (white And Dark Green Parts)
  • ½ cups Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon Red Wine Or Distilled Vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons Sugar, More Or Less To Taste
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
  • Plenty Of Black Pepper
  • ¼ cups Milk (more If Needed)
  • Splash Of Pickle Juice (spicy Sweet Pickles)
  • Extra Pickle Juice To Taste

  • Cook the macaroni in lightly salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool. Set aside.

    Mix together mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Splash in enough milk to make it pourable. Splash in pickle juice for extra flavor. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.

    Place cooled macaroni in a large bowl and pour 3/4 of the dressing. Toss and add more dressing if you’d like. (Dressing will seem a little thin, but it will thicken up as salad chills.)

    Stir in olives, roasted red peppers (or pimentos), pickles, and green onions. Add more of any ingredient if you’d like more stuff going on! At the end, splash in a little more pickle juice and stir.

    Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Sprinkle with sliced green onion to serve!

    30 by 30: Sourdough Bread

    I was very pleased with how this sourdough turned out. It had a great sour flavor even though it was the first loaf from my starter. The sourdough starter takes about a week to ferment before you can use it but it gets stronger the longer you feed it. I didn't keep my starter since we will be moving in a few months but I plan on making a new starter once we are settled in our new place!

    Recipe from AllRecipes


    1 (.25 oz) package active dry yeast
    2 cups water
    2 cups all purpose flour

    In a large non-metallic bowl mix together starter ingredients. Leave in a warm place to ferment for 4-8 days. When mixture is bubbly and has a pleasant sour smell, it is ready to use. (To continue growing the starter, replace with equal parts flour & water... for example, if you use 1 cup starter add in 1 cup water and 1 cup flour with a pinch of sugar. Leave to ferment again). Refrigerate starter once fermented.


    3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C
    1 cup sourdough starter
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    2 2/3 cups bread flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

    Mix water and yeast; let sit until bubbly. Add remaining ingredients and knead until smooth and elastic. Let dough rise until doubled in size. Punch down and shape into loaf. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

    TWD - BWJ: Hazelnut Biscotti

    You can tell by the picture that this is NOT hazelnut biscotti. I just didn't feel like going to the store to get hazelnuts and peel them so chocolate chip biscotti was the way to go! The recipe was super easy and very yummy!

    Thanks to Jodi of Homemade and Wholesome and Katrina of Baking and Boys for hosting this week. The recipe can be found at their blogs.

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