Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Easy Oreo Truffles

I made these for Christmas and if you like Oreos, you're sure to love these!  I wanted an easy recipe, and I found this recipe on Kraft's website.  But I didn't want to use cream cheese.. so I kept on searching, and found the perfect substitute!  These little goodies remind me a lot of the cake balls that I have previously made.  I like the word 'truffles' better, though.. it's a little more classy, lol.

Now I really wish I had some Oreos and a big glass of milk!!

Easy Oreo Truffles
recipe from Bella's Bistro
  • 1 package Oreos
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • Chocolate for dipping.  I used semi-sweet, but you can you whatever you want.  Milk chocolate, white chocolate, or dark chocolate.
Crush Oreos in a food processor or blender into fine crumbs.  Reserve about 1/4 cup (or a little less) of crumbs to use as a topping.  Pour crumbs into a large bowl and mix in sweetened condensed milk.  Combine thoroughly.

Place wax paper or parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Form mixture into balls, however big or small you would like them.  Mine made about 30 truffles.  Place them on the baking sheet and put into fridge or freezer for a few minutes so they can set.

Start melting your chocolate either using the microwave or a double boiler (I prefer the microwave).  Remove truffles from fridge or freezer and dip into chocolate one by one.  I used 2 toothpicks to do this, one to stick the truffle in the chocolate and the other to help me get it onto the wax paper.  Don't forget to shake off the excess chocolate!  Sprinkle reserved crumbs over the top of each truffle before dipping the next so it will stick to the chocolate.

Refrigerate when finished.  And devour.. yum.

White chocolate would be pretty, too.  Especially with the crumbs on top!  :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Cooking & Baking!

The crazyness of Christmas week has begun!  I start all my baking and cooking tomorrow, so I need to get some major rest tonight.  I work tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday, and then Thursday night my husband and I have a Christmas party to go to.  Busy, busy, busy.  Here's what's on the list:

  • Bake sugar cookies
  • Make chex mix
  • Oreo truffles (for Christmas Eve munchies)
Friday Baking-
  • Make pecan pie, chocolate pie, and mashed potatoes (for Christmas dinner)
Friday (Christmas Eve munchies)-
  • Spinach & artichoke dip
  •  Meat, cheese, crackers, mustard tray
  • Wings
  • Fruit
  • Oreo truffles (made the night before)
  • Big soft ginger cookies
  • Decorate sugar cookies with my hubby
Saturday (Christmas dinner!)-
  • Maple & brown sugar ham
  • Mashed Potatoes (made the night before)
  • Homestyle gravy
  • Dinner rolls
  • Winter fruit salad with lemon poppyseed dressing
  • Balsamic glazed carrots
  • Pecan pie (made the night before)
  • Chocolate pie (made the night before)
I'm making myself hungry just looking at it all!  I'm so excited for Christmas and to be able to spend it with my husband.  It's going to be a great weekend!!

My Grandma's Big Soft Ginger Cookies

These are hands-down my absolute favorite cookies in the world.  Ever.  These cookies remind me of my Grandma's house and I just love it.  They're tasty and sugary, and SOFT.  They're a good Christmas cookie because of the ginger taste, but heck, I would (and have) eat these all year round.

Although they tasted better when Grandma made them, but isn't that always how things go?  Anything tastes better when Grandma's (and mom's, too!) make them.  ;o)

Big Soft Ginger Cookies
recipe from my Grandma :)
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • Extra (white) sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat butter & 1 cup sugar with mixer until fluffy.  Add egg and molasses, beat until combined.  Mix together dry ingredients, then add gradually to butter/sugar mixture.

One all combined, shape into 1-inch balls and roll in extra sugar.  Set on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake  about 10 minutes, or until brown and puffy.  Be very careful not to overbake!  Let stand for a couple minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.  Yields about 3 dozen.

Rolled in sugar!
With a combination of molasses, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.. they're just so yummy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Blog!

So this is my lovely new blog, specifically for all of my kitchen fun.  I still have my other blog, just for personal use.  I'm really excited about having this new one.  I plan on making a few things this weekend in my spare time, so there will be some new goodies on here soon.  I promise!  I'm thinking more hot chocolate mix, ginger cookies, perhaps some buckeyes... who knows, I might get a little crazy and just make oodles of different things!

Hope you enjoy.  :)

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I was in the mood for something with pumpkin - it's one of my favorite things about this season!!  I found this recipe here and thought they looked too yummy to pass up.  I've made pumpkin cupcakes before, but I thought I'd try a recipe that was a little different.  I will definitely be making this one again.

Pumpkin Cupcakes
recipe from Tracey's Culinary Adventures
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour (tip:  if you only have all-purpose flour on hand, you can substitute 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour for 1 cup cake flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 tsp vanilla (tip: if you don't have buttermilk, mix 1/2 cup regular  milk with 1 1/2 tablespoons of white vinegar and let it sit for about 10 minutes)
  • 1 1/4 cup canned, solid-packed pumpkin
Preheat oven to 350 F and line cupcake pans with 18 liners.

Beat butter and both sugars with a mixer on medium until fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt into a separate medium bowl.

One at a time,
add the eggs to the butter/sugar bowl and mix.  Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour.  Lastly, add the pumpkin and beat until smooth.

Fill cupcake liners until about 3/4 full.  Bake cupcakes about 25 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).  Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe from Martha Stewart
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 cups (1 lb.) confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then vanilla extract.  Mix until smooth.

Refrigerate until needed (can be made up to 3 days in advance).  When ready to use, bring to room temperature and beat until smooth.  Makes about 4 cups.

S'mores Cupcakes

Graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows... the perfect combination!  I saw this recipe on Bakerella and knew I had to try this one out.  They looked amazing!  And trust me, they are.  One of these and a big, cold glass of milk had me satisfied!  I've been in the baking mood, and I was bound and determined to bake something that made my sweet tooth happy.  I'm proud to say they turned out pretty darn well, too!

recipe by Bakerella
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • Bag of jumbo marshmallows
Graham Cracker Crumb Topping
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
Chocolate Ganache
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 4 oz. heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.  Separate the mixture in half, into two bowls.

Stir cocoa into one bowl and the graham cracker crumbs into the other.
Add 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/4 cup oil to the cocoa mixture and beat until combined.
Repeat, adding the same ingredient to the graham cracker crumbs bowl.

Now to make the graham cracker crumb topping! Mix the brown sugar and graham cracker crumbs into a small bowl and  pour in the melted butter.  Stir until combined and crumbly.

Pour a little graham cracker cake batter into your baking cups and then sprinkle the topping mixture lightly on the surface.  Place a marshmallow half on top and then cover the marshmallow with the chocolate cake batter until it's about 3/4 full.  Sprinkle more of the topping mixture over it.

Bake the cupcakes for about 15 minutes.  This recipe made about 16 cupcakes for me.  Let the cupcakes cool and then top with the chocolate ganache.

Now you may devour them.  :)

Blueberry Muffins

Yesterday was a very lazy day here in our household!  My Husband was a bit under the weather and came home from his Doctor appointment with an insane amount of medication.  Poor Guy.  So I decided to make some homemade blueberry muffins to cheer him up.  An afternoon of warm blueberry muffins, Tosh.0, Army Wives (yes, he is a trooper), and naps.  Those days are nice every once in a while.. and Husband is feeling a bit better today.  I think it was the muffins.  ;)

 Perfect Blueberry Muffins
recipe by Smitten Kitchen
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used sour cream)
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, no need to thaw out)
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners or spray muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat well, then sour cream (or yogurt).  Stir flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a separate bowl.  Pour half of dry ingredients over batter.  Mix until combined.  Pour remaining dry ingredients into batter and mix just until the flour disappears.  Gently fold in your blueberries.  The dough will be fairly thick, closer to a cookie dough, which is why an ice cream scoop is a great tool to fill your muffin cups.

You’re looking for them to be about 3/4 full, nothing more.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden.  Cool on a wire rack, if you can wait that long (we couldn't!).  They are yummy straight out of the oven with a little butter!

I promise you won't be disappointed!

Cherry Turnovers - The Easy Way!

I had some leftover cherry pie filling from when I made those cheesecakes, so what better thing to make than cherry turnovers?  Now you can get all fancy and make homemade pastry dough and all that jazz, but I decided to make them the easy way.  Simple AND delicious.  I like simple, especially when it's 9pm and all I want to do it stuff my face with cherry turnovers.  I don't like waiting.  ;)  This recipe makes 4 turnovers.

Cherry Turnovers
  • 1 (8 oz) package refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1 cup cherry pie filling (or a small can)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 375 F.

Separate dough into the 8 triangles.  Now you're going to make 4 squares; take 2 triangles and press the seams together to form a square.  Put about an 1/8 cup of pie filling into the center of each square.  Fold to make triangles and pinch together edges to seal -- you don't want the filling to leak out!  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

For the glaze, mix together confectioners' sugar and milk, then drizzle over the turnovers.  You can even add a little vanilla (or cinnamon!) to make the glaze a bit more exciting!  Serve the turnovers while they're still warm!

And, of course, you can use whatever filling you want.  I've also made these using sauteed apples and blueberries!  Or you can do strawberries, peaches, even chocolate (naughty!)... whatever strikes your fancy.  :)

Mini Cheesecakes with Vanilla Wafer Crust

I made these for Father's Day this past year, and I also just made them again for Thanksgiving.  I'm pretty proud of myself for this one.  I've never made cheesecake before, so I was a little nervous about how they'd turn out, but they were great!  They would be good to bring to parties, potlucks, wedding or baby showers.. anything, really!  And they're already in single servings which makes them so easy.  Okay, let's start with the crust..

Vanilla Wafer Crust
  • Foil cupcake liners
  • 1 1/2 cup crushed vanilla wafers 
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix all ingredients together until crumbly.  Press into each cupcake liner to make a small crust for your cheesecakes.  Bake for 6-8 minutes.  This would be great for a full-sized crust for your favorite pie, too!  I just love vanilla wafers.

Mini Cheesecakes
recipe by Bakerella
  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
Mix all the ingredients together, then spoon approximately 3 tablespoons of the mix into each cupcake liner, over the baked crust.  You'll want them to be fairly full because they will sink down once they cool.. making a perfect little well for the toppings.  Bake at 375 F for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  When they're done, put them on a cooling rack to cool completely.  I suggest to chill in the fridge for a few hours before topping and serving them.

You can be creative and top them with whatever you want:  chocolate, caramel, turtle topping, cherry, blueberry, sweetened whipped cream and strawberries, canned pie filling, fresh fruit... totally your choice.  I did half of mine with cherry pie filling and the other half with chocolate ganache and strawberries!  They were a hit!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries

Perfect to go along with a good burger or some maid rites - I love sweet potato fries!  This recipe serves 2, so feel free to adjust it to your needs!

Sweet Potato Fries
recipe from SugarLaws
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 (generous) tsp of salt
  • 1 (generous) tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper, to your liking
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Peel then slice your sweet potatoes into thing strips and put them in a big bowl.  Add salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and EVOO, then use your hands to toss thoroughly.  Place your fries on a baking sheet and and put them in the oven for about 30 minutes.  Taste to tell if they're done - they should be a little crispy.

If you want to make them into more of a dessert, you could add brown sugar instead.  Mmmm!

Warm Berry Crumble

I made this berry crumble snack (or if I put ice cream on top, would it be a dessert?) after dinner one night.  It's very tasty and fairly healthy, unless you pile on the ice cream like me, heh.  This recipe serves 6 people.

Warm Berry Crumble
recipe from Rachael Ray 
  • 1 1/2 cup sliced almonds, slightly crushed
  • 2/3 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 tbsp and 2 tsp sugar
  • A big pinch of cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • A couple drops of vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 (12 oz) bag frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1 (12 oz) bag frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
Preheat oven to 375 F and grease 6 seven-ounce ramekins.  

For the topping-- combine almonds, oats, 2 tsp sugar, and spices in a bowl.  Add the softened butter and, with a fork, rub the butter into the mixture until coarse crumbs are formed.  Set aside, now onto the filling!

For the filling-- pour the berries into a strainer over a large bowl so the bowl catches the juices.  Add 1 tbsp sugar and cornstarch to the juices and mix until dissolved.  Gently fold the berries back into their juices, then divide the mixture among the greased ramekins.  Top each ramekin with the crumb topping mixture.  Place the ramekins on a baking sheet line with foil and bake 20-25 minutes, until bubbling hot and the top is golden.  When it's done, allow to cool for about 10 minutes.  And of course I think it's even better when you add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top!  Delicious!

Red Velvet Cake Balls

I absolutely love Bakerella's website and when I came across the recipe for these, I just had to try them!  I cannot stay away from red velvet, or chocolate for that matter.  I have such a sweet tooth for both!  And of course if you don't want red velvet you can come up with any cake/frosting mixture you want.  There are so many combinations you could try.  

Red Velvet Cake Balls
recipe from Bakerella
  •  1 box red velvet cake mix
  •  1 container cream cheese frosting (16 oz)
  •  1 package chocolate almond bark (regular or white, whatever you prefer)
  •  wax paper
My batch made about 55 cake balls.

Bake the cake according to the directions on the box, using a 13x9 cake pan.  After the cake is done, let it cool completely.  Then crumble it into a large bowl.  Mix it with the container of cream cheese frosting -- I used my hands for this, it's messy but so much easier to get it mixed thoroughly.

Next, hand roll the cake/frosting mixture into little balls, about quarter-sized or a little bigger, and set them on a cookie sheet.  Put them in the fridge for several hours (even better to leave them in the fridge overnight).  You want them to be firm so they don't fall apart when you dip them in the chocolate.

After they've gotten nice and firm, melt the almond bark in the microwave -- or you can use a double boiler -- roll the balls in the chocolate and place them on the wax paper until the chocolate coating has dried and hardened.  I found the easiest way to dip them was to use a spoon to dip and roll them in the chocolate, then I tapped the spoon against the side of the bowl to get any extra off.  Also, the almond bark thickens fast so I only melted a few blocks of it at a time.

They are a little time-consuming, but definitely worth it.  They are delicious and would be so fun to take to a party, potluck, or get-together!