Tuesday, May 31, 2011

End of this Blog

I'm no longer going to be posting on this blog, with baby on the way I'm sure my baking adventures will be very slow for a while... but not too long, because we all know how much I love to bake.  But from now on, if I decide to post a recipe, it will be on my PERSONAL BLOG... along with all of my parenting/wife/military/living in Korea adventures:)

Sorry!  But be sure to stay updated on the other blog.. I will be posting recipes there!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Caramel Apple Dip

So this probably isn't the healthiest thing, but it's definitely a good thing every once in a while.  Sometimes I'll just make a half a batch, and that will be enough for me to snack on for a few days.  And it whips up in (literally) no time.  It would be great for get togethers, baby showers, etc.  As for me, well today it's my afternoon snack!  I like Granny Smith apples best with this dip.  :)

Caramel Apple Dip
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix together.  Serve with sliced apples.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Avocado Chicken Pitas

Ever since grilling out some delicious turkey burgers and topping them with some sliced avocado a few weeks ago, I've been wanting to do more things with avocado (besides guacamole.. although I love guacamole and do want to make some soon).  I haven't had avocado in a long time.. I think I just kind of forgot they existed.  Well I saw this in one of my cookbooks a while back and I'm glad I took a note of it!

This is such an easy and delicious lunch idea (or for dinner.. why not!).  I bought half of a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store the other day, and it was perfect for this.  It cut down the time and I didn't even have to break out a pot or pan!  I also have some leftover chicken for a couple chicken salad sandwiches for lunch tomorrow.  MMM, yes please.  My husband and I both agreed that this is a yummy little meal, but he said it wouldn't have hurt to add a few more spices.  Definitely some pepper.  And he think a little dollop of sour cream would be good to top this off, so I am definitely going to try that next time.

I hope you try this one - it's worth the small amount of time it takes to prepare.  :)

Avocado Chicken Pitas
recipe from Taste of Home 2009 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes Cookbook

  • 2 whole pita breads
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1/2 - 1 pound cooked chicken, cut into strips (I prefer to just buy a half rotisserie chicken.. makes this a ton faster)
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups or so shredded Monterey Jack or Colby Jack cheese
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Brush one side of each pita with olive oil.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes or until browned and crisp.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mash the avocado with lemon juice, salt, garlic powder and hot sauce.  Spread over pitas.  Layer with the chicken, tomato and cheese.  Bake 5-6 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Yield: 2 servings.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Raspberry Limeade

Here in Korea, the high for today is 65 degrees... SIXTY-FIVE.  Oh, how happy this makes me.  Summer is right around the corner, folks, and I'm ready for it.  So in honor of this beautiful weather, I felt the need to make up something cheerful and summery.  I saw this recipe a couple weeks ago on FoodGawker, and I've had it saved for a special day like today.  I'm all about some limeade and some fruity summer drinks...

Raspberry Limeade
recipe from Taylor Takes a Taste
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (6 or 7 limes)
  • 1/2 cup pureed raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
In a large pot, dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup water over medium heat.  Stir until completely dissolved, then turn heat on low, creating a simple syrup.

In a food processor (or blender) puree raspberries.  Add lemon and lime juice and puree for a few more seconds.   Add raspberry mixture to the simple syrup and stir until combined.

Pour through a strainer into a separate pot to get rid of the seeds.  Then combine with 3 cups of water and stir over low heat until completely combined.  Transfer to a container of your choice, and serve over ice.  Garnish with lime slices.  Makes approx. 40 ounces.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Oreo Cupcakes

My husband informed me that these are now his new favorite cupcake.  And he also requested that I make them for his birthday (which is only 2 weeks away).  I must agree with him, though - they're definitely one of the best cupcakes I've ever made.  They're not overly sweet like you think they'd be, but just perfect.  And aren't they pretty, too?  I love the little oreo crust on the bottom.  As for the frosting, I've seen a lot of people use cream cheese frosting for these, but I decided to use a vanilla.  I just didn't like the idea of cream cheese frosting with oreos, not sure why.  You can use whatever frosting sounds good to you.  :)  I halved the recipe when I made mine and they turned out great.  Since it's just my husband and I eating these, I figured 12 cupcakes would be quite enough!  Besides, I already have my eye on another cupcake recipe I'm going to try and I'm VERY excited about it..

Oreo Cupcakes
recipe from Beantown Baker
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 24 oreo halves (the side with the cream filling still on it)
  • 20 oreos, coarsely chopped (quartered)
  • For Garnish:  oreo cookie crumbs, and 24 oreo cookie halves
  • For Frosting:  Use your favorite vanilla frosting recipe.  Cream cheese frosting might also be good.
Preaheat oven to 350 F.

Line cupcake pans with 24 cupcake liners.  Put an oreo half in each liner, cream side up.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir together to combine and set aside.  In another bowl, with an electric mixer combine the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Blend in the egg whites and vanilla extract, beating well.  Then, with the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients until just incorporated.  Add the milk, and beat until just combined, then mix in the rest of the dry ingredients.  Gently fold in the chopped oreos with a rubber spatula, being careful not to over-mix. 

Distribute batter evenly into the cupcake liners and bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.  Cool completely, then frosting and garnish.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Overnight Upside-Down French Toast

My husband has been rushing off to work all week without breakfast and I wanted to make some yummy that he could eat quickly before he goes - and something that was easy on me too, because I'm not a morning person!  I've had this overnight french toast that I had yet to try.  It was perfect!  I assembled it the night before and then just popped it in the oven for 20 minutes in the morning.  It really can't get any easier than that.  And boy am I glad I did that because I only got about 2 hours of sleep that night.  I'm finding it harder and harder to get comfortable while pregnant.  Ah well.. on to the recipe..

Overnight Upside-Down French Toast
  • 1/2 cup butter/margarine, softened
  • 1 tsp. + 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsp. milk
  • 2 tsp. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Roughly 7 or so pieces of texas toast (or whatever bread you prefer)
Mix together butter, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Spread evenly in a greased baking dish.

In a big bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and vanilla.  Dip bread in mixture and place in baking dish.  You may have to cut some pieces in half so all brown sugar topping is covered.  Use all of egg mixture.  Cover pan with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight (you don't have to, but it makes for an easy breakfast the next day).  Remove saran wrap and bake 20 minutes in a 400 F oven.

Dust with powdered sugar and turn over to serve.  Top with syrup or strawberries, or whatever you feel like.  :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011


This past week my Aunt and Uncle were visiting us for a few days, and I had a very sweet friend who let us borrow a few things to help us better accommodate their stay.  A perfect excuse for me to make some goodies!  I decided to make Scotcheroos - something my Grandma used to make.  I really hope they enjoy the treats, she deserves something yummy for letting us borrow their Korean GPS and air mattress (and just for all of her kindness in general:)!

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 6 cups rice krispies
  • 6 oz. butterscotch chips
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
 In a large pot, bring sugar and corn syrup to a boil.  Once boiling, immediately remove from heat.  Add peanut butter, stir to mix well.  Then add 6 cups of rice krispies.  Stir fast, until thoroughly mixed.  Press into a buttered 9x13 pan.  Melt together 6 ounces butterscotch chips and 6 ounces chocolate chips.  Spread over the rice krispies.  Let set until cooled, then cut into squares and enjoy!

I guess they're kind of a fun little take on rice krispies treats.  They bring back good memories.. and they're super yummy.  Of course I had to keep a few for myself - my husband has never had them before!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

We had this at our wedding reception, and it's definitely one of my favorite things.  I love chicken and  I love cheese (especially swiss cheese).  I've never made it before, mainly because it seemed so tedious to make.  But this recipe proved me wrong.  It's easy, and delicious.  And my husband had fun stabbing the chicken with the toothpicks (yes, he helped me cook!).  This was given a two-thumbs up by my husband, so into the recipe box it goes..

Chicken Cordon Bleu
recipe from Omnomicon
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts, if you like)
  • 4 slices deli ham or prosciutto
  • 4 slices deli swiss cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • several plain toothpicks
Tenderize if you need to.

Cut the swiss cheese into eight rectangles and stack.  Slice the ham in half lengthwise, stack both pieces, then roll around the stack of cheese.  Now create a little “meat purse” out of your chicken around the ham and cheese, and tack it up with toothpicks.  The chicken will be cooked leaky-side up so that the cheese has less of an opportunity of gushing out of your creation all over the pan.

Set up three bowls for breading the chicken. The first holds flour for dusting the chicken balls; the second will have a beaten egg and 1/4 c water whisked together for an egg wash. The last will have some seasoned bread crumbs. After your done wrapping and tacking it up with toothpicks, dip the chickens in the flour, the egg wash, then the bread crumbs. Place, toothpick side up, on lightly greased cookie sheet (I like to use aluminum foil for easy clean up).

Bake about 25 minutes in a 350o oven.  Serves 4.

About to go in the oven!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

Every time I made chocolate chip cookies, they would come out differently.  Most of the time they would be flat and a little more crunchy than I prefer them to be.  I want my chocolate chip cookies to be soft and fluffy on the inside and maybe a little crunchy at the edges.  But I never got that.  I don't know what it is about this recipe, but it is absolutely perfect in my eyes.  They are everything I want a chocolate chip cookie to be!  Try them and let me know what you think!

World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookie
recipe from AR
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix (just use the powder, don't actually make the pudding)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside. 

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.  Makes approx. 3 dozen cookies.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Semi-Homemade Donuts

Me being the lovely, amazing wife that I am... I decided to get up early this morning and make donuts for my husband before he had to go to work.  These donuts are only semi-homemade, I guess you could say, because if I had to get up any earlier to make them... well, it would just not be good.  I don't function very well at early hours of the day.  So these were perfect, and tasted pretty good too!  And my husband had bought a donut cutter a few weeks back, I felt like I needed to put it to use!

  • 1 roll (or however many rolls you want) biscuits; I used Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits
  • 8 cups vegetable oil
Heat oil in a large pot with high sides over medium-high heat until temperature is at 350°F. Oil should be 1- to 1 1/2 inches deep.  Open biscuits and gently pat them down to even them out.  Cut out center using a donut cutter.  You can fry the centers up as donut holes.  Or if you want to fill your donut later, just leave them as is.

Add half of the doughnuts and half of the doughnut holes and fry until the bottoms turn golden brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes for small donuts and 2 to 2 1/2 minutes for large donuts.  Using chopsticks or a butter knife, turn the doughnuts and holes and fry for until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Transfer doughnuts to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to cool slightly, 1 to 2 minutes before dipping in glaze. Serve warm.

Chocolate Glaze Topping
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
 Combine butter, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted.  Decrease the heat to low, add the chocolate and whisk until melted.  Turn off heat, add powdered sugar, and whisk vigorously until smooth.  Dip donuts into glaze immediately and let cool on wire rack for about 30 minutes so it will set (if you can wait that long... umm... I don't think waiting is necessary! ;)

Vanilla Pastry Cream (for Boston Cream Donuts)
  • 1 1/2 cups  milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp. heavy cream
Place milk in a medium-sized saucepan and set over med-heat; heat the milk until bubbles just start to form around the edges.  Meanwhile, place the sugar, flour, and salt into a small bowl; stir together to combine. Place the eggs in a medium-sized bowl, whisk until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture to egg yolks and continue to whisk until thick and pasty.

Remove the milk from the heat and gradually add to the egg mixture, whisking constantly.  Return the mixture to the saucepan, place over medium heat.  Bring to the boil, whisking constantly, about 3 minutes.  Boil, whisking constantly, for 10 seconds, remove immediately from heat.  Add the vanilla extract and whisk until well combined.  Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.  Let cool and then refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to assemble Boston Cream Donuts, using a hand mixer, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Remove vanilla pastry cream from fridge and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream.  Put it into a pastry bag and, using a bismark tip, poke a hole in the side of the donut to the center and gently fill.  Then dip into chocolate glaze.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Raspberry Filled Cupcakes

This is my first time doing filled cupcakes and it was so much fun!  I love the little surprise factor you get when you take that bite out of the cupcake.  Now I'm all excited and want to make more... marshmallow cream filled chocolate cupcakes?  White chocolate ganache filled vanilla cupcakes?  Snickers filled cupcakes?  Cookie dough filled cupcakes?  Cookies and cream cupcakes?  Things might start gettin' a little crazy around here!

I thought this was a fun cupcake for Valentine's day.  And I even made little hearts and 'I <3 U' out of melted white chocolate.  I think it added a nice touch.  :)  What are you making your special someone for Valentine's Day?

The recipe below is for a layer cake and makes two 9-inch round cakes.  But can easily be used for cupcakes.  Yields roughly 20 cupcakes.

Fluffy Yellow Cake
recipe from Cooks Illustrated
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks plus 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1.   Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Grease the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and knock out the excess.  Or, if making cupcakes, line with cupcake liners. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1½ cups sugar together in a large bowl. In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

2. In a clean, large bowl, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. While still beating, gradually add the remaining ¼ cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 1 to 2 minutes (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist).

3. Take the bowl with the flour mixture, and with the mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

4. Using a rubber spatula, stir ⅓ of the whites into the batter to lighten, then add the remaining whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (or cupcake liners.. filling about 2/3 full).  Lightly tap the pans against the counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 19-21 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the cakes from the sides of the pan with a small knife, then invert onto a greased wire rack and peel off the parchment. Invert the cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1½ hours.  Or, with cupcakes, remove from cupcake pan and place on wire rack to cool.

Raspberry Filling
  • 1 jar of raspberry preserves
Using a bismark tip and pastry bag, insert the tip almost all the way through to the bottom of the cupcake and as you pull the tip out squeeze.

I used a simple buttercream frosting for this cupcake, but you can use whatever frosting suits your taste:)

I made cute little hearts and things using white chocolate.. have some fun decorating your cupcakes!!
And who doesn't love a little surprise inside their cupcakes? 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Baked Potato Soup

Baked potato soup is probably one of my favorite soups, right next to broccoli cheddar soup and wild rice soup.  I've never actually made baked potato soup before this, though, but it was very easy!  This will join the other great recipes that reside in my cute little recipe box, for sure.

When I told my husband earlier in the day what we were having for dinner, he said "Soup?  That's it?  That's all we're having for dinner?"  Like he's going to starve if that's all he has.  My husband is not a soup kinda guy.  In fact, not even 20 minutes ago he told me it's a 'girly' food.  Pffft.  But of course when he tried it, it knocked his socks off!  He kept saying 'wow, this is so good!' like he was doubting my cooking skills.  He should know better than that.  He still made brats for himself, thinking the soup would not satisfy him to his liking.  But after a bowl of it, he was full... oh he's so silly.  :)

Baked Potato Soup
recipe from Our Best Bites
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 14oz can of chicken broth
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, baked
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, divided
  • 8 slices of bacon; cooked, crumbled, & divided
Melt butter in a stock pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for 30-60 seconds, until fragrant.  Add flour to pan.  Slowly add milk a little at a time while whisking constantly to eliminate lumps.  Whisk until smooth and then add chicken broth. (If for some reason your liquid isn't smooth, put in a blender and blend until smooth.)  Bring soup just to a simmer and heat until thickened, stirring often.

Once soup is thickened, turn heat down to medium-low.  Cut baked potatoes in half length-wise and use a spoon to scoop out potato flesh into the pot.  (I like to microwave my potatoes instead of baking them in an oven - same effect, A LOT less time!)  Use a wooden spoon to smash potatos, breaking up large clumps.  Add 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese and salt and pepper and stir until cheese is melted.  Remove pan from heat and stir in 3/4 C sour cream and 4 strips of the crumbled bacon.  Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with each serving with the remaining sour cream, onions, cheese, and bacon, if you desire.

My picture taking skills are horrid.  I promise you this picture doesn't even do it justice.  ;-)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

I love cinnamon rolls.  I love them in the mornings.  I love them at night as a 'dessert'.  I love them on Sunday afternoons.  I pretty much love cinnamon rolls at any given time.  Usually we keep a roll of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls in the fridge in case a craving arises, but tonight we didn't have any (gasp!).  And of course, the commissary is closed on Mondays - what grocery store is closed on Mondays?!

I found a few recipes that looked promising, but a couple looked a little too tedious, and one made like 50 cinnamon rolls.  Even if I halved the recipe I would still be left with 25 cinnamon rolls.  THEN I found a recipe that looked perfect.  Easier than the others, made a decent amount of rolls.. and from a trusted source.

And let me tell you.  They are SO. GOOD.  Soft and gooey and absolutely delicious when they're warm.  And with a big glass of orange juice.  My husband gave me the side eye because I had four of them.  What, don't judge me.  They were small...

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
recipe from Our Best Bites

  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp. butter, cut into chunks
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package rapid rise yeast
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  •  1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-2 tbsp. milk
Dough: Place milk and 4 tbsp. butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat on high for 1 minute 30 seconds. Butter should be at least partially melted.  Stir and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, yeast, white sugar, and salt.  When milk mixture has cooled to warm (not hot) add it to the flour mixture along with the egg while beating with a mixer.  Beat until well combined, about 1 minute.  Switch to a dough hook attachment, if you have one.  Add remaining flour only until dough barely leaves the sides of the bowl.  It should be very soft and slightly sticky.  Continue to let the dough knead for 5 minutes.  If you are not using a stand mixer, turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes by hand.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface and let rest for about 10 minutes while you make the filling.

Filling: make sure butter is softened well. Mix with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Assembly: Roll dough into a rectangle about 12 x 14 inches. Spread brown sugar mixture over the surface and use your fingers or the back of a spoon to gently spread around. Roll up from the longer side of the rectangle and pinch edges closed. Score the roll into 12 equal pieces and then cut into rolls.  It's easiest if you use a piece of floss to cut them.  Place in a 9 x 13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover pan with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes - I turn on the oven and set mine on top of the oven.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When rolls have finished rising, bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown. If desired spread with icing while still warm. Makes roughly 12 rolls (depending on how big you cut them).

Rollin' out the dough..
Ready to bake!  Aren't those swirls just beautiful? :)

Soft, gooey, and perfect after they're drizzled with icing!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Frosted Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sounds like chocolate overload, doesn't it?  It's not.. I promise.  It's the perfect amount of chocolate for the chocolate lover!  I ate about 8 of them in one day.  Then I 'forced' my husband to take them to work so I didn't get myself into any more trouble with these cookies.  Needless to say, he sent me a text right after he got to work saying they didn't even last 5 minutes.  I promise you, if they would have stayed 5 more minutes in my house they wouldn't have lasted either (baby liked them.. a lot). 

The cookies have nice crisp edges, and are soft and delicious in the middle.  Top them with some of this 'perfectly chocolate' chocolate frosting, and they are definitely my new favorite cookie (and frosting).  I will never use another chocolate frosting again... cookies, cakes, cupcakes, brownies.. or by the spoon-full, he he.. this is hands-down my favorite chocolate frosting recipe.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe from Nestle Toll House
  • 12 oz. package Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
Preheat oven to 375 F.

Microwave 3/4 cup choco chips for 1 minute.  Stir and microwave at additional 10 to 15-sec intervals until melted.  Cool to room temperature.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.

Beat butter, brown sugar, sugar and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until creamy.  Beat in melted chocolate and egg.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in 3/4 cup choco chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until edges are set but centers are still slightly soft.  Cool on baking sheets for 3 minutes then move to wire racks to cool completely. Thinly frost centers of cookies with chocolate frosting (see the best chocolate frosting recipe ever.. below).

Yields:  About 20 small cookies.

Hershey's 'Perfectly Chocolate' Chocolate Frosting
recipe from Hershey's
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Melt butter.  Stir in cocoa.  Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.  Add small amount additional milk, if needed.  Stir in vanilla.

Yields:  About 2 cups frosting. (I halved this recipe and it was just enough to frost the cookies)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

French Dip Sandwiches au Jus

This is so good.  And so easy.  I love all things that go in the crockpot because that means I have to spend less time in the kitchen and I have more time to spend on the couch with my hubby watching the latest episode of The Office.  My husband loved these sandwiches and they'll definitely be in our dinner menu rotation from now on!  YUM!

French Dip Sandwiches au Jus
recipe from Foodie Bride
  • 3 lb. chuck roast
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. brown mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 6-8 sandwich rolls
  • 6-8 slices of provolone or swiss cheese
Slice onion into 1/4-in rounds and place in bottom of crockpot.   Add beef broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and garlic to the crockpot.  Salt and pepper both sides of the roast and place on top of the onions.  Cook on low 6 to 7 hours until beef is fall-apart tender.

Transfer the roast to a cutting board and shred using two forks and place in a medium sized bowl.  Remove onions and place in bowl as well.  If you need to, strain the juice into a large “defatter” measuring cup and get rid of the oil that collects on top.

Heat the broiler.  Place the split sandwich rolls on a lined baking sheet and toast for 1 minute or just until the bread begins to brown.   Remove the tops from the pan.  Scoop the beef onto the bottom of the rolls and top with cheese.  Return to the oven just until cheese is melted.  Top with sandwich halves and serve with small bowls of jus.

Yields:  Approx. 6 sandwiches

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy

You should be very excited about this post.  Because I'm very excited to share it with you!  My husband has been wanting this for breakfast for quite some time now, but I had to find a biscuit recipe that I really felt confident about.  Because the last time I tried to make them homemade, it was an unfortunate disaster that ended up in the trash.  But these turned out to be just beautiful.  They are soft and flaky, and they really don't take too much effort.  This is definitely my go-to recipe for biscuits.

Now.. chocolate gravy.. some of you may have never heard of this before (like me), unless you're from the south.  The first time I've heard of it was shortly after my husband and I were married and we were at his parents house for a weekend.  I was very unsure about it.. chocolate and gravy.. just didn't sound right to me.  But I'll try [almost] anything once, and my mother-in-law is a great cook so it just had to be good!  Let's face it, southern cooking is just amazing anyway.  Now this isn't her recipe because well, she is 15 hours behind us and that makes it a little difficult to just call any time, but I don't think this recipe varies too far from hers.

If you haven't had this, I urge you to try it at least once!  It's worth it, I promise.  :)

Buttermilk Biscuits
recipes from Sprinkle Bakes
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 tbsp. cold shortening
  • 6 tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk (again, buttermilk substitute)
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
Preheat oven to 450 F.

Put flour into a large mixing bowl; add the cut up cold butter and shortening and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender (if you do not have a pastry blender, you can use a fork) and blend until coarse crumbs form.  Then make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk (start with 3/4 cup buttermilk).  Mix with a fork until just combined, avoid over-mixing - if your dough is too stiff, add 1 tbsp. of buttermilk at a time).  Put the sticky dough on a lightly floured surface and knead about 5 times.  Pat dough out flat (with floured hands) to 1" thickness.

Cut the dough into rounds with a sharp-edged cutter (I used a cleaned out mandarin orange can).  Cut straight down without twisting to ensure tall and straight biscuits.

Lightly grease a baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Place on a baking sheet 1-inch apart for crusty sides or almost touching for soft sides and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until golden.  Remove from the oven and brush the biscuit tops with the 2 tbsp melted butter.  Serve warm.  Makes about 8 biscuits.

Chocolate Gravy
  • 4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (preferably whole, but you don't have to.. I used 1%)
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
In a medium sauce pan whisk together the dry ingredients.  Pour in the milk and whisk vigorously to combine.  Heat over medium-high until the mixture bubbles.  Turn heat down to medium and stir until mixture has thickened to a gravy consistency.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

TIP:  Is the gravy not thickening how you want it to?  Mix about a teaspoon of cornstarch into a little bit of cold water.  Pour a small amount of the water/cornstarch mix into your gravy, I'd say start off with a tablespoon.  Bring to a boil for about 1 minute.  Remove from heat when thickened.

Let cool slightly then transfer to a gravy boat. Serve warm over buttermilk biscuits.  Makes about 2 cups.

Beautiful, aren't they?

Not too chocolate-y.... but just perfect!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mini Maple Pancake Muffins

I love pancakes.  I would eat them every day if I let myself.  My husband is actually making some for me right now, isn't he sweet!  ;)  And just how cute are these mini maple pancake muffins?  Dunk them in some warm syrup after they come out of the oven and mmmm, satisfied tummy!  These would be a fun breakfast for little kiddos, too!  Make them plain, throw in some chocolate chips... or even some blueberries (I made half of mine blueberry - yum!).

Mini Maple Pancake Muffins
adapted from Bakerella
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  •  1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk (remember my buttermilk trick?) 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • A couple taps of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or blueberries (optional)
 Preheat oven to 350 F.  Generously grease mini muffin pan with nonstick spray.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, and a few taps of cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Mix with a wire whisk.

In another bowl, stir buttermilk, egg, maple syrup, vanilla extract and melted butter until just combined.  Then add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir.  Stir in chocolate chips, if you desire.  I used frozen blueberries instead!  

Bake 8-9 minutes.  Makes 24 mini pancake muffins.  Let cool slightly and remove from the pan. You may need to use a toothpick around the edges to separate the pancake muffins from the pan.  Serve immediately with warmed butter if you like or even just with maple syrup.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes & Peanut Butter Buttercream

I have a 4-day weekend and what better thing to do than bake?  I've been itching to try out the decorator bottles my parents gave me for Christmas, so it was the perfect excuse to find a new cupcake recipe to try.  Do you know how many different cupcake recipes there are?  In case you didn't know, there are a lot.  I probably could have spent hours looking through all the different recipes and cupcake/frosting combinations, but I stopped when I spotted a chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter frosting (but trust me, I bookmarked about 10 recipes along the way).  Also, I did want to bake sometime today, so I needed to stop being so indecisive if I was going to get anywhere.  ;)

These cupcakes are delicious.  Just be careful not to over bake the cupcakes or they will be dry.  The frosting is absolutely amazing.  I wasn't sure about a peanut butter buttercream at first.  I didn't want it to be an overwhelming peanut butter taste.. but it wasn't.  I may or may not have eaten a big huge spoonful before frosting the cupcakes.  He he.  It was like peanut butter and sugar and heaven all whisked together and it was just begging for me to eat it.  I probably would've licked the bowl if I didn't have any self-control...

Chocolate Cupcakes
recipe from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • optional:  chocolate shavings for decoration
TIP:   Don't have buttermilk on hand?  No worries!  Place a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup,  then add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.  Let stand for about 5 minutes.. then voila, use as much as you need!  Buttermilk substitute!  I use it all the time.  :)

Preheat oven to 350 F and put 12 cupcake liners in a muffin tin.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.  Add sugar and beat about 2 minutes, until blended with the butter.  Add the egg, then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Beat in the vanilla, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear.  Scrape down the bowl and add the buttermilk, mixing until incorporated, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients.  Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate and mix it in with the rubber spatula.  Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins, about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean - be careful not to over bake!  Transfer the muffin pan to a rack and let the cakes cool for 5 minutes before unmolding them.  Cool to room temperature before frosting.

Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting
recipe from Cook's Illustrated
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or natural peanut butter)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
In a medium bowl, beat (or if you have a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment) the butter and peanut butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.  Add the powdered sugar and salt, beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined (make sure to get all those lumps out.. you want a smooth frosting).  Scrape the bowl again, then add the vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium-high speed until the buttercream is light and fluffy - about 4 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl a couple times.

Makes 1 1/2 cups of frosting (will frost 12 cupcakes).

Also, I absolutely loved using the decorator bottles.  It was so easy to use.. no mess, and an easy clean-up!  And I must say, I like anything that makes my life easier.  :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

90-Minute Soft Pretzels

I always want what I can't have, and being in Korea is making it worse (being pregnant while in Korea sure isn't helping, either)!  We have no Texas Roadhouse, Target or Walmart, Coldstone (ok, there is a 'Coldstone'.. but it is NOT the same), Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel... and there is definitely no Auntie Anne's!  Oh, what I would give for a warm and delicious Auntie Anne's pretzel!

There are about a million recipes for homemade pretzels out on the internet - no joke, I looked!  Then I found one in my bread recipes folder, so I decided to go with that.  I do want to try out a couple other pretzel recipes that I had my eye on, though.

You know how I said I was intimidated by crepes?  Yeah, well working with yeast just plain scares me!  Maybe it's because a few months back I attempted one of my Grandma's most famous recipes - Sweet Petals - and totally jacked it up and had to throw them all away.  But these pretzels were a complete success.  I have gained confidence and I see Sweet Petals in my future!  These pretzels are soft and delicious.  I topped some with cinnamon and sugar, dipped plain ones in mustard, and glazed a few with a honey butter sauce that I made.  Great for a Sunday afternoon snack!

90-Minutes Soft Pretzels
recipe from my Grandma
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. margarine
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • Coarse salt (optional)
Mix sugar, salt, 1 cup of flour, and undissolved yeast together in a large bowl.  In a separate dish, heat 1 cup water and margarine to 120 to 130 degrees.  Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of mixer.  Add 1/2 cup flour.  Beat at high speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough.  On a floured cutting board, knead dough for about 5 minutes.  Make dough into a round ball, and place into a greased bowl.  Cover (with a towl or with plastic wrap); let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 40 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each into a 20-inch rope.  Shape into pretzels.  Place on greased baking sheets.  Cover with a towel; let rest for 5 minutes.

Mix egg yolk and 1 tbsp. water, brush on pretzels so they get a nice golden color.  Sprinkle with coarse salt (optional).  Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes, or until done.  Cool on racks.  Makes 1 dozen.

Best served warm.  If eating them the next day, just pop one in the microwave for a few seconds!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Peabody Vanilla Muffins

This is one of those recipes that I dug out of my Grandma's bread recipe folder.  I must say, her recipes never disappoint me!  I love muffins, although my favorite is blueberry, I thought I'd give this one a go.  At first I was afraid that this one would be too plain and boring, but not at all!  It's very simple, but still elegant.  My Grandma had a note written next to the recipe saying that they serve these at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis (an extremely beautiful and historic hotel), so I asked my husband about that since he's from that area and he said that they do serve them - not that I was doubting my Grandma's notes!  I just thought it was neat.  :)
The view of Memphis from the top of the Peabody, while we were in town visiting family in 2009.
The famous Peabody ducks.
Peabody Vanilla Muffins
recipe from my Grandma
  • 2 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix milk, egg, and melted butter, and vanilla together.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and pour all of the milk/egg mixture into the well.  Stir with a fork, only until all the ingredients are  moistened - over-mixing will result in tough muffins.  Spoon muffin batter into well greased muffin tins (or use paper baking cups), filling each slightly more than half full.  Also, before I bake them, I like to sprinkle a little bit of sugar over the top.  It makes the muffins all sparkly and pretty when they're done baking.  :)  Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes.  Remove from muffin pan immediately and serve hot.

This recipe makes 12 regular sized muffins, or 30 mini muffins.

My husband likes his with a little jam.  I like them with a little honey!  But they're just as delicious plain.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Strawberries & Cream Filled Chocolate Crepes

This was my first time ever making crepes.  I have to admit, I was a little nervous.  Crepes were a bit intimidating to me!  They're so thin and delicate.  But this recipe that I made was surprising fast and easy as well as husband-approved!  I see many more crepe recipes in my future.  There are just so many different thing you can do with them.

These particular ones would make a great dessert (or fancy breakfast... *cough, cough*.. yes, I did have about 5 of them this morning) for your special someone on Valentine's Day!

Strawberries & Cream Filled Chocolate Crepes
recipe adapted from Gina's Skinny Recipes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large (whole) egg
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • butter flavored cooking spray
  • 1 bag of frozen strawberries (I used frozen because strawberries are not in season right now, so it's much cheaper.. otherwise I would use fresh)
  • whipped topping
  • chocolate syrup, for serving
Put flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, milk, eggs, and oil in a bowl and whisk until they're smooth and there are no lumps left.  Then heat a nonstick pan on medium-low heat (I used a 9 1/2 in. pan).  When hot, spray the bottom of the pan with the butter flavored cooking spray.  Pour about 1/4 cup of crepe mixture into the pan and swirl pan slightly to make crepe thin and smooth and so it covers the bottom of the pan completely.  Cook for about 1 minute or until the bottom of  the crepe is light golden brown.  Flip and cook the other side about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until light golden brown.  These do not take very long at all to cook, so pay attention!  Also, your first one may not turn out the best - don't worry, the rest of them will turn out great.  :)  Repeat with the rest of crepe mixture, spraying the bottom of the pan before you make each crepe.

When you're ready to serve, spoon roughly 2 tbsp of the whipped topping into the center of each crepe and then put some strawberries on top of that... however many your heart desires!  Then fold both edges of the crepe over the filling.  Gently flip over so the seam side is down.  Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar and drizzle with chocolate syrup.  They are absolutely wonderful when served warm, but they're also good when they're not so warm (they tend to get cold fast).  ENJOY!

The great thing about these?  You can make the batter ahead of time, and just stick it in the fridge!  The batter can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.  Nifty!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Weekly Menu Jan. 3rd - 9th

Trying to get back into the swing of things after Christmas isn't easy.  We've gone out to eat the past couple nights.  We have just been too busy!  But one of our goals for 2011 is to cut back on getting take-out, just to save a little bit of money especially with the new baby due to arrive in June.. we need to start preparing!  :)  I find that it helps us to cut back on going out to eat if I plan out meals ahead of time.  I planned quite a few quick & easy meals because I've been so exhausted lately.  Any leftovers we have, we usually eat for lunch.

Monday, Jan. 3rd
--Tater Tot Casserole
Tuesday, Jan. 4th
--Homemade Pizza, Half Pepperoni/Half Ham & Pineapple
Wednesday, Jan. 5th
--Maid Rites with Sweet Potato Fries
Thursday, Jan. 6th
--Steak Fajitas with Rice
Friday, Jan. 7th 
--Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Grilled Ham & Cheese
Saturday, Jan. 8th
--Pork Tenderloin with Veggies & Sweet Potatoes
Sunday, Jan. 9th
--Chicken Pot Pie (ultimate cold-weather comfort food... mmm)

Other cooking/baking:
--Homemade Pretzels, Peabody Vanilla Muffins, Chocolate Crepes with Strawberries, Homemade Hot Chocolate, Sticky Buns.

What's everyone else having for dinner this week??

Kitchen Christmas Loot 2

We had Christmas over Skype with my family this morning, and I received a few new kitchen-related items!

My brother and sister-in-law gave me a fondue recipe book!  I love fondue and they don't really have any fondue restaurants here in Korea, so now I'll be able to make my own at home.  :)  My parents gave me some utensils - I really needed some good wooden spoons, and these are awesome.  They also gave me a beautiful apron (which everything is laying on in the photo) and some decorating bottles.

I can't wait to try out these decorating bottles.  Pastry bags are a little fussy to deal with in my opinion, so I'm interested to see how these bottles work out!  They look like they'll be easy to use and a lot less messy.  Now I have a great excuse to make cupcakes.. or cookies.. or a cake, perhaps.

Today we finally took the Christmas decorations down, and now I'm just wiped out!  Time for a mug of hot chocolate and be a couch potato for a little while before I go to bed.  :)