Archive for the ‘Dessert/Baking’ Category

The First of Many Apple Pies

It’s been a hot minute since I wrote about actually making something to eat, ay? :) I was asking husband if we needed anything from the store and after he gave me a small list he added, “And it’s about time for another pie :).” Now, if you haven’t been around here for a while, you won’t know that ‘pie’ to me means Key Lime Pie, but given my culinary lack as of late, I decided to leave it up to him. He chose apple pie. Womp womp wommmmp. I mean, it is his favorite, but it’s so unoriginal. Being the fantastic wife and homemaker that I am though, I decided to give it a try. And a store bought crust with store bought filling wouldn’t cut it either. This was going to be grandmamma worthy apple pie. The only problem was that I’ve never made my own crust. Or an apple pie. Thank you All Recipes.

Crust.

Ingredients: Note: I doubled this recipe so I could have a lattice top

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening Note: 1/2 crisco, 1/2 butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water Note: Did not use the whole cup and it was really cold
  • Note: I added a 1/2T of sugar

This was the part I was most concerned about because a) I don’t have dough cutter-inner or a food processor, so it’s difficult for me to get that ‘crumbly’ consistency (like with the scones). But I do have my own method and that’s to take a whisk and a fork and just start mashing the small cubes of butter and shortening. Little Big Girl got her own mini whisk and helped too. It took longer than it should, but I eventually did get that wonderful texture. I started adding water 1T at a time and incorporating each T before adding another. You don’t want too much because then it gets too sticky. You need just enough so that it actually forms a ball. The recipe didn’t call for this, but I also chilled my dough for about 45 minutes. And that’s only because I had apples to peel.

Filling.

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups thinly sliced peeled baking apples Note: I used 8 green, golden delicious and I cut them into bits instead of slices
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Note: Add 1/2tsp of allspice

This part was pretty straightforward. I added allspice because I love it and my husband doesn’t it and I’m always sneaking it into things trying to prove to him that he does in fact like it :) It blended with the apples perfectly and I could’ve just eaten them like that, but no, grandmamma’s apple pie was to be made.

To do the lattice I watched this little video. I didn’t follow it exactly, but got the idea. The pie was baked according to directions (45 minutes on the second part) and it.was.heavenly.

pre-bake

post-bake

three hours after daddy came home

Husband Rating: 9

Would I make this for someone else?: YES! Oh my goodness yes! :)

Meringue Cookies

I’d never heard of such a thing before my mom sent me the recipe. I was kind of skeptical because there’s only like four things in them, the main ingredient being egg whites. But that also makes them a little healthy right?! And when I read that you could add pretty much any citrus flavor you wanted, I was totally sold :) I LOVE LOVE LOVE citrus! But you don’t even have to love citrus. Reviewers on the Allrecipes site added chocolate chips and vanilla instead. These little buggers are versatile!

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

You beat your eggs like crazy. I’ve never whipped eggs before so I didn’t really know what to expect. I googled some and tried to watch a video, but once I got my ‘stiff’ peaks, I kind of just knew. It took a solid 8 minutes or so! You CAN over-mix egg whites, so just be mindful of that. I say that because my original plan was to beat them into a frenzy and figure out what was stiff and soft later. I guess the best description of a stiff peak is when you dip the beaters into the eggs it kind of stands up. I know that’s not very helpful, but you’ll know :)

I baked the cookies according to the directions and when they were done, I turned the oven off and left them in for five more minutes. They’re kind of crazy! Crunchy/flaky crust on the outside and chewy on the inside. The inside reminded me of cotton candy. Chewy and sweet. I made three separate batches: lemon, lime, and Nellie and Joe’s Key Lime Juice. The only thing I would change is to add more zest! :) I made these for the Bible study snack. They went over pretty well :) I’d make ’em again! You could even add food coloring maybe to make them a little more festive? Peppermint extract for holiday meringues? I love a recipe with options! :)

inside of meringue cookie

the inside. see the shell and then the chewy goodness?

meringue cookies

have food will travel!

Homemade Easter Egg Slice & Bake Cookies

Whew. Even though I’m already exhausted from coming up with the title, I’m excited about this post :) It’s a cool idea (not mine. go here and here) and while imagination is needed to actually see an egg in my cookie, I’m pleased with my second go ’round with this kind of cookie. Chickity-check out the first one. Where to start?!  I guess the dough. I used sugar cookie dough instead of shortbread because I just love sugar cookies :) Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

I think this is the only rolled sugar cookie dough I’ve ever made and it was very forgiving and divinely easy to work with. After chilling, I separated some of the dough to dye and then rolled it into ropes. How many dough balls and ropes you need depends on how many colors you’re using and what shape you’re making. Probably should go ahead and start making ropes out of the plain dough too, you’ll need them later :)

dough balls

separate & dye

dough ropes

dough ropes

Now you’re all set to begin building your shape. It’s a little hard to think about, but you’ve got to build your shape from the bottom up. A heart might start with one rope on the bottom, then build up and out from there.

cookie cane shape

start building your design

egg cookie cane

my....egg? :)

Now start using the plain dough ropes to cover the outside. If you were doing a shape that had dents or holes (the ‘u’ part of the rainbow) you would need to fill those in with a rope of plain dough, which if you think about it, makes sense. If your design doesn’t go there, you need to fill the space with something: the plain dough.

cookie dough log

plain dough ropes on the outside

cookie log

covered up

Well. That certainly doesn’t look like any egg I’ve ever seen. Or a slice and bake cookie log. Now you need to gently role, press, squeeze, and gently stretch the log. Ideally, it should be round, like normal slice and bakes :) My cookies and my log turned out kind of square because I was mostly just squishing and squeezing from the top instead of actually rolling. Not so good :(

after squeezing/rolling/pressing

Boxy, no? I think I was just excited that I had made it this far and that there was actually going to be a design that I created in the middle that I didn’t care what it really ended up looking like. Anything would be alright. And anything is pretty much what I got :) After you’ve gotten to this point, pop it back in the freezer so that you will be able to slice the cookies. I placed mine on a cookie sheet on Saran wrap because that sucker was heavy and I didn’t want to break it putting it in/taking it out of the freezer. I think I lasted 30 minutes-ish before I was ready to get a’slicin’.

the center

It’s  somewhat egg shaped, right?

easter egg cookies

hmmm :)

easter egg cookies

mom tried to help shape them into eggs

Not quite what I was hoping for, but it was a fun. I think I’m going to try a heart next :) As far as flavor goes, I wasn’t thrilled. They were a little thick and chewy for me :( I LOVE crunchy cookies. These were not them. There also wasn’t lot of flavor. Some of that was probably due to the amount that the dough was handled (and it was a lot). It was a lot of work from beginning to end, but a fun project to do with my Momma, and certainly not so bad with two people! I probably wouldn’t try this if it was just A and myself, but certainly once Dad got home. Maybe. I’m cookie-d out this hot second! hah :)

:)

It actually looks like I made a Spring, happy version of the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter! :p Anybody else see it?

the sorting hat!

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Rainbow Cupcakes

Apparently, my life is all about rainbows and baked goods. What a blessed life I lead :) On this second installment of rainbow colored deliciousness, I’ll be discussing cupcakes! They’re even a teensy, weensy bit healthy less fattening than usual. If you missed my first rainbow inspired baking adventure, check these babies out.

I made these fun, festive cupcakes for my Mom’s birthday and while they were a bit different texturally, no one could stop eating them :)

I started with a box of white cake mix. Whatever brand you like, just plain old white cake mix. Check the back for time/temperature changes for making cupcakes; most boxes usually have it right on there, but if not, it probably wouldn’t take a whole lot to Google it :) Mine had directions for substituting egg whites (4 I believe) for eggs, and I made the switch. I also (finally) substituted 1/4c unsweetened applesauce for 1/4c vegetable oil. After mixing everything together, and before pouring the batter into the cupcake pan, separate the batter into as many colors as you want the cupcakes to have.

Then add color! I used some cheap liquid food coloring (go me) because I wasn’t doing red, and I had a coupon, etc. I ended up having to repair my colors with some other cheap gel food coloring I had on hand. Sheweee. My coloring step was a hot mess. I promptly went down to Hobby Lobby the next day to buy some Wilton’s gel food coloring because well, that other stuff just twan’t (I’m from the countrrry) gettin’ it.

separate

food coloring cake mix

color

I wanted a nice, bright green, blue, orange, and purple. Red would’ve been nice, but never turns out well with cheap food coloring (in my experience). I dropped four or five drops of the colors needed into each bowl and started stirring. As I started stirring the green bowl, it started turning blue. “I must’ve gotten the green and blue mixed up and made two blue bowls. Let me add more green drops over here. Blue and green make what? Yellow? No, that can’t be right. Guess I’ll find out.” I add some green drops. It’s turning bluer. I drop some onto my hand, and sure enough, there is blue dye coming out of the green bottle. Seriously? Long story long-ish, I had two blues, one red, and one yellow in my cheap-o food coloring pack. So, I added yellow to my blue/green bowl and ended up with that sickening shade of green up there. Army green? Puke green? Hmm. NOT rainbow green :(

Once you’re all colorized, grab spoons for each color and start putting them into cups. Go crazy! I started with purple on the bottom of all of them, then layered the other colors on top. You could probably be as neat or willy nilly as you like, and they’d still turn out beautiful and different. I don’t imagine myself ever making a plain cupcake every again. This was fast, easy, and a happy little surprise for my Momma’s visit on her birthday. I didn’t ice the cupcakes because actually, I didn’t have any icing I was trying to make them a little healthier. I just dusted them with a little powdered sugar instead.

rainbow cupcakes

pre-bake

rainbow cupcakes

post-bake

The texture was a little sticky. I’m not even gonna lie. Like, strangely sticky. They still tasted absolutely good. They were just sticky. After I realized this, I even stuck them back in the oven for about five minutes while it was off and cooling down. It helped a little.

Stickiness: (1) egg whites? (2) applesauce? (3) too much crap food coloring?

Guess I’ll find out next time! Speaking of next time, I’ll also probably try to use more traditional rainbow colors. That green kind of bums me out. I’ll also try to be more aware of what the top looks like, especially if Im not icing them. A stripe effect would be cool. The possibilities are endless! You could even pipe the colors into the cupcake pan to make neater lines :) Have fun!

eat rainbow cupcake

taste the rainbow :)

Homemade Rainbow Cookies

First of all, the title of this post is not going to do these cookies justice. I mean, anybody can make a cookie and pipe on some icing to look like a rainbow, but THESE cookies have the rainbow INSIDE the cookie! :) I got the idea (and became mildly obsessed with the idea) for these from Brooke McLay over at the Cheeky Kitchen (beautiful website, go look!). Scroll down past the green milk and the first picture of cookies until you see them. Truly works of homemade art, no? I’m pretty sure I started making these about 5 minutes after seeing them, just enough time to make sure I had all the ingredients!

Ingredients:

  • ½ c. butter
  • ½ c. sugar
  • ½ c. light brown sugar
  • 2 c. flour
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • ¼- ½ c. water
  • Wilton gel colors

Icing

  • ½ c. butter, melted
  • 4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 T. clear vanilla flavoring Note: I didn’t have clear, but it didn’t affect the color enough to bother me or to go out and buy clear vanilla.
  • 1 ½ T. milk

Reading the directions, it sounded easy enough. Mix it with your hands, which is good, because if you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you’re well aware of my lack of fancy shmancy cooking tools.

Great task for little hands

But. There’s always a but. My dough was pretty sticky. I haven’t paid enough attention to my recent dough making to catch whether or not its too much liquid or the lack thereof that makes it sticky, but I added more flour. I added a little more to the dough, to the surface, and to the rolling pin. Several times. I also halved the dough and stuck one half in the freezer while flouring the other. The freezer definitely helped me. After I got my dough issues (mostly) solved, I added color. By the way–who knew the color red was SO important in making other colors? I should probably buy some more :o)

I separated the dough into the amount of colors I was going to use, plus two more for the outside colors (see picture). Then I started coloring! This was also another great task for A; I got the color worked in a little and then handed it off to her to get fully incorporated, allowing me to move on to the next color.

After getting my dough balls in order, things got dicey. I made these before Brooke actually put up her tutorial post. I thought I could figure it out. Not so much, but I tried :) I rolled out the colored balls of dough (individually) and then layered them on top of each other. I placed an inch (?) wide rope of plain dough down the middle of my layered, colored dough and then wrapped the colored dough around the plain rope. Confusing, eh? Good thing I took pictures :)

Layered

Dough rope

Rolled Up

You’ll notice the plain rolled out dough underneath that hot mess? That’s to roll around the whole cookie log. After that, I wrapped the plain dough with some more green dough, hoping to create a border kind of like Brooke did.

Ready to Chill

After about 20 mins (or a bit longer if you like) in the freezer, these wonderful cookies are ready to be sliced. Use a sharp knife and make sure the dough is really chilled, or else you’ll be smushing your beautiful design, much like I did :) A sharp knife is one of those fancy shmancy tools I don’t own :)

Inside of my Cookie Log

Um. Not *quite* what I was expecting :)

As you can see, they look nothing like Brooke’s cookies, and only mildly resemble rainbows. And only then if you’re drunk and taking LSD (all joking aside, I hate drugs). If you’ll notice the top left cookie, I did that by using some scraps of dough, laying them beside each other, and flattening all of them with a roller. I baked them about 8 minutes longer than the recipe called before because I like a crunchy cookie and was waiting for the edges to brown, but they never, ever did. My first thought upon first tasting the cookies were that they were kind of bland, like no taste at all BUT (there it is again!) then I remembered you were supposed to ice them and make little cookie sandwiches. Duh. The icing was very simple to make and I just plopped it in a freezer ziploc bag with a corner snipped off to ice. Then, they were delicious :) And even though I baked them into kingdom come, they were still very soft and chewy.

Final Product

A's Special Cookie :)

Husband rating: 8. The office fellas gave them a 9 and apparently only because they saw Brooke’s cookies and deducted for looks :)

My next big goal is making one with an Easter egg inside. Surprisingly, Google hasn’t been much help. I’ve only been able to find polymer clay canes and lack the brains to transfer the concept to cookie making. Ideas? Welcomed!

My vision

Don’t be fooled. It’s clay! It came from here and I’ve emailed the lady for tips :) She’s emailed back, and well, I’ll keep you posted! My momma is coming this weekend and this is another fun thing I want us to do! :)

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Bacon Chocolate Cupcakes

Bacon+Chocolate, how could you go wrong? I’m a ginormous (I can’t believe that’s not a word yet!) Top Chef fan and this combination has been cropping up a lot over past seasons, especially the most recent one. Now I’ve taken a stab at it :) Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 12 slices bacon Note: Used 6.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cold, strong, brewed coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting Note: Omitted.

The original recipe said to ice the cupcakes with your favorite chocolate icing, but I didn’t have any, so I made some chocolate ganache. Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate, broken into small pieces Note: Used 1/2 cup semi-sweet choc. chips.

There are several bacon chocolate cupcake recipes floating around on the internet, and I couldn’t find one with a clear lead as far as user reviews went, so I went with this one because it seemed to be the most daring what with the coffee AND bacon AND chocolate. I was very pleasantly surprised! They were SO moist. They were amazing. I baked my bacon in a 400° oven for 17 minutes-ish.

I can never get bacon ‘crumbly’ without burning it, so I’m not sure the proper texture was achieved. I had to tear it into pieces. When you got a bite of bacon in the cupcake, it wasn’t a crunch, but more of a chewy texture. The crunch might’ve been nice. The bacon flavor was not overwhelming, probably because I used half the amount called for, but since this was my first attempt at bacon+chocolate goodness, I wanted to take it easy. Placing little pieces of bacon on top is a must! I think crunchier would’ve been better and might even try bacon bits next time? Hmm. I could only very subtly taste the coffee as well, but C’s work buds said they could taste it, not in a bad way though.

The ganache was super simple and the perfect homemade icing. Just whip it up (probably half would work for this recipe) and dip the cupcakes in there. It would also be perfect for s’mores, fruit, or whatever else you’d like to dip in chocolate.

Husband rating: 8 (but the work dudes gave them a 9) :) Maybe I’ll start sending all my recipes to the office?!

Would I make these for someone else? Yes. I think it would be fun to try and pass them off as regular chocolate cupcakes and THEN tell people what they were eating. The flavors are really subtle, but more sophisticated than plain ol’ chocolate.

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies

One day I made these amazing oatmeal raisin cookies. Naturally, I wanted to make them again, so I headed on over to Allrecipes.com to find the recipe. It wasn’t until I started adding the chocolate chips that I realized I was making Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies instead of Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Go me. It’s been three years now, does that pregnant mommy brain stay forever? I’m running out of excuses. SO. I just added 1 cup of chocolate chips and 1 cup of raisins instead of the 2 cups of chocolate chips called for in the recipe :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shortening Note: Substituted 1 cup softened buttah.
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar Note: Substituted Splenda Brown Sugar Blend.
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats Note: Reviewers said to add a little more; I didn’t add more, but it wouldn’t have hurt? Maybe 1/2 cup more.
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips Note: Substituted 1 cup chocolate chips & 1 cup raisins.
  • Added: 1/2 tsp Allspice & Cinnamon, 1 tsp Vanilla (will add 1tsp each of Allspice and Cinnamon next time).

Despite the fact that these weren’t *exactly* what I was looking for, I still ate mmm, oh, let’s say 27 of them, just to be safe. They were so good! I will definitely add some more of those warm spices next time. I add Allspice to most things it seems like, but it can be a little overpowering, so if you don’t like it, go easy. I cooked mine for about 15 minutes. Long for a cookie, but I like them a little crunchy :) Hubs (‘C’) likes them soft, so I try to make a little batch of crunchy ones for me and make the rest mush for him. Yuck. I used to love those Soft Batch cookies as a kid–no more. Give me something with a little crunch that needs dipped in milk. Yum. Yum. They went fast. Lasted only two days :)

And now, sadly, this house is cookie-less. After two weeks of Samoas, Lemon Chalets, Thin Mints, Lemonades, and Oatmeal Choc/Raisin Cookies, they’re all gone. But! Bacon Chocolate Cupcakes are on deck for next week…   :)

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