Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oxo Digital Scale Giveaway

Would you like to win this Oxo digital scale? If so, follow this link to Love from the Oven for multiple chances. What's great about this scale? Well....check this next picture out.

That's right! The display pulls away from the scale so that if you have a big bowl on it, you're not having to bend down and peer under the bowl to see the reading. Good luck!

Easter Goodies

Once again - I'm late for a holiday. Sorry. But I made these as little Easter presents for my coworkers and I didn't want to spoil the surprise by posting them before bringing them to work. And afterwards....well, I just procrastinated.

This cute little pile of mess is "bunny chow." Love that name! And even though the Easter bunny may not eat this himself (it contains no carrots), everyone else definitely inhaled it. I doubled the batch and had a TON left over so I brought it to my family's Easter celebration. It didn't last long there.

Bunny Chow (Shugary Sweets)
2 cups pretzel sticks, broken
14 Oreo cookies, slightly broken
2 cups milk chocolate M&Ms
16 oz vanilla candy coating
2 Tbsp spring sprinkles

Note: I put my Oreos in a Ziploc bag and gave them a few good whacks with a rolling pin. Great for taking out any frustration one may have :) Also, I used almond bark for the vanilla candy coating.

In a large bowl, mix together pretzels, Oreos, and M&Ms. Melt the vanilla candy coating according to the package directions. Pour melted chocolate over the M&M mixture. Pour bunny chow onto a large piece of parchment paper on the counter top. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp spring sprinkles. Let stand about 10 minutes until hardened. Break into pieces and store in a Ziploc bag.

These sweet little cookies were my favorite of the grouping. One day, bored out of my mind with nothing to do, I believe I engorged myself on 4 or 5 of these. I was MISERABLE afterwards! But I so enjoyed them.

Easter Egg Nests (Natalie)
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups coconut
2 colors of food coloring
1 bag almond M&Ms (pastel colored - I used peanut M&Ms since I couldn't find the almond ones)

Mix the first 3 ingredients and set aside. With a mixer, cream butter and cream cheese; add sugar and almond extract, beating until fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture and 1 cup of coconut. Cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes (or until firm enough to handle). Take 1/2 cup of coconut and tint with 1-2 drops of one food color (place in a covered container, add food coloring, and shake until evenly tinted). Do the same with another 1/2 cup of coconut and the 2nd food color. Toss the tinted coconut with the remaining 1/2 cup of white coconut. Roll large tablespoons (and I mean LARGE) of dough into balls. Roll each in coconut until lightly coated. Place balls on greased cookie sheets and press 2-3 M&Ms into each cookie. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Peanut Butter Balls  (adapted from Devi)
1 cup peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
4 sheets of graham crackers (crushed)
4 Tbsp butter (melted)
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp milk
1 package of chocolate almond bark

Combine peanut butter, powdered sugar, graham crackers, butter, salt, and milk. Mix it together and make sure everything is well combined. (This will be super dry but it will help if you want to shape these into eggs like Devi does. I just stuck with a rounded form.) Form into balls about the size of a golf ball then shape into any form you want (Easter eggs, hearts, etc). If the mixture is cracking while you form it, add another Tbsp of milk. Put them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and place in the freezer for 45 minutes. Towards the end of the 45 minutes, melt the chocolate almond bark according to the package directions. Dip the eggs into the chocolate using either a fork or toothpick and place on parchment paper. Before the chocolate sets, you can put sprinkles on or you can wait until the chocolate hardens and use some colored chocolate to make pretty designs.

Hope y'all had a great Easter and maybe next year, you can enjoy some of these treats!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Two Peas & Their Pod Giveaway!

Do you want to win $100 VISA giftcard as well as coupons for food products? If so, follow the link to Two Peas & Their Pod's website to enter! Two Peas & Their Pod - you have until May 31st to enter.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What I've Been Doing Lately

If I haven't said so, I LOVE being in the kitchen. Always have, always will. It's my de-stressing time with added benefits. Long before I thought of starting this blog, I took cake decorating classes. They were so much fun then and have put a little extra money in my pocket now. Here's a look at some of the cakes I've recently done.

My great-uncle Clyde's birthday was in February. His daughter contacted me about doing a cake to celebrate both his birthday and his having been in the navy. She asked if I could create a battleship to place on his cake and I told her I'd be willing to give it a try.

The cannons are black licorice sticks and the towers are chocolate-dipped Oreos. From what I understand, it was a hit!

The same weekend, one of my best friends was baptizing her baby boy - sweet little Mason! She asked me for a simple cake to celebrate.

My gift to him was the cross that I placed on the cake. The blue and brown circles are homemade chocolates.

Finally, a co-worker's son was having a Mario-themed birthday party this past month. I mentioned how cute it would be to have a Nintendo remote control as a cake, but kids these days don't know what an original Nintendo controller looks like. She got excited at the thought and said he would totally go for a Wii remote.

She found some really cute Mario and friends figurines that we placed on each corner of the cake board.

So, as you can see, not only do I enjoy regular old baking, but I also enjoy baking cakes and decorating them. I may not be the best cake decorator but I sure try my hardest. And the cakes always taste delicious!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chewy Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies

Don't these look great? One of my coworkers, Erin, is a peanut butter & chocolate lovin' addict. Seriously....she eats chocolate peanut butter out of the jar. And if it's a sweet that doesn't have chocolate on it, she'll try it out with her chocolate peanut butter or not even touch it (although she did enjoy a slice of the apple-nut jelly roll last week!). So I've finally made something that even Erin would thoroughly enjoy - at least I think.

Peanut butter and chocolate are a wonderful combination and the added oatmeal just helps you feel less guilty about eating these.'s me about to enjoy one.

Of course I dunked it in milk! That's the best way to eat a cookie :)

Chewy Peanut Butter-Oatmeal Cookies (Baking, Unplugged)
     Makes 2 - 2 1/2 dozen cookies, depending on size

3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins and/or 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, beat the oil, water, and sugars until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the peanut butter until well combined. Stir in the eggs, vanilla, and salt until the dough is smooth and creamy. Stir in the flour and baking soda until almost combined. Stir in the oats and the raisins and/or chocolate chips. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and drop chunks of dough (I used a small cookie scoop) onto the baking sheets, spacing at least 1 1/2" apart. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes, until the edges are golden and puffed in the centers, but not quite set. Don't overbake! Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Apple & Nut Jelly Roll

Wow! That word pretty much sums up this jelly roll. And doesn't it look absolutely stunning? Fresh out of the oven, the melted cinnamon, sugar, and butter were oozing out of this. Don't believe me? Take a look at this picture:

The dough and the cinnamon-sugar-butter combo made for just the right amount of sweetness. Paired with the tang of the apple and the crunchiness of the almonds, it was absolutely perfect!

I came up with this idea after trying the Cinnamon Rolls, which I wasn't too impressed with (I still think I may have messed that one up). This recipe blew me out of the water. Furthermore, instead of using my stand mixer to make the dough, I actually made the dough by hand this time. Not as bad (i.e. painful) as I though it would be. The dough also rose better than it did for the cinnamon rolls.

Now on to the recipe!

Apple-Nut Jelly Roll
     Makes 8 slices

The dough (Baking, Unplugged)

3 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
1 (1/4 oz) package fast-acting yeast
1 cup very warm water (115 degrees Fahrenheit)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, combine half the flour with the yeast. Stir in the warm water until combined. Cover the bowl and let ferment in a warm spot in your kitchen for 30 minutes. Stir in the melted butter, sugar, and salt. Stir in the remaining flour as best you can to make a stiff, shaggy dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured wooden board and begin to knead for 10 minutes.

As you knead, sprinkle to more than 2-3 Tbsp of flour on the board to prevent the dough from sticking. Rely on the bench scraper at the beginning to fold the dough onto itself. Place the dough in a lightly buttered mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.

The jelly roll

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup cold butter
1 grated, peeled apple
1/2 cup chopped nuts

In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until crumbly.

Gently press out excess air from the risen dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured wooden board and shape into a rectangle. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mix onto the dough, spreading to within 1/8" of the edges. Top with the grated apple and nuts. Roll up the dough and place it seam side down in a jelly roll pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Refrigerate for 2-24 hours.

When ready to bake, let the pan reach room temperature while the oven is preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the jelly roll pan then turn out onto a serving platter. Serve immediately for delicious ooey-gooey goodness :)

Update: Depending on your oven, you may have to bake a little longer to ensure the middle of the roll bakes completely.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Belated Happy Valentine's Day!

I know, I know....I'm super late for Valentine's Day. But rest assured, I did make these on Valentine's.

These cute little cupcakes are pink velvet cupcakes topped with a buttercream frosting. I found this recipe on Love from the Oven, one of my favorite blogs. She had such sweet Valentine's ideas and posted ideas from other blogs as well. Of course, being that she stays on top of her blog, she currently has ideas for St. Patrick's Day. So don't wait, check out her site! But bake these cupcakes before doing so :)

Pink Velvet Cupcakes (from Love from the Oven)
     Makes 24 cupcakes

1 cup of butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
Pink food coloring
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.   Once light and fluffy add your pink food coloring.  Start with a small amount and increase to reach your desired shade of pink.  Blend well with butter and sugar.
Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add in vanilla and beat well.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.   Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the batter and beat until well combined.  Add in 1/2 of the butter milk, beat until combined, followed by another 1/3 of the dry, then the remaining buttermilk and finally the remaining dry ingredients. The batter may look a bit lumpy after buttermilk is first added, but beat well and it will combine nicely.

Fill paper lined muffin cups two-thirds full and bake at 350 degrees for approx 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Watch the cupcakes closely in the last few minutes of baking so that they do not over brown.    Allow to cool for ten minutes before removing from pan, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Buttercream recipe

1 stick of butter, softened
2 tablespoons of Crisco (you can add more butter instead of Crisco)
1 two pound bag of powdered confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 teaspoon of salt
Whipping cream

Blend your butter, Crisco and vanilla together, adding in the powdered sugar and salt.   The mixture will be very dry.  Slow start adding your whipping cream, about one tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Once you have reached the desired consistency, beat for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.