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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wow....It's been forever

I'm sorry I haven't posted anything lately. I guess life has just been keeping me busy. I haven't had the time to bake as much as I would like to lately, but I do have a few things to post. I'll do so over the next few days so it looks like I've been busy...haha!

This was my dessert tray for Superbowl Sunday. Nothing fancy but I had to make sure we had dessert above all other food groups! So I made chocolate covered strawberries and attempted to transform them into footballs (I need a little more practice). They were so yummy - the strawberries were bright and juicy and the chocolate provided the right note to the strawberries.

The bars under the strawberries are no-bake cookies & cream bars (or if you're serving them at Christmas time, call them "lumps of coal"). No matter the name, everyone will love them... and they are super easy.

No-Bake Cookies & Cream Bars (Sweet Pea's Kitchen)
     Makes 16 bars

1 - 16 oz package of Oreos
5 cups of large marshmallows
4 Tbsp butter

Line an 8X8 inch baking pan with parchment paper letting the paper extend up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. Set pan aside. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse Oreos until ground. In a large, microwave safe bowl, melt butter and marshmallows in the microwave until puffed, about 1½ – 2 minutes. Stir in ground Oreo Cookies until combined. Transfer to prepared baking pan. Using a piece of wax paper, press mixture evenly into prepared pan. Let set up for at least 10 minutes. Cut into bars and serve.

These babies are chewy, moist, and chocolatey. Yum!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kahlua Cake

Wow! This picture about sums it up. I found this recipe last week on Love & Olive Oil, except she had used bourbon in hers. However, I read the recipe and moved on with my life. Then, this week, I had to buy Kahlua to use in my Irish creme cookies. The store only had one size of Kahlua (large) and the recipe only called for a small amount. So here I was thinking, "What am I gonna do with the rest of this Kahlua?" Yes, you might say, "White Russians!" But I enjoy my wine and I wanted to do something unique with it besides drinking. After taking a little trip down memory lane, I remembered reading this recipe and thought, "This is it! I'll make this cake and substitute Kahlua for the bourbon." Yes!!!! So glad that I remembered because this cake was (is) delicious.

The cake is slightly dense, but very moist, and you occasionally hit a hot pocket of Kahlua. The ganache between the layers is spot on and the buttercream is light and fluffy. I could literally eat the whole cake (okay...maybe not the whole cake). And I'm sure you could substitute other alcohol as well....just have to try it out.

Kahlua Layer Cake (extremely slightly adapted from Love & Olive Oil)
     Makes 1 8-inch layer cake (about 16 servings depending on how big of a slice you want)

For the Cake:
1 vanilla bean split and scraped, seeds reserved
1/2 cup Kahlua
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
5 eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 tsp almond extract

For Buttercream:
4 ounces dark chocolate
6 ounces milk chocolate
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

For Ganache:
4 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp Kahlua

Combine the Kahlua and vanilla bean together in a small bowl. Steep overnight or as long as possible before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line 3 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter parchment.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, butter, and reserved vanilla bean seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 10 minutes, until very light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically as needed. Add almond extract.

Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Add the flour mixture, one cup at a time, alternating with the buttermilk, mixing on low speed until incorporated. Immediately add the Kahlua (discarding the vanilla pod) and mix until combined.

Divide the batter among the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned and springy. Removed from the oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Run a small knife around the edges of the pan, then gently invert onto wire racks. Allow to cool completely. At this point, the cakes can be frozen until ready to use.

For the ganache, place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring the cream to a bare simmer over low heat. Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until smooth. Add Kahlua. Set aside and allow to cool until thickened slightly. If it's too thick, you can add a little more hot cream and stir until smooth.

For the buttercream, melt chocolates in the microwave or double boiler over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add cooled chocolate and beat until smooth. Add heavy cream and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar and/or heavy cream as necessary until desired consistency is achieved.

To assemble: level each cake with a long serrated knife. Place one layer, flat side down, on a cake stand or platter. Place 4 strips of parchment or wax paper just under the edges of the cake to keep the platter clean. Spread half of the ganache evenly over the top of the layer, followed by about 1/2 cup of buttercream. Position second layer on top and press to adhere. Repeat with remaining ganache, another 1/2 cup of buttercream, and last cake layer, flat side up. Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream and refrigerate for about 15 minutes to allow "crumb coat" to set. Remove cake from refrigerator and frost with remaining buttercream.

Enjoy! I know I did :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

So-so Cinnamon Rolls

Yes - I know my cinnamon rolls aren't that pretty. But considering this is the first time I've made any sort of dough from scratch, let alone cinnamon rolls, I think they are quite ok. The taste, however, needs improvement. There were 2 different versions of the cinnamon roll recipe in Baking Unplugged: one for if you were making cinnamon rolls immediately and one for if you wanted to start them the night before then bake them the next morning. I chose to do the overnight cinnamon roll recipe and I believe that I may have let them refrigerate for too long. They had a slightly yeasty, doughy flavor.

Oh well....maybe I'll have to make a batch of the original recipe for comparison???

To make these, you start with the following basic sweet dough recipe (Baking Unplugged, Nicole Rees):

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

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

As you knead, sprinkle only tiny amounts of extra flour onto the board to prevent the dough from sticking. Rely on a bench scraper to help fold the dough over itself, since it will be sticky. Do not add more than 2-3 Tbsp of flour during the 10 minutes of kneading. 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.

Cinnamon Rolls (Baking Unplugged, Nicole Rees)
     Makes 9 rolls

1 recipe Basic Sweet Dough
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, soft
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Gently press out excess air from the sweet dough recipe. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured wooden board and shape into a rough rectangle. Roll into a 11" x 14" rectangle. Using an offset spatula, spread 2-3 Tbsp of the soft butter evenly over the dough to within 1/8" of the edge. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture over the butter evenly.

Roll the dough up lengthwise, starting to roll from the long edge. Pinch the seam to seal. Roll the log on the board to that it's seam side down. With a serrated knife, gently trim 1/2" off each end. Cut the log into thirds then cut each third into three slices. Arrange the slices evenly in a buttered 9" square pan, cut-side down. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degree F. Bake the rolls for 24-28 minutes, until the edges and tops are browned and the rolls near the center of the pan are no longer doughy. Top with glaze.


3 Tbsp cream cheese, very soft
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup powdered sugar

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until no lumps remain. Spread evenly on the cinnamon rolls.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Irish Coffee Day

                                    Happy Irish Coffee Day!

Imagine my surprise when I found that every day throughout the year has a "food day" associated with it. While I can't bake something every day to celebrate, I figured I could occasionally do something. I mean....who doesn't want to celebrate and appreciate food?? After finding out that today was Irish coffee day, I decided I didn't want to do a traditional Irish coffee, but instead, bake something that contained the ingredients common to Irish coffee. Thanks to Pinterest, I found a recipe for Irish Creme Delights that were easy to make and really easy to eat :)

Irish Creme Delights (from Better Homes & Gardens)
     Makes 48 bite-sized cookies

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp coffee liqueur (I used Kahlua)
1 tsp espresso powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 recipe Irish Creme Frosting (see further down)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine butter and shortening and beat on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1 cup sugar, coffee liqueur, espresso powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt and beat until combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Add in the flour.

In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup sugar and ground cinnamon. Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool. Spread Irish Creme Frosting on top. If desired, sprinkle with additional cinnamon.

Irish Creme Frosting

3 Tbsp softened butter
1 Tbsp coffee liqueur
3 cups powdered sugar
1-3 Tbsp half-and-half

In a medium bowl, combine softened butter and coffee liqueur. Beat on medium to high speed until combined. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Add in enough half-and-half to make frosting easily spreadable. Top cookies and enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Ta-dah! I converted the gingerbread cookie recipe that I posted earlier into a cupcake! Then, I added a homemade vanilla cream cheese frosting. All of that = one luscious cupcake! While my piping skills need a little work, I think the picture above is pretty damn perfect.

Gingerbread Cupcakes (adapted from Baking, Unplugged)
     Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter, soft
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp dark molasses
1 large egg
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Line your cupcake pan with liners. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugars, and molasses until fluffy with no lumps. Beat in the egg and salt until smooth and creamy. In another bowl, combing the flour, baking soda, and spices. Add 1/2 the flour combination to the mixing bowl then add 1/4 cup of the milk. Repeat. Mix until well combined. Evenly divide the batter into the cupcake pan (I used an ice cream scoop to get an even distribution). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. Let cool for 3 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, I found a wonderful recipe on Glorious Treats. She also shows you ways to change the flavor from vanilla to chocolate, strawberry, etc. I just stuck with the basic vanilla cream cheese in order to better highlight the gingerbread flavor.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting (from Glorious Treats)
     Frosts 22-24 cupcakes or frost and fill a two layer 9" cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, set at room temp for about 10 minutes
8 oz cream cheese, directly from the fridge
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered confectioners' sugar
1 to 4 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend slightly. Add cream cheese and blend until combined. Add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until it begins to get fluffy. Slowly add the heavy cream (1 Tbsp at a time) until the desired consistency is met. Don't add too much or it will slide right off your cupcake. Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Use right away or keep refrigerated.

Eat and enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Grilled Chicken Caesar Pasta

Last week at work, my coworker and awesome friend, Jenna, brought a Lean Cuisine Grilled Chicken Caesar dinner to work. It smelled absolutely divine. And, according to her, it was. After thoroughly inspecting her plate and examining the box, I decided to remake this meal tonight. Served with Texas Toast, it was a very satisfying meal.

Can't you see all the deliciousness in there? While not as creamy looking as the original, the portion size was much bigger than their serving and the Caesar taste definitely came through. Very pleased with this meal. You should try it too! Here's the recipe:

Grilled Chicken Caesar Pasta
      Serves 4

1 lb chicken breast, grilled and diced
2 cups broccoli, steamed
8 ounces whole wheat pasta (any kind - I used penne because that's what I had in the pantry)
2 Tbsp canned diced tomatoes, drained
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fat free Caesar dressing

Boil the pasta as directed on the box, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, and drain. While doing so, sautee the broccoli, chicken, and garlic in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes. Add the pasta to the skillet. Add the Caesar dressing and thin out slightly with the reserved pasta water. Toss together and serve.

Up next: Gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I converted the gingerbread cookie recipe into a cupcake recipe. However, I have to perfect it just a tad before showing y'all the finished product. They are yummy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Espresso Gingerbread Cutouts

Drumroll please......
Finally! The espresso gingerbread cutouts are here.... in 3 different ways! These cookies are absolutely delicious. Gingerbread cookies were never a favorite of mine. I prefer something chocolate, dipped in chocolate, rolled in chocolate (you get the picture). However, these cookies were soft and chewy with just the right amount of spices. In essence, they were a perfect cookie. And that was just by itself. They only got better when I decorated a few of them in a couple different ways.

Doesn't it look yummy? That beautiful shade of brown is from all the ingredients, not from over-baking the cookies (maybe that's why I usually don't eat gingerbread? It's usually too crispy and crunchy for me). Here's the recipe:

Espresso Gingerbread Cutouts (Baking Unplugged, Nicole Rees)

1 cup unsalted butter, soft
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp dark molasses, preferably Barbados style (note: I ordered mine through Amazon)
1 large egg
2 Tbsp instant espresso powder (note: I ordered mine from King Arthur's Flour)
3/4 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

The day before: In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugars, and molasses until fluffy with no lumps. Stir in the egg, espresso powder, and salt until the dough is smooth and creamy. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and spices, until combined. Form the dough into a rough rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

The day of: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough in half. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll out half of the dough into a rectangle 3/16" to 1/4" thick (this took some arm power and sweat!). Freeze the sheet of rolled dough until firm (15 minutes). Roll out the other half in the same manner. Cut out the cookies, using one chilled half at a time, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are firm and the centers are set. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


For the above topping: reconstitue 1 tsp of espresso powder in 1 cup of hot water. Pour 1 cup of confectioner's sugar into a cup. Add 1 tsp of the reconstituted espresso powder at a time to the powdered sugar until it is smooth and thin enough to drizzle.

For these cookies: melt 2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate baking bars then dip the cookies into the melted chocolate.

These cookies are definitely worth trying out. Yes, they are a little time consuming and require a little sweat and muscle power, but the end results are a satisfyingly sweet and spicy cookie.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pizza and Salad....Done Light!

Instead of a baking entry, I thought I would share with y'all the supper I made Monday night in honor of Meatless Mondays and the beginning of one of my New Year's resolutions: to lose weight. This meal was filling and tasty...and light! Both recipes were adapted from a favorite food blog of mine, Love & Olive Oil. You should check out this site. Everything this couple makes looks absolutely yummy.

I started off the meal making a side salad composed of heirloom tomatoes. It made for an awesome side dish as well as an amazing picture.

The recipe (adapted from Love & Olive Oil)

1/2 medium cucumber, chopped into 1/4 - 1/2 inch cubes
3 Heirloom tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup thinly sliced, uncooked red onions
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
Fresh torn basil

Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and let stand in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Tip: The longer you let it marinate in the fridge, the better it tastes.

Next, I made the main portion of my meal: veggie pizzas.

The recipe (adapted from Love & Olive Oil)

4 medium fat-free tortillas
4 tsp olive oil
1 small can of sliced black olives
1 cup shredded, fat free mozzarella cheese
4 large eggs
1 cup roasted red peppers (packed in water, not oil), sliced into strips
4 large red onion rings
1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Brush 1 tsp of olive oil on each tortilla. Scatter the red peppers and black olives over the tortillas then sprinkle with the cheese and rosemary. Place an onion ring in the center of each tortilla and crack an egg into the center of the onion ring. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the egg whites turn from a clear color to a white color, then turn on the broiler and broil for about 1-2 minutes to finish setting the eggs. Serves 4.

I chose to leave my egg yolks runny. If you don't like that, feel free to cook your eggs on top the stove while baking the tortilla pizza, then just top your pizza with an egg. You can also choose to top your pizzas with fresh, torn baby spinach (I forgot to do that!!!). I realize the pizza doesn't make for a pretty picture, but it'll make you want to smile pretty once you take a bite.


Update: Check back on the marble bundt cake blog to see the changes I made to the recipe. Also, I have received both the molasses and the espresso powder I was waiting for to make the espresso gingerbread cookies. Stay tuned!