Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Homemade Samoas

One of my many favorite girl scout cookies... Samoas!

Recipe from Baking Bites: Homemade Samoas

THIS IS AN AWESOME RECIPE!! Everything went off without a hitch.

Instead of using the microwave I used stove top for the caramel and the chocolate.
When warming the caramel-coconut mixture on the stove top, the longer it sits the darker and tougher the caramel will get.
I should have made larger center holes... or omitted them completely since I ended up covering it with the topping.
I should have piped thicker drizzles of chocolate.
My minor personal issues were with melting chocolate (of course), and dumping in all 3 cups of coconut into the caramel at once (which probably led to the not quite so spreadable topping). Next time, mix caramel & toasted coconut until just coated and spreadable on cookies.

And to finish the "egg" project:
ta-da! After an overnight stay in the slow cooker, these tea eggs are ready to be consumed!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

After Christmas baking

Got this awesome new book for Xmas right as I was flying home...

... so I got the chance to go through each page on the flight. And I decided to try:

Absolute Best Brownies with Dried Cherries

... except it was a failure. (damn brownies from scratch!!!!)
So, once I re-try this recipe, I'll be sure to post!

And since a "from scratch" recipe failed, I of course defaulted to a box mix to bake.
Thus, I baked up some sugar cookies and decorated them. Here's to after Christmas baking!

I got the icing recipe from Baking Bites. Since I didn't want/need a massive amount of icing, I quartered the recipe - the proportion I used is shown here:

Simple Colored Icing from Baking Bites
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
food coloring

Mix all sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth and to desired consistency. Add more milk/sugar as desired for the right consistency to ice cookies. I used plain white on some cookies, then added a drop of blue, then when I was ready to do some green, added in a couple drops of yellow. I mixed all colors in one bowl since I'm too unwilling to use excess dishes.

Baking Bites also had an awesome recipe for Homemade Samoas Cookies that I will be baking in the next day or so! YAY! and YUMMM!!

Also, I had the chance to "make" Chinese Tea Eggs!

Simply boil eggs with the flavor and tea packets. Crack the shells after 20 min (or so). Then continue to let simmer for flavor to penetrate through. I've transferred my eggs to a slow cooker and am letting them stew overnight. Stay tuned for the final product!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Treats!

Delish assortments of yummy treats from a friend... I don't know what they're called... so pictures are here to tell the tale!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Party noshing

Some delish foods from a recent Holiday Party...

Minted Pea Puree
from Glamour magazine

3C Frozen Green Peas, thawed
1C Mint Leaves, tightly packed
1/2 C Flat-leaf Parsley leaves, tightly packed
2 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
Salt + Pepper
1 Baguette, sliced into 1/2in. thick rounds, toasted
Garnishes: Parmesan Shavings, Chopped Bacon, Balsamic Vinaigrette

Puree 1/3 of Peas w/ Mint, Parsley, EVOO and Lemon Juice. Puree to a paste.
Turn out into a bowl and combine with remaining whole peas.
Season with salt + pepper.
Spread on toasted rounds - garnish with cheese/bacon. Drizzle with vinaigrette.
Yields approx. 30.

Notes: Sometimes trying something new is not always a good idea. I halved the recipe (thank goodness, one can only IMAGINE all the leftover/waste). It was too watery and minty/parsley-y. Probably won't be making this ever again.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
from Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry recipes
1/2 pkg. Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)
6 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1 bar (4 oz.) sweet baking chocolate, broken into 18 squares
2/3 cup miniature marshmallow

THAW pastry sheet at room temperature 30 min. Preheat oven to 400°F.

UNFOLD pastry on lightly floured surface. Roll into 18"x9" rectangle. Cut into 18 (3") squares. Press squares into 3" muffin-pan cups. Place 1 tsp. peanut butter in center of each. Top each with 1 square chocolate and about 3 marshmallows.

BAKE 12 min. or until golden. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 min. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes 18 pastries.

Notes: I would have used less peanut butter. But it's pretty good otherwise. Caution: Hot! Refrain from eating right out of the oven.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cupcake Pops

I had the chance to make these cute little pops today!

Instructions and details can be found on Bakerella's blog, a REALLY awesome blog!

These were a little too labor intensive and time consuming for me to really consider making them again... it's a fun and cute project though! (I ended up trashing them though... they
ended up tasting like my freezer- gross.)

It did make me come to realize/reinforced several things:
I have issues melting and dipping things.
I definitely do not have a knack for mini confectioneries such as these. Cake, cookies, cupcakes... sure! Cupcake pops... not so much.
My current kitchen facilities (aka stinky freezer) suck.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey Turkey Gobble Gobble

So, I realized I should have taken pictures of the Thanksgiving feast. But I didn't. Damn.
The fam usually gets a Marie Callender's Take Home Feast with the typical stuff:
Turkey (whole or breast), Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Yams, Veggies, Corn Bread, Creanberry, Pie.

This year we got only a few of the sides (stuffing, yams, salad, corn bread, potatoes) and had a glorious Chinese-style Whole Turkey.
Mom was explaining the whole prep process her friend taught her, but honestly, I was already inhaling all the sides off my plate while she was carving said turkey to pay any attention. It went something along the lines of a salt soak and soy sauce rub, then salt and peppering. And a massive amount of green onions and ginger stuffed into the cavity for flavor. The "chinese" stuffing was purple glutinous rice. Very yummy indeed. We used a Turkey Oven bag to cook the sucker, and it came out very nice and juicy. The bag stuck a little to the turkey, so I guess we should have floured the bird a bit before baking.

As typical trips home go, I came back with a pile of random stuff. Bars of soap, a ziplock full of candy bars, herbal vitamins mom force feeds me... but the holy grail of this trip was...

I've searched far and wide (ok, 1 store) for this, but either 1- its not carried there or 2-this is old and therefore not carried anywhere anymore.
But yay, I'm excited to make these! (20 eggs in a batch... so buddies beware (again). Eggs coming at 'cha!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pumpkin Bars

I've already made this recipe once this year for the Pumpkin Cake, but didn't really get to post what it looks like un-scuplted and as it really should be (per the recipe).

Pumpkin Bars Recipe from Paula Deen
4 eggs
1-2/3 C granulated sugar
1 C Vegetable Oil
15 Oz. Can Pumpkin
2 C AP Sifted Flour
2 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda

Beat eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin together, until light and fluffy. (The mixture for me has been more liquidy than "fluffy".)
Stir together dry ingredients.
Mix into Pumpkin Mix until smooth.
Spread (the batter is pretty thick) into a 13x9 greased pan.
Bake for 30 min. at 350. (I've had to up the bake time to 35-40, based on the toothpick test.)

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 Pkg (8 oz. ) Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 C Butter Softened
2 C Sifted Powdered Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Combine Cream Cheese and Butter with mixer until smooth.
Add sugar, and mix until combined.
Stir in Vanilla.
Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

Notes: I made 2 batches of this recipe. The first I made mini cupcakes: Bake time reduced to about 10-15min, but still tested with toothpick for doneness. The second batch used the instructed 13x9 pan and had a longer bake time than the recipe calls for - could be due to oven (new apartment than when I last made them). I used JUMBO eggs for the recipe - so that could have contributed to longer bake time, and liquidy pumpkin mix.
But stil came out delish! I used organic pumpkin for batch 1; used "regular" pumpkin for batch 2. The main (and minute) difference was color - maybe.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend Random Food Snogs

I ate a TREMENDOUS amount of random food this weekend! But only documented a few...

Look at this AWESOME find from Trader Joe's!

yummy gummies... reminiscent of Fruit Gushers with the liquid juicy center.

Potato Gnocchi in Marinara Sauce with Fresh Basil (from my very own plant!), Crushed Red Pepper Flakes and Shredded Parmesan Cheese