Monday, December 28, 2009

Teacake Bake Shop

This little bake shop is my dream come true...

Thanks friend for taking me there!
It's amazing to have someone support my passion! :)

Alone at last...

Finally, the requisite trips home for the holidays are over and done with...
and while I didn't bake much NEW stuff this holiday season, I sure baked a lot of the "classics"!

Peanut Butter Brownies
Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
Choco-PB-Crispy-Marshmallow Brownies (the biggest hit this season)
Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing
"Crack" Goldfish
Thumbprint Cookies

Hope everyone had a happy Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

the annual family holiday party

My urban family often gets together regularly for food shenanigans... usually going out for a meal together. But always around the holidays, we try and do something more "cozy" and "homespun". This year was no different... while I have little photographic proof of our fun times this time around... we all still had a blast.

We (the girls), of course, made TONS of food.
Homemade guac, reindeer cookies, braised ribs, yummy greens(I forgot what it was), mashed potatoes, bacon fudge, seafood crostini thing , prosciutto-feta pinwheels , peanut butter kiss cookies, "crack goldfishes", marshmallow crispy brownie bites, bacon wrapped lil' smokies, eggnog!

Very rarely do I get a chance to make much party food... so I have had this recipe bookmarked FOREVER. It's really simple and quick. And gives me a reason to bust out the crock pot.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

it's cold outside!

It's getting REALLY tough to just not curl up under the blankets 24/7 as the cold starts to creep into "sunny" socal. True, its not nearly as cold as it gets in other parts of the country/world. But for someone like me... this is no bueno. I can't find enough layers to put on!

I did get a chance to do some baking though... after all, the oven is a nice big heat source.
So, from Michelle's blog Brown Eyed Baker... I made her Empire Cookies to ring in the holiday season!

These were a lot easier to make than I imagined. Must have been my fear of rolling out dough.
But these rolled out and cut no prob!
I love the versatility of these cookies too... this time around I used good ol' strawberry jam. But next time I can use whatever I want! And I can also color the icing any color to fit any occasion!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cranberry Cake

So, of course, I can never get away without making dessert for Thanksgiving. At the last minute, I stumbled upon the post for a cranberry cake on the King Arthur Flour blog - which BTW is a really great blog!

And I like this recipe because you can easily make it with other fruits too.

Check out the blog!

Here's the post for Cranberry Cake.

I was a bit iffy about this cake mainly because I've never been much into cranberries - I have never eaten a fresh one or even tried the cranberry jelly in a can. But this cake came out great. In fact, it was even a hit among the cousins who rarely say anything is "really good" and go for seconds. The cake is reminiscent of coffee cake (dense and moist) and the cranberries are nicely tart with just enough sugar on top to even it out.
I served it warm outta the oven, which I think is the best way; there weren't any leftovers for me to try out at room temp the following morning.

(sorry for the poopoo cell phone pictures...)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's that time of year when all the kiddos have to migrate home again for the good ol' family meal... so while I'm back in the cold cold bay area, avoiding long "talks" with my mom, relentlessly eating everything in sight... i will be dreaming of the yummy December baking that will ensue upon my return to sunny so cal.

Pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing in a RAD pumpkin shaped pan

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chicken Pesto Pizza

So, while I'm not a cook in anyway... I do get inspiration from Reeni over at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice to make actual food (not just desserts).

On the menu this time was "homemade" chicken pesto pizza...
of course, everything was bought ready-made. But it's better than straight outta the freezer or delivery, yes?

Don't judge me as I guide you through the lazy-ass "cooking" I resort to...
Ready to bake pizza dough...

Ready to eat chicken...

with pesto outta the tub...

Pre-shredded cheese...

For the record - I did cut up the tomatoes all by myself. Thankyouverymuch.

I went a bit heavy handed on the cornmeal...

and of course, had issues stretching out the dough...

BUT, still good! I mean, its not like I coulda under-cooked anything. (Well, minus the pizza dough).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two "mental breakdowns" later... I'm back.

I always feel so guilty after being away for so long from blogging... even more so when I can't post anything NEW. As much as I'm sure we're all tired of friggin' brownies... I can't help but finish off this (really) long run with one final recipe.

SO, YAY. A new recipe! (BUT its brownies again.)
Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars from Brown Eyed Baker
Round 1:
I initially was just making a previous classic brownie recipe... but I had all the ingredients ready for me to try out this new recipe! So, I halved the ingredients for the chocolate-PB-krispies marshmallow topping to top just an 8in pan.
Note to self - use parchment paper ALLLL around the pan. It was a poop to dig out a square to taste.
Round 2:
Since the "trial" version came out well, I tried again following the recipe, from brownie to top... in a 13x9 pan. More to share!
This recipe struck me a bit different as I was used to - adding the sugar to the melted chocolate mixture THEN adding in the eggs. Not sugar to the eggs and then adding in the chocolate. Not that that made a difference in the baking... (except I forgot about the un-even heating in my oven.) So, after baking for approx 30 minutes, dumping on the marshmallows, then slathering on the chocolate mixture... ta-da!

Needless to say, chocolate + PB + rice krispies = AMAZING!
I LOVE the way marshmallows softly poof up when heated... like clouds you just want to lay in ALLLLLL DAYYYYY LOOOONG. (mmmm marshmallows) So, I left the marshmallow border to cushion the deliciousness of the chocolate topping. It looks a bit holiday-y maybe?

Mad at chocolate - a lesson to learn?

For some reason, chocolate and I are not friends.

I have the hardest time dipping things smoothly. I even bought Guittard chocolate couverture wafers to try out - of course, initially blaming lower quality chocolate for my woes.

My coating gets too thick and goops down all lumpy.
Then in the process of setting it down on the baking sheet, my fingers of course make a mess of the bottom edges.

Then I wonder, should I have added shortening like I see in some dipping recipes? Seemed unneccesary... but perhaps, that's what I was missing. Damn it.

So with just pure melted chocolate:
I've tried the pouring method which resulted in essentially the same shenanigans.
I've done the dipping the bottom first to have a "foot" to hold onto to dip the rest of the item. It sucks when the foot starts to melt making it even harder to shake off excess chocolate.

And of course, my favorite method which I prefer since its more "hands on" and relatively chocolate conserving, icing the item with the chocolate.

With no luck at the elusive smooth dipping, I turned to rolled fondant. Seems like the process of dipping in poured fondant would yield similar results as the chocolate dipping, and given my lack of skill in that department - PASS. And expectedly, the rolled fondant created the desired smoothness. But at what cost to the original deliciousness of the brownie enclosed? At a HIGH COST. I know some love fondant, after all, it's dough - made of sugar. But its just such an unneccesary sweetness when coupled with brownies (and cake). GORGEOUS, yes. TASTY, tbd.

And that, folks, is going to be the end of my griping.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The experiment continues...

This time... white-chocolate covered...

Ok. There are a few more "tests" to do. Poured Fondant is next! Tips anyone?

And I finally visited a Ralph's and picked up a Carvel Ice Cream Cake. ("it's what happy tastes like")
THE BEST EVER. Been craving it for a while... yum.

Soon to come... something pumpkin? Perhaps...

Friday, October 30, 2009

For all it's worth...

So all those batches of brownies - failures and successes - have finally come to its finale!

Here is the finish line!
A variety of brownie rounds...

covered in chocolate, and "initialized"...

into the box...

closed and ribbon-ed!

Sampler box: "Nutella" "Classic" "P.B." "Dark"

And of course, as if I didn't have enough to do... I decided to try my hand at truffles. A variety of 5, no less.

Green Tea, Italian Truffle, Chocolate Chunk

Earl Grey, White Cointreau

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gruyere Gougeres

Gougeres are savory cream puff things... without the cream. just the puff.
I added gruyere to mine, with a bit of dijon mustard and pepper. (couldn't taste much of the dijon).

I made the pate a choux as I have before... just added in shredded gruyere in the same amount of butter (8oz.)

And this time around... I had the trusty kitchenaid! I could mix hands-free!
Adding the eggs was easy peasy!

Instead of piping the puffs, I just used an ice cream scoop. What can I say - I'm lazy.
And it worked out pretty well too!

The final product:

They got done a lot faster on the bottom... so most were "burnt"-ish. But not too badly. I personally think it adds some flavor. Haha.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Marble Cookies

OK. so even though I got everything "back to normal" like a month ago... things like messed up cable tv, slow internet, then NO internet, then CRAPPY DSL, then NO DSL, then DSL(hopefully), and then of course, no more groceries... I haven't baked. oh so sad!

BUT after a few trips to Costco, I've fully stocked up on eggs and butter. the main staples of baking! (and now, I've found I'm running low on flour. figures.)

Today I decided to make some cookies!
(I'm not quite done with brownies yet... even though I am pretty sick of them.)

Marble Cookies
from [Indulgence Cookies by Cristabel Martin]
1-1/3 C bittersweet chocolate
1/2C unsalted butter, softened
1C superfine sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp milk
2C AP Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Melt chocolate in double-boiler. Set aside to cool a bit.
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Then beat in yolk and milk until just combined.
Then stir in sifted flour and baking powder to form dough.
Form a well in the center of dough, the pour melted (but not HOT) chocolate into well.

Using a knife, swirl chocolate with dough. But don't over mix.
Place on baking sheets and flatten slightly.
Bake at 350 for 12-15 min, until edges golden brown.

Easy enough recipe. I woulda done a few things different.
Use less chocolate - perhaps just 1 C. And maybe milk chocolate instead of bittersweet.
Don't forget to flatten the dough (like me!). Oopsies.
I didn't let the butter soften as much as I probably should have.
It's hard to tell when edges turn golden brown when there's chocolate mixed in... so 15 minutes is maybe a bit more than needed, but not overbaked - just crispy.
The cookies came out not very sweet... more bittersweet (like the chocolate, durr.) ANYWAYS, it's a really pretty cookie as long as its not over-chocolatized. But taste-wise... I would probably choose a good ol' choc chip cookie over this any day. If you like just a hint of sweetness, then this could be for you!

It's good to be back! (tentatively)... next up! Gruyere Gougeres. That is if my gruyere hasn't gone bad by now.

PS: I am in love with Glee. And thanks to the show, can't get Sweet Caroline outta my head! (buh buh buh!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

oh yeah. vegas

I've been MIA for a while...
and before I post my cookie post, I just want to share some of the yummy funtimes from when I went to Vegas recently. It is SUCH an afterthought to share these pics... OOPS. Getting back to work is certainly a punch in the face that zaps away funtimes. Sadface.

Sipping a white sangria at the wynn...

the desserts at the buffet looked pretty good. but nothing spectacular tasting. very much mass produced (duh).

I did like the panna cotta though... especially the cute little green cup!

Other places we checked out with lots of food stuffs:
@ the bellagio

the world's tallest chocolate fountain (i think?)

@ the venetian


Gallagher's Steakhouse... its the meat aging room! oooooohhaaaahhh~~