Friday, November 27, 2009

Scottish Shortbread

I finally made some shortbread. It is so yummy and buttery. Even now, when I am not eating it, my mouth absolutely waters at just the thought of its yummy goodness. You can double the recipe if you'd like. There is no doubt that its a hit!

Scottish Shortbread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 blocks butter at room temperature
1 cup superfine sugar (process granulated sugar in a food processor/coffee grinder)

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Use a 9-inch round cake pan. (Optional: line the pan with a parchment paper circle) Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl, and whisk. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Use your hands to gently mix the flour into the butter mixture until pea sized clumps. (As close as you can get is fine.) Do not overwork, this makes a lighter flaker shortbread. Pour the mixture into the pan and gently press down. Use your fingers and gently press along the edges. Then take a fork and poke holes all over the pan. Bake for about 1 hour. Until golden. Leave in the pan to cool completely. You can either cut into the desired shapes in the pan or invert onto a plate and then cut it.
(Next up Madeleine Cookies)

Caramel-Pecan Bars

I made these bars for the first time (for Thanksgiving), and it really took way too much effort to make them. There were too many steps, even for me. And sadly I won't be posting the recipe, not because of my disappointment, but because I seriously lost the recipe. I know, very sad. I made them at my parents house, an i'm pretty sure the paper got thrown away, otherwise I would have shared it. But, here are a few pictures for you to check out my results.

Pumpkin Pie

This pumpkin pie can best be described in one word, "Awesome!" And its so easy to make. I love easy and delicious things. Yummy!

Pumpkin Pie (my Grammy's recipe)

2 unbaked pie shells (store bought or homemade)
3 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (2-15 oz. cans)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 pie pans with the pie shells and crimp/flute the edges. Whisk together all the ingredients and divide evenly between the 2 pie pans. Bake about 5 minutes, cover the crust and bake 10 more minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes, until tested done. Cool the pies on a wire rack. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate when the pie completely cool. Cut each pie into 8 slices and serve with whipped cream.

I attempted to bake the pie for the initial 15 minutes without covering the crust, it almost burnt. Yikes. But it worked out and tasted delicious in spite of that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Two Days To Go

Ok, so I almost didn't get a turkey (uh-oh). I am feeding 10 people and I waited too long to get groceries. I went to Wal-mart (aka the "Evil Store") and they were out of whole Turkeys. So, I had to stop at Hy-Vee and lucky lucky lucky me, they had what I needed. I'm thinking 16 lb. will be pleanty, especially enough for midnight turkey sandwiches. I don't know about other family traditions, but we absolutely have to have enough excess to make turkey&mayo sandwiches for a late-night snack. Oh so yummy...i'm salivating already. I've decided on the two desserts, pumpkin pie and caramel pecan bars. I am hoping for yummy goodness. TBD
For some reason I can not get the idea of shortbread out of my head, all Thanksgiving turkey-ness aside. I've been looking for the perfect recipe, if there is such a thing, and can not seem to find one that i'm happy with. It just sounds so good. Maybe you'll see something of that in the future. And of course I am starting to think about Christmas. Late Thursday night and into Friday morning, Kelsey and I plan on going shopping. There are actually some malls that are opening at 12:01am on Friday morning and we are so going to be there. Crazy you say. Well...I can't deny it. I'm not even sure if I have the ability to stay up all night anymore, but who knows. It will definitely be fun to try.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Apple Praline Bread revisited

I decided to make this dessert to go along with the pecan pie for this past weekend. It was just as good as the first time, if not better. Kelsey was over visiting the night I made it, and we were both eating the excess praline topping. So yummy! Next challenge, Thanksgiving dinner and all the trimmings, and of course great desserts!!!

Pecan Pie

I went to my Grammy's house this past weekend. We had a big gathering of the family on my mother's side. It was loud and crazy. And we had a lot of food. Every year for the past several, I or a member of my immediate family has tried to make a pecan pie to take for Thanksgiving. And every year, there is something wrong with it, whether its way too runny, the crust disintegrates, or my mother put some of the crust ingredients into the pie filling. That was a good one. But, I would have to say, this year is the winner. I am keeping this recipe around and I hope you enjoy. It turned out perfectly.

Pecan Pie

1 Pie Crust (you can make your own as I did, or use store bought)
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
3 jumbo eggs, at room temperature (trick: put the eggs in a bowl of lukewarm water for about 10 minutes)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough and place in a 10-inch deep dish pie plate. Trim the edges if you would like, and flute the edges. Place the pecans in the bottom and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the syrup, sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla on high for 30 seconds. Pour the mixture over the pecans. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 50-60 minutes. If it looks like your crust is starting to brown too much, cover the pie with a domed piece of foil and bake until the pie is set. Which basically means, either a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or lightly touch the top and it should spring back. Cool the pie on a wire rack overnight. Chill the pie until ready to serve.

source: Jim Romero's Southern Pecan Pie, from "Taste of the South" magazine

Friday, November 13, 2009

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been trying to get a chocolate chip cookie that is not totally flat, or truly cake-like. This version is definitely getting there. 

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup + 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips (any flavor)
1 cup hershey's bars, chopped into 1/4-inch chunks
1 cup Ghirardelli 72% cacao chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until creamy. Add the vanilla and then eggs one at a time, beating well after each. In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chunks, this is the hardest part, the dough will be stiff. It is best to use baking sheets that have no sides. The cookies will bake more evenly. Use a tablespoon sized scoop and scoop dough onto cookie sheets about 2-inches apart. Lightly press down on the cookies, using your finger. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the outside edges are lightly browned. Let the cookies sit on the cookies sheets for 2 minutes and remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wax paper
3 - large paper plates

To help the cookies retain their shape better: refrigerate the dough before baking.
A great way to share with friends: Separate the dough into 3 sections. Lay a piece of wax paper on a cutting board. Place one-third of dough onto wax paper, and use a second sheet to press down on top of the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into about a 7-inch square, lightly wrap the edges of the paper over the dough to cover it completely. Chill the dough for about an hour.  Once the dough is cool and has had a chance to stiffen up, remove the top layer of paper. Use a sharp knife and cut the dough into 5x5's=25 pieces per third of dough. Take a paper plate, flip it upside down onto the top of the dough, carefully hold onto the bottom of the cutting board, while holding down the plate on the dough and flip it over so that the plate is on the bottom. Take a second paper plate, also upside down, and put this onto top of the dough. Holding onto the top and bottom plate, flip it over again, and then wrap the plate with plastic wrap. Now you are ready to share. Give to a friend with these instructions: bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.

Tiny Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Caution: Before making these cookies, note that they are very very very addictive. Trust me, I've succumbed to the powerful draw of the peanut butter god. And you know what, I am pretty happy with that.

Tiny Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Hershey's Easy Baking, also on
yield 12-15 dozen (depending on what size you make them)

1/2 cup shortening, softened
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
3 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
granulated sugar for rolling
chocolate chips (peanut butter and milk chocolate are good)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butters, then beat in the sugars until well mixed. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. 2nd bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add a little bit at a time to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Chill the dough for at least 15 minutes, otherwise it is way too soft.
Use a 1/4 tsp. to measure the dough, and roll each into about 1/2-inch balls. Roll in the granulated sugar and put on baking sheets. Bake 5-6 minutes (or longer, if cookies are larger). Right after removing the cookies from the oven, lightly press a chocolate chip into the center of each cookie. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 1 minute and remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Peanut Butter Cookies (normal size), scoop 1 Tablespoon of dough and roll into balls. Roll each ball into granulated sugar and place on cookie sheets, press a criss-cross pattern into the top of the cookie with a fork, and lightly sprinkle the cookies with more sugar. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned on edges.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Breads and other things

This Monday, a co-worker had several bananas gone bad, so she gave me them and in return I brought her a few mini loaves for her son, who loves it. This is a recipe i'm not sure if i'll share, but maybe someday... In the meantime, you can definitely see the results below. I came up with a fail proof recipe, that is fairly versatile. I once didn't add eggs, it was still good. I added chocolate chips another time, and kids just love it.
This is one bread I make often. Each time I do make it, it yields 6 mini loaves per recipe. The more to share :)

Pumpkin Bread

If you haven't noticed, i'm following an ingredient theme here, for at least two posts. Love love love pumpkin. Yum! I had left over pumpkin puree from the pumpkin bars I made over the weekend, so last night I decided to use it to make some miniature pumpkin loaves. You can easily use this recipe for mini breads, or standard size will do. Topping with a little Brummel & Brown spread makes this an extra special treat. This recipe is definitely in my favorites, I hope you enjoy it!

Pumpkin Bread Extraordinaire
yields approximately 12 mini loaves (2 1/2-inch square pans)
This is 1-1/2 x the original recipe, if you decide to cut it down by one-third, use only one standard bread loaf pan.

Bread ingredients:
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (bleached is fine)
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup oil (vegetable, olive, or canola)
1/2 cup fat free yogurt
3 large eggs
6 Tbsp. water
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 tsp. allspice
optional - add 3/4 cup nuts of choice or 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour pans, set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a second larger bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, yogurt, eggs, water, and spices, whisk well. Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, they should be 2/3rds full, do not over fill, as the bread will almost double in size. Bake for 25-35 minutes. This all depends on your oven temperature and the pans you use. If using a larger loaf pan, bake for 50-60 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick until it comes out clean.
Cool in pans on wire racks about 10 minutes. Invert pans, be careful, and give the pan a shake until the bread falls out. Quickly turn the bread right side up and let cool completely.

Lighter Side of Pumpkin Bars

I'm sorry, i've been really bad about posting lately, its been a week :( I made pumpkin bars last Friday night and haven't taken the time to share it. I was helping my friend Kelsey with cleaning and moving into her new apartment. And of course cleaning always makes me hungry. I love this time of year, and pumpkin happens to be one of my favorite fall foods. This is a recipe I decided to try out of the November 2009 Cooking Light magazine, from Trisha Kruse of Eagle, Idaho. It was pretty decent for a lower fat version of the oh so good original. I would make it again.

Frosted Pumpkin Bars
yield: 20-24 bars
about 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 (15oz.) can pumpkin puree (not for pumpkin pie)

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (8oz.) package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
2 cups sifted powdered sugar (yes this is important, who wants lumpy frosting)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray, and lightly flour the pan, set aside.
Spoon flour into measuring cups and level off. Mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Stir with a whisk to blend well. In a second larger bowl, mix brown sugar and 1 stick of butter until well mixed.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the pumpkin and mix until combined. Fold in flour mixture just until mixed. Do not over mix. Spread the pumpkin mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.
For the frosting, use a mixer to cream together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Spread the frosting over the cake.