Friday, December 16, 2011

Homemade Peppermint Patty's


What can I  say about mint and chocolate....except simply fantastic.   I love making big batches of these and giving them away as gifts. They are really simple to make and they do not take much time.
I have tried several different recipes and each one is basically the same. I find it helpful when looking on line to find recipes that have reviews. You may have to tweak it to your liking-especially when using peppermint. Remember less is more when using any mint extract. They can be so over powering that a great dish can turn to yuck with just 1/2 teaspoon.

For this recipe I went on www.allrecipes.com. This is a great site. You really can find almost anything food related and most recipes have reviews.
This particular recipe is located at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/peppermint-patties/. You certainly don't have to use this one- there are several to choose from.


 I keep these in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Remember they are made with sugar which acts a natural preservative. Since the chocolate is not tempered the chocolate will stay on the softer side. But if kept in the refrigerator it will stay slightly firm and give a nice bite.


                                        Merry Christmas and  a Happy New Year

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tidy Mom Blender Giveaway

Thought this was too good not to share.
The fantastic blog Tidy Mom is having a "Kitchen Aid Blender" giveaway this week.  Log onto her site to enter  the giveaway then take a browse around to explore some great household ideas from baking to organizing-truly a wonderful site.
You'll find her blog at http://tidymom.net.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A repeat from last year but still a wonderful cupcake for this time of year. Pumpkin Cupcake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting and Praline Crumb Topping



A Little Pumpkin Cake




Instead of pumpkin pie how about a little pumpkin cupcake. These little goodies have just enough pumpkin and spice to give you the sense of eating a slice a pie-but even better!
I remember a story my mom told me about her first experience with pumpkin pie. 
Having 2 brothers and a sister at Halloween time we certainly had a few carved pumpkins around.  So one year my babysitter who was an older women and always in the kitchen whipping something up had asked my mother when we were done with the pumpkins could she have them to make some pie.  Well my mother,  being a young 20 something and never having much experience with baking or cooking had sent brought her a plastic bag full of the pumpkin guts! YUCK....
I asked my mom what made you think that gooey guts and seeds made a pie. She simply replied if you're not taught it you dont learn it...Oh well Can you imagine the look on the babysitters face- Im sure it was priceless!




I did make these cakes from scratch but you can make them very easily from a box cake. One of the advantages of using a box cake is that you can doctor the batter up anyway you want.  The cream cheese frosting is made from a basic recipe of cream cheese,  butter, powdered sugar and a little orange peel. 


Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounce cream cheese room temperature
4 Tablespoon butter room temperature
4-5 Cups powder sugar sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla or orange zest.

Beat cream cheese and butter until well blended. Slowly add powdered sugar. Depending on your humidity you may have to add more or less of the sugar. Also depends on how thick or thin you'd like your frosting. Add vanilla beat 1-2 minutes.

Now I'm sure not a candy maker but I found making these pralines gave me a new respect for people who make candies. If you decide to make your own be sure to invest in a good candy thermometer. 

Praline candy Recipe was adapted from the Martha Stewarts Web site.

http://www.marthastewart.com/349926/pecan-pralines


ENJOY

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Daughters Birthday Party


For the first time I actually planned out a party. For me that's a feet because I usually just wing everything. This year my daughter asked for a "Pink Themed" party. With her day so close to Halloween I decided to incorporated some of the seasons colors too.



I wish I had taken a picture of the inside of the cake but I did make it checkered board style "black and pink".  Frosting well is pretty obvious :)-Pink butter cream with pink and black rosettes.


I just love this idea of personalizing the root beer bottles. Each of the girls had there own special bottle.
I did the same with their goody bags.





I also  used large and small mason jars for her favorite candy. One of her friends happens to be diabetic so I tried to give her some options too. I made her up 2 jars of sugar free hard candies and sugar free mint pattys.



   
Of course I couldn't have just candy on the table....I added her favorite fruit too, Grapes and Apples.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just a few of my favorite cupcakes

I Love Chocolate! I got this idea freading through some blogs. The acorns are made from  Hershey's kisses and vanilla chocolate wafers. I probably should of used a milk chocolate wafer but...oh well next time.












I've made this cupcake quite a bit lately. It's a Banana Cake with Peanut Butter frosting with a chocolate ganache glaze...can you say yummy!













I made these for my mom birthday this year. She loves cherry cordials so I used maraschino cherries dipped in dark chocolate for the ganache. Adding a little or the cherry juice to the frosting gives it a really nice flavor.






These are a very simple "lower" fat cupcake cap. I replaced the oil with 6 oz. of apple sauce and used egg beaters instead of whole eggs. A garnish of sliced strawberries top it off. A nice alternative to the regular butter cream frosting.









I loved this idea of putting your batter into ice cream cones and baking. These work great for kids parties or school fund raisers. These happen to be a test run for my daughters birthday.















I made a bouquet of these pretty flower cups for an anniversary. I think pipping on flowers certainly dresses up any cupcake for any occasion.








The best inspirational book for making cupcakes has to be "Hello Cupcake". My sister got me this book for christmas one year and let me say when ever I need ideas I grab this book. Anyway...This was the first cupcake I did from that book. My son was into Harry Potter at the time. so for his birtdhay I made up these cute owl cups. They were a big hit with the kids.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kids snacks for school-No NUTS allowed.

This first month of school has been challenging to say the least. Between soccer, chorus and field hockey practice I'm also challenged with finding lunches and snacks that don't have any sort of nuts in them. I realize many of you already have dealt with this but for me it's a little difficult.

My kids love to snack on nuts-doesn't matter what kind they just love them.  We always have a jar of peanuts or a bag of walnuts in the refrigerator. Or we have boxes of granola bars in the pantry.  When it comes to making school lunches and snacks I have to be so careful not to make or buy anything with nuts.
I think it makes me nut!!  anyway....

These are just a few ideas I have made at home for my kids and yet they may not be organic or so called 100% health they are a happy balance, the kids get what they want and so do I.

A great alternative to a nut granola bar.
This is an Apple Cranberry Oat bar.  I used
apple sauce and diced apples with dried cranberries. Full of fiber and antioxidants plus it still tastes great.












Slice Apples don't have to be boring. Easy caramel sauce           
helps to spruce up any apple.
Recipe
1 can sweetened condense milk
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
bring all except vanilla to a low boil for 2-4 min
 remove from heat and vanilla allow to cool.                                                





You can never go wrong with chocolate chip cookies.
Replace 1/2 cup all purpose  flour with 1/2 whole
wheat flour if you'd like.

I thought these would be great for when the 
neighborhood  kids come over. Whole wheat                                                            
pretzel sticks dipped in a little chocolate and
sprinkles. Fun and tasty :)     

                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                               
This is one of my kids favorite school snacks. Caramel popcorn.I happend to get
this recipe from Marthastewart.com but you can find them lost of recipes on the internet or in your favorite cookbook.                                                                                                                                                    
   
                                                                                                                   
                                                              
                                                                                                                                                            
                                
                                                                                                    

 I've posted the recipe for this Banana Bread a few months back.  I personally love banana bread and muffins and thank goodness my kids do too! We always have extra bananas left in the rack at the end of the week.  Use them to make bread or muffins for breakfast but best of all they are great for after school snacks or pack into your kids lunch box.



                                      ENJOY
                                                                               
                                                                                                                                   






                                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                




Friday, September 16, 2011

Gourmet Brownies



Oh the brownie. What are they... really?
I think they are a combination of a dense cake and maybe a soft cookie. What ever it is... boy they are tasty little bites.  I personally like mine on the chewy fuggy side but most importantly they must be  MOIST. Nothing worse than biting into a dry crumbly brownie. Or the type that leaves that blah taste in your mouth  -YUCK. 





By far my favorite brownie is this Gourmet Mint Brownie. The bottom layer is this moist fuggy chocolate brownie, the center is a creamy cool mint and the entire top is smothered with a chocolate glaze....It's heaven in a square! These brownies travel well so they're great to bring to parties or a picnic.

On a quest to find something different I search the web for ideas for making brownies.  On the Martha Stewart website http://www.marthastewart.com/ I came across a recipe where she made a basic brownie recipe divided it in half. Place half the recipe in the pan, laid out the Peppermint Patty's in the center then poured the rest of the brownie mixture on top and baked. Although that sounds really good I didn't have any patties on hand so thought what if I made my own. Well let just say my first batch didn't come out looking very good nor did they taste ANY GOOD. So onward I went. I came to the Pillsbury website , http://www.pillsbury.com/ and there I found the center I was looking for.



Pre Heat oven 350
Brownie
1 cup butter
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into pieces
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose
 In a small sauce pan melt butter and chocolate. In a mixing bowl beat eggs and sugar for at least 3-5 min. until a nice light yellow color.  Remove chocolate from heat and allow to cool a bit add your vanilla. Pour into egg mixture slowly-keep beating. Add flour just until combine. Pour into a greased and floured
 9 x 13inch pan.

Filling
8 oz cream cheese room temperature softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon mint extract
4 drops green food color
In a medium bowl combine the softened cream cheese and sugar together. Add egg and mint extract and food coloring.
Pour on top of your brownie mixture and bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven) Always double check..

Frosting
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into pieces
1teaspoon vanilla
1cup powdered sugar
Wait until brownie has completely cooled or you'll end up with a mushy topping.
In a saucepan melt butter and chocolate and corn syrup and water. bring just to a boil then add your powdered sugar and vanilla beat quickly until nice and smooth. pour on top and allow to set about 1 hour before you cut.

So good


 
I have yet to try Martha Stewart's recipe but if you are interested here it is.  If you make it let me know would love to hear how it comes out.

For the Brownie

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces semisweet  chocolate
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
25 small  peppermint patties

Melt butter and chocolate in a medium sauce pan. Once melted remove from heat and add sugar and give a good stir.  Sift together flour cocoa and salt in a large bowl the set aside. In a large bowl beat eggs well.    Add cooled chocolate mixture to the eggs until all is combined well.  Slowly add the sifted flour mixture-important do not to over beat.  Place 1/3 the batter in a greased 8 x8x greased an floured pan. Unwrap patties and cover the brownie, leaving a 1/4inch border around the edge.  Pour the remaining brownie batter over top and smooth out. Place in the oven and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes
Enjoy

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baked Donuts






Who doesn't love donuts or is it doughnuts. I guess it all depends on where you're from and what you prefer.
 I remember as a kid my mother bringing home Dunkin Donuts and couldn't wait to dig into that box. What a treat.  I'd eat them for breakfast or for a desert didn't matter much to me as long as they were covered in a sweet glaze and covered with sprinkles. 
Today... having to watch those fat and calorie intake ugh I was very happily surprised to find this recipe for baked donuts. These do not require the dough to rise or to fry in grease. And actually there is only 2 Tablespoons of oil used in this recipe.


RECIPE

PRE HEAT 325

2 Cups Flour
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs
3/4 milk
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
If chocolate is what you're after decrease flour to 1 1/2 Cups and add 1/2 cocoa
and add 2 Tablespoons extra milk
In a large bowl combine all dry ingrediants give them a good stir. In a small bowl beat eggs until light in color add milk, vanilla and oil.. Add the wet ingrediants to the dry. Mix just until combined. Fill your donut pan about 3/4 full and bake 8-10 minutes.
These are so light and tasty you wont feel guilty about having 2. 
Dust with powdered sugar or with a glaze.









Glaze
1 Cup powdered sugar
3-4 Tablespoons milk-depending on how thick or thin you want it.
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

This is a donut pan I bought at WalMart but you can purchase them at any cake supply store like Micheals or Joann Fabrics.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Peanut Butter and Banana Cookies with Nutella Cream Filling

I got the idea for these from a post a friend of mine put
up about Elvis Presleys' death. And so I  in his honor I made these extremely tender and delicious Peanut Butter and Banana Cookies.
   Adding a banana gives this cookie not only an extra boost of
vitamin C and fiber it gives it a soft moist texture.  If you are looking for a crisp cookie this may not be the one for you.  It reminds me of a thin whoopie pie. Although Elvis didn't add chocolate to his fried PB and banana sandwich  I thought it added a nice touch. Hey..if my kids like it that says something..I cant get them try anything ha!

The recipe for these cookies is one I adapted from a Better Homes and Garden cook book. I omitted 1/2 the butter and added the banana. Try to use a small to medium banana any larger makes the dough difficult to work with.



Pre Heat oven 350

RECIPE
1/2 Cup  butter
1 small to med. banana
1/2 Cup peanut butter-or chucky
1/2 Cup sugar
3/4 Cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl cream sugars and butter. Chop or dice banana then add. Mix well. Add egg and vanilla. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder and baking soda and give a good stir. Add the dry to the sugar mixture and stir until well combine. Using a scoop or a  spoon measure out about a Tablespoon per cookie on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake 8-10 minutes depending on your oven

Remove and cool on a wire rack.
These are great alone or add some Nutella for a filling or make a Nutella frosting.

Frosting
1 Cup nutella
2 Cups powdered sugar
8oz cream cheese at room temperature
1-2 Tablespoons of milk-sometimes I'll use a little to thin it out just a bit

Sift Powdered Sugar
Cream nutella and cheese slowly add sugar-if it's too thick for you to spread add a little milk.





A few for the kids  




And a few for my uncle...


ENJOY

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Anniversary Cake

I was asked to make an anniversary cake for a couple who is celebrating  64years of marriage.
Unbelievable... right. 
This cake was so heavy. The bottom tier is and 8in. carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
The top is a vanilla cake with fudge filling all covered with a vanilla buttercream frosting.



Saturday, July 23, 2011

Simple Strawberry Shortcake




To me nothing says summer like Strawberry Shortcake . 
I love fresh picked strawberries alone but when homemade whipped cream and a freshly baked sponge cake come together (mmmm) it sure takes me back to to my childhood. I even got my 9yr. old to try this-he has an aversion to berry's. Not that he's allergic I think it's a textural thing with him and maybe the fact that they are better for him than a chocolate bar anyway... after giving this a try he's hooked.

I don't have anything against the cream in a can or a frozen tub but there is something about whipping it up yourself. I had someone ask me how to make whip cream topping for a desert the other day so I'm posting what I do. 
Very important to have a clean, cool bowl and cold cream.
Pour whipped cream into a bowl and begin whipping on med speed. Once it begins to thicken and shows soft peaks add about 3 Tablespoons of Powdered Sugar. Certainly add more if it's isn't sweet enough to your liking.

Very Simple-Whipping Cream and 3-4 Tablespoons of Powdered Sugar.

Achieving stiff peaks-keep your eye on it, It can changed very quickly to a thick blob if you over mix. I will usually stop the mixer and pull the beater out to see if it is the right consistency. Dip the beater a couple of times into the cream if your peaks stay firm and not deflate you are doing good.
Not quite there-keep mixing another 3 minutes or so

For this Recipe I made my own sponge cake. I like to bake it in a rectangle 9 x 13inch pan. After it's cooled I use a biscuit cutter to cut circles to place in a desert dish.
 




Recipe
Pre-heat oven 375
Butter and flour your 9x13 pan
5 large eggs
2 Tablespoons lemon or Orange juice                                          
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 Cups all purpose Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 Cup of melted salted butter-not hot-
Beat Eggs until light and fluffy-about 5 minutes
add lemon juice slowly add sugar.
In a large bowl combine flour and baking powder and give it a good whisk.
Pour egg mixture into the flour. Takes a little time but fold together.
Now fold in butter trying not to over mix. You want the batter to stay light.
Pour into pan and bake 20-30min.

If you don't have the time to bake up a cake there are other alternatives like the pre-baked sponge cake shells usually found in the fruit section of your grocery store or I've used frozen pound cake and just slice it up which is quick and easy. I have also used regular refrigerator biscuits, sprinkle them with a little granulated sugar before baking,  makes a great alternative to baking a whole cake.

Once you have decide what cake or biscuit you'd like to use now it is time to make your Strawberry Sauce.

4 Cups of fresh hulled strawberries placed in a 4 quart pot. Add 1/2 Cup water and 3/4Cup granulated Sugar.
Stir and bring the mixture to a full boil. Cook for 1-2 minutes until it becomes thick. It will also thicken some as it cools down.
Now to assemble. Alternate your cake with the Strawberry syrup. To me the best part is having enough syrup so it soaks into the the cake making it moist and well it just makes it simply delicious . Oh and if it's still warm even better!


Top with your whip cream and extra strawberries.


I think I'm going to have one now!
Enjoy

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Watermelon Basil Sorbet




My first thought was hmmm watermelon and basil what a strange combination but hey why not give it a shot. The final result is a smooth cool refreshing unlikely pair.
Absolutely delish!
Great served on a hot summer day as a treat or a wonderful light ending to your meal. I definitely recommend trying this.
Unlike ice cream, sorbet usually contains no dairy which makes it a wonderful alternative for those who are lactose intolerant and or vegan. Mostly made from  pureeing fruit and freezing it slowly in an ice cream churn. It's texture is somewhat like a soft ice cream but definitely not as hard as say an Italian ice.

Recipe

5-6 Cups cubed Watermelon
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
4-5 leaves of basil 

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Stir until all sugar is dissolved then remove from heat.

 








Add Basil leave to the warm syrup and allow to steep for 20-30 minutes.
Place cubed watermelon in a food processor and puree.
I like to push the puree through a mesh sieve to give it a nice 
smooth texture 
but if you like a chunky texture by all means leave it in.




In a medium size bowl whisk together 1/2 of the cooled syrup and watermelon puree. Give it a taste. If you think it needs more sugar than add. Place in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours and completely chilled.

Using your ice cream maker follow it's directions on churning. I find this Sorbet needs to set over night for the best results.



Thanks Susan


ENJOY
 

Raspberry Cake

Raspberry Cake

Little Minis

Little Minis

Chocolate Valentine Cupcakes

Chocolate Valentine Cupcakes