Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year in Review


I am so very thankful to all my family and friends for being so supportive of me in my adventures in baking. This past year has been both challenging and very rewarding.

May this new year bring you all happiness and peace.



Happy New Year 





Saturday, December 1, 2012

How to make your own colored sugar.

There are those times when you need a specific color of sugar for your cookies or cakes and can't seem to find it at your local how about making it yourself.  Why Not!

So easy:



I used 1/2 cup regular sugar per color. I place 1/2 Cup of the sugar in a platic bag add 1 drop of your food coloring. I also prefer Americolor gel colors so Im not too sure how the liquid colors would work. If you want it darker add an other drop. Being careful not to add too much or you'll have liquid sugar.


Procede to mix and smoosh it around in the bag. Takes a few minutes. If you still see some lumpy color keep on mixing.


Once your done it should be relatively even in color.


You can place your colored sugar in back into a plastic bag or if you have empty sugar containers use those. 



Feeling a little creative I decided to add a little liquid meringue to the sugar to make some Sugar cut outs. You could use these on a cake cookies or brownies. Fun project you could do with your kids too.  





ENJOY

Friday, November 16, 2012

Cinnamon Bread


Theres something so comforting in the smell of fresh baked bread and cinnamon in the morning. It fills the air with a special homey feeling, I especially love this time of year.
I have tested several recipes for cinnamon bread, some with raisins some with pumpkin all depends the mood Im in.

With this recipe I used a very basic white bread recipe. I find the simpler the better.
Once it has risen I roll it out to about 15-18 inches long and maybe 10 wide.  I rub about 4-6 Tablespoons of butter over the entire dough leaving about 1/2 at the edge. This way you wont have too much ooze out the bottom. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar roll it like a cigar and bake as directed.

        



Recipe:
Makes 2 loaves

5 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour reserve 1/2 cup for kneading.
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 teaspoon salt
1 Cup warm milk
1/2 warm water
1 package dry yeast
2 Tablespoons butter or shortening melted.

Filling:
1/4 melted butter
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
1/2 sugar

Place 3 Tablespoons of sugar and package of yeast into the 1/2 cup warm water. Allow to sit at least 5 minutes. This way the yeast blooms and allows for better distribution in the dough.

In a large bowl combine flour and salt add milk and yeast mixture. With a wooden spoon (just because I like using it best) stir mixture until in just combines. Flour your counter top with some of the reserved four and dump the entire bowl out. Begin to knead. If your dough feels too wet add a little more flour and knead until it is soft. If you can push two fingers into the dough and have it spring back then its ready about after 5 minutes. Grease a clean bowl with oil and the top of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm area for about 1 hour.

Once it has risen it should have risen almost double. Punch down and rest about 5-10 minutes. Again dump out onto counter and roll into a rectangle approximately 15-18 inches long and about 8-10 wide.

With a pastry brush paint on the butter. If you don't use the entire 1/4 cup don't worry sometimes less is best. Too much will cause the dough to separate the layers. Then evenly spread the cinnamon and sugar. Roll like a tight cigar. Once rolled cut in half and place each into separate well buttered bread pans and let rise again for approximate 30 minutes.
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until the tops appear to a nice brown.


Try to resist cutting into - wait till it cools at least 15-min. Other wise you'll have a squished bread.

I prefer mine toasted with a little butter. The best!




Enjoy



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Homemade Cheddar Cheese Crackers




 Sometimes I need a brake from the sweets. Don't get me wrong I love the sugar but sometimes a little savory is what Im looking for.
So who do I turn to for inspiration and ideas but my three kids of course. My son, who is the constant snacker in the house suggested "Goldfish". I think we almost always have a bag of Goldfish or Cheese Nips in the pantry.
I research cheese crackers online and found that there really isn't much that goes into making them. Basic ingredients like flour, cheese and butter how simple is that.
I dont have a "Goldfish" cutter but I do have a few fall pastry cutters. So that was pretty much my theme.
But then I came across The Pioneer Women's "Tasty Kitchen" recipe site. By the way it's a great site for all kinds of baking ideas. Any way stumbled apron "missamy's" step by step instructions on making a Goldfish cutter using an aluminum can. http://tastykitchen.com/blog/2011/09/homemade-goldfish-crackers/ Fantastic!
My version wasn't quite nice as "missamy's"  but it did work.


                                                                                                         

                                                   Lets just say it toke me a few try's!                                                                                

Ta Da!

Ingredients
8 Ounces of a good bar cheddar cheese. Shredded                  
4 ounces of cold butter
dash salt
2 Tablespoons of very cold water
1 Cup All Purpose Flour.
In your food Processor Place all ingredients except the water.  
Chill for 30.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for 15 minutes


Pulse 5 to 8 times. Add 1 Tablespoon of cold water at a time. Once all combined your dough should be slightly moist and a bit lumpy.
I added a few drops of organic orange food coloring "Indian Tree". Because I didn't use "yellow" cheddar cheese. Why...just didn't have it on had so I used white cheddar.
Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and place in your refrigerator for a good 30 minute. You want your dough to be a little stiff when you it roll out.
I rolled mine out to about 1/8 of and inch. Keep in mind this dough will puff slightly so you don't want it too thick. Using different cutters makes a nice change to the average square shape.

I sprinkled a bit of salt before baking but you certainly don't have too.
Bake at 350 for 15 minute or until they are slightly brown on the bottom.

Trust me these little guys wont last long. Homemade Goldfish is sooo much better than store bought.

Enjoy

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I recently made a few batches of these for a friend. A repeat from last fall-Pumpkin Cupcakes-Yum!


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


Thursday, July 26, 2012

A few things I've been working on



Wow!  I can't believe it's been over a month since I've posted on the blog.  It sure hasn't been because I haven't been baking..
But trying to take care of my family, working 2 part time jobs then attempting to put together blog ideas..Unfortunately those extra things get pushed aside.  I sweat there is just never enough time in a day. Im sure many of you can relate.


So these are a few of cakes and goodies that I've been working on:

ENJOY
                                                                       


Almond Sour cream cake with Lemon curd filling. Topped with Italian Meringue and decorated with white chocolate shells.
















Love this cake-Vanilla Cake with coconut pastry cream filling. Topping with a Vanilla Bean Buttercream and toasted coconut.



























An all chocolate cake! With chocolate decorations                                                                                                           



     


A few dozen 8th grade Graduation Cupcakes



Black and white 3 layer cake
Yummy Pistachio cake
Pistachio cake.








Thursday, May 24, 2012

Vanilla Bean French Macarons

Pretty little feet.



Today certainly proved to be a challenge for me. My hope was to create that sweet little cookie that I've seen posted on several blogs. You know those ones that look so good you want to reach through your screen and grab them, "The French Macaron".
I had attempted a couple of years ago to make french macarons and to say the least it was a complete disaster! I just gave up and thought I'd never have a reason to make them again. But a few days ago I was asked by a friend to come up a few ideas that were not your typical everyday cookie. Something a little more sophisticated something you would serve at a dinner party.
So my adventure began...

Why I took this approached I don't know but I decided to make my own almond flour...Crazy Lady!..

I pulsed whole almonds in my food processor 2 1/2 cups-UNSALTED. What you don't use you can freeze and use next time. (Maybe)
Pulse continuously for 3-4 minutes. You  don't want any large chunks or bits because after they have cooled and pulsed one more time you will need to sift through a wire sieve.

Because nuts have oil which makes them too moist to give you a nice lift in the final product.  I placed the pulsed almonds on a cookie sheet and set my oven at 200 for 1 1/2 hours. Take a spatula and move them around, you want them to dry evenly-about every 15 min or so.
Perhaps you could dry them over night..I just didn't plan that far ahead ;)


If you do not dry your mixture this is how they may turn out. Bad- bad- bad. Or just use store bought almond flour, which is what I'll do next time :-)

Not what you want-flat chewy cookie NOT.
Basic Recipe

Almond flour 1 1/4
Confectionary Sugar 1 1/2
3 Egg Whites
1/3 cup regular sugar.
dash of cream of tarter
1 whole Vanilla Bean (Cut a whole bean down the middle and scrape both sides).
But use whatever flavor you would like

Sift almond flour and confectionary sugar
whip egg whites, cream of tarter and reg. sugar.

Bake at 300 for 15-18 minutes.
Allow to cool on the cookie sheets 15-30 min.




Make sure you dry the ground almonds for at least 1 1/2hours

I used a cookie cutter dipped in flour so I could keep all the
 cookies the same size.



Fold almond and sugar mixture in with egg whites with large sweeping motion-Do Not beat-














What your macaroons should look like.


















delche de leche
Recipe I got from Alton Brown from the
"Food Network"
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/dulce-de-leche-recipe/index.html








"The Fannnie Farmer Cookbook" is what I used as a reference but because I decided to use raw almonds as my base I research other books and the internet.

I'd also suggest watching "you tube" they have several tutorials on how to make them.

King Arthur Flour has a good recipe at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/macarons-recipe
and of course Martha Stewart has a very similar one.
http://www.marthastewart.com/318387/french-macaroons.

I would suggest that you look through some recipes to see what you think you are capable of doing. Some seem so much more difficult than others.
If you make them please let me know how you made out Im curious if people had the same problems I had.



ENJOY

Friday, May 11, 2012

Caramel Banana Crepes with Walnuts and Nutella


I hadn't made crepes in a long time, I think I felt a little intimidated making them.  Sometimes they'd come out light and fluffy and others they would be hard as a rock.  I've read in several books that you should incorporate air bubble in the batter,, this will keep them light and airy.
So I pulled out the ole Kitchen aid using the wire whisk.
RECIPE:

2 Eggs
1 Cup Milk
2 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup whole wheat flour 1/2 cup all purpose flour You can use all white flour I just wanted to add a little of the wheat.
dash of salt
1 Tablespoon oil

Heat your pan at least a good 10-15 min. I don't have a "crepe pan" so I use my trusty old frying pan. I used pam spray to coat but you can use butter or oil. Be sure not to burn the butter.
Combine flour,  sugar,  salt, milk, eggs and oil. Mix at least a minute or two. 
Allow the mixture to set a few minutes before pouring into the hot oiled pan.





  





I use a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop into my pan. Pour into the center and give it a good swirl so the entire bottom its covered. Cook about 2-3 minutes until you see the bottom is a nice golden brown then give it a flip and cook for another minute then slide out of pan onto a your plate.

For the Filling                                        
2 Large Bannas
1/4 cup brown sugar    
Nutella
chopped walnuts
2 Tablespoon Butter


In a sauce pan melt your butter then add walnuts cook for about 2-3 minutes.  Add brown sugar and cook until you see  bubbles begin to form. Quickly add your sliced bananas. Completely coat the bananas with the sugar mixture then allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Spread Nutella onto your crepe and about 1/4 cup of banana mixture and roll it up like you would a tortilla.

Spread a think layer of Nutella onto the crepe.




Add about 1/4 cup of filling and roll like a tortilla.



Serve warm-these are really good!
ENJOY


Raspberry Cake

Raspberry Cake

Little Minis

Little Minis

Chocolate Valentine Cupcakes

Chocolate Valentine Cupcakes