Sunday, December 26, 2010

Santa? Did you bring me a pony?

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope it was a great one filled with family and friends. We got to open stockings and presents under our first tree. Santa brought me a lot of Disney things, including two new Disney cookbooks!

We got to spend time at both parents' houses and ate way too much: roast beef, turkey,ham, loaded potatoes, corn pudding, etc. The corn pudding was a new side dish I decided to try. Not only did it make the house smell amazing when cooking it, but it also tasted amazing.

I also made a Santa bread for each house. I think in the future I might try different flavors, but the traditional white bread worked out well.

Golden Santa Bread
Oven 350

Premade pizza dough or frozen bread dough
2 raisins
2 egg yolks
2 to 3 drops red food coloring

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into two portions, one slightly larger than the other.Shape the larger portion into an elongated triangle with rounded corners for Santa's head and hat.

Divide the smaller portion in half. Shape and flatten one half into a beard. Using scissors or a pizza cutter, cut into strips to within 1 in. of top. Position on Santa's face; twist and curl strips if desired.

Use the remaining dough for the mustache, nose, hat pom-pom and brim. Shape a portion of dough into a mustache; flatten and cut the ends into small strips with scissors. Place above beard. Place a small ball above mustache for nose. Fold tip of hat over and add another ball for pom-pom. Roll out a narrow piece of dough to create a hat brim; position under hat.

In separate small bowls, beat egg each yolk. Add red food coloring to one yolk; carefully brush over hat, nose and cheeks.

With a scissors, cut two slits for eyes; insert raisins into slits.

Brush plain yolk over remaining dough.

Cover loosely with foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


My week did not go as planned. I had plans to meet Kate and Dave at a new Thai restaurant on Friday and was just about at the highway exit when...WHAM?!?!?!?
My back car window flew open, my sunglasses, gps, and anything not tied down went flying, and all I could hear was the rush of cars going by with speeds 65mph and over. I looked back and saw a totaled SUV and two girls running across the highway. I somehow drove to the side and stopped the car. I couldn't tell what the damage was, and I was shaking as I dialed 911. I didn't get out of the car, I've never been in such shock in my life.

When the trooper got there he said my car was drivable and that I was lucky. My wonderful husband got a ride from work and was there to drive me home. I was upset at what happened to the car ( it will need a new bumper, the frame is very bent, and a bunch of other things are scratched and dented). However, the important thing was that I was okay. On Saturday, I went to an emergency room because my neck and shoulders hurt so much. They gave me some pain killers and said to take it easy. My husband just keeps telling me "This is what we have insurance for." Thank goodness!

My baked good today is quick and requires minimal work. I am taking it easy, after all.

Coffee-Cocoa Cake
from SweetCakes No.31

Oven 350

10 tblsps very soft unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp table salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tblsps unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups good-quality brewed coffee, cooled to warm

Generously spray 9-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray. Cream butter and sugar until smooth, about 1 minute.

Blend in eggs one at a time, mixing just until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder. Add to batter.

Pour in the coffee (we had leftover hazelnut coffee, so that's what I used).

Gently whisk the ingredients until the ingredients until the mixture is smooth and mostly free of lumps.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula.

Bake until a skewer comes out clean, 40 to 43 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for 20 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edges of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack, and remove from pan.

Serve immediately or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Not for rent...

Our tree is all decorated and it smells wonderful. The whole house smells like Christmas.

That could also be because I've been baking up a storm (gingerbread men, snickerdoodle biscotti, chocolate chip cookies, white chocolate peppermint biscotti, and palmiers). My in-laws had their annual open house Christmas party complete with carolers and great passed hor-d'oeuvres ( I have to try and make those bacon wrapped dates sometime, yum!). It was so nice to see so many of our friends and family and catch up.

A recurring story of the night was our adventures in house renting. Our house has been a part of a scam on craigslist. We first learned about it when a lady came by on Halloween and asked to see the house. We explained that the house was not for rent and quickly called our landlord, who had the ad removed. A few days after Thanksgiving we had two people stop by inquiring about the house and saying that the craigslist add was back up. We had it removed, again.

Last weekend, my husband and I came home to find a note on our door asking that we call a lady asap. About two minutes after reading the note the lady pulled in the driveway and asked if we were renting the house. My husband explained that the craigslist ad was a scam to which this lady started using some choice words. It turns out that she had sent $960 to West Africa with the promise of keys to our house, that day. I felt bad that she had been so gullible. Who sends money for a house you have never seen the inside of? I also felt bad that they had sent her a fake "family" picture that she thought was real. Watch out for scams on craigslist!

I know I have already posted about biscotti, but the new recipe I found was a lot easier, better for you, and seems to be pretty adaptable. I made it plain and then dipped some in white chocolate and peppermint.

Snickerdoodle Biscotti
from Cooking Light November 2000
Oven 350

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
cooking spray
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg white

Measure flour into a large bowl using the scoop and level method. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Mix oil, vanilla, and whole eggs in a small bowl and add to the large bowl, your dough will be dry and quite crumbly.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 7 or 8 times. Divide in half.

Shape each portion into a roll about 8 inches long, and place them six or so inches apart on a sprayed cookie sheet. Flatten each roll to 1 inch thick.

Combine the 2 tablespoons Sugar and cinnamon, then gently brush the tops of the rolls with the egg white and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Remove from the sheet and cool for 15 minutes.
Cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices and lay them cut sides down on the cookie sheet again.

Reduce oven temp to 325 and then bake 10 more minutes, turn over and bake 10 more. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like....

Christmas decorations are up and we're hoping to get our first real Christmas tree today! We had a fake tree in the apartment, it was easier and we were never there for Christmas. This year will also be the first year that my husband and I wake up Christmas morning at our own house. We've always had to travel Christmas eve and stay at a family members house. We have our stockings hung and we'll be decorating the tree soon.
This week we celebrated my Dad's birthday. He recently purchased a kayak so his presents revolved around that. We celebrated with a family dinner and Hot Chocolate Cupcakes for dessert (future blog posting). I had a great time and I hope he did, too.

Gingerbread Cupcakes
from Family Circle Magazine December 2010
Makes 12 cupcakes
Oven 350

1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup boiling water
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspooon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs

Spary muffin pan or use baking liners(makes 12 cupcakes). Blend molasses, water, and baking soda in a small bowl; this will bubble.

Mix flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in another bowl.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl, 2 minutes.

Beat in eggs. Stir in flour mixture and molasses mixture, beginning and ending with flour.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 22 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the icing blend together 2 cups confectioners' sugar and 3 tablespoons water. Dip cupcakes into icing and let harden before serving.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

It's about being first...

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! Hope everyone got to spend it with family and friends like we did! Many people asked me about my blog and future recipes. My husband's uncle announced, after cooking the turkey, that he may start a new blog called Cooking in Construction Boots!

I did not venture out on Black Friday...there was nothing I needed that bad! But, how crazy was that lady in Florida who was waiting outside a store for a week?!? And what did she want? "Nothing, it's just about being first...."

I did a lot of baking this week...Chocolate Cream Pie, Apple Rum Raisin Pie,and Vanilla Mousse Cheesecake. Since it was my first cheesecake ( which I don't actually even eat) I decided to post that recipe. In case you're wondering my father-in-law gives it two thumbs up and says I can make him cheesecake anytime! And we both agree that the springform pan is one of the best inventions!

Vanilla Mousse Cheesecake
adapted from


40 NILLA Wafers, crushed
5 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened, divided
1 cup sugar, divided
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. vanilla, divided
3 eggs
1 tub (8 oz.) Whipped Topping, thawed

Mix wafer crumbs and butter.

Press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

Beat 3 pkg. cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp. vanilla with mixer until well blended.

Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake 50 to 55 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool completely in pan.

Beat remaining cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer in large bowl until well blended.

Whisk in whipped topping; spread over cheesecake.

Refrigerate 4 hours. Remove rim of pan before serving cheesecake.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is that you weekend?

I finally got to enjoy a weekend sleeping in, going out to breakfast, and spending quality time with my husband. We even had one of our Saturday drives checking out houses and finding out, "Where does this road go?"

My little sister turned 19 this week. How is that possible? I imagine this is how mother's feel as their children get older. It's crazy that 19 years ago I was singing "You are my sunshine," to her in a hospital waiting for her to be strong enough to come home. It still seems like she's starting kindergarten and asking me to lay at the end of her bed so she can fall asleep. I'm glad she's all grown up, but I still miss that little girl sometimes.

I think my sister would approve of the recipe for today....

Peanut Butter Blondies with Milk Chocolate Frosting

Oven 325
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 5 cubes
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup smooth and natural peanut butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Grease a 9×13-inch pan, line with parchment paper if you have it on hand, then grease the parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, these blondies will be just fine.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sugar together until the butter is just melted.

Remove from the burner and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then add the peanut butter. Stir until incorporated.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes more, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. You want the sugar, butter and peanut butter mixture to be cool enough that the eggs won’t begin to cook when they’re added in.

Whisk together salt, flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients all at once to the wet ingredients. Stir until just incorporated. Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan and smooth out.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the blondies comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before frosting.

Milk Chocolate Frosting

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips, melted

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, cocoa powder and salt.

Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar followed by 1 tablespoon milk. Beat well. Add another cup of powdered sugar, followed by 2 tablespoons of milk. Melt milk chocolate chips in the microwave or in a double boiler. Add melted and slightly cooked milk chocolate the frosting and beat to incorporate.

Spread evenly over peanut butter blondies.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day Off

Veteran's Day has come and gone...and I spent it doing schoolwork. I have so many big projects due at the end of the month for my master's classes that it seemed like the perfect time to get a good amount done. Unfortunately, it got to that point in the day when your mind is no longer able to read or think because you've been reading and typing for about 6 hours straight with a small coffee break. I did get a lot done and I felt it wasn't a day wasted.

I have two quick recipes that are pretty simple and still look great. The first is a quiche which we're using for our "Breakfast for Dinner" night. The second is a recipe for Palmiers using Nutella (my husband has been asking me about using it in a recipe for awhile).

Quick Ham and Tomato Quiche
Oven 400
1box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on package
3/4cup milk
2tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4cup grated Parmesan cheese
1cup finely chopped cooked ham (about 6 oz)
1medium tomato, cut in half, seeded and cut into thin strips
1cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)

Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate as directed on box for One-Crust Filled Pie. DO NOT PRICK CRUST. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or just until edge begins to brown (if crust puffs up in center, gently push down with back of wooden spoon).

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat eggs, milk, flour and Parmesan cheese with wire whisk until well blended.

Layer ham, tomato,and Cheddar cheese in partially baked crust. Pour egg mixture over layers.

Cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning; bake 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

adapted from

Oven 400

1 pkg. (17.3 oz.) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (2 sheets)
1 egg
1 tbsp. water
6 tbsp. sugar
*Nutella spread

Thaw the pastry sheets at room temperature for 40 minutes until they’re easy to handle. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.

Stir the egg and water with a fork in small bowl. Unfold 1 pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the sheet into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Brush with egg mixture. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar ( I put a thin layer of Nutella spread on each sheet).

Starting at the short sides, fold pastry toward center. Do the same with the opposite side.Brush with egg mixture and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

Fold one side over the other, making a 4-layer rectangle.

Repeat with remaining pastry sheet. Cut each rectangle into about 12 (3/4-inch) slices.

Place cut-side down 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Brush tops with egg mixture and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Remove from the baking sheets and cool on a wire rack.