Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snowy Halloween

Snow in October? Yep, we officially had our first snowfall and we lost power. At this point, I'm pretty sure I jinxed myself during Irene. It's back now, and we didn't lose any food, so that's good. We sought refuge at my in-laws and my sister-in-law was kind enough to forward the pictures, for this weeks blog, from her phone. Thanks everyone!
I decided that since tomorrow is Halloween I would make something without chocolate. We'll all be on sugar highs from all the "leftover" Halloween candy, anyway. These cookies are a twist on the traditional sugar cookie. They could be frosted or left plain.

Spiced Brown Sugar Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice
½ cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium bowl; whisk to blend.


In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, brown sugar and butter. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Blend in the egg and vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Form the dough into a ball or disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 30-60 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness (add water if dough is crumbly). Use cookie cutters to form desired shapes and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.

Bake 10-12 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lantern, Jack-o-Lantern

This week went by very quickly for me. I went to class and work, nothing too exciting there. I did get to go out after school with Kate and Dave, it was a lot of fun. I always leave wishing we lived closer and got to see each other more!
We went to the Jack-o-lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Zoo in Rhode Island tonight. All of the carvings were amazing. It was just a little too crowded. Also, there should be some sort of requirement that if you bring in a stroller your child should be in it. Too many people were pushing around empty strollers!

Both of my sister-in-laws had their birthdays this week. Samantha requested Funny Bone Cupcakes for her students (she's an elementary school teacher) and Kelley requested the dessert this week.

Red Velvet Birthday Cake
Cake from Bon Appetit June 2003
Frosting from
Oven 350
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 - 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 - 8 oz  tub of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream

Butter two - 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

Red Velvet Cake: In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.

Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or overnight). (This is done to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.)

Cream Cheese Frosting: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat until smooth. Using the whisk attachment, gradually add the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is thick enough to spread. Add more sugar or cream as needed to get the right consistency.

Assemble: With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. You will now have four cake layers. Place one of the cake layers, top of the cake facing down, onto your serving platter. Spread the cake layer with a layer of frosting. Place another layer of cake on top of the frosting and continue to frost and stack the cake layers. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Can garnish the cake with unsweetened coconut or with leftover red velvet cake crumbs.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

With a Cherry on Top

We have our new furniture! It was delivered yesterday. A sectional for the den/family room and a couch and two chairs for the formal living room. We also got a coffee table, it's lovely, but doesn't work well in either room. So we've got to return that and pick a new one. The old couch and chair went down to "man town." It's finally feeling like it's coming together! My mother-in-law and I took a trip to a fabric place in Massachusetts last week. We were able to get the fabric for the curtains in the downstairs bathroom,master bathroom,  kitchen, and formal living room. We were not able to find the dining room or bedroom fabric, but it was a great start.
In honor of breast cancer awareness month, here's a pink dessert.....

Cherry Almond Vanilla Cupcakes

Oven 350

1/2 cup butter
4 egg whites
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup maraschino cherry juice
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
12 maraschino cherries, halved

1/2 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons marachino cherry juice or milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Allow butter and egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line twenty-four 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups (or coat with cooking spray). In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a 2-cup measuring cup combine buttermilk and cherry juice; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, vanilla, and almond extract; beat until combined.

Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out batter in cups. Press a cherry half into batter in each cup.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks.

Allow butter to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in maraschino cherry juice or milk and almond extract. Gradually beat in additional powdered sugar. If necessary, beat in additional juice or milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until frosting reaches a spreading consistency.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, pipe Frosting over tops of cupcakes. If desired, top with cherries. Makes 24 (2-1/2-inch) cupcakes.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Same Pattern

Quick recap of this week: Work, Class, Homework, Work, Math Team, Homework, Work, Class, Homework, Work, Nails, Homework, Work, Homework. Sensing a pattern? I did get to attend my first meet as Math Team Coach. There are a lot of teams competing and we only had 7 students who were able to go. We came in 7th, so that's a start. We have about 15 students who joined this year. Looking forward to the next meet in November! I made the dessert this week for my husband, who spent his weekend installing gutter guards and cleaning the roof. His quote today, "I love being a homeowner..." Is that sarcasm? :)
PS: These cookies are even better the next day!

Homemade Jumbo Oreo Cookies
adapted from

Oven 375
Yield: about 20-24 sandwich cookies
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
10 tbsp. (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
Filling: 4 tbsp. (¼ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

In a food processor or the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the butter to the bowl and pulse or mix briefly to incorporate.

Add in the egg and mix until the dough forms a cohesive mass.

Scoop a scant tablespoon of batter onto the baking sheet. Continue scooping, spacing the dough balls a couple of inches apart. With moistened fingers, gently press down on the dough balls to flatten slightly.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack and let cool completely until the cookies are firm and set. Be sure the cookies are completely cooled before filling.

To make the filling, combine the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Blend in the vanilla extract.

To assemble the cookies, pair them up by size. Use a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip to pipe a swirl of filling onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair. Sandwich together with the remaining cookie and press down so that the filling reaches the edges.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

An Apple A Day

I got the bulk of my homework done before Saturday this week, not an easy thing. My husband and I had a nice fall date planned, on Saturday, at B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill in Old Mystic, CT. We were able to see the cider press demonstration, taste some apple wine and hard cider, and we purchased some warm cider donuts. It was amazing to hear the history of the mill (it's the only steamed powered cider mill left in the U.S.) In keeping with the apple theme, the next dessert was a request from Amy (my husband's co-worker). Enjoy!

  • Mini Apple Crumb Cakes
  • from
  • Oven 350
  • sweet baking or eating apples, such as Royal Gala
  • stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil cupcake liners. Peel, quarter and core apples and cut into 1/3-inch dice.
Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add apples; cook for about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in brown sugar and salt. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  • In a bowl, whisk together flour, walnuts and baking soda. In another bowl, beat together egg and vanilla extract. Stir apple and egg mixtures into flour. Spoon batter into cupcake liners about three-quarters full.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan to racks to cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.