Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays to everyone! I hope you are all having a great time with family and friends. I know I am having a lot of fun baking cookies and bars to give out during the holidays.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

To Melt or Not to Melt Butter When Baking

I am often asked for recipes for various baked goods, and I love sharing.  Something I haven't thought about though when sharing these recipes is the skill level of the baker.  I have generally had most of my recipes turn out, so it's surprising to me when someone tells me theirs didn't turn out. I know that temperature plays an important role in the baking process. 

Most recently though, I discovered that my sister- who will outright admit that she's a terrible baker - melts butter for her baked good recipes.  Since she bakes infrequently, she doesn't preplan and merely gathers her ingredients to put the recipe together.  Her butter is always in the fridge or freezer.  So her resolution is to melt it for the recipe. 

I'm not sure if everyone knows this, because she didn't, and that's partially why her baked goods don't turn out.  For baked good recipes it's not necessary to melt the butter unless the recipe calls for melted butter, in which case it will indicate so. Mostly, I use butter at room temperature for baking.

It may seem simple to us bakers, but for those new to baking, or just unfamiliar with it like my sister, it's a great tip to share!  Especially with the holiday season quickly approaching! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

I have made shortbread cookies many times before, however this time I added chopped dried cranberries and it made such a difference! For some reason everyone who tasted them liked them more than they did the plain shortbread cookies.

The dried cranberries added a bit of tartness and a slight chewy texture to the cookies. They also added some color to the cookies and made them look kind of pretty! I had also cut them out into small flower shapes (about 2" across) to make them even cuter.
To make them, I simply used this shortbread cookie recipe and added 3/4 cup of chopped dried cranberries. I rolled the dough out to 1/4" thick and cut them out into shapes. You can also just roll the dough into 1"balls and flatten them with a fork.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Candy Cookies

We love going out to eat cookies, ice cream and other fun desserts, but it can get a bit expensive. It is a nice treat to go out once in a while, but when we can stay home it is definitely more cost effective.

My kids love getting cookies with candy on top so I decided to make a batch of shortbread cookies and cut them out using the biggest circle cookie cutter I have. (4" across). Then I pressed candy coated chocolate on top of them before baking.

They were really easy to make and the kids loved them! These would also make great party favors or party treats.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Garden Pictures

The summer season is usually busy, but always fun. I don't bake as many goodies during the summer since there is a lot of yard work to do, so I thought I would share some pictures from my garden.

I have so many things growing, including trees. berry bushes, tiger lilies and more. However, these two-toned peonies are my favorite.

What keeps you busy during the summer? Feel free to comment!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cute Cupcakes

It is so fun to make cupcakes, especially when the kids can help out too! They like to make cute cupcakes and so I used some leftover royal icing to pipe out some eyes, noses and mouths onto parchment paper and let them dry. Once they were ready, we baked basic vanilla cupcakes and spread chocolate frosting onto them. Then they got to use the royal icing pieces to make faces!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gluten Free Mocha Brownie Recipe

When friends or family have special diets, such as a gluten free diet, it is not quite as difficult as I once thought it was. I remember one of my "gluten free" friends came over for a birthday party and I only knew of a couple of things to make. That was a couple of years ago. Now, quite a number of friends and family are eating gluten free.

Brownies are such a popular dessert and the following recipe is great for those who are on gluten free diets and even those who are not!

15 Medjool dates, pitted, soaked and drained
¼ cup of water
9 tbsp. raw cocoa
¼ cup agave syrup
¼ cup coconut oil, soft, not in liquid form
1 can of drained garbanzo beans
4 eggs
½ tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. espresso, finely ground
Chopped Walnuts (Optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Blend dates and ¼ cup water on high until it becomes a paste (in a blender)
3. Add eggs, cocoa, agave, coconut oil, baking powder and espresso; blend until smooth
4. Add garbanzo beans; mix on high until entire mixture is well incorporated, thick and smooth
5. Stir in chopped walnuts. (Optional)
6. Evenly distribute mixture into mini muffin tins (fills 30-32)
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes (until it passes the toothpick test); remove and cool on a wire rack

Pretty simple and they taste great too! I sometimes put them in the kids lunch for school and they love it!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What to Get For Mother's Day

It's often difficult to decide what to get for Mother's Day. Some mom's love to receive flowers, while other moms simply love Mother's Day crafts made by their children. Since I'm all grown up, I don't think I will be making any Mother's Day crafts for my mom, and she probably would prefer a nice homemade meal (that she doesn't have to cook!) over some flowers.

A great alternative would be a lovely new apron! In my opinion, one can never have too many! My mom has had the same apron for as long as I can remember, but times have changed and with so many styles and patterns to choose from, I don't know how I could only own one apron!

It's the perfect time to get some Mother's Day shopping done, since throughout the month of April you can get 40% off anything from the Flirty Aprons Website. Just use the Flirty Aprons coupon code MOMSDAY40.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cookie Cupcakes

I made some cupcake shaped cookies in place of actual cupcakes for a treat since they have a longer shelf life than cake items. Of course cupcakes or cookie cupcakes can be frozen, but I prefer not to freeze too many baked items. Especially since I don't have much room in the freezer most of the time!

I stuck with a simple design and piped the Burgundy icing onto the bottom portion of the cookie and white royal icing on top. Then while the icing was still wet, I added dots in the opposite color to the top and bottom. For the bottom of the cookie on the left, I simply ran a toothpick from the top to the bottom of each white dot to create a different look.

What is your favorite cookie shape? Feel free to comment!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Wash Away Labels by Mabel's Labels

I like to stay organized by labeling my flours, sugars and other jarred items in my kitchen. Mabel's Labels has recently introduced their new line of Wash Away Labels. These labels are perfect for potluck dishes, daycare bottles, frozen foods, canning jars, and especially the dry goods that I mentioned! When the labels are are no longer needed, they can be cleaned off in the dishwasher or rinsed off under running water. The labels disappear completely and don't leave that sticky residue that is hard to remove. Check them out at Mabel's Labels!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Little Mermaid Cake

This Little Mermaid cake was at a friend's party and was just so pretty, I had to take a picture. It was not only adorable, but really delicious as well. The fondant was just the right amount of sweetness and the cake inside was the perfect texture with an amazing chocolate hazelnut flavor.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Birthday Cake Oreo

When I saw the pretty gold package of Birthday Cake Oreos, I had to stop and look at them. I don't often buy Oreos even though I love them! The kids can't get enough of them so if we have them in the house, it's a bit more of a challenge to get them to eat their dinner since all they want to eat are cookies!

I stood there for about a minute, and thought "why not"? I limited myself to buying just one package and couldn't wait to try one.

Once I got home, I opened the bag immediately and they smelled just like a vanilla cupcake with fluffy delicious icing. They tasted that way as well. The original Oreo had been my favorite, but this one tops it for sure. I will have to stick with original Oreos since these Birthday Cake Oreos were only limited edition.

Did you get a chance to try them? Feel free to comment!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Almond Butter

Almond butter has become one of my favorite nut butters. It's smooth and really rich. It adds a nice flavor and texture to cookies so I often use it in place of regular butter.

One of the very popular cookies in my house is the peanut butter cookie. I tried making almond butter cookies instead and they were just as well liked! Just use your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe and replace the peanut butter with almond butter.

Another fast and easy snack I like to make is honey and almond butter toast. The kids love it, probably because the honey makes it sweet! I simply spread some honey onto the toast and top it with some almond butter.