Friday, December 31, 2010
Recipe adapted from The Cookie and Biscuit Bible, p. 146. As stated in a previous post, the original recipe calls for rolling the cookies into balls...I pressed them into the pan and cut them into squares since my dough was pretty dry.
1 cup of butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
dash of salt
1 1/4 cups of pecan chopped
1. Cream butter until light and fluffy.
2. Add in 1 cup of sugar and vanilla (put remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in bowl and set aside).
3. Throw in your dash of salt.
4. Slowly beat in flour, a little at a time. Make sure well mixed...it will start to form a dough.
5. Finally, add in the chopped peacans and any remaining flour. Knead dough until combined.
6. Press dough into an ungreased cookie or jelly roll pan.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes (cookies should be slightly browned).
8. Remove from oven and gently cut into squares. Allow to cool about 10 minutes on the baking sheet.
9. Remove cookies and drop into a bowl with the remaining confectioner's sugar.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
- Do not substitute low fat cream cheese for regular cream cheese. The texture is not the same.
- Try to use foil cupcake liners if you have them as the cake is really moist and bleeds through the paper liners (but if you only have paper, bake them and then add a second liner before serving).
- In my opinion, topping with cherry pie filling is the most eye catching and compliments the cakes perfectly.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix and sift the dry ingredients together (cocoa, sugar, flour and baking soda) and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine Guinness, milk, oil, and vanilla.
- Beat in one egg at a time.
- Mix in sour cream.
- Gradually mix dry mixture into the wet mixture.
- Pour into lined or greased cupcake tin.
- Bake for 25 minutes (I actually cut the baking time down to 20-22 minutes for my little convection oven) or until cake tester comes out with a few crumbs.
- Cool on baking rack.
- Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes or so.
- Add 1 cup of sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add 1 more cup of sugar and half the milk. Beat until smooth and creamy.
- Add 1 more cup of sugar, remaining milk and the molasses. Beat until smooth and creamy.
- Add 1 more cup of sugar and the vanilla. Beat on high until light and creamy, about 5 minutes.
- If frosting is too soft, gradually add more sugar until desired consistency is achieved.
Victor and I took part in Cupcake Camp LA yesterday. It was held at the Henry Fonda Music Box Theater in LA. There were 56 different bakers, some professional, some amateur (I fell into the amateur category). Attendees were given 5 tickets for their admission price which they traded for cupcakes. To avoid lines and overcrowding, the event was broken up into 2 tastings (noon to 2 pm and 3 pm to 5 pm). Proceeds from the event benefited three different charities:
- We were fortunate enough to have our table next to Sugar Babies who won honors in both the first and second tastings. They had an amazing, eye catching display and provided a "swag" bag to everyone who came to their table. Check out their website and look for their cupcake truck in the LA area.
- We had the pleasure of meeting Chef Amy Jurist at the event. I had read about her famous underground dinners in LA Magazine and was excited to see that she was going to be a baker as well. It was great chatting with her about some of the unusual dinners she has done and we are looking forward to attending one in the near future.
- There was a wonderful Harry Potter themed table....not sure the name of the baker(s) but I will post as soon as I find out.
- Half Baked had a great spicy pumpkin cupcake, Shweet had an amazing strawberry cupcake, Jackie Brubabaker had a Jack Daniels cupcake...check out Cupcake Camp LA for a complete list of the bakers with their respective websites.
It took a few more baking experiments to get a feel for how long to leave the cakes in the oven without drying them out, but basically I was back on track. This actually felt appropriate, like I was returning to my Easy Bake Oven roots...except I wasn't cooking with beer when I was a kid.
My cakes, starting from lower left and headed clockwise: Chocolate Guinness with a Molasses Buttercream, Chocolate Cake with a Cream cheese and coconut filling and vanilla buttercream, Chocolate Coconut Cake Balls made with Scharffen Berger Dark Chocolate.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I have signed up to be part of Cupcake Camp LA on Nov 20th at the Henry Fonda Music Box. As an amateur baker, I am only obligated to bring 100 cupcakes. I am going to try to make 200....maybe. Bakers have to be at the venue at 10 am on Saturday morning, which means I am going to have to do all my baking and decorating after work on Friday night...pretty ambitious given that I typically fall asleep around 10 pm on Fridays.
- toasted coconut: not bad but apparently coconut toasts very quickly. I sent the timer for 10 minutes but it started to burn after 5!
- cocoa covered coconut: eh..just ok. On it's own, it was underwhelming but tasted ok with the sweet icing.
- fresh coconut: tasted ok...
- chopped up Mounds bar: too sweet combined with the icing.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
I recently entered these cookies in a bake-off contest on LA Times online. Below is my entry...I should mention, I did discuss with my mom prior to posting. My mom is a wonderful cook and taught me everything I know...so in no way am I mocking her skills. Anyone that cooks and bakes, even the pros, knows that mistakes are made....sometimes to very positive results! Thanks Mom! Love You!
Almond Crescents (aka "The Crumbly Cookies")
For as long as I can remember, my mom has made “The Crumbly Cookies” every Christmas. She got the recipe from a friend. The cookies were delicious, but extremely delicate. They would fall apart in your hands when you pulled them out of the cookie tin she stored them in. The cookies melted in your mouth and tasted like almonds.
It wasn’t until I turned 10 years old that my sister and I discovered “The Crumbly Cookies” (our nickname for them) were really Almond Crescents. Why were they so crumbly? This mystery went unsolved until the year 2000!
It seems since everyone loved the cookies so much, my mom would double the recipe so we would have more to go around...or at least she thought she was doubling the recipe. For years, she was only doubling the butter! Even though my mom has corrected her mistake, we still call them “The Crumbly Cookies.” Her handwritten recipe now has all of the doubling instructions in parentheses, which is what I have included here. Make a double batch and enjoy!
* Directions for doubling the batch are in parentheses
7/8 cups of butter (3 1/2 sticks)
1/3 cup sugar (2/3 cup)
1/2 cup ground almonds (1 cup)
1 3/4 cup flour (3 1/2 cup)
2 tsp vanilla (4 tsp)
Be sure to set aside some extra granulated sugar to roll the cookies in after baking.
Directions: Cream butter and sugar. Add ground almonds, vanilla and flour. Store in refrigerator for 1 hour. Break off and roll small pieces of dough about the size of your little finger, bending slightly for crescent shape. Place rolled dough pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on edges. Remove from baking sheet and roll in granulated sugar to coat thoroughly.
1/2 cup large grain sugar (turbinado)
2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
4 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup butter (one stick)
1/4 cup molasses
2/3 fine grain natural cane sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup crystallized ginger, finely minced
2 lemons, zest only
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Place large grain sugar in a bowl for coating.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, Chinese Five spice, ground ginger and salt.
Heat butter in a skillet until just barely melted. Stir in the molasses, natural cane sugar and fresh ginger. The mixture should be warm but not hot. Whisk in the egg. Now pour this mixture over the flour mixture, add crystallized ginger and lemon zest. Stir until just combined.
Roll about 1/2 teaspoon of dough into ball shape and then drop into the large grain sugar to coat. Place balls on prepared baking sheet a few inches apart. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until cookies puff up and crack.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Monday, October 18, 2010
This year marked 50 years of marriage for my parents. To celebrate the occasion, we threw a great party at Chadwick's Restaurant and Bar in Audubon, PA. Of course, some tasty cake was in order to top off the day. We ordered two sheet cakes from The Night Kitchen in Chesnut Hill. The first one, pictured directly above was a chocolate with rasberry filling. The second, top and middle pictures, was a vanilla cake with lemon curd. Both cakes were finished off with a tasty light buttercream. The vanilla with the lemon curd was the more popular of the two cakes, but both were delicious.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
- Red velvet cakes with cream cheese icing
- Devil's food cake with peanut butter cream cheese icing
- White cake with vanilla buttercream icing and coconut
- French vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles
- Chocolate cakes with marshmallow filling
We went to the fair twice this summer, both times to see concerts (The B-52s were AMAZING). You can't walk through the fair on the way to amphitheater without being tempted by some dangerous delectable. The first trip, I really wanted a soft serve cone but tried to be good and have something nutritious first. I bought a gigantic chicken kabob, spent the rest of the night in gastro-distress and never got my ice cream cone...apparently, too much of a semi-healthy thing (grilled chicken, onions and green peppers) is still going to put your stomach into overdrive. The second time, I followed my gut (pun intended) and went straight of the soft serve vanilla/chocolate swirl cone dipped in sprinkles ("jimmies" for you east coasters). I felt much better this time...Lesson learned: if you want soft serve, just go straight for the soft serve and get your nutrition another day!
I could have sworn my mom's Zucchini Bread recipe had a chocolate base? Maybe that is Chocolate Zucchini Cake...which incidently I will be making in a few weeks. Anyway, with fall in our sights, I started to have visions of zucchini bread. The zucchini adds a wonderful moisture to your average quick bread recipe. I found a 3-5 lb zucchini at the Torrance Farmer's Market and lovingly assembled my mom's recipe. Note that the actual recipe said 3 "medium" size zucchini....the size is irrelvant as long as you can get 2 cups of grated and drained zucchini out of it. The recipe makes 2 nice sized loaves.
1 cup oil (as usual, I used apple sauce)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups grated and drained zucchini
2 ts[ vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 cup raisins and 1 cup chopped walnuts
Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in oil, zucchini and vanilla. Sift flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt onto wax paper. Stir in egg mixture until blended. Stir in raisins and nuts.
Bake in well greased (I sprayed with olive oil spray) loaf pans at 375 degrees for 1 hr. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
In the Manayunk neighborhood of Philly, there is a little Italian bakery called Marchiano's. They make these amazing stuffed breads. My family typically gets the Pepperoni and Cheese, Cheese Steak and Broccoli and Cheese breads. In LA, I know of no equivalent to this stuffed bread and therefore I make my own. The whole cheesesteak thing seems a bit involved, so I have never made that one, but I have made ham and cheese bread (capicola and provolone to be specific) and garlic, tomatoes and cheese bread. Both turned out pretty good although the ham and cheese was a bigger hit with my party guests. Recently, I got a hankering for peppers and eggs and decided to throw that in the middle of the bread. Here's how my homemade version is done (I wouldn't even pretend to know how to replicate Marchiano's magic!)....
Friday, July 23, 2010
Spicy Chicken Salad
1/2 medium onion
3/4 cup of chopped celery
1 carrot chopped
Between 1 and 2 cups of diced (leftover) cooked chicken
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1/2 cup light mayo
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Mix it all up and chill for at least an hour. We had it on toasted whole grain bread with lettuce and sliced tomatoes.
My grandmother just turned 90 years old which is amazing. She and my grandfather lived a few blocks from us when I was growing up so I have many culinary memories of her over the years. When I was young and thought of my grandmom's house, I thought of grilled cheese. Her sandwiches were just a little better than my mom's (sorry mom)...and she made them often. My grandfather was old school Catholic and would not eat meat on Friday, even when it wasn't Lent. Grandmom made him a grilled cheese many a Friday afternoon. Her secret, of course, was the cheese. While my mom used American cheese, Grandmom used Cooper Sharp cheese, which is divine. My mom eventually switched over to Cooper Sharp as well...probably after getting tired of hearing how great Grandmom's sandwiches were!
Another specialty of grandmom's was her potato salad. Man oh man....this was better than the grilled cheese! She always said the secret was to drink a beer while making it. Not sure how that helps but in the spirit of following directions, I do this as well. She always used red potatoes, a generous amount of finely diced onions, a few hard boiled eggs and Miracle Whip. As is the case with many family recipes, I am not aware of a written version of her potato salad recipe, but I will ty to replicate it in a few weeks and share it here. It tasted amazing along side some ham and fresh home grown tomatoes from my mom's garden.
Rounding out Grandmom's trifecta was her cooked dressing. She made this for all sit down special dinners like Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's got bacon, vinegar, onions, a little bit of sugar.....you cook it on the stove, let it cool and then pour it over some chopped up iceberg lettuce. Hmmm...
She made other dishes like vegetable soup and fried eggplant, to name a few. But the grilled cheese, potato salad and cooked dressing are the things that remind me the most of Grandmom...well, that and some of her famous sayings (me: "grandmom, what's for dinner?" Her: "Bees knees, grasshoppers and a little bit of bug juice").
For her birthday, I wanted to send her something nice. Since she lives in Philly and I live in LA, making her some potato salad as tribute was a little out of the question; cookies are easier to ship. I found this recipe called Twin Stars in the Best of Sunset Cookies magazine. They were a bit labor intensive (I feel like I have been saying that alot lately...) but turned out well. The original recipe called for stacking two cookies on top of each other but I opted to leave them unstacked. I used the food processor to make the dough. This is the first time I have done this and it worked out really well.
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temp cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup strawberry jam
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoon lightly beaten egg white
1. In food processor or bowl, whirl or stir flour, sugar and salt to blend. Add butter; whirl or cut in with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. In another bowl, whisk egg, vanilla, lemon peel, and lemon juice to blend. Add flour to the mixture in food processor or bowl; whirl or stir until dough forms a ball.
3. Divide dough into thirds. Roll each portion, between sheets of wax paper or parchment into a round 1/8 inch thick. Stack and freeze rounds until firm about 30 minutes (or chill for 2 hours).
4. Cut out shapes with a floured 2 inch 5 point star cutter. Space cookies 1/2 inch apart on buttered or parchment lined 12x15 inch baking sheets.
5. Bake cookies in a 325 degree oven until pale golden at tips, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool. Reduce oven tempeture to 150 degrees.
6. In a 1 quart pan over medium heat, stir jam until melted. Push through a fine strainer (I skipped this part because I had no strainer), discard residue, and return liquid to pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes to thicken, stirring occassionally. Let cool until just warm to touch, 7 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons powdered sugar and 4 teaspoons water until smooth.
7. Brush cookie with jam, then place slightly apart on baking sheets. With a clean pastry brush, paint a thin film of powdered sugar glaze over each cookie to completely cover the jam (beginning with the cookies coated earliest with jam).
8. Bake cookies until glaze is set and dry, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.
9. In a small bowl, stir remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the egg white until smooth. To assemble cookies spoon a dot (1/8 teaspoon) of powdered sugar mixture in center of one cookie, then gently press another cookie on top with the star points offset. (I skipped this step as well since I didn't stack my cookies).
10. Let cookies stand until icing is set, about 1 hr.
71 calories, 2.9 grams of fat (this represents a stacked version of the cookie).
Saturday, July 17, 2010
In my A to Z cookie quest, I am up to the letter L. Just L you say? Yeah, well, we cannot eat a steady diet of cookies, so I have to space them out. I found this recipe for Lemon Meringue Cookies on Kaboose. In theory, they sound refreshing...but they were a little dry. Maybe they are not always dry, maybe it's just the way I made them. I am known to screw things up here and there. Without further adeui...
Lemon Merginue Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon peel
1 large egg, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I believe I used lemon extract to give it extra lemon umph!)
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white
In large bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium until smooth. Add 1/2 cup of sugar. Beat until combined, scrapping down sides when necessary. Add lemon peel. Beat until combined. Beat in egg yolk, and vanilla extract until combined. Reserve the egg white.
Add flour and salt. Beat until combined, scrapping down sides when necessary.
Form each tablespoon of dough into 1 3/4 discs on ungreased cookie sheet.
With electric mixer, beat egg white and reserved egg white until soft peaks form. With beater on, slowly add remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer whites to piping bag fitted with small star tip. Swirl egg whites on top of each cookie.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cookies 13-15 minutes or until edges and topping are light golden. Let cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes then removed to cooling rack to cool completely.
This great Spicy Cilantro BBQ chicken (on the stovetop) is based on a recipe I found for grilled pork on the Kraft Foods website. We don't have a grill, I didn't have any Kraft BBQ sauce, pork chops or jalapeno peppers BUT I did have a pan, chicken, Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ sauce (good stuff by the way), and a serrano pepper. To be honest, this is how most of the dinners I make get started: I start thinking about a particular dish, look for a recipe and then alter it to work with what I already have in the house. We live in LA, so a "quick trip to the store" to pick up ingredients is typically out of the question...we make do with what we have.
Anyway, so given the big summer kick off of Memorial Day, I made this Spicy Cilantro BBQ Chicken which was quite tasty.
1/2 cup spicy BBQ sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 serrano pepper, seeded, finely chopped
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 large chicken breast chopped into strips or bite sized pieces
Mix first 4 ingredients in bowl. Cook chicken thoroughly in skillet. When chicken is fully cooked, add sauce mixture. Cook over low heat for a few minutes until the sauce is hot and desired thickness is achieved.
I served with baked potatoes and corn on the cobb.
There are so many traditions and superstitions associated to weddings. One of the more popular post wedding traditions is the saving of the top layer of cake for the first anniversary. Since we already had some leftover sliced cake the day after the wedding, I had no problem showing incredible restraint and not eating the top layer. I double wrapped the cake in heavy duty foil and then popped it in a Ziplock Freezer bag. To protect the icing, I popped some toothpicks in the top to tent the foil...the takeaway container the venue put the cake in was already away from the sides. We threw the cake in the freezer and jumped on a plane back to LA. That was November 2009. Fast forward to April 2010 when we are back in Philly to visit my parents. All I can think about is eating that cake: Would it still taste good? What if we are not back in Philly November 2010 and then wait too long to eat it? I hate wasting food....So, we decided to break it out and eat it with the promise that I will make a cake replica on our actual 1st anniverary. It was just as good as I remembered....if it had been in my freezer in LA, there is no way it would have lasted even until April!
What's with this 1st Anniversary tradition anyway? I did some research on the web and did not find too much information just a lot of personal experiences. Some folks said their cake tasted terrible after a year, others said the cake was fine. Guess it depends on your wrapping skills! The most important thing I discovered in my research? No where did it say that it was BAD luck to eat the cake before the 1st anniversary.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
He also loves cereal, oatmeal, prunes, grapefruit...most people do...but when you suggest an oatmeal prune cookie as a sweet treat, many would pass. As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew it was the perfect father's day cookie for him.
This is from the Sunset Magazine Best Cookies Ever December 2008.
Crisp Oatmeal-Fruit Strips
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 cups regular rolled oats
2 cups chopped pitted prunes (could use dates or raisins also)
In a bowl, with electric mixer on medium, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg.
In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and oats. Stir or beat into butter mixture until well blended. Stir in chopped prunes.
Divide dough into seven equal portions. Pinch each portion into a 12 inch long rope and evenly space two or three ropes across parchment lined 12x15 inch baking sheets. Flatten the ropes to make 2 inch wide strips.
Bake in oven at 350 degrees until strips are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. If baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking.
Let strips cool on sheets for about 2 minutes, then cut diagonally into 1 inch wide pieces. Let cool completely on sheets.
77 calories, 3 grams of fat
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Victor and I went to the Star Wars/Empire Strikes Back night at Dodger's Stadium on May 23rd: Dodgers vs Detroit Tigers. Chewbacca threw out the first pitch and various folks were in costume...it was pretty cool. Our tickets were for the Our Town section which included all you can eat and a special commemorative tee shirt. As evident in the menu above, the theme was even worked in with the food. Naturally, we went for the Clone Burgers and IG-88 Kettle Chips rather than normal old Dodger Dogs....