Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A few of my Favorite Christmas Things

So, the holidays end up being complete insanity for my little business. This year I had to stop taking orders the first week in December, there's only so much my little easy bake kitchen can fire out. And this little kitchen consists of a toddler, a 55 lb dog, and Gigi (who's usually into the sauce by the end of the day from the stress!). I can't blame her really, and let's be honest, I'm usually the initiator. Well, the holidays are about sharing and being nice to our fellow man, so here's a little goodwill from Southern Baking Company. These make awesome gifts for neighbors (yes Katie Gill, get your nuts on :) ! Enjoy!

Big Ol' Batch of Candied Nuts
(You need a big crock pot for this, if you have a smaller one, just halve the recipe. Also, it helps to have a giant mixing bowl.)

9 Cups Pecan Pieces (I buy these in bulk and mine are medium sized)
8 Cups Whole Almonds
1 Cup Melted Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
1 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp. Ground Allspice
1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves
3 tsps. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger

-Preheat the Crockpot on High for 15 minutes.
-Melt the butter in the microwave (usually about 1 minute).
-Dump all your nuts into a large bowl. (Honestly you can use any combo of nuts you want- I happen to buy almonds and pecans in bulk so that's what I used. You can definitely use your favorite though. The key is to get the right ratio of butter to powdered sugar. If you have nuts that are smaller, you may end up using more powdered sugar to get the right candied consistency- I'll get to that!)
-Pour the melted butter over the nuts and sprinkle with the Kosher Salt.
-Dump the nut butter mixture into the crockpot
-Add the powdered sugar, stirring to coat evenly. Cover and slow cook on high for 15 minutes.
-Reduce the heat to low and slow cook, uncovered, for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally (probably check on your nuts every 20-30 minutes), until the nuts are coated with a nice glaze and are lightly toasted- be very careful not to burn them!
-In another small bowl, combine the spices. Pour the nuts out of the crock pot back into your giant bowl. Sprinkle the spices over the nuts and mix them really well. (I left my nuts out overnight, in the bowl, uncovered. I found that this extra time just hanging out in the bowl made the nuts really really good.)

If you find that your nuts are too buttery- it may be due to the ratio (nut vs. butter). Add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar to thicken things up, trust your gut, you'll know what to do during the 2-3 hours of roasting.

Holiday Popcorn
4 Bags of buttered popcorn, popped
2 Cups of Reese's Peanut Butter Chips
2 Cups of M&M's
2 Cups of Dry Roasted Peanuts
14 Blocks of Ghiradelli Candy Making & Dipping Bar (You could also use Almond Bark)
Salt to taste
Festive sprinkles

Pour the popcorn in a large bowl, sprinkle in peanut butter chips, M&M's, and peanuts. Melt the chocolate and pour over the popcorn mixture. Stir to combine. Spread popcorn out on wax paper and sprinkle with salt and sprinkles. Let dry completely.

You could also add a bag of Christmas Candy Corn to this- that would really put it over the top, but I couldn't find any this year! Enjoy!

And always remember, a toddler makes a great chef! :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I'm honestly not sure where this recipe came from, but it's been in my recipe box for years. I know I've added a few new things here and there, but I can tell you- this is one of my all time favorite recipes. Nothing says fall like pumpkin, and let's be honest, anything with cream cheese frosting is worth making.We had a neighborhood block party last night, and these were gobbled in about ten minutes. I'm not sure if the tequila shots paired well with these, but that's how our crazy neighborhood rolls. So here's to fall, tequila, and pumpkin whoopie pies. Happy Baking!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup flour

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in the microwave and whisk in the brown sugar. Next, whisk in eggs, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold in the flour. Use a cookie scoop to form balls and scoop on to cookie sheet. (I dip my finger in a little water and flatten out the scoops a bit to make them uniform. Don't press too hard, you just want the scoops to all be generally the same size). Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cool.

Using a mixer, cream the cream cheese. Gradually add in the confectioners sugar. Add vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, beat well.

To assemble, spread frosting on the bottom of a cookie then top with another cookie. Easy as pie. I assemble all the whoopie pies, and then place them in the refrigerator for about an hour so to set. You could also put your frosting in the refrigerator for half an hour to let it stiffen up a bit. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back to School Blueberry Muffins

Tomorrow my little man Logan is starting Mother's Day Out, and he's really into blueberry muffins these days. So, I thought I'd blog his favorite muffin recipe. I know it's been awhile since my last blog, but things got crazy over the summer and Mama hardly had any time! Between baking some crazy cakes and vacationing, I was wiped out. I'm hoping now that I'll have two days a week of some free time, I can post more frequently. Fall is definitely my favorite season, and I've got some awesome recipes!

These muffins should really be called, "my mom loves me so much she slept overnight in a church pew muffins". Let me give you a little background, six months ago, I slept overnight.... in a church learning classroom, to secure my little man a spot at this Mother's Day Out. Clearly motherhood has made me slightly psychotic. At the end of the day it's preschool, not rocket science. Colors, shapes, numbers, maybe some letters? I can't imagine things getting too intense.  And let's be honest, I drove straight to Chick-fi-la after the sleepover and snarfed down a chicken biscuit, then took a sweet 5 hour nap (thanks Husband). All in all, not so bad! I just want to make sure I give my little guy every opportunity I can. And if that means sleeping in a church pew, by golly, I'll do it. I'm realizing more and more these days that time sure does fly, and my little boy is growing up way too fast.

So in Mr. Logan's honor, here's our favorite family recipe. What puts these muffins over the top is the ginger and nutmeg- they add a little spice, and take these from the ordinary to extraordinary.

Back to School Blueberry Muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
4 tsps. baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
3 cups fresh blueberries

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, cubed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tins with liners (this recipe makes around 24 muffins).

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, ginger, and baking powder. Next, in another bowl, mix together the vegetable oil, eggs, and milk. Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the blueberries. Fill muffin tins to the top (I use an ice cream scooper, one scoop does the trick).

Next, mix all the ingredients together for the topping with a fork. Sprinkle over muffins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until done.  

These muffins also freeze really well- perfect back to school breakfast. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pretty Petit Fours

My sweet friend Jenn and her family just adopted the cutest baby girl, Miss Harper Rose. I made a few desserts today for Harper's sip and see, and these petit fours came out super cute. These are VERY time consuming, so get your big girl panties on and know you're in for some serious time in the kitchen. I was in it to win it, so really went all out with the fondant cutouts. I also made a few fondant roses, my inner Martha was out! Batter Up, Cowgirl!

Pretty Petit Fours

1 Box Pillsbury White Cake Mix
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cup water
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
4 egg whites
1 cup sour cream

2 lbs confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a jelly roll pan. Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and beat until combined. Combine water, vegetable oil, extracts and egg whites and whisk together. Add to dry ingredients and beat until well combined. Add sour cream and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into greased jelly roll pan and bake for 30 minutes or until done (turn pan halfway through cooking time). Cool completely.

Cut cake into squares (I cut mine to 2 x 2, but you could definitely do smaller). Place cake squares on racks to ice. In a large bowl, combine glaze ingredients. Beat on low speed just until blended; beat on high until smooth. Apply glaze evenly over tops and sides of cake squares, allowing excess to drip off. Let dry. Repeat if necessary to thoroughly coat squares. Let dry completely. (I doubled the glaze recipe above because I iced my squares twice. You definitely don't have to do this, but they looked a lot better with a second coating of icing).

Now the fun part, decorate for your occasion!

Luscious Lemon Squares

Spring time always makes me think of fruity desserts- lemon squares, banana pudding, strawberry napoleons. I'm generally not a huge fan of lemon, but these lemon squares are really good. This recipe has a thicker crust, which I prefer. The filling is also just perfect, not too tart or too sweet. I'm not going to lie, squeezing all the lemons is a small beating, but definitely worth it. Don't ruin your gourmet squares by cheating and buying bottled lemon juice. Doing this would make even Jesus mad on Easter Sunday. Enjoy!

Luscious Lemon Squares

For the Crust
4 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar
4 sticks of cold butter

6 large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp grated lemon zest (4-6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the food processor, blend flour, powdered sugar, and butter until crumbly. Do not over mix. Press mixture into the bottom of greased jelly roll pan (I just sprayed lightly with PAM). Bake 15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool.

Whisk eggs and sugar until well beaten. Add lemon zest, lemon juice and flour. Whisk until well combined. Pour over cooled crust and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until set. Cool bars completely and cut into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day.... Continued!

I'm a big fan of finding good recipes and making them your own- add ingredients, take away ingredients, throw it in the crockpot, just do something a little different. I found a great recipe online for Irish soda bread. And by great, I mean it looked super easy, didn't require yeast, and only baked for 35 minutes. My kind of bread! I actually think this would make a really good every day bread without the caraway seeds. I'm not a huge lover of them, but apparently they're Irish. In any case, if anyone ever asks you to make a loaf of bread, you'll have this little recipe in your back pocket to impress your friends. 

The hubs loves bruschetta, so I thought, why not make an Irish version as an appetizer. So here's how I did it:

For the soda bread:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and dusting
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For Assembling the Bruschetta:
Olive Oil
Store bought pesto (I used the Giada de Laurentis brand from Target)
Dubliner Aged Irish Cheese
Balsamic Vinegar
Parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and caraway seeds. Stir in the buttermilk and melted butter with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides until the ingredients are just combined.
Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead it 6 times, just until it comes together into a 6-inch round. The dough will still be sticky.
Cut a large X in the top of the round and place the loaf of a baking sheet. Dust it with 1 teaspoon of flour and bake it for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

When ready to assemble the bruschetta, cut the bread into thin slices. (I ended up cutting the slices in half that were larger.) Place the bread slices on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toast the bread under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Flip the bread slices over and spread each slice with pesto and top with a slice of cheese. Put the bruschetta back under the broiler until the cheese is melted. Then top with a drizzle of balsamic and sprinkle with parsley.

This was a total hit at our little get together and was gone in a matter of minutes. The leprechauns were hungry! I hope you had a good St. Patrick's Day, I sure know I did- that Bailey's was my best friend. I also had to share my favorite part of St. Patrick's Day, my little Irishman. Enjoy!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I thought it would be a good time for my little business to launch a blog. A few things: I'm not Irish, but I do love Guinness, Bailey's, the color green, and having a good time. I'm pretty sure these attributes qualify me to enjoy St. Patrick's Day like an authentic Irish lassie.

What makes a good St. Patrick's Day party? A Guinness cake of course. I scoured several different cake recipes, did a little combining, and here's the final result. This cake is moist, has just the right amount of chocolate, and the frosting isn't overly sweet. So make a tiny pocket in your tummy after all that corned beef and cabbage for it (ladies you all know we were born with this Darwinian adaptation).   

Chocolate Guinness Cake
1 cup Guinness
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sour cream
3 teaspoons Madagascar bourbon vanilla paste
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Grease a 9 in. spring form pan (I used Wilton's cake release- it's quick and easy, if you don't have this, grease, flour and line with parchment).

In a small saucepan, heat the beer and butter until butter is melted. Remove from heat; whisk in sugar, baking cocoa and salt. Combine the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla paste (if you don't have vanilla paste substitute just regular vanilla extract); whisk into beer mixture. Combine flour and baking soda; whisk into beer mixture until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Remove sides of pan.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add confectioners; sugar and cream; beat until smooth. Remove cake from the pan and place on a cake stand.

And my favorite part, ice the top of the cake so that it "resembles a frothy pint of beer." You're welcome.

I jazzed my cake up a bit with a little fondant shamrock and some edible gold dust (people expect this from me).

So there you have it, go whip up your Guinness cake like the sassy Irish Mama you know you are. And as every good cook knows, you should never waste alcohol, so while you're making your cake, be sure to enjoy the rest of that Guinness you only used a cup of. Batter Up, Cowgirl!