Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's Giant Cupcake season.....

My Giant Cupcakes have really taken off! I have had so many orders for them I am having trouble keeping up with my posting; but they are fun to make and everyone loves them. Here are a few pictures of the cupcakes.

MS:CC Candied Sweet Potato Cupcakes

This months recipe was chosen by by Karen at Karen's Cookies, Cakes & More and she picked a winner. I used a pan with an indentation on the top to hold the marshmallows; my kitchen torch can be a bit fickle at times and I ended up slightly over doing the marshmallows in a few places but they still tasted great. These were more of a muffin than a cupcake but that's OK with me, I may use this recipe for Christmas brunch. Looking forward to next month's recipe, Gingerbread Cupcakes. I hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SMS: Spiced Pumpkin Cookie Cakes

This has been pumpkin week, I made Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes for the MS:CC on Thursday and used the left over pumpkin for the SMS recipe; I just love using up ingredients. These cookies reminded me of the cupcakes I made last week, spicy, moist and yummy! Easy recipe with no issues.

I make French macrons occasionally and have a "cheat sheet" to make them all the same size; I just put the parchment paper on top, pipe the batter and you have perfect sized cookies. Even the piping tip was the same size! My cookies took the full 15 minutes and I feel they could have used maybe another minute or so. The frosting was a cream cheese based recipe, so I decided to use the left over frosting from the cupcakes; I just added orange zest and orange extract to the frosting and it was very good.

The recipe made 68 cookie halves and DH is taking ALL of them to work tomorrow, they are that good. I need them out of the house, LOL.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

MS:CC - Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

This was a whirlwind, I just found out I was able to participate in the MS: Cupcake Club and my book hadn't arrived. I really wanted to make this months recipe, so off I went to the book store and bought a copy of Martha Stewart's Cupcakes. I had everything on hand except the cream cheese, not too bad considering the time constraints. Easy recipe and if the batter is any indication, they will be awesome cupcakes; nice spice blend and with the pumpkin puree I'm sure they will be moist. I made half the recipe and got 12 minis and 12 regular cupcakes. I didn't have time to make the cute marzipan pumpkins but used candy corn for the minis and candy pumpkins for the regular. DH tasted them and really liked them, he is taking them to work tomorrow and will give me the results for his office mates.

Many thanks to Kim from What the Whisk for my first recipe with the MS:CC, check out the other blogs at MS: Cupcake Club.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TWD Allspice Crumb Muffins.....

I'm finally back to baking, just too much going on and it's not even the holidays, yet. Despite having a wedding to attend on Saturday I was able to bake for a few hours on Sunday. I made this weeks TWD recipe and Martha's Brown Butter Toffee Blondies. The muffins were easy to put together and I had no issues, except I forgot I had only 1/4 tsp of allspice left in the jar. As I was searching the spice cabinet I remembered I had whole allspice berries, so I got my spice grinder out and made my own powdered allspice! Wow, what a difference it made using fresh allspice, no comparison to the pre-ground; I always grate my nutmeg fresh and now will do the same for the allspice. The muffins looked so good and the topping was the crowning touch! I can't tell how they tasted because I have to really be good (I hate being good) with my eating; so off they went with my DH to work this morning. He just came home and said the entire office loved the muffins and blondies; actually they renamed the muffins "Crack Cocaine". Many thanks to Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table for a great recipe pick of the week!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

SMS Apple Orchard Pecan Crumble.....

Our recipe of the week, Apple Orchard Pecan Crumble, was chosen by Cristine of Cristine Cooks, check out her blog for this wonderful recipe! With this recipe I have declared that fall is finally here; and the weather is cooperating, we may actually get some rain (sprinkles) in the next few days. The dry Santa Ana winds hit last Thursday but this morning (Sunday) there was a slight nip in the air.

The Apple Crumble was delicious, especially the crumble. I made half the recipe but kept the same amount of crumble because that's what Karen suggested in the Q&A's. Thanks Karen, I'm a crumble lover and the more the better. I used a mix of apples, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp and McIntosh; next time I will make the crumble with just Granny Smith. I like the firmer texture and the slight tartness that Grannies give to fillings. This went together so fast, really, it's one of those, "OMG what do I serve for dessert, I have no time", recipes. I'm sure you could use any fruit you have on hand, like pears, apricots and such. I was thinking of adding some dried cherries or cranberries but I try to make a recipe as written the first time; besides, DH loves apple anything and wasn't sure if he would like the additions. Great recipe and will make it again with the additional crumble, yummy!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

SMS Caramelized Onions, Sage, and Cheddar Muffins.....

These muffins sounded so good and I was ready for something savory! This muffin recipe starts with the basics and then recommends "add ins" to suit your tastes. These muffins were easy to put together, no KA needed either; just put the dry in one bowl, the liquid ingredients in another and them mix. I had to make a few changes because I realized I only had the heavy cream but no regular milk, I substituted buttermilk and added 1/4 tsp of soda to compensate. I had a bag of self rising flour that I needed to use up so I didn't add the baking powder. I cheated and bought a package of frozen caramelized onions at my local middle eastern market, what a time saver and they tasted great. The sage came right out of the garden, so the only thing was to shred the cheese. The muffin batter was very dense but they baked up light and moist. DH and I felt they were a bit salty but that could just be our tastes and is something that can be adjusted next time. Our recipe of the week was picked by Hanaa of Hanaa's Kitchen check out her blog for the recipe and some great tips! I will be making this recipe again, it's that good and can be changed to fit any meal.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SMS Orange Scented Scones.....

I'm so excited, this was my week to pick the recipe! I chose the Orange Scented Scones; I really like scones and, since my mom was English, they are dear to my heart. Here is a brief history of scones from the Joy of Baking.

There are two ways to pronounce scone; "Skon" and "Skoan". Scones are believed to have originated in Scotland and are closely related to the griddle baked flatbread, known as bannock. They were first made with oats, shaped into a large round, scored into four to six triangles, and cooked on a griddle either over an open fire or on top of the stove. The origin of the name 'scone' is just as unclear as where it came from. Some say the name comes from where the Kings of Scotland were crowned, the Stone (Scone) of Destiny. Others believe the name is derived from the Dutch word "schoonbrot" meaning fine white bread or from the German word "sconbrot" meaning 'fine or beautiful bread'. Still others say it comes from the Gaelic 'sgonn' a shapeless mass or large mouthful.
However you pronounce scone, people either like them or hate them. To the haters they are either tasteless, dry, too crumbly, too sweet, not sweet enough and on and on, LOL. For those who love them, plain or fancy, they are the perfect "go with" for tea or coffee or just because. I, too, have had my share of hockey pucks but when you get a good one, there is nothing better!
Melissa's recipe was very good! The scones were light, airy and easy to make. I felt they needed more orange zest and doubled what the recipe indicated. You could easily use this recipe and add whatever your taste buds are yearning for, chocolate chips, dried fruit or just plain and have some of your favorite jam on top! I hope everyone who baked with me this week enjoyed the scones and will make them again!

ORANGE SCENTED SCONES from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Makes 6 scones

For the scones:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) of cold unsalted butter
½ cup of oat flour or 2/3 cup whole oats (to be ground)
1 ½ cups of AP flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 large egg

For the Glaze:
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

Place the rack in the center oven. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the cold butter into ½ inch pieces. Keep cold. Place the oat flour in the bowl of a food processor. If using whole oats, place the oats in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to a coarse flour. Add the AP flour, baking powder, salt, sugar , and zest, and pulse to combine. Add the chilled butter pieces and pulse until the size of medium peas.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream and egg until smooth. Fold the flour into the egg mixture to combine: the dough should hold together. Don’t over mix.

Turn the dough out into a lightly floured work surface and pat into a flattened round disk measuring 7 inches across. Using a sharp knife, cut the disk into 6 even triangles. Place at least 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.

For the glaze: Brush the scones with the heavy cream and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove to a wire rack and cool.

Monday, September 14, 2009

SMS Perfect Pound Cake.....

Many thanks to Michelle of Veggie Num Nums for our recipe of the week, Perfect Pound Cake! Check out Michelle's blog for the recipe!!! This was the perfect recipe to finally use my shortcake pan that I just had to have; and of course had not used until this weekend!

The recipe worked great in this pan and as usual I over filled the pan, but I just cut off the cute domed tops and ate them by themselves, LOL. I think I could have had 10 to 12 shortcakes if I had filled the pan properly.
Couldn't decide what to fill the short cakes with.........

thinking, thinking, thinking,....fresh berries with whipped cream, yummy..........

thinking, thinking, thinking,....oh, I know, coffee ice cream with Kahlua sauce.......

thinking, thinking, thinking,....fill the top with lemon curd and clotted cream.......

Well, just plain with a cup of tea, worked for me; at least there are five more to think about!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

SMS Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake.....

I'm still studying, but almost done! This weeks recipe was great, thank you to Sarah of Blue Ridge Baker, for a delicious pick, check out Sarah's site for this easy recipe. Was only planning on making a half recipe but decided on the full version at the last minute; I had already prepped the two 5" springform pans for the half recipe and totally forgot I needed the 10" pan, LOL. Amazingly the cake did not overflow the smaller pans; so my cake was much taller than intended. Still tasted wonderful and would definitely make again, but next time in the correct size pan!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

TWD Espresso Cheesecake Brownies.....

These brownies got rave reviews from my DH, son, DIL and of course me! The cheesecake layer was flavored with espresso, then you swirled a reserved amount of brownie batter on top. Several had commented that the brownie batter was a little stiff to swirl, so I added about one tablespoon of milk to loosen up the batter and it made swirling a breeze, love those comments! Dorie indicated the brownies would be done when the cheesecake layer was beige in color, LOL; it started out beige with the espresso in it. I went for the slightly brown edges and it was just fine. The espresso was not overwhelming, just the right amount of flavor and the texture was perfect, would definitely make again. I think you could add any flavor to the cheesecake, I'm thinking of adding hazelnuts to the brownie batter and flavoring the cheesecake with hazelnut liquor, yummy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Daring Dobos Torte.....

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonfulof Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular DobosTorte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

I decided to make a half recipe, which I am very happy I did, it was wonderful and so rich!!! I just made one large layer in my sheet pan and used a 4 1/2" cutter to cut out the six layers. The chocolate buttercream icing was to die for; this was the first "true" buttercream I have made. The icing was so easy to make and turned out like silk, just melted on the tongue, yummy! The caramel was another easy recipe, just sugar, water and some lemon juice. The tricky part was pouring the caramel on one of the layers for the decorations on top of the cake, but with great instructions it wasn't all that hard! Cake was delicious and is all gone!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

SMS Mom's Banana Apple Bread.....

Our SMS recipe of the week was Mom's Banana Apple Bread and I had actually bought bananas several days before, so they were really black, yummy! This bread had an apple twist to the recipe; you saute apples, in brown sugar and butter, until they are soft, let them cool and then add them to the batter. The apples made the bread very moist and, for me, almost over powered the banana flavor, not in a bad way, just different. My DH preferred Dorie's banana cake, that we made a few weeks ago, because of a more pronounced banana flavor.
This week's recipe was chosen by Joy of Hot Oven Warm Heart. Check out Joy's blog for the recipe.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD Applesauce Spice Bars...

The TWD recipe of the week was chosen by Karen of Something Sweet. These bars were very easy to put together, no mixer, everything is a sauce pan, how easy was that? My bars were extremely moist and lacked the spiciness I was looking for; next time I would at least double the spices. My glaze was just enough for the 9 x 13 pan. I baked the bars for 27 minutes and think they could have used a few more minutes. Not my favorite from Dorie, but fun to make. My posts may be a bit short for the next few weeks; I am required to recertify every 2 years to keep my personal training certificate current.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

SMS Snickerdoodles.....

Our Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe for this week were Snickerdoodles, chosen by Spike of Spike Bakes , check out her blog, she also made white chocolate cinnamon ice cream to go with her cookies!!!
These were very easy to make; I made the dough the day before and baked them this morning, the house smelled so good!!! They tasted great, just like a snickerdoodle should; I got 18 cookies, I ate 1, DH had 1 (so far) and the rest go to work with him tomorrow. Get them out of the house, away from me, LOL.

I have always heard about White Lily Flour and how soft it is and how it makes the best biscuits; just one problem, can't find it here on the West coast. But when one of my clients said her husband was in Kentucky on business, (well why not), I asked, if he could find the time, could he please, please, bring me back some flour. I'm sure he really needed to hear about finding flour on a business trip; but Saturday morning there it was on the desk, one 5 pound bag of White Lily flour, oh thank you, thank you. Who knew flour could be so exciting, I did try to find some, when I was in Pennsylvania, but no luck. I think it's only East of the Mississippi and mainly in the South.

I made the recipe on the back of the flour bag for biscuits, I had one, and DH ate the rest with some of the preserves we made a few weeks ago. The biscuits were very good!!! The flour really is soft and has a different texture than regular flour; will hoard this flour as long as possible!!!

Another client asked if would make the desserts for a party she is having next week, of course I said yes!!! She wanted mini pineapple upside down cakes, lemon mini cheese cakes and mini cupcakes for the children. I did a test for the pineapple upside down cakes and they turned out GREAT!!! They are a perfect two bite dessert, not too much and there is always room for more.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Eco-Friendly Give A Way.....

Here is a cool give a way I just entered!!! The company is the Marx Food Company and they sell the top of the line, unusual or hard to find gourmet items that can make or break that special meal. They also carry eco-friendly disposable plates made from palm leaves. Here is their description of the product:

These elegant and durable disposable party plates are an eco-friendly alternative to conventional disposable plates. These biodegradable plates are a natural and renewable resource. Naturally discarded sheaths of the leaves of the Adaka palm tree are collected from the forest floor. No trees are cut down. The plates and the disposable cutlery are even compostable!

I hate throwing away paper or plastic plates, so I usually don't use them and just do a ton of dishes after a casual party or BBQ; this is an alternative I can live with. You have until August 17 to enter, nothing to buy! The prize is 25 of the palm leaf plate sets, just in time for the end of summer!!! Just click the link above and enter.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Classic Banana Bundt Cake.....

Mary of The Food Librarian chose Classic Banana Bundt Cake on page 190, from the book Banking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. This was so good, no beyond good, it was GREAT!!! Moist, pronounced banana flavor and just a perfect bundt cake. I made a half recipe with my mini bundt pan, it holds 6 cups, and I had no overflow problems. The cake released perfectly, something I have always worried about with bundt pans until I found the "end all" pan release recipe. I have used this release for about 9 months and it has yet to fail me, if you would like to try it out here it is; you can make as much as you like, just keep the proportions the same.

1 part canola oil
1 part flour
1 part vegetable shortening

Mix together and store in your pantry, if it separates, just remix. For dark cakes you can use cocoa powder instead of flour. I find combining the flour with the shortening first then adding the oil makes mixing much easier.

I suppose I could have cleaned the crumbs off the cake plate for the picture, but why wast such yummy crumbs? After I packed the cake for DH to take to work (seriously, I could have eaten the whole cake myself), I licked the plate clean!!! This is a definite keeper, and I still have 3 ripe bananas; I think I will try some mini loaf pans next. Thanks to Mary for picking such a great recipe!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Back from Pennsylvania.....

Wow I've been back for over two weeks and have not had time to post about my competition/vacation. I am finally caught up with my food posts and baking for the weekend so now a bit about my trip. DH and I went to Pittsburgh for my first masters figure competition; figure is between bodybuilding and fitness. This is the first competition I have competed in that has an age class for 55 and over, I'm 58. The oldest age class out here on the West coast is 45 and over; I really wanted to compete in a class that was more even in age and I had a blast. I enter these events hoping to place but never expect to place, this sport is like other subjectively judged sports, you have to pay your dues and there are some politics involved. But, that said, I won't give up!!! Yes, I work out all year, eat clean all year, have a nutritionist/coach all year; all this for one or two competitions a year. No, I'm not crazy, I enjoy pushing my body to the max and I didn't start working out until I was 52; so I'm a late starter. Anyway, to make a long story short, I didn't place but learned what I need to work on for next year and next year will be here before I know what hit me. I have had two weeks off and tomorrow it all starts over!!!

Pennsylvania is beautiful, I'm ready to move there, LOL. Ya, ya, ya....wait for winter; is it really that bad? I mean, I get tired of no seasons except, well I guess we have them, Hot, Warm, Cool and Warm, maybe those don't qualify. We stayed a few days in Lancaster County and drove all over the Amish areas, I actually saw a covered bridge.

I loved the farms, fresh eggs and homemade root beer. Very simple and clean; I fell in love with a small town called Lititz. Went to the chocolate museum and pretzel museum, what fun!!!

Saw many horse and buggies; finally got to see fire flies and ate shoo fly pie; I'll give the pie an OK, maybe homemade is better. Then on to Philadelphia for just a day, not enough time, but I saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Basically I ate my way through Pennsylvania and it was so nice to just eat what I wanted.
It's always good to get home, but in the back of my mind I see a home somewhere East of the Mississippi with my name on it.

SMS Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies.....

This weeks pick, Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies, was by Stephanie of Ice Cream BeforeDinner, check out her blog, she made several versions of this recipe. I love peanut butter cookies, especially chewy ones, these were chewy but a bit flat for me. Flat in flavor and physical stature, LOL. What I look for in a peanut butter cookie is a strong peanut butter taste, these were mild; I also like a thicker cookie, mine spread and cracked more than I expected, the out of focus picture showes how thin mine turned out.

So I made my favorite PB cookie, Thick, Moist & Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies, adapted from The Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball. This recipe uses roasted salted peanuts that you process with the flour in a food processor, and a cup of peanut butter.

These are thick and chewy with a pronounced peanut flavor; a definate thumbs up from DH. I always enjoy trying out new recipes, even if I have a tried and true, never fail recipe that I have used for years; you just never know when you will find an even better recipe.