Archive | March, 2011

Hang Tight, My Friends

31 Mar

I know, I know.  I did such a good job last week.  I scheduled posts.  Even checked-in one day.

This week?  Back to my old ways.  BUT, I have a good reason.  Reasons, really.

First, I had to leave this adorable little guy.  Terrible, right?

Second, I got off the plane and (almost) immediately turned around to go to a 30th/60th birthday party for my bf (and former roomie), Kate, and her wonderful dad (yes, they were born on the same day).  There was some wine, numerous beers and a full night of dancing.  As you are probably guessing, Sunday was more or less a lost day!

And the third reason?  I’ve been studying for a test.  While not as fun, probably the most time consuming.  Happy to report I took the test this morning (and passed, phew!), so more sweet treats and even some dinners will be coming your way.  Soon.  Very soon.

Here’s a sneak peak…

Grilled Goat Cheese Salad (I’ve already made this once since I’ve been home!)

Grilled Banana and Nutella Crepes (okay, so maybe we ate this twice)

Simple Tomato Sauce

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-apart Bread (I couldn’t stop eating this – in fact, I want a piece right now)

Homemade Cheese Crackers (big hit with the little one)

Not pictured: feta and fresh herb mac and cheese, 2 rounds of cinnamon rolls, homemade brioche buns, coconut macaroons, chicken gyros and Greek salad, fondant covered mint cupcakes

And, yes, this was all made last week while I was in Vermont.  Jess and I can pack some cooking and baking into a week. No wonder I’ve needed sleep since I’ve been home.

Anyway, stay tuned!

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Nutella Cookie Sandwiches – Fresh Baked Friday!

25 Mar

It’s no secret.  I love Nutella.  I think it’s pretty much God’s gift to us.  Extreme?  Perhaps.  True.  Yes.

So, when I saw these cookies over on Espresso and Cream, I was sold.  I really didn’t even need to read the post or the recipe.  Nutella and baked good?  Yes, please.

Just needed an occasion.  Because, unlike last week’s post, I assumed I would have no self-control with these babies.

Visit to Philly.  Sweet treats needed.  Occasion found.

And so I baked.  And so I tasted.  And so I’m… a bit disappointed?

I know.  Shocking.  How is it that a cookie with Nutella can disappoint me.

It didn’t have the strong Nutella flavor I imagined.  I wanted to taste the hazelnut.  I wanted to taste the chocolate.  I wanted that lovely aftertaste.  Instead, I got a chocolatey cookie, with the slightest hint of hazelnut.

Now, on behalf of the cookie, I was out of hazelnuts and didn’t want to run out to the store.  I think this would have made a big difference.

I also think the cookies may have needed to sit.  You know how certain flavors meld and develop over night.  Think chili or chicken noodle soup.  Always better the next day, right?

Well, it’s the same with cookie sometimes.  Especially ones with nuts or spices.  But, time wasn’t on my side.  I needed these packaged and ready for departure that night.

So I thought.  Then I pouted.  Just a little.

Aha! moment.

What if I sandwiched two cookies together with… Nutella!

Need I say more?  Why are you still reading?  Go.  Right now.  Get some Nutella and make these.

Seriously delicious.

Nutella Cookie Sandwich
Printer Friendly Version

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
½ cup Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup chocolate chips (I used dark)
½ cup chopped hazelnuts, lightly toasted (optional)
additional Nutella

Directions…

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line two cookie sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.  Set aside. 

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat until combined.  Beat in the Nutella.  Add the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips and hazelnuts (if using).

Scoop dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are crispy and center is still slightly soft.  Let cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Match cookies up by size.  Spread a thin layer of Nutella on one cookie and place other cookie on top.

Sit back and enjoy!

Source: Espresso and Cream

Custom Cuts: Megan ♥ Matt

23 Mar

And bridal shower three…

Eileen (who happens to be my best friend and former roommate’s mother) contacted me to do some cookies for a bridal shower she was throwing.  To make it even more fun and complicated, the bride is actually a former high school classmate of mine.  Love this small world!

Eileen was really open to a design, but wanted a cookie on the larger side and something relatively simple.

We settled on wedding cake cookies.  The sheer size makes a statement.

When it came to color, I used my judgement.  I knew Megan and Matt are getting married near the beach, so I thought a bluish green color would be perfect.  (As a side note, I think this is the most amazing color.  I’ll probably never be able to make it again… sigh.)

Eileen’s one request was to put the bride and groom’s names on the cake.  I thought a simple ♥ would be soft, simple, sweet and subtle (man, I love alliteration).  It is a bridal shower, after all.

By the way, I don’t like hearts.  Just don’t like ’em.  Butterflies either, if you want to know. But these little hearts?  Love (LOVE) them on sugar cookies.  What’s that about?

Anyway, I’m so glad I was able to be part of Megan’s shower.  Sending best wishes for a wonderful wedding and happiest marriage to Megan and Matt!

A Little Help for Our Friends

22 Mar

Checking in from sunny Vermont.  Ha!  I wish.  Yesterday it snowed 3 inches.  Snowed on the first day of Spring.  Crazy, right?!

Just wanted to let you all know I am participating in a Virtual Bake Sale to help the victims of the tragedy in Japan.  Madison from Espresso and Cream organized this delicious way to help a wonderful cause.

Be sure to take a look and, please, please, please consider bidding.  It’s really a win-win.  You donate to much needed cause… and in turn you get a sweet treat!

 

Custom Cuts: Anchors Away

21 Mar

As you read this, I’m probably sipping a cup of coffee, chatting with my best friend and playing a rousing game of peek-a-boo with my Godson.  But, look at this.  I’ve been a good blogger this week and have scheduled what I hope is some good reads for you all.  Enjoy!

Bridal shower two.  Liz contacted me to see if I could do some anchors for a bridal shower she was throwing.  Of course!

Well, turns out these babies were a bit more challenging than I anticipated.

First, I had to find a cookie cutter that I liked.  If you do a quick Google search, you too will discover a plethora of pretty terrible anchor cookie cutters.

But I was determined and finally found one.  Step one complete.

Then I went to work on a mock-up.  Well, my perfect anchor cookie cutter turned out to be a nightmare.  The details were so intricate that it was nearly impossible to cut it and transfer it to the cookie sheet without it turning into a tangled anchor mess.

Step two complete, but failed.  Blah!

So, I did a little thinking.  Yes, it happens now and then.

And it hit me.  Instead of using the anchor as the cutter, I could use it as a stamp.

The cookies became large rounds and the anchor became the design.

Voila!  It’s amazing what a little thinking will do.

Peanut Butter White Chocolate Pretzel Cookies – Fresh Baked Friday!

18 Mar

Longest cookie name ever.  But, for those who have tried these babies, well worth the mouth full of words.

As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try.  To be honest, as I’ve mentioned before, sweet and salty isn’t my thing.  Chocolate covered pretzels?  I’ll pass.  Salted caramel?  Not my first choice.

I made these, though, a few weeks ago to bring for some friends I was seeing during my trip to Philly.  One person in particular doesn’t have a particularly strong sweet tooth (crazy, right!).  I thought this cookie would be the perfect option for her.

Turns out it was the crowd favorite.

Taste-wise, these are a complicated cookie.  Can cookies be complicated?  Well, I’m saying these are.

The base of the cookie is packed with the peanut butter flavor.  The white chocolate adds a touch of sweetness here and there.  Then, the pretzels add a bit of crunch.  Complicated, right?

A few notes…

Feel free to use all-natural peanut butter.  It will make the dough a bit thicker, but mine turned out just dandy.  You could try adding a few teaspoons of milk or water if you are worried about the density.  (Now, I have not tried this theory.  If it doesn’t work, don’t fully blame me!)

I normally fold in any additions to my cookie batter.  For this one, I thought it would be good to have the pretzels broken up a bit, so I went ahead and added them and did a quick mix. Turned out perfectly.

If sweet and salty is your thing, these are the cookies for you.

Added bonus for me?  Since it’s not, I only ate one.  But trust me, there wouldn’t have been many sitting around to eat.

Peanut Butter White Chocolate Pretzel Cookies
Printer Friendly Version

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 cups white chocolate chips, divided
1 ¼ cups peanut butter (reserve 2 tablespoons to melt with the white chocolate chips)
1 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pretzels
fine sea salt (or fleur de sel)

Directions…

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line two cookie sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.  Set aside.

Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

Over a double boiler, melt 1 cup of white chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.

Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the melted white chocolate mixture and remaining peanut butter.  Add egg and mix well.  Add vanilla.

Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  The mixture may be crumbly, which is okay.  Add pretzels and remaining white chocolate chips.  Quickly mix on low speed.

Scoop cookies onto the prepared sheets.  Using your palm (or the bottom of a glass), lightly press each cookie down to about ½ inch thickness.  Sprinkle each cookie with a touch of sea salt.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and lightly crisp.  Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack.

Enjoy!

Source: Picky Palate


May the Luck O’ the Irish Be with You!

17 Mar

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Yes, today is the one day of the year where it is not only acceptable, but highly recommended that you drink copious amounts of green beer, eat endless plates of corned beef and cabbage and wear head-to-toe green.

Well, since I’m preparing to head north for a week (and hangovers are not useful when packing, I know) and Mom’s a vegetarian, I decided to make these delicious Irish Cake balls, instead.

Based on the Irish Cupcakes, these cake balls are super easy and super tasty.

Simply break-up your favorite chocolate cake in a large bowl.  Yes, it’s okay if you take a bit of help from Pillsbury or Duncan Hines.  I won’t tell.

Add buttercream that has been flavored with a couple of tablespoons of Bailey’s Irish Cream.  Or, if you are trying to grow hair on your chest, a couple of tablespoons of a good Irish whiskey – here’s looking at you Jameson.

Now, mix until the mixture is moist, but not gooey.  Roll into balls and freeze until firm.  Dip into chocolate.  Again, you can spike this if you want.  I won’t tell.

Kinda the perfect St. Patrick’s Day treat, no?  Chocolate and a bit of Irish deliciousness.

These may just make this St. Patrick’s Day better than the one where we got a little heavy handed on the green food coloring…

Cheers!

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