Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lemon Meringue Pie

I've been extremely busy lately with school (yay midterms!) so I haven't had the chance to bake much lately. However, I did recently come across some older pictures of baking adventures. So I am posting them, just because I can.

I love love love my Nanny's lemon meringue pie. It's always my favorite part of the holidays. Dan's family came to visit the weekend after we had moved into our new apartment (gah! 7 adults and 5 children in our tiny not really unpacked apartment!), and he requested that I make some pies. I wrestled the recipe from Nanny and made these 2 beautiful pies! I wish I had a picture of the inside of the pie, because it had set up very nicely, but me and Dan and the pies will just have to do.

Vegan Orange Cookies

These are not the tastiest things on the planet, but they are cute, they are low-fat, and they are vegan.
Originally the recipe was for spritz cookies, a.k.a. cookies you make using a cookie press. That did not really happen For reasons unknown to myself, the cookie dough was entirely too thick and even after being thinned down a bit did not even look like something that could remotely work in the cookie press. There went my idea for pretty orange butterflies.
On the bright side, they do not taste disgusting considering they are a cookie that lacks all the things that usually make a cookie delicious. Also, I got to try out my powdered food coloring again. Red and yellow make orange. It worked here too! Also, note the delightful colored sprinkles, courtesy of Jillian for my birthday last year. Woo. Adorable.
Overall: not a complete waste of time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

German Chocolate Cake Cookies

I hate coconut. I hate it. I hate the smell. Ick. Ick. Ick. The texture. There is nothing redeeming to be said about coconut.

Apparently I am the only one that feels this way.

Chocolate chip and coconut cookies topped with coconut pecan icing and then drizzled with chocolate. A cookie amalgamation of German Chocolate Cake, Derby Pie and Samoas. (That is if cookies were people that could be amalgamated.)

These were a favorite of Mom #2 and another one of her selections from the Taste of Home Cookie magazine.
Other name options for these cookies:
"Damn Good Cookie."
"Best cookies you have made"

Jack, of course, eats them for the chocolate and tries to ignore the coconut.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Meringue: Semi-Fail

As I posted awhile ago, my first attempt at meringue was a complete failure. It resulted in a giant bowl of meringue, err... egg white and sugar, soup. (Which I then tried to bake to see what would happen. Nasty. Nasty rotten egg smell. That is what would happen. Let me save you the trouble of finding out.)
Fast forward about a month to me with a stand mixer and another attempt was fated to happen.
My second attempt at meringue resulted in slightly more meringue like results, and the smell wasn't nearly as heinous.

Berry blue kisses. They were berry blue and they were sorta in kiss shape. The recipe called for them to bake at 250 for 25 minutes and then sit in the closed oven for an additional 20. That seemed like too short of a time to me, but what do I know. I make meringue soup. So I went along with things. Resulting in kisses that look like kisses, but fell flat on the inside. so they really are light and fluffy...more so than usual what with the gaping hole in the middle and all.

I will prevail. Just not right now.

Chocolate Pecan Thumbprints

These were another request from work. This particular cookie was a selection of Barb, aka Mom #2.

The actual recipe yield was 1 1/2 dozen. Who makes just 18 cookies for something? Who I ask? I was anticipating some recipe shrinkage because, lets face it, how often is the yield actually what you end up with. I doubled the recipe. Then I was pleasantly surprised because I actually ended up with 3 dozen plus TWO!

So let me tell you a story about hot chocolate and zip lock baggies. I'd finished the cookies. They were cooled. I had melted the chocolate for the centers. Stirred it up so it was nice and smooth. Let it cool a bit. Then I decided I didn't want to waste a decorating bag on such a small amount. I would just use two ziplock baggies and cut off the tip. Great plan! I had used it before. Not an issue. Wrong. Apparently the chocolate was still a tad bit warmer than I thought. Half way through the filling of the cookies *SPLOOSH* chocolate explosion all over several of the cookies and back to the chocolate melting for me. Needless to say the people that ended up with the overly chocolate laced cookies weren't complaining much. But it was a tad disgusting.

The worst of it was trying to keep Wheezy away from the chocolate that landed on the floor post explosion.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Creamy Peanut Butter Spritz

I have seen lots of spritz cookies before, but peanut butter is a variety that is new to me. To be perfectly honest I was going to make a Geneva Peanut Butter Pie for my uncle Roger (He of the Robin, Ronnie, Roger and Rodney: R4; My mother and her siblings.) I owe him one from the set he paid for at a church craft show, but it turns out we did not have enough peanut butter so I opted for these instead. I still have to make the pie for him. It doesn't involve a bit of baking, but I will still probably post it when I get around to making it.

In the process I got to use two fun new toys, the new Kitchenaid Professional 5 Plus mixer and my Pampered Chef Cookie Press that I bought well before Christmas. Both were fabulous. The recipe ended up making something like 8 dozen thin spritz cookies. I wasn't a huge fan, but seeing as they all disappeared pretty quickly it seems that, as usual, I was in the minority.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Birthday Pizza!

After a super exciting birthday party, thanks to Xian's tasty treats and awesome friends, my actual birthday was pretty low-key. Amy, Holly, and Rob came over for pizza and Waitress, which Holly had bought me. I used Tyler Florence's recipe for the dough, only instead of rolling out the dough, Holly used her pizza shop experience to throw the dough in the air and stretch it like at a real pizza place. She has mad skillz! We added various toppings (mushrooms, onions, barbecue sauce, banana peppers, pepperonis, mozzarella, and parmesan, but not at the same time), and then threw it on my new pizza stone (thanks, Mom!). I don't think I ever need to order a pizza again! (I'm sure I will, though.) The crust was light and crisp, with lots of flavor. One note, though -- make sure you bake the crust by itself with a little bit of olive oil before you put on the toppings. The crust is so thin that if you don't bake it first the sauce will soak through and the crust gets not so crusty. It happened with one pizza, but it was still tasty.

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies Part II

I also decided to make some sugar cookies for Valentine's Day. I finally got to use some of the cookie cutters I got from Xian for Xmas! Holly gave me a super tasty recipe for thick, soft, grocery store style cookies. I know that sounds bad, but they were quite tasty. Actually, I had issues with about half of the cookies. They looked done when I took them out of the oven, and they had been in for the recommended time, and they were even brown on the bottom, but apparently they weren't cooked all the way through. About 20 minutes after I had taken them out, they started to fall, and I noticed they were still raw in the middle. I tried to save them, but it just didn't work. I think I was able to keep about half of the cookies, mostly the little ones. I probably had about 3 dozen.

After getting frustrated with the cookies, I didn't feel much like being creative. So I only frosted and sprinkled the remaining ones, nothing too exciting. They were still tasty. I took some to school and my students enjoyed them. My friends enjoyed the "I 'heart' PDE" cookies as well, although no one ate them (lack of frosting, I'm sure). I figured since I didn't have a real valentine, and I had to spend my V-Day evening in my Partial Differential Equations class, then I might as well make a cookie for it. That's right, Math is my hot, hot sex. And yes, I am a huge nerd.

Cinnamon Rolls

Yes, I know, I am lame. L-A-M-E. I haven't posted anything in 2 weeks, even though I have done some baking. Please allow me to make it up to you by showing you these:

That's right -- tasty cinnamon rolls just waiting to rise to their full potential (ha!). I made these for my super-awesome roommate for Valentine's Day. I was trying to be quiet while I made these the night before so I could surprise him, so I stirred everything by hand with my trusty wooden spoon. I guess you could use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer if you had one (ahem, Xian), but wooden spoons will give you bigger guns. I refrigerated the rolls after their first rise, so I had to wait longer for them to rise the second time around. I read about a neat trick that seemed to speed it up, though. If you microwave a cup of water for a few minutes, and then put your bowl o' dough in (microwave turned off, of course), the warm humid air will make the dough rise faster. After baking, they should look something like this:

Then comes the best part -- cream cheese icing! I used leftover icing from the Guinness cupcakes, and they turned out beautifully!

I got the recipe from blogger Orangette's column in Bon Appetit. It was well worth the cover price! The recipe made about 20 rolls. After Dan and I ate a few in the morning, I took some to school to share with friends. I was still eating them for a few days afterwards. It was nice to wake up every morning to warm cinnamon rolls (after some time in the microwave, anyway). I'm pretty sure I ended up eating more of them than Dan did, but I'm ok with that.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Beer Bread

So...anyone who knows me, knows that I hate beer. The smell. The look. The affects. Ick. Not a fan. Never have been. Never will be.

Apparently throw in some extra carboyhydrates and I am lovin' it all of a sudden.
Beer bread. So tasty. This was from a mix. Not from scratch. But I think I am going to try to make my own soon.
I knead to tackle the whole using yeast thing, otherwise I will scare myself out of it.
(Did you catch that...I "knead" to! Ha! Ha! Ha! LAUGH! I am very witty!)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Happy Kitchenaid Friday!

Look how pretty! This is now on the counter at home! Yay! Fun! Thanks to Mark!
I'm also pretty excited about it being a weekend so I can in theory play with it some too.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Flourless Oatmeal Peanut Cookies

These were Patti's second choice cookies. A tad disconcerting initially as the recipe is almost entirely oatmeal and peanut butter with some crushed peanuts and chocolate chips. I also baked them for the maximum amount of time allotted according to the fabulous Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies magazine....and they were still really squishy and swirly in the middle, but they turned out pretty well and firmed up quickly after taking them out of the oven. Which make sense seeing as how they were mainly peanut butter.

Mom likes them you can see. It took several photographs for her to actually smile. I would say it was because she was so busy eating the tasty cookie...I would be lying. She just does not smile.

Chicken Pot Pie!

So...I know this isn't a dessert as such...but it sure was tasty, and it did involve baking.
Now if only I can learn how to make a homemade pie crust. (I cheated on this one.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pretty in Pink! and Chocolate!

So...I made some Amish Sugar Cookies Monday night. I am not entirely sure what was "Amish" about them. They were kind of shortbread-esque which was far superior to my previous sugar cookies. However, these could never be used for cut-out purposes. I was not really looking for another sugar cookie this week, but I had a bunch of icing left over from Jillian's cupcakes. Almond buttercream tastiness.

Essentially, I forgot to take a picture of the pretty pink sugar cookies at home with them still on the baking sheet. I improvised today when there was one left. I promised ET that I would not put this photo on some weird website. So we can look at this one of two ways. Either A.) I do not consider Jillian and myself weird or B.) I am a dirty rotten liar. Anyone who knows me or Jill would probably opt for B. (Not because we/me are patently liars, but because we are patently weird.

Last night I made some Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies. Wooo. Chocolate. Chocolate dough: two types of chocolate. Chocolate chips: two kinds of chips. Chocolate drizzle. = Chocolatey. They are pretty. I like the drizzle.

In other news: SNOW! Lots of SNOW! Actually, not really. I just was not prepared for the wintery goodness that greeted me this morning. It did not hamper travel. Just made my pants wet. I love. love. love dusting snow of of my car. It is all so pretty. I hate. hate. hate. scraping ice. Light and fluffy snow though is difficult to get upset at, even when it does make your jeans wet for five hours and impede your driving via incredibly SLOW people driving five m.p.h. down a hill, with their brakes on the entire time, with one of their brake lights out, on a rental car like some demented rear cyclops terrified of breaking the snail barrier.

Also, I have made some lame-o cookies lately. I think I am going to tackle Springerle tonight, but those will not be ready for awhile. Maybe it is time for some of the cookies from Global Cookies.
This is Jack, he did not want to pose with the cookies and he did not want to eat a cookie either. Shame. Shame.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hey! It's Jillian's Birthday! Almost!

Rob and Dan threw Jillian a surprise birthday party...I baked some junk. Evan flew in from Iowa! Yay!

Green Fabfetti Cupcakes:

Diet Cherry Coke Cupcakes:

Scissor Sisters/Breast-Cancer Cake:

Mark Campbell's Jillian's Birthday Red Velvet Cake:

Graham Cracker M&M Cookies

Made these last night...they have peanut butter in them for some reason I can't discern, because you can't taste it after baking.

Overall...pretty tasty and nice and chewey too...if you like that kind of thing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Robin: Butterscotch Crunch "Cookies"

Robin calls these cookies...I call them an exercise in stirring.

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

Then...I got bored...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Robin's Cookies: Butterscotch Oatmeal Chip

Robin has been hasseling me for butterscotch cookies for an incredibly long here they are. I didn't like them. *SHOCK*

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

White Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

I love hazelnuts. Hazelnuts , Filberts, whatever you want to call them. I love them. I always thought that was a pretty normal relationship to have with hazelnuts. I mean seriously, they are the most tasty and delicious. My love for them started around 2001 when Katie and I and some other people went to Italy and we were introduced to Baci the tastiest hazelnut candy on the planet. Now of course, they are available just about anywhere, including Wal-Mart. Although that diminishes their allure, it doesn't diminish their freaking tastiness.

These cookies = not as tasty. I don't like white chocolate. But it seems to me that lots of other (insane) people do. I also discovered that these people are additionally insane because they enjoy the white chocoalte, but not the delish stylings and nutty delight that filberts embody. Silly people. Next time I won't waste my filberts on you!

Brownie Rollo Cookies

Essentially these cookies were a sturdy pecan brownie dough wrapped around a rollo dipped in a sugar/pecan mix and baked.
I hate rollos. I don't really like caramel that much and I hate the milk chocolate they are dipped in. All of that side these turned out pretty well. They are much neater when they are warm and gooey inside. The chocolate from the rollo seaps in to the cookie dough for some squishy chocolate fun. After they cool. Not so entertaining.

Cherry Slice

Cherry slice cookies...v. similar to orange slice cookies, except I followed the recipe on these and used shortening and added oatmeal...I still couldn't bring myself to ruin any kinda of cookie with coconut. They flattened out a lot more than our previous adventure into slice gummy cookies, but they were pretty tasty and much chewier than the orange too.

Cutting up the little slices was a pain in the rear. I decided to dust them in sugar this time after snipping them to pieces and that seemed to work much better as far as the stirring them into the dough went. I got so bored cutting up the little slices that I abandoned the cookie making until the next day. That is how boring it was and how much the scissors made my hand hurt.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lemon Ricotta "Biscuits"

We had some leftover ricotta cheese (I don't even remember what from anymore) so I decided to make this recipe. It's in my Food Network cookbook, but it can be found online here.

Despite some negative initial reactions from the boys about putting ricotta cheese in something sweet, these turned out very nicely! They were much more like a muffin then a biscuit though -- very moist and fluffy with a mellow lemon flavor. The almond flavor (extract in the batter and slices on top) really tied everything together. Perfect for a late Sunday breakfast!

Guinness Cupcakes

We always like to try odd things around here. Chocolate and bacon? Yeah, we've done it. But, what about beer and cake? Sounds odd, but let me tell you -- it's totally awesome! I found a recipe the other day here and decided I had to try it. With a little help from my beer-loving friend Rob, I was on my way to another delicious combination.

Neat picture of butter and Guinness on the stove.

Chocolate and some other ingredients were added...

and then into the oven they went.

Whip up some cream cheese icing...

...and voila! Guinness cupcakes!

These were some mighty fine cupcakes! They had a nice chocolate yet not too sweet taste. They didn't really have much of a beer flavor at all. You could taste it if you tried pretty hard, and that's only after they cooled. The cream cheese icing was a nice contrast to the cake. I can't wait to try the recipe again with other beers!

Thin and Crispy Oatmeal Cookies

Brian asked if I wanted to bake some cookies this weekend. I think we all know the answer to that question!

He was an awesome helper in the kitchen!

Brian recently bought a Cook's Illustrated magazine with a recipe for Thin and Crispy Oatmeal Cookies. I've never seen one of these magazines, but they are awesome. It has drawings to go along with almost every recipe. Even though the magazine is mostly black and white, the pictures still seem very helpful. It's also interesting to read about how they test the recipes and what works and what doesn't.

This article was all about thin and crispy oatmeal cookies, not the traditional chewy raisin ones. I personally love the crispy oatmeal cookies. I remember when I worked at Panera I would eat the crispy edges of a Nutty Oatmeal Raisin cookie and throw away the chewy middle. But these cookies are perfectly crispy throughout! They are so tasty, I've had 3.5 already today! Dan especially liked that they were bigger than my usual cookies.

There is also a suggestion to put coarse sea salt on the cookies before they bake. We tried it with a few, and it was surprisingly delicious! And they came out sparkly, which is always a plus in my book.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Jack's Cookie of Choice: Peanut Chocolate Chip

I've discovered that people will eat anything I bring in...but they seem to favor the old standbys chocolate chip and peanut butter.
Jack enjoyed his cookie selection, but I can't say much about how they turned out, I don't like peanuts. My least favorite nut by far.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Rocky Road and Oatmeal Pecan

After some issues with finding my baking cocoa...these finally got made. The cookies themselves are a little flimsy, I'd probably add a little more flour the next time I make them, but the marshmallow, chocolate icing and pecan topping were pretty tasty and pretty as well. I had fun drizzling chocolate over everything in the kitchen too!

Patti's cookie choice of the week: Oatmeal Pecan

I'm not a fan of oatmeal and I was expecting these to be really really bland, but they weren't. The brown sugar in the dough really helped the pecan and oatmeal work together to be their best. Overall, very tasty. Patti even hid some of them to save from the ravenous heathens at work.

While I had the camera out I hunted down P.D. Wheezy for some photographs. Potato was nowhere to be found. She doesn't like the sound of the mixer.

The worst cookies on the face of the planet

So...I made these out of the Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies magazine I got for Christmas...may I just say they were HORRIBLE! They tasted like biscuits. Initially I thought the recipe was a little odd...a little lacking in the sugar dept., but I said to myself, "Hey, this is taste of home. They do all that crap with testing their recipes. I've read about it. I'll go ahead and give it a shot." Well...I checked my measurements and ingredients and I followed the recipe correctly, and they were BAD BAD BAD! Like tiny salty biscuits that had melty peppermint candy chunks disspersed throughout. Ick. I actually took a picture of them in the trash can, but then I decided I didn't want to post a picture of my trash can on here.

They may look edible. But, I promise, they are not.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

King Cake - Cupcakes!

So I wanted to make a King Cake for Fat Tuesday...alas...I've never made anything that requires yeast successfully. (I admit I haven't tried since my freshman year of high school.) Also, I lack anything mixer/breadmaker capable of mixing the dough. I went the lame easy route instead and made King Cupcakes!
They are the magnaolia vanilla cupcake recipe from filled with a cinammon pecan filling... topped with a tangy buttercream icing recipe...and a baby!

I thought they were pretty tasty cold, but I have my doubts that anyone around these parts will enjoy them.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Superbowl Sunday Baking

So I went to Jungle Jim's on Saturday and after several laps of the store managed to find most of the spices and such that I wanted to start trying to make some less common cookies. Saturday also involved "helping" Katie, who needs no help from me in the kitchen, bake a cake for her brother's birthday. Paula Deen's Strawberry cake. I don't know how it ended up, because we ended up finishing the actual cake around midnight, but it smelled yummy and the strawberries were freaking delicious.
Anyway, Sunday I decided to forgo trying any of the recipes that I want to try, but am pretty sure no one will eat for something that it turned out no one but my grandmother liked anyway.

Ginger creams...Fluffy ginger, cinnamon and clove cookies iced with a tart-ish lemon icing. Personally, I think the icing was the best part of the cookie. I sent these home with grandma. They will probably be the first cookie to survive her sons, since none of them liked them.

Sunday night, pre-Superbowl

Almond Toffee Sandies. Not nearly as tasty as the sandies with pecans and in my opinion, they turned out to be a waste of almonds.

Iced Raspberry Chip

So the plan was to make some raspberry thumprints to take Heather at work. Heather works the dreaded evil Friday night shift in composing. Tragically...the best laid plans and all that...any form of raspberry filling proved to be missing in action. I didn't discover this until after I had already made the dough. Soooo...rasberry extract to the rescue and the one time thumprints ended up with some chocolate in the middle and iced with raspberry buttercream. Heather seemed to like them alright, but she could have been lying, she is incredibly nice. Too nice to tell me that the cookies I gave her sucked at 11:30 at night.