Sunday, November 11, 2012

Turtle Cookies

Don't be fooled by my lack of blogging, I still have been baking quite a bit lately.  We practically have a bakery in our kitchen with all the baking that goes on in this apartment.  I took advantage of my time off work on Friday and spent the day with Erikka catching up on life, eating tons of chocolate and baking these delicious cookies.  I stumbled across this little gem of a recipe thanks to Pinterest.  Originally from America's Test Kitchen, I adapted this recipe from The Kitchen is My Playground.

Cookie Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated, and 1 additional egg white
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

14 caramels
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/4 cup chocolate chips for drizzle 
1 tsp. shortening

Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Beat together butter and sugar on medium speed in an electric mixer.

Once combined, mix in the egg yolk, milk and vanilla.

With the mixer on a low speed, add in the flour mixture. 

Cover the dough and refrigerate for one hour.

 Right before the hour is up, whisk the egg whites in one bowl and place the chopped pecans in a separate bowl.

Roll dough into balls (about one inch), dip in egg whites followed by the pecans and place on greased baking pan.

Make an indent in the center of each dough ball, about 1/2 teaspoon in size.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

 While the cookies are baking, melt the caramels and heavy cream in the microwave for about 1 to 2 minutes.  

Once the cookies are done baking, remove them from the oven and fill the indentations with about 1/2 teaspoon of caramel.  You maybe need to repress the indentations on some cookies before filling them with the caramel.

Remove cookies from the pan and let them cool. 

Melt together the chocolate chips and shortening.  Pour the melted chocolate into a zip lock bag, snip the corner and drizzle the chocolate over the cookies.  Use as much or as little chocolate as you wish! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cinnamon Bread

Lately I've been quite obsessed with The Pioneer Woman blog.  So when I saw this recipe she had posted for homemade cinnamon bread I wanted to stop everything I was doing and bake it.  Unfortunately, I was at work when I stumbled upon it so stopping everything wasn't exactly an option. 
If you're in the baking mood but have a lot of work to do around the house, bread is the perfect thing to make.  There is plenty of time to be productive while you are waiting around for the bread to rise and bake.  In my case, being productive meant putting in a load of laundry, watching multiple episodes of How I Met Your Mother and going on Pinterest.  That's productive, right? 

Do me a favor and eat this bread warm with some butter on top. I promise you won't be disappointed. If you are, then mail me your bread and I'll eat it for you! No homemade cinnamon bread should ever go to waste.  Ever.

1 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 whole eggs
1/3 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
egg and milk mixed together for brushing
softened butter for greasing the pan

1. Melt butter with milk.  Heat until warm, but make sure the mixture does not boil. 
2.  Once the butter and milk have slightly cooled, mix in the yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. 

3. Combine the flour and salt. 
4. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar and eggs.  If you are using a Kitchen Aid mixer, use the paddle attachment. 
5. Mix the milk, butter, and yeast mixture in with the sugar and eggs.
6. Add half of the flour and beat on medium speed until combined. Once combined, the remainder of the flour can be mixed in.
7. Again, if you are using a KitchenAid mixer you will need to switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough on medium speed for ten minutes.
8. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup of flour and beat for 5 more minutes.
9. Warm up a mixing bowl and add some oil.  I stuck my bowl in the oven VERY briefly to get it warm.
10. Add the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit in a warm environment for 2 hours to rise. 

11. After 2 hours of rising, roll the dough out into the shape of a rectangle, about 18 to 24 inches long.
12. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and spread over dough.
13. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle onto the dough.
14. To roll the dough, begin at the far end and roll towards you. Make sure to keep it tight and pinch to close when you get to the end.

15. Coat the bread pan with butter to grease and place the dough in the pan, seam down. I made the mistake of not putting the seam down far enough and my bread opened up a little to much while it was baking.
16. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours.
17. Just before the bread is done rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
18. Mix together some egg and milk and spread it over the top of the dough.
19. Bake for 40 minutes on a lower to middle rack in the oven.
20. When the bread is done, remove from pan and if you have patience, allow the bread to cool.

Slice into your bread and enjoy all of its goodness!  When I cut into my bread the center shape just happened to be a "G", obviously in honor of the Green Bay Packers!     
For the original recipe of this cinnamon bread and many other wonderful recipes, check out the Pioneer Woman's website.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chicken, Squash, and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

I love chickpeas, I love tahini dressing, and I LOVE butternut squash.  Needless to say this recipe made me so happy.  I debated using spinach instead of romaine lettuce, but the other ingredients offer enough flavor that romaine is the best way to go.  I also left out the chives (because I don't love them) and ate the pita chips on the side.  The recipe was very simple and only took about 45 minutes to make.  It won't take you as long if you're a pro at peeling butternut squash, unlike me.  Maybe I need to buy a new peeler, or maybe it's just the butternut squash.  Regardless, I will not let my dislike of peeling the squash keep me from cooking it and neither should you!  

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds) peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
2  6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/3 cup tahini 
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
12 oz romaine hearts, cut into strips
1 15.5-ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup pita chips
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees, with the racks in the upper and lower thirds.  
2. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  
3. Roast on the bottom rack, tossing once, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
4. Place the chicken on a second rimmed baking sheet and coat with 1 tablespoon of oil.  Season with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Roast on the top rack until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.  Let cool slightly, then slice.
4. While the squash and chicken are cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, oregano, one tablespoon of oil, 1/3 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  
5. Mix together the lettuce, chicken, squash and chickpeas.  Top with pita chips and chives if desired.  Serve with dressing.

Recipe adapted from February 2012 edition of Real Simple magazine.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Taste of Heaven

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layered Cupcakes  
All you have to read is the title of this blog and you know you won't be disappointed.  Chocolate and Peanut Butter, enough said.  Although, if I can say one more thing, these cupcakes have cream cheese in them which in my opinion makes them even better.  

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 powdered sugar
                                                                1/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup chocolate chips

A couple of things to note before baking.  First, I left out the white vinegar because I didn't have any and they were still as delicious as ever.  Second, the peanut butter chips and chocolate chips are to sprinkle on top of the cupcake.  I bought a mixed bag of chocolate/peanut butter chips and sprinkled the amount I wanted on each cupcake.  You may use more or less chips than what the recipe calls for.  

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Fill 18 regular size muffin tins with liners.

2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking cocoa, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.  Add oil, water, vinegar and vanilla to flour mixture.  Stir until smooth.

3. In another large bowl, beat egg, cream cheese, peanut butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer. Once mixed, add powered sugar and beat until creamy.

4. Spoon about a tablespoon of chocolate batter into each cup.  Spread about a tablespoon of peanut butter filling on top of the chocolate.  Repeat the layers once more.  Sprinkle with peanut butter and chocolate chips.  

5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes.  Serve warm or cool. 

6.  Try to restrain yourself from eating all of the cupcakes.

This original recipe can be found from the Pillsbury website.