Sunday, December 23, 2012

Russian Tea Cakes

I am so sorry I've kind of taken a little leave of absence.  I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off since about Thanksgiving so I've been seriously slacking.  

I hope everyone out there is having a wonderful holiday spent with friends, family, and if you're exceptionally lucky...pooches in the snow for the very first time.

She always keeps that one foot up.  The rest...they can get snowy but this one?  This one I gotta keep dry.

After a few attempts to eat it...she realized that she absolutely loves the snow.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cookies and Cream Oreo Chunk Cookies

I'm sorry for doing this to you.  I know I already have a few other recipes that involve Oreos...and it's really just not nice.

I don't know about you, but I'm ridiculously trying to diet a little bit before I go home for the holidays, just so I can afford to eat the heck out of some Christmas cookies.

But these.  Are.  So.  Good.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry Crumb Bars

I have done just a remarkably terrible job of keeping up with the holidays this year.  I love Christmas time, of course...but between work and Christmas shopping and making up goofy songs to sing to Cricket, I just feel super short on free time this season.

So to make up for that, I tried to bust out the stops the other day by making these bars.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Old Fashioned Apple Pie

What is there to say about this dessert that hasn't already been said?

It's comforting.  It's buttery, flaky, spicy, sweet, tart, delicious.  It's America.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sweet Rolls and Apple Walnut Stuffing

Hope everyone is enjoying time with their family, I know I am!

Well, Thanksgiving is over.  It's been eaten once, eaten twice, and picked over.  As is the tradition in my family, we went and picked up our Christmas Tree on Black Friday and decorated the house for Christmas today.  I don't know why but for some reason that relaxes and makes me enjoy the holidays more than shoving and clawing my way through crowds of people at the mall.  Crazy, I know!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tippin's Cornbread and Honey Butter has been an insane day of Thanksgiving preparation...a huge thanks to my friend Amanda (you're awesome) and my mother-in-law (saving the day several days in a row and counting) for helping with the preparations in terms of recipe providing, sous-cheffing (yeah I made up some spellings there) and general morale boosting.

I don't know about you, but I love cornbread.  There are an awful lot of crazy variations out there, most notably those containing entire kernels of corn, jalepenos, and cheddar cheese.  This is none of those.  In fact...I'll say it...this cornbread doesn't even need all that other stuff to dress it up.  It stands alone.  Or, rather, it stands alongside its delicious little buddy, honey butter.

Because you kind of HAVE to have the honey butter if you're eating cornbread.

Oreo Cheesecake Bars

I was so excited about fall finally getting here.  And now all of a sudden I feel like it's almost coming to a close.  

Technically, of course, that's ridiculous because if you look at a calendar, they don't consider winter to actually start until December twenty-something.  Which is insane.  I don't care where you are, by December 20-whatever, it is WINTER.  Heck, I'm already having to stay my hand from turning on Christmas music.

My somewhat convoluted point is this.  I had such a grand plan for my fall baking this year.  I had so many projects I wanted to undertake, so many new foods to try.  Well, you know what they say about our best laid plans...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hazelnut Nutella Thumbprints

Many times I've found myself, spoon in hand, going in for a second (ok...fourteenth?) spoonful of that chocolatey hazelnutty goodness that is Nutella, and I've thought to myself.  If only there was a way to class-up one of my favorite activities; straight up shoveling shocking quantities of Nutella into my face.

Well happy news, problem solved.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Peanut Butter Apple Bars

Happy Halloween!!!!

Yes, all four exclamations were necessary because I am SUPER excited.

In fact, I probably better keep this short and sweet because trick-or-treaters keep ringing the bell.

A few side notes to all the uncostumed tweens out there...

a) I don't care how old you are, if you're in costume I will gladly give you candy.

b) You have to actually say the words "trick or treat"...standing sullenly just makes me want to slam the door.

c) If you're not wearing a costume, I'll still give you candy (you scare me a little if we're being totally honest), but it's DEFINITELY going to be banana laffy taffy.  And you know nobody likes that.  Yeah.  The Snickers are for people who dress up.

Anyway, have you ever eaten peanut butter with apple slices?  It's delicious!  Here's that idea in bar form.

Peanut Butter Apple Bars
(adapted from two peas and their pod)


1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups diced apple chunks)


1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the bars: preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a 9x13 pan.

Melt the butter and brown sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until smooth.  Remove from the heat and stir in peanut butter.  Set aside to cool.

In a separate, large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

Add the eggs to the peanut butter mixture, one at a time, mixing well after each additions.  Stir in the vanilla.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring until smooth.  Fold in the apple chunks.  

Pour the batter into the pan, spreading evenly to the edges.  Using a sheet of waxed paper, press down until bars are even.  Discard paper.  Bake in the center rack of the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown.  Remove pan from oven and allow to cool on wire rack.

For the glaze, in a medium bowl, combine all ingredients for glaze and whisk until smooth.  Drizzle over cooled bars.  Cut into squares and serve.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats

So with all my pumpkin related fall baking lately I've been cracking into a healthy number of cans of pumpkin puree.  And sometimes I have a bunch leftover.

So... if you have leftover pumpkin and a hungry little pooch running around your house, here's some tasty little dog treats you can whip up for your furry friend.

Clearly, this recipe is Cricket-approved.

There aren't any ingredients in these that you wouldn't eat so...confession time...I took a bite of one.  They smelled so good coming out of the oven....

Let's just say...your dog will like them.  You?  Maybe not so much.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats
(adapted from allrecipes)

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon.  If dough is too thick to stir at the end, knead together with hands until combined.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into about a 1/2 inch thick layer.  Cut into shapes using a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter.  Use a fork to poke holes in each cookie.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake about 20-25 minutes or until firm.  Allow to cool before serving.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dark Chocolate Butter Brownies

I've been doing a pretty good job of working out a lot more lately.  I've been running, which I hate more than almost anything else in the world...with the passion of a thousand firey suns.  But still.

I've figured out a few things that work for me when I want to run more.  First, running with music (duh).  Secondly, now that it's cooler out it makes it MUCH easier.  Three, Cricket.  When you wake up in the morning to a ridiculously hyper fuzz rocket whom you've trained to know that waking up = taking her for a run and you see that goofball face and tail wagging so hard her entire rear end is sweeping back and forth...let's just say it's  hard to say no.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tay Tu's with Pumpkin Glaze

I have discussed these cookies before at length.  I haven't actually made this specific variation before, but I've mimicked it to the best of my ability here.  

But this is the real deal, straight from the recipe used by real live Italian aunts and grandmothers, specifically around Christmas time, but hey.  Fall is close enough right?

Like I said I made a copycat recipe before and called them "Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies" but their real name is "Tay Tu's" or something like that...possibly pronounced "thay too".  

Now I know I go on and on about these things on the blog...but were you aware that I ramble about them at equal length to friends, coworkers, and anyone else who will even pretend to listen?  It's true.

Anyway a friend suggested a pumpkin glaze as opposed to the traditional chocolate frosting.  I had to do it. 

It was so.  Good.  

Of course I had to make some normal ones as well.  I spent a lot of time trying to decide which I prefer...but I can't.  The best solution is to make them both...hold one in each hand, and alternate bites.   

Tay Tu's with Pumpkin Glaze
(adapted from the American Daughters of Columbus Cookbook, glaze from i am baker)

5 cups flour
pinch salt
1 tsp (rounded) baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups Crisco
4 eggs
1 15oz bottle Hershey's syrup (I used double fudge)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp ground cloves

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk (I used skim)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the cookies, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together shortening and sugar until smooth and fluffy.  Add eggs and chocolate syrup, mix well.  Stir in vanilla.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until the dough is mixed thoroughly.  Stir in pecans.

Preheat the oven to 375 and grease a cookie sheet (I sprayed mine with baking spray).  Roll dough into about 1.5 to 2 inch balls.  Slightly flatten with palm and place on cookie sheet.  These don't spread too terribly much, but allow 1 to 1.5 inches between cookies.

Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes.  Allow to cool on cookie sheet for about 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.  Allow cookies to cool completely before icing.

For the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar into the milk until smooth and lump-free.  Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until combined.  If a thicker consistency is desired, add more powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, whisking to break up lumps.

If you prefer the chocolate glaze, here is that recipe:

4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk 
2-3 drops red food coloring

To Make Glaze: Combine 4 cups confectioner's sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, add about 1/2 cup milk and about 2-3 drops of red food coloring. If a thinner consistency is desired, add milk 1 Tbsp at a time, if thicker is desired, add powdered sugar. Pour small amount of glaze over each cookie.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

So I'm super excited today, I'm going to be an aunt, and I just found out that I'm going to have a niece in March!  Congratulations to my little brother, I am so so happy for him.

Have I discussed how awesome my family is?  I'm seriously so lucky.  

Speaking of family, it wouldn't be fall without my Grandma Ginger's pumpkin bars.

As you can see, they are Cricket approved!

I've been trying to gather family recipes for about a year now, attempting to put together a family cookbook. I originally thought I could do this really quickly, but I quickly found out that this was a massive undertaking.

As a wonderful contribution to this endeavor, my grandma sent me her own family cookbook, circa 1985.  It's yellowed and stained and bound with yarn and priceless.  

Anyway, these bars, infamous in my family, were in that book.  Of course I HAD to make them, obviously!

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
(from my grandma)

2 eggs
1/2 (14.5oz) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1.5 oz cream cheese
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Butter and flour an 8x8 pan.  Preheat oven to 350.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together eggs, pumpkin, and oil until combined.  

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Slowly add the flour to the pumpkin mixture, a little at a time until thoroughly combined.

Pour batter into the prepared dish.  Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow the bars to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, mix together cream cheese, softened butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar until smooth.  Spread over cooled bars.  Sprinkle with chopped walnuts if desired.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Peanut Butterscotch Rice Krispie Treats

When I found this recipe, these tasty little bars were called "scotcheroos".  Which is a super cute name...but when I brought them in to work and wanted to tell my coworkers to come try some...  Let's just say a grown woman saying the word "scotcheroo" over and over wasn't working out too well.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Almond Slices

There are biscotti people and then there are the rest of us.  I never thought I was a biscotti person.  I like my cookies soft and tender and I seem to have bad luck with dunking cookies in drinks.  My oreos always fall apart, my biscotti are always a man-overboard situation.  

However.  My wonderful, gorgeous, amazing mom has always had impeccable pretty much every way.  Of all the insanely delicious Italian cookies that we had every year at Christmas, these were always her favorite.  I never understood why until after I made these.

Which brings me to the real reason for this mom's birthday was yesterday, happy birthday Mom!  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Apples get kind of a bad reputation.  All that talk about doctors, apples, days...that's not appealing.  Heck no.  

Tell you what, you want me to eat that apple?  How about slather it in butter and sugar and we'll talk.  

I'm kidding of course.  Truthfully this fall I've really rediscovered my true love of good tart but not too tart delicious delicious apples.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Nutella Puppy Chow

Cricket is a funny creature.  In case you don't know, Cricket is our Sheltie, aka strange hairy little pooch that lives with us.  I didn't grow up having dogs, so raising her from a tiny little fuzzball has been quite the experience.

But let me tell you.  I'm a total believer.  Having a dog is almost indescribable.  Nothing else in this world will ever love you the way a dog does.  No matter what you do, you always get to come home to that wagging tail, and let me tell you.  There is nothing better.

Now Cricket, like anyone, has her quirks and eccentricities.  If we're eating rotisserie chicken for dinner and she's lucky enough to get a morsel, she gulps it down like a seagull, and I refuse to believe that she could possibly be tasting anything.  Another of her favorites is cookie dough.  She knows what it means when the apron goes on and I bust out the stand mixer.  She stands at my feet, looking alternately up at me and then down at the ground just in case something dropped that she might have missed.

But veggies?  No way.  She'll take them like she's going to at least try them and then I find them an hour later, slightly chewed and discarded on the floor somewhere.

If Cricket got ahold of this puppy chow, though...oh buddy.  I don't think she'd ever eat her kibble again.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Soft Pretzels

So, I've talked about it before I know, but clearly we all agree that jeans shopping is the worst part about the going to the mall.  And if jeans shopping is the worst...soft pretzels are hands down the best.

Seriously, I know some people may disagree with this (I'm looking at you Cinnabon people), but there is nothing more enticing than walking through the mall or airport are smelling that sweet sweet aroma of freshly baked pretzel dough...buttered and salty just calling out to you.

If I'm alone at the mall or the airport...all bets are off.  I don't know if it's being engulfed by a sea of strangers, the fluorescent lighting, or the inconvenience of leaving the building, but something about the mall and airport are very enabling for me when it comes to bad eating.  

Not that these are the worst thing you can eat (that would be you again, Cinnabon...) but don't even worry about that, because you no longer even need to GO to the mall when all you really want is a delicious soft pretzel.  Here, friends.  Here is the answer.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Banana Walnut Bread

Happy October!  It is officially my favorite month.  Are you excited?  I am, oh buddy.

As Jim is woefully aware, among my collection of extensive and ridiculous October rituals, I feel the need to watch at least one scary movie a day all month.  Crazy...totally crazy I know.

I realize that in the food-bloggy world there may not be an abundance of people that care as much as I do about cooking and zombies...but hey.  I'm so into it.  So just in case you are too...or if you're interested...or whatever, here is my October must-watch scary movie list.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squash

I complain a lot about Georgia.  I do.  There's a lot (especially in my little corner of the state) that I don't like about it.  High up on that list is the lack of the nuevo-hippie type of amenities that I came to love living in California.

Wait, don't go.  I'm not a hippie.  Let me explain.

I love Trader Joe's.  Have you been there?  It's like a slightly granola grocery store, but way affordable.  I don't know how to describe it, but it's wonderful.  I'm not doing a good job of explaining myself.

In California I loved going to the farmers market.  I loved that good, sometimes organic, fresh food was right at your fingertips most of the time.  I loved that there was a Whole Foods where I could get any weirdo gourmet obscure ingredients I might need for the nutso recipes I like to attempt.  Also there are really cool bakeries, independently owned restaurants...'s just a dream come true, ok?

Well, I knew there would be less of that here in GA, but little did I know there would be next to none.  However, I recently found out from my friend Sara (who taught me to make macarons, baguettes, and crepes) that there is a food co-op available here every Saturday. 

Basically you pay 15 bucks on Monday and on Saturday they bring in kind of a grab bag of fruits and veggies grown locally...whatever's in season.  It's enough produce to get the two of us through like a week or two without needing to buy produce at the store...and it presents a fun and new challenge to use what you're surprised with.  Also it just feels awesome to buy local food for cheap and to eat in-season produce.

Anyway I'm done with my hippie rant now, thanks for listening.  My point is that, I got these beautiful acorn squash from the co-op this week...and I had not one clue what to do with them.  So I did this!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apple Cider Caramel Filled Cookies

One of my favorite fall memories from my childhood has to be going apple-picking with my brothers and my dad.  We all piled into the car and drove out to the orchard.  They give you this apple-picking contraption that basically consists of a metal basket on the end of a long pole (reminiscent of a lacrosse stick) that makes it super easy to picke apples from the ground, but I think my brothers and I took the opportunity to do a little tree climbing as well. 

After we picked the apples we got to see how apple cider is was pretty cool watching them press down the appled...and let's be real, how delicious is apple cider?  I just remember the whole place smelling amazing.  If you have kids...I would highly recommend apple-picking as a super fun fall activity. 

Speaking of apple cider...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

I'm coming to you live from my couch, bundled in sweats and a blanket and I'm still a little chilly.  It is fantastic.  Since about May we've had the thermostat in the house set at 80.  Here in Georgia, if you have it set lower than that...the AC never shuts off.  Never.

So this is the first night it's been cool enough for us to open up the windows, turn off the AC and cool this place off.  It is glorious I'm telling you. 

Also a glorious sign of autumn...I had my first ever salted caramel mocha frappucino from Starbucks.  It was life-altering.  I'll have to find a way to incorporate salted caramel at some point.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Is there anything worse than shopping for jeans? 

I look back on my 16-year-old self with my shiny new driver's license, going to the mall with a friend and just joyfully trying on pair after pair.  Little did I know that just a decade and change later, I'd be much more concerned with pears than pairs. 

I'm sure many ladies can identify.  Even if you don't hate your shape, which I don't HATE it... I mean sure I'd rather be eating a pear than looking like one...but it's not the worst thing in the world.  Still...for some reason jeans are the bane of my existence.  If they fit one place, they're loose in another.

And don't even get me started on the most minor of water/salt/cupcake fluctuations in my system that seem to render one pair or another utterly unwearable.  How is that fair?

What I'm getting at is that I feel like I need a new pair of jeans...but I'm scared.  I know that only regret, harsh lighting, and dissatisfaction are waiting for me that fateful day I decide to walk into that Buckle or American Eagle or whatever it may be.

You know what the answer is?  Yoga pants.  Yoga pants and delcious, soothing, there-for-you carbs.  Carbs think you look fantastic in those pajama pants.  To carbs, the only reason to go to the mall is to get a soft pretzel.  Carbs...let's be best friends.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Coconut Chicken Curry

I know many people agree with me on this, but there are few things I hate more than having to go to the doctor.  Really, the only things worse that come to mind the top of my head....needles and being deprived of food.  Oh wait, I'm getting blood drawn tomorrow and have to fast for the 12 hour prior to that. 

Oh and I work nights.  So at the risk of sounding like a HUGE whiner (which I know I am), it's the perfect storm for me.  I ate an INSANE version of my Green Smoothie to get me through the night though.  Which worked until...oh right about now. 

Enough whining!  Let's talk about that one time when I got to cook and eat something. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

French Onion Soup

Well it's official.  It is chilly outside tonight!  By chilly I mean 65, which...looking back that was a pretty average temperature year-round in Monterey so...

Maybe that's not chilly for you.  But here...that's soup weather!  Hurray!

So, thanks to pinterest I'm going through a period of my life in which I'm alternately obsessed with different fashion/food/beauty related products or ideas.  I spend hours poring over my laptop dissecting the pros and cons that would go along with cutting bangs. 

I know this can't be good.  I know.  Help me?  No don't.  No do.  Actually just sign up and we can link each other stuff forever, YAY!  Here's a brief list of my recent obsessions.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

A few weeks ago I was chatting with some friends about food goals.  By that I mean foods that we don't necessarily enjoy, but we really want to.  Do you have anything like that?  I have a few of those.

I used to be much worse...I used to hate seafood of any kind.  God how wrong I was.  My family and I would go out to eat to this Chinese restaurant that served all you can eat crab legs one day of the week...and I wouldn't touch them; instead I would load up on fried rice and general chicken like a dummy!  I could just kick myself!  

Finally I overcame that seafood aversion by diving headfirst into sushi.  Crazy, I know right?  Now I can't get enough of the stuff.

I know I should be scolded for missing out on all the deliciousness that I'm about to mention, but trust me, I know.  That's why they're goals.  So without further ado, these days my food goal list includes:

- Mushrooms: I know, I know.  I'm working on it.  Maybe I should start by making some crab-stuffed mushrooms....omg yeah that sounds fantastic.

- Olives: This really only ever applies with pizza and salad but I love pizza and salad.  I don't want there to ever be a time when I can't eat those things.  Plus when I was little my brother Michael always looked like he was having so much fun putting an olive on each finger.  I want that fun.

- Squash: It's not that I don't like's just that I never use it.  I need to use it more.  It's a great fall veggie.

-Milk: While not technically a food...I really should drink more of it.  I hardly touch the stuff besides on cereal, in smoothies, or baked into confections.  And you know...osteoporosis and stuff right?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cucidati - Italian Fig Cookies

These cookies.  Oh these cookies.  I've been blessed to have eaten these since childhood, but have always been utterly intimidated by the prospect of making them myself.  My little Italian grandmother (Nonnie) and one of my aunts made these and about a billion other cookies for our wedding reception.  They were a major hit.  To be specific...they disappeared lightning fast.  Real homemade Italian cookies are a made from butter and sugar and love, and I can't express the joy I feel whenever I am lucky enough to get my hands on some.

In my heart of hearts these are really definitely a Christmas treat for me.  But I think the awesome mix of fig, date, and walnut flavors lends itself pretty well to fall too.  PLUS, as I mentioned, I've been terrified to attempt these on my own, mostly because in my family, they were always touted as one of the most difficult cookies to make, so I had to seize the opportunity of having my friend Sara in the kitchen to help out. 

Like when she stopped me from putting 2 POUNDS of walnuts in when the recipe called for 2 CUPS.  Yeah.  I almost did that.  That's real life.

Even more real life anecdotes?  That wasn't even CLOSE to the only insane thing she stopped me from doing...let's just say I struggle with talking while baking.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cayenne Sweet Potato Fries

Today was the first not extremely humid day that we've had here in awhile.  And by awhile I mean awhile.  In Georgia, that's how you can tell that fall's coming.  It's not quite here yet (except in my head), but it's coming.  I guess Target thinks it's here already too, though, because they already have all the fall/Halloween decorations out in full force.  Not complaining...I think that's awesome.

I've recently become obsessed with Joy the Baker Podcast.  I guess I shouldn't say recently because I've known about it for awhile, but in the past week, I've probably listened to like perhaps 10 hours of these two lady food bloggers chatting about nothing in particular.  It's awesome.  They are Joy the Baker (obviously) and Tracey of Shutterbean.  I love Joy the Baker's pie crust's officially the only one I use now, and I swear by it to anyone who will listen to me ramble about crust.  Anyway, it's highly entertaining, you should check it out.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Texas Sheet Cake

In my book, fall starts September first.  And seeing as the grocery store has had the Halloween candy out since mid-August...I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way.  So happy fall everyone!  I am oh so pumped.

Jim and I just got back from a weekend of food, football, and friends in North Carolina.  There was a good deal of pool lounging that happened as well.  Anyway, we discussed a few food-related topics (imagine that...) and Jim went on a small diatribe about his feelings on the cupcake.  

He is not a fan.

The idea sounds so great...portable, single-serving, hand held personal cakes!  What's not to like, right?  Here's what he doesn't like.  Starting from the outside-in.  He's very methodical with this.  First, the liner.  You pull it off, you've got crumbs.  Not liking it.  Secondly, the frosting.  It's stacked so high that it gets all over your face and/or on/in your nose.  Hilarious but problematic.  Third, and this is one I can identify with.  Cupcakes are kind of all corner-piece.  You really only have one "middle piece" bite going on.  Whereas with a (gigantic sheet of) cake, you have middle pieces galore, where ever bite is soft and delectable.

Well Jim has been requesting this cake for quite some time.  You may recall I made Texas Sheet Cupcakes awhile ago...this is basically the same recipe just baked in a sheet pan.  And while Jim enjoyed the cupcakes for their spot-on Texas Sheet Flavor...he still disapproves of the form in which they were presented.  So I did it.

I finally made his cake.

Texas Sheet Cake
(adapted from blue eyed bakers)


2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 heaping Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla


1 3/4 (14 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
4 heaping Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
6 Tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the cake: In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt and set aside.  Melt butter in the microwave in a separate bowl, and add cocoa powder and boiling water, stirring to combine.

Add butter mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla.  Stir into the flour mixture until incorporated.

Grease and flour a sheet cake pan.  Pour batter into the pan, making sure the batter spreads to the corners in an even layer.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  

Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack.  Frost when cooled.  

For the frosting: Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add cocoa and stir to combine.  Add buttermilk and vanilla, whisking until smooth.  Finally add powdered sugar, whisking again until smooth.  Frost cake generously, sprinkling pecans on top.  Serve directly out of the pan, cover with plastic wrap and store leftovers in the fridge.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Raspberry White Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

I've started Pinteresting again.  It's a huge problem.  It's like constantly window-shopping.  I have convinced myself that I need allllllllll sorts of new and exciting clothes, makeup, food, decor, etc.  Fortunately Pinterest is also a useful supplier of fitness-related guilt trips and hilarious pictures of animals.

Anyway, it's also a HUGE source of inspiration for baking ideas...of which I've attempted several in the past week or two.  I've had some successes and several total failures.  But most importantly, I have more dessert (some more delicious than others) in my house than even Jim can handle.  And that's saying something.

These are my most recent project...a pretty, colorful little farewell to summer.  Because boy am I ready for it to GO.  I mean, the warmth is nice and all, but in Georgia it also comes with 2000% humidity, daily thunderstorms, bugs the size of your head, and snakes that slither their way into your kitchen.  That's right, your kitchen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sunflower Wheat Bread

Let me share something with you.  I'm not the neatest nor the tidiest person in the world.  I wish I was.  I wish my "baking cabinet" was anything less than chock brimming full of a ridiculous amount of spices, flours, powders, salts, nuts, and chocolate chips...but that's just reality for you.

Let me tell you another little fact nugget.  I can be a little klutzy.  Just every now and then.  In weird ways.  Like for instance, if I'm going to drop two heavy-ish items in the course of my baking, at two separate times, from rather high up...say from that overstocked cabinet perhaps...then of course, obviously, both of those items are going to fall squarely on the exact same toe.

Who does this happen to?  Anyone?  No.  Nope, that would be me.  Anyway.  It's really bruised and hurts to walk on and cry cry cry.

But this bread is worth a little pain and suffering.  I hope when you make it there's a good deal less of both.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Eclairs with Chocolate Frosting

So the other day I watched this documentary called Kings of Pastry about these super elite French pastry chefs made me want to bake French stuff.

Plus Jim challenged me to make some forever ago...they just always seemed so difficult.  And while it was a learning process, they shouldn't be very time consuming/labor intensive.  At least not for how impressed people will be with you.

As with many of Jim's baking challenges for me...this one tested my patience.  I dropped a couple eggs on the ground and had to try to fend Cricket off with my feet while tending to my time-sensitive dough production.

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