Friday, December 28, 2012

hope you had a merry Christmas!

decorating with toddlers is so much fun!

be prepared for mess though ;)

one of my sweet boys.

merry Christmas and see you next year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

coca cola cake

Perfect centerpiece for your Christmas dinner!
Enough said.
(although I did add some drool-worthy pictures...)
See ya after the holidays!

Coca Cola Cake
Makes one 4 layer cake
Adapted from a couple different online sources...

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 /2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup Coca Cola
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
tablespoons Coca Cola
1 (16 ounce) box confectioners' sugar
teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350*. In a bowl, sift together sugar and flour. Add marshmallows. In a saucepan, mix butter, oil, cocoa and Coke. Bring to a boil, pour over dry ingredients, and blend well. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk just before adding to batter along with eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well. Pour into two greased 8 inch round pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool, and divide each cake into 2 layers.
While the cakes are cooling, combine butter, cocoa and Coke in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and pour over confectioners sugar, blending well. Add vanilla and beat until creamy.  
Frost each layer and put lots of top!  And enjoy with ice cream :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

brown sugar cookies

I love sugar cookies.
But, I really only like them if they have homemade buttercream frosting all over the top.
And decorated into Christmas trees.

But, these were too interesting to pass up.
And I know just the addition of "brown" to the title might not seem very interesting to many people, but besides maple syrup and coconut, I'm pretty sure that brown sugar-featured baked goods kinda top my list in terms of featured ingredients.
So, I had to try it.
And I'm really glad I did...they are so good!
And really unique!
They have loads of flavor and the brown sugar really shines through.
Don't top them with frosting need to taste the featured ingredient!

Brown Sugar Cookies
makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies
from Epicurious, September 2011
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.  Set aside.
Place butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat on medium speed for one minute more.
Add the dry ingredients, all at once, to the butter and sugar mixture.  Beat on low speed until the dough begins to come together  and the flour disappears.  Stop the mixer and finish incorporating the ingredients with a spatula.  Once all the flour is thoroughly mixed in, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place a rack in the center and upper third of the over and preheat oven to 350*.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Dollop tablespoons size balls of dough onto the baking sheet.  Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.  Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cookies will last, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 5 days.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

mounds brownies

Go ahead.
Tell me you aren't intrigued.
And who, who, doesn't like a Mounds bar.
(Unless you don't like coconut...)

But, just look at this picture and tell me you don't want to go make this.

Go ahead.
Look at it again.

Now, read the recipe and just see how easy it is.
I'll wait.

Okay, go!

Mounds Brownies
Makes one 9x13 pan.
Found on Pinterest!
5 1/3 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut...but I've used sweetened and it's all good
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 9x13 pan of brownies, prepared...any kind you like!  *and leave them in the pan!
1 can of chocolate can use dark chocolate to make it more authentic

In the bowl of your mixer combine coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and powdered sugar until all ingredients are incorporated.
Spread coconut mixture over prepared brownies in pan.
Place can of frosting in the microwave for 10-30 seconds (remove foil liner and lid) until pourable.
Pour frosting over the coconut mixture. 
Let cool and set up.
And that's it!!  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

hannah's andes mint cookies

Okay, so I have a confession.
I take things rather personally.
It's a problem.
Because, even though my husband says that all of my dishes are the best (and I usually believe him...), my family has no problem telling me that someone else's cookies (among other things...) are better.
My brother in particular.
So, when we were in college and he told me that Hannah's (a friend of ours) cookies were way better than mine, I took offense.
But, I swallowed my pride and asked her for her recipe, baked a batch, and....well, they are quite delicious.
I've been making them for my brother for years and just now getting around to blogging about it.
And while I still love my chocolate chip cookie recipe, these are pretty darn fantastic.
Maybe better than mine.
Go Hannah.
Really!  And I don't mind admitting it!

Hannah's Andes Mint Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen.

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 package (10 oz.) Andes baking chips...if you can't find these, you can just chop up regular Andes mints...about 3 4-oz. packages
2 2/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
Hannah also usually adds a handful of chocolate chips*

Blend butter, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and eggs until mixed. Stir in Andes baking chips and then flour. Chill for approximately 1 hour in refrigerator. Scoop out some dough, form ball, and slightly flatten. Raise oven rack one level above middle and bake on non-stick baking pans. Baked at 350* for approximately 8-10 minutes. Cool on pans for 2 minutes before removing.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

brown butter toasted coconut and almond chocolate chip cookies

Brown butter toasted coconut and almond chocolate chip cookies.
What a mouthful....literally.
(har. har.)

Okay, okay.  So, these really aren't traditional cookies.
They aren't chewy or crisp...they are crumbly, a bit.  But, still thick and delicious.
But, even if you aren't into that, they are still worth it.
These are packed with flavor.
Every ingredient is bumped up in the flavor department.
And then all mixed together to create something amazing.

Hope you enjoy!

Brown Butter Toasted Coconut and Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes around 2 dozen cookies
Adapted from Joy the Baker!
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and browned to about 3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla 
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup toasted coconut...unsweetened or sweetened
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 - 1 cup toasted almond slices, slivers, or chunks

Preheat your oven to 350*.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat sugars and browned butter for about 2 minutes.  It won't look "creamed", like a normal cookie but that's just fine.

Add the egg and egg yolk and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Now, the mixture should look smooth.  Add vanilla and beat.

With mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients.  Beat until just incorporated.  

Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to fold in the toasted coconut and chocolate chips.  Dough will be thick and coarse.

Cookies can be baked immediately, or the dough can be left in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Spoon balls by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown but still slightly soft in the center.  Remove from the oven.  Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

cracker jack and cashew cookies


It's December.
That means there are those huge barrels of popcorn out.
You know the ones I mean??
So, you get them as gifts at the office or from your husband's co-workers that don't know what else to get you.
And what, what, are you going to do with that much caramel corn.

Make these!!
I used Cracker Jacks (mostly because I tried this recipe for the first time this fall...after I had too many leftover party favors) but I thought it'd be good to post this recipe during the holiday season.
With all that caramel corn.

Just make sure to let them cool completely or the caramel corn will be chewy instead of crisp!

Cracker Jack and Cashew Cookies
Makes 18 large cookies.
Loosely adapted from
1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups crushed Cracker Jacks (or other caramel corn)
1/2 cup salted cashews, chopped

Preheat your oven to 350*.
Cream the Crisco and butter together in a large mixing bowl.  Add sugars and beat well.  Add egg and yolk and vanilla and beat.  Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until just barely combined.  Fold in crushed Cracker Jacks and cashews and drop golf ball sized dough balls on cookie sheet.  Bake for about 10-11 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool on sheet for a couple minutes and then transfer to cooling rack.  Let cool completely (*important!*) and then enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

loaded quinoa breakfast cookies

So, these are a jack-of-all-trades cookie.
They are incredibly healthy for you.
Healthy enough for husband eats them two at a time after a workout.
Or for a toddler that has a sweet tooth like his mama and his mama doesn't want to give him cookies all the time.
Or ever.
Poor child.
But, really.  These are great.
The addition of quinoa is unusual but think of it like oatmeal cookies...great texture and way healthier than more white flour.
They are packed with dried cherries, coconut, almonds, and a few dark chocolate morsels.

Loaded Quinoa Breakfast Cookies
My mom emailed this clue where she got it!
Makes around 2 dozen.
And add whatever you'd like!  No almonds? Add pecans.  Hate cherries?  Use cranberries. You get the picture.
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil, room temp
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup clover honey
2 eggs, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup toasted unsweetened coconut
1/2 - 1 cup toasted, slivered almonds (or pecans!)
1/2 - 1 cup dark chocolate chunks

Preheat your oven to 375*.
Whisk flour, salt, baking powder and soda together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
Beat coconut oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, and honey in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and extracts and beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Beat in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until just combined.
Fold in quinoa, oats, cherries, coconut, nuts, and chocolate chunks.
Drop dough by tablespoon-ful onto parchment-lined baking sheets and bake until golden, 12-15 minutes.
Transfer to cooling rack, cool, and enjoy!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

salted caramel ice cream

Okay, pretty much all you need to know about this is:
Don't. Burn. The. Caramel.

I did.
Just barely.
But, still.

And yet, it was still the best ice cream that I've made to date.

And yes, I know that salted caramel sounds weird, but just understand that the flaky, yummy sea salt brings out all the sweet decadence of the homemade caramel.

It won't be salty.
I promise.
Pinky swear.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Makes about 2 quarts.
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs

Heat 1 cup sugar in a dry 10" heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber. 

Add 1 1/4 cups cream (mixture will spatter) and cook, stirring, until all of caramel has dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and stir in sea salt and vanilla. Cool to room temperature. 

Meanwhile, bring milk, remaining cup cream, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally. 

Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl, then add half of hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard coats back of spoon and registers 170* on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil).

Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, then stir in cooled caramel. Chill custard, stirring occasionally, until very cold, 3 to 6 hours. 

Freeze custard in ice cream maker (it will still be quite soft), then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up. 

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