Thursday, December 01, 2016

#FillTheCookieJar ~ Snowball Cookies




Welcome to the Fill the Cookie Jar blogger group! This month we were given the theme of "Christmas" for December, getting us all in the baking spirit. There are endless options as a Christmas cookie means a lot of different things to different people. Family traditions, certain ingredients, smells, scents, shapes, etc.



I decided to go the "Snowball Cookie" route - although mine didn't hold their shape  when baked. I think my dough was a little bit too wet, so increased the amount of flour in the recipe below. The filling is also "to taste" / at your discretion. I thought the amounts suggested in the original recipe were way too much based on the cookies I made. The flavor and texture was lovely in these cookies. So soft and tender, filled with sweet jam and a little bit of crunch from a sprinkle of pecan. The dough itself isn't very sweet, so the powdered sugar adds just the right touch of sweetness to these tasty cookies.


Snowball Cookies from My San Francisco Kitchen

Ingredients
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup powdered sugar, plus extra for coating
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
2 TBS chopped pecans
2 TBS strawberry jam

Instructions
  1. Cream together softened butter and powdered sugar in a standalone mixer on medium speed, then add the vanilla.
  2. Whisk flour and salt in a separate bowl, and add slowly to mixer.
  3. Once blended, add the milk.
  4. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 ºF.
  6. Once chilled, break off 2-inch pieces of dough with your hands.
  7. Massage into a ball by using your hands and rolling between your palms.
  8. Slice each ball in half.
  9. Using your thumbs, make an indentation in the center of each half.
  10. Add a dollop of jam and sprinkle of nuts to each half, then carefully press back together and pinch the seam with your index finger and thumb all around the ball.
  11. Gently roll the ball with your hands to smooth out the ball.
  12. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
  13. Transfer to a cooling rack, then coat each ball with powdered sugar by rolling them around in a shallow bowl.
  14. Cool for 30 minutes, then roll in the powdered sugar for a second coat (if desired).





Monday, November 28, 2016

#MuffinMonday ~ Chocolate Banana Crinkle Muffins


#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.

These chocolate banana muffin treats are yummy!! They seem to me to be some mix of chocolate cake and brownie in texture and flavor, with a touch of banana flavor blended in. The texture is light, moist, tender, and rich, with a crispy sugared topping and lovely gooey bites of chocolate chips blended in. I used my square pampered chef pan, which I've totally fallen in love with. I love how easily muffins (and other treats) slide in and out of that pan! If you like the flavors of chocolate and banana together, these muffins are definitely worth a try. Although I have a hard time justifying these as anything other than dessert - but nonetheless they are muffins and have bananas in them, so that totally counts as breakfast-worthy I believe!


Check out all your November 2016 Muffin inspiration here:
Chocolate Banana Crinkle Muffins adapted from Averie Cooks

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
topping: about 1 teaspoon granulated sugar for each muffin, for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer blend the bananas until well mashed. Add in the vegetable oil, sour cream, vanilla extract, and egg. Blend until well combined.
  4. Gently stir in the dry ingredients just until combined.
  5. Stir in the mini chocolate chips by hand.
  6. Prepare your muffin tin by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. 
  7. Distribute the batter into 13 - 14 total standard sized muffin wells (use a regular pan with 12 wells, and distribute the remaining batter into a mini loaf pan, mini muffin tin, use a couple stand alone silicone muffin molds, second standard sized muffin tin, or discard as preferred). The wells should be approximately 3/4 full. 
  8. Sprinkle the regular sized muffins with 3/4 - 1 tsp sugar each for the crackled topping.
  9. Bake for 22-25 minutes for regular sized muffins, and 10 minutes if using a mini muffin tin. 



Sunday, November 20, 2016

#CrazyIngredientChallenge ~ Garlic, Bacon, Beer Mac 'N Cheese





Join the Crazy Ingredient Challenge group for the November reveal day pairing Cornflakes with Beer! This fun group pairs two seemingly unlikely to mix and match ingredients together and says "GO"! You can make whatever you want as long as those two key items are included. Pop by the facebook page and check it out!


This recipe is really delicious! The flavor is deep and rich thanks to the addition of the dark beer and also the sharp cheddar cheese spread. The bacon adds a lovely salty smokiness and the butter drenched cornflakes a rich and crunchy topping. This is definitely a keeper, and reheats well too!




Garlic, Bacon, Beer Mac 'N Cheese adapted from Erica's Recipes 

Ingredients
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided
4 TBS butter, divided
3 TBS all-purpose flour
1 TBS minced garlic
2 cups milk
3/4 cup stout beer (such as Guinness)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese spread (available in the dairy aisle)
8 oz elbow macaroni
1/2 cup crushed cornflakes

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat 3 TBS butter with the flour over medium heat, whisking until bubbly. Cook 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Slowly whisk in the the milk and beer. Heat, stirring constantly, a couple minutes until quite warm but not boiling (should thicken up at this point). Reduce heat to medium-low, add both cheeses, salt, and pepper, and cook, whisking, until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in half the bacon.
  3. Cook the macaroni to al dente according to package directions in salted water. Drain and add to the cheese sauce. Transfer to a 2-qt baking dish.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the crushed cornflakes and remaining bacon. Sprinkle over the macaroni. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes until bubbly. 



Saturday, November 19, 2016

Slow Cooker Jalapeño Honey Beef Sliders


I spotted this recipe on Pinterest and tucked it away. It looked amazing. I am a huge spice wimp, but I really wanted to give the King's Hawaiian jalepeno rolls a try! It turns out they are still a little too spicy for this girl, but absolutely delicious. And if you AREN'T the biggest spice wimp in the whole wide world, I am sure you will fall in love with the punch of flavor they add to your meal.

I love the flavor of the roast in this recipe - combined with some melty cheese and a nice scoop of guacamole? You have the perfect slider for any day of the week - since this is a crock pot meal, you can let the roast simmer away and come home and have dinner on the table in now time.


Slow Cooker Jalapeño Honey Beef Sliders adapted from Whitney Bond

Ingredients
1 TBS minced garlic
1/2 TBS olive oil
¼ cup honey
1 TBS lime juice
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 lb beef roast
12 Kings Hawaiian Jalapeño Rolls
1 cup monterrey jack cheese (shredded)
1 cup guacamole

Directions
  1. Place roast in a slow cooker, sprinkle the following over the top: minced garlic, olive oil, honey, lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until fork tender.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3.  In a baking dish, or on a baking sheet, lay the rolls out. Slice in half horizontally. Remove tops. Drain off excess liquid from the meat, and then divide it over the bottom half of the rolls and sprinkle with cheese.
  4. Leave the tops off, and bake the rolls for 5-8 minutes in the preheated oven or until rolls are lightly toasted and cheese has melted.
  5. Top sliders with guacamole, place on the top rolls, and enjoy!


Friday, November 18, 2016

#FishFridayFoodies ~ Seafood and Cheese Dip



For November's Fish Friday Foodie's reveal day, Wendy who blogs at A Day in the Life on the Farm invited us to prepare a Holiday appetizer or first course dish. There are SO many options with this as our category to choose from, so I ran a few searches and mulled over a few options until I saw this gooey, cheesy, seafood stuffed dip. Search over!


This recipe is an absolute winner. I loved everything about it. The only thing I would opt to change next time is using fresh minced instead of jarred minced garlic - I thought it could have used a more pungent and noticeable garlic taste for the otherwise rich and creamy cheesy dip.


My son absolutely loved this and ate his fair share! I really enjoyed it myself, and made a good dent in it too. :) This would go beautifully on your Holiday table as a shareable, enjoyable dip with some french bread rounds or an assortment of crackers and crunch breads to dip and spread. Rich, and very delicious!


Seafood and Cheese Dip from Will Cook for Smiles

Ingredients

Crab Prep
4 oz mascarpone cheese
1 ½ cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 TBS heavy cream
1 TBS minced garlic
4 oz crab meat
1/4 tsp salt

Shrimp Prep
4-oz package salad shrimp
½ cup minced onion
1 TBS butter
3 TBS white wine
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste (about 1/8 tsp)

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and lightly grease a 1-qt baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, shredded cheeses, heavy cream, minced garlic, crab meat, and salt. Combine thoroughly and set aside.
  3. Preheat a cooking pan over medium heat. Add butter and let it melt. Add onion and saute until translucent.
  4. Add shrimp and cook for about a minute. Add wine, lemon juice and salt. Cook until shrimp are heated through. 
  5. Drain shrimp / onion mixture of all the juice and add it to the mixing bowl with cheese. Use a spoon to blend it in as much as you can.
  6. Transfer the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake it for 15-17 minutes.
  7. Serve hot.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

#ImprovCookingChallenge ~ Caramel Cashew Bars


I am so glad I participated in the #ImprovCookingChallenge this month! For November 2016 we were given the ingredients of nuts and caramel to combine into a recipe. This of course gives you pretty much endless options. I ran to my trusty Pinterest to do some searching and when I ran across this incredibly simple but amazing looking recipe I knew what I was making.



I am very, very glad that I did. The shortbread crust on this dessert recipe is amazing. It's so tender and flaky, lightly sweet, and rich and buttery. It's just a perfect base for the incredibly rich caramel and nut topping. Cut these small - like bites of fudge - and you will have a PERFECT treat for your upcoming Holiday baked good platters! This will be a favorite in no time!


Caramel Cashew Bars from Center Cut Cook

Ingredients

Shortbread
12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Caramel Layer
11-oz caramels, unwrapped (1 bag, or about 1 3/4 cup measured)
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 cup unsalted whole cashews
Sea salt for sprinkling, if desired

Directions

Shortbread
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, flour and salt. Mix until completely combined (I let my Kitchen Aid mix everything up until coarse crumbs and it worked well).
  3. Press shortbread mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges.
  4. Let cool completely before topping with caramel.
Caramel Layer
  1. In a large, microwaveable bowl or measuring cup, combine caramels and whipping cream. Microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring in between. It should take about 1 1/2 minutes until it is completely smooth (each microwave is different, so adjust as needed).
  2. Mix in half of the cashews and carefully pour over the shortbread crust. Spread evenly and top with remaining cashews.
  3. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired. 


#BundtBakers ~ Pumpkin Pear Bundt Cake


Welcome to the November reveal day for Bundt Bakers! This month Lauren from Sew You Think You Can Cook invited us to bake up a "Bundt with pears" - and any pear would do! Dried, liqueur, fresh, puree - the options were pretty much endless.

 BundtBakers

#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.

Lindsey was showing me that the cake was a "heart" shape with her hands. :)
This recipe was really, really fantastic. It is probably one of the few times I can say this - but these didn't even last 24 hours in my house! I made it in the morning, and we all had a piece in the morning - because it's really just FRUIT!! And then I sent a wedge to a friend's house that evening, then my boyfriend came over that evening, had a piece, and took the last of it home. I will call that a cake success any day.


I couldn't get over the texture of this cake. It is marvelously soft and tender, but still holds together well. The chunks of soft pear interspersed within the batter truly "make" this cake. It is a beautiful combination, and I will absolutely revisit this cake in the not so distant future! In fact, maybe tonight. I still have that remaining cup of pumpkin puree and a couple pears left from the original cake... hmmm....

 

Don’t forget to take a peek at what other talented bakers have baked this month:

Pumpkin Pear Bundt Cake from Adore Foods

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
½ cup buttermilk
½ vegetable oil
1 ½ cups pears, diced

Directions
  1. Lightly grease a large bundt cake pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. In a large bowl combine: flour, baking soda, baking powder nutmeg, and allspice. In a separate medium bowl blend together the eggs, pumpkin puree, sugar, buttermilk, and oil.
  4. Pour wet mixture over flour mixture stirring until just combined. Gently fold in the diced pears.
  5. Pour cake mixture into bundt pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clear. Allow to cool in pan for about 20 - 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, gently invert onto a cooling rack and allow to finish cooling.
"Mom, you take my picture please?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fresh Peach Pie


We stopped in SC at a roadside stand that boasted tons of fresh peach goodies not that long ago, after our trip to Great Wolf Lodge to belatedly celebrate Lindsey's third birthday. We came away from the at stand with fruit cider, a big basket of peaches, and tons of jars of jams and jellies. Yumm!


I had in my head that a fresh peach pie was a requirement for at least some of the beautiful fruit, and it was an excellent decision. This pie was delicious. I am not great at making "beautiful crusts" with pretty edges or designs, but I am experienced enough to usually get a good texture and flavor, which I have decided is more important. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it!


I preserved some of the peaches by prepping, slicing, and freezing them - so if the urge for another peach pie hits me in the dead of winter I will be prepared! This was a very tasty recipe - the filling is well spiced and perfectly gooey and sweet. We really enjoyed this and I enjoyed sharing this one with willing taste testers! Thank goodness for friends to help make all the yummy baked goodies disappear out of my kitchen.



Fresh Peach Pie adapted from Six Sisters Stuff

Ingredients

Pie Crust
2 cups flour
1 cup butter flavored crisco
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water

Peach Filling
5 cups sliced fresh peaches (skins removed)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Sugar Glaze
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon sugar

Directions

Pie Crust:
  1. Blend shortening into the flour and salt with a pastry cutter until it resembles course crumbs. Add in just enough cold water so the mixture binds and holds together, mix until well blended.
  2. Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour (I didn't do this step, but it makes it easier to roll the dough out if you have the time).
  3. Take one ball from the fridge and roll into a circle on a lightly floured surface.
  4. Place dough in a 9 inch pie pan. Don't trim the excess yet, leave it hanging over the edge.
Filling: 
  1. In a bowl combine the sliced peaches with the lemon juice. In a separate bowl combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add this mixture to the peaches.
  2. Pour into crust.
Top Crust: 
  1. Roll out the other ball of dough.
  2. Carefully place top crust over peaches. Bring the excess dough from bottom crust and fold over top. Work the edges with your fingers all the way around to seal and flute the edges as desired. Prick top of crust several times with a fork to allow venting (or cut slits or a design if preferred).
Top Glaze: 
  1. With a pastry brush wet the top crust with milk, making sure it does not puddle. Sprinkle sugar over the milk.
  2. Bake at 425 degrees for about 40 to 45 minutes. Crust should be golden brown.