Monday, March 26, 2012

Baking Monday - Snickerdoodles

These cookies are definitely not in my regular rotation, but they should be! Clark has been my little helper in the kitchen these days. He had a snickerdoodle at a family party and declared them "the best cookie ever!" so we had to try making them ourselves.

Little guy helped me every step of the way, from mixing the dough to rolling in cinnamon.

The recipe I have is a photocopy from my grandma a zillion years ago. I used all butter instead of shortening, and cut back a little bit to 3/4 cup - I don't like super buttery cookies - and they turned out terrific. Dora was very excited to have a non-chocolate dessert during Lent, and it was good for me, too, as I enjoyed last week's pb chocolate brownies a little too much. Extra bonus, Dora happened to have a friend over after school, and I had a total June Cleaver moment when I offered fresh cookies to the kids after school. (It's the little things!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bonus Baking - Apple Pie Bread

Pinterest has been my go-to search for recipes, because I'm a sucker for a gorgeous photo. I bought a bummer bag of apples and needed something to bake them in to that wouldn't rely on the perfect apple.

This recipe was great, because it calls for shredded apples (hell-ooo food processor!) which made the bread superdy-duper moist. I exchanged some of the flour for wheat and omitted the walnuts. The streusel topping turned out a little crackly because I used extra sugar - 1/4 cup didn't seem like enough, but trust me, it will be plenty. Everyone loved this - a great recipe for apples that might be a bit past their prime.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Baking Monday - Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Brownies

Oh, these brownies.

Spotted on Pinterest and added to my must bake now list, these are GOOD. A little too good.

The recipe is not perfect - the one that I used said "3 cups crushed pretzels", which was WAY too much, so the crust never really came together, it mostly all crumbled off. It probably should have been "3 cups of pretzels, crushed." Now I see that linking back to the original recipe recommends 1.75 c, a much more reasonable amount.

That said, the pretzels were not my favorite part of the dessert - they were kind of soft by the next day, which was a bummer. But the brownies and frosting are A-MAZE-ING. The recipe makes a huge 9x13 pan, and they are super duper rich.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Savory Baking

Taking a break from the sweets to mention some mealtime baking that I've been doing as well. First up - biscuits!

I'm sure this is news to no one else but me ... biscuits are easy! This was the first time I'd ever made them from scratch, and will never be buying pre-made or a mix again. I don't make them too often, but there are a couple meals that these go really well with, like beef stew and chicken noodle soup. I used the recipe from Barbarians at the Plate, which I've mentioned before as a favorite cookbook for easy from-scratch dishes. A food processor is a must! I didn't take too much time shaping these, hence the wonkiness, but they are super duper delicious.

Next up - homemade naan. I saw the instructions on one of my favorite baking sites, and thought it looked easy enough to try. I got a little bit nervous about finishing them over the open flame, but cooking on a grill pan worked really well. These were made in advance, then spread out on a cookie sheet, brushed with butter and warmed up in the oven before serving. It went really well with chicken curry - would definitely make again!

I saw the recipe for these breakfast muffins in Family Fun. I hoped they'd be a bigger hit with Dora and be a nice quick morning option, but she didn't love them. Happily, I did! They freeze really well and warm up in a minute in the microwave.

In other cooking news ... seen on Pinterest and tried last week: Crash Hot Potatoes from Pioneer Woman - very, very good! And noted before, but worth mentioning again: Garlic Roasted Potatoes from Sweet Cheeks in the kitchen. A favorite for us - Clark says, "they are DELICIOUS!" (I go a little bit lighter on the black pepper - half a tsp instead of 1.5.) Enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Baking Monday - Cream Cheese Cutouts

My grandma is an awesome baker. I don't believe she ever had just one specialty, she was always trying out new recipes, and everything she made was fantastic. I remember her making cookies only once that I just loved, called "E" cookies. I've had the recipe for years, but never made them, because the recipe just seemed ... wrong. The only ingredients were cream cheese, butter and flour. But I've been on a cream cheese baking kick lately, so I decided to try them out. I wisely opted to only make half the recipe and have a backup plan in place, just in case. Good thing I did ... more on that later. First up: the backup plan!

I made half of this recipe, which suggested rolling the cream cheese cutout cookies in sprinkles OR adding them directly into the dough. Fun!

Ooooh, pretty.

Cutting them out ...

... and ready to bake.

These turned out terrific, and they are yummy even without frosting. Now, back to grandma's recipe ... clearly, something was not right, because they turned out like this:

Weird, misshapen, and sliding all over the tray. Taste ... not good. They were semi-flaky on top, and still doughy in the middle. Most definitely NOT the delicious cookie that I remember having years ago. So, YAY for backup plans!

Which I made AGAIN later in the week, for the art show at Clark's school. These were closer to the cookie that I remember, but not exactly the same. I've tried searching for an "E" cookie recipe, but have never found them anywhere else, so if anyone has ever heard of these, please let me know!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

WFMW - Sewing Girl Scout Badges

Hello! This is my first Works for Me Wednesday post, and this one has changed my life! Okay, at least my relationship with Girl Scout badges. Some iron on, some do not, and even the ones that are supposed to iron on rarely stick well. I've tried Heat & Bond with fair results, and fabric glue was a bust. They are too thick to sew by hand, and I never attempted machine sewing, because who wants to keep changing the thread color?

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with my aunt who was a long time Girl Scout leader. She said, "Oh, I always sewed them on with clear thread."


Who knew there was such a thing! I marched myself right over to JoAnn's and there it was! Right with the regular thread, just hanging out all casual-like. I brought that stuff home, loaded up a heavy duty needle and zigzagged my way to badge paradise.

No more peeled edges! No more worrying about badges falling off! I am loving this stuff! Honestly, this was one of my most satisfying moments of the week, and I just had to share the good news with everyone!

CLEAR THREAD!!! It works for me!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Baking Monday - Peanut Butter Pie

Searching for peanut butter dessert on Pinterest turned up this recipe!

(Of course, my photo doesn't look nearly as perfect, but you get the scrumptious idea.) This is really good. Like, restaurant dessert good. Actually, probably even better than that. Whipping the cream takes time, but is very much worth it. I may or may not have run the pie server around the empty plate to eat the last crumbs.

I will be looking for another occasion to make this!