Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cranberry-Apple Sauce

*If you haven't liked my page on facebook, go do it! There are mini-posts more often than full blog posts on here!*

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! SUPER excited! I've already started my prep to make things easier tomorrow. Prep numero uno? Tossed some ingredients into my bread machine for a white bread with ground sage and thyme in it for the dressing. It was so wonderful already having that done by the time I got home from the office. Prep numero dos? Cranberry! I've got a can of jellied cranberry for hubs, since he just INSISTS that Thanksgiving isn't the same without it, but I have to have something real. Hence, this recipe. I love cranberries! Plus, this is just so pretty.

1 cup fresh cranberries
3/4 cup granny smith apple, peeled and diced small
2-4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice

Are you ready for this? Super difficult sauce.. Throw everything into a small-ish sauce pan. Turn it on medium/medium-low. Put a lid on it. Walk away from it for about 5 minutes. 

Come back, stir gently, repeat walking away and stirring occasionally until desired consistency is achieved. Taste the sauce (carefully, it's hot!) for sweet, add some sugar if you would like it sweeter. Keep in mind that less is more! Now, breathe. You did it! I'm so proud. 

Next, focus on enjoying the rest of your dinner! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Snickerdoodle Cookies

I love my sister dearly, but she can not cook. Period. As in, she's set the oven on fire before. Generally she's not allowed near one. Somehow though, a couple of years ago, she managed to get a batch of snickerdoodle bars in the oven, and they came out HEAVENLY. My husband, who is lover of all things snickerdoodle, declared them the best he's had. Snickerdoodles have always been one of my weak spots. I have no idea why, I just can't get them right. Well. I have finally succeeded tonight (whether he concedes or not!)! These are light, fluffy, and literally melt in your mouth. Oh, these are dangerous cookies indeed. 

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Additional sugar and cinnamon for rolling

Preheat oven to 400º.

Cream butter and sugars. Add extracts and eggs, mix well. Add in remaining ingredients (except for sugar/cinnamon for rolling) and mix until everything is combined. Chill for 15 or so minutes. Once chilled, form 1-2tbsp balls (I use my 1.5 tbsp scoop for uniformity) and roll in cinnamon/sugar. I use 1/4 cup sugar + 1-2tsp cinnamon. You can most definitely change this to your preferences though! Sometimes I like to get festive and use colored sugar even. Place balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are just BARELY beginning to get golden. Remove to a cooling rack or piece of parchment/wax paper on your counter top. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies

I have failed you all. Miserably. I've been baking like crazy over the last couple of months, but there hasn't been much posted. With little E here now, I just haven't had more than 5 minutes (which is about how long it takes to whip up a batch of dough!) to do anything when I'm at home. I've been making small batches of almost everything I make. Except gingerbread.. But that's another post. Don't worry. That will come. Anyway. I had a hankering for chocolate last night. Cookie form is the best way to get some down my throat usually, or brownies. Cookies won this battle though. And I happened to have to move some coconut to get to my chocolate chips. Why not? These are chocolatey and fudgey and delicious. Not that I'm saying I've done it or anything, but these just might make a mighty tasty (albeit not-so-healthy) breakfast.

1/4c vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1/4c + 2tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2c flour
pinch of salt
1/4tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp corn starch
1/4c chocolate chips
2 tbsp shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350º.

Cream shortening, sugar and vanilla together, add egg and whip until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-13 minutes, until the top is barely wet still. Let cool on baking sheet, and transfer to a cooling rack or a piece of parchment on the counter. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cake Batter Cinnabon Cookies

Lord I love Cinnabon. I'm that "extra frosting" type of girl. There's just something about the zing of the cinnamon, the chewy/doughy roll and a giant smattering of tangy cream cheese frosting (which is the ONLY way I will eat cream cheese, I might add) that really gets me going. You know what else gets me going? EASY stuff. Something I can throw together quickly when one of us has a hankerin', and something that doesn't sacrifice taste for the ease. This most definitely qualifies. It starts with a Betty Crocker Decadence cake mix. Cinnamon Swirl, to be exact. You know, the kind with CINNABON cinnamon in it. 
The good stuff. Throw in some sour cream to give it that tang, and VOILA! Insta-happiness. Well. 15 minute happiness. Close enough.

1 box Betty Crocker Decadence Cinnamon Swirl cake mix
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla 

Preheat oven to 350º. 

Combine cake mix pouch and baking powder. Stir in sour cream, eggs and vanilla until well combined (get most of the lumps out if you can!). Now comes the fun part. Take the cinnamon swirl topping pouch and dump it on top. Now swirl it into the cookie dough! Don't get all excited about it, just gently swirl it in. We want cinnamon ribbons, guys! 

Now. Drop 1-2 tbsp at a time onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet (I used my 1.5tbsp cookie scoop). You can put these fairly close together.. They'll spread, but it's fairly minimal. Leave maybe 2" between each for safety's sake. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Do NOT leave them until they start to brown! You don't want the top to brown at all, and they will appear slightly under baked at first. Let them sit on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack (or a piece of parchment on your counter if you're too lazy to dig out your cooling rack like I am). The bottoms will be lightly browned, and this is PERFECT. After they're able to sit for a few minutes, they turn perfectly chewy and tangy!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Butterscotch Latte Cookies

I love fall. So much. The pretty colors, the crisp, fresh air, the spices in the air.. And caramel EVERYTHING. Butterscotch is just a variation of caramel, essentially, and coffee is a MUST during the fall. Why not throw both into a cookie? 

I've fallen in love with flax recently, so I had to throw some of that in here.. I first really started using it when I had run out of eggs.. I didn't want to go to the store, and I happened to have some ground flax seed in my pantry that someone had given me awhile back.. While researching egg substitutes, I found that 1tbsp of ground flax + 3tbsp liquid is equal to 1 egg in baking. I've also fallen in love with french vanilla recently, so I just use 1 tbsp of flax + 3 tbsp french vanilla coffee creamer. The creamer just adds an extra level of decadence to these cookies, not to mention versatility! I'll put some ideas up for variations at the end of the post (please note though that I haven't actually TRIED any of these variations yet, but they are ones that will work with the chemistry of the cookies). 

1 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp molasses
2-3 tbsp instant coffee (depending on your taste)
1 egg
1 tbsp ground flax seed
3 tbsp french vanilla coffee creamer
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375º. 

Cream shortening, butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add molasses, coffee, egg, flax and creamer. Mix until well combined. Add flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, corn starch, salt and cinnamon. Stir in butterscotch chips just before flour mixture is totally mixed in, and finish folding everything in. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-11 minutes until just golden brown.

Now comes the fun part! Variations! 
-Black and White Mocha (Zebra/Tuxedo mocha) - Remove molasses. Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder, use white chocolate coffee creamer and white chocolate chips.
-Irish cream - Double the flax/creamer, remove egg and molasses. Use irish cream creamer and chocolate chips (optional). Mix together irish cream creamer and powdered sugar until a nice drizzling consistency is achieved, and drizzle over the top and let dry.  
-Pumpkin spice - Double the flax/creamer, remove egg. Use pumpkin spice creamer and pumpkin spice chips. 
-Peppermint Mocha - Remove molasses. Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder, use peppermint mocha or York patty creamer and either chocolate chips, white chocolate chips or peppermint bits (Andes mints makes a peppermint bit for baking!).. or a combination thereof!

There are so many more variations you could do, but these are at least a few to get you started.. If you try one of these or a different variation, leave a comment and let me know what it was and how it turned out! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Coffee Spice Sour Cream Muffins

I love muffins. Seriously. Which is probably partially why I've got a few extra pounds that could stand to disappear. But probably never will. Because I love muffins. Besides, they make for easy work breakfasts. Well, those and pancakes or waffles. I freeze pancakes or waffles and throw them in the toaster at work to reheat, and voila! Breakfast! Same with muffins, except I throw them in the microwave instead of toaster. At any given time, I've generally got at least 2 or 3 types of pancakes, maybe some waffles, and at least 1 or 2 types of muffins to choose from. Grab and go! 

Anyways, these muffins were my attempt at a slightly better breakfast for when I go back to work this week (oh, hello 4:30am, I haven't missed you one bit..). They're filled with flaxseed to make them slightly healthier, and tons of cinnamon and coffee.

1/3 cup hot coffee
1 tsp instant coffee
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup flaxseed
2 cups flour
1/2 cup oats
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 375º. 

Combine hot coffee and instant coffee in a small cup and stir until the instant coffee is dissolved. Set aside. 

Combine oil, sugars and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in sour cream and coffee mixture. Add flaxseed and combine. 

In a separate bowl combine remaining ingredients and stir slowly into wet until just mixed. Divide the batter evenly between 16 lined muffin cups (about 1/4 cup each). To top, I combined 2-3 tbsp brown sugar with 1/2 tsp cinnamon and sprinkled on top of each muffin before baking. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Turkey Stroganoff

Two posts today! Aren't you all special? I figured I'd finally share my go-to recipe for stroganoff. You CAN use beef in this if you want (or chicken, or whatever!) but I generally use turkey. I almost always have ground turkey on hand instead of ground beef just because it's so versatile. It's hearty enough that you can use it in just about any recipe that calls for ground beef, and light enough that you can also use it in place of chicken. It's like.. magic meat! I love turkey. Plus it's generally leaner than hamburger. Double plus! This recipe is one that has become loved in our dinner rotations just because it's easy and cheap. I buy the 3 or 5lb chubs of meat and freeze it in half pound blocks, then defrost as needed. Need a pound? Throw two into the fridge the day before. Need half a pound? Just throw one in! Or you can do like me, since I rarely actually plan that far ahead, and just defrost it in the microwave when you need. I only use a half pound of meat for one pot, but you can most definitely add however much you'd like. Again, this is a money-stretching meal for us. If I had it my way, I'd add the whole 3lbs to one pot probably. Maybe some day I will. This is also a very versatile recipe. I use chicken stock and cream of chicken soup, but you can most definitely use vegetable stock instead, and you can use cream of mushroom or celery instead of chicken if you prefer. If you like mushrooms in your stroganoff, you can add them in with the meat and onions to saute them. I refuse to eat fungus, however, so we make ours sans mushrooms. 

1/2lb ground turkey
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4-1/2 cup sliced mushroom (optional)
4 cups chicken stock 
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp paprika
5 cups uncooked dried egg noodles (the curly type, not long thin)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional)
Corn starch and milk (optional, see directions for info and measurements)

Brown meat, onions and mushrooms in a large pot. Add remaining ingredients except corn starch/milk and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium and let simmer for about 10 minutes until noodles are done. 

Here's the fun part. If the sauce isn't as thick as you'd like it (we like ours fairly thick), you can make yourself a slurry of 1 part corn starch to 2 parts milk. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way. I mix 1 1/2 tsp corn starch to 3 tsp milk in a cup and pour in slowly. You'll probably want to just mix in a little bit at a time until you get to the consistency that you want. Drizzle a bit in, stir, and let it cook for a minute or two and thicken up. Repeat until you're where you want to be with it. Keep in mind too that it will keep thickening a little bit as it cools, so don't make it TOO thick. 

Serve with a bit of cheese sprinkled over the top if you like. I happen to be a cheese fiend, so we put some in the stroganoff and on top. Because why not? 

Note: I realize that this isn't a "traditional" stroganoff, but it's still pretty tasty. Plus it's something that both my picky kids AND my picky husband will eat, so it's a winner in my books! 

Raspberry Sour Cream Muffins

I'm on my last week of maternity leave. It's a bit of a bittersweet thing. On one hand, I'm a bit saddened to think about leaving my newest little bundle of joy and losing the ability to sleep past 4:30am on the weekdays. On the other hand, I'm losing my mind. I'm not the "stay at home" type. I admire people (like my husband) who have the patience/sanity/etc for it, but it's definitely not my thing. I need to be working. Thankfully I'll be headed back at the very beginning of the busy season, so there will definitely be no shortage of things to keep my mind off of the wee one without his Momma. 

For today though, it's all about relaxing still. The oldest is off to her fourth day of Kindergarten, so it's just the boys at home. Which means it's a lot more quiet than it would normally be with Princess Jabber home. What do you do with quiet? You make delicious muffins and sit down with them and a cup of coffee of course. These muffins are soft, fluffy, moist.. They've got that nice crust on top from the caramelized sugar and just a hint of spice and raspberry. They're the perfect almost-fall muffin! 


1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar (plus extra for sprinkling on top)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)


Preheat oven to 375º. Line a muffin pan with 10 liners, set aside. 

Mix together oil, sugars, egg, vanilla and sour cream. Add remaining ingredients (except raspberries) and stir until just combined. Fold in raspberries. My raspberries were frozen and pretty broken up, so there weren't really any big chunks in my muffins, but that turned out to be perfect. 

Divide batter evenly between the 10 liners and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Butterscotch cookies

Now that I'm back in the swing of baking things (and still have a bit of time on my hands before I go back to work), I've had a couple of requests for treats. The biggest one has been for my famous brownies. Those will come in a future post, don't worry! But today is all about BUTTERSCOTCH. Because really. Who doesn't love butterscotch? I know not a single person who has ever said they don't like it. And if you know someone who has said that, don't trust anything else they ever say because they're lying. Really. These cookies can make them finally admit it even! Browned butter, dark brown sugar.. it all lends to the delicious nutty, vanilla-y, caramel-y, butterscotch-y goodness! 


1/2 cup browned butter, cooled (1 stick)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)


Combine butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs until well mixed. Add dry ingredients, mix until just combined. Fold in chips. Chill dough for at least 1 hour. 

Once dough has rested and chilled, drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 8-11 minutes, or until light golden brown. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Java Chip Shortbread

Coffee is my main food group, so whenever I see a recipe involving the use of said "liquid life" I am immediately drawn to it. This one I had on the back burner for awhile though, because generally, I'm not a big fan of shortbread. It's always dry, crumbly, and usually tasteless. But this had COFFEE in it. It couldn't be THAT bad, right? Right. So I tweaked it a bit, just to make sure. And now I can't stop eating them. Not the greatest thing for my post-baby body, I'm sure. Oh well. 

Adapted from Wilton


1tbsp instant coffee
1tbsp boiling water
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips


Dissolve instant coffee in hot water, set aside. Mix together butter, sugar, and vanilla until well combined. Add coffee and flour, mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Between the heat of the melted butter and coffee mixture, your chips should start to "streak" a bit in the dough. This is good! Keep folding until the dough looks slightly marbled. Shape into a log (you can make it round or rectangular, I won't tell!), wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour. 

Once dough has chilled, preheat oven to 300º. Slice dough into pieces about 1/4" thick and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. You can place them pretty close together since these will not spread. Bake for 8-11 minutes, until edges are just beginning to darken slightly. Let cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes, and then slide the parchment paper (cookies and all!) to a cooling rack. Or if you're lazy like me and don't want to fish one out of the depths of your cupboard, just slide it off onto your counter. Really. The cookies will still be alright. Promise. Unless your 4 year old finds them.. Then you're in trouble, but that's another story. Let the cookies cool on the counter at least 15 minutes before getting into them. The longer you let them cool, the closer to shortbread consistency they'll be, though they won't get to be rock hard and dry like the traditional stuff. Once they've cooled completely, store in an airtight container. If they make it that far. You know. Because you've eaten them. 

Makes about 30 cookies. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Banana Blackberry Muffins

What happens when you have too much fruit given to you that needs to be used up ASAP? Well, you throw it into a muffin, that's what! I mean, really, why not? Everyone loves muffins! These could definitely be made into a "healthier" version.. substitutions needed for that will follow the recipe.


2 cups mashed banana
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup french vanilla coffee creamer (can also just use heavy cream instead)
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen will work, just be gentle with the fresh!)


Preheat oven to 350º.

Combine banana, sugar, vanilla, egg, sour cream, creamer/cream and butter until well mixed. Add flour, baking soda, powder, salt and cinnamon, stir gently on top of the wet ingredients and then mix into the wet until just combined. Gently fold in the blackberries. Spoon into a lined muffin tin (this makes a little over 2 dozen muffins, so you'll need more than one tin or more than one go-round in the oven) until cups are about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

For healthier version substitute:
Sugar - whatever sugar substitute you generally use! Check the container for what the baking ratios are. Splenda, for instance, is 1 cup for 1 cup of sugar. Can also use 1/2 cup honey instead. 
Sour cream - 1 cup of yogurt! 
Creamer/cream - 1/4 cup evaporated milk
Melted butter - add an extra banana
Flour - you can use 1 cup AP flour and 1 cup whole wheat for a whole wheat version.. Or for you folks that need GF, you can use whatever flour you generally use. Just know that it will likely change the texture, rise, etc of the muffins. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cinnamon Scones

Well, I'm finally starting to get back into the swing of things now that baby boy is getting settled into the world. I can't believe it's been almost three weeks since he's made his entrance! He's a million times quieter than my other two monsters, but he still has his needs and that doesn't leave me with a lot of time to do other stuff besides a handful of chores here and there. My poor kids have eaten a lot of cold cereal recently for breakfast.. I have been trying to do what I can once in awhile to have a nicer breakfast, and today was one of those days. I LOVE scones, and I am a cinnamon addict. Plus, there isn't a lot easier than scones! These ones are a little less dense than scones generally are, but they're packed with cinnamon-y, buttery scone-y flavor. They were PERFECT with a cup of coffee, and easy to eat with a baby on my chest. 


2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, grated (1 stick)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp butter flavoring (optional)

2 tbsp softened butter
2-3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400º.

Combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Add grated cold butter and stir to combine. In a medium measuring cup or small bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, vanilla and butter flavor. I like nice buttery scones, so I added the butter flavor, but if you don't like things to taste like they're swimming in butter, feel free to leave it out. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix until just combined. Form into a circle about 1" thick on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread softened butter on top of the circle, then top with brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut the circle into triangles, but leave it put together. You just want to make it easier to get apart later. Bake for 10-15 min, until golden brown and the center springs back a bit when touched. Break apart on the score lines you made and enjoy! Preferably with a cup of delicious coffee!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Onion Basil Hot Dog or Hamburger Buns

My last attempt at hot dog buns wasn't exactly my cup of tea. Don't get me wrong, the Pretzel Hot Dog Buns were pretty awesome according to everyone else in my house. I'm just still not a pretzel person. This time, I decided that I was going to make some for myself. Pregnant women are allowed to do that once in awhile, right? Right. Everyone else thought they were awesome anyways, so it was definitely a win-win situation. I made 12 with this recipe, and they were great for the smaller (cheaper) hot dogs, but for anything larger like a brat, I would cut it down to 10 for the recipe to make them a bit sturdier.

1 cup warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups flour
1-2 tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp dried basil
2 tsp yeast


Put ingredients into your bread machine according to directions for your particular machine. (They're currently in the order that mine and most other machines call for.) Set machine to dough setting, and let it do it's thing! 

Once the dough cycle has run, remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and separate into 10-12 equal sized pieces and shape into the appropriate shapes. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Let rise covered by a towel for 1 more hour in a dry place (I preheat my oven to 200º, then shut it off immediately and stick the dough in it to rise). Once risen, brush the tops with melted butter and bake at 375º for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let the buns cool to room temperature, and then dig in! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Pretzel Hot Dog Buns

I'm really not much of a pretzel person. I never have been. Occasionally, yes, I enjoy a nice big soft pretzel dipped in a nice spicy cheese sauce, but that's about it. Hubby however, is a HUGE pretzel fan, and the kids seem to have inherited his love of all things pretzel. When I recently decided to try to save some money on hot dog buns, pretzel buns were the obvious choice. I made my dough in my bread machine, just because I'm a little too huge at the moment to try and get in and knead dough properly. Plus it's just easier. I'm all about making things easier. Also, we went swimming while we waited for the dough to rise in the bread machine. Why not? It's the fourth of July, y'all! 

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
2 1/4 tsp active yeast (equivalent to one packet)
2 tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt

8 cups water
1/4 cup baking soda

1 egg

Combine warm water, sugar, honey and yeast in the bread machine, let sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast becomes foamy. Add in remaining ingredients and turn machine on "dough" setting. Keep an eye on the dough as it's mixing to make sure that it doesn't look too wet or dry. If it looks too wet and sticky, add flour, 1 tbsp at a time. If it looks too dry, add milk or water 1 tbsp at a time. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, let your machine do it's thing! 

When it's done, put the dough on a floured surface and divide into 8 -10 pieces, depending on how big you want your buns to be. Keep in mind that they've still got a little big of growing to do, so shape them slightly smaller than you want the end product. Let them sit in a warm place with a towel covering them for another 10-15 minutes while you preheat the oven and prepare the water solution. 

Preheat your oven now to 425º. In a large pot, you'll want to boil 8 cups water, and add 1/4 cup baking soda once boiling. Depending on the size/depth of your pot, you may want to double the water/soda mixture. Once the buns have finished their last rise, drop them into the water mixture, 2 at a time, and boil for about 30 seconds on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cut 3 diagonal slits in the top of each bun and brush with an egg wash (just beat a single egg and brush on!). Sprinkle coarse salt on top, if desired, and bake for about 12 minutes, until nice and brown on top. Remove to a cooling rack once they've cooled slightly so that the buns don't get soggy. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Homemade Monkey Bread

I've mentioned before that I'm normally not a sweets person.. However, this kid I'm carrying apparently has quite a sweet tooth. I think I've eaten more cookies, cake, etc over the last 8.5 months than I have in the last 8.5 YEARS. And tacos.. But that's another monster. Anyways. This far along in pregnancy, I'm really trying to make things as easy as possible without sacrificing too much. This recipe seems to really take care of that! The dough is made in a bread machine, chopped up, dunked in melted butter and cinnamon/sugar, thrown into a pan, left to rise awhile longer, and then baked! And EATEN.  And enjoyed. Sorry about lack of pictures, there wasn't a chance to grab any before it was devoured! Super delicious, and tender, donut-like dough. Yumm! 

1 cup warm milk
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp regular active yeast
2 tbsp canola oil (or melted butter)
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Cinnamon/sugar coating:
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp melted butter

Combine warm milk, water, sugar and yeast in a bread machine. Let sit for about 10 minutes (it will be all nice and bubbly at this point). Add remaining dough ingredients in order listed and set to dough cycle. Mix the cinnamon and brown sugar, set aside. Once the dough cycle is done (usually about an hour and a half), cut or tear the dough into small pieces and roll into balls. Dunk in melted butter, then into the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture and drop into a greased bundt pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise for about another 1-2 hours, until doubled in size. Remove plastic and bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes until the top is deep brown and you see caramel bubbling around the edges. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then turn out onto a plate to serve. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

BETTER Magic Cookie Bars

I think that at some point in our lives, we've all had the Eagle Brand Magic Cookie Bars. Graham cracker crust, magically gooey chocolate chips, and toasted coconut. DELICIOUS! I remember so many holiday seasons and potlucks that my mom and I would make a batch of these. Ours, however, was just a little different. Neither of us was a huge fan of nuts, so those were left out. We are also all big fans of butterscotch in my family.. Which means that instead of all chocolate chips, we used half chocolate and half butterscotch. We also re-arranged the order that the ingredients went in, which resulted in a smoother overall effect on the bars. 

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed finely
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14oz)
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

Place the stick of butter in a 13x9 pan and place in the oven while preheating to 350º. Remove the pan when butter is melted, pour crushed graham crackers over the butter, press into an even layer. Sprinkle the chips over the graham cracker layer, drizzle sweetened condensed milk over the chips evenly, then top with the coconut! Place into the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until coconut is lightly browned. Let cool slightly, and cut into bars.

VOILA! Ooey gooey EVEN BETTER Magic Cookie Bars! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

These have ALWAYS been my favorite type of cookie. Chewy, slightly nutty, just enough chocolate. YUM. I have been craving some milk chocolate chip cookies. And I have a REALLY hard time resisting the urge to put oatmeal in my cookies. So? Usually I don't bother resisting! At least not when it comes to the chocolate chip variety! I've also decided recently that lots of vanilla will never hurt anybody. Little fluffy/chewy rounds of deliciousness. Fetus approved! 

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup brown sugar + 1 tbsp
1 tbsp vanilla (yes, a whole tablespoon!)
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt 
1 - 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips (depending on how many you want in yours!)
1/2 cup old fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 375º.
Combine butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Add in flour, soda, baking powder and salt until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips and oatmeal. Drop by 1-2 tablespoonfuls onto a lined baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown on top. 

Wasn't that easy? Yes? Well, go make some! And enjoy! 

Here's a variation you can try too (which is almost MORE awesome than the original!):
Substitute sweetened coconut for the oatmeal and butterscotch chips for half of the chocolate chips.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

S'mores Cookies

Latest pregnancy craving? Chocolate chip cookies. With milk chocolate chips. None of that semi-sweet crap for this kid! How do you make a chocolate chip cookie even better? Add marshmallows! And maybe make it taste like a s'more. Which is (surprisingly) exactly what the oatmeal does. And channel your inner Paula Deen and add a little extra butter flavor. What does this all make? Deliciousness. Pregnant. Deliciousness. 

1c margarine or butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp butter flavoring
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup mallow bits (or miniature marshmallows cut in quarters)
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup old-fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 350º.
Combine butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add flavorings and eggs, mix well. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until not quite combined. Fold in remaining ingredients until all is incorporated. Drop 1-2 tablespoons of dough onto a foil lined and greased baking sheet. YOU WILL THANK ME FOR THIS, DO NOT SKIP IT. If you do skip it, you will soon find the joys of trying to get baked marshmallow off of a baking sheet. It's not fun. Take it from someone who learned this the hard way. Bake cookies for 10-13 minutes, or until just golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Pour yourself a glass of milk, prop your poor pregnant feet up in front of a fire, and enjoy a few! Propping pregnant feet up is optional, of course. 

I don't know what it is, but the butter and oatmeal lends just enough of a nutty flavor and texture to make you believe you've got graham crackers to go with your milk chocolate and toasted marshmallows! Delightful!! 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lemon Pound Cake

Happy Easter!! This year, I decided I'd bring pound cake for shortcake rather than angel food cake. Mostly due to my absolutely irrational fear of egg whites. I didn't want to go through that again. So, pound cake it is! It holds up a bit better anyways to the mounds of strawberries I generally pile on (I like a little pound cake with my strawberries and whipped cream!). I also had some cute little mini-bundt pans that I wanted to try. Which kind of failed, since one fell apart while baking.. but still turned out pretty awesome!

Exhibit A: 

Finished product (my camera makes it look darker than it is, it really is only golden brown!):


1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
1/2 cup shortening (room temp)
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp butter flavoring
3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup milk
zest and juice of one large lemon


Preheat oven to 350º. 

Cream butter, shortening and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time, and extracts with last egg. Mix well after each addition. Add 1 cup flour and the baking powder (and salt, if using), mix. Add half and half, followed by another cup of flour, then milk, then remaining 1 cup flour. Add lemon zest and juice, mix until everything is well combined. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan or two loaf pans. (I used five of these, though there is only four in a package. If you're going to use these, I would recommend reinforcing the sides if you can, and definitely put them on a baking sheet while they're in the oven.) Bake for 40-45 minutes for mini bundt pans, or 50-55 for the larger pans, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and cakes are golden brown on top. Let cool for at least 15-20 minutes before slicing. You WILL wind up with a mess otherwise. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Healthier Cranberry Orange Muffins

For co-workers and friends, I generally will make them something of their choice for their birthdays. A co-worker has been trying to eat better recently, and requested muffins. Preferably with citrus of some sort in them, and as healthy as I could get. While I didn't go the whole 9 yards on the health bit (could also probably have added some flax seed or oats or something, and used fresh orange juice instead of pre-made), they're still quite a bit healthier than the store-bought version that is loaded with sugar and useless carbs!  I would also imagine that you could use other better oils than vegetable, such as coconut oil, but I'm not sure how it would affect the texture or flavor. Also, I apologize that I don't have a picture for this one just yet. I will have to make another batch soon to get pictures. They turned out GORGEOUS though. Perfectly domed and fluffy, but still definitely a muffin. 

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1-2 tsp orange zest
1/3 cup Splenda
1 egg
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 - 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used low-sugar Craisins)

Preheat oven to 375º. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add in remaining ingredients except cranberries, mix until just combined. Fold in cranberries. Divide batter equally between 6 greased or lined muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Surprise! Cupcakes

Ok, I know I've been gone awhile, but really. This kid is sapping my energy like you wouldn't believe! I forgot how hard it was to grow one of these things. Anyways. We find out what we're having next month, and I wanted to have a cute little gender reveal party like I see on Pinterest all the time. The idea for the reveal came from a Polka Dot Cake recipe I saw. This is essentially the same thing, except cupcake sized! YIPPEE! This recipe is so easy, you don't even need a recipe! My secret to my test batch (for valentines day, of course!) used box mixes for both layers of cake, and store bought frosting. Super simple, and super easy! 

Step A: Make some cake balls! I have a nifty little cake ball maker that just does it on my stove top (it's like a waffle iron almost, except it makes little balls of goodness!). I just used that for the first layer. Do whatever color/flavor/WHATEVER you want! My test batch used a Funfetti cake mix that I used some pink gel food coloring to turn SUPER pink! SQUEE! Make the box. Or half a box. Or whatever. Just keep in mind that you'll be using about 2-3x the amount of the outer cake batter that you use for cake balls. If you want to go for old school cake balls, you know, the "I'd like a little cake with my frosting" cake balls, by all means, do it! Just keep in mind that it may lose it's shape a bit when baking because the frosting could melt. Also, be sure to not over bake them, they'll be baked again! It's perfectly acceptable in this case to have slightly under baked cake balls. 

Step B: Prepare your outer cake batter. For mine, I used red velvet. Line a cupcake pan with the liners you desire. Put a small amount of your second batter on the bottom. Don't go overboard! It'll bake up, and push your cake ball up through the top of the pan. You just want to hide the bottom of the cake ball is all. Press a cake ball into the batter. Cover the cake ball with batter! Don't fill the cups too full though, remember, the batter will rise up. Bake about 2/3 what the box or recipe says to, then check to see if they are done by inserting a toothpick near the EDGE of the cupcake. Your cake balls in the center are already done, so you're just testing the batter around them. When the toothpick comes out clean, they're done! Take them out, let them cool, and then frost however you like. Mine, I put a pretty little swirl of cream cheese frosting on top. 

Want to see the insides? It's pretty cool! Also, I promise that the insides were far more pink than my camera shows. 

I figure that for the gender reveal party, I'll do my Lemon cupcake (yellow is nice and neutral, and who doesn't like lemon?!) with a blue or pink cake ball inside! Alright folks. Tell me how you plan to make this work for you! Chocolate cake ball in a butter cake? Neon green mint inside a chocolate cupcake?