Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

My new love is whoopie pies, they are just like rearranged cupcakes, cake like cookies on the outside, and frosting in the middle! I found this recipe on the Martha Stewart website and these pumpkin whoopie pies are to die for! I love the ginger in the batter, it really adds a nice spiciness to the cookies. I think, maybe, I like these more than my pumpkin cupcakes...

For the cookies:

3 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbs ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 c. firmly packed DARK brown sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
3 c. pumpkin puree, like Libby's
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.
Line two baking sheets with parchment or non stick baking mat.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside.
In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.

Using a 1 Tbs. scoop (I use the smallest scoop from Pampered Chef), drop Tablespoon size dollops of batter onto baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Batter will be smooth and little runny, this is ok. Bake until cookies just start to crack on top, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool completely.

For filling:

3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, beat until just smooth. Assemble the whoopie pies by placing about a Tablespoon of cream cheese filling onto one cookie, and then top with another cookie. Makes three dozen whoopie pies.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Banana Carrot Bread (or muffins)

Why I never thought of this combination before I don't know. These are super moist and delicious, I love eating them straight from the oven with a little butter! I baked the batter in petite loaf pans because they are so dang cute! The recipe will make 1 regular size loaf, 12 muffins, or 8 petite loaves. I got the idea for this recipe from the King Arthur Baking Sheet, I baked their recipe, but decided to try just adding carrots to my standby banana bread recipe and I liked it even better. If you would like to try making my banana bread, just omit the carrots and add one more mashed banana. Oh, and next time I will drizzle cream cheese icing over the top, just because.

Banana Carrot Bread

1/2 c. butter softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 mashed ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans
1 c. finely shredded carrots

Preheat oven to 325. Spray pan with cooking spray.

Cream together the butter and sugars for 2 minutes. Slowly add the eggs and vanilla, beat until well combined. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the nuts and carrots. For the petite loaf pans it took 24 minutes to bake, a large loaf would take approximately 50 minutes, and I'm guessing muffins about 18-20 minutes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dark Chocolate Cookies

One lone little cookie...that was all that was left of the batch this morning, I had to snatch it to take a pic before my husband ate it! These cookies are perfect, soft, chewy, fudgey, need I go on? I added Reeses chips to these, they would be good with anything, I think next time I'll try chopped almonds and white chocolate chips. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Cookies

2 c. flour
3/4 c. unsweetened baking cocoa (I used Hershey's)
2 Tbs dutch process cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c. butter (I used salted)
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 bag peanut butter chips (or whatever add in you would like)

Preheat oven to 350.
In medium sized bowl whisk together flour, cocoas, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In mixing bowl cream butter and sugars together for 2 minutes. With mixer on low, add in eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in chips. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cracks appear on top and centers are puffed up. Cool on rack.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chocolate Cream Filled Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Here is another alternative for the vanilla cupcake recipe, the chocolate cream filling really puts these over the top!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

1 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 Madagascar vanilla beans, scraped using seeds only
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. cake flour, NOT self rising
1 1/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325. Line 2 cupcake pans with liners.

Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla beans together for 3 minutes, until very light. Add eggs, on at a time, scraping down bowl after each addition. Add vanilla extract. In a separate bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make sure when you measure your flour that you gently stir it first to aerate it, and then spoon it into the measuring cups and level to prevent adding too much flour and having a dry cupcake. Add half of flour mixture to batter and mix, add buttermilk and mix, add the the remaining flour just until combined, do not overmix.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool.

Chocolate Cream Filling

2 Tbs hot water
7 oz container marshmallow creme
1/2 c. shortening
6 Tbs. powdered sugar
5 Tbs. Dutch processed cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Beat together all ingredients until combined. Use a pastry bag with a large star tip to fill cupcakes. I cut an X in the middle of each cupcake with a sharp knife, then I inserted the tip of the bag into the middle of the cupcake. Fill each cupcake with about a tablespoon of chocolate cream.

Vanilla Bean Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 vanilla beans, scraped using seeds only
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
about 6 cups powdered sugar
enough milk to reach correct consistency

Beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla beans until creamy. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Add enough milk to reach correct consistency, I usually end up adding about 1/2 cup. I also used the large star tip to frost these.

Orange Cream Cupcakes

These are a delicious, citrusy alternative to your standard cupcake flavors, they end up tasting like an orange creamsicle! I've been going crazy trying to find a really good vanilla cupcake recipe, so after trying 5 different recipes and changing a few measurements, I came up with this one. I purchased the Madagascar vanilla beans off of, 16 for only $9.00, and free shipping! I would highly recommend purchasing vanilla beans on the internet, the grocery stores charge way too much. If you don't have vanilla beans, just add a little extra vanilla extract.

Orange Cream Cupcakes

1 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 vanilla beans (seeds only)
1 Tbs. orange zest
1/4 c. fresh orange juice
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. cake flour, NOT self rising
1 1/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 and line 2 cupcake pans with liners.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together butter, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, orange zest, and orange juice for 3 minutes, until very light.
Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Add vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
When measuring the flour, make sure to aerate it first (gently stir) and then spoon into measuring cup and then level. It's very important that you not put too much flour in the batter, otherwise the cupcakes will be dry. With the mixer on low speed, add half of flour mixture, add buttermilk, and then the remaining flour. Mix until just combined, do not overmix.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool.

Orange Cream Frosting

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
6 Tbs. butter, softened
1 vanilla bean, seeds only
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp orange zest
1/4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
5-6 c. powdered sugar
enough milk to reach the correct consistency

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla bean seeds until smooth. Add vanilla extract, orange zest, orange juice, and 4 cups of powdered sugar. Add remaining powdered sugar, and enough milk to reach the correct consistency. I used a large star tip to pipe on the frosting. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lemon Ricotta Fritters with Sweet Berry Sauce

Mmmmm, mmmmm, my family ate good this morning! These are delicious little pockets of heaven. The fritters aren't too sweet, so they go perfectly with the sweet berry sauce.

Lemon Ricotta Fritters with Sweet Berry Sauce

First heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large wide heavy saucepan. Place candy or deep fry thermometer in oil, you want the oil to be 365-370 when you are ready to fry the fritters.

For the Sauce:
1 lb. strawberries, rinsed and cut in quarters
1/2 small container raspberries
1/2 small container blackberries
(or you could substitute a frozen berry blend and just thaw them first)
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Place all berries in a bowl. Pour sugar over the top and stir, let sit 15 minutes. Gently mash with a potato masher. Pour into a medium saucepan and heat on medium until thickened a little and sugar is dissolved, about 7-8 minutes. Pour into a serving bowl and place in freezer to cool a little while you are making the fritters.

For the Fritters:

3/4 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs. lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1 c. whole milk ricotta
2 large eggs
3 rounded Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting
Lemon zest for garnish

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt; set aside. In separate bowl whisk together the ricotta, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and stir gently to combine. At this point the oil should be 365-370 degrees F. Working in batches, gently drop by tablespoons (I used the Pampered Chef cookie scoop) the batter in the oil, about 5 per batch. Turning occasionally, let fry until a deep golden color, about 4 minutes. You can take one out and cut in half to check and see if it is done. Repeat with remaining batter. Place cooked fritters on paper towels to dry. Serve over berry sauce and dust with powdered sugar and lemon zest. Makes approximately 10-12 fritters.

Adapted from a Bobby Flay recipe

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Homemade BBQ Sauce

This BBQ sauce is so good and it's an easy dinner to make using your slow cooker! On homemade buns, these really melt in your mouth.

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 c. ketchup
1/3 c. dijon mustard (I just used the cheap generic brand)
5 Tbs brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced
5 Tbs honey
1/4 c. A1 steak sauce
4 Tbs lemon juice (juice of one large lemon)
3 Tbs liquid smoke (you can find this by the BBQ sauce in the grocery store, I used Stubbs Mesquite liquid smoke and it was really good)
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken breasts in slow cooker, pour in enough water to cover and cook on low 6 hours.

When it gets close to the 6 hours, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a gentle boil and turn heat down to low, simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Remove chicken breasts to a large cutting board and pour all leftover water out of the slow cooker and throw away. Wipe clean.
Shred chicken breasts. Add chicken breasts and homemade BBQ sauce back into the slow cooker, stir gently to combine. Let cook on low at least one hour to combine flavors. Leftovers would be great on pizza!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

This pudding is so creamy and chocolatey, I love it! It was fairly easy to make, it just needs to chill for at least 4 or 5 hours before serving. I topped mine with real whipped cream (not coolwhip!) and strawberries, it was delicious!

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

Makes about 4 cups of pudding

1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
3 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 3/4 c. whole milk
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 c. milk chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in milk and cream until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips and bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Once the mixture is at a simmer, reduce heat to medium low and cook, whisking CONSTANTLY, until the mixture is thickened and large bubbles pop at the surface, about two to three minutes. Take the pot off of the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour immediately into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap right onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the pudding for at least 4 or 5 hours, but up to three days.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Whoopie Pies

These are amazingly good! There are so many different filling variations you can dream up! I tried strawberry and a german chocolate frosting (coconut and pecan) with plain chocolate frosting, they were both delicious but my favorite would have to be the german chocolate/chocolate combo. You MUST refrigerate these for at least four hours, overnight is better. When freshly baked they are not near as good as when they've sat in the refrigerator overnight with the filling inside. Yum, Yum!

Whoopie Pies

2 c. all purpose flour
2/3 c. DUTCH PROCESSED cocoa powder (I used Droste, I would not recommend regular unsweetened cocoa powder)
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup plus 2 Tbs buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
9 Tbs butter, softened
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl; set aside.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in bowl at medium high speed about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add egg, beating until combined. Reduce speed to low and alternately add flour and buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl occasionally. Stir in chocolate chips.

I used the small Pampered Chef cookie scoop for these, if you don't have it, drop the dough by Tablespoon onto parchment covered baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until tops are cracked and center is done. Remove to paper towels to cool. Fill with your choice of filling, wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator. Serve cold. Makes approximately 18 whoopie pies.