Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On the first day of Christmas, Kristen gave to thee...

Okay, so the first post of my 12 days of Christmas Cookies series is actually the first three days.
I know, I know, I should do 12 different posts, but I have a few cookies that are my Christmas staples that were already on my blog and I defiantly won't have the time or the funds for 14 cookies. So I apologize.
So I have a question for all those who are reading my blog, (thank you for doing so), which picture do you like better, the mint chocolate chip cookies or the other two, based on quality that is? Comment on the bottom of this post!
Now for the cookies:
Day 1: Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies


               These cookies are possibly my favorite cookie for this season. I've been looking forward to making them for a while so that is why I made them first. They're easy to make and oh so delicious. I always eat one fresh out of the oven and then eat one a day in a very specific way: microwave them 8-10 seconds and then dip them in hot chocolate. Uh-may-zing!
Day 2: White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies


               Everyone's favorite. I'm serious. If you want something that will impress everyone, make these. The more raspberry the better too. They're so soft and the combination of the raspberry and white chocolate are pretty addictive.
Day 3: Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies


               I made these last year and I was on the fence about them, however, after giving out my cookies everyone was telling me how much they loved them! There's a hint of chocolate and after a few bites you taste the spicy flavor of the chipotle chile in them. It's a great change of flavor from the usual Christmas cookie. I like the extra details that these cookies have with rolling them in extra sugar, cinnamon, and chipotle. I promise that this will be a cookie that everyone will remember and will ask you about.
I got the recipe from the Busty Baker.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
makes 3 dozen cookies


2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon, (divided)
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile, (divided)
2 sticks unsalted butter, (softened)
1 3/4 cups sugar, (divided)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line two baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile, set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add vanilla and beat to combine.
Reduce speed and add the flour mixture, beat to combine.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle.
Form tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in the mixture.
Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.
Bake about ten minutes, or until the cookies begin to crack.
Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to the wire racks to cool completely.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies



Happy December 1st! Christmas is just around the corner! I'm so happy I've finished my shopping, now I just have to pay off my credit card..
I've never realized how expensive wrapping paper is. It's kind of ridiculous. And shipping things is even worse.
I've done raspberries with cupcakes and with cookies so of corse the next this is brownies! My obsession with all things raspberry is out of control but it is so delicious. I wonder what I can make with raspberries next? Any ideas?
I really wanted to bring something delicious to my cousins house for Thanksgiving, I wanted something that went with the theme of Thanksgiving but there is a small problem: I hate cranberries & pumpkins, and I just made spiced cookies for halloween. I called my mother and she gave me the very smart advice to just make something that is good. So I dug up this recipe.
As soon as I saw Dessert Candy's Raspberry Swirl Brownies I bookmarked it immediately and added the note "make with dark chocolate cocoa". I'm not a big chocolate bar person, but dark chocolate  raspberry bars are my weakness. Notice that I said "Dessert Candy's Raspberry Swirl Brownies" and the picture of my brownies are not swirled. Well, I did swirl them, but I got a little excited with the raspberry jelly, thinking, "You can never have enough Raspberry!", and the raspberry mixture was a little watery and there for became a raspberry layer instead of a raspberry swirl, but I'm not complaining! I was right! You really can't have too much raspberry! The only problem is the raspberry swirl is pink, mine came out eggplant colored because I had to cook the brownies almost 20 min longer to cook the brownies underneath the raspberry layer, they were still rich and gooey and oh so delicious. I would also like to brag that this was my first time using just an egg white and I totally did it like a pro.
I will be making these again. But eating more than one next time!
Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies

for the brownies:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, (cubed)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder, (natural and/or dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour


for the swirl
4 oz cream cheese, (softened)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Grease an 8" square baking pan or line with parchment paper.
For the cream cheese batter: Beat all the ingredients, without the jam, together until light and creamy.
Set aside.
For the brownies: Place butter in a saucepan and heat until the butter is just melted on medium heat.
Add the cocoa and sugar and stir until everything is smooth and warm to the touch.
Remove from heat and set aside until the mixture is only warm.
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon.
Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.
When the batter looks thick and shiny add the four, stirring until it is blended in.
Beat vigorously for 40 strokes with your wooden spoon.
Spread evenly in the pan.
Dollop about 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture over the batter in blobs.
Stir in the raspberry jam in the remaining cream cheese mixture.
Dollop the raspberry mixture over the batter in blobs.
Use a toothpick to make swirls in the batter with the blobs.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick emerges slightly moist with batter.
Let cool completely on a cooking rack.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes For Black Friday



This time of the year is so crazy when you work retail. My workplace started playing Christmas music the day after Halloween, making it hard not to get into the holiday mood early. I've finished my Christmas shopping, oh yeah that's right. I had to work black friday, but I'm was off by 9am so I might a well enjoy the deals, (wink, wink). Working black friday can be pretty chaotic, especially for black friday first timers. I wanted to bake something nice for my co workers on this intense busy day, so i decided Chocolate Mint Cupcakes would be perfect! I had Chasing Delicious's  recipe already in my bookmarks, there's a lot of "Need to try" recipes there.
I found adorable Martha Stewart cupcake liners at TJ Max for $1.99. I can not resist a good deal. Plus they were red which is the color that all the associates at my store have to wear so they were too perfect.
The cupcakes I made were, admittedly, not the prettiest I have ever made, my first dozen I put too much batter, following the recipe that said fill ht liners to just over the brim, (don't worry I'll fix that when I post the recipe at the bottom of this post), and the second dozen didn't have enough batter so they're quite small. But they're still really good, so I still consider them successful. The frosting was light and fluffy and not too pepperminty. I wish I would have chopped my chips a little but they weren't too big.
The recipe I got off of Chasing Delicious was kind of confusing, switching between ounces and cups for dry ingredients that did not make sense, but I'm putting what I put in my cupcakes on here.
Don't forget you can follow me on twitter at LearnAsYouGo_ to read whats going on with the blog between posts and you can also follow my personal twitter account KristenxBeth .

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
makes 2 dozen 


for the cupcakes
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter, (softened)
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, (finely chopped)


for the frosting
2 sticks of unsalted butter, (softened)
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line your muffin pan with paper liners.
Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs on at a time and mix well.
Add both extracts and mix well.
Add half the dry mixture in with the wet and mix until well combined.
Mix in the buttermilk.
Add the remaining dry mixture wight the chopped chocolate into the batter until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the lined muffin pan about 3/4 full.
Bake for 20-43 minutes or until a toothpick comes out barley clean.
Let cool and prepare the frosting by mixing all the ingredients until they form frosting.
Once the cupcakes are cool, using a piping back to frost the cupcakes.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pork and Chorizo Chili


Every fall my parents friends all get together for their annual chili cook-off. 
Everyone makes a pot of chili and four people are judges and they have to try all of them and rank them. The winner get the traveling chili trophy. There's also a hay-less hayride through the town. So much fun. 
It was today and seeing as how I am in Florida and they're all  in Illinois I didn't get to participate. So as my own way to join in I made chili; and I must say that there is a chance I would have won.
All of the ingredients blended together near perfectly and it was spicy just the way I like it. 
I hadn't made a pork tenderloin before, but I think I did a pretty good job.
I never herd of hominy before, but I guess it's some kind of mexican corn. I found it in the ethnic section in my local grocery store. 
Tis the season for some chili! Make a pot and enjoy. 
I always freeze half of mine and get some later.
Recipe slightly adapted from Pink Parsley

Pork and Chorizo Chili

for the pork tenderloin
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons plack pepper
1/2 tablespoon unsweeteded cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pork tenderloin
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

for the chili
8 ounces chorizo
1 medium onion, (diced)
4 garlic cloves, (minced)
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, (minced)
1 teaspoon adobo sauce, (from canned chiles)
3 tablespoons flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
15 ounces hominy, (drained and rinsed)
14.5 ounces diced tomatoes, (drained)
15 ounces black beans, (drained and rinsed)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
the pork tenderloin from above

for the pork tenderloin:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix the cumin, pepper, cocoa powder, and allspice together.
Pat the pork dry with a paper towel.
Thoroughly rub the spice mixture onto the pork.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet until just smoking.
Brown the tenderloin on all sides, about 6 minutes.
Transfer to a baking sheet.
Roast in the oven until a instant-read thermometer registers 140 degrees, about 15-18 minutes. 
Remove and transfer onto a cutting board.
Tent with foil and allow to rest until the temperature reaches 150 degrees, about 10 minutes. 
Cut into 1 inch cubes.

for the chili:
In your pot that you are cooking the chili in, cook the chorizo over high heat, cutting and stirring with a wooden spoon as to cooks, about 4 minutes.
Add the onion and let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in the garlic, chipotle, and adobo sause and let cook about 30 seconds.
Add the flour and stir until incorporated. 
Add the chicken broth, hominy, black beans, tomatoes, sugar, and oregano and bring to a simmer. 
Reduce hear to medium-low and continue to simmer at least 20 minutes.
Stir in the pork and cook about 5 minutes.
Stir in the cilantro and pepper to taste.
Serve. 


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mexican Soup




When I was a kid, soup was one of the few things I would actually eat without force. So it became its own food group to me. Even now if I go to long without a nice warm cup of soup I start to crave it.
I was really happy to be making this soup because it reminds me of my Grandma back home in Illinois. She makes the best Mexican food. I remember eating her soup.  Always chunky, spicy, and full of flavor. I also wanted to make zucchini again. It's so delicious.
I'll admit, I went a little happy on the cayenne pepper so the soup was a bit too spicy, learn from me. Less is more. I used fresh oregano and I added dried cilantro also, it just makes everything better. Next time, I might add some sour cream, like in my Tortilla Soup. (Note how much better my photography skills have improved since then.)
Oh by the way this soup is no fat. Enjoy.
Slightly adapted from Alice in Paris loves Art and Tea.

Mexican Soup
serves 4 
6 cups chicken broth
14 ounces canned diced tomatoes
blob of tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, (minced)
1 yellow onion, (chopped)
2 cups fresh or frozen green beans
2 small zucchini, (chopped)
1 carrot, (diced)
1 green pepper, (chopped)
dash of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, (chopped)

Put a large pot on stove on medium-high heat.
Add broth and tomatoes.
Bring to boil, then reduce heat.
Add everything except cilantro and lime juice.
Bring to boil again, then reduce the heat and maintain a slow simmer for 10-15 minutes, until everything is tender.
Stir in lime juice and cilantro.
Serve immediately.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chocolate Halloween Cut Out Cookies



Cute, aren't they? If only you knew.
This is a learn from Kristens mistakes post.
Oh the things that went wrong with these cookies. 
First of all let me just say that I was very excited to make these. I've never made or used royal frosting before and I was so ready for the challenge of the frosting and trying a different kind of chocolate cut out cookie that didn't require me to hand dye black like my White Sox Cookies.
The first issue I had was finding the meringue powder. I had never herd of it, and none of the grocery stores I went to had herd of it. I finally looked it up online and found that Michael's had it, which was where I had already gone to get other supplies. So I got to go back. They had missed me. 
Then I went to roll out the dough and realized that I didn't have wax paper. I'm so used to my moms kitchen having everything I've needed I didn't even think that I would need to get wax paper. So instead of going out again I used parchment paper. I later found out that makes a huge difference when transferring the dough from the parchment paper to the cookie sheet. It was almost impossible. I eventually resorted to removing the access dough and flipping it over onto the cookie sheet and peeling the paper off slowly. Took forever.
I used gel food coloring for the icing, which usually has the best color for most icing, but that is not the case for royal icing. Next time I'm defiantly using the Wilson's liquid food coloring because It's supposed to have more vibrant colors.
Now, maybe had I done everything correctly in the first place these cookies wouldn't have taken so long, but as I didn't, they took me all day so I recommend setting aside a whole day to make them, or splitting them up into two days.
Having said that, the cookies were really good, after baking them I thought they were going to be a crunchy cookie, but they weren't! They were nice and soft and had just enough chocolate flavor.
Using royal frosting wasn't that bad either. You need to be patient and take your time, but if you can do that, you won't have a problem.
I made 37 cookies with the recipe, (which i found on Lovin' From the Oven, my favorite cooking blog), but I just depends on how thick you roll out the dough to be and the size of your cookie cutters.

Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, (softened)
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour

Cream butter and sugar until smooth.
Add the cocoa powder and mix until incorporated. 
Blend in the egg and vanilla.
Mix in the flour until incorporated. 
Wrap and refrigerate the dough in two separate batches for at least two hours. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out the dough between two pieces of wax paper.
Dip cookie cutters in a mixture of cocoa powder and flour before cutting out the shapes.
Place shapes at least two inches apart on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes, 12-15 for larger ones. 

I used the Royal icing recipe from Annie's Eats, who also had a royal icing tutorial on her blog which is quite helpful.





Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spiced Halloween Cut Out Cookies




I love Halloween.
There's a good chance it's because my mom refused to decorate or let me dress up as anything scary as a kid. So now I have a love for all things creepy and scary.
My other favorite holiday is valentines day, but you can only truly celebrate it if you're with a relationship and lets face it, there's a good chance that isn't going to happen this year for me so I need to appreciate Halloween while I can.
Don't you love my skull cookie jar? So  cute.
In honor of my favorite holiday, I'm making two posts with two different kinds of cookies, (yay!).
I found these super cute Halloween stencils and I had not ever used them before. I definitely recommend them they are so cute. However. I didn't use frosting and if you do the same don't use the colored spray, use powdered sugar or dark cocoa powder. Or frost it and use the color spray because it is pretty cool!
The cookies were delish also besides just cute. They were soft and had just the right amount of spices, which I was worried about because no one wants an overly spiced cookie. They're a perfect fall cookie, I definatley recommend trying them out. I found the recipe on Annie's Eats. I made almost 30 cookies with this recipe, but it will very on how thick you roll the dough out and what cookie cutters you use.

Spiced Brown Sugar Cut-Out Cookies

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon all spice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, (packed)
2 sticks of butter, (softened)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium bowl.
In the brown of an electric mixer, combine sugars and butter.
Beat in medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Blend in the egg and vanilla.
With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.
Form the dough into a ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
Chill until firm, at least an hour.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick.
Cut out the dough with your cookie cutters and transfer to the baking sheets.
Bake 10-12 minutes.
Let cool in the baking sheets before allowing to completely cool on the cooking racks.
Decorate and enjoy!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Delicious End of Summer Hash

My food photography has slowly been improving.
Very slowly.
Today, I realized that my camera, which is pink and I love it, has been on the people setting this whole time.
There is a big difference, but what do you think?


One reason I've been concerned about my lack of photography skills (which may not have been my lack of skills at all turns out!) is because I've been trying to get on one of my favorite sites, TasteSpotting for a while, and I keep getting denied for my less than mediocre pictures. But hopefully, now that i've spotted the root of my problem, I will make an appearance, and you bet your bottom dollar I will let you all know if/ when that happens!
I also want to take a second to thank someone, my friend Sara Burket. She is the one who told me about TasteSpotting in the first place, which is how I found that I love cooking blogs, which is why I started my own. So Sara, I have no idea if you read this but, thanks, girl :)

Now, to the food. 
I have never had a hash before. But this looked delicious.
Oh and it was. My exact description right after my first bite was, "Amazingness bursted in my mouth."
Yes. It was that good. 
I had never cooked zucchini before, but i really liked it cooked and it wasn't difficult at all. 
Now, I'm from the midwest. So husking the corn was nothing, you can buy it pre husked here. That just seems weird to me. Something I have never done, is cut the corn off the cob. It was weird. 
I was thinking this would taste with fried rice in it too. Yum. Also feel free to add in different vegetables, but it was pretty near perfect as is.
The original recipe from Savy Eats used paprika, salt, pepper, and coriander. I'm going to admit now, I have no idea what coriander is and I didn't see it at the grocery store. But, I do like a lot of flavor in my food, so I added the pepper, paprika, cilantro, cumin, and Italian Herb, (by Penzeys Spices). I put a lot of each in, on the potatoes and onion, and on top of the zucchini and corn, and then on top of all it. I used red potatoes, the original recipe used Yukon gold potatoes. I'm sure either would still taste good, it's up to you. I love bacon, so I used 6 slices instead of 4-5. I didn't use salt either. It's healthier.
Make it, enjoy it. 

Summer Hash

1/4 pound bacon (4-5 slices)
4-5 Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 yellow onion
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried & ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 ears of corn
2 small-ish zucchini

Chop the potatoes and onions into bite-sized pieces.
Preheat cast-iron skillet over medium-heat and add the bacon.
Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side or until crispy. 
Remove and break into pieces and put into a large bowl. 
Add the potatoes and onion in the skillet, along with the a teaspoon paprika and the coriander.
White they're cooking cut the zucchini and corn off the cob.
When the potatoes and onions are tender and done cooking, 10-13 minutes, mix them in with the bacon.
Cook the zucchini and corn in the skillet, about 6-10 minutes or until the zucchini is tender and the vegetables are brown. 
Add the vegetables to the bowl and mix everything together. 

enjoy!


Chocolate Chip Cookies



Everyone has a go-to chocolate chip recipe.
I think I have found mine.
My mom swears by the recipe on the toll house chocolate chip bag.
Yep, that's what I grew up eating.
I like chocolate chip cookies that aren't too fluffy, soft, and gooey.
I searched and searched for a good one, I found four recipes that looked good and after comparing them all together, I chose a recipe that was in the New York Times, which I found on My Baking Addiction.
I'm sending these home to my cousin, Trey. He's been doing amazing on his golf team and deserves a treat.
I used dark chocolate chips (one full bag) for these instead of the bittersweet disks, and I think they couldn't have turned out better, they were everything I look for in a chocolate chip cookie. Also, I used all-pourpose flour instead of the cake and bread flour. Also, I left out the sea salt and my cookies didn't take as long to bake, about 13 minuets.
I usually add how much the repipe makes in a recipe, but the original recipe says 1 1/2 dozen and I made over three dozen so since it's such a big difference, I'll let you find out how many it makes for yourself.
*Also note that the dough needs to be chilled for over 24 hours so make sure you leave time for that.

So, I hate to admit this, but this blog is about me learning lessons while baking so I will give everyone a good laugh. My grandmothers' baking sheet only has a rim on one side. So I lined it with parchment paper and during my second dozen, the paper slid off while i was pulling them off and I lost all 12 of them to the door of the oven and they feel in the crack between the door and the open. So upsetting. Learn from me and don't let it happen to you.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet disks, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt

In your medium sized bowl, sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl, set aside.
In your mixer, use the paddle attachment and cream the butter and sugars until very light, about 5 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time and mix well.
Stir in vanilla.
Reduce speed to add the dry ingredients until just combined.
Drop in chocolate pieced in and incorporate them without breaking them.
Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.
Dough may be used in batched, and be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat.
Scoop 6 3 1/2 ounce mounds of dough onto baking sheet.
Make sure to turn all chocolate pieces horizontally if they are sticking up for a more attractive cookie.
Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, about 18-20 minuets.
Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more.
Repeat with remaining dough, or put it in the refrigerator for later baking.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cherry Coke Cupcakes



I don't know if you know this about me, but my favorite soda is cherry coke. Especially when it's made with grenadine fresh at a bar. That's when they have the most flavor. So good.
Of corse I had to try to make these. There was the chance that chocolate coke was a odd tasting combination. But it was totally worth the risk.
I attempted to write "Coke" on the second one. You have to cut me some slack though because I am without the comforts of my house in Illinois. Like tips. That is right, I used a ziplock bag doing this.


There was an optional syrup on top of the cupcake and I think it's a good choice to add a little bit of coke flavor. Also, I used grenadine instead of the cherry juice. The original recipe that Annie's Eats used had only one cherry in the middle of the cupcake, she opted to use 4 or 5 but I went for three. The cupcakes are really moist and flavorful. Maybe a little more cherry flavor in the cupcake?

Cherry Coke Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, (softened)
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup Coca-Cola
1/4 teaspoon maraschino cherry juice
2 teaspoon vanilla
maraschino cherries, (stemless)

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Coca-Cola

For topping:
2/3 cup heavy cream
3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar

maraschino cherries to add to the top

Preheat oven to 350.
Line your cupcake pan with your liners.
In a medium bowl combine the four, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
Stir together and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Mix in the egg until incorporated.
In a bowl, combine the buttermilk, coke, cherry juice, and vanilla.
Mix the dry ingredients into the stand mixer on low speed and alternate with the liquid and dry, beginning and ending with the try and mixing until just incorporated. 
Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.
Put 4 or 5 cherries into each cupcake and push them into the batter.
Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.
To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and coke in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. 
Spoon or drizzle a small amount on the top of each cupcake and allow to set before adding the whipped frosting. 
To make the whipped cream frosting, add the heavy cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with the whisk attachment.
Begin whipping on medium speed, slowly adding the powdered sugar and gradually increasing the speed to high as the cream holds soft peaks.
Whip until the cream holds still peaks, be careful not to over beat them.
Spoon or pipe the whipped cream on top of the cupcakes and top each with a cherry.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quesadilla Fun

Greetings from Florida!
I still can't believe I live here now, still getting used to the fact that I can go to the beach whenever I want.
So what have I been up to that I have been absent for so long? I started working finally! On my second week of that. I started bowling with my Grandfathers' bowling league that consists of our senior neighbors. I've been going to the gym, walking and beach, and laying out by the pool. Of corse, most importantly I have been cooking! my first week I made my tortilla soup and paninis for dinner, red velvet cupcakes for my Grandmothers' friend, Marge, who left the state to go back north, and last week, I tried a new recipe for quesadillas. So why have I waited this long to make a new post? I left my camera cord in Illinois and I just received it via mail from my Mother today! (Thanks Mom!!)
My grandparents bought their quesadilla maker years ago for me for when I visit, I've loved cooking for years, and mexican food, so I wanted to make sure I make use of it while I'm living here.

I found this recipe for meaty quesadillas at Veronica's Cornucopia. I have to say, these quesadillas were delicious. My grandfather ate his entire quesadilla, I only left two pieces, and my grandmother had two. I garnished them with salsa on top which made them even more amazing. They had just the perfect kick and served with refried beans was perfection. Not to mention the flavor of the beef. Okay, I'll just let you try it for yourself, but trust me, try it!! I'm sorry that my photography skills have not improved, but with the lighting of my grandparents kitchen maybe they will get better. 




 I got to skip some steps on the recipe because I do have a quesadilla cooker, but I'll post the version for making them without one because I'm sure most people do not.
Meaty Quesadillas
makes 6 (or three if you have a quesadilla maker)


1 pound of lean ground beef
3 gloves of garlic, (minced)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
ground pepper to taste
2 bunches green onions, (thinly sliced)
6 10 inch flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, (I used pepper jack and mozzarella)
salsa or sour cream for serving

Cook the beef, garlic, chili powder, oregano, salt and ground pepper over medium heat, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it is no longer pink.
Add the green onions and cook for a few more minutes.
Heat a large griddle or nonstick pan over medium heat.
Spray with cooking spray and place tortillas on the griddle, and scatter 1/4 cu of cheese on each.
Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and cheese is melted.
Put a sixth of the beef mixture on half of each tortilla and fold into a half-moon.
Continue to cook until the quesadillas are crisp, turning once.
Repeat to make six quesadillas.
Cut into wedges and top with salsa

Sunday, August 14, 2011

White Sox Cookies

My parents, all their friends, myself, and some of my friends went to the Chicago White Sox game last night. Unfortunately, there was a crazy rain storm that delayed the game by an hour and a half but of corse we waited in the rain! It was so worth it! I had so much fun. My friend Adriana and I took a picture with a cardboard cut out of Ozzie Gullian and they chose four pictures to put on the big screen (shown below) and we won a free shirt! I was so excited! The Sox even won! It was the perfect way to spend my last weekend living in Illinois.


Homerun

My friend Adriana and myself with the new Frank Thomas statue

Anyway, I was so excited about the game and I found the cutest baseball hat cookie cutter, so you know I made cookies for tailgating, check these out: 


They turned out so cute! I found little sprinkles to put on the top for the white buttons. I had so much fun making these. I'm defiantly leaning toward going back to school to be a pastry chef. I wasn't sure, but after these I realized that this might be for me, (as a career). Everyone loved these cookies, much to my relief. They're supposed to be a lot darker, but you have to mix in the back gel in by hand, and I had a lot of trouble with that. Next time I'll figure it out. I got the baseball cookie cutter for a dollar at Sur La Table, and the frosting i used was actually leftover frosting from my Funfetti Cookie Sandwiches.
The recipe for the cookies is from Amandeleine.

Chocolate Cut-out Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa, (natural is ok)
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
black gel food coloring 

Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder and salt; set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined. 
In three additions, add the flour mixture at low speed. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. 
Work in food coloring with your hands to desired darkness.
Refrigerate dough for 30 minuets. 
Roll the dough on a lightly floured and cocoa-ed surface. 
Cut the cookies with your cookie cutter. 
Freeze cut cookies for five minutes.
Bake 8 minutes, let cool completely. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Funfetti Cookie Sandwiches


I usually make everything from scratch. 
But seriously, how fun do these look?
I didn't have assorted multi-colored sprinkles so I had to improvise and make my own. 



I'm having a going away party this afternoon for my friends, well not really a "party" a fire and swimming if you will. But I decided to make these bad boys for my friends. 
I still can't believe that I'm moving on Monday, it's finally here! 
Most of my clothes are already packed, and half of my stuff is already in Florida.


Recipe from Baked Perfection
Funfetti Cookie Sandwiches

makes about 24 cookie sandwiches
for the cookies:
1 package Funfetti cake
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
for the frosting:
1 stick of butter, (softened)
3 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Pour cake mix into the bowl of your stand mixer.
Stir in eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla until combined.
Drop teaspoons of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 7-9 minutes, the bottoms will be light brown.
Move cookies onto a cooling rack, let cool completely before assembling.
For the frosting, beat butter and vanilla in your stand mixer until creamy.
Add salt.
Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating until combined.
Add milk one tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.
Frost bottom side of half the cookies.
Top with unfrosted cookie.
Roll edges in assorted sprinkles.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes


Last Christmas I made red velvet cookies. They were supposed to be a sandwich cookie and they were alright. That was my first and only encounter with red velvet.
I knew I was going to bring in one last treat to work for my last day, one last goodbye. I told that to my manager, Joanna and she requested that I brought in some red velvet cupcakes. I had already bookmarked a red velvet recipe, by Annie's Eats so I made that my plan.
I honestly don't know what the signature red velvet flavor is, perhaps it can only be described at red velvet. I did notice that the ingredients included a small amount of cocoa powder and white distilled vinegar.
This recipe calls for two tablespoons of red liquid food coloring. I must admit that I saw red food color on the list of ingredients and thought, I have that, and didn't think about it again. Then it came to actually measuring the two table spoons. Lets just say I went through three little red food color squirters, and what I had left of the whole bottle of red food coloring. So worth it though.
Also cake flour is quite expensive so I used normal all purpose flour and they still were amazing.
Even the frosting was delicious and I don't like cream cheese. I brought these to work and everyone was saying how delicious they were. They were so moist and the flavor was amazing, these might just be the best cupcake I have ever had, let alone made.
Try these, make these, love these.


Red Velvet Cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes
For the cakes:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tsp distilled white vinegar


For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
5 tablespoons butter, (softened)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, (sifted)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the cupcake pans with your cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk the dry ingredients.
In the bowl of your standing mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar; beat on medium speed until well blended.
Mix in the dry ingredients into the standing mixer on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners.
Bake for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool in the pans between five and ten minutes and then place on cooling racks to cool completely until frosting.
To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of your electric mixer.
Beat on medium-high speed until well combined, about 3 minutes.
Mix in the vanilla extract.
Gradually mix in the powdered sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.
Frost cupcakes and enjoy.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chocolate Espresso Cookie Sandwiches With Peanut Butter Filling



Wow that title is a mouthful. But seriously, the thought of those 3 ingredients together is mouthwatering.
I've had this recipe by Lovin' From the Oven, my favorite food blog, bookmarked for a while, I have so many bookmarked recipes it's going to take me forever to try them all, which is not a bad thing!
I'm moving in 2 weeks, I'm so excited! The only problem is that everyone wants to go to dinner or lunch, which I love! BUT I'm going to gain so much weight it is not even funny! My oldest friend Jessica meet me for lunch at her favorite restaurant Olive Garden, you may have herd of it. I wanted to give her something because she's been such an amazing friend since my first years of high school and I don't know what my life would be without her. (AWW) So I decided to make her something sweet, and got all the ingredients for these bad boys.
Kim, who writes Lovin' From the Oven, warned that these wouldn't be easy. And I swear that my cookies never look like the picture, but I suppose everyone says that right? My cookies were a totally different color and texture, and I thought I probably cooked them too long. My filling had the opposite problem as hers, she could barley spread hers and mine was, not watery but defiantly not dry.
But after all that, I gave Jess the cookies and watched her eat one, looking oh so serious, and I had to asked, and guess what she said? "They're Perfect". I was quite pleased.
Also, when making these, I found out that smelling peanut butter makes me all kinds of nauseous. good to know.
Will you make them?


Chocolate Espresso Cookie Sandwiches with Peanut Butter Filling

makes about 12 cookie sandwiches 
For the cookies:
1 cup flour
3/4 cup processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons of butter, (softened)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
For the filling:
2 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter, (softened)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons of milk

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of your standing mixer cream together the butter and both sugars.
Stir in the egg and vanilla.
Gradually mix in the flour mixture into the standing mixer, until just incorporated.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Separate the dough into two and roll them into two uniform logs about twelve inches long.
Refrigerate it until firm enough to slice.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the logs into 1 inch slices and place 1 1/2 inches apart onto your cooking sheets.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the dough looks just baked.
The cookies should be tender, so do not over bake.
For the filling, cream all the ingredients together until well mixed.
Use immediately.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Raspberry Crumb Bars


So I'm not sure If you know, but I LOVE all things raspberry. How can you not? We had a raspberry bush in my backyard when I was a kid and me and my brother would always eat them right off of it so maybe that's where my love comes from. I've never had a raspberry bar but I saw the picture on The Galley Gourmet, where I found the recipe, I knew I had to soon! I actually got to have a bar and I loved them so much I ended up eating three in a row! Let me tell you they are quite delish!!

This was another "learning experience" for me but I'm starting to learn that every time you cook you learn something new, which is why it's so fun! The recipe says to sprinkle the top layer on, but mine was really sticky and doughy so I added more flour and I still wasn't able to sprinkle it, so i picked pieces and placed them on top of the raspberry. Also I didn't measure how much jam I put in the middle and I'd recommend either doing so, but I think the more the better!

I wanted to share my new find! I bought the cutest oven mitt at my favorite store, Sur La Table on clearance for like five dollars! Such a good steal :) Don't you love it?

I also bought some cookie cutters and I want to use them soon, so if you know a good cookie recipe that I can use them with send me an email with the recipe and I'll post it on my blog! (click email to send me one)
Don't forget to leave comments and let me know what you think of this post!!!

Raspberry Crumb Bars

For the bottom layer:
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into individual tablespoons
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup seedless raspberry preserves or jam

For the crumb layer:
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into individual tablespoons
1 extra large egg
1 tablespoon milk

Place your oven rack in the center position. 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang for easy removal.

Part I: Bottom Layer
Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. 
Add the butter and pulse on and off until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add the milk and almond extract and pulse on and off until the mixture comes together. 
Transfer the mixture into the pan, spread and press firmly, making a smooth and even layer. 
Refrigerate 15-20 minutes. 
Bake the bottom layer for 12-15 minutes, until it's barely firm in the center.

Part II: The Top Layer
While the bottom layer is baking, prepare the top layer.
Clean your mixing bowl and then add the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Pulse to combine.
Sprinkle the butter pieces over the flour mixture and process until the mixture is well blended. Add the egg and mil and pulse until the mixture is moistened and forms small clumps. 
When the bottom layer is done baking, remove and spread the raspberry jam evenly over the hot crust. 
Sprinkle the top layer over the top, braking any large crumbs with your fingers. 
Bake until the top is barley browned and the jam is bubbly, about 25-30 minuets. 
Remove and place on a rack to cool completely.
Cut into desired sized bars and enjoy!