Monday, January 31, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Let me just start this post off by saying that I LOVE cookie dough.  Its my favorite ice cream, I always get it.  If I don't, I'm always disappointed in my choice and wishing that I got cookie dough.  I make a mean cookie dough truffle as well that are truly addicting so I try not to make them that often (but I will have to make them to show all of you them - the things I have to do for the blog ;) lol).  When I saw the post on My Baking Addiction about Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes  I printed that recipe right out and got all giddy and was like "Must make these!" And let me tell you - AMAZING! 

Even better was that the recipe is so easy! I thought it was going to be a labor intensive cupcake - so far from it.  It is now one of my favorites and it will be making many appearances of things I make.  I was at my parents house making dinner, and this was the dessert.  And I got to use their oven - which I love...its got a convection oven option in it....totall beats my plain old oven.


And even better about this get to use premade cookie dough - one less thing I have to make, and maybe a little something to snack on while I make the cookies.  (I ended up using half of the tub - the rest is in my freezer waiting for the next time I make these). 

hello friend :)

So I make the dough and scoop them into the cupcake tins and then comes the fun part, putting balls of cookie dough in the middle of each cupcake. 

it looks like a lot of cookie dough, but its
only a tsp of dough

Then you cover up the cookie dough with the cupcake dough so nothing is showing, and then bake away.  While that is happening, I got to make mini cookies that go ontop of the cupcakes. Mini cookies all done and letting the cupcakes cool.  And after everything is all cooled and ready to go I make the frosting (its so good).  Now comes the fun part.  I left my pastry bag at home, so I just used a good old plastic ziplock bag as my pastry bag....I think they came out pretty good.

seriously, how cute?!
And very dad is really picky about chocolate cake - it must be moist and have a good white frosting. I've tried countless chocolate cake recipes and have finally found a few that he loves.  He hasn't stopped talking about these all weekend.  I'm glad to add these to his favorite list.

cookie dough in the middle :)


So the other night I had decided to spend the day at my parents and bake away and make us dinner (my sisters both had plans and who wants to eat alone?!) My parents were very excited about this - dinner would be ready when they got home from work.  My mom had said that chicken was what she had in the fridge to use and that was my only guideline - the pressure was on.  I wasn't worried about my mom, I was worried about my dad.  He can be a little picky sometimes....he likes extra sauce on things and if there isn't enough rice or pasta or whatever side we made he asks why there isn't more.  So he was the one I was worried about.  I went over armed with some left over Homemade Thin Mint cookies (he was asking repeatedly for them the night before), my dads favorite beer bread mix (from Tastefully Simple) and no idea what to make for dinner.

Chicken.  You can do a million things with chicken, and I didn't want to do the same old thing with it.  I decided that my back up plan would be to make Chicken Parm (my personal fav) if I couldn't decide/find anything to make.  I started by making dessert (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes - post about those bad boys will be up soon) and once that was all done I had to figure out what to do about dinner.  Beer bread - 2 seconds to make and then put it in the oven - easiest thing ever.  And I was surprised when my dad said that he loved that bread when I first brought it over for dinner one night last year.  Some sort of chicken - I started looking through my moms cookbooks to get an idea of what to make.  Towards the end I finally found one - and it was so easy.  Jackpot.  Chicken Au Gratin.  It was perfect.  Then I found Garlic and Herb rice in the house - this dinner was coming together nicely.

Beer Bread....check

soooo good :)
 Garlic and Herb rice....check

Now chicken - the hardest part of this was cutting it all up into bite size chunks.  You get to cook everything in one pan and then put it in a baking dish, top with bread crumbs and brown....super easy.  I started off by sauteing mushrooms until they were nice and brown.  Then I added onions and garlic.  Once those were good, time for the chicken and salt and pepper.  5 minutes later, time to add some chicken stock and heavy cream to make a sauce.  Let that sauce thicken (and I added a little cornstarch because it didn't get as thick as I wanted it) and then transfer to baking dish.  Top it with a bread crumb and parmesan cheese mixture and put some small pats of butter on top and put it into the oven to brown.

i let it get a little too brown :(
Dinner was done - and it was delicious! Both of my parents had seconds - which doesn't really happen that often.  Super easy and tasty.  I will definatley be making this one again.   

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Home made version of Girl Scout Thin Mints

First off - a huge thanks to Casey for bringing this to my attention!
I love Thin Mints - its my absolute favorite Girl Scout cookie.  Growing up my parents would buy a lot (I swear a whole case of them but who least 6 boxes) and then stick them in the freezer....delicious.  When I saw this recipe...I thought, OK I will give it a shot.  And I have to say, after a couple of tweaks for the next time I make it, they are pretty damn close.  Here's the link for the recipe

The first thing I knew I would need was the right size cookie cutter.  I searched and searched and all I could find was all my festive holiday cookie cutters - you know ghosts, pumpkins, trees, sleighs, snowman.  I needed a small circle cookie cutter.  I emptied out all the drawers and my little cabinet where I keep most of my baking supplies...nothing.  Then it hit me....improvise and use one of my favorite things from college.

my favorite shot glass

 I know what you're thinking - really?! A shot glass - but let me tell you if you are looking to make a small cookie and you can't find the right size cookie cutter, this works perfectly! I make the dough and roll it on out on my kitchen counter and cut away.

Perfect size! :)

 So I baked them all off and let them cool.  This part doesn't take long.  The hardest part of all of this is making the dough for the cookies and the mint topping.  I highly suggest this easy recipe for anyone who loves Thin Mints.  Once cooled, I got to work on the mint topping.  And once again, I got to use my trusty shot glass :)

little mint discs on top of cookies :)
Then comes the fun part - putting a chocolate coating on top.  You can find chocolate coating anywhere - I got CANDIQUICK at the grocery store.  And the best part was it comes in its own melting tray - one less dish to wash.  I melted the chcolate and then covered them and let them set. 

I clearly need to work on my decorating skills

If you think that looks bad, you should see when I decorate a cake - its not pretty at all.  I once made a Penguin cake for my sisters birthday and it was so ugly. Thankfully I was the only one who took a picture of it with my phone before we ate it.  There was no need for that picture to be out there floating around.  Im lucky if I can draw in a straight line.  So needless to say you wont see anything that has amazing decorations on it made by me.   

Friday, January 21, 2011

My love/hate relationship with yeast

I love yeast.  It helps me make many delicious things. Yeast, however, does not like me.  I only really use it when I make my Nana's Coffee Ring.  And when Thanksgiving rolled around this year, I was in charge of making it all by myself this year (it was something I had always done with my Dad while he was teaching me how to make it).  I was really nervous about it and didn't want to mess it up - this was a lot of pressure to make this thing perfect and up to my Dad's standards.  I had done a dry run the week before and they came out amazing!  My Dad was so proud of me and told me that I was now permanently in charge of them.  Huge honor and compliment. 

So it came time to start the process of making the Coffee Ring - its a 2 day process.  I had a bunch of other things to make for Thanksgiving as well, so I was in for a long 2 days of baking.  I figured I would start by making the dough for the Coffee Ring and started by activating the yeast packet.  I added a tablespoon of sugar like always and waited a couple minutes for the yeast to activate.  Nothing happened - just a pitiful amount of bubbling and no foaming and rising to the top of the cup like it should.  So I waited another 5 minutes and checked on it again.  Nothing.  I dumped it out and opened another yeast packet and waited for it to activate.  5 minutes goes by and again, nothing!  I wait another 10 minutes for this guy thinking that he will activate for me, and nothing.  I call my mom at work and tell her that I know I'm doing everything right and nothing is happening.  She tells me it happens sometimes that you get a packet or two of yeast that doesn't activate.  I hang up and go try again, positive that this will be the packet to work.  20 minutes later....nothing! I'm starting to get frustrated and swearing at a cup of water and unactivated yeast sitting on my parents kitchen counter. 

I end up going through 5, that's right, 5 packets of yeast that we had on hand and none of them worked.  At this point I'm at the end of my rope and have to leave the house to go to the grocery store and go get more packets of yeast.  And going to the grocery store 2 days before a major holiday - forget it! 

30 minutes later I arrive back at my parents house with 5 new packets of yeast, praying that at least 3 of them work - because I need 3 packets to make dough for 2 Coffee Rings and Pumpkin Rolls.  I'm thinking in my head "If I have to go back out and get more yeast packets I'm going to freak out.  Please let these work".  First packet emptied and waiting to activate, I'm very hopeful that this is the one to work.  I go in the kitchen to check - nothing!  I start swearing - if anyone walked in on me you would of sworn I was born to truckers.  It was not pretty.  I empty it out and start another packet.  Nothing.  Now I'm on the verge of tears and swearing up a storm.  I've got everything ready to go in the stand mixer, just waiting for the activated yeast.  I end up calming myself down by having a drink - at this point its 12, I started at 9. 

Yes - Mojito - and it was delicious
I have a Mojito to calm me down before I even think about going back into the kitchen to try again.  I've only got 3 packets left and I need all of them to activate.  I go into the kitchen and try again.  5 minutes later - SUCCESS!!  Holy crap! I was floored!! And needless to say I didn't waste a moment starting the dough for the Coffee Ring. 

It finally did it's job! And it ended up making an amazingly fluffy Coffee Ring

fluffy dough :)

The next day I rolled it out and filled it with the filling and rolled it up and let it raise again.  I was now on a roll. 

waiting to go into the oven

And then finally, the finished Coffee Ring

Frosted and with festive fall sprinkles

Needless to say I was so happy to be done.  And yes, the other 2 packets worked that day too!  But now every time I need to use yeast, I get a little nervous.  But I'm happy to say that I haven't had an incident like this one since....and I hope to never have another one like it. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cookies with Rolos in them?!

I love Rolos, always have.  It is by far my favorite candy ever.  My dad and I could go through a whole bag within a half hour - its kind of sick.  But you really don't notice how many of them you have eaten until you look down at the bag and then say to yourself "I better stop".  Its a nasty addiction to have, but I can't help it :) 

One day I was out with some friends for our annual "lunch date" and we were in a book store looking through the cookbook section.  I came across a cookbook all about chocolate (lets be honest - had to have it) and in it was a recipe for cookies with Rolos in them! I got all excited and was like "I must have this cookbook!"  I didn't buy it that day :(  But it stayed in my mind, haunting me, making me sad I never bought it.  My birthday rolled around and my amazing friend that was in the bookstore with me that day and her husband bought me that cookbook!  I couldn't of thanked Aud and Mike enough - it was one of the best presents ever.  And of course one of the first things I made was that recipe. 

I do follow a couple of baking feeds online and one of my favorites is My Baking Addiction (you should really check her out and follow her if you dont - great stuff on there).  One day she posted a recipe with cookies with Rolos in them.  I immediately printed it out and made the cookies the next day.  It quickly became my new favorite cookie - chocolate and a Rolo in the middle and then cover the tops of the cookies with caramel - yes please! 

So my sister, we will call her Heay on here, has a co-worker who also shares my love of Rolos.  I made him the first type of cookie and he wasn't really a fan of it.  So I said ok, we will make the other kind.  Because of my injury it takes me twice as long to make things, mainly because I do everything left handed and Im a righty (and of course its my right hand thats injured).  So when I bake I need to set aside a good part of the day to bake.  Something that used to take me an hour now takes me at least two.  Thankfully we have a stand mixer, that I LOVE, otherwise I couldn't bake at all. 

The worst thing about this recipe for me is that there is a lot of things to do with both hands.  Like you have to unwrap a whole bag of Rolos.

Yes - a whole bag fits nicely in a large bowl
And then you have to take a chunk of dough and place a Rolo in the middle

a nice comfy home of chocolate dough
And then you need to roll all that dough around the Rolo so it doesn't leak out while it bakes.   I have learned to roll this on a cutting board with my left hand and I've gotten really good at it.

Ok - so some of them aren't pretty looking but they
all bake and end up looking good
And then once they cool you get to drizzle caramel on top - heaven.  If you love chocolate and caramel, this is the cookie for you. 

Delicious!  Im sure that Heay's co-worker will like these.  And if he doesn't, then I give up. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My first blog post

After a lot of consideration and a couple of my friends telling me I should start a blog about my baking, I have finally done it.  This will be all about my baking - something that I love to do.  I have more dessert cookbooks than food cookbooks.  They are currently stacked on the kitchen table because I use them so much, why put them away?  Although I don't think my sisters enjoy seeing them there, they don't complain about it because they get to eat everything I make, and occasionally I will make things for them to give to their co-workers. 

My cookbooks - just dessert ones
Don't get me wrong, we have a ton of food cookbooks too! Those are all neatly stacked away.  And I do love to cook - I truly enjoy being in the kitchen and making things.  
I've always loved to bake.  And when I moved out to Utah to go to school I lived on my own and I baked - a lot!  I always brought whatever I made into class the next day and I quickly began to have a following.  It got to the point where if people didn't know my name they called me Betty Crocker or Cookie Woman.  And when break time rolled around and people saw me with my tupperware, I would have grown men running down the hall to the break room to eat with us. 

Once I moved back home I kept the baking going and got into more than just cookies.  I started making cupcakes, cakes, and any type of cookie that sounded good.  I started investing in cookbooks - mainly Martha Stewart ones - HUGE fan.  My friends always joke that when its time to throw a bridal shower for me that the theme will be a Martha Stewart one and everyone will leave with baby whisks or cookie cutters.  It got to the point where I would get a new cookbook, go home and read every recipe, then go back and tag the pages of things I want to make first.  And I still do that to this day.  So I will make something once following the recipe exactly and then after that the next time I make it I will change it up a little seeing where I can improve it.  The only thing I don't do this on is family recipes.  Those I will never try to change for they are a part of my growing up and fond memories and will always have a place in my heart.  And one day I hope to pass them on to my kids (when I have them). 

So here's to the start of something fun.  And it will take me a little time to get this page where I want it to be, but please stick with me :)  And a huge thank you to Meredith and Kate!  I wouldn't of done this without you! And another huge thanks to Kate for the name of my blog (and in her eyes one day my bakery) -  you are always my cheerleader in this area more than anyone else and I love you for that!