Thursday, October 18, 2012

Maple bourbon pecan pie

Sorry, I know I've been MIA for...oh, six months. Had a lot happen in the last year, the biggest thing being that I'm dating someone who is wonderful. So there's that.

I don't have the time right now to do the entries I used to. But we're going to try something new: I'm just going to take a photo (probably Instagram) of what I made and post the link to the recipe. If I can ever get the time in to start writing a lot again, I will. But for now, there's this.

Maple bourbon pecan pie

Crust: Joy of Cooking's pate brisee

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

March baking: Rocky road tart, sweet & salty cookies and chocolate creme pie

I understand that I've kind of fallen off the face of the earth lately. But March was an...interesting month. So, to recap (mostly) everything, I...
 • totaled my car.
• visited two best friends from college in Denver (more pictures from that later).
• had hundreds of dollars stolen from my bank account.
• watched KU make a run all the way to the National Championship game in a "rebuilding" year (I made cake pops for this event, about 150 total, but managed to take pictures every time. That picture of Mass Street counts for that, I guess.)

And that's just a snapshot. So, forgive the absence. 

This rocky road tart jumped out at me when I first looked through Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts book. And lemme tell you, it's as rich (and awesome) as it looks. It's a graham crust filled with mini marshmallows, almonds and chocolate chunks with a chocolate ganache poured over the whole thing. So decadent.

I'm a big fan of salty-sweet, so when I saw these cookies with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and pretzels in them, I knew I wanted to make them. There was a nice combo of flavors with both chips and the pretzels gave a nice crunch.

This is another favorite from Martha's book, the chocolate creme pie. I've made it a couple times on the blog, but it's just too good to pass up. Plus, I almost always have all the ingredients I need! It's pretty darn simple and cuts beautifully.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fluffernutter cupcakes, chocolate cake pops and oatmeal scotchies

If you read this on a regular basis or know me, you know my family history is pretty darn important to me. That, and I love spending time with my 91-year-old grandmother, from whom a lot of of that history comes. So a couple weekends ago, I went back to Salina to spend some quality time with her. That Saturday, I took her on a little drive south of Salina to a pretty awesome place: Coronado Heights.

This is out an opening of the structure on top of the hill, which is close to Lindsborg. Legends has it, Coronado himself stopped on this hill and surveyed the land around him. Now there's this castle-like thing on top and lots of picnic tables and hiking. But what's especially cool is that my grandpa proposed to my grandma here, about 70 years ago. Sometimes I forget how much life my grandma has seen until I stop and do the math and realize that seven decades have passed since then. Wow.

One of my good friends from college recently got a new job that required him to move to the West Coast. As sad as it makes me that he's leaving, I'm excited he got the opportunity (and that it's a new place to visit!) So two of this week's desserts were made for various times I got to see him before leaving. First, naturally, are cake pops. He's a lover of these treats, as are all his roommates. So he requested chocolate cake pops.

And then the next weekend, I got to hang out with him and a bunch of other friends to watch the KU-Mizzou game. (Side note: for those who aren't familiar, it's one of the oldest rivalries in college sports that saw its last regular-season game a couple weeks ago. As a lifelong Jayhawk, I was raised to hate the Tigers, and this game was one of the most intense I've ever watched, right up there with our 2008 National Championship win. But we won! And it was glorious.) For that, I made one of my favorite childhood cookies, the oatmeal scotchie. My mom and I would make them all the time when I was a kid; they're basically an oatmeal butterscotch cookie. They can easily get too thin and crispy, but I think I've worked out that problem.

And last but not least, my latest cupcake. I've been slacking a bit on the cupcakes lately, but these looked too good to pass up: fluffernutter cupcakes. They're peanut butter cupcakes with a Nutella filling and a marshmallow frosting. Can't forget the Nutter Butter cookie on top! That frosting is one of my new favorite things. It pipes wonderfully and it sure tastes good. (Posting these on Hoosier Homemade's Cupcake Tuesday!)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Quick bread

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

I decided to go for a lemon bread. I think we've established that I love citrus flavors, even during (what is supposed to be) winter. It's chock-full of lemon zest and lemon juice, but I decided to increase the flavor even more by adding on a lemon glaze. As usual, the office enjoyed it. And like the name said, the bread was quick and easy to put together. Best of both worlds!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Nutter Butter Rice Krispie treats, KU cookies and dog treats

I don't often miss college. The fact that I get to come home after work and go to the gym, cook myself dinner, bake or finish the first season of Downton Abbey (seriously, watch it) instead of read some book a teacher assigned me is awesome. But I do miss the friends who are constantly around, especially on the newspaper staff. A lot of those friends have moved far away, and more still are doing that now. But on the flip side, catching up with those friends makes me unequivocally happy. This week, I've gotten to do it twice: with my friend Jodi, who's in Pittsburgh, and my friend Taylor, who's in Las Vegas. There's nothing that can really brighten up a day like talking on the phone for more than an hour with a friend you haven't seen in months but you can talk to like you saw yesterday. I hope I'm able to continue that kind of relationship with my friends as more move away.

I went to Lawrence a bit ago to watch the KU-Mizzou game with a bunch of friends. I haven't decided yet what I think about that rivalry ending, by the way. As a born-and-bred Jayhawk (I went to preschool on campus!), I've grown up hating Mizzou. I don't think that will go away, even when we don't play them anymore. But it is one hell of a rivalry, and I am a little sad it's ending for the sake of conference realignment. But I digress. To watch this game, I brought some basic chocolate chip cookies with red and blue M&Ms. Sweet and simple. Rock chalk!

Lois the puppy was soooo cute waiting for her treats. I love that she licks her lips. On the same trip to Lawrence, I was visiting my friends Joe and Brianne and wanted to bring their adorable dog a present, so I made her homemade dog treats. I actually had all the ingredients at home already — peanut butter, oats, honey, etc. — and was able to just whip them up, roll them out, cut them out and bake them. And, if you can't tell, Lois really, REALLY liked them. 

Sometimes, Rice Krispie treats are just the best choice. I recently joined Pinterest, despite resisting it for months. I'm not addicted, but it's definitely a good place to remember my bookmarks. These Nutter Butter Rice Krispies were one of the first things I pinned from one of my favorite bloggers, Cookies and Cups. And the best thing? They're super simple. And super tasty. Basically a peanut butter-y krispie treat. Mmmm.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cookie dough cupcakes, peanut butter chocolate cookies and cake pops

It seems like the farther I get away from college (and the more free time I have...there's a connection), the more I get into movies. Which is why Oscar season is exciting. I saw The Artist a couple days after the Best Picture nominees were announced, and I have to say, it's totally great. For a silent film, it uses sound masterfully. Another favorite so far is Midnight in Paris. To be honest, I've never seen a Woody Allen film before this, but I love historical fiction, and this was throwing a lot of great characters (both Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dali are fantastic) into one story. I've gotta admit, though, there are a couple I have no desire to see. The Tree of Life? No thanks.

I've been really into basic cookies lately. Maybe because they're simple, quick and always a hit...I've been crazy busy lately but still want to bake, so they're a good solution. And these are my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe from Smitten Kitchen. A few hours in the office and they were all gone.

A few friends who will remain nameless (but who LOVE cake pops) requested these a couple weekends ago, and for the first time I enlisted my dad and stepmom's help making them. Thank goodness, too, because we made three different flavors, which means about 150 pops. So my dad helped roll them out and manned the sprinkle station. The red ones were red velvet, the orange were chocolate and the yellow were yellow cake. It was great making them with Dad and Cathie, because it was so hilarious watching them. They loved testing the mixtures and tasting the frosting.

And with another classic, I made these chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes from Annie's Eats. These were always a hit at the Journal-World but I'd never taken them into the Biz Journal. They take a few more steps than normal cupcakes, but it's worth it. They're chocolate chip cupcakes that are stuffed with an eggless cookie dough. What I think makes them, though, is the cookie dough-flavored icing. SO tasty.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Baked Alaska, penuche and cat treats

It's a little surprising how peaceful the lake can be even during the winter. Last weekend I went to my dad's place out at a lake about two hours from where I live. Despite it being pretty chilly (and we certainly stayed away from the water), the air was clear and the water beautiful. 

I got some reading done, I enlisted my dad to help me with some baking (which I'll share with you next week), I cooked kebabs for lunch one day, and generally hung out with my dad and stepmom. Also, it was an excellent place to watch the second episode of Sherlock, which was scary enough in broad daylight! If you haven't watched this show yet, go find the first season on Netflix. Excellent British television, and each episode is a like a mini movie.

Baked Alaska is one of those things that's always seemed a little weird and intriguing to me. After all, you're baking ice cream, and that's not totally normal. So on a recent trip to Aunt Betty's, we made it.

Courtesy of Joy of Cooking, we made the chocolate genoise cake bottom, molded the cookies and cream fro-yo and piped on the meringue, which insulates the ice cream so it doesn't melt like you think it would. And actually, as far as desserts go, it's not that terrible for you. I think next time, though, I'll make it for a dinner party or something. Definitely a dessert for many.

Back when I visited Keane in Salt Lake City, we went to a chocolate and candy shop where I met my new favorite candy: penuche. Basically, it's brown sugar fudge. I was definitely one of those kids who tried to sneak tastes of brown sugar when my mom made cookies when I was little. So having a brown sugar-flavored fudge is like heaven. This is also a Joy of Cooking recipe that includes pecans mixed in. And I will definitely make it again.

Aunt Betty suggested we try making cat treats because, you know, we're cat people. Well, animal people. Anyway, this is Archie, her black kitty, investigating the treats. We made tuna treats and modified the recipe a bit so it wasn't too runny and would actually form treats. Basically, they're tuna-flavored patties that you bake to dry them out. Honestly, they weren't much of a hit with both Archie and my cat, Melvin. Oh well. Worth a shot!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy 2012: NYE & birthday margarita cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies and baguettes

A professor from my journalism school posted a link on Twitter the other day that was really thought-provoking. It was a blog post about questions to ask for yourself about the last year. Yes, perhaps it is something that's written in some form or another every year, but honestly, it made me realize what a wonderful year I've had. The most amazing thing I did in 2011? Get a new job and move to a new city. Am I happy about where I am in life? Completely. I have some amazing friends, many of whom I got to see during the holidays even though they live far, far away. I got to make plans to visit them in 2012. I got to see both of my stepsiblings for Christmas, even though they live in Canada. And as a whole, I'm really happy where I am emotionally and mentally. So 2012, bring it on. Let's make it even better. /end typical year-beginning/year-end post.

I'm not the type of person to really go for the whole big New Year's Eve out sort of thing. But one of my best friends, Tara, has her birthday on NYE, so I celebrated at her house with her family. That included bringing my customary bday gift of cupcakes, which this time was a margarita cupcake. And despite not being kid-friendly for all the little ones running around, I'd say these were definitely a hit. They're basically a lime cake brushed with tequila and then topped with a lime-tequila icing. Pretty good alcoholic treat for NYE!

I've been a little low on energy since the holidays ending. I was busy with family and friends for basically two weeks straight, so my baking was relatively basic, including these brown sugar chocolate chip cookies. Simple, yet always a hit. They always seem to disappear rather quickly at work.

Among the kitchen items I asked for for Christmas (how great is an immersion blender, seriously? Or is that just me being a dork?), I found something awesome on a sort of scavenger hunt Cathie sponsored. She loves to thrift, so on Christmas Eve, she gave each of us kids a $5 and told us to thrift and find something awesome. One of my finds? A baguette pan for $2.75. Not too shabby, especially for something I assume was given to the thrift store because whoever donated had no idea what it was. So on a recent trip to Aunt Betty's, we made a couple baguettes from one of her old bread cookbooks that came out perfectly, even with those little dots on the bottom, which are from the perforations on the pan. What a great find!
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