Tag Archives: baking

Mint Chip Cookies

The holiday season brings out the Holly Homemaker in me. Well OK, not really, but I seem more inclined to bake during the holidays. REB and I have wanted cookies for a few nights now. I realized I had everything in my pantry to make cookies, so why not?

This is based on the typical chocolate chip recipe, but has a few little twists. The end result was perfection.

Sorry Santa. These cookies are not for you ;)

Here’s what you need:
•2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
•3/4 cup granulated sugar
•3/4 cup packed brown sugar
•2 sticks butter, softened
•2 large eggs
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•2 teaspoons instant espresso
•3/4 cup chopped walnuts
•1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
•1 1/2 cups Andes mint chips

Preheat oven to 375ºF

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, or in your stand mixer, cream the granulated sugar, brown sugar and butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, the vanilla and espresso. Beat until smooth. Slowly add in the dry mixture until the entire batter is smooth and combined.

Turn the speed up to medium and add the walnuts. Then turn off the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips and mint chips until combined.

Let the batter chill in the fridge, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes.

Scoop a tablespoon of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-to-11 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool completely before serving. Enjoy!

Orange Cranberry Bread

I revisited the recipe I did last year for orange cranberry bread. I changed it a bit and I must say, it turned out even better! Today is REB’s birthday too, and this is one of his favorite things to eat, so I decided to make him some. I think he’ll like it!

Here’s what you need:
•2 cups all purpose flour
•1 cup granulated sugar
•1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1 egg, beaten
•2 tablespoons melted butter
•2 tablespoons hot water
•1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (I used 1 1/2 Navel oranges to accomplish this)
•Zest of one orange
•1 teaspoon orange extract
•1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
•1 cup chopped walnuts

Start by preheating your oven to 325ºF
Dry roast the walnuts in a small pan for 5-8 minutes, then roughly chop
Zest your orange and then cut it to squeeze the juice out until you get around 1/2 cup (it took about 1 1/2 Navel oranges for me)

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl beat the egg, then add the melted butter, water, zest, orange juice and orange extract. Mix and then add to the dry ingredients and stir until moist and combined. Fold in the cranberries and walnuts. Pour the bread batter into a 9 x 5 bread dish (I sprayed with non stick baking spray) and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. It only took 45 minutes for me, but oven temperatures vary so keep watch!

Let it cool completely (if you can ;)) before slicing. Enjoy!

Baked Mashed Potatoes

So simple, so sinful.

I love potatoes. I really don’t think “love” is a strong enough word for how I feel about these starchy roots of heaven.

One of my coworkers and friends JLN told me how he made these mashed potatoes that were to die for, and then he 1-up’d himself and baked them.

That was enough for me to want to try this. I knew the basic recipe had to be easy. But what I really needed from him was the temperature to bake the dish. There are also a ton of recipes around the web about this dish, but I decided to take what I had and make it with those ingredients. Funny enough, the recipe he used, actually used the ingredients I had to use up! (I just said “use” a lot in that phrase..)

So yeah, if you have stuff in your fridge you need to use up, make this dish! It takes up to an hour from start to finish, but it’s well worth it.

Here’s what we used:
•5 russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces. Leave the peels on! I love the potato skin
•5 oz. 1/3 less fat Neufchatel cheese (basically 1/3 less fat cream cheese. It’s what I had leftover from the cinnamon rolls)
•1/2 cup chopped chives (about 15 “strands” of chives I had leftover from baked potatoes we made a few days ago)
•1/4 cup light sour cream (this is optional. We didn’t end up using a lot of this)
•S&P to taste
•1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
•2 tablespoons margarine or butter

Boil the potatoes until their fork tender. Then drain them and transfer them back to your boiling pot (no need to dirty a new bowl)

Add in your cream cheese, sour cream and mash ‘em up! I don’t know why my masher decided to go MIA the one time I needed it, but fear not! Since the potatoes were so tender, we used a fork and it worked just as well. If you want yours super creamy, use a hand mixer if you have one. Would work beautifully for an extra creamy texture.

Then add in your chives and cheese. Chives add a lovely, mild onion flavor. You can totally take this out if you don’t want that. …But why would you NOT have sour cream and chives on a potato…? That’s just crazy talk.

Add some salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the entire pot of mashed potatoes into a lightly greased 9 x 13 glass baking dish (just spray with some cooking spray). Spread the mixture out evenly.

Take the 1-2 tablespoons of butter and break it up to spread evenly across the top of the potatoes.

Sprinkle some leftover cheese (or additional cheese in my case. ahem.) on top

Bake at 350ºF for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are golden brown.

Mmkay. I clearly don’t need to explain what’s going on in that picture. Did I mention how much I love potatoes?

Just little bites of heaven. Sigh. Love, love, love.

Unfortunately, using up those ingredients to make this dish only created more leftovers for me to get rid of… (–_–;  Ah well. All in the name of love.

Cinnamonamonamonamon buns

Gooey, delicious, and guaranteed to be horrible for you, these cinnamon buns are amazing.

I can’t in any way take credit for this recipe. My future bro-in-law makes these buns and they are to DIE for. He uses the recipe off King Arthur Flour’s web site. And since that just so happens to be the flour we use, of course we had to try this recipe. He did offer some alterations and some tips for us that is different than the actual recipe, which I’ll talk allllll about here.

Warning: Butter WILL be your best friend in this recipe. So if you’re on a diet, I suggest turning away now. …But I hope you don’t, because it’s so delicious! Also, this recipe will make you lethargic. True story.

OK, so now that I’ve done my part and given you the warnings, we can go ahead and talk about how to make these rolls of heaven.

Cinnamonamaonamonamon buns starring:
The Dough:
•4 1/2 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour (or all-purpose flour if you don’t use this brand)
•1/2 cup of granulated sugar
•1 3/4 teaspoon salt
•1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut up
•2 large eggs, room temperature
•2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (we just used Red Star-brand active dry yeast)
•1 cup milk (lukewarm – just stick it into the microwave for 20-30 seconds. This is to help the yeast react properly)

The Filling:
•1 cup packed brown sugar (we used dark – more depth of flavor)
•1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened (just leave it out for 1-2 hours)
•3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

The Icing:
•3 oz. plain cream cheese (we used the 1/3 less fat neufchatel cheese, which isn’t as bad for you and has a lot more flavor)
•1 1/2 cup powdered (or confectioners) sugar
•1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (that’s 1/2 a stick)

Start to make your dough by adding the milk, a little bit of the sugar (like 1/8 teaspoon) and the yeast to your mixer bowl. With the paddle attachment, start mixing the ingredients.

If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer, or a wooden spoon.

Next, add the flour, rest of the sugar and the salt. Let the entire thing combine until it’s “cohesive” as the site would suggest. Then you can take it out and knead on a well oiled surface for 5-8 minutes. Or, you can attach the dough hook to your KitchenAid and knead it that way for 4-7 minutes on low-to-medium speed.

This is how the dough will look when it’s all nice and combined

Put the dough into a separate bowl, so you can clean out the metal mixer bowl and oil it. Then put the dough back into it and turn it around to oil it well. Next, turn on your oven to the lowest temperature (100 or 150ºF for maybe 1-2 minutes and then turn it off). Instead of just covering the dough with a towel or something, we put ours in the oven to rise. Just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the oven for 60 minutes so it can rise.

Go do your laundry, or play a video game or something for the hour while you wait for the dough to rise. It’ll go by quick, though!

When the dough is ready, oil a surface (or a few cutting boards in our case) and dump the dough ball onto it. Roll it out to 16 x 21 inches.

With your softened butter for the filling, spread it all over the dough. I know how horrible this looks, but believe me, you want it to look like this. It was a bit overwhelming, not going to lie. Now, I guess you could melt the butter first and then pour it onto the dough. Our butter was soft enough, so this worked just as well.

Then you want to sprinkle the entire thing with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Get it all on there, too!

From the shortest end, start rolling the dough up into a tight log.

Cut the roll log into 12 pieces and place into a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish. It’s easiest to the cut the log into half, and then each half into six pieces.

Once you get all the pieces in your dish, you have to let them rise again. Cover the dish with plastic wrap, proof your oven again (set it to the lowest temperature for 1-2 minutes) and then turn the oven off, place the dish in there, and let them rise for 30 minutes.

It may not look like they’ve risen a ton, but they have.

Next, set your oven to 400ºF, and bake the rolls for 15 minutes. They won’t take long! So once the rolls are baking away, you can make your icing. You want to make the icing while they’re baking so that you can spread it on each bun as soon as they come out of the oven.

Mix the cream cheese (softened), butter (softened), powdered sugar and vanilla extract. You just use a fork and mix it well and you’ll end up with the most amazing cream cheese icing. Zomg. It took a lot not to eat the lovely forkful REB held up for me…

Moving on…

Spread the icing on the buns as soon as they come out of the oven. They’ll be all golden brown when they’re finished. The icing will instantly melt on top of each of the rolls. Must…contain…self.

If you notice one is missing, it’s because I snagged to take a photo of it. …or eat it. Ahem.

It’s OK to be jealous. Enjoy!

Baking extravaganza – Part II

Cake balls (hehehe)

Hilarious to say, but so yummy to eat. It’s also incredibly idiot-proof to make, but requires some patience.

[we made two batches]
• 2 boxes of cake mix (we used Classic White and Red Velvet)
• 2 cans of frosting (we used Lemon [for the white cake] and Cream Cheese [for the Red Velvet because that’s what you’re supposed to use. No, really. You are. It told me)
• 2 pounds of white chocolate bark (bakers chocolate)
• 2 pounds of semi-sweet bakers chocolate

To prepare:

Bake the cakes according to the package.

Mmmmm….looking good!

As soon as they come out of the oven, dump each into two separate bowls.

Add a can of frosting to each (here you see the lemon with the white cake) and mix it all around

May not look like much, but it smells so good! Once you’ve done this, it’s best to freeze the mixture for up to 24 hours.

The next day, or much later the same day, take out the bowls and make little balls with the cake/frosting mixture.

See? Kinda like that. They’re all happy and ready to be dunked into chocolatey-goodness. Oh, and I know I’m just showing you the white chocolate/lemon frosting batch, but that’s because my sister was mostly dealing with the chocolate and red velvet.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.

And now here’s the white chocolate all melted. Yum!

Isn’t it pretty? Double boiling and using really good quality bark is the key. We tried just using semi-sweet chips, but it isn’t tempered and we didn’t know how to temper it. So we decided just to buy the bark to melt. Nothing was added either. We just dumped them into the bowl and let it melt; no oil, nothing.

Drop one cake ball into the chocolate. We put the red velvet into the chocolate and the lemon into the white chocolate. Using a fork and spoon, work the cake ball around to cover it in chocolate. Remove it and put on a piece of parchment paper and allow to cool completely and harden.

Aren’t they beautiful? Sigh. It’s such a sight, I could cry.

Perfection – this is what it looks like

Oh, here are the white-cake-with-lemon-frosting-and-white-chocolate cake balls. Even though red velvet cake is probably my favorite kind of cake, I prefer the lemon cake balls. How weird is that?

Anyway, something fun you could do is take any leftover white chocolate you have, mix in some food coloring and then drizzle some color onto the cake balls. Then you’d be super-duper fancy. I, however, was lazy and didn’t get around to doing that.

So there you have it. Cake balls (hehehehe). You can try it with any kind of cake you like and any frosting! The possibilities are endless. Just a fair warning though: you’ll end up with 60+ cake balls like we did. Not that I mind, of course.

Baking extravaganza Part I

I love to bake. I don’t do it that often. I should remedy that.

My sister and I are on a baking extravaganza that will complete over the course of three days. Yes, three. Why give presents when you can give baked goodies to your closest family and friends…? Exactly, that’s what I thought.

I’ve talked about my and V’s famous chocolate mint cookies before, and I’ve posted many photos of their perfection on my Flickr, but now I shall share the recipe with all you out there. You should feel special. No, really, you should. DO IT.

Cast of stars:
• 3/4 cup of butter
• 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used light but you can use dark…whatever you have)
• 2 tablespoons water
• 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 2 1/2 cups flour
• 2 eggs
• 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 36 Andes mints (I just ended up using two packs of them – 24 come in one package)

Start with the butter. Yeah, I know it’s a lot but you can’t skimp when it comes to these cookies. Besides, it’s the holidays. Isn’t the gym for the resolutioners any way…?

In a large saucepan, cook the butter, brown sugar and water together until melted. Add in the chocolate chips and stir to partially melt. Remove from heat and continue stirring to completely melt the chocolate. Pour this mixture into your mixer bowl, or into a larger bowl.

Beat the eggs at high speed, one at a time, into your chocolate mixture and mix until blended. Reduce the speed to low and add in your dry ingredients and mix until blended and a dough forms.

Chill the cookie dough, uncovered, in your fridge for up to 1 hour.

When the dough has set and hardened (I pulled the bowl out after about 45 minutes), take a little bit, roll into a ball and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Don’t they look magical? I thought so too.

Bake at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes. You’ll know they’re done because the cookies will spread and be kind of cracked on top.

While the cookies bake away, unwrap the Andes mints. Try to contain yourself and not eat them as you unwrap. But that’s why you buy three packages…mwahahaha.

When the cookies come out, this is when the magic really happens.

Immediately after the cookies come out, place one mint on top of each cookie and let them melt into ooey-gooey-melty-amazingness (yes, thats is a word).

Then be patient and let them melt for up to 5 minutes. Once they’re kind of melted, you can use the back of a spoon to spread the chocolate all over.

Patience is a virtue, isn’t it? This is what you end up, and it’s amazing and wonderful and delicious.

Go ahead. Tell V and me that we’re awesome bakers. Actually, thank her sister-in-law. I think it was her who gave us this recipe. She’s basically my hero. Srsly. My hero. This is a staple made every Christmas now. Even if I can’t make it with V, they get made. And they’re delicious. Happy Holidays!