Friday, December 18, 2009

Auf Wiedersehen!

I know it's been awhile, but I am here to share it's going to be a while longer! I am off to spend my holidays in Germany and the Czech Republic! It's a must needed - long dreamed about - trip of my life! I can't wait to share all the stories with you. I am so backed up with recipes. We have had so much going on and I have neglected my blogging. But have no fear, the new year is bring many exciting things your way! Stay tuned for LOTS of new and fun recipes AND some exciting aren't you glad I left you on that note! ;o)


Friday, December 11, 2009

Cupcake Snow Globes....and some sad news

I was so excited to makes these cupcakes! I got the idea from my Hello, Cupcake! Cookbook. I had been wanting to make another cupcake from the book and decided that my upcoming holiday party gave me the perfect excuse!

These cupcakes did take A LOT of patience. I had to adjust several of the ingredients (just because I was on a time crunch and didn't have time to go to a specialty candy store - my adjustments are listed below), I think that my substitutions worked great! I can't say whether or not they tasted good (I was too afraid to eat one because they were so pretty and took so much time!), but they were well received! I can't imagine they didn't taste good!

On a side note, Heggy my beloved pup, has to be put down in the morning. She has been so sick for so long and she recently took a turn for the worse. It hasn't been an easy road for the hubs and myself, and we honestly don't know how we are going to get through it tomorrow. I have cried more over the past couple of months (especially the last couple of days) than I think I have in my entire life. I just look into her eyes and see a dog that wasn't even given a chance to have the life she deserved. She is only 1 1/2, but has given the hubs and I a joy not even describable in words. Heggy changed our lives, for the better. Her unconditional love with never be forgotten. She was definitely one of a kind, and anyone who got the pleasure of meeting her knows what I am talking about. I will miss her "kisses", her "scratching - pick me up", her determination to find a way onto the couch, her sitting at the door waiting for mommy to come home (and not even letting me put my stuff down when I walk in the door), her love for her sweaters, her "hold me like a baby", her "oh yes scratch my belly", her sleep smell, her nickname "Hegster", and most of all her snuggling ...insisting on always being under the blanket with an arm around her belly. Heggy I will love you all my life and I hope your kisses will greet me in Heaven when it's my time. In honor of Heggy, the hubs and I have decided to make a commitment to run the Music City Half Marathon next spring. We are going to do it for her, and I will be wearing a chain around my next with her "Heggy" charm attached. I love you Heggy.

Snow Globe Cupcakes
(adapted from Hello, Cupcake!)
**I made 20 cupcakes, but feel free to make more or less. The original recipe called to make only 6, but I was going to a party and knew I would have enough stuff to make more.**
20 cupcakes baked in silver foil cupcake liners (I just used a boxed yellow cake mix.)
2 cans of vanilla frosting
3/4 cup of coarse white decorating sugar
snowflake decors (or white stars like I used)
red and green non pareils (or color sugar like I used)
20 chocolate-covered graham crackers (Keebler)
Tint 3/4 cup of the vanilla frosting green, using the food coloring, and spoon it into a ziplock bag. Spoon several tablespoons of plain vanilla frosting into another ziplock bag. Press out the excess air in the bags of frosting and seal.
Spoon the coarse white decorating sugar in a small shallow bowl. Spread remaining frosting on the top of the cupcakes. Roll the edges of each frosted cupcake in the sugar. Sprinkle the tops with some snowflake decors and the red and green non pareils.
To make the Tree:
small bag of tootsie rolls
small yellow stars
Gently warm tootsie rolls in maybe 5 seconds per piece. Roll (I just used my fingers to flatten out the tootsie roll) the tootsie roll out flat. Using a sharp knife cut out pieces for the trunk of the tree. You will need 10 trunks total. Gently press one trunk into the bottom of 10 of the cupcakes. To make the tree, use the green frosting bag (cut a small slit in the corner of the bag) and pipe the frosting starting in the center of the cupcake (the top of the tree) and moving downward for the branches. Continue piping this way moving closer to the trunk and making a tree shape. Top each tree with a yellow star.
To make the Snowman:
white spice drops
orange spice drops
tootsie rolls
red round sprinkles
Cut each white spice drop in half crosswise. Roll out the bottom half to make the disk slightly larger in diameter than the top half. For the body of each snowman, press the flattened disk at the bottom edge of the cupcake, cut side down. Place the top half of the spice drop , cut side down, above the bottom disk to make the head. Cut the orange spice drop into small triangles to make the noses. Attach each nose to the head with a small dot of vanilla frosting.
Gently warm tootsie rolls in microwave (again maybe 5 seconds per piece). Roll (I just used my fingers to flatten out the tootsie roll) the tootsie roll out flat. Using a sharp knife cut out square pieces to make the top part of the hat. Roll thin slices into the bottom portion of the hat. (make 10 of each so you have a total of 10 hats.) Carefully place bottom part of hat at an angle on the head of the snowman. Place square part of the hat onto of the bottom part of the hat.
Pipe a green scarf across the neck. Add two dots of vanilla frosting down the middle of the bottom of the snowman and attach the red sprinkles for the buttons. Add snowflake decors and red and green non pareils.
To Assemble Cupcakes:
For each cupcake, arrange 1 chocolate covered graham cracker (longways so the cupcake has more space to rest) on a serving platter. Using your small baggie of vanilla frosting, pipe a dollop of frosting onto each graham cracker. Carefully place the cupcake on its side onto the graham cracker, with decorations upright.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies

I love my Martha Stewart Cookie Cookbook! (My good friend Kristen gave it to me for my birthday present ever! PS - she does GREAT photography work!) When I got the cookbook, I immediately bookmarked several recipes that I knew I wanted to make first. Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies happened to be one of those recipes, but it didn't really make sense to make them in June! (that is when my birthday falls) So when the holidays started creeping up on us, I decided I had better find a reason to make these delicious looking blondies!

Sure enough I had the perfect reason...I was invited to a special Christmas party over the weekend and brought these blondies (along with another awesome treat I am going to post soon). They were a perfect treat for a Holiday party. I haven't made a Martha Stewart recipe I didn't like and these blondies were again a HUGE Martha success! God Bless Martha Stewart!! ;o)
These blondies had such a great flavor. The white chocolate paired so well with the gingerbread. I couldn't believe how moist these blondies were. And they also seemed to taste better as a couple days passed. If you have a Holiday party to go to this season, I highly suggest making these! They were easy to make and extremely delicious! (I pretty much had to give them all away...including sending a bunch with the hubs to school, so I didn't eat them all myself...I probably would have!) Oh and if you do make these, I found that a little zap in the microwave for a couple seconds (just enough to warm them up) made them even more delicious!

Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
10 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a 17-by-12-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment cut to fit, and coat parchment. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Beat butter and brown and granulated sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and yolk, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in white chocolate.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake until edges are golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 2-inch squares or desired shape. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Latte

I knew I wanted to make a special Thanksgiving Day breakfast since we decided not to do anything fancy this year for dinner. I came across a recipe for a Pumpkin Spice Latte and knew that it would be a perfect complement to the Pumpkin Spice Scones I made recently. My family loves pumpkin flavors just as I do, so I thought this would be a great way to start our day!

The recipe was so simple and so comforting! I am not a big coffee drinker, but if it tastes like pumpkin, I'm game! I really couldn't believe how good this was. If you haven't had a chance to try out the Pumpkin Spice Scones, now you have even more of a reason to!!

Pumpkin Spice Latte
**I tripled the recipe because I knew I wanted more than one cup. The recipe for one cup is listed below.**
1 cup strong coffee
2/3 cup (5-ounce can) evaporated fat free milk
1/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (the original recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon of either, but I wanted a stronger flavor so I added a bit more and used both.)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon

Optional toppings:
whipped cream
sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice or freshly ground cinnamon

Combine coffee, evaporated milk, pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and freshly ground cinnamon over medium-heat in a saucepan. Heat until very hot stirring occasionally.
Carefully pour into mugs. Top as desired.
Before you run off to make your morning latte :o) I wanted to share with you that my Thanksgiving Day dinner at Cracker Barrel was FANTASTIC! My in-laws were even shocked at how tasty it was! We did have to wait about 45 minutes to be seated, but we didn't think that was too bad. The food was so delicious and the portions were huge!! We got turkey, ham, dressing, sweet potato casserole, one side of your choice, cranberry salad, biscuits, a drink and a piece of pie all for $8.99!!! So if you are every looking for an alternative or just don't want to go through the hassle of making that big meal, check out Cracker Barrel!!