Quick and Sweet: Apricot Glazed PopOvers

I’m about to lay down some truth, try not to be shocked. Fat girls, like all humans, eat. I in particular like to eat all kinds of foods. I also like to experiment with recipes and make up my own. So from time to time on this blog a recipe I really like or something I’ve created will pop up. Today is one of those times.

Apricot Glazed PopOver

Apricot Glazed PopOver

I’ve been treating a cold/sinus infection for a while now and today I finally decided to sleep in and stay home from the office. When I did get up and about, I decided I’d like something sweet with my coffee, but I didn’t want to put a lot of effort in to it. So I threw together a simple apricot “glazed” popover, which looks and tastes way more impressive than the amount of effort that went in to it.

 

Ingredients:
Refrigerator Biscuits
Your favorite Jam or Jelly

I pretty much always have a refrigerator biscuits on hand; one of my favorite kitchen tips. When they are on a good sale 3/$5 or such I purchase in bulk. They typically have a two month expiration date, so they last and make a great cold pantry item to have on hand for both sweet and savory recipes. I like the Flaky Grands variety, but any one will work really.

Cut the biscuits in to four pieces. Drop them in to a bowl.

photo 1

Cut in to pieces

 

Add jam or jelly. I had apricot, one of my favs on hand so I that’s what I used. Add as much or as little as you want. Mix together until all pieces of biscuit are coated well. If you want more than just a light glaze, you’ll add more jam/jelly. It’s really about your own taste.

Add jam or jelly

Add jam or jelly

photo 3

Spoon in to muffin pan

Spoon four pieces in to each muffin cup. I use either a non-stick or silicone muffin pan so there is no need to grease the pan.

Bake at 350 for about 13 minutes. I let them rest for a couple of minutes while I make a cup of coffee.  Then pop them out of the pan.

Unlike plain biscuits that you then apply jam to, these are better reheated because the biscuit pieces have been coated and the glaze keeps the biscuit soft.

To me, they are an ideal solution to wanting something quick and sweet with my cup of coffee.

If you try them out, I hope you’ll enjoy them too.

photo 5

Enjoy with your favorite cup of coffee

 

My Summer of Pinterest: Cupcake Pizzas

My summer got off to a bit of a slower start than I would have liked, but now that I’m starting to feel better and my days are more than pain killers and naps, I’ve decided to dedicate the remainder of this summer to Pinterest.  I work from home in July and August and with the exception of two conferences I have to travel to and hopefully a trip to Oregon, I’ll be home and that gives me time to cook.

For about a year now I’ve been “pinning” recipe after recipe of food that looks delicious on Pinterest and up until Sunday, I’ve not even attempted a single one of them.  Well, now its on Pinterest…I’m gonna cook every single one of the recipes currently on my “Recipes to Try” board.  That’s 212 recipes…so ok, maybe not “every” single one of them, but I’m gonna make an attempt.  The recipes that work and are delicious will stay, the ones that don’t, won’t.  I’ve already eliminated an incredibly disgusting “worlds best macaroni and cheese” pin (I won’t be blogging about that disaster).

So here we go.  Tonite’s pin of choice: “Cupcake Pizzas”
photo 4 (1)

You can find the original blog post from Pinterest here. This person made them in a muffin tin so they were larger.  I used a cupcake tin and the recipe made 9, but probably could have stretched to 12.  I think these are the perfect size for a fun party, kids, or just for a snack.

What you need:
Cupcake Tin
Pillsbury Refrigerated Pizza Dough
Pizza Sauce
Pizza Toppings of Choice (I used mini-pepperoni and sausage)
Shredded Cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425.  Grease the tin.  Smush the pizza dough into the tin, leaving an indent with the dough up the sides a bit. Put in a spoonful or more (to your liking) of Pizza Sauce.  Note: I imagine this would be delish with a white sauce and veggies too. 
photo 1Add toppings and cheese.  I like my cheese on top of everything.  But you can also do cheese then toppings.
photo 2Bake for about 12 minutes.
photo 3 (1)These were delicious.  And oh so easy.  I will be making them again.

Enjoy!!!

Who Needs Red Lobster?

So I’m out running errands last Friday and out of nowhere I get a craving for fresh seafood.  And not just any fresh seafood, but shrimp and crab in a white wine sauce over fettucine.  And what else goes with such a dish? Well, cheddar bay biscuits of course.

I put out a call on FB, hoping someone might volunteer to make me such a delicious dinner that evening.  And to my surprise, there were no takers.  Their loss, really.  I could have just driven straight to the Red Lobster in Milpitas, but I wasn’t feeling it.  Then I remembered the recipe sitting in my email in box for knock-off cheddar bay biscuits, just like you get at the famed rouge crustacean location.  So I pulled into the nearest grocery store and picked up the ingredients for a delicious dinner.

I’m not gonna pretend that cracking the crab wasn’t time-consuming and messy.  Nor was it overly pleasant to have the smoke alarm in my apartment go off every time I opened the oven door to check on the biscuits.  But I’ve said it before.  Even if you are cooking for one, you (and I) am worth the work it takes to make a delicious meal that fulfills even our oddest cravings.

Though the next time I get the urge to cook like this, I’ll invite over some friends to bring the wine and dessert.

Recipes:  The white wine sauce is simple, the pasta “fresh,” and you seriously couldn’t tell the difference between these biscuits and those other guys’ variety.

 

Seafood in White Wine Sauce w/Cheddar Bay Biscuit.  Note the ever-present pink glitter on the table.

Seafood in White Wine Sauce w/Cheddar Bay Biscuit. Note the ever-present pink glitter on the table.

White Wine Sauce

1 clove of garlic (more if desired)
1/4 cup white wine
4 tablespoons butter
Pinch of salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley

In a skillet, boil down chopped garlic in wine. Continue cooking over low heat stirring occasionally 15 minutes.

Allow to cool. Stir in parsley.

Whisk in some room temperature butter, stirring over low heat. Add salt and more wine as needed.

Simmer five minutes.

Add fresh seafood of choice at the very end to heat through.  Toss with fresh boiled pasta of choice.

“Cheddar Bay” Biscuits

2 c Bisquick
2/3 c milk
2/3 c shredded cheddar cheese (I used sharp)
6 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
Salt
1/4 c sour cream
1/4 c parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450.

Mix: milk, parmesan, sour cream, cheddar, bay seasoning, Bisquick, garlic powder.

Portion onto cookie sheet

Cook for 8 minutes

Melt butter – brush butter on each biscuit and sprinkle a little salt.  Place biscuits back into over to bake for 2 more minutes.

Enjoy

Thai Red Curry Coconut Soup

I have an obsession.  Ok, maybe more than one.  But the overarching obsession is with comfort and that includes comfort food.  And for sometime now, my favorite comfort food has been the Red Curry Coconut Chicken Soup from the Safeway Deli.  So imagine my disappointment when for almost three weeks in a row as I did my weekly shopping, I always came home without my favorite comfort food.  Last week, I finally saw a Deli Manager near by the soup display and asked him when they expected to have my favorite soup in again.  “Oh, its out of season,” he said.  “It won’t come back until November or December.”  I was a bit dumbfounded.  Really, “out of season”?  But there was still tomato rice soup and clam chowder…not exactly what I think of as summer soups.

Well, I wallowed in the disappointment of possibly living without Red Curry Coconut Chicken Soup for six months when I decided to see how difficult it would be to make it.  And as it turns out, not very difficult at all.  Of course, as is my style I adapted the recipe to fit my tastes and cooking style.  You can find the original recipe here. My adaptation follows:

coconut milk, red curry, and chicken

Thai Red Curry Coconut Soup

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoon Thai red curry paste, or to taste
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into cubes (could easily be replaced with vegetables of your choice)
  • 3 cups canned or homemade chicken stock
  • 2 cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste (available in produce section)
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste (available in produce section)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • fresh or frozen peas (optional)
Instructions
  1. Scoop the thick coconut cream from the top of one of the cans of coconut milk into a large stockpot set over medium-high heat. Melt the cream, add the curry paste and stir for a few minutes until they begin to sizzle.
  2. Add the chicken and saute until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining coconut milk from the 2 cans, the chicken broth, lemon grass, fish sauce, lime juice, ginger and brown sugar. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Stir in peas (optional). Simmer for 5 minutes.

    Red Curry Coconut Chicken Soup

I really enjoy this soup served over rice (you could cook rice in it actually) or for a super comforting meal, mashed potatoes.  Personally, I would spice up this recipe just a bit more after having tried it now.  Next time I’ll add more red curry paste for more of a kick.  It’s also a little thin.  Cooking rice in the soup would help to thicken it up, otherwise I’ll likely add a bit of cornstarch to thicken it a bit more next time.  Also, it’s a great base for just about any kind of vegetable addition.  I feel like this was a really good first try at making my favorite comfort food. It was certainly satisfying.  I’ll definitely continue to tweak the recipe as I make it again in the future.

Also an awesome lesson at not settling for what the world tells us is available.  When I know there is something that I want I don’t need to find it elsewhere, I’m perfectly capable of creating it on my own.

Thai Red Curry Coconut Chicken Soup

 

 

More Muffins

I’m on a roll now with my weekend muffin making and so I thought I’d post a few more successful recipes.  I’ve pretty much gotten it down to a smooth process, making two separate batches each weekend.  I pull out all the ingredients at once and have everything at the ready.  This weekend I made two batches in just about an hour.  And will enjoy them all week long.

 

Tart Cherry Muffin

Tart Cherry Muffins
Ingredients list:
1 large egg, beaten.
3 ½ cups of unbleached flour.
2 cups of milk.
¾ cup of tart cherries, drained.
1/3 cup of vegetable oil.
1/3 cup of chopped pecans.
¼ cup of sugar.
1 tablespoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
2 teaspoons of almond extract.
1 teaspoon of salt.

Instructions:
In a suitably sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and the sugar.
In another bowl, combine the beaten egg, milk, almond extract, and vegetable oil; blending thoroughly.
Mix the ingredients together gently.
Gently fold in the drained cherries and chopped nuts.
Spoon the batter into greased muffin tins filling each about two-thirds full.
Bake at 400°F (205°C) for 25 minutes.

Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Strawberry Muffin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Toss together strawberries and 1/3 cup sugar. Using a potato masher, lightly mash berries; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a glass 2-quart measuring cup or a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla; whisk to combine.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture and the berry mixture (with juice). Fold just until combined. Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with remaining sugar.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon Raspberry

Lemon Raspberry Muffins

Ingredients
1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white whole-wheat flour, or whole-wheat
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries

Preparation
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 large (1/2-cup) muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon in long strips. Combine the zest and sugar in a food processor; pulse until the zest is very finely chopped into the sugar. Add buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla and pulse until blended.
Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture and fold until almost blended. Gently fold in raspberries. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
Bake the muffins until the edges and tops are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

Honey Rhubarb Muffins

Honey Rhubarb

Ingredients list:
1 cup of oats.
¾ cup of unbleached white flour.
1 cup of diced rhubarb.
1 tablespoon of baking powder.
½ teaspoon of salt.
½ cup of honey.
½ cup of skim milk.
1 large egg.
1 tablespoon of grated ginger root.
1 tablespoon of canola oil.
Paper liners or cooking spray.

Instructions:
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray with oil.
In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, diced rhubarb, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, stir together the honey, milk, egg, grated ginger and canola oil.
Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour the milk mixture into the well.  Stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Divide the batter among prepared muffin cups and bake for about 18 minutes or until the tops are golden and spring back when touched.

Do You Know the Muffin Man?

So this childhood song has been going through my head repetitive lately and its driving me a bit nuts.  I’m guessing it’s because I’ve recently become obsessed with making muffins every weekend.  It started fairly innocently, I had some bananas that were beginning to turn and at first I thought a loaf of banana bread would be good but then changed my mind to make muffins.  They turned out delish and the perfect dozen made just the right amount to be able to take muffins to work for breakfast the rest of the week.  Which was desperately needed.

Although I know it’s a crucial way to start the day, I’ve never been much of a breakfast person.  Until the last few months when I acknowledged that yes, I do find it much easier to get through the entire day in a better mood if I start the day with double espresso and some tasty pastry.  For months, this meant a stop at the Starbucks drive thru the four mornings a week that I come into the office.  For my fellow Starbucks fans, you know how quickly that can add up.  For months, I’ve also been coveting these amazingly gorgeous boots.

Dr. Marten Triumph 1914 Women's Floral Print

And in March I decided that if I could abstain from my morning visits to the coffee gods for the month of April, then I could absolutely afford these boots (lets not talk about the other bills I could pay with the same funds).

Well it’s April 26th, and I’ll admit that I have caved to the pull of Starbucks once.  But only once!  And the muffin obsession has come in handy.  With the espresso maker that was already quite available for use in my office and the muffin supply, I am quite content each morning.  And soon, those boots will be on my feet.

Thank You Muffin Man!

Here are the three recipes I’ve tried in the last couple weeks.  Last week I made two different batches and shared the extras with the wonderfully amazing Sarah from notblueatall.com (seriously, read her blog–luv it!!).

Happy Baking!!

Banana Muffins

These were delicious.  And lasted well in ziplock bags for the week.

Banana Muffin

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

 

 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
  • In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  • In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Pear Granola Muffin

My favorite so far.  These are really, really good.

For Muffins

Pear Granola Muffin

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 D’Anjou pears (2 cups), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3/4 cup plain granola

For Granola Crisp Topping

(or use an additional 3/4 cup plain granola)
1/2 cup granola
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, yogurt, and butter. Make a well in the center of flour mixture. Add egg mixture to well, and mix in flour mixture until just combined. Gently fold in the granola and pears.
  • Make Granola Crisp Topping: In a bowl, toss together 1/2 cup granola, 1/4 cup each all-purpose flour and packed light-brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cut 3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter into pieces; add to granola mixture, and rub in with fingertips until clumps form.
  • Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full. Sprinkle with granola topping. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before removing from tin. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cranberry Orange Muffin

These look amazing.  But I found them to be a little dry.  I’m gonna look for another recipe that includes yogurt or something similar.  If you like your muffins a bit denser though, this is a good recipe.

Cranberry Orange Muffin

1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for preparing the muffin tin
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus up to 1 tablespoon for topping the muffins, if desired
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk

 

 

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Put the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan, and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Remove berries from the heat, and set aside to cool and plump. Drain off any excess liquid and set aside.
  • Lightly brush a 12-muffin tin with butter. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
  • In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand-held mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter, orange zest, and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
  • Fold the flour in 3 parts into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Do not over mix. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool muffins in the pan on a rack. Serve warm.

 

 

 

Not My Mother’s Cranberry Sauce /or/ Drunken Cranberries

When I was a kid, cranberry sauce was the kinda-red, aluminum can shaped, jiggly stuff on the fancy glass serving dish that only came out on holidays.  Once it hit the table, it was sliced (yep, “sliced”) and passed around to those who would partake.  And many did.

Not me.  I wasn’t having none of that.  I can’t recall actually eating cranberry sauce as a kid, and as an adult when I had t he opportunity to eat what appeared to be the real stuff, I most often let the serving dish pass by me without a second thought.

A couple of years ago, a friend posted on FB that he’d just made the best Cranberry-Orange Sauce for Thanksgiving dinner and that piqued my attention.  I asked him for the recipe and have been making my own version of it, with the addition of Grand Marnier, ever since.  And its good, so good that people who typically let the cranberry sauce pass right by them, have been convinced to give it a try and been won over by its yumminess.

Really…give it a try.  Again, as is pretty standard with my recipes, its soooo easy to make.  It’s the right combination of sweet and tart.

Note: Beyond your traditional holiday meal. This cranberry sauce works well with desserts too.  Last Thursday I had a little bit of it as topping on some pumpkin ice cream…seriously amazingly delish!

Cranberry-Orange Sauce

1/2 can frozen orange juice concentrate (keep frozen)
1/2 to 3/4 c. water
1/4 c. Grand Marnier
1/2  to 3/4 c. sugar
Pinch of salt
One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed

In a medium saucepan, heat water, orange juice, sugar, and salt over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves (2-3 minutes). Stir in the Grand Marnier and cranberries and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce has thickened slightly (approx 7 minutes). Sweeten w/ add’l sugar, if desired (usually doesn’t need it). Let the sauce cool before serving.

 

Asparagus Soup

I was chatting with a friend last week over instant message and she mentioned going home to make asparagus soup.  Now I had never had asparagus soup, but it was one of those cold, grey days where soup sounds like it will warm you right to the bones and I really like asparagus, so I was intrigued.  In fact, more than intrigued.  For some reason I felt like I too needed to go home and make asparagus soup for dinner.  And once that thought entered my mind, I knew that nothing else would satisfy my hunger for dinner that evening.  My friend didn’t really have a recipe, but she told me how she makes hers generally and I looked through some recipes on the Internet to get a general feel for how its made.  This is one recipe I was truly going to just wing it with.

So I stopped by the grocery store (don’t even get me started about the lines) on my way home and picked up the few mandatory ingredients…asparagus, and then settled in to making it.  Not only was it simple and quick, it was delicious.

My recipe ended up making about 4 servings.  I froze two for future asparagus soup needs.

Creamy Asparagus Soup (cream is optional)

2 tbsp. butter
1 cup of yukon gold potatoes, chopped
6 cups of diced asparagus
1 qt. chicken broth
1/2 c light cream (optional)
2 tbsp. grated or flake Parmesan cheese
pepper and salt to taste

Prep the potatoes and asparagus.  I like to leave the rubber band on the asparagus when I cut off the bottom (woody) portion of the stem and dispose of them.

Reserve a couple of tops from the spears to use as a garnish if you want to make it look pretty when you serve it.

Melt the butter in a large soup pot, then add the potatoes and cook for about 3-5 minutes.  Add the asparagus and chicken broth.

Simmer until the asparagus is tender, 10-15 minutes.  Add the cream, Parmesan, pepper and salt to taste.

Use an immersion blender to blend up the hot soup.  This part helps to make the cream optional.  Essentially by blending the veggies, you are “creaming” the soup.  However, if you prefer the added richness (which I do) of the cream, then go ahead and add it in.

Serve very hot.  Garnish with steamed asparagus heads and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Prep time: 15 minutes.  Cook time: 20 minutes. 

Holiday Cookies – Thanksgiving

I’ve been obsessed with making/decorating holiday cookies,  I can not explain the obsession.  I do not like to bake, its so much messier than just cooking and requires far more attention to detail than I am willing to apply to any food product.  It started around Halloween when I purchased a mold pan for making spooky cookies.  As you can see from my post about that, they didn’t quite turn out the way I would have liked.  But they still tasted super yummy.

Then I was at Michael’s a couple weeks ago and they had these cute Thanksgiving cookie cutters on sale, so I picked them up.  Two weekends ago, I made a batch of cookies from the recipe on the back of the package.  It stands to reason (to me at least) that the recipe on the back of the package would be suitable for use with these cookie cutters, well call me surprised when they spread out of shape, got dark on the bottom and in general were just not what I wanted.  So on to round two this past weekend.  This time,  I used the recipe from the back of the Halloween cookie pan.  Essentially the same recipe, minus the baking powder and about 1/4 c more flour (I’ll type it below). This recipe said it would make about 1 dozen cookies and as you can see, it yielded a good 2-3 dozen.

I hadn’t planned on spending the entire day baking and decorating cookies, but I guess that Wilton had other plans in store for me.

Now for the decorating, which is absolutely my favorite part of baking cookies.  Yes, it too is messy, but its creative messy and that works for me.

A few days before baking these cookies, I went back to Michael’s in search of brown frosting (which they sell in pre-made tubes) or brown coloring (which I did not see).  I picked up the brown frosting, thinking that it would be great for the turkey cookies and I wouldn’t have to figure out how to make brown frosting.  Now having a history in art and color theory, I can tell you that the way to achieve a brown pigment is to mix equal amounts of the three primary colors together, this doesn’t mean I want to spend my time attempting to get the perfect shade of brown.  But its exactly what I ended up doing when I read the tube of brown I bought and realized that the “chocolate” icing in the tube was neither real chocolate, nor would it work well with the royal icing I was planning on using for the rest of the decorating.  So I mixed up a batch of royal icing.  I did not use the Wilton recipe or some of the other most common that call for cream of tartar.  I don’t care for the flavor of that.  I found a recipe that uses lemon juice instead and I ran with it.  It turned out perfect the first time, perfect consistency, perfect peak, perfect whiteness.  Violin!!

I did, in fact, put my color theory to work to produce a workable brown frosting for the turkeys.  Made from “equal” parts red, blue, and yellow coloring gels, the color turned out pretty darn good.  Initially, it was tad bit paler than I wanted and so I added a couple of drops of the neon purple gel I also had on hand and that helped to darken it just enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I set to decorating, mixing only one color at a time so the frosting wouldn’t harden (as royal icing tends to do) before I could use it.  The other colors were all basic mixing, and for the more detailed parts, I again used a zip lock snack bag with the corner snipped off as a decorator bag.  I like bright colors, so I had purchased the neon package of food color gels as well and the neon orange and green, really made the pumpkin perfect.  I used a toned down orange (added a bit of red) to make the detail lines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing the the turkeys would take some time to decorate, I made the bulk of the batch in the shapes of leaves.  For these I chose a basic color as the background and then “scribbled” on a couple other colors to give them the appearance of fall leaves. This project did take most of the day, from the baking to the cooling and through decorating to clean up.  But it was worth it.  I ended up with plenty of cookies to share with friends and my neighbor who is always looking out for me.

Even if you don’t like baking, I hope you’ll give these or other decorated cookies a shot.  They don’t just have to be for holidays, when things are more stressful.  Make yourself some Any Day cookies if you have a chance.  It can be fun!

Recipes:

Sugar Cut Out Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Makes:
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Instructions:
Step 1
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Step 2
In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and extracts; mix well.
Step 3
Combine flour and salt; add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Do not chill dough.
Step 4
Divide dough into 2 balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a circle approximately 12 in. wide and 1/8 in. thick.
Step 5
Dip cookie cutter in flour before each use. Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet 8-9 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

Royal Icing
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups confectioner’s sugar

Mix egg whites and lemon juice with hand mixer, slowly add sugar until combined.  Icing should be thick enough that it does not roll over the edge of the cookie when frosting, but spreads evenly.

Pig in a Blanket – Different Day, Different Dog

So I grew up in Nebraska and I seem to recall eating a lot and I mean A LOT of hot dogs.  Not that I minded so much.  What’s wrong with a hot dog? (seriously, just don’t think about it). When I was in kindergarten, and only in school for half a day, my mom would pick me up and I believe most often I asked for “hot dogs and gooky cheese” (that’s cream cheese in adult speak) for lunch.  We ate “Wranglers” an all beef brand, that most often got tossed in the skillet for a little heat, thrown into a bun, split open and spread with a glob of gooky cheese.  It was good.

I’m one of the few adults I know who eats hot dogs as a regular staple of my diet.  Of course I enjoy the “outing hot dog” when you are out and about at a baseball game or see a vendor on the city street corner, but I like them at home too.  Sometimes just on their own, often with macaroni and cheese (yes I’m still a bit of a child), and most recently wrapped up in their own little “blanket” and baked in the oven.

As a kid, my mom occasionally made the “pig in a blanket” version of the hot dog. (Though if they were beef hot dogs I’m not sure how the name applies).  I don’t recall exactly how, my visual memory recalls a batter the dog was dipped in and then deep fried, but I could be wrong (who doesn’t enjoy a good deep fried dog?).  And she may also have used the canned crescent roll version that I’m about to suggest.

Now as adults I’m pretty sure we’ve all been to that friend or neighbors holiday or cocktail party where they trot out these tiny little sausages (hot dogs) wrapped in a warm, buttery slice of dough.  They are good, we eat them.  I doubt many people consider them an actual hot dog.  They are “Cocktail Wieners.”

I make them at home too.  I made a couple last night of the larger variety.  A bratwurst wrapped up in a crescent roll dough and popped in the oven for about 13 minutes. Mix up your favorite cocktail (pomegranate vodka) or grab a soda,  and violin you have dinner.

Its not fancy, its not rocket science.  But after a long day at work and/or a rough conversation with someone you love or both, they are easy, yummy, and comforting.  And perfect for one or more.

Basically, I’m saying that you don’t need a party to have a cocktail and you don’t need a cocktail to have a wiener!! 

You can find a recipe for the cocktail variety here.  And for the full size version just wing it!