Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I won't be posting anything the next week or so because we are going on an adventure in Florida! We are going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and are headed to the Kennedy Space Center to see the space shuttle launch (hopefully).  But I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Halloween!  Below are pictures of our pumpkins we carved this year, which was several weeks ago cause we were so excited to carve them.  Mine is obviously the cupcake pumpkin!  My husband carved a fish since he loves all things fishing.  I also included the recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds that I used this year.  Enjoy!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups cleaned, raw pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon (or more) Johnny's seasoning salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Combine all ingredients and pumpkin seeds.  Mix thoroughly and place on baking sheet.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cake Pops For Sale!

Cake pops!  Cake pops for sale!  Well, kind of.  But I did sell my first batch of cake pops!  I gave one of my co-workers a cake pop about a month ago and she loved it.  Ever since then, she's mentioned cake pops many times a day to me.  So for her Halloween party last weekend she had me make a batch of cake pops.  They were yellow cake with chocolate coating and Halloween sprinkles.  They turned out pretty well.  I'm still figuring out the whole pricing though.  It's hard to know what to charge! Anyway, here they are:

Alas, I am still trying to figure out the best way to mail cake pops.  My first attempt to mail them to my parents was an epic failure.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I've been trying to get in as much fall baking as I can.  And that means a lot of pumpkin, which I love but my husband doesn't love.  My husband will be happy to learn that I have exhausted my list of pumpkin recipes to try this fall and will be moving onto my (very long) list of baked goods to try.  Ever since I heard about whoopie pies, I knew I needed to make them.  It's pretty much a cakey-cookie sandwich with creme or frosting in the middle.  I have another recipe for red velvet whoopie pies that I must try soon, but first, enjoy these!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

1 pouch (1 pound, 1.5 ounce) sugar cookie mix
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 egg
2/3 cup marshmallow creme (from 7 ounce jar)
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In large bowl, stir together cookie mix and flour.  Add remaining cookie ingredients; stir until stiff dough forms.
Onto ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by 36 rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart.  Lightly press tops with floured fingertips to flatten slightly.
Bake 8-10 minutes or until set.  Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.  Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
In medium bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  For each whoopie pie, spread about 2 tablespoons of the filling on bottom of 1 cooled cookie.  Top with the second cookie, bottom side down; gently press together.  Store tightly covered in refrigerator.  Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar just before serving.

Amy's Notes:
Sometimes when I am following a recipe I get so excited to make the recipe that I miss steps.  I tend to skim over recipes too quickly because I just want to get to the baking.  It's not a good thing.  Not only does it lead to missing steps but sometimes leads to not having all the ingredients on hand.  And that leads to my husband being irritable because I sent him to the store for eggs or milk.  Like as I was typing this recipe just a minute ago, I read the step that says, "lightly press tops with floured fingertips to flatten slightly" and have no recollection reading that while I was baking them.  And because of that, my pumpkin whoopie pies are pretty thick, but otherwise delicious.

The cookies are done and ready to be frosted

whoopie pie!

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Love My...

I Love My Cookie Scoop! 

Some people are against the cookie scoop, but not me.  I love mine.  I use it all the time, most recently for scooping my cake for cake pops.  I should really get another because mine is always in the dishwasher when I need it.  I really like it when things are uniform so the cookie scoop is perfect for me.  Plus, it is so much quicker than scooping with a regular spoon.  And of course, my love of the cookie scoop started with.... cookies!  Everyone has their own chocolate chip cookie recipe they use, and mine comes straight from Betty Crocker herself.  Although my dad might be biased, he says these are his favorite!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Betty Crocker Cookbook
Printable Recipe Here

1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup margarine or butter
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1 package chocolate chips

Directions: Mix sugars, butter, shortening, egg and vanilla together.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned on an ungreased cookie sheet about 8-10 minutes. 

Amy's Notes:
My secret to good cookies is this: bake cookies closer to the 8 minute mark or until they just begin to brown, then take them out of the oven--even if they don't look done, they will be.  They will be nice and soft this way, the only way a chocolate chip cookie should be!

Got my scoop ready...

Out of the scoop and onto the cookie sheet

Nice and uniform, just the way I like it!


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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pizza Night!

About a week ago, I made these spinach and mushroom calzones and totally forgot to take pictures.  They were good, too!  Anyway, the recipe for pizza dough on that spinach and mushroom calzone recipe made a lot of dough, so I stuck half of it in the freezer and planned to make pizza with it a week later. 

When I was in college, my roommate and I made a lot of pizza.  We used to joke about one day opening a pizzeria because we were getting so good at making it!  It made for a lot of fun times and Friday nights with delicious pizza.  An essential in homemade pizza is a pizza stone.  It makes the crust crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  I would recommend a pizza stone to anyone who makes pizza more than a few times a year. 

We made our favorite pizzas since we hadn't had homemade pizza in such a long time.  The first pizza had marinara sauce, pepperoni and black olives.  The second had pesto sauce, chicken, pine nuts and roasted garlic. (Find recipe for roasted garlic here.)  They were so good, especially the pesto chicken pizza! 

My pizza dough defrosting

Pre-roasted garlic

A little too roasted garlic

Got my toppings ready!

My dough is ready and rolled out--one onto a pizza pan and the other onto the pizza stone

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

If you ever go to Savannah, GA you absolutely have to go to The Lady and Sons, which is the restaurant owned by Paula Dean of the Food Network.  It's hard to get into though.  You have to be there early in the morning to put your name in for a reservation later in the day.  The wait it totally worth it though because, oh my gosh, the food is delicious!  I bought a cookbook from the restaurant gift shop which has a bunch of the recipes used in the restaurant in it.  This particular one is one of those!  And boy is it good. 

Chicken Pot Pie
Source: The Lady and Sons Cookbook
Printable Link Here

1  10 3/4 ounce can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1 10 3/4 ounce can condensed cream of celery soup
1/2 cup milk
2 pounds boneless, skinless, cubed and cooked chicken
1 medium onion, diced
1 10 ounce package frozen peas (or one 8 ounce can, drained)
3 carrots, sliced, cooked, and drained
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pastry for top and bottom (recipe to follow)
Butter to dot pastry

In large saucepan, heat soups and milk.  Stir in chicken, onion, peas and carrots, salt and pepper.  Cook until mixture boils.  Remove from heat.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour into pasty-lined pan(s).  Cut pastry for top into strips.  Lay over pie filling in a lattice style.  Dot with butter.  Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown. 

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup shortening
Ice Water

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.  Cut in shortening with pastry blender until pieces are the size or small peas.  Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice water over part of the mixture.  Gently toss with fork; push to side of bowl.  Repeat until all is moistened.  Form into two balls.  Flatten each on a lightly floured surface by pressing with edge of hand three times across in both directions.  With a floured rolling pin, roll out on floured surface.  Roll from center to edge until 1/8 inch thick.

Amy's Notes:
Paula uses a whole chicken for this recipe, but I use chicken tenders or breasts because that is what I keep on hand.  I cook the chicken in a saucepan and once it's cooked, I add the soups and milk and continue from there.  I always roll out the pastry for the top instead of making a lattice top, mostly because it's easier.  You could buy your pie crusts too and skip making them on your own, but they really aren't too hard to make.  Pretty much you could add whatever veggies you want for these!

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Strawberry Cupcakes and Cake Pops

I thought I'd try something a little different for cupcakes this time.  I haven't had a lot of fruit cupcakes and had no idea what to base my choice of recipe on.  I searched around and ended up choosing this recipe from based on the high reviews that it got.  Thankfully, they turned out very well and the frosting was delicious! 

Strawberry Cupcakes
Adapted from:
Printable Recipe Here

1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 ounces pureed strawberries (fresh or frozen)

8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
5 cups confectioners sugar
3 ounces pureed strawberries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Place cupcake liners in pans or grease and flour cake pans.
In large bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the cold water; stir in the cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, flour and 5 ounces pureed strawberry.  Beat for 5 minutes on medium with electric mixer and pour into cupcake/cake pans.
Bake cupcakes for 15 minutes and cake for 25-30 minutes, or until layers spring back when lightly pressed in the center.  Cool caked on wire racks.
To make frosting: With electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter until well combined.  Sift in 4 cups confectioners sugar.  Add 3 ounces strawberry puree and mix until well combined.  Add 1 cup (or however much it takes) confectioners sugar in 1/4 cup increments until you reach the desired consistency.  Frosting will be soft; refrigerate cupcakes once frosting is piped on.

Amy's Notes:
I made half of these as mini cupcakes and half as a nine inch round cake for cake pops.  The cake was very good but the frosting is the winner of these cupcakes.  The strawberry puree in the cream cheese buttercream frosting was awesome.  I did add quite a bite more confectioners sugar than I normally do for my frosting to get a good piping consistency, but the extra confectioners sugar did not take away from the taste at all!  It was really good.  I will admit that I was pretty proud of the frosting.  I took the idea of strawberry puree from one recipe and adapted it to the recipe I always use and I will definitely do it again, probably with other fruit too!  The cake pops were good too.  I realized I need to get a few versatile types of sprinkles for cake pops.  I had already used everything that I had on hand except for the orange ones I ended up using that I happened to buy the day before because they were $1.  Overall, cupcake and cake pops success and sprinkles on my grocery list.
Half for cupcakes...

Half for cake pops.

Lookin' good, cupcake!

Tried a new frosting style.  Need to perfect.
(Look at the flecks of strawberry in the cake and icing!)

Look at the color of that cake!

Crumbled and awaiting icing for my cake pops

The orange sugar coating is festive for fall, but not color coordinating with the pink cake!

Tried a few sprinkle options before settling on the orange.  This looked too much like Christmas for me.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Red Curry

As much as I love to cook, often after a long day of work, the last thing I want to do is stand on my feet for hours and cook dinner.  I tend to do most of my serious baking and cooking on my days off or at the beginning of my work week when I still have energy after getting off of work.  I try to have several meals on hand that are quick and easy to make for during the work week.  One of those meals is red (or green) curry.  I learned how to make curry during my time in Philadelphia during Mission Year.  And I've been making it every since it's quick, easy and very tasty!

Red Curry
Printable Recipe Here

1-2 pounds chicken
Salt and pepper
1 or 2 bell peppers, any color
1 onion
1 cup frozen peas
1 can coconut milk
2-6 teaspoons red or green curry paste
4 leaves fresh basil

Cut up chicken and cook in large skillet with a little oil.  While the chicken is cooking, slice bell peppers and onion.  After the chicken has cooked, add salt and pepper to taste, a little more oil and the peppers, onion and peas.  Stir occasionally and cook on medium-low until peppers and onions are mostly cooked.  Add coconut milk and cook on low until it begins to boil.  Add fresh chopped basil if using.  Begin stirring in the curry paste 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach your desired heat.  (Do not add the curry past all at once--you can always add more paste to make the curry hotter but you cannot take it away.)  Serve over rice. 

Amy's Notes:
This recipe is how I made my red curry the last time, but I rarely make it the same twice.  You can use whatever color bell peppers you want.  I usually use one green and one red, but used only green this past time.  This was the first time I used peas and I really liked them in the curry.  And if you want to make a vegetarian version, just use tofu instead of chicken.  I used lite coconut milk so the curry was a little bit healthier.  I think I like green curry more than red, but both are good.  I kind of forgot about red/green curry and I hadn't made it in months so this tasted SO GOOD!

All my veggies, coconut milk, and curry paste ready to go!

My bowl of veggies ready to be added

Cooking the chicken

The chicken and veggies all cooking

After I added the coconut milk and curry paste

All ready to eat!  Yummy!

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