Thursday, February 27, 2014

Peanut Butter Blossoms

In my opinion, chocolate and peanut butter just go together.  And Peanut Butter Blossoms are those perfect cookies that make the best of this beautiful union.  They have been around forever and they will continue to be around forever.  My mom made them for my sister and I, I made them for the clever girl, and she'll probably make them for someone in the future too.  They are eternal.  There are about a zillion renditions of this recipe out there, but I chose to make the one from Joy of Baking.  I liked the ratios better (some had equal amounts of butter, peanut butter and sugar) and this one had vanilla extract which is always a winner.  However, according to the recipe, you should yield about 4 dozen cookies.... but I ended up with 75!  Total, not 75 dozen.  I must have made mine a lot smaller than suggested, which gave me a higher chocolate to peanut butter ratio.  That works for me.  Plus, it so happens that a bag of Hershey's kisses had 75 kisses inside, so it was perfect.  Meant to be, I say.

You have to have a bit of patience to make these cookies, only because the peanut butter part has to chill for about an hour.  But it is only an hour and that is totally doable.  It was longer in my case, as I ended up taking the clever baby to the ER that night...when he gets croup he can't breathe, which is so scary!  Many hours later, including a breathing treatment and steroid dose, his airways were open and we came home.  Thus the cookies had to wait until the next day.  This mom needed sleep!  These cookies were a lovely reward after a scary night.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Strawberry Nutella Pop-tarts/Pastries

Mmm, Strawberry Nutella Pop-tarts!  Yes, this was actually a Valentine's Day treat a couple of weeks ago, so I am very behind in posting.  I apologize.  I had a crashed computer and sick baby to deal with in the mean time and very little free time!  But I do think you can give your family a little extra loving at breakfast pretty much any time, don't you?  Plus, this recipe is a great starter to get your mind going with other options...  While I agree that strawberry and Nutella are a beautiful combination, you could really put just about anything in these little pastry pockets and have bliss.  And they would certainly be better (and better for you) than the pop-tarts you get in the store!  Anyway, I found this idea when browsing Pinterest one day (woah, can that take me in crazy creative ventures) and decided to do it for the clever girl's breakfast.  It is totally simple - you can do it, too!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

TWD: Baking with Julia - Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake

Our recipe this week for Tuesday's with Dorie is Chocolate Mascarpone Cheesecake!  Perfect for Valentine's Day, won't you agree?  I made mine with one extra step - with homemade mascarpone!  Yes indeed, and you can read more about that here.  Though it is an optional step for this recipe, I'd say it is a great one, as it saves you a bunch of money AND gives you surprise and immediate admiration from your friends and family!  However, this cheesecake is so delicious, you won't need anything extra to garner that admiration.  It will be abundant once a bite of this cheesecake touches the tastebuds!

I will admit that I am not a big cheesecake fan.  I find them to be too heavy, too rich, just too much most of the time.  So, I never actually order them at a restaurant.  They aren't my thing.  However, this cheesecake could change that thought.  It is light and creamy and just scrumptious.  The batter is beaten at a low speed for a long-ish time, which helps get the air out and keep the creaminess in.  Mmmm.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese!!!

Yes, you read the title of this blog post correctly.  HOMEMADE Mascarpone Cheese.  HOMEMADE.  As in made in your kitchen.  And SO easy.  There are only TWO ingredients.  Yep, two.  I am so thrilled that I found this.  Mascarpone is fairly expensive, especially if you need a decent quantity for your recipe - think tirimisu....  To  know that I can make this at home with very little effort, well, it is like a shining light from heaven just appeared in my kitchen!  I had to tell you about this as soon as possible!  This cannot be a secret any longer!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

TWD: Baking with Julia - Onion Bialys


I really did make them, I promise.  In fact, I actually made them early, as the week for posting this recipe changed and I didn't realize it until after I made them!  And I even took pictures.  Truly, I did.  However, between taking the pictures and uploading them to my computer, and sitting down to type this blog post, my computer CRASHED.  As in, it is dead.  As I type, there are computer experts trying to extract all of my data from that darned thing.  Please, please save my photos, I told them.  Because not only are my baking and other creations on that computer, but the photographs of my most important creations are on there as well.  My kids!  Ugh.  In fact, every single photo of the clever baby is on that machine.  Please, please save my photos, oh brilliant computer experts.  Please!  Can we all send up a prayer to the computer gods together, right now?  Okay, on the count of three.... 1...2...3..."Please save those photos!!!"

All right, on to the recipe.  This week's recipe for Tuesday's with Dorie is Onion Bialys.  In case you are like me, and have no idea whatsoever what a bialys might be, let me help out.  It is very similar to a bagel, except it is only baked (not boiled and then baked like a bagel) and instead of having a hole in the middle, it has a depression that is usually filled with chopped onions.  Close your eyes and visualize that with me, since there are no pictures to help out.  Got it?  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Vanilla Cornmeal Pancakes with Berry Syrup

I haven't yet introduced gluten to the clever baby.  I am pretty slow in introducing new, potentially allergenic foods to my kids.  I just have this paranoia about food allergies and figure holding off until way after babies theoretically can handle any particular food can't hurt.  So I wait.  And that can make feeding them a bit more challenging for me, so I just have to get creative.  This past weekend I made Vanilla Cornmeal Pancakes with Berry Syrup for breakfast.  It was a hit!

The pancake recipe is from Mark Bittman, though it also includes pine nuts, which I did not include (no nuts have been introduced yet either!).  These pancakes are a lot like fried polenta, so if you like polenta, these will be right up your alley!  As you can see from the photo above, mine were a bit thick (like a regular pancake), which made the insides very soft.  This was fine, but if you want a bit of a crisper interior, you could add more milk to the batter, thinning it out a little more.

Besides just being a nice change from my regular butttermilk pancakes, these are a gluten-free option!!