Archive | May, 2012

Hopping Into Spring With An Adorable (And Delicious!) Bunny

29 May

Ok, I realize I may be a little late here, considering it’s almost June and temperatures have already surpassed 90 more than once this year (and here in Upstate NY that is not common for this time of year, trust me!), BUT honestly, the little bunnies living in my yard inspired me to think about Spring and all that it brings, including flowers, rain, and Easter!

And what better way to celebrate the arrival of the Easter Bunny than with this Bunny Cake?

 

I used a Pillsbury boxed cake mix – lemon flavored, and baked it according to the box directions, in 2 round cake pans
Then I cut it up according to this diagram:

And since it was lemon cake, I used this lemon frosting:
Ingredients:
-1 teaspoon fresh lemon rind, grated
-3 tablespoons butter
-3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
-2 tablespoons lemon juice
-1 tablespoon water
-1 dash salt

Directions:
Cream together lemon rind and butter, and add the sugar in batches, blending after each addition. Then add the salt, water and lemon juice and mix well, and voila, yummy homemade lemon frosting couldn’t be easier!

Then it was time to decorate! Many bunny cake recipes advise putting coconut on the bunny to make it look like fur, which is super cute, but I hate coconut so I don’t do that, I just used some frosting, sprinkles, and jelly beans for my bunny

…As it turns out, this was not my first time making this cake. After we enjoyed my lemon bunny, my mom dug this treasure out of a photo album – me with my first ever bunny, circa 1993.

The Bunny cake may not be a new, exciting recipe, but one thing is for sure – it’s easy, delicious, and makes people smile. Perfect for your next Easter dinner!

These Apple Pies May Be Mini, But They Are BIG On Flavor!

15 May

Fall is by far my favorite season, and luckily I live in Upstate NY which means autumn brings crisp air and beautiful leaves, and of course – APPLES! We went apple picking every weekend last September, and of course that meant applesauce, apple crisp, and my personal favorite – apple pie!

I like to make apple pie all year round, even in the spring when the apples aren’t at their peak, I still love it and it reminds me of my favorite season! I discovered this recipe online, as I was looking for something a little different than a traditional pie, and I love that they were all their own little individual servings!

I served it with vanilla ice cream and homemade caramel sauce, and it was like autumn in a bowl!

Bobby’s Lighter Apple Pies
(Recipe courtesy of PaulaDeen.com)

Prep Time: 35 min
Cook Time: 40 min
Difficulty: easy
Yield: 8 pieces

Ingredients:
4 teaspoons butter
3 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated rolled pie crust
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a large sheet tray with nonstick spray.
Heat the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until melted. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Cook, over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft, 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from the heat; let the filling cool 15 minutes.

Cut the pie crust roll into 8 (11/4-inch) pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 5-inch round. Spoon 2 tablespoons filling slightly off center of each round. Fold each round over the filling to make a half-moon shape. Seal by pressing the edges with the tines of a fork. Prick the top of each pie two or three times to vent. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. A little of the filling may bubble out. Cool on the baking sheet on a rack 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Filling the pies

 

One little pie all ready for the oven!

 

Ready to be devoured….yum!

Why are they called “lighter”? Well, Bobby is Paula Deen’s son, and he has made it his mission to take his mother’s recipes and make them better for you, so this was adapted from Paula’s Fried Apple Pie Recipe

My Notes:
-I admit it, I am lazy – I didn’t roll out the 8 pieces of pie crust, I simply cut each round into quarters and smushed it around the apple filling (which got messy and leaky, but I made it work!)
-Instead of doing the half moon shapes, I just kind of wrapped the crust around the pies and let it bubble over the top – more rustic looking that way!
-Three apples is NOT enough – I would do more like 6 next time, as I had to ration out the filling, and no one wants too little filling in their pie!
-I did not like that I had to pre-cook the apples, I prefer the kind of pie where you bake it with the raw apples, but it did make them bake faster than a traditional pie, which was nice
-The powdered sugar is really optional, it doesn’t add much to the pies at all, so you can skip it if you want

Would I make these again? Maybe, as I did like the idea of the individual pies, and the taste was overall very good, so I think if I did it again and used more apples it would be perfect. Once the fall season rolls around, I just may give this one another try!

DIY Chocolate Covered Strawberries

11 May
 
Ok, so I am aware that these technically aren’t ‘baking’, but there is no denying that chocolate covered strawberries make a delicious dessert – plus, they are classy and romantic to boot!
 
When I saw how much the grocery store was charging for just one of these (like $3 EACH), I thought to myself “for the price of 2 of those, I could make a whole batch!”
 
So, I did.
 
I bought: fresh Strawberries, a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips, and a bag of white chocolate chips
 
And Here’s how I did it:
-I melted the chocolates in the microwave until smooth (takes about a minute, and I always stir it at least once during that time)
-I washed and dried the strawberries (the drying is pretty important – the chocolate won’t adhere if it’s wet!)
-I dipped them in the chocolate, some in the semi-sweet and some in the white, and some with white drizzled on semi-sweet, really whatever I felt like doing! (I basically just held onto the stem while I dipped them, and it got kinda messy, so you could always use 2 skewers to dip the berries in the chocolate if you didn’t want to end up with chocolate hands!)
 

 
You could really decorate them with almost anything, you could use those colored chocolate melts, and after you dip them in the chocolate you could sprinkle them with all kinds of goodies – peanuts, crushed up oreos, health bar bits, mini m and m’s, or colored sprinkles to name just a few possibilities!
 

 
My biggest issue? Getting them to look pretty – but I will keep at it until mine look as good as the store bought ones!
 

Oreos + Pudding + White Chocolate + Chocolate Chips = One Delicious Cookie!

6 May

It is no big secret that I LOVE OREOS – from the Slutty Brownie to the Oreo Truffle to the Cake Batter Oreo, I will try just about anything with Oreos in it!

So when I came across this recipe for Oreo Pudding Cookies, I knew I had to try them:

Oreo Pudding Cookies
Recipe Courtesy of The Girl Who Ate Everything

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (4.2 ounce) package instant Oreo Pudding mix
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Hershey’s Cookies N Cream Candy Bars broken into small pieces (I used 2.6 ounce King Sized bars)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in pudding mix until blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix to combine. Stir in cookies n’ cream pieces and chocolate chips. Batter will be thick.

The Dough

Using a cookie dough scooper, place golf ball sized dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. You do not want to overbake these! Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before moving to a cooking rack. Store in air-tight container. Makes two dozen.

 

My  (extremely important) Notes:
-This made a LOT MORE than two dozen, I think I ended up with more like 50 or so cookies (I tend to prefer smaller cookies, so maybe ‘Makes 2 dozen’ would apply for much larger cookies)
-Personally, I did not care for the chocolate chips in the cookies, I think it really took away from the oreo ‘cookies and cream’ type flavor I was expecting, the taste was good but overall it ended up tasting like a regular chocolate chip cookie. Next time, I would leave out the chocolate chips and substitute with more broken up cookies n cream bars.
-I added something extra to the list of ingredients…about a cup of crushed up oreos, they really added an extra level of oreo-ness to the cookies
-The Pudding really made the cookies moist and chewy, and I really think it was the perfect addition to what otherwise might have been just a boring old cookie!

-The Note that says”You Do Not want to overbake these”is an important one – the pudding makes them nice and moist, and overbaking would ruin that for sure!

 

Whether or not you decide to follow my notes, these cookies are delicious and I highly recommend them! Just make sure you have some milk on hand for when they come out of the oven (because really, what is a cookie without some delicious milk to go with it?)

 

S’more Bars – No Campfire Needed!

1 May

My husband went out of town for the weekend a few months ago, and the minute he announced he was going, I knew there were many exciting things for me to look forward to with the house all to myself, including:

-long baths
-long naps
-countless hours of crap tv
-the chance to bake new things- and more importantly, try recipes that I wanted to try and that I could eat all of if the results were positive

…Needless to say, I had a full weekend ahead of me.

First order of business, find some new recipes to try. In my search, I stumbled across this gem of a recipe, promptly made them, and then proceeded to eat over 2/3 of the pan myself. They are delicious, the graham cracker portion stays nice and chewy and overall it’s just a perfect recreation of one of the best summertime desserts – the S’more!

Spring is upon us, and with that brings picnics, campfires, and lots of s’mores. The rest of the year, when making an authentic campfire s’more isnt an option, these are the perfect substitute (in fact, I might even say I like them better than the real thing….I know that’s a strong statement to make, but that is how good these are, no joke)

…They look amazing don’t they? They taste even better than they look!!  Try the recipe out, you won’t be disappointed!

(Recipe Courtesy of Baking Bites)

S’More Cookie Bars
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs*
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 king-sized milk chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)
-Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
-In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.
-In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.
-Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick.
-Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff.
-Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned.
Cool completely before cutting into bars, then devour them. Yum.

Makes 16 cookie bars.

*Note: 3/4 cup crumbs is approx 7 full-sized graham cracker sheets, whizzed in the food processor until fine.