Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Snickerdoodle Muffins

       Wow I've got tons of recipes to post but the weather has been so nice that I've been busy enjoying it! We are due for another wet period so maybe then I can get caught up a bit :)

Snickerdoodle cookies are one of my all time favorites. There is something so simple and old fashioned about them and their taste that we all look forward to when I will bake them again. When I saw recipes popping up all over the web that turned the cookie into a muffin..well I just knew I had to get on bored with this!! If you are a true snickerdoodle fan then you have to give these a try...they seriously taste just like the cookie. 

I used the original recipe but read all the comments and made adujstments according to that. I used cupcake liners in the pan after comments about not being able to get the muffins out or the tops just coming off. The liners worked just fine. I used another version of sour cream and I shouldn't have. It's one of those times where using different ingredients from another country doesn't always work out for me. The sour cream here is differen't than back home. The texture is thicker and I think thats where I ran into trouble. However they still tasted awesome and I hope you give them a try! The recipe states that they make 12-14 muffins..I along with everyone else wondered what size pans she was using because most of us came away with anywhere between 16-24 muffins. I came away with 23! I felt like these were best enjoyed the first or second day of baking them.

Snickerdoodle Muffins

1 cup Butter; Softened
1 cup Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 tsp. Baking Powder
3/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
3/4 tsp. Freshly grated Nutmeg;optional
1/2 tsp. Salt..my add but these do need some salt
1-1/4 cups Sour Cream
2-1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour

Topping

1 cup Sugar
2 TBSP Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt; whisk and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar with an electrix mixer until soft-about 3-5 minutes. add in vanilla. Add in eggs one at a time and mix well after each one.

Add the flour mixture and the sour cream alternately to the butter mixture in additions. Start with the flour and end with the flour. Scrap the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a shallow bowl combine the topping. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop muffin batter one at a time and drop into the shallow bowl filled with the topping.
                                     Roll the muffin around in the mixture until it's completely covered. Place into muffin liners.
             Bake 20-22mins or until golden brown. Cool in pan for a few mins before transfering them to a wire rack. Serve warm.
 Alot of people mentioned that dough was to soft for them to scoop up and roll around. I never had that problem but if I had then I would of placed the dough in the fridge to set a little.

Yields:all depends on how much dough you use.

Source: Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

  
 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday's In My City...

            The weather has been incredible this week!! Here are some random shots of my world.
     She thought I wanted her food..she charged me several times. I felt bad because all I could do was laugh..and then run.
     


       What's your sign? I hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead!
Unknown Mami


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Twixy Shortbread Bars

               The weather this week has been incredible! Full sun every single day and the temps are close to 60! I've been sitting out in the sun for about an hour each day to soak up as much vitamin D as I can! I've been ignoring the computer during this time aswell..wich is a must every now and then :)

I needed to bake something for my husband's work meeting this week and I picked Twix Bars :) The recipe shouldn't take that long if you can already buy a can of Dulce de Leche in your store. However they don't sell that here so I needed to add 3 hours onto that time in order to make my own. If you are like me and can not buy it where you live, I will have an alternative for you at the end of this post. All you need is a can of sweetened condensed milk and 3 hours to spare..and trust me it's worth it to make some because there are incredible! It's like a Twix but more grown up. The caramel is so creamy and the flavor has you wanting to boil another can so you can hide in the closet and eat it all yourself. The only thing I would change about this recipe is to add in some salt with the shortbread dough. I was already wondering about it when I mixed the ingredients together and when I took a bite of the finished bar, I knew it needed some salt. It stands just fine without it but a little salt  goes along way into really making a dish that much better. These bars are rich so you can get away with cutting them into small pieces.

Twix Shortbread Bars
1-1/2 cups Butter, softened
1/2 cup Sugar
1-1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 cups Flour
1/2-1 tsp. Salt;optional
1 (13.4-ounce) can Dulce de Leche
3/4 cup Whipping Cream
6 TBS Butter
3 TBS Light Colored Corn Syrup..I used Honey
12 ounces Semi Sweet Chocolate, Chopped or use Chocolate Chips
3/4 tsp. Vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Grease a 13x9 pan with nonstick spray and then line it with foil,extending foil over edge of pan; lightly coat foil with nonstick spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat 1-1/2 cups softened butter with an electric mixer on medium speed to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, 1-1/2 tsp. Vanilla and salt(if using); beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer; stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill for 30-60 mins or until dough is easy to handle.


Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared baking pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until top is lithly browned. Cool in pan on wire rack.
        Spread Dulce de Leche in an even layer atop cooled crust.
       In a medium saucepan, heat whipping cream,  6 tablespoons of butter, and corn syrup to boiling over medium heat, stirring to dissolve syrup. Remove from heat. Add in vanilla and chocolate. Do not stir. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature to cool slightly. Slowly pour chocolate mixture over dulce de leche layer, spreading evenly. Cover and chill 1-2 hours or until chocolate layer is set.

Use foil to lift uncut bars out of pan. Cut into 48 bars. To store layer bars between sheets of waxed/parchment paper in an airtight container;cover. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens, Christmas Baking

** If you need to make your own Dulce de Leche, take a can of sweetened condensed milk and take the entire label off. Stick the can inside a very large pot..such as a soup pot and cover the can with water..Making sure to get the water atleast 3-4 inches above the can..this is important. You will need to keep checking to make sure the water level NEVER goes below the top of the can. Place on stove and simmer/lightly boil for 3 hours. When it's done take the can out of the water using tongs making sure that you do not burn yourself. Allow the can to cool and when you open it you will have homemade caramel :) pour into a dish and whip it with a spoon until the caramel becomes very smooth and pourable. I've made this before and have a post about it Here. If you are not a fan of the boiling method then Google homemade dulce de leche recipe and there are several more options**                    


 


 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday's In My City...

      Spring has arrived!!! we've got SUN! not just any sort of sun..but bright beautiful sun thats pouring through my windows.
      We have blue skies...beautiful blue skies!
      It makes going on walks that much more enjoyable. The sun is calling me so I must end here! I hope you all have a lovely day and week! We're supposed to have sun alllll week long. I can't tell you what it does my for my soul :) Head on over to Unknown Mami and join in with sharing your sunday with us!
          
Unknown Mami
 


 
 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mint Chocolate Delights

            I can hord flavored chocolate chips for the longest time. I have stashes of them in my freezer waiting to be used and they must only be used for special occasions because I can't aford to waste them. If Nestle would get a clue and realise how much money they could make over here by bringing flavored chocolate chips to us, they would get on it right away and I wouldn't have to go into panick mode when I see my stash becoming less and less.

I had a bag of Limited Edition Dark Chocolate and Mint chips that was sent to me(Thanks again Kathy!) back in December and decided that St.Paddy's Day was the day to use them! I went ahead and made these for my husbands weekly meeting. They were of course a huge hit. They just love love love the mint chocolate combination. My youngest son had a friend over and I gave them some cookies. You could see the pause on his face as he worked the flavor out and then a huge smile appeared on his face. He kept telling me how different they tasted and how much he loved them.

If you are a huge mint fan like myself,then do yourself a favor and make these!!! They are soft and the mint flavor is awesome.

Mint Chocolate Delights

2 cups All-purpose Flour
2/3 cup Baking Cocoa
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup Butter,Softened
2/3 cup Sugar
2/3 cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
1-2/3 cups (10-oz pkg) Dark Chocolate and Mint Chips

Preheat oven to 325 or 160/170 celcius. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, both sugars and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in mint chips with a wooden spoon. Drop by well rounded tablespoons full onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 11-13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set. Cool on baking sheet for 2 mins;remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Yields: 4 Dozen


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blueberry Crumb Top Muffins

        I made blueberry muffins for the first time! I mentioned recently that I was craving foods thats I've never had before..Biscotti was one of them and now it's blueberry muffins. I can honestly say that I am not a big blueberry fan. If you put a blueberry pie in front of me I would probably cry. I have the same thing with peaches..I don't mind them fresh but the instant you cook/bake with them I can no longer eat them. I'm so weird. I realise this :)
        

Im so glad I took a chance and baked these muffins. I don't know who likes them more..the boys or I. They have eaten them for breakfast everyday with a bowl of yogurt. They are crazy moist and stay that way for days. The crumb topping goes perfect with the muffin and really makes these that much better. The muffins freeze beautifully so put some away to be eaten later on! The recipe comes from The Bites Site. The original recipe called for cranberries. I swapped those for blueberries and used 2 cups instead of 3. For us,the 2 cups was the perfect amount. 

Blueberry Muffins

2-1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1 Large Egg;lightly beaten
3/4 cup Buttermilk
2/3 cup Vegetable Oil
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 cups Frozen Blueberries


Crumb Topping


1/4 cup Butter;Room Temp
1/4 cup Sugar
Pinch Salt
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
Demerara Sugar,for sprinkling
** I used Vanilla Sugar that they sell in packets here**


preheat oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Line a muffin tin with liners and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla;set aside.


In a large bowl,combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently fold the berries into the dry mix and carefully mix to make sure that all the berries are coated in the flour mixture. Then gently pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full.


To make crumb topping, hand mix the butter and sugar in a bowl. Add salt and flour and mix. Keep mixing until the mixture starts to resemble small crumbs the size of rice to small gumballs. Sprinkle the crumbs over the muffins and sprinkle the demerara sugar on top of the crumbs.


Bake in the center of the oven for 20-25 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for a few mins before transfering to a wire rack.


Yields: 20-24 muffins.


** You don't have to use a special sugar to sprinkle on top if you don't want. The crumb topping along is just fine**






Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Do you feel lucky?

           Can you believe I found not only one four leafed clover..but six!! talk about luck. I suppose it could have something to do with the fact that I grew my own luck this year. They were selling tiny little pots of clovers at the garden center and I couldn't resist :) It's tuesday again and that means you need to join us at Communal Global by sharing a photo of your today!
One of our contributors,Emily, is from Japan. We haven't heard from her so please keep her in your thoughts and prayers this week aswell as everyone else in Japan.









Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday's In My City...

 
               Wow it's sunday again already! As promised here are the zoo pics from my trip there last week. Like most zoo's there were things I loved and others I did not. This zoo had the nastiest windows to look through. Alot of my photos didn't come out because of the glare or all you could see were sneeze and hand marks.
       What I did love was the time spent with expat friends and getting to catch up with everyone. I don't have a bunch of friends but the few I have I am so thankful for.
         These poor guys have the nickname of 'Jackass Penguins"
       When they open up their mouthes they sound just like a donkey.
        The animals were loving the sun.They kept their eyes closed and faces towards the sun : )
        He looks like he's smiling : )
      I gotta tell ya..these guys are not my faves
        They remind me of the character in The Dark Crystal,the Skeksis.
    
      
      Anyway that was my sunday last week. We had a wonderful time walking through the park with friends and getting to enjoy some much needed sun! I hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead. Please head over to Unknown Mami and join in on sharing a piece of your world with the rest of us.
      
Unknown Mami
         

      



Friday, March 11, 2011

Baked Paprika Wedges

                 A few days ago a large envelope dropped through my mail slot. When I saw it I got super excited. Inside that large envelope was two cooking magazines with hidden seed packets inside :) A friend from back home is an avid gardener and she and I talk alot about container gardening. She told me she sent along Paula Deen magazines with a bunch of seed packets tucked inside. I was so happy! I can buy seeds here of course but they didn't have everything I wanted so I was so grateful to have someone send me what I needed. 

I of course sat down right away and started looking through all the recipes and making mental notes as to what I wanted to make first. My oldest son has been begging me to teach him some basic cooking skills. I've tried numerous times before to get him into the kitchen but he has the attention span of a fish and will walk off half way through the process. I decided that these wedges were perfect for a first timer and let him go to it. He cut the potatoes himself,measured everything out and mixed it all together. We loved the wedges but decided that it was way way way to salty. I looked up the difference between Kosher and table salt and I guess kosher is slighlty less salty. I of course used table but already thought 2 teaspoons was alot for the recipe. So keep that in mind and season with salt to taste!  The recipe also comes with a dipping sauce,wich we skipped but will include the recipe anyway.

Baked Paprika Wedges

5 small Baking Potatoes,quartered lengthwise
2 TBL Vegetable Oil
2 tsp. Kosher Salt..or to taste
2 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. Ground Cumin
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

Dipping Sauce:
1 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1 TBL Chopped Fresh Dill
1 TBL Chopped Fresh Chives
1 TBL Chopped Fresh Parsley

Preheat oven to 425 or 220 celcius. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine potato, oil, salt, paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper;toss to coat. Arrange potatoes on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender.

In a medium bowl, combine, maynonnaise, sour cream, dill, chives, and parsley. Serve fries with sauce.

Serves:4-6
Source: Cooking with Paula Deen

 


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

              This was my husbands first week back to work after taking two weeks off. I was actually look forward to his return because it ment baking for his meeting again once a week. I was informed that more and more of his co workers have found out about the once a week baking and are now stopping by to see what I have made...one guy came in 2 hours early yesterday to make sure that he was able to get a fair share of everything :) 

I decided to go with a St. Patrick's theme this week by sending in green items. I sent in pistachio biscotti and these pistachio pudding cookies. I'm very happy to say that they both were a HUGE success.

These are so retro cool. Although you can't see it in the photo the cookies are a cool shade of light green and super addictive. The pudding mix makes them very soft,almost cake like. When I took a bite of the cookie I was a little let down because the pistachio flavor wasn't there. However it hits you right at the end and you end up thinking..yep there it is :) You can use any flavor of pudding you like and living over here you quickly realise that they don't sell pistachio pudding. Whenever someone sends me some from home I hold onto it for as long as I can!! It's a flavor that brings me back to my childhood. I can remember eating pistachio bundt cake and even bread made from the pudding mix. I think I'm going to have to ask for more since I only have two boxes left!!

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

3-1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1 small package(3.4ounces) Pistachio instant pudding mix
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Unsalted Butter;softened
2 Large Eggs
2 TBL Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup toasted Walnuts or Pecans,coarsely chopped
1 cup Semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and pudding mix; whisk ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar and butter; cream together until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides as needed to make sure everything gets mixed evenly. Add eggs and beat until thoroughly combined. Stir in milk and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon until combined.

You can drop the dough several ways..by rounded tablespoons full or by using an ice cream scoop 2 inches apart if you want a more uniformed sized cookie. Bake 10-12 minutes or until cookies are set and edges are very lightly browned. Remove cookies and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Makes 5 Dozen Cookies
     
 


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Double Chocolate-Walnut and Pistachio Biscotti

               Do you ever crave foods you have never even tried? Biscotti was one of those for me. I've never had it before and when I heard other people complain about how hard and tasteless it was, well it was never on my must make list. However a few weeks ago I started thinking about it and really wanting to try it. I finally decided to hunt down a recipe and give it a shot. I am sooooo glad I did because I am hooked on biscotti!!!!
      I first made it with walnuts and fell in love with it. It was super crunchy and not at all tasteless! I actually found the more time the biscotti sat in the covered container the better it got. It was crispy and seriously biscotti just loves being dunked into a hot cup of coffee..wich is what I found myself doing over and over again. Lastnight I whipped up the same recipe but used pistachio's instead and loved that version aswell...but I think the walnut one was my favorite. Biscotti is super easy to make..way easier than I ever imagined. You need to bake biscotti twice to get that wonderful crispy texture and I always thought it way more involved than it was. You can play around with the ingredients aswell..the original recipe called for slivered almonds and I think I will have to try that version aswell. I added vanilla extract since I think that chocolate and vanilla is a must when baking. I went ahead and used Dutch processed Cocoa and can't stress enough how good this stuff is. You get a much deeper flavor of cocoa when baking. However using regular is fine aswell.  Thanks to The Kitchen Sink for a fantastic recipe that will be made over and over again. I'm thinking this will be added to my christmas baking list! wrap some of these up in cellophane bags,pop it into a mug with some purchased coffee and you have a great last minute gift!

Double Chocolate-Wanut Biscotti

2 cups Flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
3/4 stick(6 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter,softened
1 cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla extract;optional
1 cup Slivered Almonds,chopped Walnuts or Pistachios
3/4 cup Semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate..I used semi sweet

Preheat oven to 350 or 180 celcius. Butter and flour a large cookie sheet or line with parchment paper;set aside. I went ahead and used parchment paper without any problems.

In a bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract (if using) and beat until well combined. Stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
            On prepared baking sheet with floured hands form dough into two slightly flattened logs, each 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Bake logs 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool biscotti on baking sheet for 5 mins.
            On a cutting board cut biscotti into 3/4 inch slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool biscottie slices on wire rack. Biscotti keeps in air tight containers 1 week or frozen for 1 month.
                 

Servings: 15 slices per Biscotti log