Thursday, October 25, 2012

Peppermint Patties -12 Weeks of Christmas Treats (Week 5)

It's a big week in our house - Caitlin's birthday week! A big 3-years old!  She's practically a grown-up now. We've been talking about this day for months already. I don't know how she is going to handle it when it's actually over! So, in addition to our normal chaos, I am making her birthday cake (a Tangled Tower), twice - once for her actual birthday as my trial run and then again for her first friend-party on Saturday. She's having a Princess Dance Party at the dance studio. We are excited! We also made some Cut-Out cookies to turn into Princess Wands along with some extra princess crowns and shoes to serve at the party. So, we've had a busy week in the kitchen so far, but still have a ways to go!

I had originally planned to made an adorable Christmas treat I can't wait to share with you, but it will take a bit of time to do, so I am saving that for another week. Instead, I am sharing Peppermint Patties today. These are so easy and fun to make and no baking is required! People will think you slaved over them, but we will know the real secret! I used one of my larger cake decorating tips to cut the patties, but I think next time I might even try rolling them into balls before dipping.  Whatever the shape, they will be a hit this Christmas!

I can't believe we're in week 5 already, almost half-way! If you haven't joined yet, there is still time. You can participate as much or as little as you want.  Visit Brenda's Blog - Meal Planning Magic for all of the details and the sign-up form. Thanks for organizing the hop every week, Brenda!

Source: What Megan's Making

  • 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 1 T shortening
  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar, for kneading and rolling
  • 10 ounces 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

To make the filling:
Beat 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, shortening, and a pinch of salt using an electric mixer (with paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) at medium speed until just combined. Knead on a work surface dusted with remaining 1/4 cup confectioners sugar until smooth. Roll out between sheets of parchment paper on a large baking sheet into a 7- to 8-inch round (about 1/4 inch thick). Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove top sheet of paper and sprinkle round with confectioners sugar. Replace top sheet, then flip round over and repeat sprinkling on other side.

Cut out as many rounds as possible with cutter, transferring to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, gather scraps, reroll, and freeze, then cut out more rounds, freezing them.

To make chocolate coating: (To be honest, I wasn't this careful about melting the chocolate.  I melted it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds.  I think it took a minute and a half or two minutes to melt one bag of Ghiradelli chips.)
Melt three fourths of chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove bowl from pan and add remaining chocolate, stirring until smooth. Cool until thermometer inserted at least 1/2 inch into chocolate registers 80°F.

Return water in pan to a boil and remove from heat. Set bowl with cooled chocolate over pan and reheat, stirring, until thermometer registers 88 to 91°F. Remove bowl from pan.

Balance 1 peppermint round on a fork and submerge in melted chocolate, letting excess drip off and scraping back of fork against rim of bowl if necessary, then return patty to sheet. Coat remaining rounds, rewarming chocolate to 88 to 91°F as necessary. Let patties stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. (I popped the pan back in the freezer because I am impatient like that, and it kept tiny hands from stealing samples from the counter :))

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tilapia Francese

This is a meal I've had on our dinner menu for a long time, but it kept getting pushed to another day. We normally take leftovers for lunches at work, and fish is not a good option for that.  We had this as a quick meal at home Saturday night and it was fantastic.  I'm a big fan of lemon/seafood combination and thought this was totally restaurant-worthy.  Try it for yourself!

Source: I Was Born to Cook

  • 3 pieces tilapia
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper.  Beat egg with 2 tablespoons of water in a bowl.  Gently place tilapia on plate and coat lightly with flour on both sides.  Place in egg wash, then back in flour.

Add butter and oil to hot skillet over medium heat.  Place tilapia in pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side.  Add lemon juice and wine and cook for another 5-7 minutes.  If sauce gets too thick add a tiny bit of water.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top with lemon slices and chopped parsley.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"How the Grinch Crinkled Christmas" Cookies - 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats (Week 4)

Last year, Caitlin really got into some of the Christmas movies and TV shows. How the Grinch Stole Christmas was one of her favorites, along with Shrek the Halls. Maybe she has a thing for green characters? :)  Actually, she really only watched to watch the scenes with Cindy Lou Who. She has already requested to watch it again this year.  I think I'm confusing her by baking Christmas cookies before Halloween and telling her it's not really Christmas yet.  Anyway...I knew these cookies would be a hit and I was right.  With just a short list of ingredients, chances are you have everything to make these already. They are soft and chewy. Make sure you follow the instruction not to overbake. They won't look quite done when you take them out, but that's okay - they are! If you bake them too long, they will start to brown and not look as pretty.

Remember, you can join the blog hop anytime!  Visit Brenda's blog, Meal Planning Magic,  for all of the info.

Be sure to visit Cookin' Cowgirl's blog - she has lots of other great ideas for more cake mix cookies!
Source: Cookin' Cowgirl  (Makes about 3 dozen)

  • 1 18.25 oz box French vanilla cake mix
  • 6 T butter
  • 2 eggs
  • Green food coloring (I used a good amount of the Wilton Kelly Green)
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 t corn starch
Preheat the oven to 375°. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. In a shallow dish, mix together the powdered sugar and cornstarch with a fork. In a large bowl, mix together the cooled butter, cake mix and eggs. This will be a little hard to stir together. Add the green food coloring and make sure it is all mixed in.

Take two spoons and drop a blob of dough in the powdered sugar. Move it around with spoon until it is mostly covered in powdered sugar. Then, once it is already covered, roll it into a ball and place it on a cookie sheet.

Make sure you don't over crowd the baking sheet because these cookies spread out.

Each oven is different, but I bake these for 9 minutes. (They won't look done but they are.) They will look slightly puffed up.

Take them out of the oven and cool for one minute. Then move onto a cooling rack. They will drop a little, but will still be nice and chewy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Almond Joy to the World Cookies - 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats (Week 3)

It's Thursday, so you know what that means - round 3 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats!  Today I am sharing this candy-like cookie. It tastes exactly like an Almond Joy candy bar. Sweet, chewy, and a little crunch. I made a double batch of this recipe again. My cookies didn't turn out quite as pretty as the photo on Jessie's blog, but the taste did not disappoint.

Here's what I learned...I mixed the dough up at 10 p.m. and set it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. I got tired. I went to bed and baked cookies in the morning instead. They spread just a bit as they baked. Dipping in chocolate proved to be a difficult task because the cookies were so soft, they started to fall apart. Instead of removing them immediately from the cookie sheet, I started to let them cool several minutes, then transfered to a cooling rack. They stayed together better that way. I'm not sure if it's because I refrigerated the mixture overnight, or if I should have also refrigerated the baked cookies before dipping in chocolate, but I ended up just flipping the cookie over, spreading some melted chocolate on the bottom, then putting on wax paper to set up (again in the refrigerator). Overall, they were pretty awesome and definitely a keeper.

If you're looking for a way to use up the extra egg yolks, try making your own Pasta!

If you're interested in joining the blog hop, check out Brenda's blog, Meal Planning Magic, for the details.

Source: Jessie Monds

  • 4-1/2 cups organic flaked coconut (about 14 ounces)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 24-30 roasted salted whole almonds
  • 1 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 300° F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place coconut in a large mixing bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour and salt. Add egg whites, honey and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Pour sugar mixture over the coconut. Stir together with a mixing spoon, then use your hands to blend until evenly combined. Cover with plastic and refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes.

Use a small ice cream scoop to make mounds of macaroon dough. Press batter firmly into cup to make a compact half circle. Press a salted roasted almond in the center of the round side and place on baking sheet. Bake in the preheated 300° F oven for 17 to 19 minutes, or until golden brown. Immediately transfer baked macaroons to a wire rack to completely cool.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Dip bottom of cooled macaroon in chocolate and place on waxed or parchment paper. When finished, use a pastry bag with a very small tip or a fork to drizzle chocolate over the top. Refrigerate until set. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Homemade Pasta

One of my favorite things about the holidays growing up was going to my Grandma's house the day before to help her prepare the food. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always made the dressing and the homemade noodles. I loved rolling out the dough and running the sheets through her pasta cutter. I don't make pasta often now, but I should.  It's so easy!  I used some of the noodles for a homemade Chicken Noodle/Broccoli soup and put the rest in a freezer bag for another easy meal. Homemade pasta is a great way to use up extra egg-yolks you may have. Tomorrow I'll be posting my next Christmas Treat for the blog hop and you guessed it...that is the reason I had so many yolks to use up. Come back tomorrow to see the sweet treat!

Caitlin loved mixing the eggs and flour...

Cutting the noodles is serious business...

Source: From Scratch

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup water
Sift the flour and salt together and make a well in the center. (I did this in a large, shallow bowl.) Pour the eggs inside the well and start mixing it from the middle, incorporating the flour towards the center a little at time. The mixture will be very dry and crumbly. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, just until all the egg/flour pieces stick together to form the dough. I added around 1/4 cup of water, maybe a tiny bit more.

Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for about ten minutes until it's smooth. The dough will be tough. Wrap the dough  in saran wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will help the dough be more pliable when rolling out. Once it is done chilling, divide into fourths. On a floured surface, roll the dough as thin as possible. I started rolling with a rolling pin, just thin enough to fit into my pasta machine roller. I ran the dough through at a thick setting, then again at a thin setting (1 or 2 I think). I let the rolled dough dry on the counter for a couple hours. Cut into strips with a knife or a pasta machine. Spread evenly so the noodles can dry. Fresh noodles take 5 minutes to cook. Dry noodles will cook in about 8 minutes.

Friday, October 5, 2012

German (Dutch Baby) Pancakes

Growing up in a German family, and now living outside Cincinnati (which has the largest annual Oktoberfest outside of Germany), I cannot believe I am just now trying one of these. Maybe it's my own fault. I never claim to like breakfast much. I'm fine with a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. I seldom cook breakfast at home unless I have eggs to use up or we ran out of cereal. But, I decided to participate in the Breakfast Edition of What's Cooking Recipe Swap for that exact reason. I need some new breakfast ideas.

Lisa, from Tastetastic Voyage, submitted this recipe. I actually made this twice already I loved it so much!  It only uses 3 ingredients.  I am sure you already have them and this is no fuss at all. I don't know any other pancake you can make without standing at the stove flipping pancakes forever. The first time I tried this, I only had 2 eggs, but was anxious to make it before I could get to the grocery, so I went ahead with 2 eggs instead of 3. I watched it puff up and turn golden brown as it baked. I topped it with a little cinnamon and sugar and I thought for a second I was eating an elephant ear.  Crispy on the outside, a little chewy in the middle.

The second time, I went ahead with the 3 eggs and it came out eggier (imagine that!) in the middle, but still had some crispiness to it and just as good as the 2-egg version.  This time we topped it with a little powdered sugar and maple syrup and enjoyed.

Thank you, Lisa, for a new favorite!

Source: Tastetastic Voyage

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sifted bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • confectioner's sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place oven rack on the middle rack of your oven.

Place a large, heavy ovenproof frying pan or skillet in the oven until hot. While pan is heating, prepare your batter.

Mix eggs, milk, and flour in bowl. When combined, pour into hot pan or skillet. Bake at 450 degrees for twenty minutes.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lace Cookies - 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats (Week 2)

Week One was so much fun, I'm back for more! This week, I'm sharing a new (to me) cookie - Lace Cookies Sandwiched with Dark Chocolate. I've never eaten a Lace Cookie before, so this was fun and different.  For those of you that have kids - does this happen to you, too? You can be doing absolutely nothing for an hour and the kids are content/fine. The moment you need to do something or are busy, the whole world flips and becomes chaos. This always happens to me.  Last Saturday was a prime example. I thought I could avoid that whole situation this time. I was going to start my day ahead of the game and bake the cookies very early before they woke up!  I could at least start baking them before my little helper woke up and found me. 

As you would guess, my luck continued - instead of needing to tend to the kiddos, the parchment paper was nowhere to be found. I spent so much time looking for it, Caitlin and Ryan both woke up by this point and my plan was out the window. I guess I used it all and forgot? I don't own a Silpat (on my Christmas list this year?). I thought about trying to make them without the parchment for about 1/2 second, but thought better. They would probably be stuck to the pan and ruined, so I waited until I could get out and buy more parchment and made them that night (in peace) once everyone went to bed again.

I doubled the batch and they took no time at all. The cookies will spread a lot as they bake, so be sure to start with small scoops. They come out thin, crispy, buttery (a little too greasy for me) with a butterscotch/brittle flavor. With chocolate sandwiched between them, they are even better. Definitely try these if you're like me and never had them before!

Be sure to check out the rest of the blog hop recipes for this week below. Thanks to Brenda, from Meal Planning Magic, for hosting!

  • 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, melted 

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and oats. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, cream, corn syrup, and vanilla. Mix with the beater blade until smooth. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix to combine.

Drop about 3/4 of a teaspoon of batter onto prepared baking sheets. Try to make the cookies all the same size. Place only 12 cookies on each sheet because the cookies will spread in the oven.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes. Carefully transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Find 2 cookies that are about the same size. Spread one cookie with melted chocolate. Place other cookie on top. Repeat with remaining cookies.

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