Monday, August 9, 2010

Peanut Butter and Ketchup Cookies

Yes, you heard me. Peanut butter....and ketchup. I stumbled across this recipe on the Heinz website along with a few others I may want to try, ketchup apple pie I'm looking at you.

I baked a bunch of these and took them to work. As I figured they were a hard sell. I knew all I needed was one person to eat it and see that it wasn't terrible and then everyone else would follow. Finally a brave co worker gave it a try and of course they enjoyed it. Honestly, if I never told you there was ketchup in it you would never know. It taste like a regular peanut butter cookie with just a hint of something you can't put your finger on. A tiny kick, a little hint of spice. It surely makes the cookies a cool color.

I would say give it a try, at the very least you can say you ate a cookie with ketchup in it. Or make it for your friends and don't tell them whats in it until after.

Peanut Butter and Ketchup Cookies

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 peanut butter, I used creamy
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350
Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside,
Cream together peanut butter, butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
Add ketchup and egg, beat until mixed.
Blend flour mixture into peanut butter mixture.
Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Press cookie flat with fork in both directions if you wish to make the tic tac toe design.
Bake 8 to 10 mins.

It is super easy to make. If anyone tries this let me know what you thought!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Punk Rock Flea Market

My very first large public sale story!

91 Cookies
60 Rice Krispie Treats
15 Muffins
1 Crumbcake and
102 Cupcakes later
it's finally over!

Friday morning our alarm went off, at the ungodly time of 4:45, and somehow I convinced my boyfriend to stay home from work. We eventually got up and I decided to make us cinnamon roll pancakes before I had to be in work. Mid baking I get a text saying that my work is closed, turns out a crane fell on the roof. Seriously, a crane...fell..on the roof. The store was back open that night and since no one got hurt I was allowed to say HELL YEAH! NO WORK. Turned out great that we were both off since it very rarely happens. We made the smart call to work on stuff for the market since I knew I would have so much to do for Sunday. Well....we kinda ended up at the movies...and then to dinner. All we actually ended up making on Friday was 5 trays of Peeps Rice Krispie Treats. I wasn't very worried because I took off work Saturday and I knew we would bang it all out then.

Saturday comes and we sleep through our alarm. Late start already. Plus my boyfriend's band got a very last minute call to play the O.A.R after party at Hard Rock Cafe Saturday night. So again, more baking time gone. We got started on cupcakes first. I did four kinds. Cinnamon Toast, Kit Kat Mocha, Blue Velvet and Bacon Chocolate Chip.

There are some of the super redic cards Greg made up. The cupcakes themselves took a long time, mostly because of the bacon I had to bake in the oven to make the bacon chocolate chips that went inside the cupcake. I could have, and should have, made them the day before. By the time allllll the cupcakes were done I attacked the chai crumbcake which took much more time to bake than planned. Greg had to leave to play the gig and I decided I needed a break. I made the very unwise move of turning off the oven and heading out with him. Had a few drinks, enjoyed some music and next thing you know its 1 am and I still have a lot to do! The drummer and singer of Greg's band plus both of their girlfriends all came back to our place to help. They stayed until 4 am helping me bang out cookie after cookie after cookie and packaging everything together. Greg and I stayed up until 5 and then just had to call it quits.

We woke up around 7:30 to make all the frosting for the cupcakes. Literally ran around the house getting ready and finally headed out to the city! We brought fans and spray bottles and food and water. You would think we were staying over night. Doors opened at 10 and we were set up around 1030. We had a perfect spot right next to the open door so we got some breeze and caught all the people coming in and out. Also the staffers who had to stand by the door to check people coming in had to stare at my food all day and eventually ended up buying things, enjoying it and buying more.

It was pretty steady from 1030-330 then it started to die. The rain came, which felt great coming in through the door but I think it kept people from coming out. Around 430 a guy we met at another booth made an announcement on a mic he had that he was giving all this stuff away for free. I asked him if he would make one for me saying that all my remaining stuff was going for cheap. It caught everyones attention and I got rid of  some remaining things. The event ended at 5 but we stuck around til about 530 still selling to all the other vendors who were packing up. At the end of the day I only went home with 4 muffins!! I never though I would have sold so much or made so much money. We both felt so proud that we accomplished so much. I got an amazing response from people and it just reminded me of why I do this in the first place. Seeing people take the first bite and then just smile meant a lot to me.  Having people come back later for seconds meant even more. We met a nice photographer who was dying over the look of my bacon chocolate cupcakes and asked if he could take a picture. Of course I said yes and asked if he would e-mail me the picture he seemed excited about it and offered to take more pictures. I am dying to get them back! As for now my crappy pictures will have to do. I was just so busy baking I never had a minute to really take pictures the whole time.

Full list of things I baked-

Strawberry Lemon Streusel Muffin
Banana Nut Crunch Muffin
Heath Cookies
Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Peeps Rice Krispie Treats
Chai Crumbcake
Blue Velvet, Cinnamon Toast, Kit Kat Mocha and Bacon Chocolate Cupcakes

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Espresso Cream Cheese Rice Krispie Treats

I have been baking more lately for different occasions that have come up. My new problem is finding the time to take pictures that actually look good and getting stuff up on the blog. Punk Rock Flea Market is coming up soon and of course I am starting to freak out. For about a week I have been calm, cool and collected but that is gone and now I am confused, stressed and panicky. This was a recipe I tried out and assuming I liked it I would have it be something to sell that day. Sadly I won't be making these again. Greg liked it, as did my friend who happened to come over right after I made them. I personally didn't like it and no matter what I just can't get myself to sell something I don't like even if others seem to. I am not really a coffee/espresso/whatever person so maybe this was a silly idea in the first place.

3 TB salted butter
4 oz. cream cheese, room temp
2 Starbuck Via (the recipe called for the medium one, i used the strong one by mistake oops)
A good size pinch of sea salt
10 or 11 ounce bag of mini marshmallows
8 ounce bag of chopped toffee bits (1 cup used in bars, and remainder used for sprinkling on top)
6 and 1/2 cups rice krispies

Spray a 13 x 9-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a very large 6 or 8 qt. pan, melt the butter and cream cheese over low heat (low heat, do not let the cream cheese burn or cook!). 
For these next steps, work fast. 
Once melted add in both the starbuck via’s, then a good sized pinch of sea salt, stir. Using a rubber spatula immediately add in the marshmallows—all the while keep an eye on the bottom of the pan, don’t let it burn. Once marshmallows are added just keep stirring until melted.
After its melted take off the heat, add in the 1 cup of toffee bits, stir, and then add in the Rice Krispies until well combined. 
Stir Stir Stir. Mix. Mix. Mix
Once all mixed then transfer mix to your prepared pan and push down into pan with spatula or water-wet hands. 
After it’s all smoothed over this is when I like to add a small sprinkling of sea salt to the top, then the rest of the toffee bits.
Place in fridge to set and cool. They need to cool completely before cutting. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Strawberry Crumble

Fourth of July came and went and of course I baked for Greg's family party. It was a sorta 4th party but mainly it was a joint graduation party for his brother and sister. I ended up making strawberry jello poke cupcakes with cool whip on top and blueberries. I also made 3 trays of cookies. All fudge brownie type cookies. One tray had M&M's in the cookies, one had coconut M&M's and one had York peppermint patty bites in it. Everything I made was gone in no time. I couldn't believe how fast it all went! Sadly I have no pictures since I literally baked and brought hot items to the party. (I was icing and topping the cupcakes at the party because I was so short on time) I will make the brownie cookies again for the purpose of putting them on the blog....or just so I have an excuse to make them and eat them again.

Yesterday Greg's friend invited a few of us for dinner and of course I offered to bring dessert. I had work that morning and had barely any time to bake something up. I opted to try something I had never done, which always makes me nervous since I like to try everything before giving it to others. I did a strawberry crumble with custard sauce topping. More like a strawberry-blueberry crumble. I had a handful of left over blueberries from the cupcakes so I threw them in too.

Again, I brought this over hot and barely had time for pictures so don't mind the super rushed job.

Strawberry Crumble

1 quart strawberries
1/4 cup honey

For the topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup butter
1. Heat the oven to 350° F.
2. Prepare filling: Mix the halved strawberries and the honey in an 8×8 ungreased pan,
3. Prepare topping: Mix all the ingredients with your fingers until crumbly, sprinkle over fruit mixture and bake at 350° for about 35 to 40  minutes, until golden brown and the fruit is bubbling out everywhere.

I doubled this recipe and used slightly more than the called more fruit, more fruit surely doesn't hurt the recipe. This dessert really surprised me. Mixing the fruit with so much honey had me nervous, for I am not a huge fan of honey. I put it in the fridge once we got there to let it set and we actually ate it cold and everyone loved it. I personally didn't care for the sauce but thats' just me. For breakfast this morning I tried it warm with some cool whip and it was fantastic. I would love to make this again with different kinds of fruits I wouldn't normally eat.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

M&M Bars

I was asked to bake for a co-workers baby shower this week. Of course I was excited for the business. My mind went crazy automatically thinking of all the things I could do. Cupcake towers! Pink frosting! It's a girl wrappers! Such an excuse to be dorky...oh wait, the shower is in 2 days? And I'm working everyday until then. And you just want M&M bars.Alright.

Yes, I am bummed. It was the first time I would be baking for a baby shower and I just kept thinking of all the people that would be there. I really wanted to impress everyone and give them something great. The M&M bars are amazing, seriously so good, but I wish I could have done more. 

I ended up making a batch of  Reese's Pieces bars too. Same recipe but I used...yes you guessed it...Reese's Pieces. Apparently they were a hit. Everyone loved them. Best part is today someone who was at the shower asked me if I could bake for her daughters birthday. You will never guess what she wants me to make......
M&M BARS (swanked from)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups M&M's (I only used about a cup and a half and still felt like it was a ton of candy)

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly spray a 10 X 15" jelly roll pan with non-stick spray. (I used a 9x13 dish)

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar, stirring until evenly distributed. Allow to cool slightly. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating very well after each one. Mix in vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture and when combined add in the M&M's. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 24-26 minutes, until they are shiny and golden brown on top. Try not to overbake these or they will be dry. A cake tester will most likely not come out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting.

As I said I didn't use the jelly roll pan, and I baked it for 25 minutes. I let it cool for a while and even after I cut into it they didn't look done. They tasted amazing though. After letting them cool for even longer I feel like they started to look more cooked and did not taste cakey. The pictures of these bars that were posted on the site where I found the recipe looked very dry on top and not quite how mine did. I even looked at the site where that person found the recipe and they looked super brown and dry. Maybe it was the pan I baked it in or the time or something but mine came out so moist and light colored. They were addicting. They must contain some kind of crack because everyone loves them and wants me to make them all the time!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chocolate Marshmallow Pie

Last week Greg and I attempted to make s'mores pancakes for breakfast, silly us. We literally just threw marshmallows, chocolate chips and graham crackers in with regular pancake batter and called it a day. They were not the best thing we ever made but it did leave me with left over ingredients that I felt obligated to use come the next day.

I knew I had to find something that incorporated all of these things, but I didn't want to just make s'mores. Going through the closet I spotted my pie plate and decided it needed to be used. Poor thing hardly ever leaves the shelf. After some thought I came up with chocolate marshmallow pie. I have never made anything like it. Never made a chocolate pie, actually never made more than that one strawberry pie I posted before. I was pleased with the outcome, which means it didn't taste like dirt and that was a plus. The consistency was very odd, but not in a bad way. Sort of gummy. Maybe I should have used slightly less marshmallows? Or maybe, after the filling set I should have taken it out of the fridge before serving. All in all it was interesting.

Chocolate Marshallow Pie

10 graham crackers
5 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Break up graham crackers and combine them with the butter until coarse crumbs form.  (I opted to keep the pieces a little bigger)

Press mixture into a 9-inch pie plate using a spoon and your hands.

Bake for about 10 minutes in an oven at 375 F.

4 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a medium saucepan, heat marshmallows, milk, and chocolate chips on low heat until the mixture is melted together. Be sure to stir constantly.

Then combine the marshmallow mixture with the half and half  in mixer until it is well blended.

Pour the filling into the baked crust and leave the pie in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jelly Doughnut Cupcakes and rant

I feel as though I have been really hard on myself lately. Mostly for not being able to find time to do more baking and work on the blog. Of course I pick a hobby that involves putting out a lot of money, money that I don't really have to be putting out in the first place. I really get unhappy when a full week has gone by and I haven't made anything. Not baking equals not blogging. Everyone told me that blogging would be a full time job and that I would have to be very committed to it. I understood the risks before I went into this. What is the point in having a blog when I am posting so infrequently? When I do get the chance to bake there is a brief moment of happiness, like 'yay I can go blog about this now'. That moment is short lived because I then remember how all we have is a crappy digital camera that does not do my food justice. It is such a long and stressful process trying to get decent pictures for my posts. The lighting in our apartment is pretty terrible too, so that does not help either. I see other blogs and I am blown away by the pictures and the long passages that accompany the recipes. All the followers that these bloggers have, all the comments. I just wonder what am I doing this all for. Baking makes me happy. Baking makes me feel good and makes me feel useful. I enjoy making something that others can appreciate. I love playing with flavors and ingredients and tools that I never have before. I just feel like that isn't enough. I don't know what to do, how to get my name out there. How to get my food out there. I feel stuck in a rut right now. Money is tough and time is short and life is stressful. There are days I just want to give up and go back to not having a passion or hobby. But what good would that do? I apologize for my rant :( 

Moving on, I made jelly doughnut cupcakes! They were a bit of fun to make mostly because I am a nerd and was excited to use lemon zest for the first time. Plus I have never made filled cupcakes either. Surprisingly simple. I just used my smallest circular cookie cutter and stuck in in the top and twisted and tada the middle of the cupcake came right now. The only negative things I could say about these cupcakes are I did not like the jelly filling. I used raspberry jam and I guess I now know I do NOT like raspberry jam. I would like to make these again, just have to figure out something different to fill them with.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
½ cup milk
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt

good quality red jelly (any flavor)

powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour or line 6-8 wells in a cupcake pan. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, zest and milk beat well. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat until the batter is light and fluffy. Fill each well 2/3 of the way filled. Bake approximately 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the middle cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and take a small corer, knife or melon baller and scoop out some of the center of the cupcake. Fill with jelly (I just spooned it in). Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
From Coconut & Lime 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Baking for XPN

Last summer I volunteered to work at the XPN summer music festival. I had a blast and it really made me want to do more for my favorite radio station. This week was their pledge drive so I decided I wanted to go help work the phones and take pledges. I even convinced my boyfriend to do it with me. Than I realized it would be a nice way to put my baked goods in tons of hungry hands. Hands can't be hungry, can they? Hungry mouths? Hungry stomachs? You get the point. So I stayed up late the night before and baked plenty of snacks. I enjoyed finally being able to use my mixer! Which, by the way, is amazing. Sadly I didn't realize until it was too late that I should have been taking pictures for the blog! I was way too busy and just was not thinking clearly. It was a lot to take on by myself with not a lot of time.

I ended up making white chocolate chip chocolate cookies which came out AMAZING. I am not a fan of tons of chocolate but wow, these were so chewy and full of flavor. I would not change a thing about these. I have already decided to make them for June's Dolla Holla Bake Sale.

Also peanut butter chocolate chip bars. Personally, I do not like peanut butter in my baked all. So I do not have much to say about this, except that they did go over very well. Whatever floats your boat I suppose.

Strawberry shortcake cookies turned out far better than expected. Only downside was that any bit of strawberry touching the cookie sheet turned black and I had to try to pick it off. The recipe said they were best if eaten the same day, I actually thought they tasted great the next morning. They weren't brought to the radio station until later the next night and they were the favorite of the bunch I think.

Even after I baked all of this I still felt like I needed more. I got up early the next day and decided I wanted to make churros. What a crazy time that was! I didn't have the tool to make them come out like big thick stars so I decided to use a pastry bag with the smallest (and only) star tip I have. They came out like tiny garden snakes. That was fine for making bite size snacks, except they cooked so fast!! The second they hit the oil they were done. Within seconds they would already turn black. They still tasted fine but I couldn't bring black churros to hand out. My whole apartment filled with smoke and it smelled like burnt oil all day. Still, I would love to make them again, they were worth the trouble.

We brought everything to XPN and I must say it was my most positive baking adventure yet. Everyone was so nice and thankful. People assumed I went to cooking school and one lady even asked what my bakery was called! HA! They offered to talk about me on the air but sadly they completely misread my info on the air. They got the Angela from Voorhees, New Jersey part right, and that's about it.  Totally bummed out but there is nothing I could do and I was invited back to bake for the station anytime. Even met some great fellow volunteers who asked about my blog and such. So, hey Mike and Dana if you are reading!

As I said, wish I could have gotten more pictures. I really wanted one of Roger LaMay, GM of XPN, eating a cookies : ) No such luck. But my boyfriend did get to hand his band's cd off to him which was pretty sweet.

So onward with pictures and if you would like to check out XPN, do it! Where else can you hear Ray LaMontagne followed by INXS followed by a ten minute Rush song?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chocolate Banana Bread

Along with the strawberries, we also bought some fantastic bananas from the farmer's market and I have been waiting patiently for them to ripen. I was in the mood for chocolate but not something super sweet. After a decent amount of time spent online, I found a recipe for chocolate banana bread. I left out the nuts that the recipe called for and used regular chocolate chips instead of white since they were all I had handy. The white chips would have added a really nice dash of color to the bread. I recommend keeping a few smaller chunks of banana in the mix too. Mine may have been mashed up too well for my liking.

The top is nice and crunchy while the inside is so moist and perfect. 

And I must say, I really am glad that I have had a bit more free time lately to be able to work on my baking. My boyfriend says that my products are coming out better and my overall skill is improving. It is so hard to find time between jobs and life to bake as much as I would like to. It also doesn't help that there are still so many supplies and tools that I need to make things easier. June is approaching which means I can have another bake sale and all that money can go toward buying cake pans, muffins tins, ingredients.....
I am always so grateful for the gifts I am given to help me expand my baking. My boyfriend's mother has given me a Julia Child baking book that seems so helpful, I can not wait to start using it. Also some spring-form pans and a cookie gun. All things I know I will use. I just want to be able to keep baking and creating new and better food!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Strawberry and Cream Muffins

Before I go into the recipe for these delightful muffins, I have wonderful news to share.

I now own a mixer! A friend of mine told her mother all about my interest in baking and she offered me up her mixer that she never uses for a very nice reduced price. I paid for it with all the money I made from the bake sale earlier this month which really makes me feel like the bake sale was a true success. Now you may notice that this is not my dream mixer, Fred, but I think Aurora (yeah that's it's name) will work just fine :)

Yesterday I was somehow lucky enough to have off from both jobs so the boyfriend and I took full advantage outdoors of this beautiful day, we have the the painful tan lines to prove it! We hit up the farmers market and I bought some beautiful strawberries. Their appearance was so perfect I almost didn't want to eat them.  But then I realized if I didn't eat them they would just go bad and that would be a terrible waste, don't you think? Maybe they should be put into a fantastic summer these muffins from Jane's Sweets & Baking Journal. I am very glad to have found this woman's blog, the recipes all seem so yummy and even her pictures make me jealous. I have a feeling I will be sighting this blog as inspiration again in the near future. 

Strawberries & Cream Muffins

Makes about 12 to 14 regular size muffins, or about 6 jumbo muffins.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1 cup whole milk (or, you can use something like 2/3 cup of 2 percent milk and 1/3 cup half-and-half, mixed together)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
2 large eggs
2 cups All Purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh ripe strawberries chopped into very small pieces (the redder and sweeter, the better!)

4 oz. full-fat cream cheese, very soft
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. of liquid from one whole egg that's been beaten lightly
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Put paper liners in the cups of your muffin pan, or use nonstick baking spray very liberally.

Cut up your berries and set them aside.
In a small bowl, mix together with a spoon the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, the 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. beaten egg, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract. Mix until almost all the lumps are gone. Set this aside, but don't chill it.

Melt the butter slowly in a sauce pan on low heat. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and the milk into the butter, stirring to combine. Cool until the mixture is just warm, then whisk in the eggs.

Thoroughly combine with a whisk, in a large mixing bowl, the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour all of the butter, milk, and egg mixture into the dry ingredients, blending just until combined. Don't overmix. It's okay if a few little flour streaks are still evident.

Using a portion scoop or spoon, fill each muffin cup barely half full. Scatter a few pieces of strawberry on top of each one.

Using a small spoon, dab a generous teaspoonful or so of the cream cheese mixture on top of the berries.

On top of that, add on another tablespoon or two of the muffin batter.

On top of that, add a few more pieces of strawberry. Push them in just slightly. 

Sprinkle the tops of the unbaked muffins very generously with coarse sugar for a nice sparkle.

Bake the muffins for about 15 to 18 minutes, until they're light golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. The middle of the cupcake should be kind of firm when lightly pressed with a finger.

Step 1 (L), Step 2 (C), Step 3(R)

Tell me how I have completely lost all of my metal muffin tins? I bought the toss away ones and boy are they a pain. They get so easily bent out of shape, some of the muffins don't even lay flat against the rack in the stove. Next bake sale profits are going straight to buying me new bakeware.
I also don't have regular coarse sugar so I used the red kind. Red muffins liners + strawberries + red sugar. Love it!

Finished product. So so tasty.

I really suggest you give this a try. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Baked Ham & Ziti Casserole

First off-- Happy Mother's Day to all the mommy bloggers out there!

Did you know that you could use your oven to bake things other than desserts? I know, it's a shock. The other night I decided to give it a try. This recipe is from an old ripped-out magazine page I found. I wish I knew what magazine it was from, sorry! This is a easy and fairly quick dinner option. My only suggestion would be that  you may want to make extra sauce. I used the measurements that the recipe called for and my pasta got a little dried out on the top from not being covered with enough sauce. I used a 9 x 13 casserole dish and double the amount of sauce would have been perfect.

Baked Ham & Ziti Casserole

8oz penne pasta
12 oz fresh broccoli florets
8 oz diced ham steak
white sauce (recipe below)
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350
Add pasta to pot of rapidly boiling salted water, cook for 4 minutes
Add broccoli florets to pot with pasta, cook until broccoli is tender and pasta is al dante (about 6 minutes)
Drain immediately and transfer to bowl (I put it right in the casserole dish to make things easier)
Add ham, toss to mix
Prepare white sauce, while still hot add cheese and stir until melted
Pour over pasta mixture
Toss lightly and bake for 30 minutes or until browned

Basic White Sauce (makes about 2 cups)

4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter on high in microwave safe bowl, about 20-30 seconds
Stir in flour until smoothly blended
Add milk, salt and pepper and stir until blended
Microwave on high, stir every 30 seconds or so until sauce is thick and bubbly about 1-2 minutes

In case you haven't noticed yet, I love up-close pictures of food!


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Oh man! The past 2 days have been crazy. I have been trying to save money for a mixer and I thought "Why not try to raise money for a mixer"? So I started the Dolla Holla Bake Sale!

I had the house to myself last night, what better time to concentrate and get down to business? Countless dirty dishes, many cups of sugar and one burnt pinky finger later, I finally stopped at 1:30 in the morning. I had made chocolate chip and pretzel cookies, blue raspberry flavored candy popcorn, chocolate chip coffee cake and double chocolate chip cookie dough that sat in the fridge overnight. 

This morning Greg and I got up early and baked the double chocolate cookies and I made chewy banana bars with cream cheese icing. We bagged everything up and I went off to work. My intention for the Dolla Holla Sale was easy and pretty self explanatory-- everything is a dollar.  I posted about this all over facebook and came to work with a huge bag full of goodies. I have a hard time asking people to buy things so when they asked me the price I ended up blurting out that everything was a donation. I must say some people were mighty generous. For the most part Dolla Holla held up to it's name but a special thanks goes out to everyone who gave a little extra. 

I could not believe how much I sold!! I am completely out of the banana bars and the chocolate chip pretzel cookies. I am off tomorrow so I know there is a long day of baking ahead of me to prepare for Tuesday night's work shift. Co-workers have already placed orders. 

All of the money raised has gone into a special envelope that is not to be touched until the time has come for me to purchase my appliance, oh I can't wait. I have decided I would like to make this a monthly event. Each month making a completely different batch of snacks. 

If anyone would like to purchase anything (or donate to the fund) please e-mail me at

And now, I present, the recipe for the most fabulous chocolate chip coffee cake from Pete Bakes!

1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp water
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
6 oz chocolate chips

1. mix 1/2 cup white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chips.

2. cream butter, 1 cup white sugar, and eggs. add the sour cream, vanilla and water.

3. in a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and soda. combine into the wet ingredients.

4. pour half of the batter into a greased and floured 9×13 inch pan. sprinkle half of the cinnamon, sugar and chocolate chip mixture on the batter. pour in the rest of the batter and top with the rest of the cinnamon, sugar and chip mix.

5. bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. let it cool for at least an hour before cutting into it, or the chocolate chips will be too melty and it will be hard to get out of the pan.

It looks so good, don't you agree?

Really, how could you not agree?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Super Simple Smoothie

It has been almost a week since I have had time to bake anything. Life has been so hectic! 

I had the interview with Wild Flour Bakery and it went well. There are positives and negatives of taking this job and I have been going back and forth in my mind trying to decide what to do. I am going there today for awhile and I have to sit down with the head baker and talk out all the details.  I'm really torn! 

Even though I have not found time to bake I offer this recipe for a smoothie.  Super quick. Super easy. Super cheap.

1 frozen banana
10 frozen strawberries
1 cup apple juice
little squeeze of honey

Fantastic flavor and good for you too! What I love most about this is not only is it made with fresh fruit (which is so much better than those powder mixes) but you don't have to use ice. I personally can not stand smoothies made with ice, it just taste watered down and I don't enjoy the consistency. 

I promise I will be baking this weekend. Must get ready for the bake sale! Details to come.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Baked Strawberry Crumble Pie

Strawberries were buy one get one free at Acme the other day so of course I bought them and figured out what to do with them later. I have never made a pie before so I went on the hunt for an interesting pie recipe involving strawberries. I will admit I was pretty excited to try this. I feel like a pie is one of those desserts everyone should know how to make. A certain sense of pride comes with having accomplished such a feat.

Of course a home made pie crust was needed. Easy enough to make, hard to put in the plate! I just could not just the crust into the pie pan. I ended up having to piece it together like a cheap puzzle. I found myself cracking up as I did this alone in my house. Glad no one was around to see.

It's okay if you laugh a little too :)

Like my improvised pie weights?

Set the crust in the oven to pre-bake while I cut up the 2 1/2 cups of strawberries. I didn't have cornstarch so I tossed them in flour and added in sugar of course.

They didn't look how I expected so naturally I get nervous, but after they sat for a bit I felt relieved.

I made the crumble mix and tossed it on top.  Crumble topping is yet another simple thing I never made and am very glad to have done.  Super easy and everything is better with crumbly tops.

My overall thoughts are positive. As I said, it feels great to make a pie especially having never done it before.  Greg (my boyfriend, can I start calling him my his name now it's much easier?) suggested adding more sugar with the strawberry inside yet I found it to be to sweet. It is all a matter of opinion. The topping  we both agreed needed a little extra something. Next time I would like to make a drizzle type icing, the kind you would find on scones and danishes. That would be the perfect fix. I am sending a piece off Greg's mom and aunt for some more feedback.

This whole baking/blogging thing definitely has its claws in me. My mind is constantly thinking of what to bake next and what new flavor combination  I should try.  I need to get a second job just to pay for all these supplies. Actually, that reminds me! Last weekend when I sold my cupcakes at the bake sale we ended up at the farmer's market across the street. I met a really sweet lady selling bread. Her and her husband where the market managers and also own Wild Flour Bakery. We talked for quite some time about my baking and trying to start something for myself and most importantly, trying to decide if school is the next appropriate step for me. She pretty much said skip school for now and try working in the field first to see if I still enjoy it. She gave me tons of advice and asked for my information and told me to stay in contact. I just received an e-mail from the head baker at Wild Flour. He asked for my resume and wants to set up an interview. It isn't exactly where I saw myself working/interning (they are much more bread makers as opposed to desserts and pastries )but they seem like great people and I just need to get my foot in the door.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookies

After making the Oreo cupcakes for the bake sale I still had many left over cookies. Determined to not let them so stale, or just end up being eaten by me, I was going to search for a recipe that would use them. Crazy timing that one of my absolute favorite bloggers just posted an awesome looking recipe for Oreo chocolate chip cookies.

Not only did I get to use up the extra cookies but also my left over chocolate chips. I am surprisingly not a fan of to much chocolate so I cut out some of the chocolate chips the recipe calls for. Also, I think I broke the Oreo bits up to small, next time I will keep them bigger.

The batter was to die for. My boyfriend wouldn't stop eating it. The cookies were very good. I would like to fiddle with this recipe again sometime.

Banana Brown Sugar Pound Cake

I knew all day that as soon as my boyfriend went off to band practice I was going to bake this. I have never made a pound cake before and this recipe caught my eye. The website has a ton of different pound cakes and other things I think I may be trying soon. I don't have a 10 inch tube pan so it took me long enough to find out how to convert it to the size I did have. After that I had to cut the recipe in half. With all the changes I made figuring out the cook time was hard. I checked it about every 15 minutes after the first half hour and it just never seem quite done. Maybe this recipe just makes a really moist cake but to me it seems almost undercooked. I was thinking maybe because of the mashed bananas it just looks more wet?  Even after it cooled it didn't seem to cut properly. I may just be picky but I personally found it to be to moist. Regardless we both thought it was very good. The banana flavor is subtle and I added cream cheese frosting which topped it off perfectly. 

Recipe: (I did not use pecans either. This recipe is for the 10 inch tube pan. Or you could just two 9x5 pans)

Oven- 350
Bake Time- 1 hr 30 mins

1 lb Light Brown Sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 lb butter
5 eggs
2 large bananas
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 tb vanilla
1 cup pecans

Cream brown and white sugars with butter until very light and fluffy. 
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
Stir in mashed bananas and set aside.
Sift flour with baking powder and salt. 
Mix milk and vanilla together. 
Add each to first mixture alternately. 
Stir in the pecans. 
Pour into a prepared pan. 
Bake until firm.  

The batter was by far the prettiest and  most colorful I have ever made.

I wish I hadn't used my silicon pan because it is to flexible and the batter pushed out and it did not look like a perfect loaf.

Even though there were slight flaws I will say it tasted good and I am glad I made it.

Now tomorrow is oreo chocolate chip cookies!