Friday, January 28, 2011

"Kitchen Sink" Oatmeal Cookies - by Lisa

Well, we were doing well with alternating recipes until the end of the month here. Whoops. :) Summer gave me the great idea to make these with my 2 year old, so that's just what we did! It was a fun and easy recipe, and Caiden loves being involved. I don't often randomly add ingredients to recipes, but this recipe practically begs you to do so! It was fun going thru the pantry and deciding on what to add. I was also very curious to try these cookies out and see how they compare to the recipe I grew up on - my mom's oatmeal raisin cookies.

Baker in Training
He already knows how to turn on the mixer!
In addition to the oats, chocolate chips and raisins, I also added craisins and chopped pecans. I was going to add coconut as well, but decided that the bowl was already getting pretty full. I wound up with a lot more cookies than I expected which is always awesome. :) They also didn't spread out as much as I thought they might since the recipe suggests spacing them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. I also forwent the parchment paper and just baked them directly on the cookie sheets. They seemed to do just fine on them. :)

Initially I thought they tasted just ok. But by day 2, I found I liked them a lot better. Maybe I am just super used to my mom's recipe, but these definitely are a nice alternative. Next time I'll try adding in some butterscotch chips and see how they turn out. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Kitchen Sink" Oatmeal Cookies - by Summer

Lisa and I have been doing a great job (unintentionally) of making recipes on opposite weeks this month.  It's been super cold here in MN this week.  I mean really cold - like below zero at night and in the single digits during the day with negative wind chills.  On Friday morning I decided to turn the oven on right after breakfast to make these cookies and to warm up the house!  Plus, I was heading over to a friend's house later and thought these would be the perfect treat to share.

I had every intention of adding a little bit of whole wheat flour to this recipe, but I was in such a hurry to mix up the ingredients, I completely forgot.  I was also worried  that even though I had left the butter out overnight soften, it would still be too hard because of the cold weather.  But the dough came together nicely.  My husband isn't a big fan of raisins in anything but Raisin Bran, so I decided to leave them out.  I also left out nuts because some people don't care for nuts and this meant my little guy could maybe sample some of the cookie.  But I did include some chocolate chunks.

I really liked this recipe.  I made sure to not over-bake them, so they stayed a little chewy after cooling.  I think next time I would like to add some pecans and I do hope to substitute some of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat flour.  Everyone who has tried these cookies has quite enjoyed them - even my little guy (but too bad for him, he doesn't get any chocolate chunk pieces!)  The only other comment is that the recipe called for room temperature eggs, but I didn't realize this until I was pulling out the ingredients to make the cookies.  I went ahead and made them anyways with cold eggs.  If it was another type of recipe I probably would have been more cautious, but I make cookies all the time with cold eggs, so I figured it probably wouldn't impact the recipe too much.  I don't think it did because the cookies were really good!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Brownie Ice Cream Torte - by Lisa

This recipe made one fantastically yummy dessert! When we were making our picks for the month, I chose this one and decided it would also serve as my birthday cake! And I sure am happy with how well it turned out! I'm glad Summer did this one before me, because I picked up a few great tips from her such as keeping a close eye on the timer in between layers and being extra diligent about finding a brownie recipe suited for a 9in pan. Luckily, I didn't have any problems finding a good box mix (I used the one that adds Hershey's liquid chocolate - yum!), but I did learn another thing or two about patience. :)

Brownie Layer Complete
 Apparently I was a little to eager to add the vanilla ice cream layer (which I ended up using a full pint's worth), and 30 minutes wasn't quite long enough to allow the brownie to cool. I didn't notice this until I checked the freezer progress where I discovered the vanilla ice cream had turned to soup on top of the brownie! Oops! No big deal tho, I made this the night before my birthday, so I just left it to freeze a couple hours longer. When it was ready, I added the raspberry sorbet (again, used the entire pint here) and left it to do its thing overnight.

The next morning I pulled it out to decorate! I thought about the ice cream cakes I've had in the past, and decided to pipe on birthday greetings with fudge in a pastry bag. I used the store bought variety, and discovered that it actually worked best after being left out to warm up for about 30-45 min. And I was worried that the fudge wouldn't be firm enough! LOL! I ended up changing how I decorated it because when I initially started, the fudge wouldn't stick to the sorbet. But after it had warmed up a little more in my hands, it started coming out of the pastry bag and behaving quite nicely. Unfortunately, I was halfway thru the message by this point. I also figured out as I was piping the border, that maybe I should do that after it is out of the pan. Sure enough, once we popped it out, all that fudge slipped right off! Oops. But now I know for next time how to better manage the decorating! And this gives me confidence to try making other kinds of ice cream cakes/pies in the future!

Birthday Torte!

Hubby, Son #1 and I all agreed that this was by far an awesome treat! Hubby particularly loved the combo of sweet and tart as did I. I am looking forward to keeping this one in my recipe go to list!

I think he might have liked it. Just a little. ;)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies - by Summer

I sure don't seem to have a problem trying to bake these days, but trying to post a blog is a different story!  I made these on Wednesday and I am finally now getting around to the blog.  I will note that I did take these pictures on Thursday - we do not have that many cookies left!!!

As Lisa mentioned, the hardest part, wasn't really so hard, just time consuming - rolling the cookies into balls and in sugar and pressing the fork to flatten them.  Of course I decided to do all this while feeding the baby lunch.  But no problem - I just brought the high chair into the kitchen, so he could watch.  I look forward to when he is older and can help with the baking since he currently is intrigued by everything that I do in the kitchen these days.

This is a very good recipe.  My husband really enjoyed these and he isn't a huge peanut butter cookie fan.  I look forward to making these again and again!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Brownie Ice Cream Torte - by Summer

This is one of Lisa's picks this month and it had been one I have been avoiding.  Even though Beth states that it's easy to make, it just seemed hard to me.  That's what happens a lot when I read recipes.  I think they seem hard and so I don't even want to bother.  This is a great reason why I have loved doing this project.  It has really pushed me to do things that I would normally skip.  And it would have been a huge shame to skip this dessert!

It really is an easy recipe, but looks impressive.  I made this one for my book club gals this week, since I was host.  I actually made this a day in advance, so I made sure to have enough time with the freezing in-between layers.  The recipes calls for a brownie mix.  In the future, I think I would probably make my own, but these days, a mix was perfect.  The challenge was trying to find one for an 8x8 pan and not 9x13. 

Then it's a layer of vanilla ice.  We had vanilla ice cream on hand, but unfortunately my husband the night before decided he wanted a bowl and I ended up being short.  No problem.  When the baby awoke from his afternoon nap, we ran to the store to buy some more.  Since it was chilling in the freezer, it really didn't matter that this was broken up into a couple of different phases.

The final layer is raspberry sorbet!  Yum!  I made sure to set a timer in between each layer, so I didn't get distracted and forget about the ice or sorbet in the fridge to soften.  If you look closely at the lower right hand bottom of this picture, you will see a little hand.  That is my little assistant wanting to help me out with this recipe.  Unfortunately this was one where I could not hold him and spread the ice cream or sorbet in the pan.  So he was not too happy.  Check out the picture below.

My other big worry about this recipe was how to separate the sides of the springform pan.  For some reason I thought it was going to be difficult and spent way too much time worrying about it. When I went to serve it, the sides just popped right off!  Everyone at my book club loved it!  I did too.  I would totally make this again - I'm thinking it would be a great summer time treat.  And I could definitely see using other flavors of sorbet.  Or if I made this for my dad - I would probably use chocolate ice cream.  I love this recipe!  So simple, but it definitely impresses!!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies - by Lisa

Oh man, I absolutely love desserts that have a sweet and salty combination! And these cookies certainly did not disappoint! They came out so lovely - slightly crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy in the middle. Paired with a tall glass of milk, these make for an excellent treat!

Rolling in the sugar
Time to crisscross!
These cookies were also very easy to make. The part that took the longest was rolling them in sugar and making the crisscross patterns with a fork. But really, that didn't take terribly long to do. I also followed Beth's instruction to bake two pans at once, swapping them after 3 min. I was nervous about how my oven would handle this, but it worked like a dream! To get 36 cookies in 7 minutes is pretty awesome if you ask me. :) I think the only thing I would do differently next time is make a double batch because these are getting gobbled up quickly!