Saturday, March 31, 2012

Grapefruit Granita - by Summer

I wouldn't say that I was putting this recipe off, but for some reason, I could never remember to buy grapefruit at the store this month.  I made this on Saturday afternoon.  Like Lisa mentioned, this is super easy.  I've never really made a simple syrup before, but it wasn't hard - that's for sure.  While the syrup was cooling, I juiced my grapefruit.  I bought 4 and I was short by a half cup.  I had some cranberry juice on hand, so I used that to make the full three cups.  After mixing the juice and syrup, I put it in the freezer and even though I set the timer to stir the mixture, I promptly left the house to go shopping.  I did remember to stir it once that day, but that was it.

I went out on Saturday night, so we didn't sample this until Sunday.  It was so good!  My husband and I both really enjoyed it and I definitely look forward to making this again.  I would also like to make other flavor combinations.  The grapefruit and cranberry was really tasty!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Grapefruit Granita - by Lisa

Yes, I confess I've been deliberately putting this one off. I even bought a bunch of grapefruit early on, but they got eaten up before I could juice them for this recipe, so I had to buy more :) I also didn't think that I had any decent vodka to use that wasn't vanilla flavored. However, I was very pleasantly surprised to find I had some Absolut Citron on hand! How perfect for this recipe. :)

Anywho, I kept putting it off because I didn't think I would like it very much. (And really, how foolish given the amazing summer-like weather we were having the first several weeks of March!!)

Once again I was proven wrong, and would I have ever missed out on a yummy treat had we not committed to making every single recipe in this book!

This was super easy to make. All I had to do was make some simple syrup, juice the grapefruit (about 3 1/2 for 3 cups of juice) mix those together, and add the vodka and a little salt. It all got poured into a 9x13 pan and placed in the freezer for a few hours. I had to stir it every once in a while to eliminate chunks, but that was easy enough to do. :)

After about 5 hours, we dug in and WOW was this yummy! I can't believe I ever hesitated to make it! And I bet it would be good with all sorts of different fruit juices (mmmm....watermelon!) and changing it up with different flavored vodkas would be fun too! I will for sure be making this a regular summertime treat - for the grownups anyway! :P

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars - by Lisa

Once again, I am several days late on writing up my post. :( Somehow the week just got away from me! So without further ado, let me announce that it's peanut butter jelly time!

I decided to make this one Monday evening when I realized I had enough time to throw it together, and my sweet tooth was getting the better of me. :) I had everything I needed since I did all my recipe shopping early in the month - it was just a matter of putting it all together!

This was a really easy one to make, and I can't believe we hadn't done this one earlier in the project! Altho, it is nice to have some yummy ones all the way down to the end. :) The cookie base was a mixture of sugar, butter, egg, flour and creamy peanut butter. I did also include the option peanut butter chips, because who doesn't like more peanut butter?! And I did use store bought jam, because I am uber-possessive of my ever dwindling stash of our homemade strawberry jam.

Before baking
I think these baked for just the right amount of time (about 20-25 min), and we managed to hold off on digging in until they were mostly cool.

Cooling off
I think gobbling them up slightly warm made them even more yummy! These were definitely a hit in the entire household. So easy to make, and a nice alternative to chocolate that few people would turn down!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cinnamon-Hazelnut Shortbread - by Lisa

I love shortbread, so I was pretty jazzed about trying out this recipe. The list of ingredients was nice and short - all I needed to buy were the hazelnuts.
I have to confess I was experiencing gadget envy over Summer's nut chopper! I tried using my quick chop, but that was a disaster. I finally just grabbed a knife and started chopping away. Those round little hazelnuts are buggers to chop!

Aside from the nuts, this was a super simple recipe to put together. I had a similar experience as Summer did with the scoring. I already do a horrible job of drawing straight lines, but this time I could blame the erratic lines on the nuts getting in the way!

I liked this dessert, but Hubby found it to be on the dry side. My older son thought they were super yummy, and I shared some with my sister who liked them as well.

Tres Leche Cake - by Lisa

Oh man, turn on the nice weather and I turn into a TOTAL slacker! We have had some insanely gorgeous weather here in the Midwest, and I have been soaking up every last minute of it! I have actually been doing some baking, but I've been spending a lot less time inside on the computer. :)

So while Summer managed to whip out 3 recipes in the first week of the month, I haven't been quite as ambitious. :P I did purchase all the extra ingredients I'd need for each recipe early on and that worked out particularly well for this cake. Our neighbors invited us over for a last minute BBQ two weekends ago, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to share this cake!

Assembling the cake was real easy, although I do think I let it bake a couple minute too long. I wound up with a domed cake which made it tricky for absorbing the milks.

I also don't think I poked enough holes in it. I spent a good 30-40 minutes coaxing the cake into soaking up the milks, and when I finally got about 3/4 of the way thru the bowl, I called it quits.

Originally I wasn't going to put a topping over it, but the poor cake looked so ugly I had to cover it with home made whipped cream! I'm glad I did, because I think it enhanced the flavor of the cake.

Just about everyone at the BBQ really enjoyed it. I had a few people even ask for the recipe. I'm extra glad I could share it because it meant a lot less leftovers at home! Hubby and I each had mixed feelings about it. He didn't like it cold, and I just wasn't a huge fan of the texture (surprise surprise :P ). I'd never made one before tho, so I'm glad I had the chance to try it out.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cinnamon-Hazelnut Shortbread - by Summer

So it's only the first week of March and I am on my third recipe of the month!  I guess you could say I have been on a baking blitz!  Usually it's the end of the month when I am trying to fit in all the recipes, but we have a big birthday coming up, so I wanted to get this stuff out of the way, so I can focus on making an orange dinosaur cake!

Anyhow - I was hosting book club this week and decided to go with the theme "breakfast for dinner" and I thought the Cinnamon-Hazelnut Shortbread pair perfectly with the food. 

This shortbread is very easy to make.  It literally took me minutes to pull together.  First you need to finely chop up some hazelnut.  I brought out my  handy-dandy nut chopper and quickly ground them up!
Next up you cream the brown sugar and butter, and then stir in the flour mixture and nuts.  Super easy!  The mixture is dumped into a pan (non-greased - love it!).
Beth suggests using a glass to get the mixture evenly pressed into the pan.
Mine baked for about 28 minutes.  It was suppose to be done when it's golden, but that is hard to tell since there is brown sugar and cinnamon in the shortbread.  Mine could have probably baked for a couple minutes longer, but it was still fine.  Then the recipes calls to score the hot shortbread so it is easier to cut when cool.
As you can see, I do a terrible job of making even pieces.  That's not actually such a bad thing, since some people want smaller pieces and other people prefer larger ones! :-)

The gals at book club loved the shortbread and I did too.  It's so easy to make.  I loved the flavor the cinnamon added to this.  My husband tasted some after the ladies had left and commented that he should have tried some sooner as he went back for seconds.  It's not overly sweet, but so buttery and yummy!  I can't wait to try this with some coffee!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars - by Summer

We didn't have much planned today, and we didn't have anything sweet to eat in the house, so I thought we would make these bars this morning.  If you are a fan of PB&J sandwiches (which I am), then really, how can you go wrong with these?  I even had the peanut butter chips on hand.

This was really easy to make - sort of like making peanut butter cookies, but easier.  First you make the base, reserve a cup of that and press the remaining mixture into a pan.
Then you spread the jelly over the top.  I used strawberry preserves.
After that you crumble the reserved topping and sprinkle that over the top of the jelly.
My bars baked for about 26 minutes.  I was worried that they weren't completely done, but the edges were getting pretty brown, so I took them out.
 I loved these bars!  It was like a peanut butter cookie, but better because of the jelly.  And because they are a bar, they are actually easier and far less time consuming to make than cookies.  I will definitely be making these again and again. And I look forward to trying different types of jelly with them too!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tres Leche Cake - by Summer

I wouldn't say that I was purposely putting off picking this recipe, but I knew it made a large cake (a 9 x 13 pan) and it wouldn't transport easily to my husband's office.  I finally got over the fact that it would make a lot and picked it for this month.  We had some friends over on Saturday night, so I thought it would be perfect to make it at that time.  I have heard of this kind of cake before - tres leche, literally means three milk.  And there is definitely three types of milk in this cake!

First you make a pretty basic yellow cake.  After the cake comes out of the oven, you poke holes in it and pour a glaze on top and let that soak into the cake.  The glaze is made up of evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, half-n-half and a tablespoon of rum.  Then you put the cake in the fridge for at least two hours.  I baked the cake for the shorter end of the time (I think 25 minutes), but it seemed as if I might have overbaked it.  Overall, it was really quite simple to make.
Cake out of the oven

Pour glaze over cake
The recipe suggestions a few ways to serve the cake.  I opted to cover with whipped cream (from scratch) and added a few fresh strawberries.  We all thought the cake was good.  It's pretty dense and not overly sweet.  Personally, I prefer things sweeter and with chocolate.  I'm glad I finally made this cake and I can see why it's popular.