Monday, April 30, 2012

White Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes - by Lisa

I decided this would be a fun recipe to do with my sous-chef. :) We had a lazy rainy Monday and what better diversion than some time in the kitchen, right? Caiden was a great helper on this one, and his little brother even got to assist us.

While Caiden lined the cupcake pan, I chopped up the white chocolate chips and the strawberries.

Next Caiden sifted the flour mixture while I Ezra and I put the butter and sugar into the mixing bowl.

Caiden also got a lesson in how to zest a lemon. After I beat in the eggs, Caiden helped stir in the flour, wet mixture and chocolate and berries.

I managed the filling of the cups, and we even had enough left over to make some mini-cupcakes. The big ones took about 24 minutes to bake, and the minis were done in 16 minutes. I left them to cool completely and then a couple hours later, I added the glaze topping. I took a note from Summer, and made half as much glaze, but I wished I made it a little thicker.

These turned out pretty tasty. I agree with Summer - I think these are much more like muffins than cupcakes. They were definitely a big hit with my little chefs in training. :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Black and White Trifles - by Summer

I had originally wanted to make these for book club, but decided that the assembly of these would make them difficult to transport.  In a way I am glad that I didn't take them, because that means I didn't have to share :-)

I was a little worried after getting a text from Lisa about how much she struggled initially with them.  I gave myself plenty of time to make the pudding.  I was prepared that it was going to take a long time to thickened, but surprisingly, it didn't seem too bad.  I think I was preparing for the worst.  I divided the pudding and put them in the fridge to hang out for a while.

I also used Sara Lee for the pound cake (why mess with a good thing). I had some orange liqueur on hand, so I used them in mine and my husband's trifle. I left it out all together when assembling one that I made for my son.  I didn't even try to take a picture of the strawberries after Lisa's awesome shot in her post :-)

We all loved this dessert a lot!  The husband and I could have done without the orange liqueur though. And to keep from having any issues with children and the whipping cream - I didn't put any on my son's and just made some for me and my husband.  I would love to make this again for a dinner party - it's easy, but looks pretty fancy!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pecan Pie Bars - by Lisa

Ya know...I don't think I've ever had a slice of pecan pie! Crazy, I know, but I tend to go for the fruit pies or chocolate. Judging from the list of ingredients, I did think this looked pretty good and looked forward to trying it! (Actually, I wanted to try Summer's with that lovely chocolate drizzled over it! :) )

This was super simple to whip up. I made the crust in the food processor, and while that was baking I made up the filling. You can't go wrong with eggs, honey, brown sugar, butter and vanilla! :) I was especially excited to use the honey my sister got me hooked on. Her co-worker makes it, and my little town is featured on the label. :)

My sou-chef assisted with the whisking, then I poured the mixture over the crust and let it bake for 20 more minutes.
You are supposed to let it completely cool before cutting into it, but the mouth-watering aroma was driving me mad. I let it cool for about 15 minutes before digging in.

Oh wow! This is one super yummy dessert! And I love how easy it would be to serve at a party or pot luck! This was a big win all around, and I am excited to make it again one day. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Black And White Trifles - by Lisa

Oh hello, end of April. What's that? I have 3 more recipes to complete this week? Whoops... I think all the heavy duty baking I did for my 4 year old's birthday and the contribution to his classroom's Easter party about done burned me out. After two batches of decorated sugar cookies plus a homemade Buzz Lightyear cake all in one week, I was ready for a major break. Oh, and we are also in the midst of buying a house. :P

So I decided to start back with these little beauties. I split it up over two days since it required some time in the fridge. Let me tell you, after the first night, I was cursing this recipe up a blue streak. The first step was making the puddings. I figured that would be pretty straight forward and not a big deal since I've made plenty of puddings for recipes in this book. Sadly, my regular go to pan was not big enough, but I didn't realize this until it was too late and I had not yet thickened pudding literally spilling over the sides of the pot. I dumped it into a bigger pot and kept it boiling away, but it would. not. thicken. I don't know what the problem was. I finally (unwisely) decided to dump in another couple teaspoons of corn starch and promptly learned why nearly every recipe calls for cornstarch to first be dissolved in a liquid. {sigh}

I was so frustrated with it that I decided it didn't deserve any pictures except of this cute one of my kiddo helping out.

Caiden whisking away
I no longer complain about chopping chocolate
Fortunately, I was in much better spirits about the whole project by the next day. Plus, the pudding finally thickened up in the fridge. I set to work cubing the (store bought Sara Lee) pound cake and slicing the strawberries. Incidentally, I'm glad I took the time to measure what half an inch really looks like, otherwise my cubes would have been a bit on the large side. :P

Cake cubes...looks a little like cheese cubes
Hulling berries (this shot took forever to set up!)
I also decided to go with fresh squeezed OJ in place of the liquor since I knew the kids would want to enjoy this treat as well.

This was really easy to assemble and fun to see how the layers came together. Sadly, I don't have any photos of them with the whipped cream. I planned to take photos later with the remaining cups, but my "darling" 4 year old absconded with the bowl of whipped cream I had foolishly left on the counter. I didn't discover his thievery until I raided his bed looking for the missing (and licked clean) bowl and whisk.

Despite the rough start, this was an incredibly yummy dessert. It had many of my favorite things, and combining those all together into one dessert was pretty awesome. A spoonful of it also makes a great mute button for my 1 1/2 year old. ;)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pecan Pie Bars - by Summer

I really like pecan pie a lot. Until recently, I had never made one, but it's quite easy.  I was really looking forward to making these bars because not only does it make a 9x13 pan, but you don't have to worry about making pie crust.

My little guy and I set to work making these this morning. Instead of using my food processor to make the crust layer, I pulled out my pastry blender.
Once it was like course sand, we dumped it into the pan and used the bottom of a glass to get it even.
This layer bakes for about 20 minutes. The filling is super easy - eggs, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and of course pecans. I ended up toasting mine because I like the flavor of toasted pecans (really, any nuts). I let the pecans cool for a few minutes before adding them to the filling mixture.
The filling went on the crust and it baked for another 20 minutes. When it came out of the oven and was cooling, I had a brainstorm of how to dress these bars up a little bit.  They don't really need it, but chocolate does tend to make things better.  I put some chocolate chips in a ziplock bag and microwaved it for 30 seconds at 50 percent power until melted.
Once its melted, you just snip off a corner of the bag and drizzle over the bars. Super simple and super yummy! 
I really liked these bars a lot.  I am bringing them with me to book club tonight, so I think the ladies will enjoy these too. There's not quite as much filling as a traditional pecan pie, but the flavor is all there. I look forward to sharing these!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

White Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes - by Summer

I decided to make these for a brunch I was hosting (which didn't end up happening). I thought that even though they are called "cupcakes", they seemed more like a muffin because they were topped with a glaze instead of frosting.

I like the combination of white chocolate chips, strawberries and lemon zest.  They made for a pretty batter - and seemed very spring like!  They came together really quickly and filled up the muffin pan.
They baked for about 25 minutes and were done.  I waited until the next morning to glaze.  At first the glaze (which was made from lemon juice and powdered sugar) was pretty thin, so I ended up thickening it before putting it on the rest of the cupcakes. I decided that glazing cupcakes is really tough.  They got pretty messy, so I was kind of disappointed in that.  I ended up not using too much glaze on them because I didn't want an even bigger mess.

I liked the taste, although I think I might have chopped up the white chocolate chips too small.  In fact, the recipe calls for chopping them up, but I think I would leave them as whole chips. I would definitely try making these again - perhaps with blueberries or raspberries.  I would also start with only a half cup of powdered sugar and way less lemon juice for the glaze.  I had a lot of glaze left over.  This is a fun, lighter type of cupcake and it would definitely work well for a brunch or breakfast any day in my book!

Cappucinno Biscotti - by Summer

Sometimes things don't quite go as planned.  I was really excited to make this recipe since I was suppose to host brunch for a couple of old friends.  Unfortunately the brunch got canceled at the last minute AND I somehow misread the recipe, so the biscotti looks a little different.

My little guy made the recipe yesterday while baby girl was napping.  The great thing about the recipe is that the only thing I needed to pick up were the hazelnuts.  After making the the Rosemary Biscotti last year, I knew that this one wouldn't be hard - just time consuming, since it needs to bake and then sliced and finally toasted. 

We mixed the the ingredients together:

As I was shaping them into logs, I felt like they were super sticky and didn't remember the other biscotti being this difficult to manage.  When I peeked into the oven to see if they were done, I knew there was a problem.  They had spread a lot!  They were touching each other!  Oh no - what had I done wrong.  I immediately read through the recipe and sure enough, I found my mistake - I used baking soda instead of baking powder!
before baking

After - I had to cut them apart!
I decided to keep going with the recipe to see if the end result was still ok.  I sliced and toasted them:

As it turns out, they were still very tasty.  They were a little crumbly, but over all the taste was really good.  This recipe makes quite a few and fortunately my husband was heading out this afternoon to help some friends move, so I gave him a bunch as a little housewarming treat! I definitely want to make these again, but correctly to see if the taste is any different (better!)