Thursday, December 23, 2010

Caramel Puff Corn

This super addicting little snack reminds me so much of Christmas at grandma's house. Every year she would have a big bowl of the caramel puff corn and ranch oyster crackers sitting on the hutch in the dining room. Without fail, the bowl of puff corn was always empty by dinnertime!

This was my first attempt at making this, and not quite sure what I did differently, but grandma's tastes better. I remember her's having more of a buttery taste and the caramel coating being a little chewier. The caramel coating on mine is a tad bit hard. Not sure if I baked it too long or what happened. Still tastes good, but just not quite the same.

Caramel Puff Corn

1 bag Old Dutch puff corn
2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Pour puff corn into a large roasting pan and set aside. In a two quart sauce pan, bring the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a boil. Cook for two minutes. Add the baking soda, which will cause the caramel mixture to foam up. Stir well and remove from heat. Pour over puff corn and stir until evenly coated. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and pour onto wax paper. Spread it out into a single layer, breaking apart the pieces.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Polka Dot Bikini

Every time we finish a cake we both just stand there for a few seconds in utter amazement that we actually created such a thing! And then comes the moment of gittyness and excitement! I still can't believe that we have been able to do such work with having never taken any form of class or lessons. Totally self-taught! I am sure there are several tricks and strategies that we don't know about, but heck I think we have done just fine so far! As in the words of Michele, "We do some awesome work!" Okay, okay, I am done tooting our horns! Can you tell I am proud?!?!

We made this cake for a co-worker's friend's thirtieth birthday! She is a water skier and this past summer their ski team did a show in pink and yellow polka dot bikinis.

The body of the cake is made from a 9x13 cake pan and the chest was molded out of rice krispies. We started by carving the cake to form the waist and hips. Ya know, the wonderful hour-glass shape! We covered the entire cake with a golden-brown marshmallow fondant. She has the tan all of us are longing for in the middle of December. Dang her! We finished it off by cutting out the bikini in bright pink fondant and accessorizing with yellow polka dots and tie string!

This cake could take so many directions! Could definitely make it more scandalous for a bachelor party! Or how fun would it be to make it all saggy for an "over the hill" birthday party! Oh the possibilities!


Linked to Tidy Mom's I'm Lovin It

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nothing Beats Peanut Butter and Chocolate!

As many of you may already know, I have a tendency of eating peanut butter by the spoonfuls! It actually has become kind of a problem. A daily problem. To the point where I have to mentally tell myself to look pass the peanut butter. I could easily sit down with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon and eat the whole darn thing. In fact, that would be pretty close to heaven for me!

Last night during my nightly routine of surfing the internet I stumbled across a new blog! I love, love, love when that happens! I spent several hours reading and bookmarking recipes from Bake at 350! I am in pure awe at her cookie decorating skills!

While I was browsing her blog I stumbled across the post for Peanut Butter Chip Bars and immediately started salivating! I needed to try these and I needed to try them now! First of all, what is better than peanut butter and chocolate? And second, look at her pictures of the bars! Specifically the middle of the bars!! Their gooeyness sucked me right in!

Peanut Butter Chip Bars

6 TBSP unsalted butter
1/2 c chunky peanut butter
1 c sugar
1/4 c light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c flour
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8 x 8" pan

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. Cream the butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Beat in the sugars until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.Stir in the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chips, stirring until combined.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan (you WILL want to lick the's yummy!). Bake for about 30- 32 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bachelorette Cupcakes

This post is for mature adults only! If you are a youngster or an immature adult, read no further! Okay, just had to say it!

Michele and I are starting to become experts at making bachelorette themed desserts! Maybe I should list this area of expertise in our blog profile. And I am sure our skills will only be improving! Gotta a few more bachelorette parties to look forward to this year!!!

We were asked to make three dozen mini cupcakes and one "large and special" cupcake for the bachelorette! Of course we already knew we were going to top the large cupcake with a penis, that was a given! And we figured what better than a sea of little sperm to surround the penis cupcake.

I know, aren't you impressed!! Kudos to Michele on the penis!!

And for the first time, I get to actually put up a picture of someone enjoying our creations!

Started with a lick

And ended with a bite!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Classic Sugar Cookies

These classic sugar cookies are perfect for dunking in a glass of ice cold milk. They are perfect choice to leave for Santa on Christmas eve. They can be decorated with sprinkes to match any season. So, grab your kids and have them help out with this one.
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups and 4 Tbsp flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
Cream butter and sugar. Add oil. Beat in the eggs. Mix the dry ingredients. Rolls in balls. Press down on the balls with a glass dipped in sugar (perfect for your child to do). Decorate with your favorite colored sprinkles (another good way to get the kids involved). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until brown.
Bake on!

Mini-Mint Brownie Cups

These little guys are just so perfect. You can pop them into your mouth guilt free. Well, maybe not guilt free. But who doesn't love something in mini? My Mom first introduced me to this recipe years ago. We had to stop making it awhile back because we couldn't find the mint-chocolate chips that this recipe calls for. Then, botta bang there they were on the shelf this year. :) These are easy to make and always a crowd pleaser. For those of you who like the edges in the pan of brownies, you will really dig these. They have that little bit of crunchiness on the outside but are soft and chocolaty in the middle.

2 sticks butter or margarine
1 bag (10oz) semi-sweet mint chocolate chips
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup flour

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange 36 (likely more) doubled mini-muffin baking cups (1 1/2inch) on cookie sheets with sides.

2. Melt butter in 3qt saucepan over medium-low heat. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted and smooth.

3. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar. Add eggs and stir briskly until blended. Stir in flour until blended.

4. Fill baking cups 3/4 full. Bake 20-25 minutes until tops look cracked and toothpick inserted in center has moist crumbs.

I never double the baking cups and always have success. I'll let you make that call for yourself.

Bake on!

Thanksgiving Pies

Thanksgiving was at my house this year. It was fun to get all the nice dinnerware arranged for a nice family meal. I was in charge of the pies this year. I chose to go with classic pumpkin and apple pies. Oh boy, were they good. They were perfect topped off with a nice dollop of whipped cream.
When I make pumpkin pie, I stick with Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe (it can usually be found on a can of Libby pumpkin).
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 12oz can evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch deep dish pie shell
Mix sugar, salt cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 40-45 minutes. Knife inserted near center of the pie should come out clean.
Do not freeze.
1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice may be substituted.
I have never made a pie crust before, let alone a pie with 2 crusts. So, making the apple pie was an adventure. Since I had never made one before I went to my "Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book" to find my way. Between the crust recipe and the pie recipe I would be here half the night typeing, so I recommend visiting if you are interested in this recipe. They pie looked pretty but I've definitely tasted apple pies that are better. Oh well, there's always next year.
Bake on!

Chocolate Carmel Bars

These have to be one of my favorite bars. These bars take a bit of patience to make since they do have a few steps, but they are so worth the work. They are fantastic!! So, rich and gooey... you won't be able to say no.

2 1/4 cups flour
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cold butter or margarine
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 jar-12oz caramel topping

In a bowl combine 2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set 1/2 aside for topping. Press the remaining crumb mixture into a greased 9X13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and pecans. Whisk the caramel topping and remaining flour until smooth. Drizzle over the top. sprinkle with pecans. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 2 hours before cutting.

To my coworkers... Yes! These are the bars that were at skills day on Nov 30th and Dec 1st.
Bake on!

Pumpkin Bread

Did you forget that we love pumpkin. Here is just another recipe that is full of pumpkin goodness. I love this recipe because it make 2 large loaves. Perfect for this time of year when you are trying to spread some holiday cheer and want to make things go a long way. This bread comes out perfect every time and is just so moist and delicious.

2 cups pumpkin (16oz can)
4 eggs
1 cup oil
1/3 cup water
3 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt

Combine the pumpkin, eggs, oil, and water. Shift together the flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and the salt. This this to the wet increased. Stir until everything is just combine. Place batter in 2 greased 9X5 loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Bake on!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chips Galore

Oh, were these cookies ever ooey, gooey, soft, and chewy! At first I was a little worried that they were undercooked, but that wasn't the case since the edges were turning golden brown! They were just that perfect all on their own!

The picture in the magazine showed them to be thick and round cookies, well mine turned out the exact opposite. Thin and Flat. Not exactly sure why this happened, but think it is probably because I omitted the nuts. I'm just not a nuts in cookie person.

And the combination of white chocolate, milk chocolate, and peanut butter chips was so so good! Every bite was loaded with chips! Hence the name :)

Chips Galore Cookies
from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Candies of 2010

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon almond extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups each milk chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and peanut butter chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extract. Combine the flour and baking soda and gradually sift into wet ingredients. Add the chips and nuts. Cover and refrigerate dough for one hour.

2. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Red Velvet Cookies

I've said it once, and I am going to say it again, I LOVE LOVE LOVE red velvet!

About a week ago I signed up to receive emails for the Taste of Home Cookie Countdown. You know me, always looking for new recipes! The second email I got was for these delicious cookies! I immediately ran to the grocery store for red food coloring and whipped these up that night!

Look at how thick, fluffy, and cakey these cookies are!! Yum Yum!! And the addition of chocolate chips really brings out the cocoa in the cookies.

Cream cheese frosting is the usual frosting paired with red velvet. I was a little surprised when this recipe had a powdered sugar frosting for the cookie. I wasn't ready to be adventurous and try something new so I resorted to the left over cream cheese frosting I had in the refrigerator. So glad I did! Cream cheese frosting with red velvet will never disappoint!

Red Velvet Cookies
from Taste of Home

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons red food coloring
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups (12 ounces) NestlĂ©® Tollhouse® Semi-Sweet Morsels

1-1/2 cups butter, softened
3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons 2% milk

In a large bowl, cream the shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and food coloring. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

In another bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pistachio Cranberry Bark

This is probably the easiest thing I have made this holiday season! The hardest part was shelling the pistachios. And boy was that hard :) Although I do highly recommend trying to find a bag of pistachios without shells. Then it would become the easiest and fastest holiday treat!

And it is just so festive looking with the red cranberries and green pistachios! This is the perfect sweet and salty treat! Satisfies all of the cravings in one!

Pistachio Cranberry Bark

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
5 ounces white candy coating, chopped (I used about three ounces and it was more than enough)
1 cup chopped pistachios, divided
3/4 cup dried cranberries, divided

In a microwave safe bowl, melt semisweet chocolate chips; stir until smooth. In a separate bowl, repeat with the white candy coating.

Stir 3/4 cup pistachios and half of the cranberries into semisweet chocolate. Thinly spread the mixture onto a waxed paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle the white candy coating over the top.

Sprinkle the remaining pistachios and cranberries over the top. Lightly press them into the chocolate. Chill until firm. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Melting Moment Cookies

Every Christmas my mom bakes about fifteen different kinds of cookies and at the start of the baking shenanigans she always asks us kids which kinds we want her to make. And every year these are at the top of my request list! They are by far my ultimate favorite cookie! They have become one of the things I look forward to most during the holiday season!

They are just so tiny! And when you pop them in your mouth, you won't be able to stop at just one! Before you know it you will have had two, three, four, and maybe even more! No need to feel guilty though since they are about the size of a quarter!

The butter and powdered sugar glaze is the perfect compliment to the almond flavored cookie!

And they literally do melt in your mouth within moments!

Melting Moment Cookies

1 cup butter
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Mix all of the ingredient together until smooth. Chill the dough for about 30-60 minutes. Roll into small balls the size of marbles. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.

1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons whipping cream
Powdered sugar

Brown butter lightly in pan. Add whipping cream. Mix in powdered sugar until desired spreading consistency is reached. It works well to leave the kettle in a pan of warm water while frosting the cookies to keep the frosting soft and prevent a hard layer from forming on the top.

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!

Banana Crumb Muffins

Well in my house it is only my hubby and myself. So, there are times when the bananas go bad. I hate that. I think that my husband secretly refrains from eating them when he wants me to bake. But that's a whole other story. I'm sure that you've had the same issue. Banana boughten and bananas rotten. I was getting sick of making banana bread everytime so I went on the search for some additional recipes a while back. I found this one and wasn't disppointed. You might think that the brown sugary crumb topping would distract from the banana flavor, but it doesn't. They work together really well. What I like most about this recipe is that it really only makes one pan. I usually get an even 12 muffins out of the recipe. 12 muffins can still be too much for a family of 2 but that's why my coworkers love me...always bringing in the treats. So mix together, one quick pan later and you're done. Great for when you are in the mood to bake but just don't have the time.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease your muffin pan or line with paper cups.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Add this to the flour mixture, stirring just unitl moistened. Spoon batter into prepared cups.
3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cutt in the butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle over the muffins.
4. Bake in preheated over for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

I tried to put the crumb topping on before baking the first time and I didn't really like the way that it turned out. It was soft instead of crunchy/crumbly like I wanted. So, I wait until the last 5 minutes. I add the crumble mixture to the top of the muffins and finish baking.

Bake on!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Aren't you surprised?!? Another baked good with pumpkin!! And it probably won't be the last considering I stocked up on pumpkin and have about fifteen cans in the cupboard :) Probably a little extreme, but I wanted to be prepared just in case there is another pumpkin shortage. Don't want to be scrambling and going from store to store in search of pumpkin like I was a few months ago.

As in the words of Zach's aunt, "these are damn good!" I must say I agree with that statement! I was a little disappointed when I took my first bite, but I had to remind myself that these were muffins and not cupcakes. I have gotten so used to taste testing cupcakes that I was expecting a little more sweetness when I bit in. But for a muffin, the streusel topping added just the right amount of sweetness to the pumpkin and spice. I sure am a sucker for anything with a streusel topping. And the little bit of cream cheese in the middle is the perfect surprise! Like my sister-in-law said, "it's like the frosting is in the middle!"

I found this recipe on Annie's Eats, one of the many food blogs that I read daily! She has so many mouth watering recipes and pictures. I have a hard time picking which one to make first!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Marshmallow Crunch Brownies

These bars are oh so, so delicious. A guy at Zach's work deemed them "his favorite Jess treat!" They are the perfect combination of brownie, s'more, and rice krispie treats! Three of my favorite things! And the brownie was nice and fudgey! Yum-o!

Even though they were very tasty, I would make one change the next time I make them. I would highly recommend cutting the brownie portion of the recipe in half. This part of the bar was a little thick. Actually the bars were very thick overall. They came to the top of a cake pan, which is unusual for a cake, let alone bars. Cutting the brownie portion in half would help even out the portions of brownie, marshmallow, and rice krispie topping!

This recipe was found on The Brown Eyed Baker blog. This is the original recipe. The brownie portion has not been cut in half.

Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars

For the Brownie Base:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Toppings:
1 bag (10½ ounces) miniature marshmallows
1½ cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup smooth peanut butter (don’t use natural peanut butter)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1½ cups Rice Krispies cereal

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan.

2. For the brownies: In a medium saucepan, melt the unsweetened chocolate, butter and ¾ cup of the semisweet chocolate chips over medium heat. Stir occasionally while melting. Set aside and cool for 5 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl , whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Stir the melted ingredients into the egg mixture, mixing well. Stir in the dry sifted ingredients and mix well. Fold in the remaining ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the corner of of the pan comes out with moist crumbs.

5. Remove the brownies from the oven and immediately sprinkle the marshmallows over them. Return the pan to the oven for 3 more minutes.

6. Meanwhile, place the milk chocolate chips, peanut butter, and tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan. Melt over low heat, stirring constantly, until completely melted. Remove from heat, add the Rice Krispies and mix well. Allow to cool for 3 minutes.

7. Spread the mixture evenly over the marshmallow layer. Refrigerate until chilled before cutting.