Thursday, April 28, 2011

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies rank right up there with my all time favorite white chocolate chip cookies. The secret to those cookies is the instant vanilla pudding, while the secret to these ones is the ground up oatmeal. Guess its not really a secret anymore since I just told all of you! I love that when you bite into these cookies there is a slightly crunchy outer layer followed by a super soft inner layer! And the softness remains hours after being baked. Wanted to make sure to test that for guys :)

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups finely ground oatmeal
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces chocolate chips (I used half chocolate and half white chocolate chips)
4 ounce chocolate bar, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (I left these out)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Add the eggs. Stir in the ground oatmeal. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Gradually add to mixture. Stir in chocolate and nuts. Form dough into tablespoon size balls. Bake for 10-11 minutes.

Linked to: Tidy Mom's I'm Lovin' It

Sunday, April 24, 2011

S'mores Cheesecake Bars

Guess we will have to experience spring and summer through our food this year since mother nature isn't willing to cooperate with us. Campfires and s'mores pretty much spell summer! I could sit around a campfire for hours just staring at the flames, but it isn't a true campfire until the marshmallows are roasted!

Love cheesecake. Love bars. Love cheesecake bars.

I tried the tiniest sliver of these bars since I was absolutely stuffed from Easter dinner, but that tiny little bite sent me straight to heaven. Took my love for s'mores to a whole new level!

S'mores Cheesecake Bars

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup marshmallow cream
2 teaspoon cocoa
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
melted chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 inch baking dish with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a small bowl. Mix with a fork until well combined. Press the mixture into an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from an oven and allow to cool while preparing the filling. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Melt the coarsely chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between intervals, until completely melted and smooth. Set aside and let cool. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, sour cream, and marshmallow cream. Beat on medium high speed for 1-2 minutes until mixture is smooth. Add cocoa, vanilla, and eggs and mix until well incorporated. Stir in melted chocolate. Pour the filling over graham cracker crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes or until the center does not jiggle when gently shaken. Remove for the oven and evenly top with mini marshmallows. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack. When cooled to room temperature, drizzle with melted chocolate if desired. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before cutting and serving.

Source: Annie's Eats
Linked to: Tidy Mom's I'm Lovin' It

Friday, April 22, 2011

Birds Nests

I have found so so many cute little Easter and spring time desserts while browsing the internet the past few weeks. And I had full intentions of making a few of them, but as usual, time just didn't allow it. Unfortunately baking got pushed to the end of to-do list. What a shame, huh!

But last night around midnight I decided I just had to make something. Anything. The only criteria were: 1. had to be quick and 2. wasn't going to the grocery store for ingredients. These cute birds nests matched both of the criteria! They took less than twenty minutes to make and only five ingredients! It was my lucky day (or should I say night!)

Birds Nests

3 cups miniature marshmallows
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups chow mein noodles

1. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the marshmallows and butter in 30 second intervals until smooth.
2. Stir in the vanilla.
3. Add chow mein noodles and stir until well coated.
4. Using your largest ice cream scooper, drop spoonfuls of the mixture on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
5. Coat your fingers in shortening and form the spoonfuls into little nests by making a hole in the middle.
6. Fill nests with two to three jellybeans

Source: Bake at 350
Linked to: Tidy Mom's I'm Lovin It

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Not really sure if I should call this bread or cake. Made from a cake mix, but baked in a bread pan and doesn't have frosting. Call it what you want, but I'm gonna go with bread. Makes me feel a heck of a lot better about eating it.

This bread is so so delicious. A co-worker of mine brought a loaf of this bread to work one night and it took every fiber in my body to not eat the whole loaf. All I could think about that night was going into the break room and having another piece. And as always, the first words out of my mouth after taking a bite were, "I need this recipe!"

There is a chance, a very big chance, that this first loaf is already almost gone (I buttered the piece above just so I have an excuse to eat another slice.)But I do have plans of making another loaf this week and bringing it to our family brunch for Easter!

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

1 yellow cake mix
1 box lemon instant pudding
4 eggs
1/4-1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients together. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I would tell you an exact amount of time to bake it, but unfortunately mine sunk in the middle because I didn't bake it quit long enough. I had mine in the oven for 35-40 minutes so you can start there and then do the toothpick test.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Underwater Cupcakes

Made these for a cute little boy's first birthday party!!

Sorry for the crappy picture. Almost forgot to take one altogether. Snapped it last second as I was running out the door to deliver them. But they are little crabs, turtles, fish, starfish, and shark fins. The crabs were definitely my favorite. If only you could see the little pinchers in the picture. Overall though, I thought they turned out pretty cute!!

Lovebirds Cake

This is the cake that I made for my cousin's bridal shower this past weekend! I stumbled upon this cake about a week ago and knew I had to make it for her. Super cute and very fitting! But as you can I see I went with a simpler version and left out the grass and flowers. Sometimes less is more!

I was amazed at how easy this cake actually was to make! Not a single glitch or rough spot in the process. I think that fondant and I have finally worked out our differences and have becomes friends after all! Only took nine months!

And here is the beautiful bride-to-be with her cake!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cake Mix Truffles

These little truffles taste just like funfetti cake dipped in white chocolate! Could it get any better than that! As soon as I saw this recipe on The Girl Who Ate Everything, I knew I had to make them immediately. No time for messing around. Reminded me of the sugar cookie truffles I made a few months ago. The people who come up with these concoctions are geniuses! Maybe some day (far in the future) I will be able to dream up a fun and creative recipe rather than follow a recipe word for word like I do now.

They even have the signature sprinkles like funfetti!

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup yellow cake mix
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons sprinkles

truffle coating:
16 ounces almond bark
1 tablespoon shortening
4 tablespoons yellow cake mix
sprinkles, for decorating

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until combined. Add cake mix, flour, and vanilla until mixed thoroughly. Stir in 3 tablespoons of milk, or more if needed, to make a dough consistency. Mix in sprinkles. Shape dough into one inch balls and place on wax paper lined cookie sheet. Chill the balls in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

While the dough balls are chilling, melt the almond bark and shortening in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second intervals until completely melted. Immediate mix in cake mix and stir until smooth. Using a fork, dip the dough balls in the almond bark. Shake off the excess almond bark by tapping the bottom of the fork on the side of the bowl. Place the truffles back on the wax paper lined cookie sheet and top with sprinkles. Dip remaining dough balls. Allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour until almond bark has hardened. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hunting Themed Groom's Dinner Cake

Before I get on with the actual cake, I would like to gloat for a second about the huge challenge Michele and I have finally mastered! We have always had difficulties fondanting a round cake. No matter how hard we tried we always ended up with a skirting effect around the bottom of the cake! We cringed at the thought of fondanting this cake and thought we were setting ourselves up for a disaster, but low and behold, something clicked for us this time around! We placed the fondant over the cake and set out to work on our opposite sides. Within a minute we looked at each other and we both said "my side is totally smooth!!" We did it! Finally conquered the fondant!! Prior to this cake we had said we were never going to fondant a round cake again, but now that we have finally gotten the hang of it, we already have plans for two upcoming cakes!

And now for the actual cake!! The bride surprised the groom with this cake for the groom's dinner! He has a love for hunting and wanted us to do something along those lines. This is what we came up with...

Now imagine a very large fondant "J" in front of the pheasant feathers. I didn't get a picture with that on because I didn't want to put it on before transportation.

These deer antlers caused us some issues, but added so much to the finished product! Definitely my favorite part of the whole cake!

Also wish I could have gotten a picture of the inside of this cake. Better yet, wish I could have actually eaten a piece of it! We did a vanilla buttermilk cake with a berry white chocolate mousse filling and covered with white chocolate buttercream frosting! All of the individual components of the cake were delicious, so I can only imagine how amazing they tasted together!

Sure hope the groom loved his special cake!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Banana Oatmeal Gems

The other day I was looking for a new recipe to use up some of my old brown bananas. I was trying to stay clear of my usual, banana bread and banana crumb muffins. Here's a recipe for cookies that use ripened banana. While it only called for one banana, it was a welcomed change from my usual recipes.

1 cup butter or margarine
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg 1 banana, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cups dates, chopped
3 cups quick oats

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat together butter and sugar until light and airy. Beat in egg, banana and vanilla. Combine spices, salt, baking soda and flours. Add to butter mixture. Mix well and stir in dates and oats. Dropped by rounded teaspoons onto greased cookies sheets. Bake 9-10 minutes for a chewier cookie or 11-12 minutes for a crisper cookie. Cool on a wire rack. Store in a covered container.

Here are a few changes that I made to the recipe: I used about 1-1.5 cups of raisins instead of dates. I also added a package of instant banana pudding to the recipe. Jess and I have learned from experience that adding a pudding mix to cookies makes them super soft and chewy...just what a cookie should be. Well, this was just another perfect example of that. They had that slightly crispy outer layer and were chewy and soft on the inside. Perfection. I didn't have enough quick oats for the recipe and so I ended up using a combination of quick cooking and old fashioned oats which worked out just fine. I found no need to grease my cookie sheet. I had no problems with the dough sticking to the pan.

When my husband tried them he said: bananas+oatmeal+raisins=a winning combination. I just loved that you could almost pass this off as a breakfast food. Bananas and oatmeal. Come on. Perfect breakfast on the go. :)

Source: Banana Oatmeal Gems

Bake on!