Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Cookies

I missed two weeks of cookies for Walter's office because of my illness, but now I'm on some great medication and ready to bake up a storm!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Cookies

I decided I wanted to make these cookies late last week. I saw an ad for Smuckers Uncrustables PB&J Sandwiches, and I had an idea to make a cookie out of everyone's favorite childhood sandwich.

I'm considerably lazier than I sound, so I went recipe hunting. First, I found this recipe. I tried it, but the cookies all spread horribly, to the point that they were inedible. The reviews mentioned none of this, so I was very confused. I am not sure if I did something wrong or not.

So, I decided I'd use the idea of drizzled peanut butter and apply it to another thumbprint recipe. I found this recipe on, and it had a load of good reviews and ratings. The biggest difference between this one and the other one? Eggs. I am pretty sure the eggs are crucial to hold these cookies together. So, this second recipe was the one I went with, and then I drizzled them with Wilton's Peanut Butter Candy Melts.

-3/4 cup butter, softened
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 egg yolks
-1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup fruit preserves, any flavor (I used 1/4 cup strawberry preserves and 1/4 cup grape preserves and filled half with one and half with the other)
-Wilton Peanut Butter Candy Melts, for drizzle

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a
medium bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and egg yolks.
3. Mix in flour a little bit at a time until a soft dough forms. If dough is too soft, refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.
5. Press your thumb into the center of the cookie ball to make a well. Fill the hole with 1/2 teaspoon of preserves.
6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown on the bottom. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
7. Melt peanut butter candy melts and drizzle over cooled cookies.

Stepford Chili I

Now that I'm on a low carb diet, I am struggling to find foods that are delicious, filling, and low-carb (or only full of good carbs). Walter's favorite food is chili, but I am not a huge fan. But I am learning to like it.

Stepford Chili I

This is not the greatest picture, but let's be honest--we all know what chili looks like.

My last chili recipe, Volcano Chili, was far too spicy for me to consume. It was far too spicy for most normal people to consume. Walter is not a normal person when it comes to spice (or much else). He devoured it, sweat beading on his forehead, but he loved it. This one had to be a lot more mild so I wouldn't die eating it, and I think the green chilis made that possible without the chili being bland.

-1 pound lean ground beef
-1 medium onion, chopped
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 4-ounce can chopped green chilis
-1 10.5-ounce can chili beans, undrained
-1 10.5-ounce can tomato sauce
-3 Tablespoons chili powder
-2 Tablespoons cumin
-1 Tablespoon Mrs. Dash Southwestern Chipotle Seasoning
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
-1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
-1 teaspoon bacon salt
-2 Tablespoons Dean Jacobs Garlic and Tex-Mex Spices (garlic, paprika, cumin, white pepper, onion, oregano, and thyme)
-1 teaspoon paprika

1. Brown ground beef with onions and garlic.
2. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook for 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high, stirring occasionally and before serving.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fall Pumpkin Cake

My mother's best friend's birthday was on Tuesday, and she jokingly told her to make her a cake. I decided to take her up on the offer after finding some lovely leaf sprinkles at a party store.

I made a pumpkin cake with cinnamon cream cheese filling and white chocolate fondant.

Pumpkin Cake

I found this cake recipe and the cinnamon cream cheese frosting recipe here at The Milkman's Wife's blog. The recipe was originally for cupcakes, but I made it an 8-inch round three layered cake instead. This cake was wonderfully autumnal and moist and tasted like pumpkin pie. I loved it, and so did the birthday girl.

-1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
-1/3 cup granulated sugar
-2 cups cake flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
(I used 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice in the place of these ingredients)
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I ommitted)
-2 large eggs
-1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
-1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, tossed in 1 tsp. of flour (keeps them from sinking) (I ommitted)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
3. Sift together dry ingredients in another bowl. Set aside.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Alternately add the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Add pumpkin and beat until smooth.
5. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

This frosting went with the cake wonderfully. It had just enough spice to compliment the cake well.

-2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
-1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
-2 cups powdered sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add sugar and cinnamon and beat until desired consistency.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Great American Taste Test--Arby's Apple Turnovers

The Great American Taste Test is a blogging event for the new book, America's Most Wanted Recipes by Ron Douglas.

America's Most Wanted Recipes is a book of copycat recipes for some of the most loved dishes from America's restaurants. Every blogger chose a recipe, took friends to try the real thing, and then recreated the dish using the recipe from America's Most Wanted Recipes in their own kitchen. I chose to make Arby's Apple Turnovers.

Arby's Apple Turnovers

Walter, my friend Roger, and I all went to Arby's and sampled turnovers. I must admit, we were not impressed. The pastry dough was thick, dry, and flaky, but not in the delicious way. There was very little apple filling in our turnovers, and I got a couple of cherries in mine as well. They tasted...okay...but they were not the most delicious turnovers we had ever had by any stretch of the imagination.

And then, I made the ones listed in America's Most Wanted Recipes. THESE turnovers were what Arby's turnovers should have been. They were flaky (in the good way), warm, and delicious. The apple filling was absolutely delicious and the dough was perfect. The recipes in the cookbook were supposed to be copycats...and, I think they did a good job, honestly. If the Arby's turnovers had been given a little more love and had been fresh (I assume ours had been there for a while, judging by how hard and dry the dough was), I think they would have tasted the same. The apple filling tasted the same across the board. The only difference between the copycat recipe and the Arby's one is that the copycat one was better. I think improvement is always a good thing. :)

-4 large apples
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 Tablespoon cornstarch
-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon lemon juice
-1 17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Peel, core, and thinly slice apples.
3. Cook the apples with the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and lemon juice over low heat, stirring often. Cook until apples are tender, then remove from heat.
4. Unfold the pastry dough on a floured surface. Roll two sheets into 120inch squares, and then cut each sheet into four 6-inch squares.
5. Place 1/4 cup of the apple mixutre in the center of each square. Brush edges with water, then form to fold triangles. Seal edges with fork.
6. Bake on parchment paper lined baking sheets for 25 minutes or until golden. Let cool on a wire rack.
7. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar and 1 Tablespoon of water. Drizzle over cooled turnovers and allow to set.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am starting to struggle to find new cookies every week for the office. Soon I will have to start doing repeats.

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies were great. Soft and chewy on the inside, like a brownie, but crisp and delicious on the outside. I also think they'd be great for the holidays if you subbed mint chips for white chocolate chips.

I found this recipe here at Allrecipes and made a couple of changes that were suggested in the reviews.

-1 cup unsalted butter
-1 cup white sugar
-3/4 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
-2 eggs
-1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-2 cups white chocolate chips
I also added an additional 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Mix in vanilla.
3. Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
4. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix until combined. Fold in white chocolate chips.
5. Drop batter by rounded tablespoon onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until tops begin to crack. Cookies will still be very soft but will firm up after 3 to 5 minutes. Once firm, move to wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Stepford Sweets--Black and White Wedding Cake

This was the second cake I did for Stepford Sweets, and I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. It got a little warm on the way and melted a small bit, but it's still pretty nice, and the clients were very pleased with it.

It was white cake with vanilla cream filling and white chocolate fondant. It tasted amazing!

White Chocolate Fondant

This recipe was found here at A Year in the Kitchen. It is a little more difficult to make than marshmallow fondant, but I think it tastes even better, and it was actually more manageable for me. I think it is my preferred fondant recipe.

-1 pound white chocolate
-3/4 cup corn syrup
-4 pounds powdered sugar
-8 Tablespoons hot water
-1 cup glucose
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-4 Tablespoons shortening

1. Melt the white chocoalte chips in the microwave or over a double boiler, stir in the corn syrup, set aside until cool.
2. Put powdered sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
3. Mix water, glucose, vanilla, salt, and shortening together in a saucepan. Heat until shortening is almost melted.
4. Pour into the well of powdered sugar and mix with a flat spatula until incorporated. Add chocolate mixture and mix well.
5. When mixture is too hard to mix with the spatula, take it out and turn on a powder sugar dusted surface. Knead in the remaining powdered sugar.
6. Wrap very tightly in plastic wrap, then place in a ziplock bag. It will get somewhat hard, but kneading it will loosen it up. Use within a month. (Do not refrigerate)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chocolate Vanilla Spirals

Last week, Walter was in Chicago on business. His office missed my baking, so I am back again!

Chocolate Vanilla Spirals

These are called "Icebox Spirals and Bull's-Eyes" in Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook (which is where I found the recipe, of course). They are delicious. The chocolate is very subtle but definitely there, and they're so fun to make! The recipe also made Bull's-Eyes (vanilla with a chocolate center), but I thought the spirals looked better, so I made all spirals instead.

-1 1/2 cups butter at room temperature
-1 3/4 cup sugar
-2 eggs plus 1 large egg white, lightly beaten (white separate from whole eggs)
-1 teaspoon salt
-2/3 cup whole milk
-1 Tablespoon vanilla
-5 cups all-purpose flour
-1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add whole eggs and salt and mix until combined. Add milk and vanilla.
3. Add flour slowly and mix until a firm dough forms.
4. Separate dough into two equal parts. Add cocoa powder to one part and mix until combined.
5. Roll out doughs. To form bull's-eyes: Roll 1/4 of the chocolate dough to a 12-inch rod about 3/4 inch thick. Refrigerate until firm. Roll half of vanilla dough to a 12 by 4 inch rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Brush with egg white and place chocolate rod along length of vanilla dough. Roll dough with your hands and enclose chocolate rod. Trim excess. Refrigerate until firm (I froze mine).
6. To form spirals: Roll out remaining chocolate and vanilla doughs on lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into two 9 by six inch rectangles. Brush egg white onto top of each rectangle. Place vanilla dough on top of chocolate dough. Starting on one long side, roll up dough. Gently press and pinch edges to seal. Refrigerate (or freeze) until firm.
7. Cut cookies from logs into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks.