Tuesday, June 19, 2018

To my favorite 6-year old...

This post is going to be broken into two parts - the pretty and the recipe.
This is the pretty. Why is it the pretty? Because this girlie turns 6 today! We celebrated her birthday a little early due to some vacations and work schedules which is how we have a photo of this pretty girl and her cake.
I saw a video on Instagram on erin.bakes (not me - another awesome Erin) of her making this great cake. Then later I saw another company copy her exact techniques and pawn it off as their own. Not cool. erin.bakes tried to call them out - but... yeah... no love on that.
These flowers are easier than you'd think. You take candy melts of different colors and paint plastic spoons. Then fill them with the base color, pour them out and let them harden. I popped them in the fridge. Then they pop right out of the spoons like perfect petals.
The leaves are done by painting different colors of candy melts onto parchment paper. Just make sure your final coat is thick, otherwise, you will have very thin leaves.
The stems are drinking straws cut in half with melted candy melts piped in.
This was such a fun cake to decorate for my girl. We had fun together at the Wilton Outlet Sale with my mom picking out the Candy Melt colors. Bronwyn also picked the frosting color. She could have picked any... she decided white was the best color. Good choice Ms. B... and Happiest of Birthday to my favorite 6-year-old!!
And if you want the official instructions for this cake - head over to http://thecakeblog.com/2018/01/chocolate-tulip-cake.html

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The space between solid butter and melted... .009 seconds.

Guessing you are somewhere in the US experiencing the same sort of sad Spring we are... oh wait we aren't having much of a Spring - snow seems to be our game lately in the middle of April (that's when I'm writing this - not when I'm posting it.... hoping when this is posted the sun is warm and grass is green - not white). So what is this all to say? My kids are lacking in Vitamin D aka Sunshine, outdoor playtime, and fun. Sure they can play inside but I think their patience levels are clashing with their proximity levels. Ugh. So much fussing, fighting, tattling, the list goes on. Ever want to run and hide? You might find me in the storage room, stashed away with a bag of jelly beans sitting on the concrete floor waiting for the storm to pass.
On one especially rough weekend, baking seemed like a possible answer to our current situation. In the cabinet, I still had one of these "It's Fall Ya'll" cookie mixes from our family cookie exchange. Two of my brilliant wonderful cousins brought these cookie mixes - they were worried because they were duplicates, I was thrilled because - cookies!
I pulled out the mix and let Bronwyn bake them up! Sure I melted the butter. Sigh... the difference between softened butter in the microwave and melted is like .009 seconds. Oops. At least it still worked. My family loves these cookies - and they were the perfect pick me up - the baking of them and the eating. It's just too bad that the sun didn't grace us with its presence... and more drama crept in. Great. Come on Spring... please?

Fall Cookies In A Jar
– Quart Jar
– Dry Cookie Ingredients
– Printed Recipe
– Scissors
– Twine/Ribbon
1. Clean your jars and let dry completely.
2. Fill your jars.
3. Print recipe and attach Fall Cookie recipe to jar.
Fall Cookie Recipe:
In the jar:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk chocolate chips
2/3 cup Reece’s Pieces
What you need:
-1/4 cup butter
-1/4 cup oil
-1 egg
-1/2 tsp vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cream butter, oil, eggs, and vanilla
3. Add contents of jar and mix until all combined
4. Spoon onto greased cookie sheet
5. Bake for 7-8 minutes
6. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mom Tax Cookies

Three years have passed - somehow it hasn't seemed like only three years and in some ways three years ago seems miles away. Three years ago I started working at Ozinga. It's truly been one of the best decisions I've made. I'm one of those weird people who love what do, who I work for, and the people I work with. Seems like that's an anomaly these days. Since I like to bake and my work anniversary seems something worth celebrating - I made M&M Cookies. These cookies.are.amazing. Like legit amazing.
I will admit to stealing my kids' mini M&M's they got from the food pantry. Wait the what? A few months ago our church helped at a local food pantry - we stored food into different boxes and repackaged some foods. We took our kids because we want them to understand what it means to serve people. Our kids came out the big winners, the gentleman who was running the service event gave the kids a box and said: "fill it up with whatever you want!" He also gave them each a quart-size bag filled with mini M&M's. FILLED. BOTH. Two of them.
When I went to find my package of Mini M&M's and opened it, it was actually full-size M&M's. Apparently, I was tired and my eyes were not connecting with my brain. I grabbed one of the kids' bags "But those are ours!" Well let's be honest kids... this is the Mom Tax. :) I've never gotten to use the Mom Tax before but it felt kinda good. Don't worry, they had a few cookies so it all turned out OK.
That's a really random way around saying these cookies were great, my coworkers all enjoyed them, I will be making them again soon - very soon!

M and M Cookies
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all purpose Gold Medal Flour
3 tablespoons Instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 or 1-1/2 cups Mini M and M’
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a large baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl cream your butter and sugars until well combined. Add your egg and vanilla mixing to combine. Add your flour, pudding mix, baking soda and salt, stirring to combine. Add chips and m and m’s stirring to combine.
With a medium cookie scoop, place dough 1 inch apart from each other. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cooked through. Let cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Stir-Fried Deliciousness

I've been on a stir-fry kick lately. There's something about simple meat and veggie meals with rice that somehow fill me up and make me feel all warm and cozy. It's still winter around these parts (as of this writing it's April 17 and it snowed yesterday - yeah stupid) so something warm and cozy sounds good.
I was smarter this time around since I was making this dinner on a weeknight, I prepped for it on the weekend. I cut up the chicken when it was still partially frozen which made it way easier to cut, chopped the veggies, and made the sauce. When I made the marinade, I read it wrong - I thought it said Rice Wine Vinegar - so that's what I marinated the chicken in, also lots of garlic and ginger. It actually said Rice Wine... or Sherry. I was a little worried. It's possible all that ginger and garlic canceled out the acid in the vinegar, I'm not sure but it worked. It worked so well. My kids declared it delicious, as did Andy. Another winner! Yahoo! I'll be honest my lip and chin were feeling a little numb by the end of dinner. Let's see things this recipe had in it that supposed to be allergic to... garlic, ginger, onion - oops. Eh... it's all good, I'm still kicking, for now. Now on to find another stir-fry to try out. Maybe someday we'll get to some fresh Springlike meals - maybe if Spring ever shows up.
Side note... this time I used the stir-fry pan so Andy was Ok with me calling it a stir-fry.

Onion Scallion Chicken Recipe
8 oz boneless and skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon cooking oil
3 stalks scallion, cut into 2-inch strips
1/2 onion, sliced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon Chinese Shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry)
Brown Sauce:
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon dark soy sauce, for coloring purpose, optional
3 dashes ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
3 tablespoons water
Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients in Marinade for 10 minutes. Mix all the ingredients in the Sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat up a wok or skillet with 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil and stir-fry the marinated chicken until the surface turns white (half done). Dish out and set aside.
Heat up the remaining oil and stir-fry the onion and ginger until aromatic. Add the chicken into the wok or skillet and do a few quick stirs before adding the Sauce. Continue to stir-fry until the chicken is completely cooked, then add the scallions into the wok. Do a few quick stirs, dish out and serve hot with steamed rice.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Poor Oven Placement and Cinnamon Twist Knots

Cinnamon is my downfall - cinnamon rolls my weakness - Cinnamon Twist Knots? They might be my new best friend - not sure yet... I'm in a new recipe trying kick, I get those every once in a while. Bake all the new things! Cook all the new things! I saw this recipe had the words "easy" and "crunchy cinnamon topping" - um Ok sure let me get my flour!
Another yeast dough - my downfall - sometimes - because yeast doesn't always like to rise for me. I used my trick - turn the oven on, let it cool somewhat and stick that bowl in the oven and let it rise! Then I ran! No honest, I ran on the treadmill! I'm back doing that craziness again, how can I keep eating things like Cinnamon Twist Knots if I don't get moving.
I made these on a Saturday afternoon, as they baked we sat around the island where our oven is located and ate leftovers for dinner. Let's talk about the poor placement of our oven... in the island. How stupid is that? Honestly! No hood, no vent, just an oven stuck into the island. It does have its own vent and it has a fan that runs after you turn it off to try to vent the heat out and cool it down. The problems come in when you (or Andy) cooks hamburgers or pork chops on the range... smoke fills the house - why? No vent! No hood! What the crap! Nothing like your house smelling like burgers for 3 days and having a smoke filled house... moving on... we sat smelling those amazing knots baking and decided they were dessert. Oh and a fine dessert they turned out to be! We used the glaze as a dip, my kids love a good dip. After we were done I drizzled the glaze over the knots - so good. So... yes this is easy - no really if you have a mixer with a dough hook it really is easy. Sure you have to twist the dough and tie a knot - can you tie your shoes? Done. Now can we find a better place for our oven? Please? Maybe in 10 years when we gut the kitchen... Maybe.

Cinnamon Crunch Knots
1 cup warm water
1 packet instant yeast
2 teaspoons honey
2 -2 1/2 cups white whole wheat or all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cream cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, yeast, honey, flour, salt, and olive oil. Knead until the dough comes together, about 1-2 minutes. Cover and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a bowl, combine the granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
4. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick, adding flour to the dough if it is sticky. Spread the dough with 4 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Fold the dough in half and cut into 12 strips. Twist each strip and then tie into a loose knot, it doesn't need to be perfect. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
5. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir the melted butter together with the remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon and the brown sugar. Spoon clumps of the brown sugar mix over the knots (see above photo). This is going to be your "crunch" layer. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden.
6. Meanwhile, make the Glaze. In a medium bowl, beat together the powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons water until smooth and combined. If needed, thin the glaze by adding water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
7. Drizzle glaze over the knots or dip.
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