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Wednesday
Dec282011

Sugar cookies

You might be inclined to ask me, "So Megan, are you ever going to get back to making normal foods? You know, things that don't contain a ton of sugar?" And my answer would be: Yes! I honestly don't know what has gotten into me this holiday season. I have always loved making holiday treats, but never quite this much. The only thing I can think of is that it has been an exceptional year (as in: "deviating from the norm"; not as in: "better than average"). In so many ways. So to carry on with this theme, why not make exceptions on my blog, too? Two months of crazy sugary delicious baking? Yes, please.

I love this sugar cookie recipe. It is a holiday favorite of mine, and that was proven by the number of them that I ate over Christmas weekend. It is OBSCENE how many sugar cookies I am able to consume. Irresistibly and deliciously obscene.

In a large bowl, combine:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

Using a hand-held mixer, beat mixture on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Add:

2 eggs

2 teaspoons almond extract (I adore almond extract, as opposed to vanilla, in sugar cookies)

2 teaspoons salt

Beat until just combined.

Gradually add in 4 cups of all-purpose flour, again until just combined.

Shape the dough into two separate disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out with a 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes and place them on the prepared baking sheets. Decorate with colored sugar, if desired.

  Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly brown.

If you wish to decorate your cookies with icing, allow them to cool completely before doing so. 

This is a large batch. It makes somewhere around 50 cookies. More, if you use small cookie cutters. Cut the ingredients in half if you aren't someone who plans to eat TWENTY-FIVE COOKIES ON YOUR OWN.

Sugar Cookies

This is my go-to sugar cookie recipe that ALWAYS turns out and ALWAYS pleases bellies.

Contributed by Megan Porta from pipandebby.com.

Published Dec 28, 2011

Serves: 48

Total time: 2 hrs, 45 min

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
Instructions:
  1. Using a hand-held mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add the eggs, almond extract and salt. Beat until just incorporated. Gradually add in the flour, mixing until just combined.
  2. Shape dough into two disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes. Place on prepared baking sheets. Roll out excess dough and repeat process. Decorate with colored sugar, if desired.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown. Let cool completely before decorating with icing (if desired).

 

 

Monday
Dec262011

Spiral sugar cookies

These colorful cookies from Sprinkle Bakes caught my eye last week as I perused for something festive to bring to Christmas Eve dinner. Aren't they pretty? The green swirl was fun for Christmas, but any color would be just as fun. Bright yellow for a spring-time cookie? Orange for a Halloween cookie? A swirl of colors for a birthday cookie?

Not only are these pretty, but they are also deliciously tasty. They were by far my favorite of all the cookies I brought to our Christmas Eve gathering. And you can imagine how much the kids enjoyed them! I heard someone say, "Ooo, look! A Grinch cookie!" The green swirls do strangely remind me of the Grinch's long, swirling fingers.

In a food processor, combine:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup confectioners' sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Process until combined.

Add 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (cold and cubed) and process until the mixture has a cornmeal consistency.

Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and process until the mixture just forms a ball. It will still be somewhat crumbly at first.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the food processor.

Add to the food processor:

1/2 teaspoon almond extract 

1 tube gel food coloring (any color)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Process until just incorporated.

Roll out each half of the dough between sheets of wax paper into an 8x11-inch(ish) rectangle, with a 1/4-inch thickness. I used a piece of paper as a guide. Leaving the wax paper on the dough halves, stack on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Pour 1 cup of multi-colored sprinkles in a shallow rectangular dish.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and peel off the top pieces of wax paper from each half of dough. Flip the colored dough half over onto the white dough half so that dough is touching dough. Remove the top sheet of wax paper and trim the long edges with a sharp knife so that the sides are straight and parallel with one another.

When the dough becomes just pliable, roll it into a log beginning with a long edge. Gently curl the edge with your fingertips and do your best to avoid creating air pockets. Carefully lift the log into the decor-filled dish. 

Gently roll it around until the outside is completely cooated with color.

Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to slice, at least 4 hours.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Slice the cookie log into 1/4-inch-thick discs and bake on parchment-lined baking sheets for 15 to 17 minutes, or until the cookies are no longer shiny.

Enjoy these! And thank you, Sprinkle Bakes, for such a fun and delicious recipe!

Spiral Sugar Cookies

Use different colors to match your occasion! Red for Christmas, pink for a girl party or blue for pool-side snacks. (recipe adapted from: sprinklebakes.com)

Contributed by Megan Porta from pipandebby.com.

Published Dec 26, 2012

Serves: 24

Total time: 1 hr plus 6 hrs chilling time

Spiral Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tube gel food coloring, any color
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup multi-colored nonpareil decors
Instructions:
  1. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugars in a food processor and process to mix. Add butter and process until the mixture has a cornmeal consistency. Add the vanilla and process until mixture just forms a ball.
  2. Divide the dough in half and return one of the halves to the food processor. Add the almond extract, food coloring and 2 tablespoons of flour to the processor and process until just incorporated.
  3. Roll out each portion of dough between sheets of waxed paper into an 8x11-inch rectangle, with ¼-inch thickness. Stack the dough, leaving in the wax paper, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
  4. Pour the decors into a shallow rectangular dish. Remove the dough from refrigerator and peel off the top pieces of wax paper from each dough half. Lift one and flip it over onto the other half so that the doughs are touching. Remove the top sheet of wax paper and trim the long edges with a sharp knife so that the sides are straight.
  5. When the dough becomes just pliable, roll the dough beginning with a long end into a log. Gently curl the edge with fingertips and try to avoid creating pockets of air. Carefully lift log into the dish with the decors and roll until outside is completely coated. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to slice, at least 4 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Slice log into ¼-inch-thick discs and bake on parchment-lined baking sheets for 15-17 minutes, or until the cookies are no longer shiny.

 

 

Tuesday
Dec202011

Half-baked crumbly bars

I think I'll start a section on this blog called the Sleepless Chronicles. I am finding that I like to wake up and think about brownies at 3:00 in the morning. Is this normal? Don't answer that. So here, my chocolate-loving friends, is my second installment of the Sleepless Chronicles, also aptly named Half-Baked Crumbly Bars. These were inspired by my favorite ice cream, Ben & Jerry's Half Baked, and also by my constant need to consume sugary, chocolatey treats. The "crumbly" part of the title comes from the fact that, well, they are a bit crumbly. I personally like the crumbliness because it makes me inclined to throw everything into a big bowl of ice cream! Or just into my mouth. Picture Cookie Monster.

---

MAKE THE BROWNIES.

Prepare a box of brownie mix according to the package directions (I used a 19.5-oz. box of chocolate fudge brownie mix) and set aside. You will only be using half of the brownies for this recipe, so serve the other half for dessert or crumble it up and throw it into some vanilla ice cream!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

MAKE THE COOKIE DOUGH.

In a medium bowl, with a hand-held mixer, combine:

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons butter, softened

Stir in:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 tablespoons milk

Carefully stir in a 12-oz. package of mini chocolate chips. Cover the cookie dough with plastic wrap and set aside (do not refrigerate).

MAKE THE CRUST.

Place 20 Oreo cookies in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Or, chop the old-fashioned way with a Ziploc bag and a spoon. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in 6 tablespoons of melted butter until the cookies are coated.

Spray an 8x8-inch baking dish with cooking spray and add the Oreo mixture. Firmly press down with fingers until the crust is evenly distributed on the bottom of the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. 

Coarsely chop half of the prepared brownies and add them to the cookie dough. With your hands, incorporate the brownie chunks into the cookie dough. Pour the mixture over top of the cooled Oreo crust and press down evenly with fingers.

MAKE THE TOPPING.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine:

12-oz. package milk chocolate chips

4 tablespoons milk

Heat in the microwave for 60 seconds. Stir and return to microwave, heating and stirring in 15-second intervals, until mixture is smooth. If needed, add 1 additional tablespoon of milk.

Pour the melted chocolate evenly over the cookie dough-brownie mixture.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and cut into small squares.

And yes, my husband gave me dirty looks after making this one, too.

Half-Baked Crumbly Bars

These bars are YUMMY! Crumbly, soft, crunchy and addicting.

Contributed by Megan Porta from pipandebby.com.

Published Dec 20, 2011

Serves: 12

Total time: 2 hrs

Half-Baked Crumbly Bars

Ingredients:

  • 19.5-oz. box chocolate fudge brownie mix
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 12-oz. package miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 20 Oreo cookies
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 12-oz. package milk chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons milk
Instructions:
  1. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Let cool. Keep oven on and change the temperature, if needed, to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, with a hand-held mixer, combine brown and white sugars with 4 tablespoons melted butter until smooth. Stir in flour, vanilla and 4 tablespoons milk. Carefully stir in 12-oz. package mini chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and set cookie dough mixture aside.
  2. Place Oreos in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter until coated. Spray an 8x8-inch baking dish with cooking spray and add the Oreo mixture to the dish. Firmly press down with fingers until evenly distributed. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Coarsely chop half of the prepared brownies and add to the cookie dough mixture. With hands, incorporate the brownie chunks into the cookie dough. Pour mixture over top of cooled Oreo crust and press evenly with fingers.
  4. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the 12-oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips and 4 tablespoons milk in the microwave for 60 seconds. Stir and return to microwave. Heat in 15-second intervals until mixture is smooth when stirred. Pour melted chocolate evenly over cookie dough-brownie mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour and cut into squares.

 

 

Sunday
Dec182011

Tootsie Roll fudge

I mentioned in one of my recent posts that I have many favorite types of candy. Candy, candy, candy, oh how I love my candy. If you peek inside my mouth you will go, "Ahh, yes, you do, indeed!" I had a dentist growing up who (I believed) took pleasure in my constant need for fillings. I'm sure my memory of him is distorted, but I remember him grinning as he poked giant needles into my mouth. My dad and I still share grim stories about him, so maybe I'm not far off.

Anyhow, back to my favorite candies! I have a lot of them. Among them is one of the most classic candies, the good ol' Tootsie Roll. Can I tell one more quick story? A post with two stories?! Tootsie Rolls will forever remind me of high school and my friend BJ. She shared my love for candy, and often I would see her chewing discreetly on something during our morning study hall. When I would ask her what she was eating, she would almost always tell me, "Tootsie Rolls!" I'm not sure why I remember that. Perhaps my love for TRs is that strong? Or did I love the idea of early morning candy-eating?

I spotted this recipe in a holiday edition of Taste of Home magazine and marked the page. Tootsie Roll fudge? Why didn't I think of this? These are insanely easy to make, and so Christmassy and divine. Every time my husband takes a bite, he shoots me a dirty look, implying that I need to stop making irresistable treats. Can you believe him? 

You will need Tootsie Rolls, obviously, for this fudge recipe. A 12-ounce bag, to be exact.

Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Grease the foil generously with cooking spray and set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, melt together over low heat:

12-oz. package Tootsie Rolls, unwrapped

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons butter

Stir constantly. This will take a few minutes. Once the mixture is smooth, gradually stir in:

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Stir until smooth. The mixture will be thick!

Quickly spread into prepared pan. 

Did I mention you will need M&Ms, as well? Wooo, more candy!

Using a sharp knife, score the surface into 1-inch squares. Press green and red M&Ms onto the center of each square.

Allow the fudge to cool completely. Lift the foil from the pan and set on a flat surface. Cut the fudge into squares. Then go call your dentist. Or better yet, proactively brush your teeth.

I'm a sugar junkie! Someone please help!

Tootsie Roll Fudge

Tootsie Rolls on your hands? Transform them into delicious fudge! (source: tasteofhome.com)

Contributed by Megan Porta from pipandebby.com.

Published Dec 18, 2011

Serves: 25

Total time: 1 hr

Tootsie Roll Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 12-ounce package Tootsie Roll Midgees
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons butter (plus some for greasing pan)
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Red and green M&Ms candies
Instructions:
  1. Line an 8x8-inch pan with aluminum foil. Grease the foil generously with butter and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, melt the Tootsie Rolls, peanut butter and butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla. Mixture will be thick.
  2. Spread into prepared pan. Using a sharp knife, score the surface into 1-inch squares. Press M&Ms candies into the center of each square. Let fudge completely cool. Lift foil from pan and set on a flat surface. Cut fudge into squares. Store in an airtight container.

 

 

Sunday
Dec182011

Snowman cupcakes - guest post by P'licious!

I am so excited to share this post with you today! My friend Paula is not only a fun, kind and amazing individual who I love dearly, she is also a very creative and talented baker. I saw a photo of these cute snowmen that she shared on Facebook last week and asked her if she would like to share them on my blog, as well. I was beyond happy that she said yes! I was honestly like a giddy little schoolgirl about it. Maybe next I will ask her to share the OH-MY-GOODNESS-BEAUTIFUL cakes that she makes. They are unbelievable.

These snowmen are adorable. Wouldn't they be a perfect treat to bring to a holiday party this week? Everyone, help me thank Paula for sharing her creativity and time with us!! Thank you, P'licious!

When Megan asked me to write a guest post for her food blog I was thrilled!! I have a passion for baking, but especially for making cakes and cupcakes. I had a dream of being one of those really cool cake decorators like you see on TV. I actually signed up for a cake decorating class once, but on the first day of class, the instructor didn’t show up and had apparently moved to Arizona. I took that as a hint and continued by just trying stuff on my own and have had a few things turn out really cute.

These cupcakes were made for a work party and after working very hard on them decided they were way too cute and time consuming for co-workers. Don’t get me wrong, I like my co-workers, just not this much! They all loved them and appreciated how much time they took me to make, so I guess they redeemed themselves a little bit.

Snowman Cupcakes:

Pick your favorite cake mix flavor, it doesn’t matter what you choose, it’s up to you. Bake the cupcakes according to the cake mix directions and cool.

Just a little tip about box cake mixes; replace the oil in the recipe with an equal amount of softened butter. It makes a thicker batter and much easier to spoon into cupcake papers.

Here’s what you’ll need for creating your snowmen:

White Icing (canned is fine)
Large Marshmallows
Waxed Paper
Pretzel Sticks
Black & Orange Decorator’s Gel (or orange food coloring to color your white icing)
Junior Mints
Thin Mints (or any flat mint cookie; I used Keebler Grasshoppers)

Red or Orange fruit roll-ups

Frost your cupcakes with the white icing, make sure you leave some icing for putting your “top hat” together.

Take a marshmallow and flatten it with your palm on the waxed paper, then put another marshmallow on top and put a pretzel stick up through the flattened marshmallow. (Basically your flattened marshmallow will be the snowman’s tummy).

Then stick it into the cupcake. 

Now using your decorator’s gel, add his eyes, mouth, buttons, and nose, obviously using the orange gel for his “carrot” nose.

Next take a pretzel stick and snap it in half and then insert it in the body of the snowman for his arms.

Now take your junior mint and put a bit of icing on it and add it to the cookie, then put some icing on the cookie and plop it on the snowman’s head.

Last is the “scarf”. Unroll your fruit roll up and using a knife, slice off about a ¼ inch piece the long way. Wrap it around the snowman’s neck. I just overlapped it but if you had a long enough piece you could tie it.

TA DA!!! Your family and friends will thing you’re a genius, but only you will know how easy they were, just a lot of time! If you’re anything like me, when you’re creating treats for family and friends, who cares how long it takes because you love them and want them to enjoy what you’ve made!

One word of caution: I made these in the evening and then brought them to work the next day. The pretzel in the middle of the snowman absorbed a lot of moisture and started to bend, so, I hadsnowmen that looked like they had drank way too much eggnog!! Try not to decorate yours until an hour or so before you want to serve them or use a toothpick but PLEASE warn your guests about the toothpick!!!

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!!!

Paula aka P’licious

Click here for a printable recipe!