Monday, December 15, 2014

Iced Pumpkin Cookies - Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

When I asked my uncle what I could contribute to our Thanksgiving meal, his response was "how about a cookie that is appropriate for little fingers?".  We had nine kids 5 and under (including my own) so I was happy to oblige.  And I knew the perfect holiday treat to make, too!

My dear friend Jessica over at Sunny Side Up had just made these Iced Pumpkin Cookies for her Blogger's Choice swap and raved about them, so they were the obvious choice for my Thanksgiving dessert.  To make them more toddler-friendly I left the icing off, but everyone still raved about them.  My sister-in-law even made them herself that weekend!  And bonus, the recipe Jessica had based hers on was actually dairy-free, so if you're looking to make them parve, just check out the post at Dough See Dough.

These cookies went over so well at Thanksgiving (and made so many - I got about 45 cookies with one batch!) I knew immediately that these were the cookies that I would send out this year for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

I love this cookie swap.  You send out 3 dozen or so of one cookie and get cookies in return from 3 different bloggers.  It always opens up my world of blogs to follow, as well!  I sent my cookies to Take a Bite out of BocaFlamingo Musings, and Shikha la Mode and in return I got delicious molasses spice cookies from Three Sixty Five Degrees, chocolate chip oatmeal hazelnut macaroons from My Upbeet Life and cranberry chocolate chip cookies from The Dreamery.

From the response I have been getting from everyone that tries these cookies, I know that they will be making a comeback next fall.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies (from Sunny Side Up)

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup pack dark brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (I used fresh, but you can also use 100% canned pumpkin)
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cup confectioners' sugar
4 tbsp milk
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

- Preheat oven to 350f.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.  Set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla.  Mix  until well combined.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients (I add 1/4 cup at a time), scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Using a rounded tablespoon (or a cookie scoop), place the dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Wet your hands with a little water (so the dough doesn't stick to them) and gently mold the dough into a more rounded circle, flatten, and smooth.
- Bake 13-15 minutes.  Allow to cool on teh baking sheet for 5 minutes  before transferring to a wire cooking rack.
- While the cookies are cooling, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk, melted butter and vanilla extract.  Add the additional tbsps of as needed to reach your desired drizzling consistency.  Drizzle over the cookies and allow to harden before storing.

It's noted that the cookies may become too moist being stored in tupperware or a ziplock bag.  If this happens, you can store them with parchment paper between each layer and leave a corner of the tupperware lid open.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

My annual tradition to kick-off to the holiday season is getting a peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks.  Yes, I know they are available all year around, but it doesn't seem right having one mid-July.  I always indulge in this treat Thanksgiving weekend.  Something about the minty chocolatey-ness (yes, that's a word) brings the cozy feelings of the holidays.

When Colleen from The Redhead Baker announced her Cupcake Day event I knew that I wanted to make a cupcake version of my favorite holiday drink.  After one more "research trip" to Starbucks I got to work.

I scoured the internet to find a good recipe for the cupcakes and came across one on 2Teaspoons, then added my own spin on the icing with adding a mint whipped cream.  Most recipes I found had a buttercream or marshmallow frosting, but when you order a hot chocolate they always ask if you want whipped cream.  The appropriate answer, of course, is a hesitant "ok, just a little".  That way you feel like you're not going to blow a ton of calories and can pretend they actually write "just a little" and not just mark it to get a huge glob of deliciousness added on top.

I have to say, this is maybe one of my favorite things ever to come out of my kitchen.  I ended up with some mint whipped cream left over and could probably adjust the measurements so you'd wind up with less, however it's so delicious that I could eat it by the spoonful or put on top of a mug of actual hot chocolate, so why would I deny you that pleasure as well?!

This is going to be a permanent addition to my holiday baking.  I already have ideas to make mini cupcakes if we need a treat for any holiday parties.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cupakes with Mint Whipped Cream Frosting (slightly adapted from 2Teaspoons)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup + 1 heaping tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2tbsp granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp peppermint extract, divided
1/2 cup buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk, mix 1/2 cup milk and 1 tbsp white vinegar and let it sit for 5 min)
2 cups heavy cream

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt butter and chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl for 2 min, then stir to combine.  Add in the heaping tbsp of cocoa powder and stir.  Set aside to cool.
- In medium bowl, sift together remaining cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, which together eggs, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, light brown sugar, vanilla and peppermint.  Once that is combined, whisk the butter/chocolate mixture in.  Stir in the buttermilk.
- Gradually (I used 1/4 cup at a time) add in the flour mixture, stirring to combine before each addition.  The batter will be the consistency of a thick chocolate pudding.
- Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.  Divide batter evenly amongst the 12 liners.
- Bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted, approx 18 minutes.
- Let cook completely before frosting.
- In a medium bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) whip heavy cream, 2 tbsp granulated sugar, and 1/4 tsp peppermint extract until it becomes a stiff whipped cream.  ***I love to use the whisk attachment that came with my immersion blender, otherwise it makes for a really great arm workout!
- Once the whipped cream is set, fill a frosting bag with it and pipe it onto each cupcake.

Full list of Cupcake Day participants:

Friday, November 14, 2014

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

After a hiatus I am happy to say that the recipe swaps I used to participate in are back!  Now being run by Ashley from Cheese Curd in Paradise, this month was a Blogger's Choice theme.  I was assigned Eva Bakes.  After drooling over 99.9% of her posts, I finally settled on a recipe.  The added bonus was that we had just received some fresh apple cider in our CSA box last week!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

In December of 2012 for my office holiday gift exchange I was gifted several requested baking items, including a donut pan.  When I asked for it I had grandiose plans of making homemade donuts all the time.  Fast forward to November 2014 and you can tell by the packaging currently in my trash can how well that plan worked out!

It turns out that donuts are really not hard to make at all.  These are cake donuts so they are a drier consistency than a puffy yeast donut would be, but it does not take away from the taste at all.  I made two adjustments from what Eva did (though they both were done in the recipe she based it off of).  First, I used cardamom that she didn't use.  I love the smell of cardamom.  It's one of those spices that costs approximately $12 and you need about 1/4 tsp or less in most recipes that calls for it.  But once you have it in your pantry you don't want to leave it out!  I had purchased it for last year's Crunchy Molasses Cookies and have been waiting for a reason to use it again.

I also added a cinnamon sugar coating to about half of my donuts which I think added a nice touch (I left them off of some because I knew a little someone's nibbly fingers would be all over these donuts and didn't want the added sugar for him).

As Eva also realized, although the original recipe said it makes 6 donuts, I was able to make 11.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts (from Eva Bakes)

1 cup apple cider
1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom
3 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter optional
cinnamon sugar optional

Preheat  the oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare your donut pan by adding cooking spray to each of the wells.
-  Boil the apple cider down in a small saucepan until it reduces down to 1/4 cup. Set aside and let cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.
-  In the bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl using a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugars. Add the olive oil, reduced apple cider, and egg. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients alternately with the milk, ending with the flour (dry) mixture.
-  Spoon the batter into the prepared donut pan and bake for 9-10 minutes or until golden.
-  Remove the donuts from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before glazing.

- If you want to add a cinnamon sugar topping, you can brush the donuts with melted butter and dip into or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Bread

Cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon.

Those are the flavors of fall to me.  I know it's fall when I break those ingredients out for my baking attempts.  When this month's theme for What's Baking was announced as "baking with pumpkin or squash" I was excited.  While I love a good zucchini bread, my favorite way to enjoy squash is in soup or just roasted with brown sugar, maple syrup, etc.  I think I made it known when we last had the pumpkin theme two years ago that I was never a big fan of pumpkin flavored things.  I realized after making Pumpkin-Parmesean Biscuits that I actually enjoy pumpkin when it's baked in with other ingredients.  I think I mostly am turned off by the over pumpkin-ing of everything lately.  I mean, there are pumpkin Oreos, and, of course, the beloved "PSL" (when did that become a thing?  Why can't people just say "pumpkin spice latte"?  I have no idea and I have no desire to try it).

With the theme in mind, I flipped through a few of my cookbooks for inspiration and came across this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Bread in The Craft of Baking and set out to see if the pumpkin could, once again, win me over.

The end result is delicious.  It's easy to make (two bowls and a loaf pan, no mixers necessary) and there was no panic that it would be ruined after my son awoke from his nap earlier than planned.  In other news, the container of demerara sugar is a great toy that will provide enjoyment for as long as mommy needs to finish getting the batter ready.

Be sure to check out Carrie's Sweet Life for her upcoming round-up of all this month's submissions.

Pumpkin Spice Bread (from The Craft of Baking)

unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sour cream
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground white pepper
1 tbsp demerara sugar

- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line the bottom of an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 in loaf pan with parchment paper, and grease the bottom and sides with butter.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, egg yolk, and oil.  Add the pumpkin, sour cream, and vanilla and whisk well to combine.
- In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and white pepper.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet, then whisk together gently to just combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the demerara sugar.
- Bake, rotating the pan once, until the bread is firm to the touch, well browned, and slightly cracked on top, about 55 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes.  Then turn out the loaf onto the rack t cool.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.

*The bread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Brisket

If anyone wants to buy me a gift, just get me one of the Kosher by Design cookbooks.  Seriously, I only have the Short on Time book but everything I have made from it has been absolutely delicious.  And this latest endeavor did not let me down.

Over the summer we were down at the Jersey shore with friends.  While my husband and I do not keep kosher outside of our house, these friends do, so when we heard about a kosher sports bar in town we jumped at the chance to go (mostly because our friend was craving chicken wings).  Looking at the menu, the item that jumped out the most was the pulled beef sandwich.  I don't go out for BBQ often, but this just sounded so delicious to me.  And it did not disappoint!  I was thinking about this meal the other day when I was menu planning and I came across this slow cooker recipe.  How could I not make it?!

The end result was so tasty.  I served it with roasted potatoes and steamed green beans for well-rounded meal.  And I had plenty of leftovers so I stored the beef with a little bit of the au jus (or is the correct term "I stored the beef au jus"?  either way...) in one container and the BBQ sauce in another so it wasn't totally smothered in the sauce when I reheated it.  I got to enjoy the leftovers for the next several days, but could easily have frozen some for later use.

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Brisket (slightly adapted from Kosher by Design: Short on Time)

3 lbs top cut brisket
fine sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1-2 tbsp canola oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp whiskey
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme
4 cups beef stock
1 (18oz) bottled barbecue sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
crusty rolls cut in half horizontally for serving

- Line a slow cooker with a liner bag, if possible
- Slice the brisket into 2 pieces, season both sides generously with salt and pepper
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Sear the meat on both sides then place in slow cooker.
- In the same skillet, sauté the onion, 3 minutes, stirring frequently to pick up the bits of meat.  Top the meat in the slow cooker with the onions.
- In a large bowl mix the Worcestershire sauce, whisky, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and stock.  Pour the stock mixture around the meat (try not to wash the onions off the meat) until you just cover the meat.
- Pour the barbeque stock directly onto the meat.  Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.  The meat is ready when it can easily be shredded with a fork.
- Remove the cooked meat from the slow cooker (reserving the sauce) into a large bowl and shred it by pulling in opposite directions with two forks.
- Pour the sauce into a medium pot (reserving about a cup if storing any meat).  Add the dissolved corn starch and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Boil until thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Mix the meat being eaten immediately with some of the thickened sauce.
- Make a sandwich with the crusty roll and the meat, topping the meat with extra sauce if desired.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Turkey Chili

I love the fall.  The cooler temps mean that I can turn to my favorite comfort food - chili.  My go-to recipe had been my slow cooker meatless three bean chili, with melted cheese on top and a dollop of sour cream.  But sometimes you just want a nice, hearty, meaty chili.

Last year I had been perusing my local library and found the book Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach.  It's a combination cookbook and memoir about life in her kitchen and dining room, spanning the years from her single life to life with two kids (and two working parents) and how they made it all work.  And it's not about how easy life is and how she whips up 3 course gourmet meals every evening, it's about real life and the shortcuts she uses.  The book was so interesting and the recipes looked so good that after I read it cover to cover and returned it to the library, I ended up buying it for myself.  I find that it really gives a realistic view of family dinnertime with all the craziness, pickiness, etc.  Plus it provides a wide range of recipes.

In the book, Jenny has a quick and easy recipe for turkey chili.  We first made it last year and it's become a staple in our home during the cooler months.  It's got a nice kick to it (especially because I use some hot chili powder, not just regular chili powder), and served over a bed of brown rice, it makes for a delicious, filling meal.  Plus, it makes enough that my husband can have seconds and we still have enough left over for 2-3 more meals.  I probably could freeze the leftovers for future meals but I usually end up eating it for lunch or dinner over the next few days.

Another thing I have been trying to incorporate into my routine is one pot meals.  We end up cleaning a ton of pots, pans, and prep tools every night and don't have a lot of downtime before bed.  This chili is great because it is not only a one pot meal (well, one pot plus a rice cooker if you make rice as well but that's a quick clean) but also the only other things to clean are a cutting board and knife which you can clean while the chili cooks, then it's just the skillet and spoon.  Between the easy prep and quick clean up, this can be made and cleaned up in about an hour.  So simple, but so delicious!!

Turkey Chili (slightly adapted from Dinner: A Love Story)

1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves (or 2 large), minced
few glugs of extra virgin olive oil
1 lb ground turkey (dark meat is preferable)
salt & pepper to taste
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp chipotle or hot Mexican chili powder
28oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 bay leaf
1/3 tsp cinnamon
14oz can black beans, drained
Brown rice, plus any toppings you want: avocado, tortilla strips, etc

- In a large skillet, over medium-low heat, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil about 3 minutes.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high and brown the meat until it loses its pink color.
- Add salt, pepper, and chili powders - let it sizzle a moment, then add the tomatoes and the rest of the spices.
- Turn down the heat, simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Add the beans and cook for another 5 minutes (until the beans are heated through).
- Serve over rice with any toppings you choose.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


G'mar tov!

I hope you all had a sweet Rosh Hashanah.  Ours was filled with family, friends, and food.  Lots and lots of food.  Especially being eaten by my one year old.  This kid packs it away and I have no idea where he puts it all since he's so small!  But now we know he likes matzah balls, gefilte fish and kasha.  He hasn't voiced his opinion on my gefilte fish vs my grandmother's, though.  He seems to enjoy them both equally.

As I was preparing for the holiday I knew I wanted to bring something to my grandparents'.  I have brought honey cake in the past but wanted to do something a little different this year.  So I turned to my trusty Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking for ideas.  Everything in their Rosh Hashanah section looked better then the last but the one that jumped out at me was teiglach.  I'd heard of teiglach before but had never had it.  It is basically hard dough balls covered in a honey mixture.  What's not to like about that?!  And this recipe calls for ground ginger which adds a nice kick.

The end result tasted great and was a hit with my family.  In the future I may try to make the dough balls a little bigger but I like that it's a bite size dessert that easy to share.  I didn't get fancy with my plating this time since I had to be able to transport it.  Next time I would try to put the balls in more of a shaped tower.

I wish all a happy new year and may you have an easy fast.

Teiglach (from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking)

3 eggs
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour + more for dusting

Honey Syrup:
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup shredded coconut

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly smear with vegetable oil or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, sugar and salt.
- Blend in the flour to make a very soft dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, adding just enough flour, if necessary, to make it easy to roll.
- With your hands, roll the dough into long ropes, about 1/2 inch wide.
- Pinch or cut off 1/2 inch pieces (I used my pizza cutter for quick and easy cutting).  Place all the little pieces on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake, shaking the sheet occasionally, until the dough pieces puff and are golden brown (15-20 min).

- Once the dough is baked, make the syrup: In a saucepan, heat the honey and sugar together and boil very gently for 3-5 min until just amber colored.
- Lower the heat, then stir in the ginger, walnuts, and the baked puffs, tossing to coat them.
- Spread the mixture out onto a lightly greased baking sheet (using wet hands or a spatula) or arrange the teiglach in a tower formation.
- Sprinkle with coconut.
- Allow it to cool and harden (leave out or you could put it in the freezer for 30 min).
- This is a sticky dessert, so either pull off pieces to eat or you can use 2 spoons to take a section.