Friday, November 30, 2012

My Boy is Awesome

And I only say that because I'm totally biased. :-)

We went to my brother's house recently and helped them make cookies for a bake sale their homeschool co-op was holding. 

These are some of my boy's cookies:

The one on top is two knights with shields sword fighting.  The black icing was really not outline consistency, more of a thick flood, so it got away from him a little.  But I really like that he added a border.  The other two are jack-o-lanterns, of course.  And I was impressed that he did them like they were lit by candles.

And because I'm a horrible aunt, I did not take any pictures of my niece's cookies (she and the boy are 8).  They were pretty amazing as well,  She is very artistic. Her abstract cookies almost had a Native American vibe to them.  Then she did some landscapes.  I wish I had pictures to show!

But speaking of awesome girl (4) has been watching me photograph food lately, so she decided to get in on the action.  May I present to you...Lunch:

She fixed her lunch and very carefully arranged it on a tea party plate, set it in a sunny spot on the floor and took a picture.  My husband says I should let her do all my photography from now on. I agree.

And here's a cupcake she decorated all by herself:

She used a little bit of everything.  Then she ate it. It was a good day.

Well, that's all for now.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chocolate Cream Pie

Happy week after Thanksgiving!  I hope you've all recovered.  I think I have and now I'm chomping at the bit to get started on Christmas cookies! 

In the meantime, here's one of the pies I made for Thanksgiving.  It's chocolate cream.  I also made pumpking and pecan, but those are pretty standard, so I won't bother posting them.

Anywhoo, here is a sneak peek at the finished pie:

I may have forgotten to take any pictures that included cream.  I made the pie the day before Thanksgiving, and did not whip the cream until right before we left for BIL's place.  (Unfortunately, my place won't hold more than 7 or 8 people comfortably, so we load up the food and eat at BIL's much larger and more accomodating house.)

Anyway, I use this recipe and it is fabulous. And easy.  Who could ask for more?

First things first: make and bake a 9" pie shell.

And chop some unsweetened chocolate:

Now, on to assembly!  We start by combining the dry ingredients in a sauce pan thusly:

And beat the egg and milk together like so:

Then slowly blend the the two together in the sauce pan:

Cook and stir over medium heat...

...until it thickens and comes to a full boil:

Nice and thick!  Boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and vanilla:

Stir until all is melted and smooth.

Pour into the prepared pie shell and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.  Top with whipped cream or meringue.  My family won't eat meringue, so I use whipped cream. I don't follow a recipe, just pour some heavy cream into a cold metal bowl and whisk on high speed, adding a few tablespoons of powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla along the way.  Stop when stiff peaks form.

 I've found it's best to wait until the last minute when making fresh whipped cream.  Just don't forget to take a picture if you're blogging. 

Well, that's all for now.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies

OK, so I know it's been a while since my last post.  I totally have an excuse.  You know how I may have mentioned once or twice that I take a lot of photos with my phone?  Well, my phone did not get dropped in the sink or anything, but it did refuse to connect to the computer for a while.  It very maliciously held all of my crappy photos hostage while it had some sort of tantrum.  But it's all better now.  I don't know why. I never got around to actually doing anything about it.  But here we are, connected again.

So the hubby and I are trying to watch what we eat.  We got a little lazy for a while, and we realized we needed to cut it out.  But we still need cookies.  So I started making these adapted Toll House Cookies.  They're pretty ok.  In fact, you get used to them pretty quickly.  And when they are the only sugar you're eating, you might even start to look forward to them.

Anyhoo, here we go.  The ingredients:

Well, some of them, anyway.  Imagine I included margarine, Splenda and Splenda Brown Sugar Blend, aka sucralose. 

We start by putting the margarine and the fake sugar in the mixer:

Now beat the snot out of it for a while until it's nice and creamy.

Add the eggs and the vanilla.  Don't panic.  I found out that sucralose and margarine don't play nice with eggs.  But it will be ok.  (I don't usually bake with was an experiment...I have since gone back to butter...calories be darned.) It looks really funky right about now, but it will be fine...

...once you add the flour.  Whole wheat flour.  Why?  Because it's good for you. (Name that Weird Al song!)  And throw in half a bag of  bittersweet chocolate chips while you're at it. 

In the name of frugality, my mom always used half a bag of chips.  Which doesn't sound too bad until I tell you that she always doubled the recipe.  So it was double cookie, half chips.  Which is why I don't like a lot of chips in my cookies to this very day.  But sometimes I go a little crazy and add a whole bag of chips to a double batch of cookies.  Don't tell my mom.

Use a large cookie scoop and scoop out cookies onto parchment-lined baking sheets.

Now here's the funny thing about these cookies.  They don't really spread.  I have convinced myself it's the fault of the Splenda.  It just doesn't melt like sugar does.  So there's one more step.  You have to smoosh them before you bake them, or you get cookie balls.

I use the floured bottom of a measuring cup.  Now pop them into the oven for 10-12 minutes and you get some pretty ok cookies!

Feel free to take bad pictures of them.  I won't mind. 

They're better cold, not so much warm from the oven.  I know.  Weird.  But so are these cookies. 

Don't worry, I will still be baking real sweet stuff.  In fact, I'm gearing up for Christmas Cookie Time right now.  I have my list and I'm planning out what gets made when.  December is going to be fun!  Next week I'm making pies for Thanksgiving, so if the phone and the computer can maintain their relationship, I will post photos and recipes. 

Speaking of, here is the recipe for the ok cookies:

Modified Toll House Cookies

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup Splenda (sucralose)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup (1/2 package) bittersweet chocolate morsels

In a large bowl beat butter or margarine, splenda and splenda brown sugar blend until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Gradually beat in salt, soda, and flour.  Stir in morsles.  Scoop onto cookie sheets, smoosh flat and bake for 10-12 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven.

Have some cold milk handy.

Well, that's all for today.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Belated Halloween Cookies

I made these cookies in time for Halloween, but I did not upload the pictures in time.  *sigh*

You may recognize these cookies from two posts ago.  They are the Wilton monster/alien set from last year.  I made some for my boss, then I decided I liked them so much that I wanted to make some more.  Again, I stuck with the design on the box.  They were cute. And easy.  A perfect combo.

As you can see on the spider, I did play around with eyes.  I made some royal icing transfer eyes in different colors, and I piped some directly onto the cookies.  I can't decide which ones I like best.

When piping direcly onto the cookie, be sure to leave room for a little spread between they eyes, or they will run together.  Not that I would know anything about that.

I think this is my favorite picture from this batch. Does that make me weird?  Don't answer that.

And more of the super-easy green slime cookies.  Or maybe they're ectoplasm.  Either way, I couldn't resist sticking a eye or two on some of them.

The girl and I finally decided that this is a plant.  The boy insists that it's an alien.  Anyone else care to weigh in?

And finally: Behold the carnage that is my kitchen table:

I still like the little blue guys.
But that's it for today.