Monday, December 30, 2013

Tackiest Christmas Cookies EVER!

I've decided to embrace who I am.

I am tacky.

And I'm OK with that. Especially if it means I get to make Santa flamingos and lighted palm trees.

The flamingos actually went through a bit of an evolutionary process.  They started like this:

But they needed a little something extra, so I added the coat.  I was quite pleased with the result. Here's few more of the set.

The very best ones were the last batch I decorated.  Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of those.  They were lovely.  Really.  The snowflakes, bulbs and presents were just what I was trying for.  I'm also a doofus and never get pictures of the really good cookies.

But, in the spirit of a tacky Christmas, I am going against everything I believe in and I am posting a picture of myself on the blog.  I'm with my friend Mark, at work, shortly before the Tacky Christmas Sweater Contest.

I am wearing the most awesome sweater in the whole.  wide.  world. It is epic in its tackiness.

I think I may have had a shot at winning, but they waited so long to do the judging that I had to leave, thereby disqualifying myself from the contest.  But don't worry, I wore the sweater to three separate Christmas celebrations. It was a glorious Christmas.

Are you ready?

Here it comes...

It matches my cookies!!!! It was totally unplanned.  I saw the sweater on Pinterest, clicked on it out of sheer delight, and discovered it was for sale.  WooHoo!! You can't tell, but there are lights in the feather boa at the bottom. Twinkle lights.  Did I say epic?  Because it was epic. I love this sweater more than I care to admit.

Anyhoo, I hope you had a lovely Christmas and I hope you have a wonderful new year!

That's all for now.

Christmas Cookies Galore!

Wow, it's been a while since my last post.  Sorry about that.

I imagine I should have posted this BEFORE Christmas, but I've been so busy making cookies, I haven't had time to blog.  And since I did individual recipes last year, this year I'm just going to make a list.  Here we go!

This year the Christmas cookies consisted of:

Pumpkin Bread
Gingerbread Men (some were ninjas)
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Sugar Cookies
Iced Sugar Cookies
Stuffed Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies (honey variation)
Oatmeal Carmelitas
Peppermint Patties
Butter Toffee

That's quite a lineup.  I tell you what, if you give 2 of each to someone, they get a haul!

Here are some pictures:

Oatmeal Carmelitas

Peppermint Patties

Pumpkin Bread


Gingersnaps (my favorite!!)

Gingerbread people

Grandma's Sugar Cookies (I pinwheeled them this year...came out pretty cute!)

Oatmeal Raisin, Stuffed Cookies, and Chocolate Chip cookies

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Butter Toffee and Peppermint Patties

The whole she-bang!

Not a bad cookie year, all-in-all.

That's all for now.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Cinnamon Roll Pie Crust

So the day before Thanksgiving I was cruising Pinterest, wasting time searching for recipes, when I came across this:

I was enchanted. In fact, I was so excited, I almost squealed.  And I'm not really a squealer.

So I made it forthwith.

Is that, or is it not, the most amazing thing you've ever seen?  It's a cinnamon roll PIE CRUST!!

It's so cool I have to post two pictures.

Anywhoo, here's the finished pie:

If I'm going to be perfectly honest, I'll have to say that I would have preferred traditional pecan pie filling.  The recipe says that it's close to traditional pecan pie filling, and it is, I just would have preferred straight up traditional pecan pie.  I would, however, add some cinnamon and some Princess emulsion.  And the frosting. But the crust was to die for.  Amazing. And very impressive-looking. :-)

(I did make my own crust and my own icing...the recipe in the link uses store bought, which is just fine if you don't have time to make your own.)

So there you go...another amazing Pinterest find.

That's all for today.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Grandma's Sweet Potatoes with Pineapple and Marshmallows

Hello there!  I hope everyone had a fabulous and festive Thanksgiving! (At least everyone here in the U.S.) I've been on a baking frenzy since Saturday, so no time to blog. Christmas is almost here!  But I wanted to take a few moments to share what's been cooking in the D-oh household of late.

We've had Turkey:


Obscene amounts of gravy:

And my very favorite sweet potatoes in the whole wide world:

And because Thanksgiving is over, and we only serve these on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I'm sharing the recipe.  And here's hoping I'm not letting a family secret out of the bag.

My grandma made these, my mom made these and now I make these.  I can't imagine a Thanksgiving without them.

Start with some yams, pineapple rings, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, and flour. We'll get to the marshmallows later.

Open the pineapples and drain the juice into a measuring cup.

Line a baking dish with pineapple rings.

Throw in the yams.  I use Bruce's.  I've tried store brands, but they're just not the same. Pour some pineapple juice over the whole she-bang.

Toss the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt into a bowl.

The recipe says "Mix until crumbly", but it doesn't really get crumbly.

I'm not even sure what you would call that.

Anyhoo, dot the butter/sugar mixture over the sweet taters.

Bake it in a 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until it's nice and bubbly. Pull it out of the oven and cover liberally with mini-marshmallows.

Toast under the broiler until golden brown and delicious.

Of course, then there's my brother, who REFUSES to eat this unless the marshmallows have been incinerated.  Burnt marshmallows are fine and dandy, just not on the sweet potatoes.

If you make these, and I highly recommend you do, you must be sure to get some pineapple, yam, brown sugar and marshmallow in every bite.  Divine!

Here's the recipe.

Grandma's Sweet Potatoes

2 - 20 oz cans pineapple rings in light syrup or juice
2 - 40 oz cans yams
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbs butter, softened
Mini marshmallows to taste

Drain the pineapple and reserve 1/2 cup juice. Line the sides of a 10 x 6 baking dish with pineapple rings.  Pour yams in center and pour reserved pineapple juice over the yams.

Combine the remaining dry ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly. Pat over yams.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes. Top with marshmallows and broil until golden brown and delicious.  Serve warm.

Well, that's all for now.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Apple and Caramel Pie

Thanksgiving is almost here!  That means it's time for pie!  Yay pie!

This pie is epic, especially when it's warm.  It's good enough when it's cold, but you really have to have it warm to get the full experience.

First things first, I apologize again for the pictures.  I found my camera, but it's broken now.  Of course.

Anyhoo, first thing is to make some taffy.  Mix melted butter, brown sugar and flour in a bowl until it's crumbly.

Don't make fun of my pitiful little plastic bowl.  It was a wedding gift. It's like, 16 1/2 years old.

Now peel, core, and slice some apples.

Go ahead and forget to engage the peeler for your first apple. It's fun to peel a sliced apple.

I use winesap apples that I get from the local fruit farm. I have loved winesap apples since I was a child. We lived in San Diego and we would drive up to Julian for apples in the fall.  Stopping at Dudley's Bakery on the way.  Is Dudley's still there?  I love their potato bread.

Moving on, throw the apples in a bowl with some sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon juice.

Toss to coat.

Now grab a bag of these:

When I first started making this pie I had to unwrap and quarter individually wrapped caramels.  Then Brach's got wise and invented caramel bits.  I love them.  I think I used about a cup. It was definitely half a bag.

Now start layering into a pie shell.  Apples, caramels, taffy.

And one more layer of apples, caramels, and taffy.

Top it with more crust, brush on some cream, sprinkle on some sugar, and pop it in the oven.

50 short minutes later, you have pie:

It's wonderful. You should try it.

Apple and Caramel Pie

1 Recipe double pie crust

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups thinly sliced baking apples
2/3 cup white sugar
3 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup caramel bits or 20 caramels, unwrapped and quartered

2 Tbs heavy cream
Granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix the first three ingredients together in a small bowl until crumbly to make taffy.

Put apples in a large bowl with sugar, cinnamon, flour, lemon juice and salt.  Toss to combine.

Spoon half of apple mixture into a crust-lined deep dish pie pan.  Sprinkle half of the caramels over the apples.  Sprinkle half of the taffy over the caramels.  Repeat with the second half of the apples, caramels and taffy.

Top with remaining pie crust and vent. Brush heavy cream on top crust and sprinkle with sugar.  Cover the pie with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is bubble and the crust is golden brown and delicious.  Serve warm. A big scoop of vanilla ice cream certainly wouldn't hurt.

Well, that's all for today.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Coconut-Lime Margarita Cupcakes

Enough with the healthy food, already.  Let's get back to the bad stuff!  Who wants cupcakes?!?!?!

I saw these over on Make Me Cake Me ages ago, and I finally got around to making them.  They're lime cupcakes with lime Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) frosting.  I've been meaning to try SMBC for some time, but because I'm lazy, I haven't.

What does lazy have to do with trying another kind of frosting?  Dishes, that's what. I plan entire dinners by how many dishes I have to wash afterward. And this frosting uses extra dishes. But you know what?  After trying it, I may not care about the dishes.  It was delightful. Silky and smooth and not too sweet.  Perfect!

Anyhoo, it was the boss' birthday, so I brought cupcakes.  And because I took them to work I opted not to use the booze that the original recipe calls for. That, and I don't really drink, so I don't have any Tequila in the house and I didn't want to go to the liquor store for Tequila when I only needed 3-4 tablespoons. I'm also cheap frugal.

So they're not really margarita cupcakes, per se, just limey cupcakes with a sweet-salty kick. But if you wanted to make them and add the booze, they'd be margarita cupcakes again. And then they'd be happy. Or at least tipsy.

Because I didn't put any booze into the icing, I decided to add some coconut extract instead (about a teaspoon, in case you were wondering) in addition to the lime juice called for in the recipe. (Dude, I just had an awesome idea for pina colada frosting...)

The cupcakes themselves are lime-flavored buttermilk cupcakes, and they might be my new favorite. I love citrus. Especially in cake form.  But a word of warning: The recipe calls for adding lime juice to your creamed butter/sugar/egg mixture.  While I was anticipating a bit of curdle once the lime juice went in, I was not prepared for the violence of the curdling. I almost panicked and threw the batter out.  But once all of the flour was incorporated, the batter was back to normal and everything was fine.

Anyway, follow the links to the recipe and give it a try.  You'll be glad you did.

And here is a tutorial on Swiss Meringue Buttercream that I found after I made the afore-mentioned frosting. Of course.  Fortunately, I obsessively lurk around cake and cookie decorating forums, so I had already seen most of the information in the tutorial.  But it's still a great tutorial.

Well, that's all for now.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Vegetable Lasagna

My husband is going thorough cheese withdrawal.  It ain't pretty.  But we found a pretty good plant-based vegetable lasagna recipe to help him work through it.

It's a lot of work to make it, I'm not going to lie.  But the recipe makes a TON, so you only have to make it once to eat it two or even three times. Or more.  Seriously.

Start by prepping your veggies!  It took about an hour for me to chop/thaw/mash all of these veggies.

The weird looking thing on the bottom left is mashed sweet potatoes.  That's the first thing you'll want to do.  Peel, chop, steam and mash two sweet potatoes. In the meantime, chop an onion, two carrots, one head of broccoli, and two red bell peppers. Slice 8 ounces of button mushrooms and 8 roma tomatoes (when I went shopping they only had three roma tomatoes, so I had to go with regular tomatoes. I used two...they were large). Thaw 16 ounces of spinach and a few cups of corn. While you're at it, cook a large box of whole grain lasagna noodles, but don't cook them all the way. 

Cook the onions and some garlic in a saute pan for a couple minutes.  I now saute without oil.  If the veggies start to stick, I throw in a little water.  I don't really have sticking problems, and my saute pan in stainless steel, not teflon. It's been nice to lose the oil.

Anyhoo, throw in the mushrooms and when they're limp and cooked, remove everything to a large bowl. 

Now add the carrots and broccoli to the same pan and saute for about five minutes, or until the carrots are soft.  OK, the carrots don't really get soft. Just make sure they're cooked.  I cut them really small to help them along.

Remove the broccoli and carrots to the vegetable bowl.

Repeat with the corn and red bell peppers. Remove to the bowl.

Stir up all of the veggies and add some rosemary, basil, oregano and salt. The recipe calls for cayenne pepper, but I don't think it goes, so I leave it out. (I think the recipe was going for spicy Italian sausage [without the sausage], but it didn't work out.)

Stir that all up well and set the bowl aside.  Now, if we were following the recipe exactly, here is where we would add a block of crumbled tofu. We don't eat tofu (or any unfermented soy), so we leave that out.

Grab your noodles and some sauce. You can make your own sauce, or you can find some without sugar or additives/preservatives. After reading what seems like hundreds of bottles of pasta sauce, I found two that do not contain sugar or additives of any kind. They do have a little oil and salt, but I can live with that. The first was Meijer Naturals brand. The second was Classico Tomato Basil.  You have to watch the Classico, though. Some of them have sugar. 

Put a little sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish.  The original recipe says to use a 9x13 pan, but I think whoever wrote that was on crack.  The first time I made this, my lasagna was standing about an inch over the top of my 9x13 dish when I was done.  Wasn't pretty. I now use a Wilton 1/2 sheet cake pan - not to be confused with a true half sheet pan, which is actually bigger. But back to business, put some noodles and some more sauce in the bottom of whatever pan you choose to use.

Dump in the veggies.

Top with more noodles and more sauce.

Sprinkle on the thawed, drained spinach.  I only used 10 ounces because we're not really fond of cooked spinach here in the D-oh household.

Schmear on the sweet potatoes.  You may have to add some water to make them spreadable.  Just reserve some of the cooking liquid to add if you need it.

Add more noodles and more sauce.

Cover the top with thinly sliced tomatoes.

Cover with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.  

When it's done, remove the foil and sprinkle on a cup of ground cashews (give them a spin in the food processor).  I used less than a cup, because a cup just seems to be too much.  And cashews are expensive.

Bake for another 15 minutes, uncovered. When it's done, let it sit for 15 minutes, then serve.

How's that for a freaky photo?  

Anyway, it's an undertaking, but depending on how many people are in your family, it will make 2-3 meals.  More if you're single.  Eat some and freeze the rest for later.

Here's the recipe:

Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Vegetable Lasagna
(adapted from the Engine 2 Diet)

1 large or two small boxes lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
2 jars pasta sauce
2 sweet potatoes, mashed
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
2 carrots, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 head broccoli, chopped
3 cups corn, thawed
16 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
8 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup cashews, ground
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp basil
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400.  Saute onions and garlic in a saute pan over medium heat for 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook until limp. Remove veggies to a large bowl. Add carrots and broccoli to the pan.  Saute for 5 minutes or until beginning to soften. Remove to the veggie bowl.  Add red peppers and corn to the pan.  Saute for 3-4 minutes, or until cooked. Remove to the veggie bowl. Add salt, basil, oregano, and rosemary to the veggies in the bowl.  Stir well.

Line the bottom of a large baking dish with cooked noodles and sauce.  Add the veggie mixture and spread evenly over the noodles.  Add another layer of noodles and sauce.  Add the spinach.  Spread the mashed sweet potatoes over the spinach. Add another layer of noodles and sauce.  Cover with thinly sliced tomatoes. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.  

When it's done, remove foil and sprinkle ground cashews over the lasagna.  Return to the oven for 15 more minutes.  When done, remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

If you're wondering how this lasagna relates to the hubby's cheese withdrawal, once it's all cooked the sweet potatoes actually become something reminiscent of ricotta cheese.  Really. It's quite amazing. 

Well, that's all for today.