Sunday, February 28, 2010

Homemade Oreos

Years ago, before I was married and had kids, a friend brought me a little brown paper bag filled with tiny homemade oreos. I had never had them before, and I thought she must be a cooking wizard to have made something so completely delicious. Little did I know they were made using a Devil's Food cake mix! Those are still my favorite homemade oreos, but when my husband requested them last week and we didn't have a cake mix on hand, I had to improvise. Luckily, I had just seen a Martha Stewart recipe for homemade chocolate sandwich cookies.

I modified it a little--mine were probably bigger than they were supposed to be, I didn't flatten them before baking, and I didn't add shortening to my vanilla filling--and we loved the results! The wonderful thing about the cake mix version is how soft yet sturdy the cookies turn out. The from-scratch cookies turned out crunchier, but very delicious. If you shy away from prepackaged foods, or if you just don't have a cake mix on hand, I highly recommend Martha Stewart's Cream-Filled Chocolate Sandwiches!
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chelsea's Crescent Rolls

Our dear friends Jake and Annie host a holiday dinner every November/December. They stuff dozens of people--including kids!--into their cozy ranch-style home for amazing food, a little holiday singing, and a crazy white elephant gift swap (ask me about the Shaving Fun Barbie sometime). Despite the fact that it is always a potluck, the food manages to be amazing every year. For me, last year's highlights were the ham (which I haven't been able to duplicate) and the crescent rolls. These rolls were pillow-soft, flavorful, and buttery. I ate as many as I could, and then managed to bring a few of the extras home wrapped in a piece of saran wrap! And before I left, I hunted down the girl who had brought them and gave her my email address. She graciously sent me the recipe that very night.

I don't usually make dinner rolls. I love to eat them, but I usually pawn the making of them off on someone else. These crescents, however, were really easy and supremely delicious. I actually doubled the batch and stuck several bags of them in my freezer. I can't tell you how nice it is to say, "And we'll have dinner rolls with that tonight."

Chelsea's Crescent Rolls

2 Tablespoons yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup hot water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon butter, melted

Dissolve yeast in warm water; set aside, 5 minutes. Melt 1/2 cup butter in hot water, then add yeast mixture, salt, sugar, and eggs; stir to combine. Stir in the flour 1 cup at a time. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or at least 6 hours). Before removing the dough from the fridge, lightly grease two baking sheets; set aside. Remove bowl from fridge and scrape dough out onto a very well-floured surface. The dough will be very sticky; keep the counter heavily floured. Divide the dough in half. Working with one ball of dough at a time, and flouring as necessary, roll the ball out into a large circle, about 1/4" thick. Brush 1/2 Tablespoon melted butter over the entire surface of the dough with a pastry brush. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 12 slices. Starting at the wide end, roll each slice up. Place rolled slices on prepared cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover baking sheets loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and set in a warm spot to rise for 2-3 hours. Bake rolls in a 375-degree oven for about 12 minutes, until golden.
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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Strawberry Lemonade

I love lemonade. I have a strangely high number of good memories involving lemonade. Example #1: My family was visiting me in college. We went to a bizarre little sandwich shop that I don't think I had ever been to before. No one liked the food, and the strawberry or raspberry lemonade they served had enormous berry chunks in it. I know that doesn't sound good, but it still gets joked about 10 years later! #2: During my first pregnancy, I craved spaghetti with meat sauce. During my second, it was Country Time Lemonade. I had a pitcher of it in the fridge at all times. It just sounded so refreshing, even though it was winter. #3: Last summer, I discovered the made-from-scratch berry lemonades at the funnel cake stand at the Scandinavian Festival. I drank one every day. I look forward with much anticipation to this summer. Anyway, I was pretty excited to make Melissa Murphy's Strawberry Lemonade, since I'm such a lemonade fiend. I didn't end up loving it, however. It had a lot of strawberry flavor, but not a lot of lemon flavor. It was too much sweet and not enough tart. But the color was gorgeous!

Thanks to Jessica of My Baking Heart for choosing this week's recipe. If you'd like to try your hand and making your own strawberry lemonade, you can find the recipe HERE.
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cake Slice Bakers, February 2010: Mississippi Mud Cake

Dear Mississippi Mud Cake,

I know a lot of people don't like you, but I do. In fact, I love you.



Mississippi Mud Cake
from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott

for the cake:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
4 eggs, beaten well
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

for the frosting:
1 lb powdered sugar (about 3 2/3 cups)
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups mini marshmallows

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13" pan. Combine butter and cocoa in a medium saucepan and heat, stirring, until butter is melted and everything is well-blended. Stir in eggs, vanilla, sugar, flour, and salt, and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched gently and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. While cake is baking, make frosting. Combine powdered sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl. Stir well, then add melted butter, milk, and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over the top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, and return to the oven for 3 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately pour frosting evenly over the top of the hot cake. Cool completely before serving.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Sweetie Pies

When I saw these little Sweetie Pies on The Farm Chicks a few weeks ago, I knew I had to make them. Tart raspberry jam tucked inside flaky pie crust hearts, the perfect little Valentine's snack. And with just two ingredients (I used pre-made pie crust), they couldn't be simpler! Click HERE for the recipe.
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Red Velvet Smackdown: SMS vs. CSB

You may remember a post from just a few weeks ago involving red velvet cupcakes. The recipe, which came from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott, was our Cake Slice Bakers assignment for the month of January. And the cupcakes were a huge hit, not only with my own family, but with the friends I shared them with. The cupcakes were moist and tangy, with just a hint of chocolate flavor, and a deep, luscious red color. When I saw that our Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe for this week was Red Velvet Cake, I thought about skipping it, since we enjoyed the others so much just a few weeks ago. But then it occurred to me that this was the perfect opportunity to have the recipes go head-to-head, and to choose a go-to Red Velvet recipe.

The recipe for Red Velvet Cake from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book is quite unique: it contains cinnamon. I've never had any other red velvet anything with cinnamon in it. While it was a pleasant flavor, the cinnamon made these cupcakes not very red velvet-y, in my opinion. At the same time, they weren't spicy enough to be a spice cake; they were more like a red velvet-spice cake hybrid. The cupcakes were moist and light, and they actually baked up nice and tall, quite a feat for from-scratch cupcakes. And everyone who ate one enjoyed it, and lots of people ate more than one, so they enjoyed it twice over! In the end, however, while both cupcakes were tasty, those from Southern Cakes handily beat those from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. Every single person who tasted both thought the cupcakes from Southern Cakes were a better example of classic red velvet cake.

Many thanks to Rosy of Rosy Lips and Lavender for choosing this week's recipe from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. If you are interested in the recipe, please visit Rosy's blog!

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lemon Sugar Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


Last week, I asked my 4-year-old if she wanted to help me make chocolate chip cookies. She looked at me and said, "Mom, I'd rather have lemon cheesecake." Such a funny girl! I would have been more than happy to oblige her, except for the fact that it was already mid-afternoon, and this was to be dessert for the same evening. This recipe is the resulting compromise: Lemon Sugar Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting. The cookies are buttery and crisp on the edges at first, and then soften after being smothered with tart and tangy frosting.

Lemon Sugar Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

for the cookies:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup crisco
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon milk
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

for the frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 lb. powdered sugar
pinch of salt
fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, crisco, and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla, egg, and lemon zest; mix. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to mixer and combine. Add milk and lemon juice, and stir until completely incorporated. Roll dough into Tablespoon-sized balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are just beginning to turn golden on the edges. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and well mixed. Add vanilla. Add powdered sugar and salt. Stir. Mix in fresh lemon juice until the frosting reaches a spreadable consistency.


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Monday, February 1, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Butterscotch Pudding

While I wouldn't consider myself a huge butterscotch pudding fan, I do enjoy a good baked custard now and then. And my husband does consider himself a huge butterscotch pudding fan, so I went ahead and made Melissa Murphy's butterscotch pudding. Between caramelizing the sugar and baking the individual servings, it was moderately labor intensive, but the texture of the resulting pudding was velvety smooth. I would have loved to love this recipe. I was fully prepared to start calling myself a fan. But it was just so salty! And I love salt, so for me to find something too salty is really saying something. I maybe perhaps possibly could see myself trying the pudding again in the future minus the crazy salt. Maybe.

Thanks to Jennifer of Maple n' Cornbread for choosing this week's recipe. If you'd like to try this cool, creamy treat, please visit Jennifer's blog. Just remember to go easy on the salt! And don't forget to enter my give-away!
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