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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012


Oatmeal cookies.  What can I say about oatmeal cookies?  When I was younger, my mom, sister and I would make oatmeal cookies for my dad because he doesn’t eat chocolate.  My parents were coming here for Thanksgiving this year, so when I found this recipe, I decided these would be a nice holiday treat for my dad.

These were a big hit.  First of all, my husband was just excited that I was finally making him cookies.  Then, both my parents emailed me after they left, saying how much my dad was kicking himself for not sneaking a couple of cookies into a ziploc to take home with him.  I think the white chocolate chips and the cranberries added some new flavors to my dad’s oatmeal cookies!

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from Serious Eats)

2 cups old-fashioned oats

1/4 cup water

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter

1/2 granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup white chocolate chips

Combine the oats and water in a small bowl, and set the mixture aside.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in another bowl.  Set the flour mixture aside.

Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, remove it from the heat and mix in the two sugars.  (The original recipe called for golden brown sugar, but I used dark brown sugar.  I prefer the taste of  dark brown sugar.)  Add in the egg and mix quickly to incorporate the egg into the sugar mixture.  Add the flour to the mixture and combine well.  Stir in the oats and the cranberries.  Cover the mixture and cool.

After the dough mixture has been in the fridge for about an hour, stir in the white chocolate chips.  Let the dough cool for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the dough in rounded tablespoons onto a cookie sheet.  Bake the cookies for 13 minutes.  Cool on the cookie sheet and transfer to a wire rack.


On the Docket– Week of December 3rd

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

We’re still working through Thanksgiving leftovers.  That’s what I get for making a 19 pound turkey for four people.  I’m really glad I turned the leftovers into some casseroles, but boy will I be happy when we’re finished with these leftovers!

While I probably won’t be cooking too much this week, I’ve been clipping all sorts of recipes in anticipation of finishing these casseroles.  Here are a few of the recipes I’m looking forward to making soon!

Beef Stew:  I made black bean and chicken soup a few weeks ago.  It was such a satisfying lunch that now I’m on a soup kick.  Though it hasn’t been too cold yet, I’m hoping that if I continue cooking as if it’s cold, the weather will eventually catch up.

White Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Blondies:  Ok, I’m cheating a little bit here.  My boss was looking for some cookie recipes to bring to a friend, and I passed this one on to her.  She made the blondies this week, using peppermint kisses rather than the peppermint bark.  She brought me one as a sample on Friday.  They were delicious- buttery, pepperminty, and Christmasy.

Roast Shrimp with Carrot Couscous:  Though I’m really happy with how I dealt with the leftover turkey, having three casseroles at the same time is a little heavy.  The thought of a lighter meal like this is simply irresistible right now.

So many recipes to try!


The Last Month

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Where has the last month gone?

To tortellini and meatballs, oatmeal-cranberry-white chocolate chip cookies, Thanksgiving, and so much more.


Recipes and lessons to follow!


On The Docket– Week of October 28th

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Well, it’s Halloween, and that means pumpkins!  I’ve never cooked with pumpkin before, let alone baked with it.  For some reason, though, the challenge is pretty alluring.  Some of the recipes I’ve found this week just look too delicious to pass up.

Fudge Striped Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cookies:  I recently tried pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for the first time a few weeks ago, and they were delicious.  This particular recipe reminded me of fudge stripe cookies, which I loved as a child.  I think these will have to make an appearance at my company’s Halloween party on Wednesday.

Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars:  One of my favorite fall desserts is pumpkin cheesecake.  Taking one of my faves and adding a little bit of maple seemed genius!

Ok, ok, I know I cannot subsist on baked goods alone.  But if they include pumpkin, they’re healthy right?  No?  Ok, fine.  Some lunch and dinner ideas as well.

Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls:  To be honest, I’ll probably add some chicken to this recipe, but I really like the idea behind this burrito bowl.  I also prefer quinoa to rice, so I’m really excited to give this a shot.

Slow Cooker Adobo Chicken:  I love my slow cooker.  I actually jumped up and down when I unwrapped it for my birthday a few years ago.  Despite my rather unnatural love for this particular kitchen appliance, I generally forget I own one until fall.  This is one of the first recipes I’ve seen this fall that made me want to break out the slow cooker.

Chicken Curry with Egg Noodles:  I’m just going to go with “yep” on this one.  Chicken, curry, noodles, what’s not to love?

I’m really excited about these recipes, so I’m hoping they turn out alright.  I’ll keep you posted on the results!


Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

So I made chocolate cupcakes, but what did I frost them with?  Nutella buttercream frosting.

Somehow after making this recipe, I ended up with three unopened containers of Nutella in my cabinet.  I’m not sure how exactly that happened.  Considering I only bought one, I must have already had some of this chocolately goodness on hand.  Let this be a lesson to you:  always shop your pantry before going to the store.  I guess I’m going to have to find some pretty inventive uses for chocolate hazelnut spread in the coming months.

Nutella Buttercream Frosting (Adapted from My Baking Addiction)

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3/4 of a jar of Nutella (13 oz jar)

Pinch of sea salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 pound powdered sugar

5 tablespoons heavy cream

Cream the butter and the Nutella together in a large bowl.  Mix until well combined.  Slowly add the powdered sugar, and mix until well blended.  Add the salt, vanilla, and slowly add the cream.  I added the cream one tablespoon at a time until the frosting was the right consistency.  The frosting should be smooth and fluffy.

I’ve been experimenting a lot with buttercream frostings, and I would have to say this one was my most successful.  As one of my friends said, “the frosting is really well structured.”  It also tasted delicious!


On the Docket- Week of July 9, 2012

Monday, July 9th, 2012

I think it’s going to be an interesting week.  First, I’ve accepted a “Sweet Genius” baking challenge.  My old boss and I were talking about cooking shows, and he issued me a challenge:  to use three random ingredients and an inspiration in a dessert a la the show.  I could not say no because I thought it would be a ton of fun.  I get my ingredients on Monday, so more to come on what happens there.

Second, my husband wants to try infusing our own liquors.  On 4th of July, while I was making breakfast, he came into the kitchen with six small Ball jars.  Why, might you ask, do we have six small Ball jars when I have never canned or preserved anything my life?  That is an excellent question for which I do not have an answer.  Setting the jars on the microwave, my husband said “I think we should infuse some whiskey.  I’m thinking peach and blackberry.  Would you be willing to look up how to do this so we could give it a shot?”  Once again, I could not say no, so more to come on that adventure.

With those two items in the works, I am once again not sure what will be cooked this week, but here are some recipes I’ve pulled to try.

Blackberry pie:  this is one of my favorite desserts of all time.  I am going to make one before the summer berry season is done.  I’m not sure if I’m going to go with the lattice crust, but we’ll see.

Tom Yum Grilled Shrimp:  Summer grilling season is upon us, and grilled shrimp is always delicious.  This recipe looked nice and spicy, so I added it to the list to try!

Salmon and Peas:  Not sure how this is a 4th of July Tradition, but this recipe looked delicious.




Chocolate Cupcakes

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

You may or may not have noticed that I’m on a baking kick.  Though one of my favorite childhood memories is making Christmas cookies with my mom and sister, I have never considered myself a baker.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy baking, but I’ve never thought I was very good at it.  Baking is an exact science- perfectly measured ingredients to achieve the perfect texture- while my cooking style is more “a dash of this, a pinch of that.”  After moving to the Rockies, and numerous baking at altitude failures, I had pretty much written off baking.

Problem is I like challenges.  And I like reading recipes.  And I kept finding desserts that I desperately wanted to try.  So, about a year and a half ago, I started baking again.  It started slowly– a scone here, a cookie there–until last fall when I just couldn’t stop myself.  I was baking every other week.  There was always something I had to try.  So I keep trying new baked desserts, and I’m glad I decided to give it another go.

My most recent baking success?  Mini filled chocolate cupcakes.  There are certain things that I think everyone should have a recipe for:  pesto, mashed potatoes, pasta salad.  Chocolate cupcakes is one of those recipes for which everyone should have a go to.  Slight problem with that:  I didn’t have one.  When I was reading a recipe that called for “your favorite chocolate cake recipe,” I was at a loss.

After taking so much time off from baking, I hadn’t built up any standard recipes.  So, I had to find a one.

Here is my now go to recipe for chocolate cupcakes


Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup hot water

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 2/3 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a small bowl, mix the cocoa powder with the hot water until smooth.  In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is complete melted.  The mixture should be smooth.  Transfer the butter sugar mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until the mixture is cool.  This should take about 5 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated after each addition.  Add the vanilla and cocoa mixture.

Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the sour cream.  Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.  Each liner should be about 2/3 full.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean.  This will take 18-20 minutes for full size cupcakes and 15 for mini cupcakes.

Cool before frosting and enjoy!


How To Fill Cupcakes

Friday, June 29th, 2012

I never realized how easy it is to fill cupcakes.  It definitely takes some extra time, but the results are well worth the extra effort.

To fill my cupcakes, I used a corer that I picked up when I purchased my mini cupcake pan.  I have a feeling I’ll be using this corer a lot more in the future.

I inserted the corer into the cupcakes once they were fully cooled.  I twisted the corer slowly in a circle and slowly removed the corer.  I gently removed the circle of cake to place over the filling later.


Fill a pastry bag with the cupcake filling.  To steady the pastry bag, I folded the edge of a bag over a tall cup and then filled the pastry bag.  Pipe the filling into the hole left from the corer.

Once the cupcake is filled, replace the round piece of cake from the corer.  Then, frost the cupcakes!

There are several other techniques to fill cupcakes.  Some articles I read on the subject mentioned corers, others mentioned small biscuit cutters, and still others mentioned using injection tips to fill cupcakes with completely smooth fillings.  Now that I have a corer, I think I’m going to stick with this method.


Pick of the Week

Sunday, June 24th, 2012


Vanilla Spiced Caramel Pear Tart

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

I have never fancied myself a baker.  Especially since moving to Colorado, recipes I thought I had mastered didn’t work so well.  After many failed attempts, I gave up.  That is, until recently, when I again took up the challenge of baking in the Rockies.  If I do say so myself, I made several awesome desserts:  Alsatian Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Friands, Dulce De Leche Cupcakes, and Apple Caramel Upside Down Cake.

So, by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, and my mother-in-law and I were trading recipe ideas, I was pretty confident that I could make what I thought was a pretty complicated tart recipe at sea level.  Considering there was only one slice left after dinner, I would say my efforts were successful.

Vanilla Spiced Caramel and Pear Tart (adapted from Bon Appeitit)

1 Sheet Puff Pastry

For the Pears:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cinnamon stick

3 whole star anise

3 whole cloves

pinch of salt

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

6 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut in half lengthwise

For the filling

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2 cinnamon sticks

2 whole star anise

6 whole cloves

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

pinch of salt

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 egg white, beaten


Roll out the puff pastry into a 12 inch square.  Trim the edges to make a round crust.  Transfer the pastry into a 10-inch springform pan.  Press the pastry firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan.  Cover and freeze until firm.  The original recipe indicates this should take about an hour and a half, but I just left the crust in the freezer overnight.

Start by preparing the pears.  Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over low heat.  Add the sugar, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and salt.  Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the mixture and add the bean.  Increase the heat to medium high.  Stir until the sugar melts and turns brown.  Once the sugar is melted, add the pears, rounded side down.  Cook until the pears are almost tender, about 15 minutes.  Be sure to move the skillet around frequently to ensure even cooking.  Carefully turn the pears and cook until very tender, another 10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and cool the pears in the caramel mixture.

Next, prepare the filling.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Scrape in the vanilla bean seeds and add the bean.  Add the cinnamon, star anise, and cloves.  Increase the heat to medium, and cook until the butter is golden.  Remove the vanilla bean and the spices from the butter.  Whisk the sugar, egg, and salt in a bowl.  Slowly add the browned butter to the egg mixture.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush the puff pastry with the beaten egg white.  Pour the filling into the crust, spreading it evenly over the bottom of the crust.  There isn’t much filling, so it will be very thin. (I almost didn’t haven enough to cover the crust.)  Using a slotted spoon, remove the pears from the skillet.  Drain the excess syrup into the skillet, and place the pears, rounded side up, in the filling.  Reserve the syrup in the skillet.

Bake the tart until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set and brown at the edges, about an hour.  Let the tart stand uncovered until warm.  Before serving, reduce the syrup and discard the spices.  Serve the tart with the syrup.  I also served mine with some vanilla whipped cream.