Thursday, December 23, 2010

Melted Snowman Cookie

I made these treats today to give to our neighbors. I thought it was especially humorous since we live on a tropical island and the only snowy man you'll find here is a melted snowy man. (My kids are actually requesting we visit the beach during winter break and make a sand-snowman.)
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This is a great sugar cookie recipe. I've made many different versions of the basic sugar cookie and this one rates in my top 5 favorites. I also liked the runny frosting as it has a great melted snow effect. The frosting eventually hardens and would look pretty in bright colors on other cookie shapes.  We found the melted marshmallows to be a bit tricky to work with but I've included some tips  in my notes below.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brownie/Cookie Giveaway

Do you like chocolate? 
Do you like chocolate made in France by a chef?!? 
I recently reviewed Ruth's Brownies made with Valrhona chocolate and included is a giveaway through December 27th. Hurry HERE for a chance to win!
 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cranberry Upside Down Muffins

I had fresh cranberries in my fridge so for breakfast this morning I made these little beauties. If you're not a fan of the tart flavor of cranberries then you won't like this recipe. I liked that the batter is sweet and cake-like in flavor. My only complaint is the muffin's density; these are hearty (read "heavy") muffins but they taste great.

Serving note: Add butter and a sprinkle of sugar on top of your muffin. Enjoy!


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Cranberry Upside Down Muffins
recipe courtesy of joyofbaking.com
Cranberry Sauce:
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice or water
1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Muffin Batter:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place rack in the middle of the oven. Butter well or spray, with a non stick vegetable spray, 12 muffin tins.
 
Cranberry Sauce: In a medium sized saucepan place the cranberries, sugar, orange juice (or water), and orange zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries start to pop open, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly while you make the batter.

Muffin Batter: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, egg, vanilla extract, and melted and cooled butter.
Add the milk and egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined. Do not over mix the batter or the muffins will be tough when baked.  

Evenly divide the cranberry mixture among the 12 well greased muffins cups and then evenly spoon the batter over the cranberry sauce. Place in the oven and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until very lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for about 2 minutes, and then invert them onto a cooling rack so the the cranberry topping is face up..

Makes 12 regular-sized muffins.

*My Notes: I had half a grapefruit in the fridge and used the juices (no zest) in my cranberry sauce. The cranberry flavor was so overpowering that I'm not sure if I tasted the citrus flavor. Also, remember to add a little melted butter and sugar for serving!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

I'm so glad these cookies are finally eaten and no longer a temptation. Unfortunately, they're eaten and gone because I ate the three remaining cookies this morning. This recipe is so GOOD!! Thanks to my bro Steve who sent me word of this fab recipe.


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Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen


Ingredients

1 (8-ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick butter, at room temperature

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (18-ounce) box moist chocolate cake mix

Confectioners sugar, for dusting

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls. Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioner's sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and "gooey." Cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Spinach Soup

"I do not like green eggs and ham. 
I do not like them, Sam I Am"


Photobucket Most days our tropical Hawaiian weather is a natural deterrent to any desire I might have of enjoying a hot bowl of soup. Yesterday on the other hand the weather was chilly and I realized I really wanted to eat soup for dinner. Unfortunately I didn't know what soup I wanted to eat. I didn't want a tomato-based soup nor did I want chicken noodle. Most of all I didn't want to go to the store at 4PM (rush-hour at any local grocer!) in a heavy downpour of rain (with flash flood warnings to boot!). I also had an abundance of frozen fresh spinach that I've collected over the past month and haven't known what recipe to use it in. That's when I found this lovely soup recipe. My 7 year old had this reaction:
"Mmmmm! Mom, this tastes like broccoli! We should eat this every day."

The best part about this recipe is that it's extremely easy and fast to prepare!

Pioneer Woman's Spinach Soup 
(recipe found here)

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 10 ounces, weight Spinach
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • ½ whole Medium Onion
  • ¼ cups Flour
  • 5 cups Whole Milk
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper (Optional)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • cheese and bacon for garnishing

Preparation Instructions
In a large skillet heat olive over over medium heat. Add spinach and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until wilted. Add spinach to a blender or food processor. Pour in 1/4 cup hot water and pulse until pureed. Set aside.

In a large soup pot, cook onion in butter over medium heat until onions begin to soften. Sprinkle flour over the top and stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes, then pour in milk, stirring occasionally. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in pureed spinach, then cook another 3 to 5 minutes until thickened.

Check seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, or cayenne as needed. Serve in a bowl. Add a little grated cheese and bacon bits on top if you prefer. 


My Notes: 
*I have so much spinach in my house that I've resorted to freezing the fresh leaves. When I removed it from the freezer I put it in a bowl and microwaved it for 1 minute. This can replace the wilting process on the recipe instructions. If you follow this procedure just skip the olive oil process and add the garlic the last 1 minute of cooking the onions in butter.
*I only had stringy mozzarella on hand for garnishing but it tasted wonderful with the spinach/onion flavor. My husband loved the bacon and liberally garnished his bowl with this porky treat. If you decide to add bacon make sure you lightly salt the soup since the bacon adds a good salty flavor.
*I added the milk way to quickly and didn't whisk it like I think I should have. The result was flour clumps in my soup. (I was rushing to get dinner on the table before my three kids completely lost their composure!)
*I did not add cayenne pepper since I have wee-ones in my household.
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