Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

When I saw these cookies on Patsy's blog, I knew these would be perfect to bake up for a cookout we were attending a couple of weeks ago. Our friends were planning to have a bon-fire and we were looking forward to enjoying the evening roasting hot dogs for dinner and then letting the kids toast marshmallows for smores. A couple of my kiddos love the taste of ooey-gooey toasted marshmallow with melted chocolate, but aren't too fond of the graham cracker outside. These cookies looked to be the perfect solution, a chocolate cookie with a marshmallow-y center topped with a fudgy chocolate frosting. Holy yum!! The kids loved the "portability" of these as they ran by the table, grabbed a cookie and continued playing with their friends. The "big" kids (read, our husbands) thought up the brilliant idea of balancing the cookies on the roasting forks and slightly warming the cookies over the fire....oh my..they were so good. Leave it to the men to concoct such a great idea like that! Gotta love em'!

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful. Enjoy!

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick)unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 large marshmallows, cut in half horizontally

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add reserved flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined.

3. Using a tablespoon or 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies begin to spread and become firm, 10 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove baking sheets from oven, and place a marshmallow, cut-side down, in the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Return to oven, and continue baking until marshmallows begins to melt, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

5. Spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting over each marshmallow, starting in the center and continuing outward until marshmallow is covered.

Chocolate Frosting for Surprise Cookies

2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Place confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in butter and cocoa powder. Add milk and vanilla, and whisk until well combined.

Source: Family Friends and Food originally from Martha Stewart Online

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pumpkin-Cranberry Muffins

Unless you've lived in a hole over the last several weeks, you've noticed that there are a plethora of pumpkin recipes all over the foodie world. I have bookmarked more than my share and wish I had the time to bake every one of them. However, it would take me forever to bake and blog them all this Autumn season, so I'll try my darndest to get to as many as I can. *wink*

You all know that I have four kiddos that are incredibly crazy about anything muffin-y. Well, when you tell them that their favorite breakfast item has been baked up with pumpkin, they flip. Who knew that all I have to do to enjoy a few minutes of blissful peace is to serve up some pumpkin-y treats? So, when I was browsing through some of my fall baking magazines and saw these little treasures, I began fantasizing about what to do with my brief enjoyment of silence as my little wolves devoured their first taste of autumn.

These muffins were fantastically moist and flavorful and the addition of cranberries offers a nice tartness that offsets the sweetness of the pumpkin perfectly. I also chose to top each muffin with decorator sugar crystals that gave a nice added crunch to the tops.

If you've not jumped off the pumpkin baking wagon yet, you might want to consider baking these little gems for your breakfast table. Your family will definitely thank you!

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful. Enjoy!

Pumpkin-Cranberry Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I omitted)
Decorator sugar crystals

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 regular-size muffin cups with shortening or cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.

2. In large bowl, mix flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Stir in pumpkin, oil, eggs, cranberries and pecans just until dry ingredients are moistened. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle sugar crystals evenly over batter in each cup.

3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan to cooling rack.

Source: Betty Crocker Fall baking 2008

Success Hint: Take care not to overmix the batter. Overmixing can result in tough muffins with peaked tops and tunnels inside.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ham and Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo

Have you been looking for a quick and easy weeknight dinner recipe? This dish is super easy and perfect for a busy family, yet looks and tastes special enough to prepare for dinner guests too. And to top it all off; it's prepared with just FIVE ingredients!! Perfection!! Don't let the lack of time and ingredients turn you off from trying this dish. Nearly every delicious bite is full of cheesy goodness and the sun-dried tomatoes offer an added "wow" factor that my family absolutely loved. Be sure to give this one a try!

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful. Enjoy!

On a side note; my friend
Sarah is tomorrow's (Thursday 10/22) featured blogger for SITS and is hosting a fantastic giveaway. Please check out her wonderful food blog and leave a comment to enter!!

Ham and Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo

8 oz. uncooked linguine
1/4 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup cubed fully cooked ham

Cook linguine according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet coated with cooking spray, saute tomatoes for 1 minute. Reduce heat; stir in cream and cheese. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Simmer, uncovered , for 5-7 minutes or until thickened.

Drain linguine; stir into sauce mixture. Add ham; heat through.

Source: Taste of Home's Simple & Delicious Sep/Oct 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Autumn Cookie Bouquet

Oh my dear blogger friends; are you terribly disappointed in me and my lack of posting over the last month? Goodness, I've been incredibly sporadic with keeping you informed on the happenings in my kitchen! Just when I think that life will calm down a bit and I will have ample time to spend on doing things for me; such as blogging; my kids' activities, homework and obligations grab me by the shoestrings and we're off and running again and again. This first nine weeks of school has been quite an adjustment for our family and just thinking of all that has gone on around here tends to wear me out all over again...whew!! I have so many fun and fantastic recipes to share with you and I'm hoping (crossing my fingers) to catch up over the next few weeks.

This past week our bakery was busy with several bouquet orders and they turned out so incredibly cute that I had to share these with you first. The Fall cookie bouquet was a "Get Well" bouquet and our client was thrilled with the idea of using an Autumn theme. Check out the cookies below to see how each cookie turned out. We baked each shape with our regular sugar cookie dough and also in our chocolate sugar dough. Both were delicious!!

Autumn leaves filled with orange royal icing and sprinkled with a combination of red, orange and yellow sprinkles.

Autumn leaves filled with yellow royal icing and piped with brown and orange. We then pulled a toothpick through the wet piping to blend the colors.

Fall isn't complete without Candy Corn! These were so much fun to create!

Every squirrel's favorite, Acorns!! I think this was my favorite of the bunch.

All of our cookie bouquets are potted in our signature, customizable, clay pots. How can you not love all the colors of Fall? Cute!!

Wouldn't these make a great Thanksgiving gift for your dinner hostess? Or a cute centerpiece for the kids' table? Adorable and edible! Or, maybe, a special "Thank You" gift for your kiddos' teachers. If you're interested in ordering for Thanksgiving, please contact us and we can customize your bouquet. Watch for our Christmas themed pots too; coming soon!

We also completed another adorable baby bouquet last week. This was to be the centerpiece for a baby shower for a precious little girl due to arrive next month. Yes, you are reading the rattle correctly, her name is to be Poet Scout. Very artistic!

This time our little duckie didn't want to darn the standard "duck" yellow, so we dressed her up in light lavender and gave her tiny pink beads at her neckline. Very chic and stylish don't you think?

I just love little baby bottles!!

When a baby gets a bottle, she also needs a cute little bib too. Less mess for Mom. :-)

I hope you've enjoyed my little tutorial of last week's kitchen happenings! I promise to catch you up on all the yummy sweet and savory recipes we've enjoyed lately.

From the heart of my kitchen to yours, may your experience be fun and the food always flavorful. Enjoy!

Source: Decadent Dreams Bakery Originals