Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oatmeal Creme Sandwich Cookies

I'm always excited when a recipe calls for oats because I love the texture and flavor they bring to a dessert. It would seem obvious then that this recipe for oatmeal sandwiched cookies caught my eye. Typically, I like oats more as an accent ingredient rather than the focal point, but I was entertained by the marshmallow creme filling and figured they were worth a shot. And they were. Definitely worth it!
This recipe yields a lot of cookies, so when I started baking them I was worried I was going to end up with way too many (wait, is it possible to ever have too many cookies?). I'm actually glad there was a lot of dough because it took a couple of trial batches before I really nailed these the way I wanted them. I typically drop hefty spoonfuls of cookie dough on my baking sheets, regardless of how much the recipe calls for, because I love a hearty cookie. But for these little darlings, that was not the best route. They came out very flat and thin, and I was not able to sandwich the (oh so) tasty filling between them. So, I pulled out my little cookie scoop and found that I only needed a small amount of dough to bring these cookies to perfection. I cranked out the rest of the batch with no problem and still had plenty to share with both Matt's office and mine. They were gobbled right up and the feedback was... YUM!

Yields about 4 ½ dozen
For Cookies:
1 1/2 cups shortening
2 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 cups old-fashioned oats
For Filling:
3/4 cup shortening
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 jar (7oz) marshmallow creme
3 to 4 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar with an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until combined. Stir in oats.
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets, separating by 2 inches. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.
For filling… In a medium bowl, cream shortening, sugar and marshmallow creme with an electric mixer. Add enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Spread filling on the bottom of half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies.
Source: Taste of Home’s 2010 Fall Baking Cookbook magazine

Monday, October 25, 2010

Turkey-Spinach Lasagna

I thought I would take a pause from all the yummy sweetness I've been blogging about (for the past month and half) and share this yummy lasagna with you. How does that sound?
This lasagna has quickly become a favorite dish in our house. I made this once when we had a few friends over for dinner, and everyone raved about it! It is now Matt’s most requested meal, and I’m happy to make it for him because I love everything about this recipe. I love using ground turkey as opposed to ground beef… I love the combination of cheeses… I love that it calls for spinach (that’s my favorite part)… I love that it's easy to prepare and assemble… and I love that it’s a tasty choice for leftovers! Basically, this lasagna is the complete package, and I hope I've convinced you to work this into your menu (sometime soon) because I think you'll really enjoy it.:)
Yields 8 to 10 servings
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ¼ lbs ground turkey
2 jars Bertolli® Tomato & Basil Sauce
1 (15oz) container ricotta cheese
1 (10z) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 ¾ cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
3 tbsp whipping cream
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground black pepper
9 uncooked lasagna noodles
3 cups shredded mozzarella & provolone cheese
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add turkey; sauté until brown, breaking up into coarse pieces, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Note: I suggest seasoning your meat while cooking to add extra flavor. I season mine with garlic powder, basil and oregano, but you can obviously season to your liking.) Add tomato sauce. Simmer 5 minutes.
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 375°F. Grease a 13x9inch glass baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, cream, basil, oregano, and pepper.
To assemble…
  • Spoon 1 cup sauce over bottom of baking dish.
  • Place 3 noodles over sauce in single layer.
  • Spoon 1 cup sauce over noodles.
  • Spoon 1 cup ricotta mixture over sauce.
  • Sprinkle ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and 1 cup mozzarella/provolone cheese over ricotta mixture.
  • Repeat layering with 3 noodles, 1 cup sauce, 1 cup ricotta mixture, ¼ cup Parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella/provolone cheese.
  • Arrange remaining 3 noodles over cheese.
  • Spoon 1 cup sauce over noodles.
  • Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup Parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella/provolone cheese over lasagna.
  • Dollop remaining ricotta mixture atop lasagna.
  • Spoon remaining sauce around ricotta dollops.
  • Tightly cover baking dish with foil.
Bake 50 minutes; uncover and continue baking until noodles are tender and lasagna is hot and bubbly, about 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let lasagna stand 15 minutes before serving. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm, covered with foil, at 350°F for about 45 minutes.) 
Source: adapted from Epicurious

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

I love Reese’s Pieces!.. I love Devil’s Food Cake!.. Give me a cookie that has both, and I’ll love that too!!
When I discovered this recipe a couple of years ago, I was immediately drawn to it. The color scheme makes me think of Halloween, so I always find them fun to bake around this time of year. I have to be careful with these though because I'm weak when it comes to chocolate and peanut butter... I simply cannot resist the combination! This batch was made special for Matt's co-worker's birthday, so I only allotted myself two before packing them all up and sending them away. That's self-control at its greatest people!
This recipe is kid friendly, so get them involved and let them lend you a hand in the kitchen! Some of my most cherished memories from my childhood are that of me baking with my dad. Plus, they'll enjoy each bite so much more when they've helped make the cookies. This is a thick dough, so they’re easy to roll and shape. Just make sure the kiddos wash their hands. :)

Yields about 3 1/2 dozen cookies
1 package Duncan Hines devil's food cake mix
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 eggs
2-3 tbsp milk
1 cup Reese's Pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, peanut butter, eggs and milk. Beat on low speed with electric mixer until blended. Stir in Reese's Pieces.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Press on the top of each ball to flatten slightly. Bake 10-12 minutes or until toothpick placed in center of cookie comes out clean. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheets and then transfer to cooling racks.

Source: slightly adapted from The Cake Mix Bible baking book 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cappuccino Brownies

Looking for a kick-start to your work week? Look no further... these cappuccino brownies will do the trick! Infused with espresso powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg, these flavorsome treats taste as though you're enjoying a dessert from your favorite coffee shop... and the heavenly aroma will have you imagining you're actually there. :)

I have had these brownies on my "to bake" list for a few weeks. When I came home from work one afternoon, I decided I had put them off long enough. I'm so glad I whipped these up because they were a perfect end to my day!

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup semisweet morsels

Preheat oven to 325°. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan, line bottom with parchment paper, and coat paper with butter; set aside.

In a medium heatproof bowl, combine butter and unsweetened chocolate. Place over a saucepan of simmering water until completely melted, stirring occasionally. Let cool slightly. Whisk in sugar, espresso powder, vanilla, and eggs.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add chocolate mixture to dry ingredients, and stir until just combined (do not overmix). Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly wet. (Be careful not to overbake.) Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Remove from pan. Cut into 16 squares, wiping the knife blade clean after each cut. Serve and enjoy!

Source: Martha Stewart

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cake-Topped Apple Cobbler

The last time my mom came over to visit we spent two days cooking and baking, and it was a blast! So when she came over last weekend, we were eager to make our way back into the kitchen. :) We browsed through recipes, found a couple we wanted to try, and assembled our grocery list. As we were about to run out to the store, Matt chimed in… “What are you baking?” I read him our list, but nothing sounded overly exciting to him. So, he asked if he could select a recipe that he wanted to try. His selection - this apple cobbler. I added Granny Smith apples and vanilla ice cream to our list and off we went.
We started out the afternoon baking apple cupcakes. They didn't turn out very pretty, but at least the flavor was there so they weren't a complete waste. While cooking dinner, we went ahead and assembled this cobbler for Matt. Before sitting down to eat, we popped it in the oven to bake. Our approach was perfect because dessert was ready shortly after we finished eating, and we served it warm with vanilla ice cream.

I won’t lie. I scrunched up my nose when Matt picked out this recipe. I honestly don't care much for cobblers, and I had my doubts on this one. But, we were making this for Matt. I was out to please his palate, not mine. Of course, before I could blog about this, I had to at least try it… and the results were amazing!  Totally exceeded my expectations. There was a perfect balance of crisp, cake, and apple in every bite. Beautifully sweetened with a subtle hint of tartness. Simply scrumptious! I cannot rave enough about this cobbler. I will definitely make this again, and I think it may have even earned a spot on our Thanksgiving menu because it was definitely holiday worthy. Excellent choice by my hubby!

6 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apples (about 3 apples)
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8-in square baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange apple slices in the prepared dish. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over apples.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and remaining sugar until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Add egg and egg substitute; mix well. In a small bowl combine flour and baking powder; add to egg mixture and beat until blended. Drop by spoonfuls over apples and spread evenly.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. (We baked the last 5 minutes at 400° to help crisp the top.) Cool slightly and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Source: Taste of Home Fall Baking Cookbook (magazine)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chocolate Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Since I started reading food blogs earlier this year, I have seen so many variations of whoopie pies. Chocolate, red velvet, pumpkin, strawberry, s'mores... the list goes on and on. They always look so charming, and the flavor combinations always leave me craving a bite.
When this recipe popped up in my inbox, I knew I had to make these. (Chocolate + Pumpkin = Whoopie!) The combination sounded perfect for an October treat, and yes, these were quite perfect. This was my first attempt at a whoopie pie, and I can assure you there will be many more to follow. The cookie is so soft and cake-like, and it's full of luscious chocolate flavor. The spice from the pumpkin filling is just enough to really pop. Yum, so good! These were easy and fun to make... I mean any cookie that comes out of my oven looking like that makes me smile. :) They were also a huge hit at the office. Definitely a crowd pleaser so give them a shot!

Yields about 20
For the cookies 
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the filling
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup canned solid pumpkin
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg

Prepare cookies... Preheat oven to 375°. Line baking sheet with non-stick baking mat or parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter, shortening, and both sugars. Using the paddle attachment, mix on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add egg; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in half the flour mixture, then milk and vanilla, and finish with the remaining flour mixture.

Drop about a tablespoon of dough onto prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake 12-14 minutes or until cookies spring back when lightly touched. Place baking sheet on wire rack and let cool 5-10 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheet and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare filling... In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, butter, and confectioners sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix until smooth, scraping down bowl as necessary.

Assemble whoopie pie... Pipe or spoon filling on the flat sides of half the cookies then sandwich with remaining cookies.

Source: Martha Stewart

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Raspberry Crumb Bars

When I was at the grocery store last week, I picked up the Taste of Home Fall Baking Cookbook magazine to flip through while I waited in the check-out line. I was in awe over the 200 recipes they highlighted for this season, so I threw the magazine on top of my groceries and went home and read through the whole thing. There are some great tips and how-tos for baking pies, breads, cheesecakes, etc. I marked several recipes that I thought looked appealing, and the next day I went back through it again and marked several more. Now that I have about half of the recipes marked as “want to try”, I don’t think I have enough months in the season to possibly get through them all! So I’ll take it week by week and see what I’m in the mood for.

This crumb bar caught my eye because I love berries and I’ve never made a dessert like this one. For a long time, I didn’t care for fruity desserts. Something about baking the fruit did not appeal to me because I love fresh fruit SO much. Over the past couple of years I’ve started branching out and trying new things (you never know what yummy goodness you could stumble upon), and I'm happy I tried these! At first, I thought they weren’t sweet enough. But then, I found myself going back for another… and then another… and back again for another one after that. I think the fact that they aren’t too sweet is they’re most appealing factor. Plus, I love the crumbly part. If you like a fruity dessert, I think you’ll like these bars. And if you’re not really a fan of fruity desserts, I still think you’ll like these bars. :)

Yields 3 Dozen
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup shortening
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (I used fresh, about 2 1/2 6oz cartons)

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in eggs and extract. Press two-thirds of the mixture into prepared dish.

In a large bowl, combine cornstarch and remaining sugar; add berries and gently toss. Spoon over crust. Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.

Bake 35-45 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.

Source: Taste of Home Fall Baking Cookbook

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

We are now a couple weeks into fall, and October is finally here... or more like, I can't believe it's already October! What does that mean exactly? It means it's time for pumpkin bread. :) It doesn't quite feel like fall for me until I've had a slice of pumpkin bread. The delectable combination of pumpkin and spice with a sweet touch of chocolate makes this a "must have" for the season.

I was first introduced to pumpkin bread my senior year in high school, and yes, I can still see myself sitting in the cafeteria across from my friend who was eating the lunch her mom had made for her. When I inquired about what she was eating, she was kind enough to share a bite with me and I immediately fell in love! This same friend just so happened to become my roommate for all four years of college (love ya Mel), and when she would bring back a loaf of this bread after visiting home I would shamelessly devour more than my half. I know what you must be thinking, and no, her mom's pumpkin bread is not the only reason I chose to live with her. :) When I got married, her mom graciously passed along her recipe and I think of them both every time I make it. A co-worker later gave me the idea of adding chocolate chips, and boy is that an extra treat!

You can't go wrong with this recipe. It pairs perfectly with a hot cup of coffee or a tall glass of milk. Enjoy!

Yields 3 loaves
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cup water
1 (15oz) can Libby's pumpkin
3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chocolate morsels (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease 3 loaf pans.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, mix all ingredients (excluding chocolate) until well combined; scrape down bowl as needed. Stir in chocolate morsels by hand. Pour mixture into prepared loaf pans. Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center of loaf comes out clean.

Note: I always have to bake about 15-20 minutes longer than the recipe calls for. Set timer for 50 minutes and if additional baking is needed check back every 5-10 minutes until bread is done.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I am a big fan of red velvet cake. BIG fan! It is definitely one of my top choices among desserts. Several months back I attempted a batch of homemade red velvet cupcakes, but unfortunately... they burned. I was pretty shocked because up until that point I had never burnt a batch of cupcakes. I was certain I could correct my error, so I tried them again. I lowered the temperature of the oven, I set my timer for a few minutes less and I waited with a watchful eye to make sure I didn't overlook when they were ready to come out, but unfortunately... they still burned. So, I threw out the recipe. I tried a few different cupcake recipes after my twice lived disaster, but my results were not improving. I was devastated. My confidence at cupcake baking was quickly diminishing, and I knew I had to do something because this is one form of dessert I cannot live without. So, at that point, I threw out my muffin pans. They never seemed to fully recover after the first burnt batch, so it was time to part ways with them. I have since bought new muffin pans, and so far I love them! But, I figured my true test would be to have another go at red velvet cupcakes. When Annie from Annie's Eats posted her red velvet cupcakes I knew it was time to try again. I have baked a few cupcakes from Annie's blog and have always swooned over the results. It was fate. I had to try these.
Woohoo! My muffin pans did not fail me. In fact, they completely surpassed my expectations. These are amazing!! I used a white chocolate cream cheese frosting that I've been waiting to try and the pairing was beautiful. It is such a delicate frosting, and when you marry it to this moist cupcake you "ooh and ah" all over it. So good!

Cake (yields 24 cupcakes):
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt 
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp (1 oz) liquid red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp distilled white vinegar 

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 oz white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tsp milk or cream
4-6 cups confectioners sugar 

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 standard muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Beat on medium speed until well blended. Gradually mix in dry ingredients on low speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between prepared liners. Bake 18-20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Cupcakes are ready when a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Place pans on wire racks to cool. Cool in pans 5-10 minutes, then remove from pans to cool completely.

For frosting, cream together cream cheese, butter and melted white chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Beat in vanilla and milk. Gradually add confectioners sugar until frosting reaches desired consistency (a stiffer consistency is ideal for piping onto cupcakes).

Source: cupcake adapted from Annie's Eats, frosting adapted from Random Anderson

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