Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rustic Strawberry Pie


Fourth of July is right away the corner and I have some wonderful desserts to share with you!  Many of you have parties and barbecues this weekend so I wanted to share a few desserts in case you haven’t decided on one to make.  And I also wanted to get you in the festive spirit :).  



The first dessert I have for you is  Rustic Strawberry Pie.  I say "Rustic" because this strawberry pie is different than the usual.  The main difference is that the dough is baked in the bottom of a pie pan so it comes out shorter and flatter.  Then the crust is topped with fresh strawberries and nothing else.  No jam, no whipped cream, no cream, no custard – just strawberries.  Doing this really highlights the fresh and natural taste of the strawberries.  Strawberries are in season now, so they have the perfect sweet taste.  There is no need to add anything else – the strawberries taste great on their own.  


 I used a different pie dough than I normally use recipe for this pie.  Instead of my go-to recipe, I used a recipe I got from Baking Illustrated.  The only difference in this recipe is that it includes shortening in addition to the butter.  This combination of shortening and butter produces a crust that is both flaky and tender.  The flakiness comes from the butter and the tenderness comes from the shortening.  An all butter crust (which is what I normally make) is almost exactly the same in texture just slightly less tender, but just as good! 


With this pie having only 2 main components, pie crust and strawberries, both have to be very good.  As long as the pie crust is buttery and flaky, you’re good to go!  And just make sure that you have sweet and ripe strawberries.  If your strawberries aren’t ripe then they will taste bitter and not sweet and not compliment the pie crust. 


 I added a scoop of ice cream with each piece to add a creamy texture.  And who doesn’t like ice cream with pie?!  You can always add a dollop of whipped cream as well.  Or just eat it plain.  It's good either way!  Enjoy :)!


 



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Caramel-Filled Sugar Cookies


I used to eat cookie dough.  I mean a lot of it.  I would buy the store-bought sugar cookie dough (like the Pillsbury kind in that tube) and would eat almost half of the dough.  I know what you’re probably saying… yuck!  But I know some of you are right there with me… at least I hope so!  It’s just sooooooo addicting.  I don’t know what it is, but there is something in that cookie dough that keeps you wanting more.  Especially when your 12 years old and just want that sugar :) - like me! 



 I wouldn’t just buy the sugar cookie dough to eat (even though I probably would do just that), I would make the cookies as well.  Sugar cookies have always been one of my favorites.  Those and the basic chocolate chip cookies.  I’m a very simple cookie girl.  I just love the simple sugary taste of sugar cookies.  And just as the cookie dough is addicting, sugar cookies are just as addicting.


 I haven’t made a sugar cookie in a long time.  I have a few different recipes that I make, but they all have different textures.  One is very soft, and one is more of a ball and doesn’t flatten that much.  But then I found this recipe on Joy the Baker.  [Joy has an amazing blog that I love to read.  She has a lot of fun and delicious recipes.]  From the pictures and the recipe, they seemed like the perfect sugar cookie.  And they were just that!


They tasted exactly like the store-bought kinds.  Especially the dough – Yes, I had one small taste :).  The cookies were soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.  They had the perfect sugary taste that wasn’t too overwhelming.  They really baked up beautifully.


Now these sugar cookies are extra special.  And why you ask?  They are filled with caramel! I put a small caramel candy in the middle of each cookie.  This added a special extra touch to the already delicious sugar cookies!  I actually used the caramel candies that I had up on the blog recently.  I cut them up in smaller pieces and they worked perfectly.  However, using the normal caramel candies that you purchase at the store are great!


Enjoy the caramel, sugary, cookie!

 

 



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Goat Cheese Biscuits


One day, a long long time ago, I was watching the Oprah show (I think it was about 5 years ago).  See I am one of the few that didn’t catch on to the Oprah movement.  Probably because I am in a younger generation, being only 23 years old.  However, that one day I watched Oprah.  And thank goodness I did!  That day Oprah had on her ex-personal chef, Art Smith.  Art Smith now owns a restaurant in Chicago called Table 52.  On the Oprah show he made his famous biscuits that he serves at his restaurant (he brings them out at the beginning of a meal instead of bread).  Luckily he gave out the recipe as well.   I immediately went to the computer and printed out the recipe, and made them that day.  They were goat cheese and buttermilk biscuits and were delicious!



And now here I am sharing the recipe with you :).  


These biscuits are really easy to make.  They take no more than 10 minutes to mix up and take only about 15 minutes to bake.  A great part of this recipe is that the batter doesn’t need to be cut out with biscuit rounds.  All you do is scoop up the batter into a cupcake pan and then bake them – That’s it.


Goat cheese is the main flavor in these biscuits.  Well goat cheese and butter :).  Goat cheese is crumbled throughout the whole biscuit, and butter is slathered on top before baking.  Buttermilk is also prominent in this recipe.  It makes the biscuits moist and adds a great tangy compliment to the already tangy goat cheese.  After baking the biscuits you can sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each biscuit.  It just adds an extra special touch to the biscuits.  Unfortunately I didn’t have parmesan on hand while I was making these this time.  However, I have made these biscuits many (many!) times before and I almost always add parmesan cheese, and it really does bring an extra element to the biscuits.


These biscuits are a favorite in our family.  My mom often craves them and asks me to make them for her.  I have made them for Thanksgiving, and made some for my sister to bring to a work potluck.  They just have so much incredible flavor and are really addicting.  They are buttery, creamy, cheesy, and melt in your mouth.  Now who wouldn’t eat a buttery-creamy-cheesy biscuit?!  I know I would!


You can have these at breakfast time, or with your dinner.  Or even just to snack on throughout your day (this is why I mainly bake them!).  Make them for your next party or bring them to a family member or friend.  Everyone will love these goat cheese biscuits!  Enjoy :)!


 





Monday, June 27, 2011

Peanut Butter Fudge Cake


The peanut butter and chocolate combination is long time favorite for many candy and dessert lovers.  Candy – Cakes – Cupcakes – Brownies – Pies – Cookies.  Any dessert tastes great when peanut butter and chocolate are involved.   And this cake is no exception!  A rich and moist peanut butter cake, filled and topped with an instant fudge frosting.  Simple and delicious.



The peanut butter cake tastes exactly like peanut butter.  It’s like eating peanut butter in cake form.

Peanut Butter = Yummy
Cake = Yummy
Peanut Butter Cake = Double Yummy!


This cake is filled and topped with an instant fudge frosting.  Melted chocolate is combined with butter, confectioners sugar, milk, and vanilla to create a fudge-like frosting.  This frosting is very similar to a buttercream, as is has pretty much the same ingredients.  However, this frosting has a slightly thicker consistency making it taste and feel more like fudge.  


Another great aspect about this frosting is that it is super easy to make.  The recipe calls to put all the ingredients in a food processor and that’s it.  I don’t have a food processor right now so I used a stand mixer and it came out great.  I actually prefer a stand mixer because it’s easier to wash :).  However, you can choose whichever method you prefer.


I wanted this cake to look more rustic so I didn’t frost it completely.  What I did was pipe around the “seams” of the cake (which is in-between each layer of cake), and on the top of the cake.   Then I left the rest of the cake as.  I originally saw this frosting technique on Sweetapolita (who bakes incredibly beautiful cakes!) and thought it was such a simple and easy idea.  I will definitely start frosting more of my cakes this way!  


Enjoy this yummy combination of peanut butter and chocolate!

 





Friday, June 24, 2011

Soft Pretzels


If you know me, or have read my About Me or some of my posts, you know that Steve, my husband, is a Professional Baseball Player.  He is in the Minor Leagues and travels a lot!  Because we are fortunate enough to bring our work on the road (we own a small online business), I travel with him during the season.  This means that we travel from city-to-city, living in Vacation Rentals and hotels.  As an avid baker and cook this is a little difficult.  I have limited supplies for both baking and cooking, and for styling my food for pictures.  I don’t have the complete resources I would have at home but I get the job done with what I have.  And it helps that I enjoy what I do :).


It took some time but I have definitely adapted to this baseball-wife lifestyle – living on the road and following my husband.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  And it has its perks!  Driving around the county and getting to experience different cities (and states!) with my husband is like no other.  And going to Baseball games every day – yes, I watch a lot of baseball! – is very fun.  Especially when I get to watch my husband fulfill his dream. 


The city we are living in now is Brooklyn, New York.  Everyone knows that New York loves their sports!  And Brooklyn has a big minor league fan base.  There are thousands of people that go to each of Steve’s games.  Fans go to get the full experience of a baseball game – the excitement of a live game, and of course the food!  Hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, beer, cracker jacks, peanuts – this is baseball food.


In spirit of the baseball season and the fun food it brings, I made soft pretzels!  You would think that I can just enjoy a pretzel at the game, but knowing me, I go over and beyond and make some of my own :).  What can I say, I see a food and think, “I can make this!” 


These soft pretzels taste exactly like a pretzel you would get at a baseball game.  The taste is the same but the quality is much better!  The dough is softer and fresher.  And they are topped with coarse salt, which is the perfect compliment to a good pretzel.


You can also use this pretzel dough as a base to different styles of pretzels (like the ones you get from the pretzel shops at the mall).  Cinnamon Sugar – Pepperoni - Jalapeno – Anything you want!  


Enjoy this doughy, chewy, salty, soft, ballpark-favorite :)!  


 

 



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brownies



It's one of my personal goals to get Steve to like chocolate.  I love chocolate and often get cravings for it. But we rarely every have it in the house because Steve doesn't like it.  There are nights where all I want is a big scoop of chocolate ice cream.  But I go to freezer and all we have is vanilla.  Don't get me wrong, I love vanilla (and always will!) but there a those times where I want that chocolaty goodness and I don't have it :(. You're probably saying, "Why don't you just get a little pint of chocolate for yourself."  And sometimes I do this.  But I don't feel it's completely worth it if I get something that I only enjoy.  It's just much easier (and more economical) to get things that Steve and I both like.


Now you're probably saying, "Geeze, why don't you just get some things for yourself." And I do this.  I definitely get those items that only I enjoy and Steve doesn't like, but not that often.  What can I say, I love pleasing my husband more than myself.  It's marriage :).


 I am slowly getting Steve to like chocolate.  So that day may come where we both enjoy that chocolate ice cream!  I cleverly pick irresistible chocolate desserts to make that he has to have one.  Once he eats it, he loves it!  I told you a while ago that my chocolate cake is one of those items.  And now I have added these chocolate brownies! 


These brownies are the ultimate decadence! They are incredibly gooey and moist.  And melt in your mouth.  They have the perfect chocolate taste that no one can resist.  I mean who doesn't love a good brownie!?  I have yet to meet someone, but if you are one of those people then I urge you to make these brownies.  You will love them and want more!


These are the perfect treat for any occasion.  Bring them to work and everyone will eat them up.  Make them for a party and they will be gone before you know it.  Bring them to a friend just because and they will love you forever :).

The best part of these brownies is that they are easier than ever.  Brownies are one of the easiest baked good to make and these are no exception.  For such a low maintenance dessert, you will be surprised for how delicious these are!  

And brownies aren't the prettiest treats out there, but they are definitely one of the tastiest :)!


Ok, have I convinced you enough of how unbelievably delicious these are?!  I hope so :).  Now go make them!


Enjoy the gooey, chocolaty, best-brownies-I-have-ever-had, treat!

 

 



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