Friday, July 27, 2012

Vanilla Pastry Cream

I know how to bake, I know how to cook, but I don’t know how to put on makeup.  I rarely ever put makeup on, and when I do its when we are “dressing up” and going out and I still only put on the basics.  So when I’m stuck in a situation where I need to put on real makeup – eye shadow, eyeliner, the whole shebang – I’m lost.  It’s like I need to go to makeup school.  What normally happens is I have my sister put my makeup on, or she walks me through what to do.  I know, seems lame at my age but you can’t win them all :). 

But I’ll tell you this, I’d rather know how to make this delicious Pastry Cream than know how to put on makeup the real way! 

This recipe is my go-to Pastry Cream recipe.  If I want to incorporate some type of thick, creamy, component into a dessert, I make this Pastry Cream.  It’s super easy to make and really adds a great rich flavor to every dish.

It’s a good idea to have a delicious Pastry Cream recipe in your repertoire – and this is mine!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

I feel like I’ve been away from the blog for such a long time!  I know I only missed Fridays post, but I rarely ever miss a posting day.  However, last week was an exception.  Steve and I went away for the week to just relax.  We went off to a nice resort, hung out in the pool, ate good food, and just spent quality time with each other.  Some people might call it our Babymoon – Which is really just a vacation to get away before the baby comes.  There are SO many things happening right now and it was so nice to just escape from reality and relax with just the two of us.  

It’s crazy because before I got pregnant I felt like I has so much time on my hands.  I baked and cooked all day and didn’t really need to do much else.  But now, time seems to be going so fast!  I plan to bake something but never end up doing it because the day is pretty much over when I finally have the time to bake it.  So when it seems like I have no time to bake, I whip up something quick and easy, like these Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies.  

I’m always looking for a good cookie recipe.  One that takes almost no time to bake, and I can adapt to make different flavor combinations.  Just recently I found this cookie recipe through my good friend Audra’s blog, The Baker Chick.  They have quickly become one of my favorite cookies to make.  There are 2 things I love about these cookies – 1) Their super soft and 2) They don’t need to chill before baking.  I’m sometimes such an impatient baker (I utilize my freezer probably more than I should), so when I see a recipe that bakes up a perfectly-shaped, soft cookie, I’m sold! 


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Raspberry Banana Wheat Muffins

I used to always think that I only needed a go-to cupcake recipe, or pie crust recipe.  But now I’m quickly finding out that I really need a good staple recipe for every type of pastry/baking item I make.  It helps that what I want to make a certain dessert I don’t have to search for a good base recipe, I already have one on hand that I know will work out.  Well this recipe quickly became my go-to muffin recipe.  

It’s a wheat muffin base that I normally mix in smashed bananas and some type of fresh fruit.  For this recipe I added in fresh raspberries.  While baking, the raspberries get soft and melt into the batter.  They really add an extra layer of moistness to the muffin.  I can assure you that these muffins are not dry – their soft, fluffy, and perfect to start out your morning.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Milk Bar Mondays – Chocolate Chocolate Cookies

Yesterday I was baking these cookies and working out at the same time.  I know, weird.  It’s as if I working off the cookies I was about to eat.  But I don’t work out to lose weight, or work off my food, I work out to stay healthy.  So it’s ok that I was baking a buttery, sugary, chocolaty cookie, while doing squats. 

This weeks Milk Bar Monday recipe was chosen by Cassie from Bake Your Day.  It’s a Chocolate Chocolate Cookie that is basically like eating a brownie in cookie form.  They are soft and chewy and have a slightly gooey center. 

I think the key to the cookies is the chocolate.  I used a good quality Valhrona chocolate {as suggested by Tosi and because it’s my favorite chocolate} and the chocolate flavor was spot on.  Not too bitter or chocolaty, but perfect to get across the deep chocolate flavor needed in this delicious cookie.  

As recommended by my fellow Milk Bar Monday girl, Audra, I cut down the butter by 2 tablespoons in the recipe.  I believe this allowed the cookies to not spread too thin and bake up perfectly.

If you’re a chocolate fan, or even just a cookie fan, you need to try this recipe.  Head on over to Cassie's blog for the recipe.

And don’t forget to check out the other girl’s Chocolate Chocolate Cookies:
Meagan from Scarletta Bakes
Nicole from Sweet Peony
Jacqueline from The Dusty Baker
Audra from The Baker Chick
Erin from Big Fat Baker

Friday, July 13, 2012

What to do with Leftover Pie Dough – Cinnamon Sugar Pie Sticks

Making Pie is one of my favorite things to do.  I love how a simple crust made of flour, butter, and water can transform a dessert into something so delicious.  So it only makes sense that the crust is my favorite part of a pie.  However, whenever I’m making pie I always have leftover scraps of dough.  It always pains me throwing those scraps away.  Sometimes I ball up the scraps and put them in the refrigerator, but I never end up using them for anything.

Finally after making so many pies, and throwing away so many good pieces of pie dough, I came up with a great idea on what to do with the leftover pie dough.  All you do is cut your scraps into long strips.  Sprinkle the scraps with a mixture of cinnamon sugar and then pop them in the oven to bake.  What comes out is a delicious, sweet snack that makes perfect use of your leftover dough. 

These cinnamon-sugar pie sticks are a great treat to snack on here and there.  They’re especially perfect when you’re craving something sweet but don’t want anything too big or complicated.  Grab a stick and your good to go.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pregnancy Update - 27 Weeks!

13 more weeks to go!  I'm almost 7 months pregnant, and about to hit my 3rd trimester.  Time is really flying by these last weeks.  It's as if the bigger my belly gets, the faster times goes by! 

Since it's getting closer to when our baby boy arrives, we've been doing a lot to get ready.  We pretty much have everything we need to decorate the nursery.  Unfortunately, we don't have a home to put it in now, but I have faith we'll have our home by the time Ezekiel arrives.  {For a little background information, we're in the process of searching for a home.  I'm really, really hoping that we will get a house very soon.}  We've also registered for everything possible that a baby could need.  Since this is our first baby we don't have anything, so we figured we might as well registry for it all!  Of course, we'll have to go out and purchase a ton of stuff on our own but it's just so fun to register.

Along with all this fun stuff, I've been doing all the normal pregnancy stuff - Doctors appointments, reading different baby books, setting up pregnancy appointments, and much more.  It can seem like this stuff can get boring, but I look forward to it all!  

As far as little Ezekiel, he is growing so much every day.  I can tell that he is getting big and strong because his kicks are SO hard.  And not only are they hard, they are pretty much all the time.  I can really feel him moving around in there so much.  I wonder if this is a preview of how active he will be when he arrives?!

One thing people continue to ask me about are my pregnancy symptoms.  Am I gaining a lot of weight?  Do I get tired easily?  Am I getting enough sleep?  Do my feet swell a lot?  Do I have any cravings?  Pretty much my answers to these questions are pretty boring.  My symptoms have been very minor.  My weight gain is very steady and normal.  I don't really get any more tired that when I did before I was pregnant.  I'm back to staying up pretty late {On average I go to bed around 11pm and wake up at 8pm} and waking up at a normal time.  I still wake up a lot in the middle of the night because it's pretty uncomfortable to sleep, but I'm able to go back to sleep very quick.  My feet do swell ever-so-often, especially if I'm walking and on my feet a lot during the day.  Luckily I have a wonderful husband who gives me plenty of foot massages.  Lastly, no I don't have any cravings.  I know, totally weird!  I'm eating super normal.  Not over-eating, or craving weird unhealthy foods.  I still have time to go, so we'll see how things change when I get closer to 9 months. 

Hope you enjoyed the update!  Be back soon with a recipe :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Homemade Quick Blueberry Sauce

Remember when I mentioned that I eat cereal every morning.  We’ll that still hasn’t changed.  You think that since I’m pregnant my tastes would change and I’d be craving something different, but nothing has really changed.  At all.  I still eat the same cereal {right now I’m back on Honey Nut Cherrios} every morning within 20 minutes of waking up.  And then sometimes, especially weekends, I have a second larger breakfast an hour or so later.

On weekends I normally revert to one of my usuals too – French Omelets {I learned the right technique from the Barefoot Contessa}, eggs over medium, or some type of egg sandwich.  One morning I set out to make my second breakfast when I realized we only had 2 eggs left.  Because I was making breakfast for 5 people, 2 eggs weren’t going to cut it.  So, I made pancakes instead.  

Sometimes pancakes can get boring.  But to make my pancakes a little bit more special I normally add fruit inside the pancakes.  My favorites are blueberries and bananas.  Even though I like fruit in my pancakes, Steve is not a fan.  So to accommodate both of us, I whip up a batch of this Homemade Quick Blueberry Sauce.  I can eat my pancakes with fruit and Steve is able to add as much blueberry sauce as he wants.  It’s a win-win.    

This sauce couldn’t be easier.  Fresh blueberries are heated and combined with some sugar and orange juice to make a sweet, tangy sauce.  Add a little cornstarch to thicken the sauce and you have a delicious blueberry sauce in no time!

And this sauce isn’t just great with pancakes.  Serve it over waffles, French toast, on top of vanilla ice cream, or even use it as a pie filling.  This sauce adds a special touch to any meal.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Blueberry Doughnut Muffins

Sometimes when I wake up I get the sudden urge to bake.  Especially when we have people over.  I want to bake something that is easy and quick and can be enjoyed for breakfast or brunch.  I usually turn to an adaption of my trusty muffin recipe or some type of fruity scone.  But one day I wanted to try something different.  I searched my “Recipes I want to try” folder and came across these Blueberry Doughnut Muffins.  Muffins that aren’t quite muffins and aren’t quite doughnuts.  They are more like doughnuts that take the shape of muffins.  

The texture of these doughnut muffins are soft and fluffy.  They actually taste surprisingly like cake doughnuts.  They have a slight crumble, but aren’t dense and heavy.  Then the glaze adds just enough sweetness that a doughnut should have, without being too overwhelming. 

My favorite part of these muffins is, of course, the blueberries.  They are such an unexpected twist to find inside of a doughnut.  I can’t wait to try this recipe with other types of fruits, such as strawberries and peaches.  I also think this recipe would be great in doughnut form.  Just use a doughnut pan instead of a muffin pan.  That will be my next project :).   Enjoy!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Star Watermelon Pops

It’s not too late for one more fun and creative way to celebrate 4th of July!  Fruit is always an absolute must at every summer barbecue or party we throw.  Normally we slice up some cantaloupe or watermelon, put out grapes and cherries, or put a quick fruit salad together.  But instead of going with these traditional options, let’s bring it up a notch and create these cute Star Watermelon Pops!

These pops literally take minutes to throw together.  You slice up a large watermelon and then, using a star cookie cutter, cut out star shapes in your watermelon.  Stick half of a blue and white striped straw into the bottom of the stars and your done!  A fun and patriotic way to eat your fruit this 4th of July!

I, of course, had to make things a little bit more difficult.  I couldn’t find my star cookie cutter, so instead I used my knife to cut out my star shapes.  It took longer and the stars didn’t come out exactly proportional, but it did the job.  So if you don’t have a star cookie cutter, you can always go the route I did and just create the stars on your own. 

I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July!  Enjoy!

*And before I leave you, today is another Milk Bar Monday.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate this week.  But to view the incredible recipe this week – Sweet Corn Cereal Milk Ice Cream Pie – head on over to Erin's Blog, Big Fat Baker.  And also don’t forget to take a look at all the other girls’ versions of this pie:

Meagan from Scarletta Bakes
Nicole from Sweet Peony
Jacqueline from The Dusty Baker
Audra from The Baker Chick

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