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Bavarian Vanilla Pecans…*
…candied-coated, vanilla-flavored nuts 

Every time I go to the mall, I always make sure to pass by the kiosk selling roasted almonds and candied pecans. The sugary aroma that surrounds the stand is enough to make me want to shout! I never wanted to dish out the $7.00 for a small bag so I decided to make them myself. They can’t be that hard, right? Right! I followed a recipe found on My Baking Addiction for sweet, vanilla-flavored almonds…but instead, I used pecans. Let me tell you, they turned out brilliantly and are now my go-to afternoon snack. They are so tasty and go great atop a spinach salad, inside a baked apple or pear, or even tossed in your favorite trail mix. The crunchy sugary shell on the outside is heavenly and the hint of vanilla left on your taste buds after a few bites is nothing short of wonderful. The best part is that the sweet smell of the vanilla and pecans fills your house with a long-lasting scent—no need for candles today :)
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The Ingredients…*
Yield ≈ one pound candied nuts

1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 
1 tablespoon water
1 pound almonds or pecans
3/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons of fine grain sea salt
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The Instructions…*
(1) Preheat oven to 250°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
(2) In a large bowl, combine egg white, vanilla extract and water; Beat mixture until frothy

(3) Stir in almonds and mix to coat
(4) Gently combine sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt and stir into almond mixture, thoroughly coating all nuts
(5) Evenly spread nuts onto prepared baking sheet and place into oven
(6) Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes
(7) When cool, pack in an airtight jar; They will keep at room temperature for about 2 weeks….enjoy :)
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Chocolate Dipped Potato Chips…*
…salty & sweet in a bite-size treat

My sister is 100% responsible for this wonderful idea. I’ve always been a huge fan of chocolate-covered pretzels (and well, chocolate-covered anything for that matter), but never have I ever thought about dipping potato chips in chocolate. Leave it to my sister—the saltaholic in the family—to think up such an unusual, yet remarkable combination. And, thank God she did because they are undeniably delicious! The crunch and ridged texture of the chips next to the smooth and rich chocolatey dip is unbelievable. These chips can be made in less than 20 minutes and would go great on a snack tray for entertaining, for movie nights, or to dish out as gifts. Although, I should warn you--this “snack” is highly addictive! I can’t stop reaching in the container and grabbing one (or three) every time I walk into the kitchen…hehe…Enjoy ;)
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The Ingredients…*
1 or 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate [depending on how much you want to make]
1/2 cup of chopped white chocolate or vanilla-flavored baking chips
1 16-ounce bag ridged potato chips (like Ruffles)
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The Instructions…*
(1) Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and set aside
(2) Place the chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave it in 30-second increments until melted, stirring after time to prevent overheating
(3) Using a spoon, paint one side of a potato chip with a thin layer of chocolate; Place the chip chocolate-side up on the prepared baking sheet
(4) Repeat this process until you have used up all of your chocolate
(5) Allow the chips to sit until the chocolate is set; or refrigerate the chips for 10 minutes to accelerate the process
(6) If desired, melt the white chocolate (the same way as the semi-sweet) and pour into a small Ziploc bag; Snip the end off and paint already dipped chips with stripes of white chocolate for added color and taste!
(7) Store chips in an airtight container to preserve the crunchiness. Enjoy :)
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Monkey Bread Muffins…*
…go bananas for this pull-apart treat

To be completely honest, this recipe happened on accident. I was planning on making the traditional Monkey Bread, by Kraft Foods, but wound up with a disaster. My Bundt pan was leaking, thus creating a huge mess in my oven. Frustrated and panicked, I decided to transfer the cinnamon-sugar dipped doughy bites into muffin tins—resulting in the perfect, portion-sized breakfast treat. This might be the best mistake I have ever made. Come to find out, it has already been thought out by dozens of bakers all over the world—but great minds think alike, right? ;) I hope you enjoy this sticky, cinnamon-flavored, sweet-smelling pull-apart muffin as much as I did!
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The Ingredients…*
…Recipe by Kraft Foods
3 cans (7.5 oz. each) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

The Instructions…*

(1) Preheat oven to 350°
(2) Cut each biscuit into quarters
(3) Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl
(4) Add biscuit pieces, in batches; toss to coat
(5) Divide the biscuit pieces evenly among 15 prepared muffin tins
(6) Drizzle with the melted butter and sprinkle with any remaining cinnamon-sugar
(7) Bake 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean and top is golden brown
(8) Cool in pan; and enjoy for breakfast or an afternoon snack :)
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Mini Coffee Cake Muffins
…bite size breakfast treats

Oh Martha, you did it again. You created a masterpiece and I fell deeply in love. This time, it wasn’t chocolate though. To my surprise, it was light and fluffy and mini—perfect for breakfast! My favorite part about these tiny treats is the cinnamon-sugary, crisp and crumbly topping. I also loved that the recipe was quick, easy, and only made a small batch—meaning, I will definitely be making these again, very soon!
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The Ingredients…*
≈ 2 dozen mini muffins
. . .for the Topping
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground cinnamon
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

. . .for the Batter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoon buttermilk
Nonstick cooking spray, for pans
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The Instructions…*
(recipe by Martha Stewart)
(1) Preheat the oven to 375°
(2) To make the topping, in a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon
(3) Add butter, and work in, using your fingers, until well combined; set aside
(4) To make the batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside
(5) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
(6) Add the egg and vanilla, and beat to combine
(7) Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the sour cream and buttermilk, and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients; scrape down the bowl as necessary
(8) Spray eighteen cups of a mini-muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray
(9) Divide batter evenly between cups; Sprinkle topping over batter
(10) Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes
(11) Let stand in pans for 5 minutes; Remove to wire racks to cool and enjoy :)
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Brownie Covered Oreos…*
…double whammy! 

Oreos, ohhh Oreos…what would I do without you? Almost everyone has tasted (and probably fell in love with) one of America’s favorite cookies. The difference, is that we all have our own way of enjoying the chocolatey sandwich. Do you twist off the top and lick the frosting, or do you stick the whole thing in your mouth? Either way, most people would agree that dunking these treats in a cold glass of milk is the best way to eat them. I however, would disagree. After being introduced to Picky Palate’s take on Oreos, I couldn’t help but run to the kitchen and whip up a batch. I was not disappointed one bit. In fact, I don’t know if I can ever eat a plain Oreo again. Cookie covered, cupcake covered, chocolate covered, crushed, baked, ice-cream swirled, dunked, dipped, and frosted! Ay yi yi—the possibilities are endless! For now, I think I’ll just enjoy this double chocolate, soft on the outside, crunchy on the inside, unbelievable treat.  Why don’t you join me and bake some for yourself? :)
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The Ingredients…*
…Recipe by Picky Palate
1 Brownie mix (or use your own brownie recipe)
1 package Oreos (I used double stuffed, hehe)
White chocolate, melted for drizzle (or Wilton White frosting pen works great)
Decorative sprinkles, if desired
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The Directions…*
(1) Preheat oven to 350°F
(2) Prepare brownie batter according to package directions; Leave in mixing bowl
(3) Using spoon, dip Oreos in brownie batter then place in bottom of cupcake tins that have been generously sprayed with cooking spray
(4) Bake for 12-15 minutes, until brownies are cooked through (doesn’t take long)
(5) As soon as you remove, take a plastic knife and run along edges, (this is VERY important so you get the cookie out with brownies not stuck to pan :)
(6) Let cool for 5 minutes, remove drizzle with melted white chocolate or the Wilton White icing pen, sprinkle with nonpareils and EAT!  Enjoy for yourself, or wrap up and give as an adorable gift :)
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Hot Cocoa Cookies…*
…a cookie to warm your soul  

As if I haven’t already bombarded you with an unreasonable amount of chocolatey treats, here is another decadent dessert for you to indulge in. Hot Cocoa Cookies…possibly the most creative idea I’ve seen in a long time. Thanks to How Sweet it is, I stumbled upon this recipe at the perfect time—on a Monday morning in the middle of a snowstorm. What better thing to do on such a day than to bake a batch of these lovely cookies to enjoy with a steaming hot mug of cocoa?  ….exactly what I was thinking. The mini marshmallows melt together with the chocolate chips to create this harmony of flavors that melts in your mouth and sings to your soul. The edges of the cookies are crunchy but the centers remain soft and gooey—deeelicious. I got (a little) carried away when I started dipping them in my hot cocoa but ohhh my goodness, what a treat! The only thing about this recipe that I didn’t like was how difficult it was to remove the cookies off the pan when they were cooled. For the second batch, I baked them on parchment paper and had no problems removing them. Okay, that’s all for now—enjoy yourself :)
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The Ingredients…*
…Recipe by How Sweet it is
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup marshmallow fluff
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
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The Instructions…*
…makes ≈ 24 cookies
(1) Preheat oven to 350°
(2) Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and mix until combined. Stir in marshmallow fluff
(3) Fold in chocolate chips and marshmallows
(4) Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour
(5) Remove, and roll into 1 1/2-inch balls.
(6) Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes; Make sure cookies are fully cooked, because they will be very sticky from the marshmallows
(7) Allow cookies to cool completely, even sticking them in the fridge for 15 minutes before removing from the baking sheet with a spatula; Be patient and gently remove cookies – let sit another 30 minutes; Enjoy :) 
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S’more Cookies [please]
…cookie version of a campfire favorite 

These cookies are every bit as delicious as they look—I can’t keep my hands off them! The best way to describe this incredible creation is to imagine everything you love about s’mores--gooey marshmallowy, graham cracker crunchy, sweet melting chocolatey, party-in-your-mouth sort of treat. Combine that with the straight-out-of-the-oven, mouthwatering, gotta-have it responsiveness to fresh baked cookies and you’ve got yourself a s’more cookie. Mmmm hmmm, they’re that good. Thanks to a few fellow bloggers, this recipe has hit the jackpot and satisfied my sweet tooth—at least for tonight :) I borrowed it from Erica’s Sweet Tooth, who got it from Lovin’ from the Oven, who got it from Baked Perfection, who got it from Cookie Madness. Comprende? Okay, no more wasting time---get in your kitchen and start baking! ;)
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The Ingredients…*
≈ 3 dozen cookies
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped
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The Instructions…*
(1) In a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugars until fluffy
(2) Mix in egg and vanilla until combined
(3) Add the flour, graham crackers, salt, and baking soda, mix well
(4) Stir in the chocolate chips
(5) Refrigerate dough for about an hour
(6) Preheat oven to 375ºF
(7) Drop by rounded tablespoon onto cookie sheets
(8) Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven; Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of a Hershey's bar into each cookie
(9) Return to the oven and bake an additional 2-3 minutes until fully cooked
(10) Cool cookies on a wire rack and enjoy :)
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Strawberry Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Buttercream…*
…a berry happy birthday treat 

What better way to celebrate Jessica and Nicole’s birthday than to do it with Martha Stewart’s Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream? These pretty-in-pink treats are perfect for birthdays, Valentines, or even Mother’s Day. The light, fluffy batter is naturally sweetened by the fresh strawberries, creating a melt-in-your-mouth texture.  Although, the best part about these charming creations is of course, the strawberry buttercream. The cool, creamy and delightfully sweet frosting closely resembles strawberry ice cream, perfectly complementing the delicate cake. There are no artificial colorings in this recipe, for the fresh strawberries replace any additives or dyes needed to make such a lovely shade of pink. What a splendid idea, Martha! I hope you all enjoy these wondrous cupcakes, especially the birthday girls, Jess & Nicole! :)
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The Ingredients…*
Strawberry Cupcakes

Recipe by Martha Stewart
Makes ≈ 34 cupcakes
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg white
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups finely chopped strawberries, plus small strawberries for garnish

Strawberry Meringue Buttercream
Recipe by Martha Stewart
Makes ≈ 5 cups
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and coarsely chopped
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature  
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The Instructions…*
Strawberry Cupcakes
(1) Preheat oven to 350°F
(2) Line standard muffin pans with paper liners
(3) Sift together both flours, baking powder, and salt
(4) With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until pale and fluffy
(5) Add whole eggs and the white, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed; Reduce speed to low
(6) Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk, and beating until well combined
(7) Fold in chopped strawberries by hand
(8) Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about three-quarters full
(9) Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
(10) Transfer tins to wire racks and cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto rack and let cool completely.
(*) Cupcakes can be stored up to 1 day at room temperature in airtight containers.
(11)  To finish, fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star (Ateco #826 or Wilton #8B) with buttercream (Recipe shown below) 
(12) Pipe buttercream onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form peak.

(13) Just before serving, thinly slice strawberries, and tuck a few pieces into the buttercream; Enjoy! :)
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The Instructions…*
Strawberry Meringue Buttercream
(1) Puree strawberries in a food processor
(2) Combine egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a standing electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water
(3) Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips)
(4) Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until stiff (but not dry) peaks form
(5) Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes
(6) With mixer in medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition
(7) Once all the butter has been added, scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula and switch to the paddle attachment; continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes
(8) Add strawberries and beat until well combined; Stir with a flexible spatula until the frosting is smooth
(9) Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month
(*) Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes

Tips…*

(*) After researching this frosting on other blogs, I have found that many readers have had troubles with the frosting, stating that it was too liquidy. I too struggled with this and have decided that it was because I added too much of the strawberry puree.
(*) To solve this, simply add the puree gradually until the frosting has a well-balanced flavor and texture, without going overboard. My frosting turned out fine after I handed a few scoops of powdered sugar to soak up the added moisture. 
(*) Also, it is important to know that this frosting is a very time-intensive process.  It can take a very long period of beating but it will thicken up eventually—so don’t give up! :)
(*) One last note of advice: If strawberries are too expensive, opt to buy a jar of strawberry jam and add a few tablespoons at a time until the flavor is up to par with your taste buds!
 
 
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Blueberry Muffins…*
…to beat those morning blues 

In celebration of blueberries being on sale (which never happens), I decided to buy a pint and whip up one of my favorite breakfast treat: hearty blueberry muffins. I’ve always been in search of a good recipe for blueberry muffins and was excited when my new cookbook by The Hummingbird Bakery featured one categorized as “easy.” These muffins turned out wonderfully and they were indeed, quite simple to make. They are mildly sweet, moist and packed with blueberries. Although, next time I make these, I will probably make a streusel topping for extra sweetness and texture.  Until then, enjoy these muffins warm with a pat of butter or a sprinkle of sugar next to your favorite breakfast beverage for a quick and hearty homemade breakfast 
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The Ingredients…*
Recipe by the Hummingbird Bakery
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 pint blueberries
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The Instructions…*
(1) Preheat the oven to 325°
(2) Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper liners
(3) Put the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on slow speed
(4) Put the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla into a bowl and mix to combine
(5) Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated
(6) Pour in the melted butter and beat until the butter has just been incorporated, then turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat until the dough is even and smooth
(7) Finally, gently fold in the blueberries with a wooden spoon until evenly dispersed
(8) Spoon the batter into the paper liners until two-thirds full
(9) Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean
(10) Let cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy! :)
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Lemon Loaf…*
…start your day with a citrusy burst 

It’s official: I have absolutely fallen in love with lemons. I’ve never been a fan of the tart flavor until I stumbled upon the Hummingbird Bakery’s Lemon Loaf—and let me tell you, it swept me off my feet. The loaf is soft and light, and the lemon adds just enough sugary zing in every bite. Enjoy this versatile loaf as a refreshing jumpstart to your day or add strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream for a super sweet ending.
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The Ingredients…*
Lemon Loaf

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs
Grated zest of two unwaxed lemons

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Lemon Syrup
Freshly squeezed juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup sugar
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The Instructions…*
First make the lemon loaf…
(1) Preheat the oven to 325°
(2) Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan and dust lightly with flour
(3) Put the sugar, eggs, and lemon zest in a freestanding electric mixer and beat until well mixed
(4) Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a separate bowl
(5) Combine the milk and vanilla in another bowl
(6) Add one-third of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat well, then beat in one-third of the milk mixture. Repeat this process two more times until everything has been added
(7)Beat at high speed until mixture is light and fluffy
(8) Turn the mixer down to low speed, pour in melted butter, and beat until well incorporated
(9) Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until golden brown

Then the lemon syrup…
(1) Put the lemon juice and zest, sugar, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan
(2) Bring to a boil over low heat, then raise the heat and boil until it has reduced by half, or until it has a thin syrup consistency
(3) When the hot cake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup over the top
(4) Let cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely; ENJOY! :)
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little shortcake...*