Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cranberry-Apple Sauce

*If you haven't liked my page on facebook, go do it! There are mini-posts more often than full blog posts on here!*

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! SUPER excited! I've already started my prep to make things easier tomorrow. Prep numero uno? Tossed some ingredients into my bread machine for a white bread with ground sage and thyme in it for the dressing. It was so wonderful already having that done by the time I got home from the office. Prep numero dos? Cranberry! I've got a can of jellied cranberry for hubs, since he just INSISTS that Thanksgiving isn't the same without it, but I have to have something real. Hence, this recipe. I love cranberries! Plus, this is just so pretty.

1 cup fresh cranberries
3/4 cup granny smith apple, peeled and diced small
2-4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice

Are you ready for this? Super difficult sauce.. Throw everything into a small-ish sauce pan. Turn it on medium/medium-low. Put a lid on it. Walk away from it for about 5 minutes. 

Come back, stir gently, repeat walking away and stirring occasionally until desired consistency is achieved. Taste the sauce (carefully, it's hot!) for sweet, add some sugar if you would like it sweeter. Keep in mind that less is more! Now, breathe. You did it! I'm so proud. 

Next, focus on enjoying the rest of your dinner! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Snickerdoodle Cookies

I love my sister dearly, but she can not cook. Period. As in, she's set the oven on fire before. Generally she's not allowed near one. Somehow though, a couple of years ago, she managed to get a batch of snickerdoodle bars in the oven, and they came out HEAVENLY. My husband, who is lover of all things snickerdoodle, declared them the best he's had. Snickerdoodles have always been one of my weak spots. I have no idea why, I just can't get them right. Well. I have finally succeeded tonight (whether he concedes or not!)! These are light, fluffy, and literally melt in your mouth. Oh, these are dangerous cookies indeed. 

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Additional sugar and cinnamon for rolling

Preheat oven to 400º.

Cream butter and sugars. Add extracts and eggs, mix well. Add in remaining ingredients (except for sugar/cinnamon for rolling) and mix until everything is combined. Chill for 15 or so minutes. Once chilled, form 1-2tbsp balls (I use my 1.5 tbsp scoop for uniformity) and roll in cinnamon/sugar. I use 1/4 cup sugar + 1-2tsp cinnamon. You can most definitely change this to your preferences though! Sometimes I like to get festive and use colored sugar even. Place balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are just BARELY beginning to get golden. Remove to a cooling rack or piece of parchment/wax paper on your counter top. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies

I have failed you all. Miserably. I've been baking like crazy over the last couple of months, but there hasn't been much posted. With little E here now, I just haven't had more than 5 minutes (which is about how long it takes to whip up a batch of dough!) to do anything when I'm at home. I've been making small batches of almost everything I make. Except gingerbread.. But that's another post. Don't worry. That will come. Anyway. I had a hankering for chocolate last night. Cookie form is the best way to get some down my throat usually, or brownies. Cookies won this battle though. And I happened to have to move some coconut to get to my chocolate chips. Why not? These are chocolatey and fudgey and delicious. Not that I'm saying I've done it or anything, but these just might make a mighty tasty (albeit not-so-healthy) breakfast.

1/4c vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1/4c + 2tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2c flour
pinch of salt
1/4tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp corn starch
1/4c chocolate chips
2 tbsp shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350º.

Cream shortening, sugar and vanilla together, add egg and whip until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-13 minutes, until the top is barely wet still. Let cool on baking sheet, and transfer to a cooling rack or a piece of parchment on the counter. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cake Batter Cinnabon Cookies

Lord I love Cinnabon. I'm that "extra frosting" type of girl. There's just something about the zing of the cinnamon, the chewy/doughy roll and a giant smattering of tangy cream cheese frosting (which is the ONLY way I will eat cream cheese, I might add) that really gets me going. You know what else gets me going? EASY stuff. Something I can throw together quickly when one of us has a hankerin', and something that doesn't sacrifice taste for the ease. This most definitely qualifies. It starts with a Betty Crocker Decadence cake mix. Cinnamon Swirl, to be exact. You know, the kind with CINNABON cinnamon in it. 
The good stuff. Throw in some sour cream to give it that tang, and VOILA! Insta-happiness. Well. 15 minute happiness. Close enough.

1 box Betty Crocker Decadence Cinnamon Swirl cake mix
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla 

Preheat oven to 350º. 

Combine cake mix pouch and baking powder. Stir in sour cream, eggs and vanilla until well combined (get most of the lumps out if you can!). Now comes the fun part. Take the cinnamon swirl topping pouch and dump it on top. Now swirl it into the cookie dough! Don't get all excited about it, just gently swirl it in. We want cinnamon ribbons, guys! 

Now. Drop 1-2 tbsp at a time onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet (I used my 1.5tbsp cookie scoop). You can put these fairly close together.. They'll spread, but it's fairly minimal. Leave maybe 2" between each for safety's sake. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Do NOT leave them until they start to brown! You don't want the top to brown at all, and they will appear slightly under baked at first. Let them sit on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack (or a piece of parchment on your counter if you're too lazy to dig out your cooling rack like I am). The bottoms will be lightly browned, and this is PERFECT. After they're able to sit for a few minutes, they turn perfectly chewy and tangy!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Butterscotch Latte Cookies

I love fall. So much. The pretty colors, the crisp, fresh air, the spices in the air.. And caramel EVERYTHING. Butterscotch is just a variation of caramel, essentially, and coffee is a MUST during the fall. Why not throw both into a cookie? 

I've fallen in love with flax recently, so I had to throw some of that in here.. I first really started using it when I had run out of eggs.. I didn't want to go to the store, and I happened to have some ground flax seed in my pantry that someone had given me awhile back.. While researching egg substitutes, I found that 1tbsp of ground flax + 3tbsp liquid is equal to 1 egg in baking. I've also fallen in love with french vanilla recently, so I just use 1 tbsp of flax + 3 tbsp french vanilla coffee creamer. The creamer just adds an extra level of decadence to these cookies, not to mention versatility! I'll put some ideas up for variations at the end of the post (please note though that I haven't actually TRIED any of these variations yet, but they are ones that will work with the chemistry of the cookies). 

1 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp molasses
2-3 tbsp instant coffee (depending on your taste)
1 egg
1 tbsp ground flax seed
3 tbsp french vanilla coffee creamer
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375º. 

Cream shortening, butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add molasses, coffee, egg, flax and creamer. Mix until well combined. Add flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, corn starch, salt and cinnamon. Stir in butterscotch chips just before flour mixture is totally mixed in, and finish folding everything in. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-11 minutes until just golden brown.

Now comes the fun part! Variations! 
-Black and White Mocha (Zebra/Tuxedo mocha) - Remove molasses. Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder, use white chocolate coffee creamer and white chocolate chips.
-Irish cream - Double the flax/creamer, remove egg and molasses. Use irish cream creamer and chocolate chips (optional). Mix together irish cream creamer and powdered sugar until a nice drizzling consistency is achieved, and drizzle over the top and let dry.  
-Pumpkin spice - Double the flax/creamer, remove egg. Use pumpkin spice creamer and pumpkin spice chips. 
-Peppermint Mocha - Remove molasses. Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder, use peppermint mocha or York patty creamer and either chocolate chips, white chocolate chips or peppermint bits (Andes mints makes a peppermint bit for baking!).. or a combination thereof!

There are so many more variations you could do, but these are at least a few to get you started.. If you try one of these or a different variation, leave a comment and let me know what it was and how it turned out! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Coffee Spice Sour Cream Muffins

I love muffins. Seriously. Which is probably partially why I've got a few extra pounds that could stand to disappear. But probably never will. Because I love muffins. Besides, they make for easy work breakfasts. Well, those and pancakes or waffles. I freeze pancakes or waffles and throw them in the toaster at work to reheat, and voila! Breakfast! Same with muffins, except I throw them in the microwave instead of toaster. At any given time, I've generally got at least 2 or 3 types of pancakes, maybe some waffles, and at least 1 or 2 types of muffins to choose from. Grab and go! 

Anyways, these muffins were my attempt at a slightly better breakfast for when I go back to work this week (oh, hello 4:30am, I haven't missed you one bit..). They're filled with flaxseed to make them slightly healthier, and tons of cinnamon and coffee.

1/3 cup hot coffee
1 tsp instant coffee
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup flaxseed
2 cups flour
1/2 cup oats
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 375º. 

Combine hot coffee and instant coffee in a small cup and stir until the instant coffee is dissolved. Set aside. 

Combine oil, sugars and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in sour cream and coffee mixture. Add flaxseed and combine. 

In a separate bowl combine remaining ingredients and stir slowly into wet until just mixed. Divide the batter evenly between 16 lined muffin cups (about 1/4 cup each). To top, I combined 2-3 tbsp brown sugar with 1/2 tsp cinnamon and sprinkled on top of each muffin before baking. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Turkey Stroganoff

Two posts today! Aren't you all special? I figured I'd finally share my go-to recipe for stroganoff. You CAN use beef in this if you want (or chicken, or whatever!) but I generally use turkey. I almost always have ground turkey on hand instead of ground beef just because it's so versatile. It's hearty enough that you can use it in just about any recipe that calls for ground beef, and light enough that you can also use it in place of chicken. It's like.. magic meat! I love turkey. Plus it's generally leaner than hamburger. Double plus! This recipe is one that has become loved in our dinner rotations just because it's easy and cheap. I buy the 3 or 5lb chubs of meat and freeze it in half pound blocks, then defrost as needed. Need a pound? Throw two into the fridge the day before. Need half a pound? Just throw one in! Or you can do like me, since I rarely actually plan that far ahead, and just defrost it in the microwave when you need. I only use a half pound of meat for one pot, but you can most definitely add however much you'd like. Again, this is a money-stretching meal for us. If I had it my way, I'd add the whole 3lbs to one pot probably. Maybe some day I will. This is also a very versatile recipe. I use chicken stock and cream of chicken soup, but you can most definitely use vegetable stock instead, and you can use cream of mushroom or celery instead of chicken if you prefer. If you like mushrooms in your stroganoff, you can add them in with the meat and onions to saute them. I refuse to eat fungus, however, so we make ours sans mushrooms. 

1/2lb ground turkey
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4-1/2 cup sliced mushroom (optional)
4 cups chicken stock 
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp paprika
5 cups uncooked dried egg noodles (the curly type, not long thin)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional)
Corn starch and milk (optional, see directions for info and measurements)

Brown meat, onions and mushrooms in a large pot. Add remaining ingredients except corn starch/milk and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium and let simmer for about 10 minutes until noodles are done. 

Here's the fun part. If the sauce isn't as thick as you'd like it (we like ours fairly thick), you can make yourself a slurry of 1 part corn starch to 2 parts milk. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way. I mix 1 1/2 tsp corn starch to 3 tsp milk in a cup and pour in slowly. You'll probably want to just mix in a little bit at a time until you get to the consistency that you want. Drizzle a bit in, stir, and let it cook for a minute or two and thicken up. Repeat until you're where you want to be with it. Keep in mind too that it will keep thickening a little bit as it cools, so don't make it TOO thick. 

Serve with a bit of cheese sprinkled over the top if you like. I happen to be a cheese fiend, so we put some in the stroganoff and on top. Because why not? 

Note: I realize that this isn't a "traditional" stroganoff, but it's still pretty tasty. Plus it's something that both my picky kids AND my picky husband will eat, so it's a winner in my books!