Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sam's Swirl Cookies

I made these swirl cookies and donated them to The Ronald McDonald House in memory of Sam's 2nd birthday. They were fun to make and the kids loved them.

Icebox Swirl Cookies by Martha Stewart

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg white for brushing
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 c. all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • gel-paste food coloring

1. Mix butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed til creamy. Add eggs and salt; mix until well combined. Beat in milk and vanilla. With mixer running, add flour a little at a time til well combined.

2. Divide dough into balls- one for each color. For chocolate dough, add cocoa (1/4 cup is enough to flavor half a batch) ; mix well with electric mixer. For colored dough, add 1/4 tsp. food coloring; mix well. Add more in tiny amounts for darker colors.

3. Wrap each ball of dough in it's own sheet of plastic wrap; pat flat into a rectangle. Refrigerate at least one hour or until ready to use. At this point the dough can be frozen for up to one month. 4. Parchment or waxed paper makes a good work surface. Sprinkle generously with flour, then roll out each piece of dough 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Roll out one color at a time. I rolled mine out to an 8x12 rectangle, but you can make them any size you want.

5. Place the rolled out dough on baking sheet and return to the refrigerator to chill while rolling out the other colors. Brush each layer with eggs whites- this will act like glue to keep the layers together. When you layer the colors you want (don't layer too many colors- it'll be hard to roll up and the cookies will be ginormous) roll up carefully and wrap in parchment paper. Return back to the refrigerator for at least 1.5 hours or wrap really well and freeze til ready to use. To help the logs keep their round shape, set each in a cardboard paper-towel roll that you have sliced open lengthwise.

6. When ready to slice cookies, cut 15 inches of dental floss (or double thickness of thread). Let log soften for about 10 minutes (out of fridge). Remove parchment. Wrap floss around log and pull through. Make the slices thin: 1/4 inch or less.

7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place slices on an ungreased baking sheet (lined with parchment paper). Bake for 12 to 18 minutes (depending on size), until firm but not browned. Let cool on baking sheet for several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 4-6 dozen depending on size of logs. ha ha, I said logs :-)

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Like I said, it's labor intensive, but if you break up the process it's not so bad. I made the dough one weekend and froze it til a couple of days before I needed them. I thawed the logs out in the fridge overnight and baked them the next. Honestly the hardest part was cutting the slices with the floss, but it really is necessary to keep the slices neat and clean without the colors "bleeding" into each other.

These can be made with vanilla and chocolate swirls (ie: without the food coloring). The vanilla part isn't that flavorful, but other extracts would be nice too. Like orange, almond or peppermint instead of vanilla. The chocolate dough is quite tasty though :-)

Have fun making these. If you have little ones in the house, get them to help you. Aaron had a blast choosing the color combinations and tasting as we assembled. I think that was his favorite part.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Making Oatmeal Cream Pies Jealous

I made these yummy things for Sam's nurse. Last year I took oatmeal raisin cookies to her at the hospital. She said she doesn't eat many sweets, but these are her favorite cookies- score! So this year, I wanted to make them just a little better and I think I succeeded. These were awesome, with a capital A. I gave her half of them and refrigerated the rest. They were even better the next day because the cookies softened and tasted like Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies- only much better and dare I say- healthier?
Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 1 c. raisins
  • 3 c. Quaker Oats, old fashioned, uncooked

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and sugars til creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well. Add combined flour, soda, cinnamon, salt. Mix til fully incorporated. Stir in oats and raisins.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, then remove to wire rack.

NOTE: I used an ice cream scoop to make uniform sized cookies. They were slightly bigger than tablespoonfuls so they took a couple more minutes to bake- approx. 14-15 minutes. Using the scoop yielded 36 cookies (or 18 sandwich cookies).

Mascarpone Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2-3 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted

Combine cheeses in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer til creamy and lump free. Mix in desired amount of honey. Then stir in sugar til sweetened to your liking.

To assemble the sandwich cookies: Place about one tablespoon of mascarpone filling on one cookie and top with an additional cookie. Gently squeeze together to allow the filling to come to the edges. Don't press too hard or the filling will ooze out. Eat right away or refrigerate leftovers for up to 4-5 days. The longer they sit in the fridge, the softer they'll be. This recipe made enough filling for 18 sandwich cookies.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sam's Birthday Cupcakes

I made these for my son Sam's 2nd birthday. He's in Heaven, but I'm sure he would have loved them. Or maybe he would have thought they looked funny because they're red! He would have loved them if they were covered in sprinkles, that I'm sure of. I thought they were really good and pretty!

I love the deep red color of this southern cake. Originally thought, the vinegar and buttermilk mixed with the cocoa when baked turned the cake red. But if that were true than any and all chocolate cakes that included buttermilk or something else acidic would turn the cake red, and it doesn't. Nowadays, it's made with red food coloring- lots and lots of red food coloring! You might want to wear an apron and rubber gloves :-)

Red Velvet Cake

  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. shortening
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1 oz. bottle red food coloring
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 c. buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3- 8 inch pans or line 18 muffin tins with paper liners. Set aside.

To make the cake, in a bowl cream the sugar and shortening. Add the eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl make a paste with the food coloring and cocoa. Add the paste to the shortening mixture. In another bowl combine the flour and salt, and add to the mixture. In a cup mix the buttermilk, vinegar and soda, and add to the mixture. Pour the mixture into prepared pans.

Bake for 25-30 minutes in the cake pans and 15-20 for the cupcakes, or until done. Let the cake cool in the pans completely before removing.

When cool, frost with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).

NOTE: I made this cake in one large bowl. I creamed the butter and sugar, then added the eggs, then alternately added the dry ingredients with the wet. I then added the food coloring at the very end.

The original recipe called for 4 ounces of red food coloring. I only used one 1 oz. bottle and it was plenty red. If you want to add more, go right ahead. This would also be fun to try out other colors, like blue, green, or even purple.

This recipe makes one 3-layer cake or 18 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 3 c. powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)

In a medium bowl, cream the cheese, butter and vanilla til smooth with a hand mixer. Slowly mix in sifted powdered sugar til light and fluffy. Frost cake and top with nuts. Eat right away or refrigerate any leftovers.

Happy Birthday my Love!

Samuel Andrew - August 15, 2006

Friday, August 8, 2008

Reunited, and it felt so good!

About ten years ago, I saw this recipe in a magazine at my aunt's house. My grandmother saw the luscious picture of this layer cake and requested it for her birthday. I made it for her, but never remembered which magazine it was in. Fast forward to a couple months ago when I was browsing around the bookstore and came across a discounted cookbook featuring recipes using cake mixes. I flipped through it looking for anything that caught my eye, then I saw a pic of this cake. I excitedly pulled out a billing statement envelope and jotted down the recipe (a Target envelope, if you must know). Well, I made it last week and it was as good as I remembered. We were last. I don't remember which cookbook I saw it in, but it doesn't matter, because I got the recipe and I'm not forgetting about this cake. Chocolate Praline Torte
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 c. coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 box devil's food cake mix
  • --------------------------------
  • 1-3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and cream. Stir over low heat until butter is melted. Pour into two well greased 9-in. round baking pans. Sprinkle with pecans; set aside.

Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Carefully pour batter over pecans. Bake at 325 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes (no longer or the praline will harden in the pan). Invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

For the topping, beat cream in a mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff. Don't over beat the cream though, or you'll make butter and have to start all over.

Place one cake layer, pecan side up, on a serving plate. Spread the first layer after it is COMPLETELY cooled with half of the whipped cream. Top with second cake layer and decorate with the remaining half of the cream.

NOTE: I used "Butter Recipe Fudge" cake mix and walnuts because it's what I had on hand. This would also be really good with a yellow or spice cake mix, or even a homemade pumpkin cake- mmm! (I'll have to try that for Thanksgiving). I do have to say that pecans are better in this recipe than the walnuts, but use what you prefer. Be sure to store this in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Brought to you by the letter C

I am a Chessmen Cookie. What are you?

Pepperidge Farm has come out with a new chocolate chessmen cookie! This would be a delicious twist to this Banana Pudding. The cookies' chocolate flavor is subtle at first, then the richness sets in. Mixed with the buttery-ness of this cookie, it's a great pair.

Now go and make it and invite me over :-)

Sunday, August 3, 2008


I love jello salad- pistachio with cool-whip and nuts, lime with cottage cheese, orange with marshmallow- mmmmm!

I came across a recipe in a newspaper several months back and decided to make it. When I was little and wasn't feeling well, my grandmother would always make something warm and comforting, like soup. My husband was under the weather today so I decided to make him some homemade chicken and noodle soup and strawberry jello salad. All very comforting and yummy!

Strawberry Jell-O Salad

  • 1 6 oz. box strawberry jell-o
  • 1 1/2 c. boiling water
  • 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed w/o lumps
  • 10-12 whole frozen strawberries
  • 1 c. sour cream

In a medium bowl pour boiling water over strawberry jello. Mix til gelatin is fully dissolved. Add in crushed pineapple, and bananas. Add in strawberries and mix.

In a small bowl, stir sour cream til creamy.

In a medium bowl, pour half the gelatin mixture. Carefully ladle the sour cream over the jell-o, then pour the rest of the mixture over the sour cream.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

NOTE: This is not the prettiest of salads, but it's super simple, quick and delicious. This would also be great with orange jell-o and mandarin orange slices. Or cherry jell-o and frozen cherries or...

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