Monday, November 29, 2010

Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Marshmallow Pops

I love this time of year. The scents are amazing. The treats that have been hiding all year long have finally come out to play!

I think just everyone loves marshmallows and chocolate. I mean, who doesn't love a s'more? But this time of year it's time for a little twist- a peppermint twist! These creamy marshmallows are dipped in dark chocolate, then topped in crunchy peppermint. They are crazy good on their own, but when you dunk them in a hot cup of coffee, amazing things happen... They are so easy, you gotta give them a try!

Chocolate Dipped Peppermint Marshmallow Pops

6 marshmallows
1 c dark chocolate candy melts
1/2 c crushed peppermints or candy canes
6 candy sticks (wood or paper)
6 red gummy candies for garnish
Foam platform, to hold pops

Place peppermint candies in a small bag. Crush with a rolling pin or a mallet until pieces are small. Set aside.

Melt candy melts in microwave. Place sticks into marshmallows, and one at a time, dip into chocolate coating evenly. Lightly tap stick on edge of bowl to remove excess chocolate. This may take a few seconds- you do not want the chocolate to drip down sides while cooling. Once excess is removed, place the sticks standing up in the foam board. You can then place in the fridge or the freezer to set quicker.

After chocolate is set, dip just the top end and edges once again into the melted chocolate, and then immediately into the crushed peppermints. Place onto the foam board once again. On the very top center of the marshmallow/ peppermint, place a small dot of chocolate. Then place a gummy candy on top.

No need to refrigerate... Just enjoy!

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Creamy Appletini

Ahhh, the holidays are upon us... just a few short days and all of your favorite people will be at your door, dishes in hand, ready to share in the abundance that will grace your table. Your house is immaculate, all of the Autumn decor perfectly appointed; praises, love, and adoration of your culinary abilities is on it's way...

Bull. Don't lie. Aunt Gertrude has already pissed you off, insulting your turkey brining technique. Your brother can't seem to make an executive decision about whether he's coming or not. Your uncle wants to bring 10 of his buddies that can't even boil water, and the batteries just went out on your smoke detectors. All 8 of them. 12 feet up. Your ladder is only 4 feet tall.

It's time for your trusty one fingered wave to the world. It's time for a Creamy Appletini.

Creamy Appletini

1/4 oz chopped Hersheys cinnamon chips
1/4 oz graham cracker crumbs
1 Tbs Karo syrup, for rimming glass
1 oz spiced rum
1/4 oz whiskey
4 oz Martinelli's sparkling cider
2 oz heavy cream
crushed ice

Combine chopped cinnamon chips and graham cracker crumbs. Dip rim of a 4 oz glass into Karo syrup, coating completely. Set aside.

In an 8 oz glass, combine the rum, whiskey, sparkling cider, and heavy cream. Add some crushed ice. Stir until blended and frothy. Pour into your prepared glass. Makes 2, 4oz servings.

Ignore everybody.


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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Roasted Pumpkin Whole Wheat Pizza

I adore pizza. Not just your run of the mill, "Five for $5" deals, but rather, "real" pizza. Fresh, quality ingredients, that adorn a fabulous crust, are a must. Oh, and not the crust that you can find in the cardboard tubes at the market... I'm talking fresh, flavorful, crispy rounds of goodness that can only be had by using a tried and true recipe.

The best recipe I've ever found comes from my friend Peter, who writes the Greek Food Blog, Kalofagas. I've been a fan of Peter's blog for a few years now, and consider him the authority on all things Greek. I look no further. Every recipe I've ever tried from his repertoire has been stellar. People who know me well know that I always adapt recipes from the get go. Well, not with Peters. I know they are tried. They are true. I respect his dishes and know that no changes are necessary.

When I got the hankering for a pizza last week, and went to prepare Peters recipe for pizza dough, I found myself completely out of all purpose flour. Shock. I know... Me without flour is unheard of. It's wrong. It just doesn't happen. Hot diggity lizards though, it did! All of my recipe components already prepped, with 2 little ones I was babysitting and my own Kidlet underfoot, I was unable to jet to the store and went into a pizza panic!

It was then that I remembered my frozen stash of King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour. While it is quite pricey, I refuse to use any other brand, knowing it produces consistent, quality results every time (no, I was not paid to say that).

For the first time, I was going to adapt a recipe of Peters... Shhhhh... don't say anything...

So, with additional ingredients inspired by my own runaway imagination, and a desperate craving for a unique, taste of Fall inspired pizza, I created this whole wheat pizza, uncertain of the end result.

All I can say is, I'm glad I ran out of all purpose flour! I loved the flavor and chew that the whole wheat gave to this crust. It married perfectly with the pumpkin, and complimented the taste and aroma of the fresh sage. When drizzled generously just before serving with the best olive oil you can find, and served with a smoky glass of Chardonnay, you'll have a distinctive pizza perfect for a meal, or wonderful as an appetizer.

Roasted Pumpkin Whole Wheat Pizza
with adapted Pizza dough recipe from Peter of Kalofagas

1 recipe Pizza Dough- Use this recipe & substitute King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
1 small Sugar Pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and sliced
2 cups Ricotta Cheese
1 whole head of Garlic, roasted
2 fresh Sage Leaves, minced, and additional for topping
1/4 tsp fresh ground Nutmeg
Salt & fresh ground Pepper, to taste
12 slices of Smoked Provolone Cheese
Olive Oil, for brushing and drizzling

Preheat oven to 450F. Sprinkle pizza stone with cornmeal and place in oven.

Combine ricotta cheese, roasted garlic, minced sage, fresh nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Divide whole wheat pizza dough in half. Spread out each half, and carefully transfer to a pizza peel that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Brush dough well with olive oil. Spread 1/2 ricotta mixture onto dough. Cover with 6 slices of smoked provolone. Top with as many slices of pumpkin as you like. Lightly drizzle again with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. If desired, sprinkle with a chiffonade of fresh sage leaves. Transfer pizza from the pizza peel to your well heated pizza stone, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven.

Just before serving, drizzle again with olive oil. Makes 2 medium size pizza's.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pumpkin Biscotti with Toasted Pine Nuts and Cinnamon Chips

Of course y'all know I bake. A lot. An obscene amount of cakes, really. Last week I had both my sons birthday cake and a Crack Pie sitting on my counter. Well, make that 2 crack pies- but I was a good girl and gave one away.

Because I have so much sweet stuff lying around here all the time, my cravings have a tendency to lean towards the not so sweet variety. Just something with a touch of sweetness, to compliment a nice, hot, cup of coffee.

I was doing a little hanging out over at My Baking Addiction last week, and came across Jaime's post for Pumpkin Pie Biscotti. I absolutely adore biscotti. There is not a more perfect pairing with coffee than to dunk in a perfectly crisp biscotti, in my opinion.

Taking note of the changes Jaime felt she would make the next time she made this recipe, I heeded her advice, as well as adapting the recipe to ingredients I had on hand. I used a mixture of dark brown and vanilla sugar's, then added toasted pine nuts and cinnamon chips. I also baked the biscotti a bit longer to achieve the crunch and "dunkability" I absolutely love. These are fabulous to make and give away for the holidays... if you don't eat them all yourself ;-)

Pumpkin Biscotti with Toasted Pine Nuts and Cinnamon Chips
adapted from My Baking Addiction (via Cooking in an Apron)

3-1/2 c flour
3/4 c dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 c vanilla sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 c pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tsp Bourbon Vanilla
2 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 c pine nuts
1/2 c cinnamon chips
1 egg
1 Tbs water
Sugar Glitter Crystals (if desired, for garnish)
Melted white chocolate (if desired, for garnish)

Pre heat oven to 350F.

Combine flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl. In a small bowl combine pumpkin puree, 2 eggs, and vanilla. Add the wet pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients. The mixture will be a little hard to combine at first, but will gradually come together to form a thick dough.

Toast the pine nuts in a small pan with the butter until lightly golden- just a few minutes. Cool, then gently add the pine nuts and cinnamon chips to the biscotti dough. Place dough on a floured surface and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a log shape, about 8" long, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, 3" apart. Very slightly flatten the logs.

In a small bowl beat the remaining egg with water and lightly brush the surface of each with the egg wash. At this time you can sprinkle with decorative sugar, if you desire. I used Gold Glitter Crystals.

Bake for 27 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

On a cutting board, carefully cut each log on the diagonal into 1/2" slices with a very sharp bread knife.

Return the cut biscotti to a parchment lined baking sheet, with the cut sides facing down. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and turn over each biscotti. Return to oven and bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, until nice and golden. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Once cool, drizzle with melted white chocolate, if desired. Approximately 32-40 biscotti.

Note: Oven types and temperatures may vary. Some cooking times may take less or longer than others.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cakes, and more cakes...

I am so thankful that I have had more opportunities of late to create custom cakes. If you hadn't noticed, my "regular posting" has been a bit scarce these days. Oh, I'm still cooking and baking up a storm, but with kids under foot and cake orders to fulfill, sometimes the step by step photo's have to go by the wayside and the family is lucky to get a fork, let alone a fab little garnish of parsley, to grace their plates. Decorating cakes, though, is what I love to do most. Sure, it can be quite stressful, and I've had my share of mishaps, but I try and learn from those, and move on.

I made this John Deere themed cake last week, complete with farm animals, to grace the little carrot cake cuppies. The tractor was made from Rice Krispy treats covered in fondant. The animals, corn and carrots were all fondant.

This was a red velvet bridal shower cake with an Italian meringue buttercream, complete with fondant bow and real red roses.

My little one turned 4 this summer and all she can think of day and night is Tinkerbell. So naturally, kidlet got what she wanted...

For a surprise birthday party I created a 2 foot long carved Miller Lite bottle out of chocolate cake, covered in buttercream and fondant. I hand painted the logo onto the fondant with food coloring.

A sweet little girl turned 2 and her very favorite little guy in the world is Elmo. This was also red velvet.

I made some little Elmo's to go with the cake, as well as her name out of fondant to top cupcakes that surrounded the cake.

Another wanted a bustier cake for his wife's surprise birthday party. This, too, was about 2 ft long. Covered in buttercream and the bustier fashioned out of fondant.

How I loved to make this vanilla bean cake with Italian meringue buttercream for a Marine Boot Camp graduate! All the stars and rope are fondant painted in an edible gold glaze.

There are many, many more. I don't always have time to snap a good photo, but I at least try to get something before it leaves my kitchen!

Thanks everyone, for following my too few posts... I appreciate all of you! I have some wonderful recipes coming up, so stay tuned!

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