Sunday, March 28, 2010

Come on over.....

and check out my new blog

Married life has been busy and the baking has taken a vacation! Well, I'm still baking but juggling a household and a husband too. The new blog will capture the adventures of being newly married and have some trysts in the kitchen as well!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rolo Cookies...need I say more?

I scan tons of cookie website. Everyone has a cookie recipe that they tweak and make their own. I saw this recipe with Rolos and found about 25 similiar ones on websites all over the place. I love Rolos..who doesn't?? next to Whoppers and Junior Mints, they're one of my favorites!

I went to Wal-Mart hoping to score some Holiday Rolos in red and green wrappers, thinking they'd be on sale with Christmas approaching quickly. No luck...I wandered around Wal Mart searching for Rolos...I ended up buying them out of their supply.

I can't help it...i'm a sucker for any chocolate cookie. I think I might need to buy stock in dutch processed cocoa powder

One thing I loved about this cookie...they all came out so perfect and uniform...a cookie makers dream

These got rave reviews. I've fooled around with alot of cookie recipes this Holiday season and I do believe Rolo Cookies were the favorite among co workers and courthouse employees.

Rolo Cookies
adapted from

2 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
48 rolos chocolate-covered caramel candies


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla.
Sift together dry ingredients. Slowly add to batter.

Take 1 Rolo candy and form a ball of dough around it. Roll softy in hands and place on cookie sheet.

bake for 10 minutes.

Homemade Marshallows

Martha, Martha, Martha....what you've made me become! It wasn't too long ago that I was a naive 19 yr old at UMASS Amherst. my mom gave me a package of chicken that she bought because it was sale at the grocery store. I went home to my roomies in Puffton Village...and said, what does one do with chicken??? We put it on a baking sheet sans foil, and ending up with a hot baked mess. Now that I think of it....I believe we resorted to throwing out the baking sheet so we didn't have to wash it.

So, imagine to my surprise that a couple years later, I'm Tivo'ing Martha Stewart instead of taping Jerry Springer. I'm watching Martha making marshmallows and think to myself..I can do that. So I did.

I bought it, didn't have a use for it, and cracked it open to flavor the marshmallows

My poor Kitchen Aid at work. I'm convinced when I turn him on, that my Kitchen Aid groans and says to itself...again lady...given me a rest! He's starting to really groan and work when he mixes. Husband even tried to google Kitchen Aid Mixer maintenance...but came up with nothing :(

My pan, covered in last year's 1/2 off holiday saran wrap, ready to go

This is 24 hour old fluff...that magically hardens into marshmallows!!! (Ok..maybe not so magically but more like because of the 3 packets of gelatin!)

I cut the marshmallows, and then threw them in some powdered sugar

Here are the little ones before they went for their sugar bath

Voila! These were the hit of my Yankee Swap gift at work. I tucked these puppies in a box with some cocoa and nips..hmmm..that'll make a cup of cheer!

Homemade Marshmallows
courtesy of my new favorite lady, Martha Stewart

Nonstick cooking spray

3 (1/4-ounce) packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Confectioners' sugar, sifted, for coating


Lightly spray a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water; let stand for 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; boil rapidly for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and, with the mixer on high, slowly pour the boiling syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into gelatin mixture. Add salt and continue mixing for 12 minutes

Add peppermint extract and mix until well combined. Spray a rubber spatula or your hands with cooking spray. Spread gelatin mixture evenly into pan using prepared spatula or your hands. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place, spray side down, on top of marshmallows. Let stand for 2 hours.

Carefully remove marshmallows from pan. Remove all plastic wrap and discard. Cut marshmallows into 2-inch squares using a sprayed a sharp knife. Place confectioners' sugar in a large bowl. Working in batches, add marshmallows to bowl and toss to coat. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Chocolate Ginger Bread

The Husband was away...on yet another business trip a couple weeks ago. I've started looking through the cupboards to see what I can make with ingredients I already have...the two top contenders were...

I flipped through some cooking magazines and found a recipe for gingerbread...something I'm not a huge fan of ..but then saw the chocolate variation..hmm...did someone say chocolate?????

The nice fluffy batter turned into this treat that I HAD to immediately take a chomp at

Packed and ready to go for those sugar loving co-workers of mine..just call me the workplace Betty Crocker

A close up of these beauties....

Chocolate Gingerbread Bars
courtesy of Everday Food Magazine

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with a strip of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper. Dust paper and sides of pan with cocoa; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, ginger, pumpkin-pie spice, and baking soda; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, molasses, egg, and sour cream until smooth. Add flour mixture; stir just until moistened (do not overmix). Stir in chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. Using paper overhang, lift gingerbread from pan. Transfer to a cutting board, and cut into 16 squares. Before serving, dust bars with confectioners sugar, if desired. (To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Monkey Cookies...aka Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

Next up.....some Monkey Cookies as we call them in my house...probably because we're the proud parents of a little cat that looks like a these cookies are in honor of our cat, Reese.

Here's Reese...

This was another easy cookie to make...lots of ingredients on hand..trying to decide between the "good" chocolate chips or not

This batter is so nice and fluffy. It combines all purpose flour with whole wheat flour and gives the cookie a nice golden brown tone to it

Another favorite tool of cookie scoop. I always thought, why bother, I can use spoons to scoop out the dough. BUT...using the scoop gives you perfect uniform cookies, or alot closer than you can do with 2 spoons. My favorite..the OXO meduim cookie scoop

Bill taught me a little secret to taking better up close here's one.

Cooling on racks...

another close up!

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies! cookbook)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup mashed banana
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream butter with sugar and light brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mash banana and add to mixutre. Sift together all dry ingredients with the exception of the nuts and chips. Once mixed, fold in chips and nuts.

Bake for 12-13 minutes.

*these cookies space them about 1 inch apart to avoid a massive cookie!


I liked these cookies. I thought they were a nice version of a chocolate chip cookie. This is a variation of Martha's recipe, because I ran out of some ingredients and had to do some last minute subsitutions. We're huge fruit eaters in my house. While I love bananas, once they get a spot or turn brown, I turn my nose up at them. But, I will throw them in the freezer to use them for baking at a later date! I always have 3-4 in there, I thaw them for 10 minutes and they slide right out of their peel and mash up so easily.

Husband's vote....he thought they were okay. He said more banana....and liked the White Chocolate Craisin cookie better!

Up Next...Lemon Ricotta Tart

As we all know, Christmas is less than 2 weeks away. I decided that since we have a lack of Christmas parties to go to this year, that this weekend I was going to test out some dessert recipes for Christmas dinner, since I've been given that assignment. It takes some time and effort but it's totally worth it to give a new recipe a dry run before you serve it to guests. You see...a funny thing happened over Thanksgiving. We were traveling to the Husband's parents' house up in PA. I was bringing a dessert. I decided to give a new recipe a try....Ina Garten's Pumpkin Marscapone Cheese Roll. It looked so easy to make...I watched Ina do it and she had no trouble.

Let's just say that after a long day in Juvenile Court, I came home the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (we were making the trek to PA on thursday morning). I fed the cats, did some laundry and launched into baking mode. I was so tired and my pumpkin roll didn't roll like Ina's. I got so frustrated and angry, I smashed my pumpkin roll. I had a bewildered husband, a smashed dessert, and 3 cats dining on a marscapone and crystalized ginger filling on my floor. I got in the car, drove to a local restaurant known for its desserts. They literally had 2 cheesecakes left, grabbed one and called it a night.

Moral of my Pumpkin Roll Gate as we call it...test your never know what might go wrong!

So, here's a test run of  Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine's Lemon Ricotta Tart (recipe to follow)

There's really no dessert I don't really like that has fresh lemon in it...I love the smell of the ktichen after I zest some lemon!

I liked making this tart 1) because I got a tart pan with removable bottom at my bridal shower 2) I got to use my Kitchen Aid food processor...I feel like he feels neglected sometimes. Here's the filling of ricotta cheese, fresh lemon zest and juice and cream cheese and eggs

This tart and I almost got in a fight. I mixed the filling, put it in the baked crust and then saw the package of cream cheese sitting there. I had to scoop out the filling, put it back in the food processor and pulse in the cream cheese...I was cursing at Martha because I knew something was missing after tasting the filling and a couple of her recipes haven't been up to snuff that I've tried lately...sorry Martha..this was my fault.

The finished product cooling....

The first slice....

A close up to see the ricotta-ness

Lemon Ricotta Tart (courtesy of EveryDay Food Magazine)

6 dozen vanilla wafers
6 Tbsp unsalted butter melted
2 cups whole milk ricotta
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon zest
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375. In a food processor, pulse vanilla wafers. The 6 dozen should yield 2 cups of crumbs. Mix processed wafers with melted butter. Press into the bottom of a tart pan with a removable bottom. Place tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool.

In a food processor, blend ricotta, cream cheese (don't forget this!) eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice together until smooth. Pour into tart pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until some brown spots appear on the top of the tart. Cool completely. Best served on the day its made.


This was a pretty easy recipe. I didn't like the taste of the filling. I zested 1 1/2 lemons and juiced 1 lemon...this was  a little more than Martha's recipe called for, but the filling was rather bland....not lemon zesty spectacular that I was expecting. I added more sugar but I think this tart fell a little flat. I was trying to be a good little Italian girl and make this for Christmas, as i remember Ricotta pie and cake growing up. But, while it was good, there was just nothing show stopping about it. The lemon tast wasn't super strong, but neither was the cheese taste. I would possibly make it again, but use even more sugar than the extra that I did add. Also, the tart baked for an additional 10 minutes tacked on Martha's rec of 30-35. The top cracked a tiny bit, but I was anxiously awaiting the creme brulee looking brown spots that never appeared and called it a day after 10 extra minutes!

Trying some new cookies....First up...White Chocolate Craisin Oatmeal Cookies!

I feel like I've been using the same cookie recipes over and over again. I make a million sugar cookies each year for different orders, so I love it when I have the opportunity to play around with other recipes as well. This weekend, we trimmed the tree, relaxed, and I baked up a storm in the kitchen....first up...a recipe I got off a bag of Craisins...I love to eat them as a snack and had all indredients on hand.

The sweetness in the cookie comes from white chocolate chips...

This cookie had a somewhat healthy feel to it had equal parts of flour and oats

The star ingredient...good old Craisins

This combo made for one thick batter....

So thick...I needed some husband assistance to mix it up...don't worry the liquor bottles were for our eggnog...not the cookie batter :)

Prepped and ready for the oven

A close up of the finished product

Recipe...courtesy of my Ocean Spray Craisin Package:
 Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2/3 cup of softened butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
6 oz package of Craisins

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs. Sift together dry ingredients and then slowly add to wet. Once mixed well, fold in craisins and chocolate chips.

This recipe made exactly 3 dozen cookies. In my oven, they took 11 minutes to make.

I thought these were okay. If I got a cookie that had a good amount of craisins and chocolate chips, it was good. However, the batter itself didn't have a lot of taste to it. I almost think it needed some plain sugar to sweeten it up a bit more. I had one cookie that was lacking in the chocolate chip department and it tasted bland.

Husband's review.....I made 3 different desserts this weekend. This was his favorite...he called them "snacktacular"

One thing I did like about these cookies...they don't expand while you bake. Therefore, you can fit a good amount on the cookie sheet and not worry about them baking into one another!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Double Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Time for some more test cookies! Christmas is around the corner and I have two cookie swaps to attend. The weather's also gotten a bit chillier in New it's not a bad time to have the oven up and running! This week I tried a double chocolate cranberry cookie. I love chocolate and find it hard not to make a chocolate cookie!!

This recipe started off with some bittersweet chocolate all chopped up

I creamed some butter and sugar until it was light and fluffy and added the dry ingredients to make a nice batter

Then, I melted the chocolate in my double boiler.

I let the melted chocolate cool for a bit, then into the Kitchen Aid it's my trusty, over worked mixer in action!

A picture of the cookies fresh out of the oven and cooling on a wire rack

This cookie was a nice, rich chocolate cookie. The cranberries added a nice addition, but didn't overpower the taste of the cookie. If you love chocolate...this is a must try!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The New and Improved Rice Krispy Treat for Chocolate Lovers!

This summer I started to experiment with other treats besides cookies. I made fondant covered Rice Krispy treats for a Rehearsal Dinner as well as a Wedding. It was fun to take a step back from baking sugar cookies in different shapes and designs and do something different. It was also nice to turn off the oven...especially when our central air decided to not cooperate and work anymore :).

I was cleaning out the pantry looking for canned and non perishable goods to donate to the food bank collection at work. To my surprise, I had lots of extra huge boxes of Rice Krispies left over from this summer's endeavors! So..I decided to mix up a classic.....

6 cups of good ole Rice Krispies

Instead of melting marshmallows and butter...I added some cocoa powder to the mix

The result was a cocoa rice krispy..which looked good, but wasn't enough for this chocolate luvah

I always have spare chocolate hanging around. I love to stock up when it goes on name it..milk, bittersweet, german, semi sweet...I got it. i melted up some semi sweet chocolate squares in my new double boiler (a genius invention that elminates my glass bowl over a saucepan)

I smothered the rice krispy treats with the melted chocolate....

Voila...a double chocolate rice krispy treat....the melted chocolate harded into a nice layer on top of the treats!

Just another shot of these's actual not a horribly bad recipe either calorie wise!

The only downfall to this recipe..I felt like the cereal didn't last as long with all the additive. Be sure to keep them in a very good airtight container. I brought them to work in a Ziploc plastic container. Someone left the lid off for an hour or so and I thought it really did these in and they tasted a bit stale :(