Monday, December 31, 2012

Sparkling Lemonade with Pomegranate

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I really try to avoid any unnecessary waste leftover from any recipe, so I can usually have the excuse to make something else. I don't like having a quarter of a potato around, or half a can of pumpkin puree in the refrigerator. So, last week, to avoid wasting the lemons I had leftover from making candied citrus peels, I made this sparkling lemonade with pomegranate seeds. I thought of a tart, some cookies, or several bars to use this lemon juice, but summer was calling and prompted me to make this refreshing drink.

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While lemon used to not be a favorite flavor of mine, it's slowly growing on me and I'm really starting to like it as a main flavor.

I liked the lemon flavor in this lemonade, and it's not too sweet. Each glass is half full of a lemon simple syrup, and half full of sparkling water. You could definitely make this sweeter by adding more of the simple syrup.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Buttermilk Biscuits

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There are always those things that you wish you did more often. These could range from writing more letters, reading more books or visiting your grandmother more often. Rather than thinking of something that I want to do and trying to do that certain thing a ton (like writing 10 letters a week), I've resorted to just trying to make these tasks more realistic.

Rather than writing 10 letters a week like I used to (I'm not even kidding), I've set a new goal to rather write everyone once a month. That's more reasonable. Even if this doesn't happen, at least it's more likely to happen.

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I've tried to apply this to food as well because I have been known to try to make 8 cakes, 12 pies and 24 batches of cookies in one day (total exaggeration), but I'm learning how to manage and learn how much time things actually take.

I've been trying to plan ahead and be way more realistic with things.

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So, instead of making 4 different kinds of biscuits for when my grandparents were here about two days ago, I settled on just one type. It's definitely doable, not unachievable.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chocolate Chunk Blondies

DSC_0510Sometimes, I really need to stop and think about what I am doing and not just go through the motions. I need to be conscious of the salt I am measuring, and be watchful of the oven that contains this important cake. I need to fully read the recipe before I begin baking and I need to recognize exactly I'm making and what I want to achieve in the end.

Sometimes, I just go through the actions. Cream the butter and sugar, and mix together the dry ingredients. Step 1, step 2, throw it in the oven and let it cool.

I need to always be fully aware of what I'm doing, even though that is definitely not always the case.

DSC_0511About two years ago, I started following a recipe for a blonde brownie that I was prepared to make. I pulled out the necessary ingredients, I followed the recipe, I made a batch of blondies, and they turned out strangely... gooey. These blondies were not a good type of gooey; they were falling apart and left a weird stickiness in the bottom of the pan. They definitely could not be classified as a sturdy, baked blonde brownie.  I just thought that this blondie failure (truly, a complete failure) was due to the weird recipe.

So, I tried another recipe. Unfortunately, I achieved similar results with this second batch, except they were even more stickier and gooey than the previous batch. I had no idea what was going on with my baking skills and these blondies.

I was discouraged with these results, so I baked a batch of cookies next. I blocked blondies from my head, and headed towards a different product. I really paid attention to the ingredients I was using, and when I reached for what I thought was the flour container and scooped and leveled a cup of the stuff, I realized it did not had the same consistency as flour.

And so I realized that this "flour" was powdered sugar. Yep, I had gone through two, and almost three, recipes confusing these two obviously different products. I was not realizing what I was doing when I used the powdered sugar as flour. Since the containers of flour and sugar are identical and the powdered sugar one was where the flour container typically lived, I just assumed that it was flour. I never realized in those first two recipes that it was not what I was supposed to be using.

Since then and forever, I really try to be fully conscious of what I am doing because you never what you might be messing up if you're not giving your full attention to what you are doing.

Hey, you might get disastrous blondies if you're just going through the actions.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sparkling Sugared Cranberries

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So, it's December 25. That's crazy! I cannot believe that 2012 is almost over. The holidays, anticipation and food towards the end of the year are all so wonderful.

Cranberries are one of my favorite foods in November and December, and these sugared cranberries are definitely going to become a staple every year because they are soo incredibly delicious and simple. While I love cranberry sauce, this alternative way of serving cranberries is so genius.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts with Pecans

DSC_0033My dad has said before that the only reason I enjoy cooking and baking is because of the "gadgets" that are involved in the process. In this case, gadgets refer to so many things: the necessities (not always necessary, necessarily) and utensils that I use in the kitchen. While this is definitely not the only reason I love to make great goods in the kitchen, the amount of kitcheny items I have accumulated over the past year about is a little much sometimes, but I love it. I love finding plates and items that I am not sure as to what they are and using them for whatever.

Most of these are from the flea market, or are gifts, and they are coming together to form a constantly growing pile in our dining room. Is that bad? probably. I just think of it as an investment in the future since I'll never have to buy a set of plates when I move out since I'll have so many already.

The other part of the "gadgets" include the actual tools that are involved in the cooking and baking process: the pans, pots and measuring spoons. I don't particularly like buying the super specialty pans that are in the shape of castles that I'll only use one time, but I knew that one pan I would be purchasing was a doughnut pan.

And this brings us back to the reason of this post: pumpkin doughnuts.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Strawberry Jam Oatmeal Bars

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When I first really got into baking, I used to love making bars. I still do, but I just do not make them as much any more. So, when looking for recipes that involved strawberry jam last night, I remembered seeing these bars from The Pioneer Woman. They are full of oats and strawberry jam to make a delicious bar.

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You don't have to use strawberry jam, but these tasted great with said jam. I think it might be cool to do several jams on one batch of bars so there are different flavors and colors in the same pan together. Also, this would be a great way to use any lingering leftover jars of jam in your refrigerator.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fleur de Sel Caramels

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I'm not sure if I'm alone in this matter, but I have pretty much always been afraid of using a thermometer for baking. So, when I decided to get one, I made marshmallows first. Basically, the thermometer didn't work, and stopped at 120˚F. So I guessed. Thankfully, they turned out alright.

Next, I made toffee. The thermometer stopped at 120˚F again. I guessed, and it came together again.

I had given up on this thermometer now and the next weekend, I made toffee yet again. My guessing and cold water tests did not work so well this time, and the toffee did not turn out.

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So, I've avoided anything with the use of candy thermometer since for two reasons.

One: I did not buy another thermometer for months

and...

Two: I was back to being nervous about heating something in a pot and needing to pay attention to the temperature.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

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With the end of the semester rapidly approaching, I haven't been cooking or baking quite as much. Thanksgiving was a nice break filled with lots of goods, but now I am just waiting for these two weeks to be over so I can go on another baking spree.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

DSC_0057For every Thanksgiving that I can remember, we've had a pecan pie make it to the table. Still, up until this chocolate chip pecan pie, I had never tried a piece of pecan pie. The gooey, over-baked dessert that was placed on our table years before this has always left me with the thought that pecan pie is disgusting. It was definitely just the brand of pre-made pie that a member of our family brought every year that was a little suspicious. And whenever I think of it, I always picture my brother's ex-girlfriend eating the leftover pie that was rejected.

DSC_0059That's just what I think of when I think of pecan pie, but I was planning on making a classic version of the pie for this holiday to give it a second chance and see what it really tastes like. However, a chocolate variation came to mind and I decided that chocolate had to be included in some form.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pumpkin Chai Latte

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While I love incorporating pumpkin into baked goods, that pure pumpkin flavor is not a particular favorite of mine. I'll make pumpkin bread pretty much any day, but plain pumpkin just doesn't appeal to me with very many recipes that I see.

However, along with the spices and chai flavor and tea bags in this recipe, the flavors complimented each other well and was a great seasonal thing to make on a cold day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cranberry Brie Grilled Cheese

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When I realized that the leftover cranberry sauce from Thursday was already gone by Friday morning and then saw this sandwich later that afternoon, I knew that another batch of burgundy amazingness would have to be coming soon in the future.

DSC_0131Then, when picking up more berries to make more cranberry sauce and get the ingredients for this sandwich that I had not stopped thinking about, I found the brie right next to the fresh cranberries. This sandwich was just waiting to happen, and I am so glad it did.

So, after I made a double recipe of cranberry sauce on Saturday night, I was ready to make this incredible sandwich for lunch on Sunday.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

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If there was one snack related food that I had to choose to love, it would probably be pretzels. Combine these with another one (make that two) of my favorite things (chocolate and peanut butter), and you have an amazing dessert. Or snack. Or both, times about 70, because that is how many of these wonderful bites this recipe makes. You can make these all for yourself, or you can be nice and share them.

It's whatever!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sweet Potato Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies

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Sweet potatoes have never been a favorite of mine. I've never liked the smell of sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving and have never scooped out large portions of the stuff. I even remember one night a couple of years ago when my mom was making her sweet potato casserole while my grandmother was over and we were talking. The smell of the sweet potatoes radiating out of the oven was making me uncomfortable and it was hard tolerating the smell. 

Fortunately, I've become way more open to food since then and even the orange potato is no exception. 

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A couple of weeks ago, I was so intrigued by this video and it's been on my mind since I first watched it.Then, on Sunday before making a trip to the grocery store, my mind set on purchasing the ingredients for a recipe of chocolate chip cookies from another cookbook, I was flipping through the newest December issue of Southern Living and saw these Sweet Potato Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies. I knew that they were calling my name. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Before Thanksgiving cooking and baking descends upon us, I wanted to throw in this DIY Pumpkin Pie Spice for any recipes that may involve the ingredient this week. 

We had a super suspicious looking tiny container of pumpkin pie spice in our spice drawer, so homemade was in order. It takes pretty much no time to measure and combine the spices, and it's so much better than an old plastic thing of spices from who knows when. 

It also gives you a use for an old spice jar once you're ready to store the spices! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

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I had a fair amount of melted chocolate leftover this past weekend and I just decided to use it by making these chocolate covered potato chips. 

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You can use whatever chocolate you prefer, but I just used semisweet chocolate because that is what I had leftover. I think milk chocolate would be the best! 

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Super easy snack that requires little time and effort. Totally worth it! 

from Love and Cupcakes

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bummer Musings on a Monday

It's always a bummer when something you have high hopes for does not turn out the way you expect it to. Whether it be a recipe or something else entirely, it is unfortunate when it happens. 

I was so excited for these malted chocolate chip cookies this weekend, but they actually turned out to be pretty awful. 

Super flat, weird in color... dare I say bendable fresh out of the oven before they became overly crisp? 
Just a few unappetizing adjectives to describe these cookies. The fact that I accidentally burnt one sheet did not help the situation either. 

Although these cookies (among other things) might be a dump along with this Monday, look forward! Thanksgiving is next week! Happy days! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Avocado Apple Arugula Salad

I've mentioned before that I'm not a huge fan of salad dressing, but this particular one looked so delicious and I decided to give the dressing a try. I also used to not really like arugula, but I like it now! 

I am so glad I decided to make this because the flavors were so perfect together and tasted so good. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Baracky Road Ice Cream

In honor of election day today, I made this hazelnut, marshmallow, dark chocolate ice cream titled "Baracky Road" from Molly Moon's. 


This ice cream is a definite winner! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Eggs and Green Chilies

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I am at a little bit of a loss as to what to write about today, just to let you know. It's a definite writer's block situation, which happens pretty often. 

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Even though I'm not sure how to start this post, I wanted to put this egg dish out there today. It's super simple and easy, and only has 4 ingredients! 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

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The last coffee cake I made was super suspicious and had been left in the oven way too long even though I baked it 20 minutes less than the recipe called for. 

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This coffee cake was SO much better and was super moist (due to the large amount of butter). This cake is filled with walnuts and has a delicious glaze on top. 

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It was so good, especially after the awful one I made earlier! 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding

We ended up with about 10 ripe bananas this weekend, so I made banana bread (which turned out pretty terrible) and this banana pudding. 

A little planning is needed when making this recipe because you must let the pudding chill overnight, smack some whipped cream into it and then throw in some nilla wafers and bananas, and chill another 4 hours. These chilling periods are a little difficult for me, but it's worth it in the end! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Muscovado Sunflower Kernels

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This morning, I cooked a small brunch type meal with one of our friends, Druanne. We started out making bread, followed by a coffee cake, an egg dish with chilies, and these sunflower kernels.

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These sunflower kernels are so quick and easy to make and I couldn't believe how delicious they were! The sugar gives them a crunchy and slightly sweet texture and taste, but it is not overpoweringly sweet. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gluten-Free Milk Chocolate Toffee Pecan Cookies

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Gluten allergies seem like such a downer, but luckily there is Cup4Cup flour to bring baked goods back! The flour gave these cookies such a wonderful texture and the toffee bits and pecans throughout were a great addition of flavor for these wonderful cookies. I loved the bursts that the toffee provided because it was slightly chewy and toasted pecans are always delicious. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

7 Amazing Hours

I'm still taking in everything that happened this weekend, but to start off with the basics, I spent seven incredible hours with Joy the Baker and Tracy Shutterbean at Teahouse Studio. Michael was there as well! 

Although I still can't believe how lucky I was to spend this past Saturday with Joy, Tracy and everyone else at the workshop, I cannot express how much I enjoyed meeting two women that have given me so much inspiration and motivation. They were the nicest people I have ever met and I was so thankful for how nice they treated me as awkward and shy as I am. They are incredible role models and I am so thankful for their decision to start and keep blogging. I love reading their blogs, listening to their podcast, and just absorbing as much as I can from my two favorite bloggers. Finding their websites has led to so many incredible things and I will never forget how much these two girls mean to me and the knowledge they have shared. They have made me a better baker, cook, and now, photographer and food-styler.

Also, I am so grateful for how nice everyone was at the workshop. I was blown away by the kindness that every single person expressed on Saturday and how much fun I had.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Cake


It seems like I've been baking a lot with pecans recently, but I haven't given the chocolate and pecan combo a try in a while. This cake turned out to be delicious, of course, and the pecans and chocolate were great together. 


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