Whoopie Pies

Food

As I shared to my Facebook friends and Instagram followers today, I took time off from working on my comprehensive exam to make whoopie pies for the first time.

Actually very simple and not overly time consuming, I followed this recipe. So thank you One Girl Cookies,’ the recipe was awesome! (And they look pretty cute, if I do say so myself).

I did deviate from the recipe a little, further simplifying by dropping the cakes/cookies onto the pan rather than piping them. I initially tried piping out of a plastic bag, but it got messy pretty quickly.

If you already possess piping abilities, than by all means go for it! I was just struggling and (thankfully) piping wasn’t necessary.

I also had a lot of cream cheese frosting leftover. I froze what remained and am looking forward to using the rest for another creation!

Popovers

Food

Looking for something different for breakfast? Then I would highly recommend popovers. Easy to make, these pastries reheat well and can act as great on-the-go breakfasts during the week.

All you will need are a handful of ingredients and a muffin tin (if you don’t have a popover tin handy).

Ingredients:

1 cup of milk

1 cup of flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tablespoon melted butter

2 tablespoons chilled butter

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Whisk together all ingredients except for the chilled butter. The consistency should resemble heavy cream.
  3. Spray your pan with non-stick spray and place on the center rack of your oven. Allow the pan to preheat for 2 minutes.
  4. After the pan is hot, cut the chilled butter into 12 even pieces and put one in each muffin cup. Place the pan back in the oven until the butter is bubbly.
  5. Fill each cup with an even amount of batter and bake 20 minutes.
  6. After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.

*Do not open the oven while your popovers are baking. This will affect the consistency.

When they are done, they should look something like this:

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#popovers for #breakfast!

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While I like to eat them with butter, you can also pair them with jam or syrup. So next time you are stuck with limited ingredients and are craving something different for breakfast, I hope you give popovers a go!

Chocolate Frosting (Happy Birthday Dad!)

Food

Growing up, my mother would always get annoyed with my father’s birthday cake request: cake made from packaged mix (such as Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines, etc.). Although she always wanted to make a homemade cake, he insisted that he liked pre-packaged mix the best.

Although I was once opposed to boxed cake mix myself, I have come to realize that it doesn’t really matter if your cake is homemade or not. What matters is the frosting. And you most definitely want homemade frosting.


This is convenient, as making homemade frosting is much quicker than making a homemade cake. That being said, below is an easy chocolate frosting recipe that is not only delicious but requires little effort and ingredients:

What You Will Need:

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 stick butter, softened

3-4 tablespoons heavy cream (or however much you need to achieve desired consistency)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Sift sugar and cocoa together.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar mixture with butter and 1 tablespoon of cream. Beat until smooth.
  3. Keep adding the sugar mixture cup by cup, with each accompanied by another tablespoon of cream.
  4. Continue until all ingredients are combined and frosting is fluffy.
  5. Mix in vanilla.
  6. Frost your cake!

If the requirement for heavy cream isn’t enough indication that this recipe is delicious, take my word for it!

And if you find yourself in a situation that calls for packaged cakes, don’t fret. Simply enhance it with homemade frosting.

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Easter Bunny Cake

Food, Holiday

Out of all the shaped and festive cakes you could make for various holidays, this is probably the absolute easiest. I first tried making this Easter bunny cake last year and cannot stress how incredibly simple it was to make and assemble.

So if you are looking to create a simple (but adorable) holiday goody, you have come to the right place!

Cake:

While I chose to make a carrot cake (for obvious reasons) you can essentially use any cake with a spongy consistency. This means using a cake that is moist as opposed to crumbly so that it won’t fall apart when you cut it into shapes.

If you are a box-cake kind of person, that’s totally OK! Cakes made from baking mixes tend to be quite moist and should hold up when you are slicing into it.

Bake the cake in 2 nine-inch pans. Leave one of the circles in tact and cut the other into three pieces to make the bow tie and bunny ears.bunny-cutout-cake-template

Frosting:

Last year I used canned cream cheese frosting for lack of time, and the cake was no worse for it. This year however, I plan on making my own frosting. This recipe looks promising.

Decoration:

Adorn the bunny’s face using colored frosting, candy or whatever strikes your fancy! I also used sprinkled nutmeg to add texture.

Easter Bunny Cake

So there you have it: simplest shaped cake in the world. I hope everyone has a happy Easter and that it is filled with delicious foods and sweets!

(This year’s cake:)

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This year's #cake. Hoppy #Easter!

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More Christmas Cookies!

Food

This past week I posted about sugar cookies and my experience making them for the first time. Today I’m going to supply you with a few other recipes, all of which are Christmas classics.

  1. Peanut Butter Blossoms. Most of us are familiar with these cookies and have made them a Christmas tradition over the years. In fact, growing up, I only ever received these cookies during the holiday season. I have since continued this tradition, only making them for Christmas. While I use the classic Kiss in the center, other people use peanut m&ms or mini peanut butter cups.FullSizeRender-4
  2. Gingersnaps. Although I call them gingersnaps, these cookies are more of a “molasses cookie.” They are extremely soft and stay fresh longer than most of their cookie brethren. (This is probably due to the massive amounts of butter in them). I have made these cookies for several different school events, both in undergrad and grad school, and they have always been a hit. You may think gingersnaps are unexciting…You would be wrong.
  3. Chocolate Peppermint Cookies. I found this recipe on another blog and I am so glad that I did. These may just be my new favorite cookies of all time. Rich and decadent with a soft texture, this recipe is to die for. If you only make one cookie recipe this holiday season, it should be this one.

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Whether you are keeping them all to yourself or giving them away, cookies are a classic Christmas tradition. After all, you don’t want Santa to find an empty plate under your tree.

Only 4 days until Christmas, which means happy baking everybody!

cookies

I Finally Made Sugar Cookies

Food, Holiday

The semester is over!…Or at least it will be for me after Wednesday night. Only one more presentation and I can finally relax and enjoy Christmas break.

While I am clearly looking forward to this, I am also looking forward to the presentations because I will be bringing cookies to class. Because, ya know, ’tis the season.

While I had considered making tried-and-true recipes, I also thought it would be more fun to try something new. A friend recommended sugar cookies and, fairly confident in my baking abilities, I decided to go for it.

Although some people may think it odd I have never made sugar cookies before, it is honestly because I don’t much care for them. I am, however, in the minority and I know plenty of people adore them. My friend Rebecca does at least because she is the one who asked for them!

As it turns out, homemade sugar cookies are extremely simple. These cookies that I made turned out to be both crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. They were also made of ingredients I already had in the house (always a plus). If you are interested, this is the recipe that I used.

The only thing that I did differently from the recipe was that I doubled the amount of vanilla that it called for. (Truly, vanilla extract is one of the most important ingredients in most cookie recipes).

I baked a dozen cookies today as a test batch and will only have to make two dozen for my relatively small class. ThisĀ  means I will have plenty of dough leftover for Christmas!

Only having to wait a few days (less than a week) to bake it, I am just keeping it in the refrigerator. Cookie dough typically stays fresh in the fridge up to a week. However, if it is going to be longer than a week than I would recommend freezing it to hold the freshness. Freezer bags are a cheap and convenient way of freezing dough.

As it turns out, I don’t hate sugar cookies! In fact, I would highly recommend this recipe to both sugar cookie lovers and skeptics alike. So don’t get stuck in a rut this baking season, try something new. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Our Own Oktoberfest

Festivity, Food

So often when life gets busy the first thing that gets cut from the schedule is fun. When there is a lot to be done I know I sometimes feel guilty “wasting time” or “goofing off”. But having busy lives does not mean you should stop having fun. It simply means you make room for it in your schedule.

Andy and I both lead extremely busy lives. This year especially, as I am balancing a part-time job andĀ  commuting an hour to grad school and he is balancing his career and major home renovations.

Therefore, this past weekend we decided to create our own fun holiday experience by having our own personal Oktoberfest, inspired by the incredible parties that go on every October in Munich.

So what does this mean exactly? Well, keeping up with Oktoberfest tradition, it meant lots of food and lots of beer! Here’s a recap.

FOOD:

For our food we decided to prepare traditional German dishes (obviously) and landed on a pretty diverse and delicious menu. For snacking and appetizer purposes we purchased some horseradish cheese dip and pretzels. However, we then got much more creative by actually making our own pretzels. I would recommend homemade pretzels to anyone as they are easy and fun to make as well as delicious.I also prepared homemade applesauce from the apples we had picked fresh.

pretzels

For dinner we prepared beer brats with sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard, sweet and sour cabbage and homemade potato salad. Although the brats were just the typical packaged variety we improved the flavor by sauteing them in beer and crisping them on the grill.

oktoberfest dinner

And if that wasn’t enough we also made an apple streusel cake for dessert!

streusel cake

BEER

Beer is an essential element of Oktoberfest, so therefore it was only right that we treated ourselves to several different variations of this brew. One of our favorites and a must have is Sam Adam’s take on the beverage.

sam adams

However, we recently discovered Saranac’s version and were both pleasantly surprised with the Oktoberfest brew…

Saranac Octoberfest

as well as their creative “Darktoberfest.” The Darktoberfest obviously possesses a darker flavor and is extremely satisfying when paired with some of these hearty dishes.

saranac darktoberfestAnd finally, after doing some research we discovered that Sierra Nevada actually partners with a brewery in Germany to create their Oktoberfest beer. We then deemed this beverage essential and I’m especially glad we did! (This beverage may now be one of my favorites).

sierra nevadaSo as the old expression goes, work hard play hard. When life gets tough make time for yourself and come up with new ways to celebrate. Fun doesn’t always have to be large groups of people and extravagant parties. Sometimes fun is as simple and spending the day cooking with the person (and dogs) you care about most.