Friday, May 27, 2011


Every holiday my mother sets up shop in the dining room and whips up several pairs of puffy painted socks to send out all over the state of New York and to Nebraska. Along with these socks that we all wait ever so patiently for we also receive pretzels. These started as an addiction for all of us a few years ago when neighbor brought them over as part of our Christmas gift. We were hooked from the sweet and salty bite they provide.

They couldn't be more simple to make. And are highly addictive.

makes 24

24 square pretzels
24 Hugs, unwrapped
24 m&m's

1. Preheat oven to 200.
2. Unwrap Hugs.
3. Lay out pretzels on baking sheet and each with a hug. 
4. Bake for 6 minutes.
5. Immediately place an m&m on top of each hug.
6. Let cool and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kiss Cookies

If I could live off cookies, it would be these. Not only because they are delicious, but because of all the memories attached to these little guys. The recipe was given to my mom from a family friend and since what feels like forever, kiss cookies have always been served on the Christmas cookie tray. That adds to the specialty of these, they only come out at Christmas. Except for the special occasion here and there. Like 2 years ago (I can't believe it's already been 2 years!) when I had the honor of being in Cousin's wedding and we had her bridal shower at our house, obviously kiss cookies were served, because kiss cookies are our cookies. I couldn't tell you how or why they became "our" cookies, but they are, making them more special than any other Christmas cookie that's put out.
Even though Cousin (she really does have a real name, but cousin is here real name to me, so cousin she will be) lives 6 hours away from me and is 6 years older than me, when we're together it doesn't seem we've been apart for as long as we have nor that she has a big kid job and is married and I'm never growing up or leaving college (sorry, mom) we still go about just where we left off.
This weekend we're having an Engagement party for another cousin and as my mom and I were deciding menus and what would be made, it only seemed fitting that kiss cookies were served along side the cake.

The most tedious task of the cookies is 1. waiting patiently for the dough to harden, the kisses to freeze and 2. unwrapping all the dang kisses!

Kiss Cookies (aka bon-bon cookies)
makes about 40

1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
1 bag Hershey's kisses

1. Unwrap kisses, set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar.
3. Add vanilla.
4. Slowly add the flour.
5. Form a large ball, wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate 1/2 hour.*
6. Use 1 teaspoon dough with 1 kiss, roll in a ball until kiss is covered by dough.
7. Place balls on cookie sheet and freeze for 20 minutes.
8. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
9. Dip in frosting when cool. (confectioner's sugar and milk)

*It's okay if your dough looks like this..just mush it together and you'll get a ball!

The final product..


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let's face it, every blog needs a chocolate chip cookie recipe. At school, it's kind of embarrassing how often we want to make chocolate chip cookies/ how much we actually do make chocolate chip cookies, often just for the dough. Over the next few days there's going to be an influx of recipes and posts (yippee!) because it's going to be a crazy few days with a lot of people and a lot of food circulating through this house.

I have a new job, and that's to make muffins on Sundays for my mother to bring to her meetings Monday morning, so I made these. I have another job, a temporary one, to make cookies for the Engagement shower this weekend, as I was shuffling through cookie recipes I found a million and two for chocolate chip cookies, too boring though. But, one had sour cream, something we don't usually have in the house and my muffins from Sunday had sour cream in them too. That being said, I put two and two together thinking I should really use up the sour cream before it goes bad. Really, I just needed an excuse to bake. And maybe procrastinate in choosing the cookies I'm going to make for the weekend.

Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Let's Dish
makes about 45 cookies (using a melon baller)

I halved the recipe (on her site is the full recipe)

 1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/8 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 3/4 cup flour
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cream the butter and sugars on high speed (she says for 5 minutes, that's just waaaay too long for me to sit with the hand mixture, maybe if I had a Cuisinart, hint hint)
3. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat (she says for 3 minutes, I did it for probably 1 until my arm got tired)
4. Stir in sour cream
5. Add salt, baking soda, baking powder and mix.
6. Blend in flour 1 cup at a time, or you'll have a giant mess on your hands 
7. Stir in chocolate chips.
8. Place on ungreased baking sheet (whatever size you desire, I used a melon baller)
9. bake 9-11 minutes or until just brown around the edges.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chicken Mac and Cheese

Originally found here, this was made right when we got back after Christmas break and oh my, for not being a huge mac and cheese eater this was delicious.

One of my favorite blogs is How Sweet It Is and many of the recipes I make come from there, this included.

Chicken Mac and Cheese
from Jessica at How Sweet It Is, found here

1 1/2 pounds whole wheat pasta
2 boneless chicken breasts, grilled and chopped
3 slices of bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
pinch of nutmeg (I didn't add this)
2 cups milk (any type will work)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded smoked gruyere cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Boil water for pasta according to the directions.
3. In a skillet, over medium heat, add olive oil and saute the onions and red pepper.
4. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add butter and flour whisking together to create a roux.
5. Add milk and cream, stirring constantly.
6.  Add cheeses and nutmeg, stirring constantly until mixture thickens (about 5-8 minutes)
7. In a baking dish, layer pasta, chicken, pepper and onion mixture and bacon.
8. Add half the cheese sauce then repeat step 7.
9. Add remaining cheese sauce
10. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Carrot and Pineapple Cake

I finally had some time to edit my recipe the next few posts are nothing new, just finally adding the recipes to some of the things that were made this past year and are repeat-worthy!

This cake was from daddy's birthday where we made Carrot and Pineapple Cake via Ina Garten and it was a huge success.

This cake is rather time consuming so make sure you have plenty of time on your hands before you begin! It is also a very rich cake, the amount of sugar, eggs and oil seems a bit well, gross, but once you taste this you will forget about the contents, it's that good.

Carrot and Pineapple Cake
Adapted from Ina Garten

For the Cake:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 pound carrots, grated**
1/2 cup fresh diced pineapple***
1/2 cup shredded coconut

For the frosting:
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Heavily grease 2-8 inch round cake pans

For the Cake:
1. Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together until light yellow.
2. Add the vanilla
3. In a separate bowl, mix together 2 1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet.
5. Toss the raisins with 1 tablespoon flour.
6. Fold in the carrots and pineapple and add to the batter, mix well.
7. Divide batter equally between the two pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans over a wire rack.

For the Frosting:
1. Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer until combined.
2. Add sugar and mix until smooth.
3. Place 1 layer, flat-side up on your serving platter of choice, spread the top with frosting.
4. Place the second layer rounded side up and spread the frosting on the top and all over the sides to cover thoroughly.

*I have been told from a very reliable source, actually putting the eggs at room temperature makes a difference :)
**Buy your carrots already shredded, we did not, talk about a pain and add more time.
***We used canned pineapple, drained.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

brown sugar coconut cupcakes with blueberry frosting

A series of unfortunate events occurred this morning. It probably all started when I woke up at 7. It's summer here body, get adjusting. My alarm was going to go off in an hour and forty minutes, I really could of used a great night sleep due to the face I was dragging my butt to cycling (a chore in itself). So finally, I fall back asleep, only to wake up at 8, at this point I give up and get out of bed. Off to cycling I go. If you've never done it, I advise you not to. Well, not really, once the hour is over you feel like a champ, but all you want to do is crash into your soft bed and not move for the rest of the day. Today, was just like any other day of cycling and my bed was calling. Yeah well, then I got locked out of the house for a solid 15 minutes. NOT OKAY. The car garage door opener wouldn't work, the key pad wouldn't budge no matter how many times I tried. Both my parents were playing the ignore my phone call game ;) and I was so frazzled. Finally 15 minutes later I got in. At this point I was so angry I forgot I wanted to fall into my bed. 

Instead I decided to bake. 

I have this thing for brown sugar. And coconut. And blueberries. Oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon is my daily breakfast. Unless I'm in a cereal phase which then consists of Cinnamon Life with frozen blueberries. And well the coconut thing, I could consume anything with coconut in it, on the daily, if I could. But then I'd have to spend even more time cycling. Fat chance.

Brown Sugar Coconut Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 cup coconut milk (I used So Delicious)
3/4 cup shredded coconut (heaping)

 1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line or spray a cupcake tray.
2.Cream the sugar and butter. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
3. Mix the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and add the milk. Mix until combined
5.Fold in the coconut 
6. Scoop the batter into the cupcake tray (I used a 1/4 cup to measure them out)
7. Bake for 25 minutes and let cool.

 I have this problem, it consists of lack of patience and I usually under bake things. This time I cut one open just to double check it was actually done.
Blueberry Frosting

2 Tablespoons shortening
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup plus extra powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon Coconut milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries thawed
Shredded coconut

1. Cream the shortening and butter
2. Add 1 cup powdered sugar, coconut milk and blueberries and mix. Make sure to mash up the blueberries.
3. Add more powdered sugar until desired consistency (I used about 1/2 cup more)
4. Spoon onto cupcakes and top with coconut

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

for you, mrs. gosda

I feel like when anyone asks, "What's your favorite food?" I instinctively respond with "pasta". Now to most people, what we call pasta here in my family would be spaghetti to them, except,  I can't tell you the last time we consumed actual spaghetti. I don't even know if there is a box of spaghetti in this house, rather 8 million boxes of penne. Along with everyone else's spaghetti comes meatballs, right? Well we rarely eat meatballs, yet eat pasta (aka penne with mother's homemade sauce, and nothing else) quite frequently, probably once every two weeks in the summer when dad's gone and B's home. Our pasta is sans meatballs and instead has the pork and beef used to the make the sauce served with it, and some times Italian sausage, but since I dislike pork the sausage is out for me, yet I eat the other pork that's in there. Weird, I don't know, don't ask, I'm an odd duck.

This all being said, it seems all Italian families have spaghetti and meatball recipes passed down from generation to generation, and we probably due, yet no one ever makes meatballs so the recipe must be lost in translation. But, on the rare occasion we do have meatballs, like tonight, because my mother loves to spoil these two: 
 and since they are leaving so very soon, a pasta dinner was clearly in order so this morning I was put to work making meatballs for our little feast tonight. Now my mother hit the jackpot when she found the meatball recipe we have used since the magazine came back in I don't even know when but from the looks of how wrinkly and crinkly it is, it's been around for some time. 

So, Mrs. Gosda, here is the infamous meatball recipe for you to have and make all the meatball you desire. I promise, I will make them with you once Tess leaves because let's be real we'll both be bored out of our minds :)

Basic Meatballs
from Cuisine at home
makes 30-33 meatballs

Stir Together:
1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
3/4 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup Whole milk (I use 2% and it works just fine)
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth (I use a 1 bullion cube to 2 cups of boiling water)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 eggs, beaten
2 T. dried oregano
1 T. garlic, minced
1 T. kosher salt (or whatever kind of salt you have)
1 T. ground black pepper
2 t. dried basil
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes (I usually half this, or if Al's coming, fourth it. They can get real spicy)

Add; Shape:
2 lb ground chuck

Cover bottom of pan with:
1 cup low-sodium beef brother

Preheat oven to 450
Get all your ingredients out (Thanks Grams for teaching cousin and me this, also to clean as you go..something we often forget to do..whoops)
Stir together all ingredients (except ground beef) in a large mixing bowl:

Pause and take a picture of your baking assistant:

someone's a little camera shy..

Back to business..

Add the ground chuck and mix together. Coat a baking sheet or shallow roasting pan with nonstick spray. Shape meatballs (whatever size you desire, we usually make them on the rather large size). Place the meatballs on the pan so they are not touching or crowded together.

Cover bottom of the pan with beef broth. I like to give them a nice little bath, pouring the broth on top of them all. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the meatballs are just cooked through. Reserve pan juices for sauce.

Make sure you save the juices from the pan and add them to the sauce, it's a must.

Add the meatballs and juices to the sauce and try not to eat them all, as tempting as it may be.

Oh, and our little baking assistant..this is where she ended up half way through..

Clearly she is dreaming of meatballs.