Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Game Day Cookies

Recently my friend Rachel hosted a game day party at her house for the  Florida vs. LSU football game.We both went to the University of Florida and try to meet up every Saturday to watch the game together.

We usually go to "The Gator Bar"...for the UF fans of Los Angeles, but this week Rachel decided to host the party at her house. I of course wanted to bring something for us to munch on other than beer.

She is the queen of dips and meatballs...(her buffalo chicken dip is ridiculous!) so of course I offered to bring something sweet.

I was thinking of doing something that would incorporate our team colors -(orange and blue); but then I remembered that second grade science fair project of dying cookies to see which one the tester perceives to be more desirable based on the tacky color of the cookie.
Since I didn’t think dyed orange and blue cookies would be visually appetizing, I decided to make something a bit more sophisticated. Perhaps a recipe that incorporates a team color?!…..= Orange cookies!
These are quite delicious, and everybody ate them all up! Chomp Chomp! Gooo Gators!


1 cup butter, softened

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons grated orange peel

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup finely chopped blanched almonds


In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and orange peel. Combine the flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in almonds.

Roll into 1-in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 325° for 20-25 minutes or until firm. Remove to wire racks to cool.Yield: 6 dozen.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

Well I cannot believe a year has gone by since I started this blog.
It seems as though I have come full circle!
My first entry was blueberry muffins…
A year later.. I decided to give these another try.
I used a different recipe however..which listed butter as an ingredient this time around. ; )  (sorry mom)
Whether it was the butter or my cooking skills…these muffins are fantastic!
They taste just like a fancy $6.00 muffin you would buy from your local bakery; except you have the satisfaction of knowing, YOU made them yourself.
Enjoy, and thanks for reading me for the past year!

Cook's Illustrated Blueberry Muffins
Lemon-Sugar Topping
1/3 cup sugar
2-3 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon

2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (12½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk * - I used whole milk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
*If buttermilk is unavailable, substitute 3/4 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk.

1. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon (I used my potato masher) several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
3. For the topping: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.
4. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl.
5. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until combined, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not over mix.)
6. Use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly).
7. EXTRA STEP ALERT: Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using small spoon, gently swirl berry filling into batter. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins. 

8. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving. Makes 12 muffins

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Strawberry Froyo

Before missing out on all the great ripe fruit of the summer, I thought my next flavor should be strawberry frozen yogurt..aka froyo!
There are tons of farmers market’s out here and they appear to specialize in strawberries. 

There seems to be at least 5 separate strawberry vendors each week at the market.
My mother actually mentioned that she wanted to send me this  ice cream maker in time, so that I could take advantage of the delicious juicy strawberries we have out here in CA.
I didn’t have one crisis while making this delightfully refreshing treat!
I found two recipes I liked for strawberry froyo, and decided to take a bit from each recipe.
One recipe listed vodka as an ingredient..
I was a bit perplexed but I thought what the heck! I actually have a bottle of vodka in the freezer..therefore it is this froyo’s lucky day!

16 ounces strawberries, rinsed, stemmed, and chopped
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vodka (optional)- I use tablespoons - : )  ..also optional! ; )
3/4 cup whole milk- I only had my fat free milk so I used that instead
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
2 teaspoon pure vanilla

1. Slice strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with sugar and vodka (if using) until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hrs, stirring occasionally.
2. In mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the milk and  1/3 c. granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes on low speed.
3. Stir in the yogurt, berry purée (I didn’t mash or puree because I don’t have a puree machine..so I just put the entire bowl of  strawberry mixture in) and vanilla extract.
4. Turn the machine on; pour the mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. The frozen yogurt will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the frozen yogurt to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Low Fat Chocolate Sorbet!

For my next feat with the Cuisinart I wanted to try making sorbet.
For my first sorbet I decided to make a low fat chocolate sorbet I came across on this blog.

It is very similar in consistency and exact taste of one of my favorite eateries- Rita’s Italian Ice! (their chocolate flavor)
I didn’t melt the chips all the way…so it has some crunch to it too!
This will definitely be my go to guilt-free chocolate indulgence! (when I want something guilt-free that is!)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
2-4 oz. chopped dark or semi-sweet chocolate, or chocolate chips

Combine the sugar and cocoa in a medium saucepan. Put it over med-high heat and stir in 2 cups water. (Make some of that water coffee if you want, or stir in a teaspoon of instant coffee or espresso – it will intensify the chocolate flavor without adding fat.) Bring to a simmer and cook for about 2 minutes. Take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate. Stir until it melts, or better yet, until it kind of melts but leaves some chunks.
Let the mixture cool, then refrigerate until it’s cold. Pour into the ice cream maker for about 20-30 minutes.  If you want to firm it up, put it in the freezer for a few hours.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vanilla Ice Cream

The Thursday before carmaggedon I was sitting at my desk typing away…until the UPS man came to the door. Package for Margaret..."oh that’s me...whoa what is that, it’s huge?”
Yup it was a huge and unexpected gift from my mother: a Cuisinart ice cream maker!!!..(that is me after I just opened the box- see how happy I am!?---->)
I love ice cream and frozen yogurt! I really thought about jumping right into it and making cookies and cream or mint chocolate chip ice cream.. but I thought, " No Marge, keep it simple and basic for your first time using the machine."
So in sticking  with my stay in cook all weekend theme- the ice cream maker came at the perfect time. I figured after the monkey bread we could have our own little ice cream party. I bought candy, sprinkles, waffle bowls-the works.

There are only 4 ingredients...you stir them together,then pour the mixture into Cuisinart, and the machine does all the work for you.
There will be no flour or baking soda for me to clean up.
I thought "This will be a breeze…what could I possibly do to mess this up?"
Well instead it turned into an episode of I Love Lucy.

You see I was so consumed with how the aerator fit into the machine that I completely forgot about the freezer bowl. (this part fits in the machine but is kept in the freezer)
Mind you the directions for cleaning the Cuisinart specifically state... in bold letters: do not get water or wash the base of the machine, if necessary just gently clean the machine by wiping the outsides of it with a cloth…
Well so much for following directions.
As I said I placed the tricky looking aerator into the Cuisinart..it didn’t seem to stand still unless I placed the lid on right away.- so I did. I then turn the machine on, poured the mixture into the Cuisinart turned around to clean the bowl I made the milk mixture in…
ALL OF A SUDDEN I felt a wet cold substance on my toes…I look down...and it is the vanilla mixture...I look to my left...and see a waterfall of vanilla ice cream flooding my counters and kitchen floor.
After using a few inappropriate words… I suddenly realized what I forgot! I forgot to take the freezer bowl out of the freezer and place the freezer bowl into the machine!

I turned the machine off, grabbed about 5 beach towels, and didn’t know really where to begin..
I threw two on the ground, one on the opposite counter, transferred the leaking Cuisinart to drain out…siiiiiince I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO WASH IT aka not get it wet whatsoever!!!
As I was scrubbing the ground, the mixture poured from the counter onto my head….(I have a very tiny kitchen!)
It was literally everywhere!

After I cleaned everything and everywhere I possibly could, I was too scared to turn the machine on … I really didn’t think it would recover from all the internal mechanical damage.
Therefore I thought it best to take a break and go for a jog; and perhaps mentally prepare how I was going to tell my mother I just broke the generous gift she gave me.
Thankfully luck was on my side this day; the machine survived, and I successfully made my first batch of vanilla ice cream!

1-1/2 cups whole milk
1-1/8 cups granulated sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 tblspoons pure vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Turn the machine on; pour the mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.
Makes about fourteen 1/2-cup servings

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread!

Every weekend Ty and I have pizza. Whether we make it, go out for it, or order in..we share a pie religiously every single weekend!
This particular weekend was Carmageddon!- when we were required to stay put in our own neighborhoods for the weekend due to the 405 being shut down.

The city officials made it seem quite mandatory, and made a big hoopla about it. (click here for a bit more info if interested!)

Therefore I took it upon myself to make dinner that Saturday evening since I literally couldn’t do anything else… I had all day to stay inside get creative and cook.
I looked up fancy meat and salad recipes…but my gut kept telling me: “how dare you not eat pizza! Just think of another way or type to make!”

Luckily I stumbled upon this recipe, which immediately brought back soooo many childhood memories of slumber parties at my house …and waking up to the smell of butter, bread, and cinnamon!- Yup –Monkey Bread!
Ah the good old days, where your metabolism would allow you to eat this, with a side of pancakes and eggs! : )
When this recollection first popped into my mind, I thought about making it for breakfast Sunday morning…however it’s the only morning I sleep in….

But how could I not make it for dinner Saturday evening as well? It’s two of my favorite things rolled into one!- MONKEY BREAD ANNNND PIZZA!!

Although it may not look like the most sophisticated meal..it is severely delectable. We finished this dish in about a day… (I know I know..whaaaa? how?)
We had the majority for dinner; and then picked at the leftovers the next day as we lay by the pool. We wouldn’t tell each other. But every time we went upstairs to “check on the dog”, or “fill our drinks”..we grabbed a piece of monkey bread..and soon enough..it was allll gone.
<-----that is Roscoe..wanting some of the bread

I took the long route and made my own dough; but not my own sauce (shhh don’t tell my mother!)
I phoned my mother for her pizza dough recipe; she swears it takes about 2 to 2 1/2 hrs to rise.
But be warned…I made the dough, set it aside..went for a run..came back 50 mins later, and the dough had risen so high out of the bowl it was taking over my cabinets!
In a flurry I unfortunately didn’t take a pic (next time) but instead washed my hands and punched the dough, telling it to get back down into that bowl..because I was not ready to make him (the dough) yet! Gosh darnit!
I suggest, including a salad on the side…it will help alleviate the guilt!; )

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4 Tbsp. butter
2lbs of pizza dough (enough for 2 pizza pies)
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes 
(you'll need 48 pieces)
48 slices of pepperoni
2-3cups marinara sauce, warmed for serving

1.  Heat garlic and butter over medium heat just until the garlic begins to brown. Remove from heat and let sit.
2.  Lightly brush the inside of a bundt pan (or other oven-safe dish) with garlic butter.
3.  Pull off large marble sized balls of dough and flattten. Top with a slice of pepperoni and a cube of mozzarella.
4.  Wrap the dough around the pepperoni and cheese, pinching well to seal.
5.  Very lightly brush the pizza ball with garlic butter and place into the bundt pan ( i brushed the pizza balls with the garlic butter!)
6.  Repeat until all of the dough is used.
7.  Cover and let sit for 30 minutes, while preheating the oven to 400.
8.  Bake for 35 minutes, until the top is very brown.
9.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes or so..
10.  Turn out onto a platter and serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

V.v.V Sugar Cookies V.v.V

Oh me oh my, am I behind on blogging about my consumption!
I made my spin teacher sugar cookies, because… well why not?
As you can see, I made them red and shaped like a crab. Why you ask?…It’s an inside joke between us! 
I would explain the many definitions of the crab...(its symbol being: V.v.V)..but then this wouldn’t be an inside joke anymore, would it?!

The one good thing about making sugar cookie dough rather than chocolate chip, or another kind of chunky cookie is that you can shape, mold, or cut them out however you like.
So get creative!

Sugar Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
*to make crab sugar cookies, your additional ingredients will be: crab shaped cookie cutter, red food coloring, frosting pen, and chocolate chips!

1. In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover; chill dough at least 1 hour, or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 400. (* to add dye, knead red dye into dough)-Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets, or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely before icing. Makes 5 to 5 1/2 dozen 3-inch cookies.