Baking

Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Cookies

You want a cookie whose aroma will waft throughout your apartment building? This is your cookie! These Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Cookies came together super quickly, and I eventually got the hang of baking them.

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At first, I didn’t roll the dough into balls before baking, which caused some frustration in not being able to get a decent cross-hatch on top. But by the last four, I rolled the dough into balls and got a lovely little design on each. These last ones also cooked and browned more evenly. So, note to self, don’t just plop the peanut butter cookie dough onto the sheet. Take another minute to get a smooth, evenly browned, cross-hatch-having cookie!

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I didn’t have any sanding sugar like the recipe called for, but I did sprinkle some raw/Turbinado sugar over top each cookie before baking.

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Baking

Mini Oreo and Peanut Butter Pies

A few days ago my roommate suggested we bake these delicious mini pies. She didn’t know where she found the original recipe, but my insane baking blog following skills helped me track the recipe down on Picky Palate. I had seen them a few weeks before she suggested making them, and I’m glad she reminded me about them.

These were certainly a team effort, as myself, my roommate, and one of our suitemates sat around the kitchen table in a little assembly line. I cut out the pie crust, my suitemate put together the peanut butter Oreos, and my roommate did the lattice-work.

These mini pies turned out so yummy. I think adding a bit more peanut butter couldn’t have hurt, though, but I don’t have any complaints about the pies we all literally inhaled. The 12 we made barely lasted 24 hours, but that’s to be expected with four college girls and late-night sweet cravings. I was lucky to have this one left to photograph this morning.

Baking, Celtic Thunder

Wow, What a Back-Log of Baked Goods

I have been remiss in posting about my baking exploits as of late, so now it’s time to catch up. I’m going back to my roots and blogging instead of writing 2 papers and 2 essays, doing a pile of reading, or putting laundry away.

To start it off, a no-bake item: chocolate-covered Ritz peanut butter sandwiches from kevinandamanda.com. I stumbled upon this idea one day and I can’t believe I never thought to do this. I love chocolate, and I love Ritz and peanut butter, so why not love the two together? I altered it a tad and used whole wheat crackers and semi-sweet chips and some shortening instead of white chocolate bark, but I’m itching to try the white chocolate version. I made these on a whim one night when I had the kitchen to myself, and it was a really quick process.

1.) Make peanut butter sandwiches.

2.) Melt chocolate and shortening together in the microwave.

3.) Dip in melted chocolate/shortening mixture.

4.) Refrigerate until hardened.

5.) ENJOY! These go quite nicely with  “The Story of the Grail” by Chretien de Troyes, if I do say so myself.

Next up is a Buttermilk Banana Bread from Two Peas and Their Pod. I still had some leftover buttermilk from my birthday cake, and it was getting near its expiration date, so how could I not make this. In addition to going into the bread, before I made it I actually froze the remaining buttermilk in ice cube trays and then put all the cubes into a freezer bag. No wasted buttermilk for me. I’ve read that it doesn’t taste quite the same when you drink it after freezing, but it works just fine for baking. Who am I kidding anyway? I’m not drinking buttermilk, so freeze away I did.

Now, I admit, while I was able to take some pictures of the process, I forgot to do something important. We’ll get to that.

Butter and sugar. I wanted to use some brown sugar in addition to the white, but my remaining brown sugar was rock hard and I didn’t want to deal with softening it up. I’m already bad enough at having room temperature butter and eggs. I can’t deal with hard brown sugar too, especially when I had to make this quickly. I should include the microwave as a material needed because just about every time I bake, I have to soften the butter/cream cheese/whatever first. It works wonders . . . especially if the butter is coming directly from the freezer. . . .

Some serious elbow grease went into creaming the butter and sugar, but it was nice and light and fluffy in the end.Now for the addition of two (just out of the fridge) eggs. Whoops.

And mashed up bananas. I just used two giant ones that I had, but I think I would have liked just a little more banana taste to the final bread. Oh well, next time.

And now we get to my idiot moment of this process. I defrosted my frozen buttermilk cubes (again, in the microwave). I then proceeded to happily pour nearly the entire bowl into the batter. . . . As I was pouring, it hit me that I hadn’t MEASURED IT! I only needed four tablespoons, and I don’t know how much actually ended up in there. I added a pinch more flour after to compensate for the possible extra liquid.

The buttermilk was interacting with everything else, and as a result the batter looked a little suspect at this point, but it was just all the acidity.

FLOUR and other dry ingredients. I used half all-purpose and half whole wheat.You can see the darker whole wheat in the back of the bowl.

Mix, mix, mix. But not too much.

Into the prepared pan you go, delicious, if buttermilk-y, banana bread batter.

With a sprinkle of cinnamon. I LOVE cinnamon!

And out of the oven!

I think I slightly over-baked it because it was a tad bit dry. It was still really good, though.

I’ll get it right next time, along with actually measuring the buttermilk before I go pouring it all willy-nilly into the batter.

It was my breakfast this week, and I still have one yummy piece left. I took to putting a slice on top of the toaster for a minute and then spreading the warm bread with some peanut butter. SO GOOD.

I also did my third Baking Bonanza on Monday. More buttermilk was involved, but this time in the form of milk and vinegar. That was me following the directions ;D. But wait, where is my second bonanza? I did it, but I’m waiting to re-do it so I can get some proper pictures this time.

I’m going to make a separate post for this, so this is all you get right now.

For my final back-logged creation, I give you: the most wonderful homemade garlic bread I’ve EVER had.

I came across this on Buns in my Oven, and it is absolutely heavenly.

Granted, it’s heavenly even with my alterations, namely: a ciabatta loaf from Trader Joe’s (LOVE those. I’ve also been making croutons out of it.), no Parmesan (I didn’t have any.), added ricotta, no onions or herbs (I didn’t have those either.), some pepper, and a liberal coating of mozzarella cheese before going into the oven. So maybe I should amend my statement to say that the premise is heavenly.

I can’t wait to make this again. Perhaps tomorrow? I still have bread and just enough cream cheese for one more half batch.

And in Celtic Thunder news, I purchased my first concert ticket for this fall’s tour! At 7:45am, no less. Yes, I was up that early on a Saturday. In fact, I was up a bit before 7. What is wrong with me? Perhaps it was because I fell asleep almost immediately after coming home from work yesterday and slept though the entire afternoon and night, save for about an hour to eat dinner (salad and the last of my garlic bread, yum!).

EDIT: I knew I was forgetting about something. I also made a pizza earlier in the week. I used Trader Joe’s pizza dough and pressed the bottom with cornmeal, then I topped it with marinara sauce, chicken, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, and a sprinkling of salt/pepper/garlic powder. It was so good, and I just finished up the last bit of it for lunch today. Even though it was in my fridge for a few days, I somehow managed to not take any pictures at all. Next time. Wow, that really should be my mantra. Next time I’ll do this, next time I’ll do that, it’ll be better next time, I’ll actually measure ingredients next time :).

Baking

Thanksgiving Baking

So basically I dropped off the face of the blogging earth for a while. I’ve been completely overwhelmed with school work, work, and thinking about all my final assignments these past couple of weeks that I just haven’t had the energy or will to post anything. Here’s a recap of my Thanksgiving creations.

Originally I wanted to make something really elaborate over break, but unfortunately my parents shot me down about that, and what would have been the point in making something wonderful if no one was going to eat/appreciate it. Instead they just wanted plain old boring chocolate chip cookies and a yellow cake–from a BOX . . . I guess they didn’t get the memo about my new-found hatred of boxed, chemical-laden, artificial box mixes. Now I know they work for those who don’t have the time/patience/ability/ingredients/whatever to make a cake from scratch–and I don’t think any less of those people for using this option–but now that I’ve been exploring the baking world more thoroughly, I never want to have to resort to boxes again because I’ve found such delicious and simple from-scratch recipes. I love trying out new ones, adding different flavors/more chocolate to them, and seeing how they turn out. Not all of them are rave successes, but it’s those slight flops that help me to learn what I want out of a recipe.

In any event, I–with the excuse of not having enough vegetable oil for both cookies AND a cake–managed to make a simple batch of yellow cupcakes for my father’s birthday. This attempt falls under the slight flop category, because I didn’t have the cake flour the recipe called for, and as a result, it was a very crumby cupcake (I know, bad pun). I think that if I had used the cake flour, the crumbs would have been much smaller and the cupcakes would not have fallen apart so easily (and I think having liners for the tin would have helped in that department as well, because they stuck like CRAZY and were difficult to get out).

Unfortunately, I also didn’t have nearly enough powdered sugar to make a fluffy buttercream frosting, so I had to used a tub of dense chocolate frosting instead *shudders at the memory*. It was such a light cupcake, and the heavy frosting just overwhelmed the poor dears, not to mention the chemical/artificial taste from it that I could not get out of my mouth. Again, no disrespect to those who use store-bought frosting, but I just don’t like the stuff anymore now that I try to do things from scratch as often as possible.

Overall they were good cupcakes, but I just need to institute a couple of changes, and they’ll be GREAT cupcakes. (My mother also shot down putting sprinkles on top because she hates them *sigh*.)

Before the cupcakes, I attempted a version of peanut butter/caramel/chocolate/shortbread bars (yes, like the candy bar, but with peanut butter). Again, a good attempt, but rather flawed in execution. The shortbread crust was nice and golden brown, but it wouldn’t come out of the pan; the caramel was slightly overcooked; and I destroyed the ganache topping by accident. I just don’t think I was meant to make these at this time. I ended up just taking everything else out of the pan and leaving the crust behind, resulting in hunks of thick chocolate and oozy caramel, with a thin layer of peanut butter on top.

Yeah, not exactly the prettiest thing I’ve ever attempted.

Finally, came my cookies. Finally, something turned out well. Thank goodness. I must say, this was probably the best-looking batch I’ve made in a while. They were soft and chewy, but not too much so. The perfect combination of soft and crunchy in all the right places.

A post about my creations from today will be coming up next. I’m sure I’ll need to procrastinate again really soon.

Baking

Baking Go Leor

It seems I’ve been remiss in posting about what I bake. Classes, exams, and utter exhaustion haven’t completely kept me from baking, but for some reason it’s kept me from posting.

Let’s see if I can remember everything. . . .

I made something called a “French Breakfast Puff”, which is basically a baked doughnut hole. I didn’t follow the recipe and presentation suggestions exactly, but I thought they were still very yummy. They must have been, since they were all gone within a couple of days.

There have also been brownies. LOTS AND LOTS of brownies. But somehow I only managed to take a photo of one of the batches. These ones were good. They could have been better if I had taken them out of the oven a couple minutes sooner, but I made the glaze that the recipe suggested, and it really helped to moisten them up.

The second batch of brownies I made were AMAZING. They got the approval of a friend who very much prefers boxed brownie mixes. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of them. I had kept meaning to, but they just kind of disappeared before I got the chance.

I also tried my hand at a baked mac and cheese recently. It was a good start, but for future mac and cheese endeavors, I need MORE CHEESE. You would think that cheddar, Parmesan, cottage, and  mozzarella cheese would be enough, but I think I need to up the cheddar cheese because it wasn’t quite gooey enough. I’ll try again sooner rather than later, seeing as how I still have cheese left and I don’t want it to spoil. Note to self: buy ricotta cheese, too.

The other day while I was procrastinating in my mid-term studying, I made “granola bars”. I put them in quotes because they’re not really granola bars, but more like a granola cake of sorts. They still taste really good, but I need to have something to drink with them because, while they’re not dry, they make me really thirsty. I added chopped up chocolate chunks, raisins, and peanut butter to them, even though the recipe only called for mini chocolate chips. I had been craving a raisin-y something, so I figured why not, and hey, peanut butter goes GREAT with both of those things. I only have a few left, so I really should get on that whole picture-taking thing soon.