Thursday, April 26, 2012

Goat Cheese Biscuits!



Oh. Em. Gee.  As in OMG.  As in Oh My Goodness.   2012 has thus far been seriously challenging. Has anyone else been experiencing this same thing?  


I entered the new year thinking of a booming savings account, a career that would take off like a rocket, a gym schedule that would shame supermodels...instead I am dealing with tax accountants, an 8.5% unemployment rate and a gym schedule that might shame a slightly overweight person.  grrrr.


But what is a girl to do but keep her head up?  And blog about it.  I have to believe that the Mayan calendar wasn't predicting the end of the world in 2012, it was predicting this year was going to be the year to end all "sanity-testing" years.  I mean...I can't be the only one having a trying relationship with 2012, right?  Right?! 


Well, just in case I am not the only one experiencing trials in this year of 12, I have made you guys some heart-warming, belly-filling, soul-comforting biscuits.  Biscuits!  I mean, they are basically the answer to all your problems. (Second of course to chocolate...or champagne)




Not only are they smothered in melted butter...they have goat cheese in them!  Goat cheese!  In the biscuits!  And I didn't stop there, they are suuuuper easy to make!  It's just one less thing to stress about in 2012. So let your troubles melt away with the butter as you indulge in these dreamy Goat Cheese Biscuits.  And go ahead, wash them down with some champagne...or beer...or red wine...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Brownie Cupcakes with Mint Frosting


I take friendship very seriously.  Especially Best Friendship.  Without best friends there would be no laughing, no tom-foolery, and definitely no best friends bracelets.  And really, if that's the case...then what's the point of it all?


The best way to show your besties that you love them is to cook them delicious treats that encompass the things they enjoy.  This is exactly what I did for my bestie.  


She loves (among other things) brownies, being Irish, and celebrating St. Patrick's day.  So in honor of the season (St. Patty's Day) and the reason (Best Friendship) I made her these Brownie Cupcakes with Mint Frosting.  The recipe is surprisingly quick and easy, and the cupcakes are over the rainbow delicious! (The wrappers are the best touch...like a 'lil pot-o-chocolatey-gold!)

Oh!  And remember, these treats only make 12 cupcakes...and they are magically good...so be careful who you share them with...BFF's only!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mini Cookies & Cream Cheesecakes


It's almost Spring. Are you excited? Because I am totally, super, creepy, excited for Spring.

I'm excited for longer hours of sunshine. I'm excited for my bf's wedding. I'm excited for Easter...like ridiculous, way-too-obsessed-with-cutesy-chicks-and-ducks-and-rabbits excited.


And I'm really excited to make treats that can be shared with friends at springtime/easter themed parties.  (janelovesparties!).

Wow.  So much excitement right now...can you feel it?  OK, before I start totally creeping you out with my happiness about spring, check out these Mini Cookies & Cream Cheesecakes I made just for you! (less creepy now right?)

So make 'em, put 'em in spring colored papers, and share 'em with your besties...or hide them in your fridge and eat every last one...I don't tell you what to do...be your own boss! ♥xo♥

Friday, February 24, 2012

Aunt Jan's Easy Breezy Brownies



Aunts are awesome.  I know.  I'm an aunt.  And I am definitely awesome.  I have three ridiculously adorable nephews and one super sweet niece.  I am also a niece, myself, to one super awesome Aunt.  Aunt Janice.


Aunts are the ones who spoil you, let you talk about other family members when you're angry without judging you.  Aunts take you out for ice cream.  


Aunts make you feel like the most perfectly special niece in the whole wide world.  It's pretty amazing.

Aunts also never forget your birthday.  And they manage, without fail, to send the best cards at birthdays and holidays.  Like, I'm either laughing or crying or both because the card is just that good.  


But probably the best thing an Aunt can do is share her timeless family-favorite recipes with you.  My Aunt Janice shared her brownie recipe with me recently and I am hooked.  Apparently, so are my friends and Hubby because they ate every single brownie the same night I made them...(after I promised to save one for my mom)...sorry mom!  


No worries, it's a good thing.



The best part about this recipe is how easy it is.  Homemade brownie recipes can be intimidating at times for sure.  But this one is easy, chocolatey, and delicious!  So do something easy and make Aunt Jan's Easy Breezy Brownies, then tell your friends it was super hard.  And, go ahead, let them eat every last one.  'Cuz that's the whole point of making brownies for the people you love!


(L♥ve you Aunt Janice!!!)


Recipe:
1 cup unsalted butter 
2 cup Sugar 
2 teaspoon Vanilla extract 
4 Eggs 
3/4 cup Cocoa
1 cup Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 cups Semisweet Chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°


Grease 13x9x2 pan (just wipe it down with veg. oil or preferred greasing method)


Melt the butter (microwave or stovetop...choice is yours)


Using a whisk, stir in sugar and vanilla


Using a wooden spoon, add eggs one at a time, beating well after
each



(Continue using the wooden spoon!)


Add cocoa, beat until well blended (use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl)


Add flour, baking powder, salt and beat well (scrape down sides!)


Mix in chocolate chips

Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes

Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes

Cut and serve (and remember it's like my bf says...no one wants a small brownie!) 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies


Remember all those jobs you had in college?  Was it a hot dog stand?  A pizza place?  Or maybe you were your own boss, working out of your dorm room...eh-hem...we all know what that meant.


In my experience most jobs during college are ones that do not require a lot of physical activity or brain power.  This allows the college student late night partying rights while still being able to pay for books, video games, ramen noodles, and economy packs of Snapple iced tea.


I totally remember my job while I was in college and (actually) it was pretty serious and required lots of brain power...and patience.  


During my college years I was Nanny to the cutest, most wonderful, creative triplets in the whole world.  Aside from their aforementioned traits, they enjoyed puzzles, reading, styling my hair, painting ...and they loved baking chocolate chip cookies.  

We made them almost every week. Imagine three six year olds running toward the cabinet to get their ingredients...it was the best.  It was also an easy way to keep them occupied for a solid 30 minutes.


Spending as much time during those years making chocolate chip cookies as I did, the recipe had better be flawless.  And I assure you it is.  It came to a point where I would get home from work and my housemates would eye me up and down...where are the famous triplet cookies?

This cookie recipe is exactly what the title says it is: perfect.  Follow the directions just as I say and you will make anyone from the age of 6 to 60 swoon over your Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies ;)  


Recipe:
2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda 
1 teaspoon Salt
2 sticks Unsalted Butter (a little bit softened)
3/4 cup Sugar
3/4 Light Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 cups (1 12oz bag) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips 


Pre-heat oven to 350°


In a bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix it together a little.  Now set it aside.


In a large bowl combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar


Cream butter and sugar with a fork by pushing down/into the butter to mix it together with the sugar.  If you cream the butter and sugar too much, or beat it with mixers, it will ruin the consistency of the cookie later on...the cookies will be flat and crunchy when they come out of the oven...ew.


In a separate bowl, add the eggs and whisk lightly, set aside.


Add the vanilla to the butter and sugar bowl, then pour in the eggs.


Mix in vanilla and eggs just until combined (remember we do not want to mix too much, there is a reason it's called cookie dough, it has to mixed very carefully!)
Add half of the flour mixture to the dough and fold it in until combined.


Add second half of flour and fold in until combined.


Fold in chocolate chips.


Using a spoon, scoop up a little ball of dough about the size of the face of the spoon and drop it onto an un-greased cookie sheet.  I use my finger to push the dough off of the spoon and onto the pan.

I place about 8-10 cookies-to-be on a baking sheet.  The balls of dough should have plenty of space between them.

Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake for 8 minutes and 8 minutes only!


After the 8 minute bake time remove baking sheet from the oven and place on top of the stove to cool for 3-4 minutes.  This is a crucial step in the cookie making process.  the cookies will continue to cook when you remove them from the oven.  This is why it is so important to bake the cookies for 8 minutes only.


After the 3 minute cooling time, carefully remove cookies from the baking sheet using a flat spatula and place on a cooling rack or flat plate to continue cooling.  you may need to use your fingers, very gently, to help guide the cookies onto the spatula.

Continue this process until or the dough is cooked...or not...Save some of that dough to eat later if you want! (no lies...I did)  Now eat up, share, and enjoy! xo



Monday, February 20, 2012

Funfetti Cupcakes


Some things in life are serious.  Things like heart attacks, math tests, your boss's presentation on increasing sales, and documentaries on foreign countries.  

Other things are totally not serious.  Things like pictures of kittens, fart jokes, lipgloss shades, parties with friends, and (of course) Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes.  It's the not serious things in life that we most look forward to.  And funfetti cupcakes should be at the top of the list of not serious things.

They're sweet.  They're delicious.  They're covered in frosting.  And they're filled with sprinkles!  Like seriously (and this is the only time funfetti cupcakes get serious) it doesn't get much better than being filled with sprinkles...unless of course you are sharing your Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes with your best-est of friends because it is your old college roommates birthday!  

Wow.  Sometimes life can be so un-serious in the most seriously amazing way.

It was a roomie birthday celebration to remember.  There was homemade pizza, B-Rad's Corn SoufflĂ© (a recipe I promise to share soon!), champagne (duh), pictures of adorable dogs from National Geographic, and of course cupcakes.  I mean...come on.  There just isn't a better way to spend an evening than this.  If you can think of one please tell me so I can try to re-create it for myself.


As for you...the first step in re-creating my totally not serious, super fun filled night is making these Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes.  And the second step is telling me how it goes! 


Recipe:
4 whole Egg Whites
1 cup Buttermilk
2 teaspoons Real Vanilla Extract
3 cups Cake Flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups Sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 1/2 sticks of Unsalted Butter, softened

1/2 cup Sprinkles (nonpareils preferred)
Homemade Buttercream Frosting
Cupcake recipe adapted from Simply Scratch.

Pre-heat oven to 350° and line cupcake pan with cupcake papers.

Sift all dry ingredients into a bowl.  I sifted each ingredient separately into one big bowl.  Then I sifted that mixture into another bowl.  Everything is super sifted by now.

In a separate bowl combine buttermilk, eggwhites, and vanilla.  Whisk.  Set aside.

Add your softened butter and half of the egg mixture to your dry ingredients.  

Mix on low scraping down sides of bowl as you go.

Slowly add second half of egg mixture, scraping sides as you go.  Stop mixing once everything is nicely combined into a batter.

Add and fold in sprinkles.  I used nonpareils because the colors look the best when you bite into the cupcake and see the inside.  But these are your cupcakes now, so feel free to use any kind of sprinkles you want.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way full.


Bake for 15-17 minutes.  Cupcakes are done when the toothpick comes out clean.

Don't use the "press-the-top-if-it-springs-up-it's-done" method.  The tops will be soft and pressable when you take them out.  The cupcakes will continue to cook as they cool and homemade funfetti can get crunchy like a corn muffin if you cook them too long.
Let the cupcakes cool completely...

Now comes the super fun part...

Using homemade Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, split the batch of frosting into 2 separate bowls

Using food coloring, tint each bowl a different color.  I chose pink and blue because...well they look adorable together...and let's be real, they were my wedding colors!

Prepare a pastry bag fitted with a large tip coupler (you can find this at any Michael's craft store) and a Wilton tip 1M (also available at Michael's)

Roll the pastry bag down so you can fill it starting as close to the tip end as possible

Using a spoon add a scoop of each color of frosting alternately, putting them side by side

Continue scooping each color alternately, working your way up the bag.  Eventually you will have a pastry bag that looks like this:

If the colors squish up a little don't worry, that's the whole point!

Using your prepared pastry bag, place the tip at 12 o'clock on the cupcake

Begin to squeeze out the frosting while slowly/gently moving your tip around the top of the cupcake (clockwise, counterclockwise, it doesn't matter... just swirl that frosting on that cupcake!)

Top with your favorite sprinkle and enjoy! xoxo


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

This is a deliciously amazing frosting recipe my mom and I have used forever and ever.  I finally calculated out exactly how I make it and put it down on paper.  The guidelines may seem a little strange and overly-explained...but it is so totally worth it.  It's vanilla frosting heaven. It's homemade Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.