About Me

My Photo
Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
I am a hard working, fun loving, wife and mother of two. My life is full of chaos including: my family, my career, school, and dessert! I have been cooking for nearly twenty years, which has taught me that there is always room for dessert! Check me out on Facebook too! Don't forget to Like my page.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Lemon Bars

I tend not to share dessert recipes. It's just my thing. If you have my recipe then you have no reason to buy my goodies. I probably wouldn't care as much if I didn't rely on selling at least a few treats a month to help feed my family.

However, no one local seems to order lemon bars. I used to sell my semi-famous, slightly tart and sweet, squares of deliciousness on very regular basis when I lived in Oregon. There is something about Coloradans making them impervious to the power of my lemon bars.

In light of this revelation, I have decided to post my recipe. It was adapted from an Ina Garten recipe that I found some time ago. I truly only made one change, but for me, it makes all the difference. I use some, not all, bottled lemon juice. I prefer it because the acidity level is constant and gives that tartness that I dig. Fresh lemons vary on the sour scale. I have also found that using a different sized pan, doesn't work. You'll end up thin, gummy bars. These are supposed to be thick, rich, and have a creamy lemon layer. Enjoy!

For the crust:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the lemon layer:
6 large eggs
 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (3 or 4 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (just juice the ones you used for zest and fill in the rest with bottled lemon juice)
1 cup flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar.

 Then dump in the flour and salt and mix just until combined.

Press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan. I like to line mine foil so that I can pull the whole thing out of the pan, it makes for easier cutting once it is fully baked and cooled. It bakes for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the top is lightly browned.
In the meantime, ready the lemon layer.

See, I really do put some in.
Beat the eggs and sugar, until it gets light yellow and fluffy. Then mix in the lemon juice, and then the flour.
Last, I don't turn the mixer on, but still use the beat to gently mix in the zest. Turning the mixer on will create too much force and entangle the zest around the beaters. Then you'll spend a bunch of time picking it off. TRUST ME!
The original recipe says to let the crust cool before pouring in the lemon, but I never do. You'll bake the whole thing again, for another 30 minutes, or until the middle is no longer jiggly. Just to clarify, I mean the middle of the lemon layer. Baking this will not make your middle un-jiggle.
When it's done, the top will have a crust. Let it cool completely. Then dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares. I go for 16, but feel free to make them larger or smaller.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Home

Did you know that a well known mega-chain coffee shop, the pumpkin spice lattes are chock full of fat, calories, and, should you choose to order them with non-dairy milk, they aren't vegan!? That's right, the PSL concentrate has milk in it. Even a tall, which is actually small, PSL with skim milk and no whipped cream has 200 calories, but even worse, 37 grams of sugar, that's about 3 tablespoons in a teeny 12 oz cup. Imagine what you get with 2% milk and whipped cream.

Normally, I would order a PSL without hesitation. However, I happened to have some leftover pumpkin puree after making muffins so I thought I'd create a homemade version of the classic fall drink. It just works out that it is also lower in fat, calories, and sugar.

For one latte:

2 oz espresso, or strong brewed coffee
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
6 oz milk of your choice (I use cow's milk, but feel free to experiment) heated and frothed

You simply mix all of the ingredients into your favorite mug and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon. If you like it sweeter, you can add a few drops of stevia or a little more syrup. This was perfect for me. You can also make a big batch of concentrate to keep in the fridge. Just don't mix in the dairy or coffee. Do that fresh for the best flavor. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Cream cheese sugar cookies

I know that some people enjoy crispy cookies. I am not that person. I long for chewy, soft, and flavorful cookies. I am also not a person who eats store-bought cookies, unless they happen to be Oreos or Girl Scout cookies. But that's another story.

Here in Colorado, it can difficult to make a chewy cookie. The dryness in the air literally pulls the moisture from your baked goods. Please know that it may not be your baking. You could be a fantastic baker, but will fail in Colorado without making adjustments to your recipes.

With that said, I want you to take my sugar cookie recipe. These cookies, if baked properly, should stay chewy for about a week...if they last that long. There is not a magic time that I can list because it really depends on the size and shape of your cookies. Also, this recipe is for rolled and cut cookies. They won't spread or flatten out in the oven.

2 cups softened butter
2 cups sugar
8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
4 cups of flour

Cream together butter, cream cheese, sugar, extracts, salt, and egg. Then gently mix in flour. Refrigerate dough for at least two hours. Seriously, don't skip this step. If you do, the cookies will spread too much and come out crunchy.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes and bake at 350 degrees until the bottoms are barely browned. Then remove from oven and let cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to finish cooling and then store in an air tight container. You can frost them if you wish or drizzle with melted chocolate, but they are also great plain.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Caramel brownies

Assemble all ingredients and have them ready,        1 cup sugar, 1 stick butter, 6 TBS heavy cream, and 1/2 tsp salt.

Add 1 cup sugar and cook over medium high heat until melted and brown. By the time it melts thoroughly, it should already be brown. I like to stir mine constant;y, but you could go intermittently, just don't walk away.
Take off the heat and add 1 stick of butter, stirring until melted and combined.
Next, add 6 TBS heavy cream and 1/2 tsp salt. I use kosher.
Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly and thick.
Next, pour into a parchment lined pan. I used the pan I eventually cooked the brownies in so that the caramel was the right size. Then pop it into the freezer until firm and it pulls easily away from the paper, about 30 minutes.
Now you have a sheet of caramel. You could easily cut this into squares and eat it...all of it.

Grease a 9x13 pan and put in 2/3 of brownie batter. You can use your favorite recipe, a box, or my recipe which is below.

Then the sheet of caramel.

Then top with the remaining batter.
Smooth out the batter and bake at 375 (350 if you are less than 3000 ft) for almost an hour. A toothpick should come out mostly clean.

They will still be moist in the center because some of the caramel melts and some  will solidify and leave a smooth ribbon in the middle. It is very important to let these brownies cool completely or the caramel won't set properly. If you like them warm, reheat one in the microwave.

 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted
1 cup + 2 TBS cocoa powder mixed with 6 TBS cooking oil
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/3 cup AP flour

Combine butter, cocoa mixture, and sugar. Then whisk in eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Lastly, stir in the flour. Bake as above with caramel in the middle or as is in a greased 13x9 pan at 375 for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Gluten free!!

Gluten free salted caramel cupcakes
Yes! I do do *snicker* gluten free cupcakes. I can make just about any of my traditional flavors gluten free. All of my frostings are naturally gluten free as is fondant. As a side note, if you have a true allergy or have celiac disease, I cannot recommend ordering from me. While I can guarantee my recipes, my kitchen and equipment are used in the preparation of glutinous items. I certainly do not want to be the reason for your sickness!!

I can do dairy free also, but not vegan. The flavors are more limited, so please ask ahead of time.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Make better cakes

Have you ever wondered why some people bake better than others? The answer is simple...patience. Baking isn't difficult, you just need to take the time to do it right. Some people fuss over measurements and getting exact ingredients. I'm here to tell you that it really doesn't matter all that much. If you want to change up a recipe, just keep the proportions the same. Make sure your dry ingredients stay dry and wet ingredients stay wet. You can sub milk, sour cream, juice, or even flavored creamer for the liquid in a recipe to enhance flavors. As far as the dry ingredients go, you can use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose in quick breads and muffins, but please do not make cake with it. I implore you! While you can use it if you really want to, know that you WILL sacrifice texture and flavor if you do. And seriously, why bother making cake "healthy." It's cake! You don't eat it everyday and it is supposed to be a decadent treat, so let's keep it that way!

So you wanna learn how to make better tasting cake? Follow these simple instructions to a moist, fluffy, slice of heaven.

First, EVERYTHING should be at room temperature. Just take it out of the fridge in the morning, go about your day, then bake after lunch. Cream the butter and sugar until it looks soft and you no longer see grains of sugar, which is what "creaming" is.
Add the eggs one at a time. I hope you left these out of the fridge. Otherwise, why did you bother creaming the butter and sugar. Cold eggs will seize up the butter and nothing from this point on will fully incorporate.
When it comes to the flour and liquid, do it alternately. 1/3 of the flour, then half of the liquid, another 1/3 of the flour, remaining 1/2 of the liquid, and the final 1/3 of the flour. Again, you do this so that everything incorporates well. I always stop shy of the flour being fully incorporated and use a spatula so as not to overmix. The longer you mix once any bit of flour is added the tougher a cake will be.

I ALWAYS use parchment paper to line by baking pans. This ensures that it will come out of the pan. Even if I know a recipe, I still use it. Why chance that this one time something will awry? I hope these tips will you turn out a beautiful cake next time you give it a whirl. Stay tuned for tips on how to ice a cake like a bakery professional!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Book cakes!

 What are the odds that during National Library Week (April 15-20, 2013) that I would have the pleasure of making 2 book cakes? The styles are completely different and each presented it's own challenges, but in the end they both worked out. The open book cake is chocolate cake with raspberry mousse filling, one of my fav's! And the Harry Potter cake is lime cake with cherry filling, think cherry limeade.

Open book cake
Horcrux Cake, for Harry Potter fans.