Monday, May 30, 2011

Bacon & Cheddar Muffins

I love long weekends.

There's just something about waking up on the Monday morning of a holiday weekend with a smile on your face, feeling like you've cheated the system with that extra morning to sleep in.

In true summer fashion our Memorial Day weekend was jam packed with sun filled adventures including the Austin Music and Wine Festival, lounging by the pool and a Sunday night BBQ with some of our favorites.

And everyone knows when you have plans all weekend long breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day because with so many plans you never know when your next meal will be.

I woke up Saturday morning craving a baked good, but wanting something savory at the same time.

Luckily,  I came upon this recipe for Bacon & Cheddar Muffins in an online Bisquick magazine and couldn't have been happier about the ease of preparation (and taste of course).

Bacon & Cheddar Muffins
recipe by Bisquick
Oven: 400 Bake time: 16-19 minutes
Makes 10 muffins or 5 large muffins

4 strips of bacon
1 egg
2 cups of Bisquick
3/4 cup of cheddar cheese
3/4 cup of milk
2 TBS butter, melted
1/4 tsp chili powder

Preheat oven to 400 and line muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large skillet, cook bacon until nice and crispy.
Remove from skillet, allowing bacon to cool, crumble and set aside.
In a large bowl lightly whisk egg.
Add Bisquick, milk, butter, and chili powder and mix until combined.
Fold in cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin- filling each about 3/4 full.
Transfer to oven and bake 16-19 minutes or until muffins have lightly browned.
Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan.
Serve with eggs.

Do anything fun this weekend?

Happy Baking!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Marquise on Meringue

So last month I slacked a little with the Daring Bakers' Challenge and couldn't find the time to make the maple mouse and bacon cups.

And this month I waited till the last minute to prepare the dish... 

Where is all my time going?!

I'll tell you where: summer. With the sun shining and warm weather here to stay, that can only mean one thing..well a few things actually.. traveling, weddings, showers, festivals and lots of weekends spent away from home. Oh, and of course co-ed summer soccer league starts soon so that means another round of Domination Station!

Speaking of traveling, we had a fabulous vacay in Vegas.. we didn't really win big, but we managed to have a good time anyway! The city is amazing and the pastries at the Bellagio are ah-mazing. Who knew you could travel all over the world in just one city!?

But enough about me and my out of town adventures, this blog is about my kitchen adventures so let's get-cha what-cha want!

The May 2011 Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

I felt it only fitting since both the marquise and caramel included tequila that the meringues resemble cacti ;)

Chocolate Marquise (I made a quarter of the original recipe)
Makes 6 2x2 squares

3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
2 TBS plus 2 tsp sugar
1 TBS plus 1 tsp water
Chocolate base (recipe to follow)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup cocoa powder(for rolling)
Torched Meringue

In a stand mixer, beat egg yolks and whole egg until fluffy and pale yellow (about 6 minutes).
While eggs are beating, place sugar and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil- about 235 degrees.
With mixer on low, slowly add sugar syrup.
Once sugar syrup is added, turn mixer on high and beat for about 8 minutes.
Slowly whisk in chocolate base, trying not to deflate eggs to much.
In a small bowl, beat whipping cream till soft peaks form.
Gently fold whipping cream into chocolate-egg mixture.
Line a small 8x8 pan with parchment paper.
Pour chocolate mixture into pan and cover with saran wrap (make sure saran wrap is touching mixture)
Place in freezer for at least 4 hours- if not over night.

Chocolate Base
3 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup plus 2 tsp heavy cream 
dash of salt
dash of cayenne
1 TBS tequila
1 TBS corn syrup (I used honey because I ran out)
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 TBS cocoa powder
1/2 TBS butter, softened

Place chocolate in a small bowl.
In a small saucepan, heat cream till just boiling.
Pour cream over chocolate and whisk until smooth.
Add rest of the ingredients and whisk until smooth.
Use warm.

Torched Meringue
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup less 1 TBS sugar
splash of apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp vanilla

Combine egg whites, sugar and vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using clean hand, reach in and mix the three ingredients together, making sure the sugar is moistened evenly by the egg whites.
Over a sauce pan of simmering water, warm egg mixture.
Use one hand to stir mixture, feeling for grains of sugar.
As liquid heats up, sugar will dissolve and the egg whites will thicken.
When mixture is silky, remove from heat.
Return to stand mixer and whisk until soft peaks are formed.
In the last 10 seconds of mixing, add vanilla.
When you're read to plate the dessert, spoon meringue onto plate and use blowtorch to broil.

Tequila Caramel (this is amazing)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup cream
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS tequila

In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium heat. Boil until water completely evaporates and sugar becomes a dark mahogany color.
Working quickly, add cream to darkened caramel.
Return pot to stove and whisk gently to dissolve any hardened sugar. When the caramel has darkened remove and add salt and tequila.

About 15 minutes before serving, remove marquise from freezer.
While still hard, remove from pan and flipping out onto another piece of parchment paper.
Cut into cubes and roll cubes in cocoa powder. These will start to melt almost immediately so don't do this until you're ready for everything else.
The cubes should sit in the fridge to slowly flaw until ready to serve.
Place torched meringue on serving plates.
Place marquise onto of meringue and drizzle with caramel.

I'm so glad I came back to this challenge.. seriously delicious.. 
I just wish we were having friends over for dinner with this dessert!

Happy Baking!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cakes, Cakes, Glorious Cakes

It's been a busy few weeks.

Work has been zapping a lot of my much so that I've not spent nearly enough time dedicated to you wonderful readers. I have been so busy with life, working hard, celebrating the warm weather, baking and decorating that I've cut out some of my time in front of the computer (aka bringing tasty posts to a computer near you).

Even though the posts are not as regular, I promise you the baking is still going strong so they recipes will eventually be coming your way.

In addition to the personal baking, there also seems to be a correlation between warmer months and number of cakes decorated. I already have 5 wedding cakes lined up for the coming months (including my own!) and the orders keep coming in!

Speaking of which I also want to let everyone know that I've created a website dedicated strictly to my cakes: It not only showcases the different cakes I've done, but I'm also hoping to increase my clientele, so if any of you out there know someone in need of a cake and they live in Central Texas send em my way please :) And let me know what you think of it!

Now back to this post! I thought I'd highlight a few of the cakes I've made recently.. the wedding cakes will be posts all their own.

Beiber Fever was made for a little girl through Free Cakes for Kids Killeen. She was so excited when I delivered the cake- not only did she fake a fainting spell, in true Beiber-dom, but I got 2 hugs out of the deal!

The next cake was one I made was actually for one of the volunteers for Free Cakes for Kids Killeen. She was in a pinch and asked if I could make a Monkey Mod cake for her daughter. Having never heard of Monkey Mod I had to do a little research, but after that is was a piece of cake ;)

This last cake was one of my favorites yet.. one of the girls at work wanted to surprise her boyfriend with a cake for their 1 year anniversary. Both avid sky divers, she somehow wanted to incorporate their hobby and together we came up with an idea to replicate them completing a skydiving formation together. The two colorful sky divers are actually replicas of them and the suits they skydive in.

(that's them!)

And before I forget!! As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program I recently received a coupon for a box of Magnum Ice Cream Bars..

We finally got around to digging into the chocolate and caramel variety and I don't even know where to begin! They're rich and creamy and super satisfying after a day in the hot Texas sun! The next time you're at Walmart I highly suggest running to the freezer section and buying a box! Thanks Foodbuzz!

As for Mountain Man and me.. we're off to Vegas for the weekend :) We're going to win big, I can feel it!

Happy Baking!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blackberry & Peach Dutch Oven Cowboy Cobbler

Nothing says summer like fresh fruit.

Blackberries in particular seem to be popping up everywhere- Mountain Man recently discovered a place to pick fresh ones near his work and a few days later one of the girls at work found a blackberry bush on her property as well.

So when she decided to have a backyard bbq, I knew her blackberries just had to be showcased.

My mind immediately went to cobbler and when our boss suggested actually making the cobbler on site in a dutch oven I was sold.. Having never baked in a dutch oven before, I was pretty excited to see how it would turn out.

The process couldn't have been easier.

Make sure you have a good hot fire going and a nice dutch oven to start..

Then all you need are a few key ingredients: a box of yellow cake, a stick of butter, 2 cans of peaches, a bunch of blackberries, and cinnamon and sugar and aluminum foil....

Start by lining your dutch oven with the aluminum foil- this is going to make your clean up much easier.

Next, pour in 2 cans of peaches and fresh blackberries...

Sprinkle your box of cake mix over the fruit and using a large spoon, mix until your cake mix starts to get absorbed by the juice from your peaches.

Cut your stick of butter into thin slices and distribute over your cake/fruit mixture.

The last step in the cobbler preparation is to sprinkle your cinnamon-sugar mixture over top just before covering (the amount of sprinkling is completely up to you). Once you've got your share of sprinkling done, lightly fold over the sides of your aluminum foil.

Now its time for baking!

Cover your cobbler with the dutch oven lid and place in the fire, right over the coals. 
Then using fire proof tongs, add a few of the hot coals on top of the lid.

After about 30 minutes it's time to go and check on your cobbler.

It's helpful if you have a cowboy that will do all the dirty work for you.
If it has a nice golden brown top then it's done and ready for eating!

Holy Delicious.

We actually made two cobblers that afternoon and this happens to be the Blueberry & Peach Cobbler.. the Blackberry & Peach Cobbler was all gone before I could grab a picture!

Blackberry & Peach Dutch Oven Cobbler
You'll need: A dutch oven, aluminum foil and a hot fire

2 cans of peaches
1 bunch of fresh blackberries (about 2 cups)
1 box of yellow cake mix 
1 stick of butter
cinnamon and sugar

Line your dutch oven with aluminum foil.
Pour peaches and blackberries in first.
Sprinkle cake mix over top and using a big spoon, mix until cake mix is soaked up by the peach juice.
Cut butter into small slices and place on top of cobbler mixture.
Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar (to your liking) on top as a finishing touch.
Gently pull excess aluminum foil over cobbler and put the lid on the dutch oven.
Place dutch oven directly in the fire and using fire proof tongs to place a few coals on top of lid.
Allow to sit for about 30 minutes- check to see if top has browned.
Remove from fire and enjoy!

Happy Baking!

ps. for those of you that commented on my 'Peanut Butter Chocolate & Potato Chip Cookies,' Thank you! Blogger has been all sorts of a mess and somehow in the mix of it all your comments got deleted :(

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate & Potato Chip Cookies

It's crazy right?

Potato chips in cookies!?

If you love that salty and sweet combination anywhere as much as I do then you'll really enjoy these cookies. After devouring a few, I actually wish I would have put more potato chips in them!

The idea came to me from a number of different avenues...

Remember when I used to work at The Sweet Factory? Well, they sold chocolate covered potato chips there and to be honest, they were surprisingly quite amazing.

A have I ever told you about how much I used to love crushing my potato chips and sprinkling them in my peanut butter sandwich? (Before you call me crazy I highly suggest you at least try it)

And of course, everyone knows the combination of peanut butter and chocolate is a no-brainer.

So if you're following my crazy logic you can plainly see it's a simple "if-then" equation:

If chocolate + potato chips = fantastic,
and peanut butter + potato chips = phenomenal,
and chocolate + peanut butter = amazing,
then chocolate + peanut butter + potato chips = fantastically & phenomenally amazing

Peanut Butter Chocolate & Potato Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from allrecipes: tried & true favorites
Oven: 375 Bake time: 15 minutes
Makes 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup peanut butter, warmed in the microwave for 10 seconds
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 TBS honey
2 TBS water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup crushed potato chips *if really craving salty increase to 1/2 cup
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream peanut butter, butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth.
Beat in eggs one at a time, incorporating after each addition.
Stir in honey, water and vanilla.
Stir flour and baking soda into peanut butter mixture and mix until smooth.
Fold in crushed potato chips and chocolate chips.
Using a small ice cream scooper or a tablespoon, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are golden.
Allow cookies to cool 1 minutes before moving to cooling rack.

Happy Baking!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Baked Cake Donuts

Is it do-nuts or dough-nuts?

Is there a difference or is it just a personal preference?

Seriously, these are the kind of things I think about....

Sad? Maybe, but I like to tell myself that it's just my passion for baking that leads me to these kinds of important life questions.

I've been meaning to make donuts for a while now. I actually got a hankering for them months ago and had the misfortune of not being able to find a doughnut pan anywhere, leading me to an online purchase. Needless to say, by the time I actually got the pan my craving had diminished and my new baking tool found its way to the back of the cabinet.

A little Spring cleaning later, the pan reappeared and I after one bite I remembered why I had wanted these glorious little breakfast treats in the first place.

Baking them makes me feel a little better about my breakfast choice, but if I get the deep fryer I registered for you best bet you'll be seeing the fried variety as well.

Baked Cake Donuts
Oven: 325 Bake time: 8-10 minutes
Makes 12 donuts (or halve it for 6)

2 cups AP flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 TBS shortening

Preheat oven to 325. Spray Donut pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
Stir in buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and shortening and beat until blended.
Fill a pastry bag or ziplock bag with donut batter and cut tip/corner.

Use bag to fill each donut cup about 3/4 the way full.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until donuts are browned.
While donuts are baking, prepare toppings*
Allow to cool slightly in pan before removing.

Glaze or coat with prepared toppings.

Topping choices

Cinnamon-Sugar: Place 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 sugar in ziplock bag. Lightly spray baked donuts with cooking spray and place in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Zip up bag and shake until donut is completely coated.

Powdered Sugar: Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar in ziplock bag. Place donut in bag, zip and shake until donut is completely coated.

Chocolate Glaze: Mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 TBS warm milk and 2 TBS cocoa powder in small bowl. Dip donut into glaze.

Happy Baking!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Snickerdoodles & Ice Cream Sandwiches

A good friend of ours left for Afghanistan a few months ago.

Before he left I promised I would send him a care package a few weeks into his deployment with the essentials: VIA Starbucks coffee, nutella, trail mix, Easter candy, silly toys and homemade cookies.

What more could a boy want while fighting our nation's war in the desert? I can't think of much.

As I was getting the package put together, Dan requested his favorite cookies- snickerdoodles.  I have to be honest, I kind of got excited... mostly because they are one of my favorite cookies too and not only was I looking forward to sending him a little bit of home, but I was also looking forward to eating all the extra that wouldn't necessarily fit :)

Shortly after the package was received, I was happily informed that the cookies were gone in a matter of minutes.. I think the word "A-mazing" was used.

I did a little something extra with our share of cookies, so you'll have to read the whole post to make sure you see it!

Recipe from Pilsbury Kitchen's Cookbook
Oven: 400 Bake time: 8-10 minutes

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup AP flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small shallow bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs.
Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt- blend well.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls (about a TBS of dough).
Roll balls in cinnamon and sugar mixture, placing on baking sheet when covered.
Bake for 8-10 minutes until cookies slightly crack.

Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches:
Use your favorite vanilla ice cream and allow to soften.
Line cookies, in sets of two, flat side up.

 Place one scoop of ice cream on the flat side of a cookie... 

and press second cookie (flat side down) on top

There's no better way to eat a snickerdoodle!

Happy Baking!