Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday Tip!

If there is any truth behind the universe being able to play a joke, then I'm currently the butt of it...and I'm not laughing...well, maybe today I did. 

A few weeks ago I told you that I have several tips in cue but then today happened, and I simply stared at the list with absolutely no desire to share any of them. From the number of women I speak with, I have been able to understand that we all go through a period of time when we question everything. Sometimes it's not a matter of low self esteem, it can be simply a matter of feeling unappreciated. That is when the questioning starts.

I wonder if I stopped doing this [insert anything here], would anybody even notice?

The list of questions can go on and on.  Some of you may know what I'm talking about.

Goodness. I asked Debbie Downer to move out of my house this morning. She was no longer welcome.  I even helped her pack her bags. Then I shouted,

"Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!"

Yes. Yes I did. REAL loud too.

Don't worry. The neighbors had already left for work.

Moving on.

Since lunchtime was upon us, I opted to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches -- a crowd favorite. I reached up for the bread basket and it came tumbling down on me. Flat bread, tortillas, hoagie rolls, sandwich bread, rice cakes...the whole lot of them. When I say "bread basket", I mean family-style-holds-all-of-our-perishable-eat-them-soon-bread.

And we eat a lot of it.



On me.

The children thought it was funny. 

Maybe I did too.

Next, for some reason I decided to open the freezer.  At this point I don't remember why but I do know that I did.  Guess what.  Our ice maker started spitting ice cubes at me. 

Yes. Yes it did.

Now the children are really laughing...and hard.

And so am I.

Needless to say, I never did make those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Instead, I opted to bring out all the cut up fruit we had.  I served them into bowls and topped with whipped cream.  The children squealed with delight and we had so much fun.  As a matter of fact, as I type this out I can still hear them laughing hard and playing.

So my Tuesday Tip is probably the most practicle I can ever give:

Life may be a bowl of cherries but sometimes you really just need a little whipped cream.

No matter what you are doing in the kitchen or out, you need to try to remember to enjoy yourself. Be thankful for everything you have, no matter how small or insignificant you may think it is. Celebrate every success -- even the little ones.  Because if you spend your time looking down at what has fallen all around you, you might forget to look up and miss the beauty all around you.

And that's no joke.

Well maybe this Redskin's chef hat is.

Goodness he's so stinkin' cute.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday Tip!

Is it bad of me that I find today's Tuesday Tip! totally boring.  I mean who really wants to wait around for anything that isn't exciting?  Not me. But alas...[sigh]

Room temperature.

Yup. That's it. A waiting game.

Waiting for ingredients to come to room temperature is a boring, boring, boring...waiting game. They say  (who are "they" anyway?) that great things come to those who wait.  And I guess, "they" are correct because waiting is like watching your garden grow...

And then enjoying it's harvest...

Or waiting can be testing to make sure the chocolate is ready...

...not a minute too soon (or late) before the cookies can be added...

then wait some more...


 Or wait until the chocolate sets up...

For fun MANLY birthday cupcakes!

Waiting can even be while the smells make your mouth water and you wonder WHEN OH WHEN will these herb buns be ready to bake?!

And then they are...and you do.

MMMMmmmmm....those are not biscuits ladies and gentlemen. Those are herb rolls I had to do all sorts of things to and....wait. But then when I finally got to bake them and serve them up for dinner HOT with butter...[fainted]

So this is my Tuesday Tip!  When getting ready to bake, unless your recipe says otherwise, bring your ingredients to room temperature first before assembling.  It really makes a noticeable difference in the end product especially when NOT waiting can actually cause some recipes to completely fail.

Now that my work is done here, I no longer have to wait. Everything is at room temperature, just as it should be. Ahhh...life is good. 

Happy Baking!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


There are always plenty of cupcakes in our home...especially on birthdays.

And this is how we love to snack...

Who needs hands...?

Especially when all you need is a smile.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday Tip!

There is so much going on in my little baking world that I cannot imagine what is going to rise next.  I even have our daughter making recommendations - without prodding! Both our son and daughter are experimenting with their toys by making imprints on playdough and then bringing it to me with so much joy, "MOMMY! You can do this in fondant and place them on cupcakes!"

Oh.my.goodness. What have I done?

Oh well, at least they are playing and being creative.  It never ends around here.

So in keeping in line with childhood and what so many of us loved eating growing up, today's tip will be about: playdough Peanut Butter.

Scared ya didn't I?  Eat playdough...yeahhh...why I never...


There are so many recipes out there that call for using peanut butter but there is also such a HUGE selection of peanut butter nowadays that it seems easiest to just grab your favorite one and use it. But it's not that easy...or successful in baking.

First of all, I will say that I have a new love for natural peanut butter...and almond butter (thanks Cheryle!) But some of these products require stirring and refrigeration and more often than not, these are not suitable for using in recipes (or in packed lunches).  So my tip today actually comes from my test kitchen and I'm going to share with you which product I have found is the best to use...and tastes great.

This is a natural peanut butter that does not require refrigeration or stirring.  However, over time some separation does occur in your cabinet and you should stir a little before using. Also, even though it does have a shelf life it is a natural product, and you should buy only what your family or baking needs require. You know, if you use a lot, buy a big container. If you only use for desserts, buy a small container. If you eat it straight out of the jar morning, noon, and night...buy stock. And so on. You get the point.

The reason I like Skippy is because it has such a rich nutty flavor and they use a minimal amount of real sugar to sweeten instead of molasses like some others.  The molasses, when mixed with other ingredients, can make what you are working with a little stiffer and more difficult to manipulate. Molasses is good for gingerbread cookies but not for my peanut butter.  And of course, "natural" means it does not have all those unkind unpronounceable words that are famous for making peanut butter live forever on store and home shelves. No thank you.

So try some Skippy Natural when making peanut butter cookies or mix with cream cheese to spread on your favorite treat...yeah even...rice cakes. Or stick to the basics and make a healthier and yummy choice when making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the family that will hold up in the lunchboxes. 

That's it peeps. Nothing fancy today. Just some good creamy peanut butter.

MMMmmm....Peanut butter and chocolate. Simply Divine.


Happy Baking!

BTW, It makes me so sad to think of those who have peanut allergies today and aren't able to enjoy the dreamy creamy texture of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter cookies, Reese's candies, or even the now popular chocolate cupcakes topped with a rich peanut butter frosting. I have friends whose children are severely allergic and I sincerely hope a cure is found for this food that has issued a death warrant on so many. Someday. Soon.

While we all wait, I will continue to make desserts (whenever asked especially for them) in a thoroughly scrubbed down kitchen with the products and tools I keep separate just for my special "customers". The mommas who follow me know who they are :) LOVE YOU!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Today's Test Kitchen

Ever get that sinking feeling?  You know the one. You are watching a wreck in process and there is no stopping it or turning back.  Yup. I had it. In my kitchen...again.

You'll have to come back and see what happened.

As for me, nothing cheers me up more than a warm, rolled up newborn.  And since I don't have one of those laying around here somewhere in this chaotic mess of my test kitchen...

...looking at pretty cupcakes for a baby shower will do for now.

Aren't they so cute!?!

Now I'm off to enjoy my little cupcakes...otherwise known as our 7yr old and 4yr old before they head off to school in a couple of weeks. Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Happy Baking,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Recipe: Custard Buttermilk Pie

Gave you a sneaky-peek yesterday at a dessert that is crazy easy to make.  Why?  Because dessert is always a delight ESPECIALLY if super easy to make!

Welcome back because if you love Crème brûlée, you are going to like this recipe. 

Buttermilk Pie


1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Bisquick biscuit mix
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled down
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs


Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
(Tip: This is not an option. Collect all your ingredients and combine after your oven is ready.)

Coat a 9 inch pie plate with cooking spray.
(Tip: use our Tuesday Tip! to help)

Combine the sugar, buttermilk, biscuit mix, melted butter, vanilla and eggs in a blender or with a hand held mixer until smooth. (Tip: you want the melted butter slightly cooled so you don't cook the eggs when combining.)

For fun and speed, I use a blender. Notice I placed my eggs in first and the butter last to really keep down the chance of accidentally pre-cooking my eggs.


Pour into your prepared pie plate. Tip: you can carry it on a baking sheet to catch any accidental spillage.


Bake for about 35 minutes or until browned.


Tip: You want your pie to slightly wobble in the center because it will set as it continues to cool once removed from heat.  All ovens are different so I would suggest to check at 30 minutes and give your pie plate a little jiggle. I had one girlfriend test this recipe and hers was already completely set at the 30 minute mark. I pulled out mine at 35 minutes because I noticed the top started to crack. However, I found it to have the perfect jiggle and it's texture was wonderful after it set.

I let our pie sit out to continue to cool and set while we ate dinner. Then cut and served it after cleaning up.


Serve with raspberries or blueberries...YUM-O!

We found that it tasted so much like a homemade Crème brûlée because of it's dreamy custard texture and never worried about the lack of brûlée.

I hope you find the time to enjoy.

Happy Baking!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rising with the sun

Do you ever get up in the morning and immediately start day dreaming? Sometimes I do.  Today was one of them. Actually, I went to bed talking to my husband about lasagna.  I really, really, really want some. So yes, I'll be making a trip to the store today and prep my items for tomorrow's dinner.

Already my kitchen smells like pizza because I'm making herb rolls.  I made my dough with oregano, basil, and garlic. It's been kneaded, shaped, covered, and placed in the refrigerator to pull out in order to let it rise and be baked to be served alongside dinner...tomorrow.  Whew.

Talk about kneading to rise with the sun. That's alot of work.  And I STILL have to make my sauce for the lasagna! But I'm excited about it. There are days I love to be busy in the kitchen.

BUT, what excites me even more is discovering a way to make something delicious...FAST.

Would you mind sharing with me any of your favorite sweet or savory dish recipes that is so simple others don't believe you?  I'll have my family pick one and I'll make it. Then I'll feature it here (giving you credit) under a new page I'm calling "Quick and Easy".

In the meantime, here is a preview of a divine dessert that is so quick and easy!



You won't have to rise with the sun to make this but do come back tomorrow for the recipe!

Happy baking,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday Tip!

Hello again!

To be honest with you, I've been getting so excited about these tip posts that anytime I have a thought of something to share...I immediately go to my drafts and make note of them.  Ummm...either I have some really good stuff to share or I get way too excited over the simplest things.


Today's tip wasn't actually in cue but I got so excited over it that I moved it to the top of the line.  For some odd reason I just couldn't wait to share it with you!

Baking spray.

Yup. That's it! Sort of. Read on...

I love using baking spray on my pans for some of my brownie recipes because I have found that it works even better than greasing and flouring. When I make cakes, I do grease the bottom of the pan only. Then I place a piece of parchment paper over it and lightly spray the paper. I love how this is the muscle behind my cakes and brownies not sticking to the pan.

But our Tuesday Tip! cannot end there.

First...If you don't know what baking spray is then all you need to know is that it's basically cooking spray with flour and is a life saver in time when baking.

So which brand do I like best?


Pam is actually the first of the baking sprays I ever used and when I tried others, I simply did not like them as much.

Would you believe me that I still have not reached the part of the tip I am most excited over?

So thank you for unsticking with me because here it is.

Anybody who uses baking spray knows it can be quite messy when preparing your pans because it just seems to get everywhere.  Time after time, I have found myself cleaning my sink, counters, and even floor after using the stuff. BUT NO MORE! Open your dishwasher door and spray your pan over it.  That way any over spray goes into the dishwasher and gets washed off during the next cycle. BRILLIANT!

I so wish I had thought of that years ago.

And now...you have it!

Happy Baking,

Monday, August 9, 2010

Taste test

The results are finally in!

Unfortunately, like I told you in my last posting on Saturday, my taste testers disappeared on me! Who gives up free cupcakes?!  Well, their loss was certainly my "gain"...if you catch what I'm saying. At least I didn't make the Coconut Buttercream icing I was going to test on the cupcakes.  I don't think I could handle another pound of butter...or two...or more...cause "these hips don't lie".  And I'm not Shakira.


Does that count?


Butter. I mean bummer.

But seriously though. I promised you descriptions, pictures and results.

Here we go.

First of all, you may remember I was using coconut to bring a rich flavor to these cupcakes.  Well, the coconut milk didn't do much for adding their distinct flavor but it sure did give a rich and velvety texture. That is when I decided to go ahead with a whipped butterscotch topping and try them out in three different ways. 

Buttery yellow cake with whipped Butterscotch topping. Even in this "plain Jane" look...SO YUM!


Next up, I added caramel to the topping. This certainly took it up a notch in flavor!

Oh, so ooey and gooey.  Not the prettiest I've ever made but no regrets. None.


And lastly, I added coarsely chopped PECANS and finely chopped PECANS
(yes, yes, I know I misspelled peacans on the last post)



The truth is I did end up having six taste testers (which included myself). They all just happened to be in my  family but they are used to me asking for the complete truth and these are the results:
  1. Plain Jane Butterscotch:  Delicious. Liked by all. No complaints.
  2. Caramel Love: Definitely a WIN! After tasting this one, nobody else wanted a "plain" one.
  3. Pecan Nut:  I was surprised that only two liked this and two completely rejected.  Both of the ones who didn't want the nuts said the exact same thing on completely separate occasions. They mentioned they needed to be "in the mood" for the texture of the pecans. The two that did like the final addition mentioned that it tasted like Butter Pecan ice cream, which is the flavor I was going for. The last two testers were indifferent.

Huh. Very interesting.

So, thank you for reading and if you don't mind too much let me know what you think.

Happy Baking!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Testers are M.I.A

You may be thinking that I've forgotten about you AND the pictures AND the results of this week's test kitchen.  I have not. The truth is my biased taste testers are missing.  We simply were unable to meet up to slowly devour eat and critique my latest scrumptious goodness.

I will tell you that my family had some samples.

And in the words of the youngest girl, "Mommy, these are the best ever!"


I have another baking project today and if my testers don't make an appearance, we are going to have cupcakes coming out of every corner of this house!

I'll be back with pictures. Promise.

In the meantime...Happy Baking,