Monday, January 25, 2016

Almost a Fail: Sugar Cookies

OMG! I have been making my sugar cookie recipe for years and almost failed at making a batch! 

I knew the dough was crumbly.
However, kneading it by hand helped. The dough began to hold together and form a dough ball. 

This is where I should have realized something was wrong, but didn't
After an hour of chillin' in the 'frig, the dough should have been ready. I put half of the chilled dough onto the silicone mat, pressed it flat with my hand, and attempted to roll the dough out into a sheet with the rolling pin. 
The dough crumbled under the rolling pin. 

This is where I finally realized there was a problem!
I took a pinch of dough and taste tested it. YUCK! No Sugar! I left out the cup of sugar!

Throw it away or fix it?
I needed to fix this dough. I had used the last stick of  butter, the store was closed, the nearest open store is 15 miles away, and I had to have those cookies the next day for a church event! I needed to fix this cookie dough.

Saved It! 
After thinking about the problem for a minute or two, this is what I decided to do:
  • I measured out the missing 1 cup of sugar and added 3 Tbsp. of water to it
  • gently stirred the water into the sugar until it was well blended
  • Added the sugar water mixture to the dough
  • Kneaded the sugar water mixture into the crumbly dough for about 5 minutes
  • Within a minute the dough began to hold together and feel more like sugar cookie dough
After about 5 minutes the sugar mixture was completely incorporated and the dough felt like normal cookie dough
  • Chilled the dough AGAIN for about 45 minutes.
  • Rolled out the dough without a single problem, and the cookies baked normally!
Woohoo! I saved the cookies! 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Six Ingredient Corn Casserole

I am bored with my usual side dishes.

Seriously, I am tired, tired, tired of potatoes and pasta.

The solution to my problem? Time to get out an old cookbook. Old, as in 1969. 

Sorry if this is the year you were born. I'm even older if it makes you feel any better.

Anyway, I decided it was time to try out a new-to-me recipe for corn casserole since whole kernel corn is the star of the pantry this week. 

Star as in -  I have more cans of whole kernel corn than anything else! 

Yield: 6-8 servings                                                          
Cooking Time: 30 minutes    

Six Ingredients
  1. 3 eggs, well beaten
  2. 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  3. 1-2 Tbsp. white sugar I use 2 Tbsp. because we love sweet corn. 
  4. 2 cups shredded, Colby Jack cheese
  5. 2 - 15.25 oz cans whole kernel corn, drained
  6. 4 slices of cooked bacon, drained and crumbled
  • Combine eggs, flour, and sugar in a medium size bowl and beat well.

  • Stir in Colby Jack cheese, corn, and bacon

  • Put the mixture into an ungreased 10 inch by 6 inch x 1.5 inch baking dish.

  • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, or until a a butter knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

  • Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before cutting into six or eight pieces. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Nine Patch with Stars Birthday Cake and Cupcakes

Patchwork and Stars Birthday Cake with rolled butter cream fondant and royal icing.
My Grandma Pansy is my inspiration for the Nine Patch cake top.
Grandma's quilts were prized presents in my family. The quilt I received from her was a red and white, nine patch design that I treasured for years.
Love of barn stars is a quirk of mine. I LOVE barn stars. Mini stars were the perfect addition for this pretty cake top that I designed for my daughter Ashley's birthday. Ashley is a single mom with a toddler and she enjoys receiving a birthday cake from Mom!
Why Jumbo Cupcakes?
Just didn't feel like making two cakes. Instead, I placed jumbo aluminum cupcake liners in a cake pan and cooked a nine inch cake and five jumbo cupcakes.

P.S. The cupcakes didn't go to Ashley's house. They stayed home for Bill and I to enjoy.
Jumbo cupcakes made with rolled butter cream fondant and royal icing.
Close up of royal icing beads and star.
The cookie cutters that I used to create the Nine Patch Cake and Jumbo Cupcakes : a 3 inch square cookie cutter, a 1 1/4 inch mini-star cookie cutter, a 3 inch round cookie cutter, and a 2 inch round cookie cutter.
Step by Step Pictures to Assemble a Nine Patch with Stars Cake
Step 1: Place corner squares and center square first, leaving a small gap as shown in the picture above. Next, set four contrasting squares into place. Don't worry, the stars will cover all of the cake top.
Step 2: Place 12 white stars as shown in the diagram above. 
Step 3: Place 19 pink stars as shown in the diagram above.
Step 4: Place 12 brown stars as shown in the diagram above
Step 5: Pipe lettering and then dots onto stars. Your Nine Patch with Stars Birthday Cake is done!
Five Easy Steps to Assemble the Jumbo Cupcake Design

1. Drizzle a small amount of royal icing onto the cupcake top.
2. Place a 3 inch round of brown fondant onto the cupcake top over the royal icing.
3.Using a small amount of royal icing as glue, stack a 2 inch round of pink fondant on top of the brown fondant circle.
4. Place a white fondant star on top of the pink circle.
5. Pipe royal icing beads around the edge of the brown fondant circle

My Butter Cream Fondant Recipe

I have broken two stand mixers trying to mix fondant with the little spiral dough hooks that came with them. The second one was supposed to be a heavy-duty, detachable, stand mixer - it wasn't. I am now using a 1960's model stand mixer with dough hooks to make this recipe. A Kitchen Aide mixer is at the top of my wish list!

Yield: about 1 1/2 pounds of fondant

1/2 cup light corn syrup                   1/4 cup shortening                          1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract                      1 pound confectioners sugar - about half of a 2 pound bag

This recipe can be doubled and the yield will be 3 pounds of fondant. 
  • In a large bowl, stir together the shortening and corn syrup.
  • Mix with an electric mixer until the mixture is creamy and smooth.
  • Add the vanilla extract and salt.
  • Gradually mix in the confectioners sugar until it forms or begins to form a stiff dough.
  • Knead by hand until the fondant holds together in a smooth ball that is not sticky. Add a little more confectioners sugar as needed. 
  • Divide fondant into three 1/2 pound balls
  • Flatten each ball and wrap in plastic wrap
  • Place wrapped circles of fondant into a container with a tight fitting lid. I use a 4 qt. ice cream bucket.
  • Place container in refrigerator until you want to use it. 
  • Remove the  fondant from the refrigerator and let it warm for about 15-20 minutes. 
  • Knead with your hands until fondant is pliable. 
I like to make the fondant 2-3 days ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until I need it. Plus, I feel like the fondant handles better after is has been in the refrigerator for two or three days. 
For chocolate butter cream fondant, add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder with the vanilla extract, and salt.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Triple Chocolate Dyno-Bites Treat Cake

A Birthday Tradition
I started a birthday tradition when my oldest daughter was three.On your birthday, you get to "order" your birthday cake, ice cream, and birthday meal. Five years ago, I married Bill. Two weeks before celebrating his first birthday with me, I explained the birthday tradition to Bill. He LOVED the idea. 
Hubby's Birthday Wish 
This year he told me he wanted a Cocoa Dyno-Bites treat cake, stacked up and a steak. Just steak. No side dishes. Just a rare steak and a stacked, Cocoa Dyno-Bites treat cake. Steak and chocolate. Does this sound like someone you know?
I created a Triple Chocolate Dyno-Bites Treat Cake just for my handsome hubby! The trio of chocolate is: the Cocoa Dyno-Bites cereal, milk chocolate chips, and semi-sweet chocolate ganache as a filling and frosting. An additional ingredient, was caramel flavoring in the melted marshmallows. How does this sound? Just one more flavor treat. Oh, I forgot to tell you the ice cream flavor that is going to sit beside each slice of treat cake - Rocky Road! Does life get any better for a foodie? 
Now, let me share how I created this cake.
  • 12 cups of Cocoa Dyno-Bites Cereal
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup of milk chocolate chips
  • 2- 10 oz. bags miniature marshmallow
  • 1 tsp. caramel flavoring
  • 1-12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
Cereal Treat Directions
NOTE: I have a 900 watt microwave. For larger microwaves, you will need to adjust your microwave increments to a shorter period of time.  
  • Grease two - 9 inch by 2 inch square cake pans; set aside
  1. Place 1/4 cup butter into a large, microwaveable bowl
  2. Microwave for 15 - 30 seconds, or until melted
  3. Add 1- 10 oz. bag of marshmallows and stir until coated with butter
  4. Microwave the buttered marshmallows for 1 minute. Stir until marshmallows are melted and smooth. If necessary microwave for an additional 15-10 second.
  5. Add 1/2 teaspoon of caramel flavoring  and stir until blended
  6. Add 6 cups of cereal to the melted marshmallow mixture and stir with a heavy spoon until the marshmallow mixture is evenly blended with the cereal.
  7. Cereal mixture should be warm, but not hot. You do not want to melt the chocolate chips. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips into the cereal/marshmallow mixture
  8. Stir until chips are blended into the mixture. 
  9. Spoon the entire bowl of treat mix into one of the cake pans.
  10. Butter your hands well and press the cereal treat mixture firmly into the pan until you have an even layer of firmly packed cereal mixture.
  • Repeat the above 10 steps to make a second batch of cereal treat mix
Chocolate Ganache Directions
  • Open the can of sweetened condensed milk and pour it into a quart size, microwaveable bowl.
  • Microwave the milk for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir with a spoon.
  • Repeat the above step until the sweetened condensed milk is warm, but not hot.
  • Pour the 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips into the warm sweetened condensed milk. Let the chips sit in the warm milk for about 10-15 seconds
  • Stir with a spoon until the chips are melted and the mixture is thick and glossy. If necessary, microwave an additional 15 seconds to completely melt the chocolate chips.
Assembling the Treat Cake
  • Remove the cereal treats from one of the pans. I turned mine upside down over a platter, tapped on the cake pan bottom, and the layer of treats released from the pan. 
  • Spoon about half of the chocolate ganache onto the cereal treat layer and spread with wide strokes across the treat layer.
  • Put the second layer of cereal treats on top of the ganache. Repeat the above step with the second layer
The ganache will be dry to a light touch very quickly.I put my treat cake  in the refrigerator overnight. 
Two layers of cereal treats filled and topped with chocolate ganache made from semi-sweet chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk. 
Enjoy some homemade happiness on a plate AND have a cup of hot coffee ready to sip with this "cake." 

OREO Triple-Layer Chocolate Pie Recipe - Kraft Recipes

This was my family's favorite pie over the holiday season! 
Altogether, I made four of these pies. The pie shown in the picture was the fourth pie and I made it for Christmas dinner at my daughter's house. 
After making four pies, I arrived at two conclusions about this recipe.
  •  Four hours is an insufficient amount of time for chilling this pie. Overnight, or twenty-four hours is BEST!
  • The filling is VERY stiff when you use 2 cups of milk with 2 packs of Jello brand pudding. I used my electric mixer on low to blend the cold milk and pudding mix. Did I mention the mixture is very stiff? On the fourth pie, I changed the amount of milk to 2 1/2 cups and had equally good results.
Next, the cookie crust turned out differently every time I made a pie. I used the exact number of cookies, the exact amount of melted butter, and still had different results. I ended up adding an extra Tbsp. or two of melted butter for three of the cookie crusts. 
  1. Two crusts were crumbly, but would press together
  2. One crust was very crumbly and barely holding together
  3. One crust was perfect
Very crumbly crust that would barely hold together. 
Perfect cookie crust. 
I have no idea why the darn cookie crumb crust was like this, but I could still serve the pie in slices. 

The last change I made was using my favorite nondairy topping, Extra Creamy Cool Whip. 
To see the original recipe, click on the link below. 

OREO Triple-Layer Chocolate Pie Recipe - Kraft Recipes