Thursday, October 27, 2011

Royal Icing Halloween Cutout Cookies

There are two things in the baking world that I have never really gotten along with: Pastry and Icing. Until yesterday, I have only ever tried making icing one way, the way that my mother makes it: a bit of butter, some icing sugar and a bit of milk. Add sugar and milk to get the consistency and amount you need. I always end up with it to watery, and then by the time it thickens enough, it is to sweet.

I've always admired the cookies in the blogs I follow. Beautiful designs with crisp lines of icing. I've always wanted to try them, but have been a bit scared. Finally, I broke down. Let's do this! My team is having a bake sale at work this Friday, and I was asked to make something. I decided I was going to make Halloween cut-outs. I poked around a few blogs until I found the tutorial that I had read awhile ago. This is what I used, and this is my result!

A massive THANK YOU to Bake at 350. I borrowed her recipes. I did not make it my own because I was a bit afraid to experiment with something new.

Rather than share her recipe, I am just going to link to it. The recipe is in such a wonderful post, I think it deserves it. Here It Is. You have to watch them, you can see from my first tray, they very quickly go from 'almost' to 'done'. :-)

Subsequent trays turned out much better. I used this recipe because I know it was tried and true, but also because my own sugar cookiealways turn out puffed, I was afraid the icing would roll off. These ones baked out nice and flat, perfect for piping.

The recipe I used for the Royal Icing is also from Bake at 350, and it can be found HERE. Again, I am not posting the recipe because her instructions and pictures are so much better, I do not want to mangle it! Usually I squiggle recipes down in my little notebook, this time I actually sent it through the printer and followed it word for word. As you can see above, I have a bit of a shaky hand when it comes to piping straight lines, but it improved with practise. I was surprised at the amount of strength it took to squeeze the icing bag! It was a good muscle workout!

I had lots of leftover icing, so I used up some leftover marshmallows and lollipop sticks to make these. I just wrapped them in lollipop bags with a piece of skull ribbon. I got about a dozen, so I will donate them to the bake sale as well.

So I think my first foray into Royal Icing was a success. I can't wait for Christmas so I can make more! Hopefully they will sell well at the bake sale. They were fun to make and taste delicious! I have a few broken pieces for my cookie jar, and a couple that didn't fit into my container for the bake sale. Testers for the baker!

Hope everyone is having a great week! I can't believe another one is almost gone already, these cookies were a two night project, so they kept me busy!

Have fun, everyone!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Homemade Pop Tarts

For my 200th post, I decided to bake a challenge! Pastry and I have never gotten along well, but they say practise makes perfect...unfortunately for me practise is just not working. These did turn out better than my last pie, though. I found this recipe on Pintrest, which led me to the blog called Smitten Kitchen. Hers looked so delicious, I decided even with my pastry affliction, I had to try them.

Homemade Pop-Tarts.


2 cup all-purpose flour.
1 Tbsp sugar.
1 tsp salt.
1 cup unsalted butter, cut up.
1 large egg.
2 Tbsp milk.

Mix together flour, sugar and salt. Mix in butter until it resembles coarse oatmeal. In another bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Add to flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Turn onto floured board and knead slightly before splitting ball in half to work with.
At this point, the dough can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before rolling out.


3/4 cup jam.
1 Tbsp cornstarch.
1Tbsp cold water.

Combine water and cornstarch, whisking until smooth. In small saucepan, stir cornstarch mixture into jam. Heat over medium stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a low boil. Simmer for two minutes, stirring as necessary. Let cool completely before using.

To Assemble:

Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into squares or rectangles as desired. Put a bit of filling onto half of the squares.  Brush a bit of beaten egg (or water) around edges to use as glue. Top with second pastry square. Use a fork to seal all the edges and poke a few holes in the top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking at 350 F for about 20 minutes.

These are my masterpieces after baking...i guess my seals on the edges were not very tight. The first couple I made were the best (left pan, bottom) but after that i think the dough got to overworked. I had a hard time rolling it out. I ended up just rolling small pieces of it, folding them in half and cutting 2 identical sized squares out of it. They may not be the most beautiful pop-tarts, but they certainly taste great!

For the filling, i used a jar of my Mom's homemade strawberry jam. If you check out the Smitten Kitchen blog (link at top) she has several variations that you can try.

Honestly, i really do not like pop-tarts. I find them disgusting. I keep a box in the cupboard because my nephew loves them, and they are an easy snack for him when he is visiting. I would rather give him something like this instead, but he is used to the real thing and therefore I am sure he would say he does not like it. If I can get better at the pastry making and sealing them, my future babies will be getting these instead!

So this is my 200th post. It is hard to believe it! Not every one of my posts are new recipes, but I have tried a lot of new things in the last year and a half, things i think I would have otherwise not tried! I can't wait to see what the next 200 posts will bring!

Hope everyone is having a great week, it's almost the weekend!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Maple Cheesecake Minis

Happy Monday! It was a good weekend, we basically just spent it working on cars (and trucks), driving around, and watching TV when once it got cold and dark. I made these Friday morning, for a weekend treat. I got the recipe a few weeks ago from the Kraft Canada website, when cream cheese was on buy one get one at the grocery store.

Maple Cheesecake Minis.

3 pkg cream cheese, softened.
1/2 cup sugar.
1/4 cup maple syrup.
3 eggs.
6 maple leaf cookies.
1/4 cup walnuts.

Beat cream cheese and sugar until well combined. Add maple syrup, mix well. Add eggs one at a time, blending well between additions. Separate cookies, using a knife to divide icing, set a cookie half in lined muffin tins. Pour a bit of batter over each one. Sprinkle walnuts on top. Bake at 350 F for 17 to 20 minutes. Cool 1 hour, then refrigerate 4 hours before serving.

I don't know why they sunk in the middle, but I think they look pretty good. I found there was not a lot of maple flavour, so I added a few drops of the artificial stuff. The recipe states it is supposed to make 12, I got 21 out of it.

Not a very good photo, but this is the cheesecake batter. It came together quite nicely, especially since this time i remembered to take the cream cheese out of the fridge early. Actually, I confess, it was because I took it out and then realized I had no sugar, so about 45 minutes later i got back from the store and the cream cheese was softened. :-)

I have heard that these cookies are only available in Canada. I have not been to the US in awhile, since they brought in the passport law, so I don't know for sure. I was never really wild about them when I was a kid, but just about everyone I know loves them. The mini cheesecakes turned out good. I didn't try them because i do not like cheesecake. My guinea pig said they were a bit rubbery, and very sweet, but good. I still have 20 left, so i think i might have to find a few more guinea pigs. For now, they are in the freezer.

Just before i started typing this, i realized this is my 199th post! I am going to have to find a really good recipe for number 200! It took me 10 months to get to One Hundred, and only eight to get to 200, so I think I am going to have to find something really special!

Have a good week everyone, see you soon!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pizza Muffins.

I found this recipe on a new website I have been frequenting called Pintrest. It is a neat little site that you can pin ideas to boards to keep them for later. This in led me to a website that I already follow, called Lick the Bowl Good. She suggested this would make a great appetizer made in mini muffin tins, I decided to make it as full sized muffins for dinner last night.

Pizza Muffins.

3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup cubed pepperoni
pinch of salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped green pepper.
1/2 cup store-bought pizza sauce (to serve)

Mix together flour, baking powder, Italian seasoning, salt and red pepper flakes (if using). In another bowl, whisk together egg and milk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stir well. Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine. Let mixture sit 10 minutes. Grease muffin tins well, pour batter into tins. Bake at 375 F for 20 to 25 minutes.

I added green pepper and omitted the salt. For the first batch. I used my cast iron muffin pan, did not grease it (as per instructions with the pan) and had a disaster. They stuck like you would not believe. Here is the photo proof.

My pan is a mess and had to be re-seasoned before being used again. It was just over an hour until I had to leave for work, so I quickly mixed up another batch and tried again. this time throwing it into a very well greased square pan, and omitting the red pepper flakes.

You can see where the cooking spray bubbled. I also omitted the cheddar cheese, just using Parmesan in the second one. And it still stuck on the very bottom, but not horribly. It turned out very good, I have leftover pepperoni, so i think i will be making it again! It is basically like a pizza tea biscuit.

It is another rainy day, they say we are going to see some sun tomorrow, so here's hoping! Hope everyone is having a great Friday!!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Crispy Chicken Casserole

Whenever i enter a book store, i check out the sale table. The store near my house always has a stack of books for 10 dollars or less, and a certain times of the year a stack for 5 dollars or less. A lot of my cookbooks have come from these tables.  Tuesday night, I was planning on cooking chicken for Wednesday's dinner. I started going through all my cookbooks, finding nothing that i had all the ingredients for. Finally i dug a book off the shelf that is full of quick chicken recipes. I could not find it on Amazon, or anywhere else, so I can not link to the book. Either way, here is the recipe!

Crispy Chicken Casserole. 

1 package onion soup mix.
1+1/2 cups buttermilk.
1 Tbsp flour.
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
fresh ground pepper, to taste.
4 chicken breasts, skin removed.
2 cups frozen vegetables.
1/4 cup breadcrumbs.
1 Tbsp butter.

In a bowl, combine soup mix, buttermilk, flour, garlic and pepper. Mix well. Place the chicken in a lightly greased dish, add the soup mixture. Cover and bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and add the vegetables. Mix the breadcrumbs with butter, spread over top. Bake for another 25 minutes, uncovered, or until chicken is tender and juices run clear. If desired, sprinkle with paprika before serving. 

I halved the recipe, only using 2 chicken breasts. They are quite expensive around here, so when I buy a box I do not want to use it all on only one or two recipes. I found it a bit salty, but otherwise great tasting, it is definitely up for a remake.To go with it, I decided to make corn bread muffins, using my new cast iron pan I got last week. 

I used this recipe from last year. They turned out quite nice, although they stuck a bit. I think it was because i tried to remove them from the pan to soon.

A very delicious and filling meal. It has been a beautiful sunny week so far, up until today anyway. Last weekend it was so warm we broke records both days! Monday was Thanksgiving, but since I had to work, we went for lunch Sunday with my parents. I made stuffing and pumpkin pie. The stuffing did not turn out so well, and I forgot the brown sugar in the pies...i guess my mind was not in my kitchen Saturday morning when I was cooking!! But, people still ate the pie, and a few ate the stuffing. 

Hope everyone is having a great week, and I am hoping this rain clears by the weekend!! Have a good week!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Parmesan Potato Rounds.

After yesterday's post, I was looking for another recipe to make for dinner. I skimmed through the same cookbook to find another recipe. At the time, I was looking for meatless, since I had used all my chicken the day before and I had no beef thawed. I wasn't keen on any of the veggie mains, but this side talked to me, so I decided to go for it.

Parmesan Potato Rounds.

4 medium red potatoes, thinly sliced.
1 small onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings.
3 Tbsp butter, melted.
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
1/34 tsp salt.
1/8 tsp pepper.
1/8 tsp garlic powder.

Place half of the potatoes in  greased 2 quart baking dish. Layer with onions and remaining potatoes. Drizzle with butter. Sprinkle with cheese, pepper, salt and garlic powder. Bake uncovered at 425 F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

This turned out much better than the chicken recipe from the day before. So well, in fact, that I am making another recipe from the book fro today's dinner. I baked them at only 400 F, because my oven tends to run hot, and I found some stir fry pork chop bits in my freezer to go with it. I just drizzled them in some spicy Thai sauce and baked it alongside the potatoes.

These are absolutely delicious! The best thing is that it can easily be expanded. I found them a bit greasy from the butter (i used Becel), but otherwise great! This would make a great potluck recipe to, it reheated very nicely.

The week is almost over, this weekend is Thanksgiving here. My Mom has asked me to make pumpkin pie and stuffing. We usually use the store bought stuffing, but this year we seem to have a few more people who prefer home made, so i am going to give it a go! I am even thinking of making the bread! Although, when I was at the store for ingredients for today's meal, I saw a loaf of 'turkey stuffing' bread, it was a loaf of pre-spiced bread! I have never seen that before.

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One Dish Chicken and Vegetables.

It rained all weekend, and has continued raining all week. The sun is supposed to shine tomorrow and for the next five days, though! Yesterday morning i got tired of sitting around the house, so i got dressed, grabbed my umbrella and went for a walk to return my library books. I found two new books to take out, and when i got home I decided to make a recipe for dinner from one of them. This one is called "Taste of Home: The Busy Family Cookbook". Here is a picture of the dish, it looks so delicious!

One Dish Chicken with Vegetables. 

1 envelope onion soup mix.
1/2 tsp garlic powder.
1/4 cup olive oil.
4 boneless skinless chicken halves.
4 medium potatoes, cut into chunks.
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices.

In a small bowl, combine soup mix, oil and garlic powder. Spoon half into a resealable bag, add veggies, seal bag and turn to coat. Spoon remaining mix into another bag, add chicken, turn to coat. Bake in ungreased 11 by 7 inch pan covered for 15 minutes; at 425 F. Uncover and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until juices run clear and veggies are tender.

OK, so mine does not look quite as pretty, but i forgot to cover the dish for the first 15 minutes. It tastes alright, just a bit burnt. I took some to work for dinner last night and someone in the lunchroom sniffed the air and said something smelled 'Toxic'. I told him all i could smell was my burnt dinner...i am hoping that is not what he smelled to. I am not going to give up on this one, I think I will try it again soon.

Lately around here I have been reading about a new webpage called Pintrest, it is this really neat site that you can create boards, like folders, and pin things to them. I finally remembered about it look enough to investigate and sign up; so far,I have 5 boards, four being for recipes! If you want to find me over there, I am going by NatashaMarieM. Or, just look for my burnt chicken, because I will be pinning it there soon!

Hope everyone is having a great week, i'm keeping my fingers crossed for the sun tomorrow!!