Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Smoo-zees

My daughter calls them smoo-zees, but I have been hooked on smoothies lately. There are a few things that I like about them.

1.) Makes a great breakfast, lunch, or snack.


2.) They are filling.


3.) I make a few servings and they keep in the refrigerator well for a couple of days.


4.) Quicky and easy.


5.) I don't eat much fruit, but I love almost any fruit in a smoothie. A great way to get your daily servings of fruit.


Here are some smoothie recipes from AllRecipes.com that I have been enjoying:





Friday, August 26, 2011

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie


I am a huge fan of this recipe for a Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie on AllRecipes.com
I have made this countless times in the past few years and this is the lastest one I made back In June for my sister's graduation party.


I start using a cheap Chefmate pan from Target that sells for less than $4. It is 15 inches across in size and I bought this pan solely for giant chocolate chip cookie making. After greasing your pan, add cookie dough to your pan. In the photo above, I am showing you how I use a cookie scoop to arrange the dough around the pan to make spreading it out easier.


One tip I would like to share with you all is when making a giant cookie,  leave 2-3 inches of room around the sides for expansion. If you fail to leave enough room, your cookie will run over the sides as it baked and make a burnt mess in the bottom of your oven.
To ensure the side don't become crispy or brown as the dough expands, I add extra dough around the sides before baking so there is more dough to move outward thus eliminating a crispy sides.
Make it into an M&M giant chocolate chip cookie by arranging M&M's around the cookie dough before baking. 


 Baked to a beautiful golden color.


Many people wonder how to make a "mall cookie" at home. I figured out the best way to achieve the mall cookie taste is to frost your cookie using 1.) Homemade Buttercream & 2.) Store-bought chocolate frosting such as Duncan Hines Rich Chocolate. You do not want the whipped versions of store-bought icing. 


Once the cookie has cooled, pipe icing onto the cookie to decorate! I have taken these to a variety of parties and both kids and adults alike gobble this down right away. For some reason no one can resist these giant cookies! 


Enjoy!

~MSC

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chocolate Sauce


I got all of my housework done today and I thought I would make something sweet.
Once cooled and refrigerated, it can be used in desserts as a fudge layer or simply as a topping on ice cream.

Chocolate Sauce

1 Cup Evaporated Milk

2/3 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 Teaspoon Corn Starch

1 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips

1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla

1.) On medium heat, pour evaporated milk into a saucepan and whisk in powdered sugar and corn starch.

2.) Add dark chocolate chips ½ cup at a time until melted and sauce becomes smooth. Continue to whisk until very smooth and slightly thickened.

3.) Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. Transfer to a bowl and keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. Keeps for up to two weeks.

~MSC





Friday, August 19, 2011

Avalanche on a Stick

Strolling along the shops on Coronado the other day, we treated ourselves to this Avalanche on a Stick delight from a chocolate store I spotted. It was the variety of gourmet candy apples that initially pulled me in, but I left with this treat instead. You may be wondering, "What is Avalanche on a Stick?"

Well....it is simple actually. It is a marshmallow that is dipped into caramel, rolled into rice crispies, and drizzled with milk chocolate and white chocolate melted with peanut butter.



Save yourself the money and make one at home. It is very easy and I made these several times in the last few days. Here are most of the ingredients you need....including caramel which is not pictured. I will break down what I did for you.

1.) I skewered 3 full size marshmallows on a Wilton cookie stick.
2.) I whipped up homemade caramel sauce and dipped the skewered marshmallows into it. You can melt Kraft caramels as per directions on the package if you prefer.


3.) Roll into crispies. The treat I purchased was rolled into Rice Krispie cereal. At home, I have the crispies that are used in Nestle Crunch candy bars, so I used those instead. Either type of crispie works.


4.) Melt milk or dark chocolate in the microwave. Pipe over the caramel and crispie layer. I used a snack size Ziploc bag and snipped the corner off for this step.

5.) Melt white chocolate. Mix creamy peanut butter into melted white chocolate until smooth. I also used a snack size Ziploc bag and snipped the corner to pipe onto the treat.


 Refrigerate until set and enjoy! You can easily adjust the amounts to make one as a treat for yourself or enough to take to a party.

~MSC

Monday, August 15, 2011

Homemade Pizza Making

It has been too long since the last time I attempted making a homemade pizza. Probably nearly two years ago...you see, I gave up on it. Everytime I made homemade pizza dough it was dense and it would never bake right...always too thickand doughy. I have expanded my baking abilities a lot in the past two years and I have even began baking all sorts of bread with success.


That meant it was time to try making homemade pizza dough again. I actually decided to give it a try again when at Costco I saw a huge bag of Sorrento Ultimate Pizza Shredded Cheese blend. With Mozzarella, Aged Bel Paese, Asiago, Provolone, Romano, and Parmesan I couldn't resist the bag. I bought the bag and went home to get started on making pizza dough.

I used the Valentino's Pizza Crust from AllRecipes.com. I split the dough in half and once done, I rolled it out to fit my 12 inch pizza pan. The photos below are of pizza #1. Pretty good, but I know I could improve it the second time. It need to be more brown and crispy.

 Pizza #1

 Pizza #1

 I researched the internet on how to make a homemade crispy pizza. I found that it is better to refrigerate your dough 24 hours before using it. Poking holes in the dough helps it to bake as well as pre-baking the the crust only for 7 minutes before adding the sauce and toppings. Here is my dough, holes poked into it, ready to go into the oven.


This is the result! Besides rolling my dough a little thinner the second time, the other steps I took helped me get the pizza of my dreams!



For the sauce, I made my own Hearty Pizza Sauce. The recipe is enough to (2) 12 inch pizzas. I also split the Valetntino's Pizza Crust recipe into (2) 12 inch pizzas as well. I feel on top of the world now that I accomplished making a good homemade pizza!

~MSC

Friday, August 12, 2011

Warm Cookie Bottom Sundae

Oh. My. Goodness. This was my dinner tonight. Inspired by the Cookie Bottom Sundae from Ghiradelli's. I was up late a couple of evenings ago and whipped up some chocolate chip cookie batter using this recipe.  

Want to make this?


1.) The first thing you need to do is make the chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Keep in mind these are jumbo cookies, like the size of a CD. To make a jumbo cookie, you need to preheat your oven to 350. Using your measuring cups, scoop 1/2 Cup of cookie dough and roll into a slightly flattened ball. Bake the cookies for 17 minutes until golden in color. Remove from oven and allow to mostly cool.


2.) Plate your cookie and scoop vanilla ice cream onto the middle of the cookie. I made homemade vanilla ice cream but you can use store bought just as well.


 3.) Whip up fresh whipped cream to add on top of the ice cream. I made homemade whipped cream with:
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Packet Whipped Cream Stabilizer
2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla


 4.) Sauces. Do not forget the sauces. I had some leftover homemade caramel sauce in the fridge that I used with Smucker's chocolate ice cream topping. I also added some color with the candy coated chocolate chips. When making a sundae, it isn't right unless you add a cherry....or two....or three!

There you have it! A Warm Cookie Bottom Sundae! I am trying to formulate a recipe that will make 4 jumbo warm cookie bottom sundaes. My daughter and I shared this sweet treat tonight and I absolutely licked the plate clean after I took this picture. 

~MSC

Thrift Haul

I went to the thrift store last night and found a few good things. I originally posted this quickly to share with my sister and intended to delete it, but I thought I would leave it up for everyone else. I tend to have good luck at the thrift stores and this is just one haul or quick trip to the store.

 Above is a Gymboree dress, thrifted for $2.99.

 Above is a Baby Gap winter white sweater tunic or dress. $2.99.
Below is a Baby Gap tunic/dress from the Chelsea Collection thrifted for $1.99.

Below is a Victorias Secret pink thermal hoodie, found for $5.99. Like brand new.
 Gap navy blue and white stripe long sleeve tee. Got this for $3.99.


Express Premium Deluxe Jeans, snagged these for $7.99. I need to get them hemmed up on the bottom since I am short.


My cat, Haylee, looking around this morning.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Starbucks Gossip

There is an interesting website that I browse through once in a great while called Starbucks Gossip. When I noticed changes in my beloved chai latte I went to the website and found that more water was being used than milk to save money. Whether that is true or not, I do not know. What I do know is I rarely order Chai Tea Lattes and when I do I request it to be made with all milk, no water.


At any rate, this morning I woke up to an article posted on Starbucks Gossip about those who use their laptops in Starbucks. You know the ones....they sit there for hours on end, take up extra chairs for their materials, spread out papers across the table while they sip a simple free glass of water and a regular coffee. I have found this to be particularly bad more recently at our neighborhood Starbucks. Most of the time when we walk in, there is no longer any seating available these days. I have even seen on numerous occasions people meeting at Starbucks, ask for a free glass of water, and proceed to conduct job interviews. Yes, really.

 Well, according to the article I read this morning on Starbucks Gossip, Starbucks has possibly taken a passive-aggressive approach to curing the problem by installing metal covered over the outlets. Please note this is just talk about the measures some Startbucks have taken in a larger city, but this isn't the gazillion other Starbucks are doing.

I understand from business perspective why Starbucks may chose to cover their outlets. There have been times when I have walked into Stabucks, especially in the winter when it is dark outside and upon seeing no seating availability, we turn around and leave the location. I realize not everyone sitting in the store is using a laptop for hours. I really have no problem with latops or people sitting in Starbucks at all. It is just those who abuse Starbucks and take it to the extreme. I think it is absolutely a problem that needs to be addressed in some form or fashion.

Do you think covering the outlets is a good idea for Starbucks? Have you ever been frustrated by the folks who sit on their laptops for hours and hours?

My take is that I like the idea. I would suggest leaving one or two available outlets in one area of the store for those who wish to use laptops and require an outlet.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Homemade Layered Cake

This was the first photo I was able to get of the cake before we cut into it. I mentioned at the end of my Extraordinary Desserts post that was inspired to make my own extraordinary dessert. I followed through on this and here it is!


For the first time in my life, I was out of granulated sugar so making a cake from scratch was out. I used a dark chocolate cake mix for this project. I knew one of layers in some of the cakes at Extraordinary Desserts was pastry cream. I never made pastry cream before but I am an adventurous baker so I went to AllRecipes.com to find a recipe for pastry cream.


Trying to decide another layer of delicious filling for this cake I decided that the milk chocolate espresso filling in my Espresso Twix dessert would work very well so I whipped up both fillings the day before making the cake to allow them to chill properly.


I made a homemade chocolate ganache to cover the cake and used extra milk chocolate espresso filling to pipe on and around the cake. For finishing touches, I ground some dark chocolate in my new cheese/chocolate grinder (I will share it with you soon, such a cool tool!) for the top of the cake.





I have leftover pastry cream that  is calling me so I have plans to make a non-chocolate extraordinary cake later this week. If you decide to make this cake or something similar make sure you keep this baby refrigerated when not serving due to the fillings inside the cake. The recipes I used are linked in the post above.

~MSC
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