Friday, February 27, 2009

Miniature Orange Essense Chocolate Chip Scones

Quite the morning treat.






















I follow a ton of cooking and baking blogs. Using Google Reader has enabled me to check out everybody's new posts without having to go to 50 different places. Really, if you have not set it up, you should try because it is fantastic. One great thing Google Reader does for you is suggest other blogs you may like based on those you subscribe to. That is how I came across Elyse's Blog, Confectionary Creations. She has an amazing blog and happens to have extremely similar taste in food as me. If you have not visited her blog yet, you definitely should because it is great. A couple weeks ago she posted a recipe for Orange Scented Chocolate Cookie Bars. This recipe really intrigued me and although I have not tried it yet, it did inspire me to create this scone.

I used the basic scone recipe provided to me from my boyfriend's mom and made only a few changes. To ensure these would be eaten, I made them half the size of a traditional scone. The reason I did this was because last time I brought full size scones to work nobody ate them. I am not sure if it was because they were too big and intimidating or they felt bad about taking one when there was only 8, but either way they did not get eaten. Well the making them miniature did the trick. This recipe made 16 and all 16 were gone within two hours.

Miniature Orange Scented Chocolate Chip Scones
recipe adapted from Teresa Miller

Scones:

2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups whipping cream (heavy cream)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, salt, and chocolate chips (by hand). Pour in whipping cream. Mix or knead by hand, just until combined (about 45 second). Mix will be sticky. Flour surface. Divide dough into two sections and pat into two rounds, each approximately four inches. Note: Score each round first with a knife into 4ths , then 8ths. Then cut and put on a greased large cookie sheet. Bake 9 to 11 minutes. Let cool five minutes, then glaze.

Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons orange juice

Mix together until a thin icing consistency to pour over warm scones.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oreo Peanut Butter Cheesecake

We all have kitchen mishaps.

















Many of my friends and co-workers assume that I don't make mistakes in the kitchen and that everything always turns out well. They think everything I make tastes great and I don't burn things or screw up recipes. Well they are wrong and this cheesecake has a story to vouch it. First I would like to say that in the end this cheesecake was pretty amazing, it was not easy getting there.

I found this recipe on the Kraft Foods Website and thought it would be a good dessert to make for Valentine's day. I decided to make this recipe the night before Valentine's Day and it came together really easily. I considered baking it in a water bath to keep it from cracking (Note: the last cheesecake I made looked liked it was in a earthquake it had so many cracks and craters!), but since the recipe did not mention anything about it I decided not to use a water bath. I had the cheesecake in the oven for about 10 minutes when my boyfriend said he smelled something burning. I looked in the oven and the cheesecake was fine and I did not smell smoke so I brushed it off. Another 10 minutes goes by and I am smelling smoke too. I check the oven and the cheesecake is leaking all over the bottom of the oven causing the smoke. Naturally, both of our two smoke detectors go off.

Normally this would not be that big of a deal, but I live in an apartment building in Washington DC. My smoke detector is linked to the building so if it goes off for too long it will set off the fire alarm for the entire building. I shut off the oven, my boyfriend and I open all the windows (it was only 20 degrees out) and we each take a towel and start fanning the air in front of the smoke detectors. We get the alarms to stop going off, I wait for the oven to cool, and then I begin cleaning the drippings from the bottom of the oven. I really wanted to finish the cheesecake for Valentine's Day after all. I thought I had smartened up so this time I put a cookie sheet on the rack below the cheesecake. The cheesecake is in the oven for about another ten minutes and what do you know, the smoke detectors are going off again and we had to go through the entire de-smoking process again! In an effort to save the cheesecake, I did not open the oven door after I turned it off and just left the cheesecake in the oven for a couple hours and hoped it would finish cooking. Luckily the cheesecake survived (the crust was a little soft in the center) and we were still able to enjoy it the following night, but now you know I am not perfect in the kitchen. Also, if you make this recipe, put the cheesecake pan right ontop of a cookie sheet.

Oreo Peanut Butter Cheesecake
modified from Kraftfoods.com

1 pkg. (15 oz.) double stuffed Oreos
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
3 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 container (16 oz.) Sour Cream
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely crush 16 of the cookies. Coarsely chop remaining 14 cookies; set aside.

Mix finely crushed cookies and butter. Press firmly onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan; set aside.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream and peanut butter; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Gently stir in chopped cookies. Pour over crust.

Baked 50 to 60 minutes or until center is almost set (I reccomend placing the cheesecake pan on a cookie sheet). Run knife or metal spatula around side of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing side of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Temporary New Look

You may have noticed that my blog was not working earlier today, but I have it up and running. I had to temporarily change my blog template, but I will change it back when it is working again. Thanks for your patience!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bakery Style Blueberry Muffins

These were amazing!
























I was sick this past week and all I wanted was a blueberry muffin. I had been craving one for a while after eating a less them impressive muffin from Au Bon Pain. I was not about to let a little sickness (actually it was a lot of sickness) keep me from making a muffin. I researched a several recipes online and ended up making my own. These muffins turned out better than I could have ever imagined. In my opinion they are the best muffins I have ever made and much better quality than anything you could find at the local coffee shop. They were even better than the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins I raved about last October. This recipe is simple and delicious so if you love blueberry muffins you have to try this recipe.

Bakery Style Blueberry Muffins

Muffins:

2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups blueberries

Topping:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.


In a medium bowl mix together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a large bowl beat together eggs, white sugar, and brown sugar. Mix in oil, vanilla, and sour cream. Mix dry ingredients into wet mixture (be sure not to over-mix, batter will be lumpy). Gently fold in blueberries
. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups so they are 2/3 of the way full.

To make the topping: mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Life is like a box of Chocolates (Review)

I am a lucky girl...

















Like I said, I am one lucky girl. I am lucky for many reasons, I have an amazing boyfriend, I have a loving family, and I have the most amazing friends. But all those peopke are not the reason I am lucky today. Today I am lucky because See's Candies contacted me and offered to ship me a box of assorted chocolates to review on my blog. I was more than happy to help with this request at home. I must say that these are some amazing chocolates. When I get a box of chocolates from the grocery store they are good, but I normally eat half a piece and put it back in the box. Well, that was not the case with these chocolates. It is more like..I ate one piece and than another, and then yet another. I know it is a little late to order these online for you sweetie, but they have a ton of Valentine's Day Candy available and I can vouch that they will be loved. If you live on the West Coast you should definitely stop into See's and pick some up. I am going to eat another piece of candy now :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chocolate Hazelnut Kiss Cookies

Need a treat for Valentine's Day?






















I came across these a while ago. I don't actually remember what site I saw them on, but the recipe comes from Giada de Laurentiis. I am a huge fan of Nutella. I can eat it straight from the jar or on top of anything. I loved the idea of Nutella in a cookie, so I was definitely intrigued by this recipe. I think Giada originally made these cookies for Halloween, but you can switch them up for any holiday or event by rolling them in different colored sugars or sprinkles. I happend to have a bag of Hershey Kisses from when I got the $0.29 bags of candy and thought this was the perfect time to use them. I did not taste these cookies because I am sill not eating dessert, but they went really quickly at work. My boyfriend thinks I should try to make them in my mini-muffin tins and skip rolling them in sugar like I do for my peanut butter cup cookies and I think I will.

Chocolate Hazelnut Kiss Cookies
from Giada de Laurentiis

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange sprinkles, or orange sugar
1 (9-ounce) package of chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped (recommended: Hershey's)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another medium bowl, place the chocolate hazelnut spread, butter, and both sugars. Using a hand mixer, cream the ingredients together, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and blend until incorporated. Stir in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated. Shape the cookie dough into walnut-sized balls. Rolls the balls in the sprinkles or colored sugar, pressing to adhere. Place the cookies on a heavy cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven. Quickly place a chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 3 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.




Friday, February 6, 2009

Brown Sugar Blondies for Valentine's Day

I am a sucker for cute gimmicks.






















I know I should not be suckered into buying things just because they are themed or cute, but I can not help it. I never buy M&M's. I think they taste good and are great in baked items, but I never really think to get then. Then I saw these cute pink and red M&M's and had to buy them. I spent a good 20 minutes in Rite Aide and then another 20 minutes in CVS pondering what I could bake just to buy these M&M's. Something about the cute packaging just suckers me in! I also bought a package of the all green M&M's because I could not resist. I think I am going to save them for St. Patrick's day. Anyway, I found this recipe for brown sugar blondies on Allrecipes and thought they would be a perfect match for my adorable M&M's.

Brown Sugar Blondies
adapted from Allrecipes.com

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup to 1 1/3 cup M&M's

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).


Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
Melt 1/3 cup butter. Add 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar and mix well. Cool slightly. Add egg (beaten) and vanilla and blend well. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well. Mix in 2/3 cup M&M's. Spread in 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Sprinkle 1/3 to 2/3 cup M&M's on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.