Wednesday, February 23, 2011


A few weeks ago, I tried my hand at making rugelach......And it turned out GREAT! I usually shy away from making my own pasty dough because it seems that I just don't have the knack for it and never have an easy time with it. But this dough was the nicest dough I have ever worked with. It was smooth, soft and just wonderful. It is a recipe by The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. I pretty much followed her recipe exactly except for a couple of small things. Here is the link for the original recipe on Food Network.

It started by creaming cream cheese and butter together.

Then I added granulated sugar except I used vanilla sugar. Vanilla sugar is a wonderful thing. After you use the seeds out of a vanilla bean, instead of throwing the pod away, add it to your sugar bowl. It flavors all the sugar and as you use the sugar out of the bowl, keep the vanilla bean pod in there and keep adding more sugar. The vanilla bean pod will last quite a while.

I follwed the rest of the recipe for the dough, spilt it into quarters and chilled it. I only ended up rolling out one the quaters and froze the rest of the dough. It freezes very nicely and when you need or crave some, the dough is already done.

I rolled out the dough and instead of using apricot jam, I used this wonderful Carrot Cake Jam my friend Traci gave me. It has chunks of apple in it so I put it into a food processor to make it nice and smooth.

I spread my jam over the dough and sprinkled it the cinnamon sugar and walnuts. I left out the raisins because I'm just not a big fan of them...

I cut the dough into 12 pieces by first quarting it, then cutting the quaters into thirds. I rolled each piece up, sprinkled it with more cinnamon sugar and placed them on a baking sheet.

Very easy and soooo good! I have also made a batch using apricot jam and plan on making some soon using strawberry jam.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

This year I was inspired to make and send some Valentines to some special friends and family members. I saw the idea on an episode of Martha Stewart's show on the Hallmark Channel and immediately wanted to make my own. Here is a link to the original project idea that has a video from the show as well as a list of websites for all the materials. I was able to find all my materials at my local craft store except for the mailing boxes which I did order from the recommended site.

I started off by taking a couple pictures of my daughter.

Look at that cheesy smile!

I found some small gift tags at the craft store that I turned into a simple Valentine's day card using Samantha's picture for the front and handwriting a sentiment on the inside.

I took the other picture of Samantha and played around with it on my computer using label templates and clipart.

I printed off a sheet of these and using my Xyron Create-a-Sticker, I was able to make each of these into a sticker. I  put my stickers on the top of little favor boxes that I also found at the craft store. I added of few rhinestones that I also used on the little card from above.

I filled the little boxes with "kisses" from Samantha.

I then packed everything into white 3x3x3 mailer boxes with some shredded red and white paper....

....and printed off some address labels. I used my Xyron to adhere my labels to the box.

But I used real addresses for ones I did mail out and added appropriate postage. Mine are not as "fancy" as the original project from Martha Stewart but I thought mine turned out very nice. I hope that everyone that received one in the mail was surprised and that it made your Valentine's a little more special.  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sweets for the Sweet!

This Valentine's Day I made up a whole bunch of goodies to share with friends and family. And they were all pretty simple too!

I made dark and white chocolate chip cookies...

Cut-out sugar cookies that I decorated with butter cream....

I dipped some of my cut-outs in chocolate and decorated them with sprinkles and also made some buckeyes, a recipe from my friend Traci (Thanks again!!)...

Candied Pecans...

and finally, Rugelach!

The Rugelach will actually be next week's recipe. It was my first time making it and I am very happy with the way it turned out.

This week, I thought I would share my favorite recipe for cut-out sugar cookies. It is from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook and I love the way it turns out. The cookies don't puff too much and keep their shape nicely. It is the recipe that I used to make the snowflake shaped cookies on Samantha's First Birthday Cake also.

Mary's Sugar Cookie

1 1/2 Cup powdered sugar  
2 sticks butter   
1 egg 
1 tsp. vanilla    
2 1/2 Cup flour  
1 tsp. baking soda 
1 tsp. cream of tartar

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla. Blend dry ingredients and stir into wet ingredients by hand. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hrs. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough in half, roll out on lightly flour area to about 1/8 inch thick and cut out shapes. Bake 7- 9 minutes or until lightly browned.
*If dough is dry and crumbly and you are having a hard time rolling it out, stir in an addtional egg.

The butter cream frosting that I used to decorate the sugar cookies is the same recipe I used in Cupcakes at Tiffany's.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Apple Brown Betty

I'm Back! It took me a while this week to get around to trying one of the slow-cooker recipes from the link in last week's post, but I finally got around to it. Part of the problem was there were just too many to choose from! I had been reading through the dinner and side dish recipes looking for something different then anything I already make but nothing was catching my eye. There are tons of recipes that sound delicious but I was in the mood for something completely different. That's when I browsed down to the dessert section and I saw it, Apple Brown Betty! This is something I have only ever heard about. I have always wanted to try one and knew now was the time. And it could not have been any easier!

I started off by cutting the crusts off and cubing one loaf of white sandwich bread.

Then in a microwave safe container, I melted the butter with the spices and brown sugar and stirred it all together. Once that was mixed, I poured it over my cubed bread and stirred it until combined.

Next I peeled, cored and chopped 4 Gala apples. I placed these in the bottom of my crock pot.

And spread my spiced bread cubes over the top of the apples.

I placed the lid on my crock pot, turned the heat to high and let it cook for 2 to 3 hours. I know it was done when the wonderful smell floated all through the house.

I scooped some into a bowl and served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I was very good!! It made 4 servings and I'm sure the recipe would double just fine. If I ever do double it, I would do so in layers: apples-bread-apples-bread.

Original Recipe for Apple Brown Betty

Apple Brown Betty

1 loaf white bread
1 stick butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 C brown sugar
4 apples (I used Gala)

Cut crust from bread and cube. Melt butter and stir in brown sugar and spices. Pour over bread and stir gently until combined. Peel, core and chop apples into bite size pieces. Place apples in bottom of crock pot and cover with spiced bread cubes. Place lid on crock pot and turn heat to high. Cook for 2 to 3 hours or until apples are tender.