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Monday, December 28, 2009

Cooks and Cookies

My family is filled with cooks. It starts with our grandmother, she is a wonderful cook, my mother is an excellent cook, my aunts are great cooks, my cousin's a chef, I think even my uncle is a good cook. I have one sister who doesn't really like to cook, but I'm sure that if she wanted to cook, she'd be great. So you see, we come from cooks and we are cooks which is why it doesn't surprise me that my nieces love to cook. They like to bake most of all, but what kid doesn't love to make cookies right? I'm sure when they are all grown up they are going to be marvelous cooks!

I mentioned I had five nieces right, yep FIVE girls and they all want to bake cookies every single day of course! Just the other day, my third niece decided to alter the recipe for Grandma's Cornstarch Cookies and add chocolate chips, just like that, let's add chocolate chips. Well, they turned out great! Then I decided to roll some around in coconut before baking, just to mix things up some more and those turned out really good as well.  So I guess anything can happen to recipes with a family filled with cooks!

If you would like to try these new cookies we came up with, follow the recipe for Gradmas's Cornstarch Cookies omit the guava jam and add chocolate chips accordingly. I made 1/4 of the recipe and added 3/4 cup of chocolate chips and then rolled them around in coconut. But I like lot's of chips in my cookies, if you want less chips cut down to 1/2 cup and so on. If you don't like coconut just take it out. Remember to flatten the cookies some with your fingers so they spread out rather than puff up.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Very Very Merry Christmas!

Hooray I have a camera again! Actually, I always had a camera I just couldn't upload pictures, so, hooray I can upload pictures again! And just in the nick of time to show you all the Christmas cookies my niece and I made.

We had a great time decorating. Remember I used Martha Stewart's recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Cookies and for the icing I like to make a sugar icing which I prefer much much more than the regular royal icing. This icing does dry hard but not quite as hard and it has a nice matte finish.

For the icing you will need to mix:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
4 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

And that's it! Very easy and I just looooooooove the fact that it has no egg whites!

On to the cookies! I had gotten some squeeze bottles earlier in the day so that it would be easier to pipe the outlines and flood the cookies. Here's my niece working hard on a Christmas bell. She's so focused! She wanted them to be perfect and smooth. This is actually the only good picture of her I have, or let's say it's the best picture out of all the not so great pictures I have do to lighting issues.

After flooding came the dots, lines, sprinkles, Christmas colored nonpareils, sanding sugar, star sprinkles, tree sprinkles, big polka dot kind of sprinkles and whatever we could think of!


Here's a shot of some of our finished work! Aren't they really cute?
She came up with those squiggly lines and stars , I'm so proud!

We're probably leaving some out for Santa and having the rest tonight after dinner!

I would like to wish you all a very very Merry Christmas and I hope that you have a wonderful night with your loved ones which are the best presents we could ever get.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas and no camera!

I still have no camera!! Can you believe it?  I know I can't! Which is why today my pictures come from some of my very talented friends at Flickr. I have linked their names to their Flickr photostream. That first picture is from Indulge Dessets, she's just amazing, here cookies are out of this world!

That said, this post is about Christmas cookies.  What's Christmas without Christmas cookies right? I mean come on! They are so pretty and so festive that you feel bad about eating them. But are they really good or they just there to look pretty?

I love decorated cookies. I'm in awe at the things I see sometimes, and even though it is hard work to make really pretty cookies I enjoy doing it.

This year I wanted Christmas cookies that weren't the regular sugar cookies or gingerbread people. I wanted Christmas with a little kick, so I thought that sugar cinnamon cookies could be really good and a nice twist to the same old same old.

So I turned to the ever wonderful multitasking goddess that is Martha Stewart to try out her Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

These cookies were really good and of course easy to make, but I couldn't really taste the cinnamon. That's the only downside to the recipe, otherwise, the dough is a delight to work with and they plump up and bake beautifully!

Hopefully I will be able to show you my decorated Christmas cookies and a little more of what I've been baking before Christmas. Keep your fingers crossed, I know I am...

In the meantime enjoy these beautiful Christmas creations!

Aren't they absolutely fantastic?????

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tasty Recipe Review: Bell'alimento's Panettone!!!

Panettone is one of my favorite things ever, especially this time of year, but it is a labor of love. To make Panettone requires a lot of patience and I just don't have that.  So you can imagine how I felt when I saw that my friend Paula from Bell'alimento posted a simple Panettone recipe. I was thrilled! I was so excited I nearly cried, especially since moments before I was thinking that I really wanted to make my own Panettone this year! Coincidence, I think not!

(The picture is actually her picture, Bell'alimento's, cause go figure I suddenly lost the cable that attaches my camera to the computer! So credits go to her, beautiful isn't it?)

I immediately headed over to her blog to check out her recipe. If you would like to see her Panettone recipe, head on over to, that's right Paula Deen! She's a contributor at her site , isn't that just amazing???? You can find her recipe right here.

This recipe was very simple, you just add and mix, nothing to it!

Now this Panettone is actually a cake and not a bread like the traditional recipe, that's why it's much easier to make. That being said, it was very good! I loved the fruits she added. I believe the traditional recipe calls for rum soaked raisins but I think her combination of cranberries and golden raisins was fantastic!

On the other hand, I forget that Italian's sweet tooth is not as sweet as mine, so for me, it could've used a bit more sugar. Paula, you know I love you, I'm just saying that my taste buds need something sweeter. But to sum it up, these are very easy to make and very tasty! I think they would make wonderful presents this year.

Till next time, I hope you enjoyed this review and remember, if you have a Tasty Recipe that you would like to share, or if there's a recipe that you have been wanting to try and just haven't been able to, let me know about it. I'll give you a Tasty Review!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tasty Recipe Review: S'mores!!!!

Have you ever just needed to eat something? You know, you have this feeling that you simply must have something or you will absolutely go crazy? A craving I guess if you will, but a craving that is driving you mad!! This is what happened to me. I was taking a nap and I woke up needing S'mores. Not just craving them, but needing them. I had to have them, it was driving me insane! Now this may seem normal to a lot of people, cravings are an everyday thing, everyone has them, but you see, I have never had S'mores before! Never, not once have I tried them. I've always wanted to because they sound delicious, but I've never had the chance, so I was a little confused by my craving.

Now, I wanted these from scratch, so I decided to make my own graham crackers. I looked online and found a recipe from Smitten Kitchen that sounded simple, delicious and best of all I had all the ingredients in my pantry. I also loved the fact that it called for a food processor. I think making dough in a food processor is so much easier than user your mixer. (You can use your mixer if you don't have a food processor.)

Graham Crackers

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (a swap of 1/2 cup with whole wheat flour or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour works well here, too)
1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (4 grams)
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes (This is just a bit less than a stick)
1/3 cup (114 grams)  honey
5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk
2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract

You start by combining the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.Pulse or mix on low to incorporate.

Add the butter and pulse on and off on, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract.

Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

I did not find the dough to be that sticky. It was actually easy to work with.

Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the half the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Reapeat with the other half. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

In a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Since the dough is a bit sticky, use flour as necessary. Cut into a rectangle and then cut out squares in the size desired to make your graham crackers.

Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough, this is to make the traditional cracker design.

I used a fork, but you can also use a toothpick or the back of a skewer to make any pattern you like. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and bake the cookies for 15-25 minutes. Now this is a very wide range, mine were done in 15 minutes so be sure to check your cookies! 

To make the S'mores, what I did was that about 4-5 minutes from the cookies being ready I placed a marshmallow on top so they would puff up and toast in the oven. I had chocolate chips and not the traditional Hershey's candy bar so after taking out the crackers from the oven I  placed 4-5 chips on top of the marshmallow. Be careful, they're hot!

Take a hot cookie and place on top of the marshmallow and chocolate and press down.

And there you have it! That's how you make S'mores with homemade graham crackers!

These were absolutely fantastic! The crackers alone were wonderful. Not to sweet, with a light honey taste, they were absolutely delicious! And the S'mores, OMG!!! I don't know if I'm delighted or terrified that I finally tried these. I know my hips are probably terrified because they're amazing!

Till next time, I hope you enjoyed this review and remember, if you have a Tasty Recipe that you would like to share, or if there's a recipe that you have been wanting to try and just haven't been able to, let me know about it. I'll give you a Tasty Review!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cute Cake!!

This is a small post.

I just wanted you to show you a cute cake I was asked to make in sort of a hurry.

I was asked for a cake that had fuschia black and white.

This is what popped in my head as I didn't have much time to brainstorm on the design.

The bottom layer is chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream mmmmmmmmmmmm.

The top layer is vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream mmmmmmmmmm.

I think it came out pretty cute. What do you think? Would love to hear comments!!

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