Monday, December 31, 2012

Honey Almond Croissants

I have been trying to pull back on the sweets so that way when I start my "new year diet" it won't be so difficult.  However, these are perfect for that New Year's Day brunch because they are full of good stuff for you: some carbs, honey, nuts, cinnamon, a tad bit of butter....  Like I said--all good stuff for you!

I was watching KY Proud Kitchen hosted by a fellow college alum, Brigitte Nguyen, who made these honey almond croissants that I almost died to have!  I am absolutely thrilled that Brigitte Nguyen is having such a wonderful career in food TV.  She hosts two shows, From the Kitchens of... and KY Proud Kitchen, which are definitely worth checking out!  She is such a sweet and wonderful person!  If you are in the Bluegrass region of KY, the KY Proud Kitchen comes on Sundays on Fox 56 at 10:30 AM--definitely a must-see!!!

{So delicious and flaky!}

I made them for our family Christmas brunch, and nothing was left to take home!  These are really simple to make and can be made ahead of time and popped into the oven.

{Put filling ingredients into a food processor}

{Form a grainy paste}

{This is how a 'sheet' of puff pastry will look when you pull it out of the pacakge}

{Just roll the top and bottom out to make the dough longer and thinner}

{I made big croissants, but you can make them smaller}

{Add filling to the widest part}

{Roll wide part towards the narrower part and form into a crescent shape}

{Brush with egg white before baking}

Honey Almond Croissants

Makes 8-12 croissants

Ingredients

2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs, separated
  1. In a food processor, combine almonds, honey, butter and egg yolks until mixture resembles a grainy paste (can be made the night before).
  2. Preheat oven to 400.
  3. Lightly flour a flat surface and place one puff pastry sheet on top; roll out dough until thin and even.
  4. Using a pizza slicer, cut sheet into two rectangles then each rectangle into two triangles (see photos above).
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of filling on the wide end of each triangle.
  6. Roll filled triangles into a crescent shape.
  7. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and brush with egg white. Optional: top with sugar or almonds.
  8. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
I definitely suggest making these with puff pastry for a more traditional croissant, but if you are pressed for time then crescent dough should work just fine.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Lemon-Raspberry Cupcakes

I had an overwhelming urge to make cupcakes the other week.  I also used them to bribe my mother to take some pictures of me for the blog (husband HATES pictures--the only reason he took wedding pictures is because I promised him he wouldn't have to dance at our wedding because he hates dancing more than pictures :o)  ).  Now the question was--what to make?

{Lemon-Raspberry Cupcakes was the answer!}

Haven't I mentioned that I have an obsession with lemon and berry flavors?  Maybe here or there, but I suppose I could mention it again!  So to make lemon-raspberry cupcakes was a bit of a no-brainer!  Plus they are easy! 

Side note:  As you all know, I am an avid advocate (say that five times fast!) of making everything from scratch.  HOWEVER, cupcakes and muffins are a bit tricky to make correctly from scratch even for me, so I will use store bought mixes unless I find something easy and fool-proof.  (cross your fingers!)

{For recipes that call for zest of citrus, please buy organic!  Pesticides are not cool, and no amount of washing can get that out!}

{Adding sour cream}

{Ready to go!}

{Fill about 2/3 of the cup and then make a well in the center for the jam}

{We used raspberry jam, but I am positive that it would be equally delicious with blueberry, strawberry, or blackberry jams!}

Lemon-Raspberry Cupcakes

Makes 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 package (15.25 oz) Yellow Cake Mix
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large organic lemon, zested and juiced
8 oz sour cream
1 egg, room temperature
12 oz raspberry jam (blackberry, blueberry, or strawberry)
Powder Sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Pour cake mix into a bowl. Add juice, sour cream, egg and melted butter and mix until smooth. The batter will be thick, but if too thick add another tablespoon of lemon juice.
  3. Using a scoop, fill each well of the cupcake pan to about 2/3. Use a spoon to put a well in the center of the batter.
  4. Take a small scoop of raspberry pastry filling and put in the center.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Cool slightly then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of a cupcake with powdered sugar on it, but they were delicious looking and tasting!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

German Breakfast Bread

My family loves to eat.  Seriously.  We have certain foods that are made only on special occassion because if we didn't we would be very, very, very obese which is not good for longevity!  (I am always lamenting that there are sooooooooooooo many recipes and sooooooooo little time!  Especially since I got 3 cookbooks for Christmas!!!)

{German Breakfast Bread}

Unfortunately, this is one of those recipes.  This is loaded with cheese, butter, and egg yolks along with ham and onions--perfect for using that leftover Christmas ham.  That's why we only have this recipe on the occassion, but it makes it that much better when we do have it!

{Recipe in German}

{Bread awaiting the delicious topping!}

{Mixing up the topping}

{Finished topping}

German Breakfast Bread

Makes 12 slices

Ingredients

2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 pound diced smoked ham
1/2 pound gouda, shredded
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 hard rolls, cut in half
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place cut bread halves on a lined baking sheet.
  3. Mix remaining ingredients together until well blended seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Place topping on each bread half making sure they are fairly even.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges start to brown.
  6. Cool for 5 minutes then serve.
What special foods do you make every so often because they might not be the easiest/healthiest/shortest recipe?

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas: Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

I prefer spiced oatmeal cookeis to a plain oatmeal cookie--so much more flavor!  Spices like cinnamon, cloves and ginger just seem to warm you and the house up when the days and nights are so cold.  Everyone should have a great spiced oatmeal cookie in their recipe book espeically for the holidays!

{Fresh baked spiced cookies!}

Nothing says 'holidays' like a spiced cookie with a hint of orange zest!  This recipe is very easy, and the cookies are delicious!

{Zesting a clementine}

{Cookie dough!}

{I always try to make a tower o'dry ingredients--this is one of my best!}

{Add dry ingredients until JUST COMBINED!}

{Embarrassing---I forgot to get raisins so I used chocolate chips instead!  Delicious anyway LOL}

{Ready for the oven!}

Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients

1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 orange, finely zested
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup raisins or chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream butter, sugar, and orange zest until light and fluffy.
  3. Add salt and eggs and beat for an additional 3 minutes on medium high speed.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, and spices in a separate bowl.
  5. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and turn the mixer on low; stir until just combined.
  6. Add oats, nuts and chocolate chips or raisins (or both!).
  7. Drop cookies on greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden.
Baking these easy cookies while guests arrive is sure to make you home smell wonderful and festive!  Bonus--they are not overly sweet, just spicy!
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas: Cinnamon Roll Bread

I love cinnamon rolls especially on a weekend morning.  As with everything, homemade is so. much. BETTER!  However, cinnamon rolls are a bit of work especially for busy moms and families.

{Cinnamon Roll Bread made with sourdough starter}

When  my husband told me he wasn't a fan of sourdough bread (insert big disappointment here!), I didn't want to kill the sourdough starter that I had worked so hard to cultivate.  So I turned to the internet, and behold! other recipes for sourdough including dumplings, cookies, pancakes, and cake!

So I am slowly working my way through the recipes; this particular recipe, originally called Sourdough Cinnamon Raision Bread, did not work the first time I made it, but it smelled EXACTLY like cinnamon rolls when baking!  I knew that I had to keep trying to get this recipe right!!!  (By the way, a pet peeve of mine is a recipe that doesn't work--just aggravates me!!!)

{I always try to make a tower with the dry ingredients--yes I am strange LOL}

{Adding sourdough starter}

{Mixed and ready to set for about 3 hours or overnight (if you don't have sourdough starter)}

{Dough after it has risen}

{Adding oatmeal, nuts, and raisins}

{Ready to go in the oven}

Cinnamon Roll Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

2 cups sourdough starter (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup flour with 1 yeast pacakge)
1 cup sugar in the raw
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup raisins
  1. Mix first seven ingredients together until well combined. Let rise until double or about 3 hours in a warm, draft-free place (if making with a yeast package, allow dough to rise overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 325.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and pour into a greased loaf pan.
  4. Bake for 80-90 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
If you don't have sourdough starter, follow the directions out to the side.  I have not personally tried the alternative method (yet!), but that's all sourdough starter really is.  You will also have to let it rise overnight to get a good rise from the yeast.

PS--Great for Christmas morning!  Just make sure to remember to make it the night before!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Gift: Hot Chocolate Mix with Shortbread Cookies

I am a hot chocolate girl--always have been.  It has to be made with milk or it's no good!  My personal favorite is Swiss Miss--perfectly sweet and chocolaty.  I stumbled across this hot cocoa recipe in a jar recipe as an idea for gifts for my co-workers.  I loved the fact that it was easy and made with chocolate pudding (who would have thought!). 

{Easy and simple gift!}

I altered the recipe a bit because I'm not a fan of non-dairy creamer (soooo many chemicals and such!) so I increased the dry milk powder and sugar.  I have tried this several times (with water AND milk), and both are delicious although with milk it is definitely rich.

{Pour milk powder into a food processor or blender}

{Run the milk powder through alone because it cuts the volume in half.  I made two batches which is why there is some brown in this milk powder picture (just FYI)}

{Add remaining ingredients to the food processor or blender}

{Mix everything together}

{So delicious!}

Hot Chocolate Mix

Makes 4 pint jars

Ingredients

5 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (4 ounce) package instant chocolate fudge pudding
  1. Put milk powder in a food processor or blend and pulse until a fine powder is created.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until mixed and a fine powder is created.
  3. Place in 4 jars. 
  4. Add a tag saying :  Hot Cocoa Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup mix to an 8 ounce mug of boiling water or milk.
  5. Present to co-workers, friends or family (or keep all for yourself). 

What's homemade hot cocoa without cookies?  NOTHING!  That's what!  :o)


These shortbreads are very easy.  Just mix it, roll into a ball, flatten and bake.  The longest part is the baking, but don't skip it!  The dried out shortbread cookie is perfect for dipping into hot chocolate!

{Cream butter and sugar until INCREDIBLY light and fluffy!}

{Dough should just come together}

{I used a cookie scoop to get my cookies into even balls, and then I hand flattened them}.

Shortbread Cookies

Makes 12 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cups sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 1/2 cups flour
  1. Preheat oven to 275.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Roll dough into balls and flatten a bit.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes or until edges begin to turn golden brown.
  6. Sprinkle with sugar when out of oven
So there you go!  A simple Christmas gift for friends, co-workers (which is what I did!) or family.  The hot chocolate recipe is kid friendly, and the reward is yummy hot chocolate at the end!

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas: Lebkuchen (German Gingerbread)

In Germany, around Christmas time, cookies called Lebkuchen come out.  They are usually chocolate covered, some with jelly filling, little cookies of delight.  They are one of my favorite Christmas cookies, and the fantastic part: they get better and better the longer they sit!  Seriously, don't eat them until about a week after you make them.  They will taste 10 times better!

{German Gingerbread}

I had a chance to make them in culinary school which is where I got the recipe.  My German mother is in love with them.  Although we don't have small children, this recipe can be chilled overnight and rolled for a shaped cookie.

{Molasses is the secret to a good gingerbread}

{Add flour until just combined}

{Pre-flattened cookies--they do not spread so you can put them closer together!}

Lebkuchen

Makes 32 cookies

Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 pound butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg, room temperature
1 lemon, zested
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Sift all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  3. Cream butter, sugar, and molasses until light and fluffy; add egg, and then add lemon zest and ginger.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
  5. Chill dough for 10 minutes or overnight if rolling out the next day.
  6. Drop cookies on greased baking sheet, flattening a bit with a spatula.  Cookies do not spread much.
  7. Baked for 15-20 minutes.
  8. These can be eaten immediately but taste best after 4-5 days.
Does your family make gingerbread for Christmas?

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas: Hazelnut Cookies

It's that time of year!  We make Christmas cookies, and then eat them all before Christmas.  When families get together to laugh and have a great time while listening to Christmas music.  My family is definitely no exception!

{Delicious hazelnut cookeis}

Something that always reminds me of Christmas is hazelnuts--it's the only time of year that I eat them in cookie form.  I remember growing up, we would make these and use a cookie press to make fun shapes.  However, being older, I just use a cookie scoop to make beautiful uniform cookies.

{This recipe couldn't be easier--sugar cookie mix and hazelnuts!}
{Make sugar cookies according to the instructions on the back}
{Add 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts per bag of mix}
{My hand-dandy cookie scoop (LOVE it!!!)}
{Cookie balls!}
Hazelnut Cookies

Makes 32 cookies

Ingredients

2 packages of sugar cookie mix
Ingredients list on the back of the sugar cookie mixes
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  1. Mix sugar cookies according to package directions.
  2. Add hazelnuts.
  3. Bake cookies according to package directions.
Easy but soooo good!  What kind of Christmas cookies do you make with your family?

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