~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Oatmeal Cream Pies... and Homemade Marshmallow Fluff(no corn syrup).

Oatmeal Cream Pies... and Homemade Marshmallow Fluff(no corn syrup). Ok, so this was one of those recipes I made for the youth group this year that needed the step-by-step photos. So I've included them... and therefore the long post:).

I made the cookies totally from scratch... even the marshmallow fluff:)! And since I was going to make my own marshmallow filling, I opted to skip the corn syrup and used honey instead. If you want to use corn syrup, feel free to do so. Or if you are in a real hurry, you can just buy the marshmallow fluff. 

The nice part about this recipe is that you can skip the filling completely.... and you'll still have some wonderful cookies! The cookies are quite soft and yet chewy... and loaded with flavor. They're a treat! 

I'll admit, they aren't the healthiest of cookies when you include the filling... they 're actually a bit sweet... but ... once in a while... they are worth it:). Interestingly, I ended up cutting the cookies in half... felt better about it:). 

A fun little project that makes some delicious cookies. Hope you enjoy...

"What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?
I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of Thanksgiving, 
And will call upon the name of the Lord." 
Psalm 116: 12,17

Wishing all my readers a most blessed Thanksgiving!

You will need: adapted from Cooking Classy

Tip: I found it easier to freeze the cookies before filling. The cookies are quite soft and can break easily, so if they are frozen it makes it easy to spread the filling without having the cookies crack. 

1 3/4 cups + 2 TBS all-purpose flour
1 cup quick oats, slightly ground in a food processor to about half their size
2 tsps cocoa powder
2 tsps cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup coconut oil, not melted
1 cup + 1TBS granulated sugar
2 1/2 TBS molasses
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Marshmallow Fluff/Creme: adapted from CHOW

¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup honey 
¼ cup water
Pinch of salt
2 egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or use vanilla beans from 1/2 vanilla pod

Marshmallow Buttercream Filling: adapted from Cooking Classy
1/2 cup butter,  at room temperature, maybe a little bit colder
1- 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar (I used only 1 cup)
1/2 vanilla bean pod, seeds only (or use extract to taste)
8 oz. marshmallow fluff/creme(homemade or bought)

DIRECTIONS:

Make Marshmallow Fluff/Creme 
Note:You can also whip the eggs ahead to soft peaks and then make the syrup... this way you don't have 2 things going on at the same time.

1. Combine the sugar, honey, water and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

While the sugar mixture is boiling: 

2. Add  egg whites and cream of tartar to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. 
3. Whip on medium-high speed till  soft peaks. Turn off mixer. 
4. When the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees F. remove from heat and turn the mixer speed to low .
5. With mixer running, slowly drizzle the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl. Once all of the syrup has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form... and the mixture has cooled substantially. This should take about about 7- 9 minutes. 
6. During the last minute or two of beating, add vanilla extract or beans, if using
7. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


Make and Bake Oatmeal Cookies
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper
1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Set set aside.
2. Using a  paddle attachment of an electric mixer, whip together butter, coconut oil, sugar and molasses on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. 
3. Mix in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. 
4. Stir in vanilla extract. 
5. Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Refrigerate dough while you clean up. 
6. Using a 1 1/2 TBS ice cream scoop, form and shape dough into balls. You can slightly flatten balls a bit.
7. Bake in preheated oven 10 - 12 minutes ... I baked mine for exactly 10 minutes, you don't want to overbake cookies, as they should still be a bit soft. 
8. Allow cookies to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies are quite fragile so be careful when spreading filling. You might want to refrigerate or even freeze them for a  bit so that they don't break on you. 
9. Spread marshmallow buttercream filling along bottom side of one cookie and place another cookie to make a sandwich. 
10. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. 

Note: I stored my unfilled cookies in the freezer... and then defrosted them slightly before filling them 

Make Marshmallow Buttercream Filling: You know, if you want, you can totally skip the butter and additional sugar and simply use the marshmallow fluff alone... it will be a bit softer but it works:) 

1. Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, whip butter on medium-high speed, until pale and fluffy, about 3 - 4 minutes. 
2. Add powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined, then increase speed to medium-high and whip for an extra minute. 
3. Mix in marshmallow fluff and thoroughly combine.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pecan Sandies... with chocolate and caramel topping

Pecan Sandies... with chocolate and caramel topping. Here's another cookie in the cookie series I've been posting lately.

This cookie was actually considered as a finalist in a Christmas Cookie recipe contest. Of course I had to make them:). I loved the look of the cookies... and knew I could not go wrong with chocolate, nuts and caramel. That combination is always a winner.

While you don't need to top the cookies with the pecan half, I chose to do so because I needed to pack them. I found the caramel stuck to everything(!)... so I needed to come up with something on the spur of the moment... therefore the pecan half:). But you can easily skip it if you are serving them on a platter and don't need to stack them.

So here's another idea for a cookie that's sure to please. Sorry about the blueish photos... some of them were taken at odd hours in the midst of the baking frenzy:). Hope you enjoy...

You will need: adapted from Cook's Country Dec/Jan 2012 issue

1 cup pecans, toasted
2 cups(10 oz) all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
12 TBS butter, softened
4 TBS coconut oil, not melted
2/3 cup(4 2/3 oz) light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
25 soft caramel candies
4 TBS heavy cream
1/2 cup(3 oz) bittersweet chocolate chips
extra half pecans for topping, if desired

Directions:

1. Process pecans in food processor until finely ground.
2. Combine flour, pecans, and salt. Sets aside.
3. Beat butter, coconut oil and sugar on med/high until pale and fluffy... about 2 min.
4. Add egg and vanilla and beat till combined.
5.  Add flour mixture and mix until just combined... scraping bowl as needed.
6. Refrigerate dough for for 1 hour... I left mine overnight and allowed dough to soften a bit.

  • Preheat oven to 350 deg F
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper
7. Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
8. Using the back of a floured 1/2 measuring teaspoon, make indentation in center of each ball.
9. Bake cookies till edges are lightly browned...be careful not to burn... about 12-14 minutes.
10. Remove cookies from oven and reinforce indentation with teaspoon.
11. Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes before removing from baking sheets. Allow to cool completely. Can freeze cookies at this point and assemble later as needed.
12. Combine caramels and cream in a saucepan and cook on low stirring until smooth.
13. Melt chocolate(in double boiler or microwave).
14. Fill each cookie dimple with a bit of melted chocolate(about 1/2 tsp) and spread up the sides. I like to place in fridge and allow chocolate to set before adding caramel.
15. Top each chocolate covered cookie with about 1/2 tsp caramel. Allow to set completely. I place mine in the fridge to speed up the process. 
You can top caramel with a half piece of pecan, if desired.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cranberry Bliss Cookies... a recent FAVORITE cookie.



Cranberry Bliss Cookies... When I first saw this recipe on Cookie and Cups' website, I instantly loved the look of the cookie.... and well, the name too:). Of course, I filed it in my " to do list of cookies"...  and am SO glad I made them! 

Funny thing is, I always add my own spin to most recipes, and I chose to do so with this one as well. But I am sure staying true to the original will yield a fantastic cookie as well... but I'll post my version because I loved the changes and plan on making them this way in the future.

I ended up subbing in a bit of coconut oil for some of the butter, just because I like the flavor coconut oil imparts to cookies. And because I love to play around with flavors, I added a bit of "everything"... enough to make the cookie unique, but not too much as to overpower the cookies. A little bit of spice always works:).

While the original cookie had a frosting and topping added to the cookies... similar to the Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks, I chose to omit them for these cookies. It's kind of interesting I did that, because the topping and frosting is what originally attracted me to the cookies in the first place. However, I just felt the cookies were amazing as is... maybe it was because I made them smaller and loved how pillowy soft they looked. 

If you are interested in making the topping and frosting as well, do feel free to check the original recipe in the link below. I suppose if I would have made my cookies bigger and flatter I might have been tempted to add the frosting and topping... Actually,  I might do that next time, as they sure look pretty all frosted up:). 

These cookies are quite ideal for a Christmas cookie exchange.... especially if you frost them with tiny bits of chopped cranberries....they'll be quite festive looking. Hope you enjoy...   

You will need: adapted from Cookies and Cups

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup coconut oil, not melted
2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
2-3 drops almond extract*
2 tsps vanilla extract
2-3 drops rum extract*
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
pinch nutmeg*
pinch ginger*
pinch cinnamon*
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup white chocolate chips(I used Toll House)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
* can be optional

Directions:

1. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, coconut oil and cream cheese together until smooth.
2. Add brown sugar and beat for and additional 1-2 minutes...  or until fluffy.
3. Add eggs, vanilla (and optional extracts, if desired), baking soda, salt and optional nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, if desired. Beat until thoroughly combined.
4. Add flour and combine on low speed.
5. Stir in white chocolate chips and chopped cranberries.
6. Remove and chill dough for at least 2 hours ... or overnight.. can even freeze dough.
  • Preheat oven to 375° F
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
7. Remove dough from fridge and form dough in 1 inch balls( or whatever size you prefer). Place dough on baking sheet, about 2 inches apart  and flatten slightly if you prefer your cookies flatter or do not flatten if you prefer your cookies rounder and more mound-like with a softer cookie dough interior .
8. Bake for 7-11 minutes,  depending on size... or until edges are golden and centers are just set.
9. Remove and cool completely.

Note: I made another variation using the basic dough... with dried strawberries chocolate chips and all butter, omitting coconut oil then drizzled with white chocolate.... the cookies were still good, but somehow I much preferred the coconut oil version and white chocolate chips with cranberries. 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nutella Pocket Cookies... Nutella "Dreams"

Nutella Pocket Cookies...  or Nutella "Dreams".  It's been quite some time since my last post. I've been quite busy... but I thought to stop by a bit and post a few new recipes. 

Every year about this time, I bake cookies for our annual church youth weekend retreat. And I've made it a habit to post some of the recipes I bake here on my blog. Normally in my baking frenzy, I don't take step-by-step pictures... so the recipes I'll be posting will most likely just have the directions without the usual step-by-step photos. Maybe one or two will have  a few photos for clarification, but for the most part, the directions should suffice. 

It's a bit awkward for me as well not to include the step-by-step photos:)... as I'm so used to a ton of photos attached to a single recipe... but bear with me while I post these cookie recipes in the near future. Hopefully you'll be inspired to make one or two... why, with Christmas around the corner the cookie recipes might come in handy:). 

In any case, here is the first... in a series of cookies. This particular cookie was a  personal favorite of my husband... who tends to sample the cookies...just to make sure they are all right:). Hope you enjoy...

You will need: adapted from Mrs. Fields Cookie Book

Cookie:
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract, or a bit more:)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt

Filling:  
Note: You can use a chocolate ganache filling instead if you like

Nutella, as needed ... about 1 slightly rounded teaspoon per cookie

Topping :

icing sugar

Directions: 
1. In a bowl of an electric mixer cream butter on medium speed about a minute or so.
2. Add icing sugar, brown sugar and pinch of salt; beat till smooth.
3. Add yolks and vanilla and mix till light and fluffy using medium speed. Scrape bowl as needed
4. Add flour and and blend until thoroughly combined. 
5. Remove dough, form into a ball and flatten into a disc.
6. Refrigerate for 1+ hours. I left mine overnight.

Prepare Filling:
1. If making chocolate ganache, prepare while dough is chilling. Scald 1/2 cup cream and add 1 cup chocolate chips, combine and set aside to thicken and cool) 
2. If using nutella, place in fridge to harden a bit so that it will be a bit easier to scoop teaspoons unto the cookie.  

Bake Cookies:
  • Preheat oven to 325 deg F
  • Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
1. Remove cookie dough from fridge... if dough has been sitting in fridge overnight or longer than an hour allow to soften a bit before proceeding with recipe. Otherwise, the dough will crack.
2. Flour counter top and rolling pin. Using the floured rolling pin, roll dough to about 1/4 inch  thick. 
3. Cut circles with a 2 inch round cookie cutter(you can also make them a bit larger or smaller depending on preference, just adjust baking time).
4. Place cookie circles onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Continue with rest of dough, using all scraps, until dough is used up.
5. Place 1 teaspoon of nutella(or ganache) in center of cookie circle and top with another circle. 
6. Completely seal the edges of the cookie with the tines of a fork. 
7. Bake until cookies are lightly golden brown around the edges, being careful not to burn... this can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness and size of the cookies. Just keep an eye on them...
8. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Sprinkle with icing sugar, if desired... or you can be creative and drizzle chocolate over the top. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Crispy Baked Chicken Wings(II)... using baking powder.

Crispy Baked Chicken Wings(II)... using baking powder. So here is the second recipe I promised to share awhile back... where you can bake up some delicious crispy chicken wings. No frying involved. 

This method involves using baking powder to crisp up the chicken skin. It's all science, but the result is fantastic. In a nut shell, the baking powder draws out the moisture, breaks down the protein and helps the meat brown. All this gives you the crispiness we enjoy from fried wings... but without actually frying. The method works... and makes for some wonderful hot wings!

I first came across this method a year or two ago but finally managed to make it recently. While the method used only 3 ingredients (chicken wings, baking powder and salt) , I managed to add my own personal touch... adding a bit of pepper and potato starch to further reduce moisture. This is the recipe I'm sharing today, but feel free to skip the potato starch. It works without it. 

I ended up looking at a couple of recipes and decided to combine them...  used the lower amount of baking powder found in one recipe and applied the baking technique of the other recipe. And in the end I managed to make my own version and liked the result.  

For this batch I simply went the traditional route... glazing them with hot sauce and butter:). Hope you enjoy... 

Note: While I posted 2 different temperatures(Cook's Country version), I've also done these wings at 450 deg F as well, with wings having an overnight rest in the fridge uncovered. Baking time will vary, but they bake up nice and crisp by 40-50 minutes or so... Either way you choose, the result will be crispy wings:). 

You will need: inspired by SeriousEats and Cook's Country.

3.5 lbs chicken wings( 12 whole wings= 12 flats+12 drumettes)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 TBS baking powder
1 TBS potato starch(can be optional)
black pepper to taste

Hot Sauce:
3 TBS butter, melted
1/3 cup Franks hot sauce

Directions:
1. Cut up chicken pieces into flats, drumettes, and wing tips. Reserve tips for stock by freezing them.
2. Mix salt, baking powder, potato starch and pepper in small bowl. 
3. With a paper towel blot chicken pieces from excess moisture.
4. Sprinkle baking powder mix all over wings, coating evenly. 
5. Line a tray with parchment paper and place wings in single layer without overlapping.(alternately place wings on a rack and then place them on a baking tray.
6. Place wings in fridge for several hours... this helps the wings dry up further. I placed mine in the fridge in the morning and baked in the evening... about 8 hours later. 

  • Preheat oven to 275 deg F
1. Combine melted butter and hot sauce. Set aside until needed.
2.. Bake wings for 20 minutes at 275 deg F, then increase heat to 425 deg F and continue cooking for another 45-50 minutes, or until wings are nicely browned and crispy. 
Note: If you feel the wings aren't browned enough, increase heat to 450 Deg F the last 10 minutes of baking.
3. Remove wings from oven and place in a large bowl. Drizzle hot sauce over wings and toss to coat. Serve immediately. 


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

CRISPY Parboiled Baked Chicken Wings(I)... with Korean Sauce and Bonus Chicken Stock.

Crispy Parboiled Baked Chicken Wings... with Korean Sauce and Bonus Chicken Stock. Because I don't buy ready made chicken stock, I'm always on the "alert" when it comes to meat bones. I try not to toss them out when I'm de-boning. Funny thing is that sometimes I buy bone-in meat, just for the sole purpose of using the bones to have homemade chicken stock on hand. 

Now the other day, I was really craving some wings.... mainly because I had seen a recipe for a Korean sauce that I wanted to make. I thought it would be good to glaze the chicken wings with a different sort of sauce... something outside the usual hot sauce or BBQ sauce I tend to glaze the wings with. In any case, I ended up buying some wings to bake.

I love baking the wings and always skip the frying. But some time ago I had come across Alton Brown's steaming method... a method that promised crispy wings without frying.  I was willing to give it a go. It would be worth a try... 

But as I was fiddling around trying to find something to steam the wings in, I thought, why not parboil the wings instead. It'd be much simpler ... and this way I could make use of the flavorful liquid to make a stock. Oh, and I'd use up those little wing tips to their full potential, because I sure didn't want to throw them away:)!  Plus, I'd also use up those bits and pieces of vegetables I had sitting in the fridge. And that's what I ended up doing. Sort of went my own way with the recipe:)...

These parboiled wings tend to be a bit more drier than normal ... just because most of the fat is rendered in the boiling and baking process. However, they do have a nice crisp exterior. The Korean red pepper sauce worked wonderfully well with the wings. I lightly coated the wings, but it gave them the needed moisture as well as imparting a ton of flavor. A little bit of spice...  a little bit of sweet. 

My husband loved these wings, so I'm planning on making them again this way ... especially since I get the bonus chicken stock in the process. Always, always good to have some homemade chicken stock on hand. 

I made 2 versions of baked crispy wings. This was part 1....next time I'll share the second method. Hope you enjoy...

Note: The Korean red pepper sauce is so versatile... use it in all sorts of stir-fries or add it to ground meat for lettuce wraps, glaze meatballs, etc. 
Since I had some leftover sauce, I ended up using it as a stir-fry sauce for vegetables... it worked wonderfully well with the snap peas and zucchini I picked from my garden, but you can use other veggies of choice. 

You will need:

26 whole wings(about 3lbs), separated in 3 pieces( flats, drumettes, wing tips)
1 TBS kosher salt
1 large garlic clove, sliced
6 cups water

Bonus Chicken Stock
parboiled liquid from above
parboiled wing tips only
1/2 parsnip
1 large carrot
1-2 ribs of celery
1 small onion
1 cup extra water

Korean Gochujang Sauce adapted from Maanghci
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBS oil
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown rice syrup(now, I haven't used honey, but it should work)
1/4 cup hot pepper paste(gochujang)
1 TBS cider apple vinegar
toasted sesame seeds

Other Sauce of Choice
BBQ sauce 
Hot sauce 
Honey mustard

Directions:

Parboil Chicken Wings:
1. In a large soup pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil.
2. Add all wing pieces, sliced garlic and salt.
 
3. Boil chicken wings for about 7 minutes, stirring them every so often and skimming off the scum.  
4. Remove pot from heat and with a slotted spoon remove wings (flats and drumettes) unto a plate... leaving behind the stock and small wing tips.
5. Arrange wings on plate in a single layer and allow to cool. You can blot them from excess water and bake right away... or you can place them in the fridge uncovered for several hours(which is what I did).  
Make Bonus Chicken Stock:
1. To the pot with the chicken liquid and wing tips, add the cut up vegetables, 1 cup water and heat to a boil. 2. Lower heat to a simmer and cover pot. 
3. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain vegetables. 
4. Place stock in small containers and freeze for later use... or use in recipe of choice.  
Make Korean Sauce:
1. To make sauce, add oil and garlic to a medium skillet and cook till garlic is lightly golden.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix to combine  and continue to cook on low until sauce is thickened....3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to use for glazing wings. You can do this while the chicken wings bake.  
Bake Chicken Wings and Glaze:
  • Preheat oven to 425 Deg F
1. While oven is preheating take wings out from fridge.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly oil parchment paper.
3. Place wings in a single layer, skin side up unto parchment paper lined baking sheet.
4. Place baking sheet on top 1/3 rack and bake for 20-25 minutes.
5. Turn wings over and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until nicely golden and crispy. 
NOTE: Baking time varies depending on size of wings, so adjust accordingly. 
6. Remove from oven and glaze with sauce of choice. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, if using the Korean sauce. 
Tip: If you have any leftover sauce, you can easily stir-fry a few veggies with a TBS of oil for a couple of minutes and add in a heaping TBS of the Korean red pepper sauce to coat. For the veggies I used 1/4 of an onion, a couple handfuls of  flat snap peas and 1 medium zucchini.