Tag Archives: baking

My First Pumpkin Roll

22 Oct

Last week I got an email from my aunt with a recipe for a pumpkin roll that I just had to try (the above picture was actually one she took of her own). I’ve been seeing these pumpkin rolls pop up all over the place, and they look really interesting. Tis the season for all things pumpkin, and I was excited to make something other than pumpkin pie.   This recipe is super easy and so fast to make!  From the time that you start making the cake to the time you roll up the finished product, it probably takes less than a half hour.  And as much as you will want to try it right out of the oven, my recommendation is to wait until it is chilled.  It is 20 times better cold than hot!

The recipe comes from a website called How Does She.  There they give an awesome step-by-step tutorial with the recipe.  Her recipe is awesome – the only thing I did was add maybe 1/4 cup more powdered sugar to cut the richness of the cream cheese because my hubby doesn’t like it too rich.  So hop on over there and give this recipe a shot!  You should probably make two because I know you will be sad when the first one is gone… we sure were!

And just for fun, here are a few pics of mine:

What’s your favorite pumpkin-y treat?

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Soft Pretzel Bites

8 Jul

Today at work I got my usual “trouble” from my co-workers about not having very many cookies lately.  I know that they just do it all in fun, and I really like that they enjoy what I bring in enough to ask for more.  Then I went into my boss’s office to discuss something with him, and he wanted to make sure that I know that they really are just kidding with me.  He said that when he was a kid he never really was a big sweet fan; even to this day he usually goes for more salty snacks.  This got me thinking about a suggestion that Karl made awhile ago:  come up with something non-sweet to take and share.  His thought is that a little variety can’t hurt!  And then I remembered a soft pretzel I had seen online a few weeks ago.  So I came home on a mission to make my first salty snack!

Let me just warn you up front that this recipe is pretty time intensive.  I tried making pretzels one other time with my friend Natalie, but we didn’t really notice how long they took because we just sat and chatted while the dough rose.  You know what they say – time flies when you’re having fun!  Tonight I was home by myself since Karl is working overtime, and I didn’t get started until about 8:30pm.  It is now 11pm and I just took the last tray out of the oven.  So make sure you can dedicate a small chunk of time to babysitting these puppies!

The original recipe called for a dark amber ale, but I was afraid that a dark beer might be too strong and bitter for my taste.  Instead I opted for a classic pale ale.  The one I chose, Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale, is actually brewed and bottled at a local brewery here in Maryland.  We like to support the little guys!  And I just read on their website that as of July 1 they started giving tours again (they stopped in Dec. 2009, just in time for us to get out here).  We will definitely have to take a tour this summer!  Anyway, the beer does give a little extra flavor to the pretzel, so if that is something you are opposed to you might want to try something a little lighter.  I like it though because it gives the pretzel a little more depth.

Also, the original recipe called for 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 3 cups all-purpose flour, but we have never had whole wheat flour in our house so I used 4 cups all-purpose flour instead.  I would think that you can use whatever ratio of wheat/white flour you prefer!

These little pretzel bites would make a perfect appetizer for your summer get-togethers and would also be a great dish to make when you have people over to watch the big game.  Your kids will love them too because they are just their size!  So, without further ado, here is the recipe.  I hope you enjoy them!

Soft Pretzels

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz bottle (1.5 cups) pale ale or other beer of your choice, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 packet (0.25 oz) rapid-rise active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4-6 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda

Combine the beer, brown sugar, salt, milk, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place.  Begin mixing on medium-low speed and gradually add in 1 cup of flour and the butter.

Continue adding the flour gradually on medium-low speed until the dough becomes stiff.

Change to the dough hook attachment and let the dough knead for about 8 minutes.  Add more flour if the dough becomes too sticky; it should not stick to the sides of the bowl at all.  It should clean the bowl as it goes around.

Your mixer will definitely get a workout. Mine was bouncing up and down even with the lock on!

Before

Remove the dough and shape into a smooth ball.  Place in a bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Spray the top of the dough with cooking spray and cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap (or if you are out of plastic wrap a kitchen towel or cloth napkin will work  just fine).  Let stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.

After

Remove dough from bowl and knead by hand a few times on a lightly floured surface.  Shape the dough into 48 balls (a small cookie scoop works really well) and place onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise again for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Bring water and baking soda to a boil in a large pot.

Add the balls to the boiling water a few at a time.  Boil until they have puffed up.  Keep turning them while cooking so they puff on all sides.  Remove them from the boiling water and dry on a clean kitchen towel.

Place balls on lightly greased cookie sheets 1-2″ apart.  Use a small knife to place an “X” on the top of each.  Sprinkle each with a pinch of coarse sea salt.

Bake until they reach a nice golden brown (anywhere between 9 and 15 minutes).

Let cool on a wire rack.

Serve with cheese or spicy mustard dip.

Update:

My taste tester just got home and had a sample.  He says that he is definitely a fan – I definitely like hearing that!

Blueberry Buckle

3 Jul

Remember how I told you that there was a blueberry buckle in the future for me and Karl?  Well I wasn’t lying.  And I didn’t waste any time getting to work.  Its amazing – even with all of the cookbooks I own, I most of the time still end up turning to the internet to find recipes.  I think that looking online makes it so much easier to pick because there are so many rated recipes so you know that whatever recipe you pick will turn out tasty!  I took this recipe from Simply Recipes but made a few modifications.

As soon as it came out of the oven we were ready to cut into it.  We somehow found the self control to wait while it cooled for 10 minutes, but then we had to try a piece.  It was delicious.  It was almost too much blueberry for me though (I’m a cake girl) but Karl said it was perfect.  So depending on how blueberry-y you want it you might want to cut the blueberries in half.  Here’s the recipe:

Blueberry Buckle

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups and 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, separated
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup plain or vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups blueberries

Topping Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease an 8″ springform pan (I don’t actually own a springform pan.  I used an 8″ cake pan instead and it worked out just fine).  Set aside.
  2. Sift together the 2 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the yogurt and milk.
  5. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk/yogurt mixture.
  6. Sift the remaining 2 tbsp of flour and toss with the blueberries.
  7. Fold berries into the batter.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Combine the ingredients for the topping in a separate bowl.  Mix with a fork to make a crumbly mixture then sprinkle this over the batter.
  10. This is the biggest spot where the recipe and I did not agree.  The recipe says bake for 1 hour, but I baked for 35 minutes and the cake was still completely done.  When a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (minus the blueberry juice you will no doubt run into).
  11. Let the buckle cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the pan and remove the cake from the pan.  This is probably where you should continue to let it cool, but we could not help ourselves!  It sliced very easily after only 10 minutes of cooling.
  12. ENJOY!!  I would definitely serve it with whipped cream or ice cream.

Banana Nut Bread

28 Jun

A couple nights ago Karl requested that I use the ripe bananas we had sitting on the counter to make a banana bread for him to take to work and share with his coworkers.  I have made other banana breads before, but none of the recipes were that good.  I looked around online, but when it came down to it I just decided to use the recipe in my pink Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.  The recipe was simple, and I made up some of their recipe for streusel topping and put that on top.  I popped that thing in the oven and tried to be patient while it baked.  It turned out really pretty, but I would recommend putting some wax paper in the bottom of the loaf pan before pouring in the batter so that the bread is easy to just pull out instead of flipping it over (you lose a little of the streusel when you do that).  It was torture to smell this wonderful bread baking and not be able to try a piece!  That always makes me nervous too.  I really like to try what I bake before I send it to work.  I don’t want people thinking I can’t cook!  Luckily I have an amazinghusband, and when he came home to see me for lunch (it was my day off), he brought me my own piece!

The beautiful slice Karl brought home for me!

Now, I don’t want to sound like I’m always tooting my own horn, but this was seriously the best banana nut bread I’ve ever eaten!  Even Karl proclaimed it the best!  It was dense, super moist, and full of flavor.  And the streusel on top added a perfect touch of sweet with a little crunch.  Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it for yourself:

Banana Nut Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups massed ripe bananas (4-5 medium)

1 cup sugar

1/2 melted butter

1/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

Mmmm.... mashed bananas!

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease your loaf pan (and I would recommend placing wax paper over the sides so that you can easily remove the loaf from the pan after baking).
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Make a well in the flower mixture then set it aside.
  3. In a smaller bowl combine the eggs, banana, sugar, and butter.
  4. Add the egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened (the batter should be lumpy)
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  If desired, sprinkle a streusel topping (see recipe below) over the batter and press into the batter a little bit.
  6. Bake for 55-60 minutes (for a 9x5x3-inch pan) or 40-45 minutes (for a 7.5×3.5×2-inch pan) or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  If necessary cover loosely with foil the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning (this really helped keep the top golden brown and kept the inside from being gooey).  Also, I found that 55 minutes in my oven was perfect
  7. Coil in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from the pan and cool completely on the rack.  When it is cool wrap and store it over night before slicing.
  8. Slice and enjoy!

Streusel Topping

In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour.  Using a pastry blender, cut in 2 tbsp butter (I actually used 4 – the more butter the better!) until the mixture resembles course crumbs.

Mixing up the streusel

World’s Best Peanut Butter Cookies

23 Jun

One of the first things I want to share with you is my recipe for the world’s best peanut butter cookies!  I came across this recipe when I was looking for a soft peanut butter cookie recipe to make and send to my best friend in Chicago.  I’d made oatmeal peanut butter cookies which turned out soft before, but I wanted to make plain peanut butter cookies.  The only plain recipe I had was from my mom, and those cookies have a light crispness to them.  So, off to the internet I went.  One of the first recipes I found which claimed to be soft peanut butter cookies had a 5-star rating which I always take to be a good sign.  I read through the recipe and the reviews and decided to try making some half batches.  To save a little money, Karl has asked me to bake half-batches when trying to perfect a recipe so that if something doesn’t turn out well I won’t have wasted too many materials.  Some of the reviews said that the original recipe didn’t provide enough peanut butter flavor and that they also added some honey.  The varied suggestions in the reviews told me that I wouldn’t be making just 1 sample batch before I got it right!

So I set out to create the very best recipe.  First I tried the recipe the way the majority of the reviews recommended by adding 1.5 times the peanut butter and some honey.  I was not impressed with these.  The honey flavor overpowered everything.  So next I tried taking out the honey and sticking with the 1.5 times the peanut butter.  The cookies turned out good and soft, but they did not have a very strong peanut butter flavor.  Karl requested more peanut butter flavor, so I double the original amount the recipe called for – BINGO!  These cookies were perfect!

The recipe went through a lot while I was trying to perfect it!

Once I found the perfect recipe I knew it was ok to make a full batch the next time around.  But when I did this the cookies turned out super dry, and it took me the longest time to figure out why!  After going back through all of the steps and ingredients I finally realized my mistake.  When I was making half batches I would still add a whole egg even though the full recipe called for just 1 egg.  When I tried adding 2 eggs to the full recipe I was back on the road to the perfect cookie.  Those turned out wonderful, and I sent them to my best friend in Chicago who said they were amazing and addicting, exactly what every baker wants to hear!

This past weekend I decided to make some to take to work on Monday.  While looking for a second recipe to make to go with them (because I like to take two different kinds of cookies in case one of my coworkers doesn’t like one kind) I read a recipe that said to roll the peanut butter cookies in sugar before baking.  I decided to try it for myself.  I didn’t think that the peanut butter cookies could get any better, but apparently they could.  I would definitely recommend adding this step to the process when you make them as well!

cookie dough ready to be rolled in sugar

These are literally the perfect peanut butter cookie if you like a cookie that is super soft.  I am not usually a fan of peanut butter cookies, but I am love with these because they are so light and have just the perfect amount of peanut butter flavor.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)
  2. Combine the butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg and vanilla.  Beat until very well blended.

    butter and peanut butter mixing

  3. Add flour, baking soda, and salt.  Beat until blended completely.
  4. Use a cookie scoop to make balls.  Roll balls in sugar until lightly coated.
  5. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and use a fork to create criss-cross.
  6. Bake until edges are very lightly browned (the recipe says 7 to 10 minutes, but I’ve found for my cookies 11 minutes is perfect)

Are they done yet?

ENJOY!

Welcome to my blog!

21 Jun

Hi!  I’m Margaret.  I’m 24 years old, a newlywed, and a recent college graduate.  After 5 years of engineering school and cramming, all nighters, late night snacks, and dorm food, I am ready for some REAL food.  Since I graduated from college I have been spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking dinners and baking sweets for my love.  I love trying new recipes and sometimes new foods, and I’m lucky to have an awesome new husband who tries whatever I put in front of him and gives me an honest critique.  I’m also lucky to work with a bunch of guys  who love my baking and are always asking for more which gives me lots of opportunities to try new things.  Hopefully through this blog I can share some of my favorite new recipes with you!

My husband, Karl, and I are both interested in living a healthier lifestyle and always making positive choices.  We do not by any means live at the gym, but working out is something we always try to do more of.  One of my biggest goals is to become a runner and someday run a half marathon.  I am hoping that this blog will also help me keep track of my milestones.

On top of all of this, Karl and I are starting our married life in a completely new city on the east coast, 14 hours away from our hometown of St. Louis.  We really want to see as much of the city and the whole east coast while we’re out here so I’m sure that I’ll be sharing that with you as well.  As pretty much everyone knows, balancing work and life can always be a challenge, but I’m excited to find out what the future has in store and to share my new adventures with you!