Saturday, March 31, 2012

Doughnuts Disguised as Muffins

When I was 16, I spent the longest summer of my life working at a doughnut shop. I clocked in at 4 am, glazed and sprinkled doughnuts, folded breakfast burritos, and politely tried to explain to irate customers at 5:15 that yes, Boston creme and Bavarian creme were the same thing (It's vanilla pudding. Seriously.), even though I had given them the latter when they specifically asked for the former. The smell of ham and green chile burritos taunted me each morning. I got to know this rather creepy guy with the weirdest ankle bracelet that I'm not unconvinced wasn't a sex offender, which would explain why his work day started at 10 pm and ended at 5:30 am, when we opened for business. I learned exactly how one is supposed to wash dishes in a restaurant, since sometimes, when I got lazy (or tired), I would inevitably miss a spot and have to wash them twice more. I had a "star-crossed lovers" thing going (in my head) with my boss's son, who was starting his first year at our rival high school. Hey, when you don't have much of a social life, you make do with what you've got, okay?? My day didn't end until 6 pm, every day except Sunday. Our house was laden with so many day-old doughnuts and breakfast burritos that I stopped eating them for almost a year. I mopped more in that one summer than I ever have since, and by the end of the summer, I had earned, with my minimum wage, enough for 3 car payments, a new (and let me also add expensive) part for my already struggling truck (that somehow still is running), and some money to put into savings. I was so proud of what I had accomplished, even if it was grueling, long, and laborious. Mostly, though, I miss the smell of doughnuts. I like going into bakeries and just taking a deep breath. It takes me back to those long, crazy, bakery days.

Okay, now that I'm done reminiscing, let me tell you why. I found this amazing-sounding recipe that camouflages doughnuts into muffins, making you think you're eating much healthier than you really are. Sneaky sneaky!! And since I've been feeling nostalgic, I thought, hey, I can totally make this! So, here we go, ladies and gents!

Glazed Doughnut Muffins

For the Muffins:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup golden brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

For the Glaze:
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons hot water

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Line a muffin tin with cute, springtime-y cupcake liners, or just spray the pan with cooking spray. I was kinda feeling lazy, so I went with the second option.

See? Totally lazy. Also, I don't have any Easter-themed cupcake liners. I'd be all over that if I did!

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, vegetable oil and both sugars until smooth, so about 2 minutes (with a mixer).

 Add the eggs, one at a time.

One, aaannd..


One of my girlfriends, Morgan, came over to help me bake some dark chocolate chip cookies, and she told me she is absolutely crazy about "wet dough", which is basically cookie dough (or any, really) without the flour. I tried it. It's not bad.

With the mixer on low speed, add baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and vanilla until just combined.  I added them one at a time. Don't ask me why. I don't even know.

Baking soda and powder...

Nutmeg. My favorite spice ever!


And lastly, vanilla!

Mix in the flour alternately with milk until combined. A little bit of this, a little bit of that.

Spoon the batter into cups, filling them to the top.

Bake until muffin tops are a pale golden brown and spring back to the touch., about 15 to 17 minutes.

Cool muffins in the tin for 5 minutes before removing, then cool 10 more minutes before glazing.

To make the glaze, in a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix with a fork until smooth.

When the muffins have cooled slightly, dip each muffin top into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden (about 2 minutes).

Dip a second time and allow to harden again. I feel like the glaze was too liquid-y. Maybe next time I'll use more sugar, less butter.

They taste so much like a cake doughnut, it's uncanny! And quite delicious! Almost makes me want to go back to work! Try it out and see for yourself!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

So Good, It Should Be A Sin

I have sinned. Again. I just can't help myself. It's peanut butter, chocolate, and perfection. You can't eat just one, either. It is humanly impossible. I certainly couldn't! Enjoy them as much as I do! The recipe I used is here, and you can follow along with me here!

Peanut Butter Bars

1 cup (two sticks) butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup and also 4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended.

Mmm... butter...

The recipe didn't specify whether or not you should use crunchy or creamy, so you know me! Crunchy it was! Also, I only had cinnamon graham crackers hanging around in my pantry, and so I thought it wouldn't hurt to try it. I could definitely taste it, and it worked out great!

Doesn't this look like the inside of a Reese's peanut butter cup? So delicious!!

Press this concoction evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan.

Now, combine the 4 tablespoons leftover peanut butter and the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.

 In the microwave, melt them together until they're smooth, like so:

Spread over the peanut butter layer.

Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares. Try really hard not to eat the whole pan!

This recipe tastes like a Reese's cookie!! I am so in love with this wonderful, delicious recipe! It's almost as easy as it is tasty.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Easy as Pie

Now that phrase can make sense! Finally, a pie that truly is, like the saying goes, easy as a pie should be! I wanted to make it for dessert last night because we had friends over, but I sort of overlooked the part that said "let it cool for 2 hours", which was a bummer. :( And you have to let it cool, too. It stayed hot for a long time. But I we still managed to enjoy Minion cupcakes (think Despicable Me) and deep-fried pickles, courtesy of our sweet friends. So we didn't sin and go without an after-dinner treat. I still don't know how I feel about deep-fried pickles, though. I'm quite a pickle-lover, much to Sam's dismay, but I like them cold and crisp, fresh out of the jar. Mmmm... my mouth is salivating at the thought of biting into a delicious, sour, bright green pickle.

Anyways, today's post has nothing to do whatsoever with pickles. It has to do with that cookbook I was talking about a while ago. The one with the Bisquick crust that bakes itself. It still blows my mind that you don't have to buy or bake a crust separately. I wanted to try another recipe that I was crossing my fingers wouldn't land on my hand again, and so today's culinary creation is Impossibly Easy Apricot Pie, from Betty Crocker and Bisquick!

Easy Apricot Pie

1/2 cup Bisquick mix
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 (8 1/2 ounce) can apricot halves, drained and mashed up
1/4 cup apricot preserves

Preheat the oven to, that's right, you guessed it, 350 degrees.

Spray a pie plate with cooking spray.

This pie pan is pretty nifty because that strip of metal you see actually helps you get the most of your pie crust! You swivel it around and it separates the crust from the pan, leaving you stress free about your slice of  heaven.

Stir all the ingredients together, minus the preserves.

Dry stuff first, obviously... I can't help myself.

Cream them together in a bowl with a wire whisk until well blended. I finally busted out the whisk attachment for the mixer! I am so proud of myself.

Now pour it into the pie plate.

Bake it for about 35 to 40 minutes.

If you stick a toothpick inside, it should come out clean. Let it cool completely. Which I somehow didn't see when I started the whole pie project. I'm sure you could just refrigerate it for an hour and call it good, but I was a little on the sleepy side and didn't think about that idea until too late.

Now it's time for the preserves. Take a medium-sized saucepan and pour the preserves in it.

Simmer on low to medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the preserves are mostly melted, like this:

Now spread this on the top of the pie. I was dissatisfied with how little surface area the preservatives covered, so I used the rest of the jar. I was more content after that. Also, the pie separated from the pan, so I wanted to sort of hide that under the preservatives.

Again, you have to let it cool, since you just put melted stuff on top of your pie, which by my reckoning will still be hot. Then you can top it off with whipped cream and enjoy! Alas, I don't have any more after the fiasco with the pink lemonade bars, but it still tastes just fine!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's So Fluffy! And Pink!

I've been a little bit preoccupied this past week. I've been busy rekindling a passion for knitting that I didn't realize was very strong. I worked my way through a scarf for me, and now I'm clicking my little needles quick like a bunny in an earnest attempt at a scarf for Sam. That's kind of all I can do at the moment, knit scarves. If you have tips on knitting anything more advanced, let me know! I'm all about furthering my knitting knowledge.

I wanted to finish off those lemons I inherited from my in-laws (yeah, they're still not gone yet), so I turned to Betty Crocker for some new ideas. I found something I'm sure you'll love as much as I did: Fluffy Pink Lemonade Bars. Mmmm... They look so tasty! Here is the recipe I'm following, with a few of my own adaptations.

Fluffy Pink Lemonade Bars

For the Crust:
2 cups broken pretzels (about 4 oz)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

For the Fluffy Topping:
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
2 boxes (4-serving size each) white chocolate instant pudding (I could not find white chocolate, so I just used vanilla)
1 can (12 oz) frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 or 3 drops red food color (I added more since the vanilla turned a bright yellow color, and I didn't want the thing to be orange...)
1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Optional Garnish:
Lemon slices, cut into fourths

Heat oven to 350°F. 

Place the pretzels and sugar in a food processor bowl. 

I ended up just using a blender, and that was not the best idea... I also goofed up and added the butter right away. Don't do that. It just makes mixing a lot harder. You can also just stuff a ziplock bag with the pretzels and sugar and crush it with a rolling pin. Cover; process for 15 to 20 seconds or until the pretzels are finely crushed. With the food processor running, drizzle melted butter through feed tube, pulsing to mix well.

Press crust mixture in bottom of ungreased 11x7-inch pan or glass baking dish. 

Bake 5 to 8 minutes or until set and golden brown. Let it cool completely, about 45 minutes. While that's cooling off, start working on the filling.

Remove foil wrapper from cream cheese package, and place it in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave uncovered on Medium  45 seconds to 1 minute or until well softened. Your finger should sink into the cream cheese with the slightest touch, like this:

Stir it until it's very smooth. Now add the dry pudding mix.

Mix it together very well, so that all of the pudding is incorporated into the cream cheese.

See what I mean about bright yellow? I'm sure this isn't a problem if you use white chocolate, but that's okay. It sure tastes great!

Add the lemonade concentrate and food color. 

Mix the ingredients together on low speed until they're well combined. Now, beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes until fluffy. Mine wasn't exactly fluffy, but I continued anyways.

Gently stir in 2 cups of the whipped topping until it's all smooth. 

I had problems with the pudding-cream cheese mix staying in chunks, so I whipped out my trusty whip!

Spread this yummy pink cloud concoction over your pretzel crust. 

Spread remaining whipped topping over lemonade mixture. I had trouble with this part, since my whipped topping was clumping up and sticking to the lemonade bars. I skipped it. I'll try after the bars have set a little while longer to try spreading the topping again. Refrigerate this baby for at least 2 hours or until it's firm(ish).

Cut your supremely yummy dessert into squares. Garnish each serving with lemon, if you want.

It wasn't as pretty (or as firm) as Betty Crocker's, but it tastes just fine! It was more of a pink lemonade blob, rather than a bar. Nice and tart though! Yum yum yum! If you try this and you get it to stand up on its own, please please PLEASE tell me how you did it!