Thursday, April 26, 2012

White Chocolate Citrus Cookies

I absolutely adore soft cookies. Nothing is better. Ever. You give me a crunchy cookie, then you better be supplying some milk to soak it in, homes! I am always looking for new, yummy, soft cookie recipes to test out. I just gotta have my fix! Also, I'm donating the cookies I'm baking this go-round to a fundraiser for the girls in our church to go to church camp. If you want a cookie, you'll have to cough up a whopping 25 cents for one! It's for a good cause, I promise! I'll provide the address of the fundraiser at the end of this post for you, and I do hope you all can make it! Now, I mentioned I follow Chef in Training, and her posts show up in my feed often times. Sometimes she has guest bloggers, and this girl is my new best friend! Kierste, from Brown Paper Packages, has this fantastic cookie recipe that is about to blow your mind! (It sure did mine!) So, for your blogging and baking pleasure, here they are!

Om nom nom! Don't these just make you salivate???

White Chocolate Citrus Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel (about 3 to 4 lemons)
1 1/2 to 2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grate yourself some citrus zest. I chose lemons because I just happened to have some in my pantry, but the recipe works wonders with oranges and limes! I wonder how grapefruit would taste... Next project, perhaps?

Mix the butter and sugars until very creamy. 

Beat in the egg. 

Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix them well. 

When  the dough is thick and, well, doughy, mix in the lemon zest and white chocolate by hand. 

Of course, you know me. I like to separate them. I feel like it mixes them better.

Roll the dough into balls. Place them on an un-greased baking sheet. Since I wanted bigger cookies, I flattened the balls so that the cookie would cook thoroughly.

 Bake them for 12 minutes.

Let them cool, and, if you're feeling artistic, you can melt the remaining white chocolate (adding a smidgen of oil to keep the chocolate from hardening too quickly) and drizzle it on top, with a garnish of leftover zest. I happened to be in the mood, so drizzle I did!

Step one: Drizzle.

Step 2: Garnish.

Step 3: Enjoy! Or wrap up and tie with a cute ribbon to give to somebody awesome who deserves a bright, happy cookie. (Yes, this cookie actually embodies happiness.)

Now, here's the info on the fundraiser these cookies will be heading to:

1635 West 9th Street 
San Pedro, CA 90731

April 28th, 2012
Entry is $5 per person, or $20 for a family (over 4 people)
Dinner is at 6:00, but seating begins at 5:45
Goods and services will be auctioned off (think silent auction) throughout the night
There will be dancing

And if you need any other info, just click on this link! I would love to see you there if you can make it!

Hope you love this recipe as much as I do!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Cake, Oh My!

Sam said that I need to get out of my peanut butter rut. I don't want to, but I guess he's right. So now I'm on a cinnamon kick! And my favorite cinnamon treat is cinnamon rolls! Sadly, though, I have no yeast, which is really the only thing stopping me from baking and devouring an entire pan of them. I follow the blog of Chef in Training, who has a delicious solution to my problem! Cinnamon Roll... Cake. Oh, yes please!

Cinnamon Roll Cake
from Chef in Training

For the Cake:
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

For the Topping:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the Glaze:
2 cups Powdered Sugar
5 Tablespoons Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9×13 glass baking pan with cooking spray, and set it aside.

Using an electric or stand mixer, add together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, eggs, and vanilla.

It feels weird to put everything together at once, but it worked out fine.

Once everything is well combined, slowly stir in the melted butter.

Pour into the prepared 9×13 baking pan.

Now it's topping time! In a large bowl mix the 2 sticks of butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon together.

You want it to be creamy, like this:

Drop the topping evenly over the batter by tablespoonfuls.

 Now use a knife to marble/swirl through the cake.

I think I might have swirled it a little too much. Hey, it still tasted a-MA-zing!

Now we bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out nearly clean. I had to keep it baking for quite a while after, since my cake was still goopy in the center.

And it's glaze time! In a medium bowl, mix the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla together with a whisk. Drizzle evenly over the warm cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This cake was divine! It's already mostly gone, too. I hope you love it as much as we have!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gluten-Free and Peanut Butter, My Old Friend

I have no excuses for not baking this past week besides some minor stomach pain and some very cruel allergies. But I'm back, baby! I still haven't fully unpacked my suitcase. That always ends up happening to me. I would even go as far as to say that if you were to ask me in 3 more weeks, it would still be full. I guess I just didn't want to come home from vacation. What was your favorite vacation as a kid? Or an adult?

Anyways, I'm back on the peanut butter craze with more fervor than ever! My poor husband wanted to be a little bit healthier, so on our last Costco expedition, he sought out the organic peanut butter. And it wasn't everything he dreamed it would be. The consistency was very different, and he was turned off by it. So I'm resigning myself to using creamy instead of crunchy in my recipes, just to help him out. I'm a good wife. :P I felt I needed to step up my A-game, so I turned to one of my baking heroes. Martha. I found, as I was drooling over every picture and every recipe, a peanut butter cookie that seems so very easy! Also, it's flour-free, which I know will be a hit with my sister-in-law. So, from Martha Stewart, queen of all things homemaking, here is another awesome recipe!

Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Martha Stewart

1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg.

In a larger bowl, stir together the peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda, and salt until well mixed. I didn't have roasted peanuts on hand, so I substituted crunchy (yay, me!) for the creamy.

Stir in the chocolate chips and roasted salted peanuts. I thought 3/4 cup wasn't enough, so I tossed in a teensy bit more. You can NEVER have too much chocolate.

Om nom nom!

At Martha's suggestion, wet your hands. With your hands sufficiently moistened, roll the dough into balls, about the size of a very generous tablespoon. Place them about 2 inches apart on two baking sheets.

Bake the cookies until they are golden and puffed up to perfection, or about 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through.

Let them cool for 5 minutes on sheets, then transfer the cookies cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

Now pour yourself a tall glass of milk and enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lemon Cream Bars and Vacation Update

I'm back! It's been a loooooong week, but it sure was fun! It rained most of the time we were in San Francisco, but that's okay! Sightseeing was still a ton of fun! And of course, as soon as we get home, it's raining here, too! Rainy days are wonderful, but I love thunderstorms best. I even saw the windows shake from the close thunder. Makes me feel like I'm back home in New Mexico almost. The clouds just need to be a little more black, but I'll take what I can get. Anyways, back to our trip. You want to see some vacation photos? Good. Here goes!

Our first stop was Monterey. I've always wanted to go to their aquarium, and I learned that it's in an old cannery. How cool is that? We went to Fisherman's Wharf for dinner, and every single seafood restaurant on the wharf handed each of us a sample of their "world-famous!" clam chowder. I think they knew I was coming. We finally chose one (hardest decision ever!), based on their exceptional chowder and the recommendation of one of the sample girls from another restaurant. I had crab cakes with this amazing sweet orange glaze.

The next morning, we visited Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I can seriously spend HOURS at an aquarium. But Sam can't, so I tried to keep my nerding-out to a minimum. But I took lots of pictures!

Sea Pens! I would totally have an actual pen like this. And you can see a skate in the background!

Us in front of the Shorebirds exhibit.

Umbrella Jellies!

Blubber Jellies. They come in White (naturally), Blue, Plum, and sometimes Brown, like this one! So weird, but so neat!

Elegant Jellies. I'm kind of a jellyfish nerd, so bear with me.

A Mediterranean Jelly. Man, they're cool!

This baby seahorse was about the size of the first joint on my pinky. So adorable!

Only in Monterey would they sell all of John Steinbeck's novels in a souvenir shop! I love it!

Our next stop before San Francisco was the Winchester Mystery House. We couldn't take any pictures on the inside, so I'm sorry all I have are pictures of the outside. That house was HUGE!

Sam is standing in front of a door that opens from one of the rooms to eight feet above the ground! There were stairways that led all the way into the ceiling, doors that opened to brick walls, and my favorite was the stairwell that zig-zagged with steps that were no more than 2 inches high. It was a pretty weird place.

I won't bore you with too many more pictures, I promise. Just hang in there! We finally made it to San Francisco, where we dined at the Burger Bar, high above the city, overlooking Union Square. And here are some more tourist pics!

On the pier looking out to Alcatraz.

This store is called Chocolate Heaven. Can you tell how excited I was??

These were the size of a cupcake. I think I will have to make these soon!

Of course, you can't go to chocolate heaven and not get some fudge. So I did! The hubby got some salty caramel white chocolate goodness.

And of course, our trip wasn't complete without some Boudin sourdough bread!

We checked out the painted ladies of Alamo Square.

And the Conservatory of Flowers. Which was more like a plant conservatory, since there weren't THAT many flowers (most of them orchids, too), but it was still pretty cool to see!

We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge!

And our last night in San Fran, we indulged in a Ghirardelli hot fudge banana sundae. So good.

We crossed off riding a cable car from my bucket list just before we left for home!

Now, I know you didn't just come by to see my vacation pics, and don't worry! I've got a new recipe to blow you away! Here goes!

Lemon Cream Bars
from Pip & Ebby

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
One (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Zest from 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease an 8 by 8 pan with cooking spray.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set it aside.

In a larger bowl, cream the brown sugar and the butter together.

Now you'll gradually add the flour mixture, just a little at a time, mixing in between to fully combine them. It's gonna look fairly crumbly, but that's fine! You'll be pressing it into a pan soon anyways.

Press half the crumb mixture into the pan, and set that puppy aside!

Mix the oats into the leftover half. This will be your topping.

Now, in a smaller bowl, combine the condensed milk, zest, and lemon juice. Whisk it until it's very creamy. That won't be too hard, since the milk is already almost perfect!

Spread this heavenly concoction over the crust in the pan.

Top it with the other half of the crumbly mix.

Bake it for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it's golden brown.

Let it cool, and then enjoy!