Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies

Monday, November 11th, 2013

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com.

The holiday preparation continues this week on the blog. Today  I want to showcase 5 easy ways to decorate store-bought pies for the holidays. Supermarket pies can still look beautiful and will taste even better with my ideas for some fun toppings and additions.

Walmart challenged me to share a fun Thanksgiving project with you and I knew that this was a topic that I have been thinking about a lot. Although we have a fantastic pumpkin pie recipe on here and even a step-by-step picture tutorial for making the perfect pie crust, I know that many of us just don’t have the desire to tackle pie baking. This post is especially for you and I hope you can create a swoon-worthy dessert table that will leave people guessing if you made those pies or not.

Spiced Whipped Cream

Add a Delicious Homemade Topping

Although your pie may not be homemade, your toppings can really stand out with just a few simple ingredients that will add a lot of flavor to your pie. One of my favorite toppings is a Spiced Whipped Cream that gets its hint of spices from ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and a little sugar. It is the perfect accompaniment to your store-bought pumpkin or pecan pies for the holidays.
Cranberry Crunch Pie ToppingAnother idea for layering on the flavors is to add texture through a fun crunchy pie topping. One of our favorites that I created for our pies last year was an easy Cranberry Crunch Pie Topping made from amaretto cookies and fresh cranberries.

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com.Add Unique Details

One of the greatest tools that I got for my holiday baking this past year was a set of piecrust cutters that I found on Williams Sonoma. Not only are these great tools to keep handy for masking any flaws on your homemade crusts, but they can double as a great detail to adorn store-bought pies.

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com.

Purchase pie crust from the refrigerated section of the store and then roll out on a lightly floured surface. Dip your cutters in a little flour and then push down and press these cutters to create your shape. Bake these adorable details in a 400 degree oven for 6-8 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Allow these to cool and then decorate the tops of your pies with these.

These little details are also so pretty to sprinkle on your dessert table and add that extra festive touch.

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com. 5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com.

Make a Mini Pie Spread

When I spotted these adorable mini pies in the bakery section, I knew this would be another fun spin on pies to try for the holidays. These mini pies are only $.68 each and come in a variety of flavors year-round. For smaller families, these store-bought pies offer the perfect serving size and give everyone exactly what they love the most.

Adorn these with the smaller size pastry cutouts and add a bowl of spiced whipped cream in the center so that everyone can create their own pie experience.

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com. 5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com. 5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com.

Give the Gift of Pie

One of my favorite things to give as a hostess gift is a sweet treat for their hospitality. Nothing is sweeter than a little individual treat just for me after entertaining, at least that is my opinion, and one of my favorite gifts to give happens to be my little peppermint cheesecakes in a jar.

If you are short on time though, consider purchasing these mini pies as hostess gifts for the holidays. Dress it simply in some festive ribbon and tie a bow around it to create a sweet little gift to give for the holidays.

At just $.68 each, these are a sweet way to say thank you without spending a lot.

5 Ways to Decorate Store-Bought Pies from MomAdvice.com.

Create a Beautiful Display

I love that when I posted a picture of this pie display on Instagram & Facebook that people were asking if this was even real. I think it really goes to show that with a few easy details and staging, you can take store-bought pies to another level.

With this display I used mismatched cake stands in varying heights to create a display. Don’t be afraid to drape a cloth napkin over a stand to make it cohesive or even create a stand out of a teacup and plate and cover it with the cloth napkin, if you are short on serving pieces. If you have multiple dishes out, consider adding these cute chalkboard label frames to help people navigate the dessert table.

Sprinkle pastry cutouts along the tablecloth to decorate the display and pull in leaves, bare branches, or create a unique centerpiece like I did this year to add some color to the table.

I hope these ideas are inspiring and that you will find a new way to love store-bought pies this year with these creative details!  Oh, and enjoy all that free time you have now that you aren’t baking this year.

Winning!

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Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cake

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Chocolate Snickerdoodle CakeIf there is one flavor we love around here it is snickerdoodle. Today I wanted to share an easy recipe for a chocolate snickerdoodle cake that you will flip for. This chocolate snickerdoodle cake is coated in a delicious chocolate cream cheese frosting and adorned in a dusting of dark chocolate candy that adds that perfect finishing touch.

Chocolate Snickerdoodle CakeThis week we celebrated my son’s 11th birthday. In lieu of an elaborate themed dinner and event, he had a sleepover with his best friend and we invited our family over for this cake and for a red, white, & blue trifle to celebrate.

I am the worst cake decorator known to man and produce some of the ugliest, most lopsided, and crumbiest looking cakes ever. I finally found the trick for me was to buy two 8″ Wilton pans (affiliate)  (instead of those 9″ pans that produced flat layers for me) and a good spatula (affiliate). This cake was put together in an hour and the prettiest cake I’ve ever made (if I do say so myself!). It is amazing what a little investment in tools can produce.

Chocolate Snickerdoodle CakeAs is tradition, the birthday kid gets to pick their cake from my cookbooks every year. When Ethan selected this cake, I just knew it would be a hit. This cake is moist, rich, and laced in cinnamon. What makes the cake really taste delightful though is the light cream cheese frosting that it is coated in.

Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cake

Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A rich chocolate cake laced with that snickerdoodle cinnamon flavor that our family loves!
Ingredients
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain dark chocolate fudge cake mix
  • ¾ cup skim milk
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For frosting: 1 package low-fat cream cheese (8 ounces), at room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3½ cups confectioners’s sugar
  • Dark chocolate candy bar for grating on top (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8″ pans and set aside.
  2. Place the cake mix, oil, eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and blend for three minutes, or until well-blended.
  3. Pour evenly into two pans, smoothing with spatula.
  4. Bake for 28-32 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed with your finger. Remove and allow to cool for ten minutes. Remove from pans & then cool for another 30 minutes.
  5. Place the cream cheese & butter in a mix bowl. Blend until combined. Add sifted cocoa powder, cinnamon, and confectioners sugar, and finally vanilla. Blend until combined and icing looks fluffy. Add an additional ¼-1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar if needed.
  6. Ice cake and dust with dark chocolate candy bar shavings to finish.

Adapted from Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor (affiliate)

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Summer Party Fun: How to Host a S’more Toppings Bar Party

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

How to Host a S'more Toppings Bar Party from MomAdvice.com.

If there is one thing we love about summer, it is our s’mores. Today I wanted to showcase a s’more toppings bar that you can create for a summer party and share some unexpected s’more flavor combinations you can try on your s’more toppings bar.

Walmart challenged me to create a summer party that anyone could replicate with just $25 in supplies. I wanted to host an evening for my girlfriends with a s’more toppings bar.

I love that this idea is easy, requires no cooking, and you can even encourage each of your friends to bring their own favorite topping or a drink to share. I displayed my toppings in inexpensive ice cream bowls that you can find over in the seasonal section of the store for a buck each!

S’more Toppings Bar Ideas & Combinations

 

Marshmallow, Strawberries, & Nutella

Marshmallow, Strawberries, & Dark Chocolate

Marshmallow, Strawberries, With Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Bars

Marshmallow, Bananas, & Nutella

Marshmallow, Strawberry, Banana, & Nutella

Marshmallow & Reese’s Cups

Flavored Marshmallows (Butterscotch, Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl, or Key Lime)

Andes Mints With Marshmallow

Lemon Curd & Marshmallows (hellooo, lemon meringue pie!!)

Marshmallow, Apple Slices, & Cinnamon

Marshmallow, Biscoff Spread, & Apples

Marshmallow & Biscoff Spread

Chocolate Graham Crackers, Marshmallow, & Strawberries

How to Host a S'more Toppings Bar Party from MomAdvice.com.

It was such a fun night and everyone walked away with a new favorite s’more combination.  If you have a load of toppings, you can write titles next to them or give your guests a helpful cheat sheet of suggestions to put together after roasting their marshmallows. Kraft paper can be found over in the shipping & home office supplies section of the store along with Sharpie pens for writing your own cheat sheet of notes.

How to Host a S'more Toppings Bar Party from MomAdvice.com.

How to Host a S'more Toppings Bar Party from MomAdvice.com.

How to Host a S'more Toppings Bar Party from MomAdvice.com.I had planned to host this at my own home, but a powerful gust of storms moved in and left us without power for several days. My dear friend graciously stepped up to the plate to host the evening and allowed me to setup my s’more topping bar at her house.

How awesome is this setup? I know, SO awesome!

I am so thankful for great friends, great times, and great food! I hope this inspires you for a get together with your own friends this summer or even a fun birthday party idea in the summer months!

This s’mores party was such a hit and I can’t wait to do it again and to do something this fantastic for less than $25? Absolutely priceless!

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What is your favorite s’more combination?

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Fresh Peach Sorbet

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Fresh Peach SorbetPeach season is upon us and what could be better than putting those fresh peaches to work in a peach sorbet. This homemade peach sorbet tastes rich and creamy, but is dairy-free and packed with fresh fruit, for the perfect summer treat!

Fresh Peach Sorbet

I was a kid that grew up on the good old-fashioned canned peaches and humbly admit that I had never eaten a fresh peach until this year. Once I tasted how delicious a fresh peach peach was, I realized just what I had been missing all of these years.

Each month, Walmart is challenging  me to use one of their produce items a new way and to share some easy tips for selecting your produce. Have you seen my past projects? I bet you would love our Baked Strawberry Doughnuts and Blueberry Sangria Lemonade that I created with some of the past produce picks.

Fresh Peach Sorbet

How Do I Pick the Perfect Peach?

Look for peaches that have a slight give when pressed, but try to avoid peaches that are heavily bruised. When examining the stem end, they should have a yellow, amber, or golden hue, but not a greenish tinge.

If you have peaches that you’d like to ripen further, leave them at room temperature in a dry area. Check them daily to see if they have reached the desired ripeness and upon reaching that, refrigerate them. Refrigeration helps to stop that ripening process so even those super ripe peaches will last a couple of days longer in your refrigerator.

This month marks one year that I have started my journey on a dairy-free diet. It’s been one of the hardest things I have done, but one of the most beneficial to my health. There are few things that I can’t replicate or substitute, and the only true challenges that present themselves are when I am not at home and able to control what is being served.

Although I have never been a big ice cream eater, sometimes I crave that ice cold treat in the summer. I decided to create this peach sorbet as a special treat for myself. I love this recipe for a lot of reasons; it is jam-packed with fresh fruit, it doesn’t even require you to peel a peach, it has no dairy, and it tastes like summer in a dish.

What’s not to love?

Fresh Peach Sorbet

Why Is There Alcohol in Your Sorbet?

If you don’t want your ice cream or sorbets to freeze as hard as a rock, you can add a little alcohol to your ice cream or sorbet recipes to keep the ice cream softer and easier to scoop. I promise that you won’t even taste it.

Alcohol basically acts as an anti-freeze agent in your ice cream and a little bit will go a long way in your recipes (only 1-3 tablespoons necessary per batch). To read more about the science behind alcohol in your ice creams or sorbets, check out this awesome post from David Lebovitz that explains it a bit more.

If you don’t keep alcohol in your home, try purchasing those mini bottles of alcohol for your homemade ice cream batches. I promise, you will thank me when you don’t have to wait an hour for the ice cream to thaw so you can scoop it!

Why Don’t You Peel the Peaches for the Sorbet?

Why make more work for yourself? Your food processor will do a great job of breaking the skin down in your sorbet and you won’t even taste it. I think it adds some pretty flecks of color throughout the batch and it is less work for you! That is what makes this recipe such a winner with this fruit!

Fresh Peach Sorbet

Fresh Peach Sorbet
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
An easy dairy-free sorbet packed with fresh peaches for a fun summertime treat! Low in calories, rich in fresh fruit, and easy to make!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 pounds fresh peaches (any variety)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lightly beaten egg white
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
Instructions
  1. In a small heavy saucepan heat sugar and water, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cool syrup.
  2. Cut and pit your peaches, leaving skins intact.
  3. Add the peaches to your food processor and purée until smooth.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add syrup and lemon juice.
  5. Chill the mixture until cold.
  6. Stir in egg white and vodka.
  7. Add the mixture to your ice cream maker and run as directed (I churned mine for about 15 minutes).
  8. Serve sorbet immediately or transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden for a few hours.

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A Monster of a Father’s Day Gift: Monster Cookie Bars & Monster Printable Cards For Dad

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.Father’s Day is just around the corner & today we wanted to share a monster of a Father’s Day gift with a cute spin on the monster theme with easy monster cookie bars and printable monster cards for a special Dad in your life.

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

This week’s challenge from Walmart was to create an inexpensive Father’s Day gift that would wow your Dad. Well, if your dad is anything like our Dad, he is certainly wowed with homemade treats and funny cards with a great sense of humor. Our idea was to mix up a batch of thick and delicious Monster Cookie Bars made with rolled oats, peanut butter, mini M&M’s (found over in their candy aisle), and chocolate chips.

Monster Cookies can be a bit of a monster to create as a drop cookie because of their monster size. I choose to echo the words of an amazing woman I once heard speak these wise words…

“Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Wise, right?

Bar cookies get a big fist pump from this busy mom and if a celebration requires a cookie, I often rely on these chocolate chip cookie bars to get us through whatever baking requirements are made for those occasions. These Monster Cookie Bars are equally delicious and offer that crusty exterior with that soft interior that makes, in my humble opinion, the perfect cookie.

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

What Father’s Day would be complete without a card to accompany your sweet gift? We are so excited to debut these adorable Monster cards that you can print out to attach with your Monster Cookie Bars for your favorite Dad. We have included three fun printable cards for Father’s Day and then 1 that could be used for any occasion to accompany your sweet treat. Print these printables out on white card stock  and you will be all set for this Father’s Day!

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.



Printable Monster Cards from MomAdvice.com.

Download Your FREE Monster Card Printables HERE:

Happy Father’s Day From Your Monster FREE printable card

Your Gift is a Monster! FREE printable card

Eat All the Cookies FREE printable card

We Are Your Spawn FREE printable card

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

I can admit that this family has had Monsters on our brain after getting a sneak peek at the Monsters University movie that is set to hit theaters on June 21st. While our family was at the Disney Social Media Moms conference, we got an exclusive sneak peek at the film. It is FANTASTIC, and dare I say it, even funnier than the first one. I have no doubt that your family will love it!

Our Monster Cookie Bars would really pull together a fun family night out to see this fantastic film and you can find loads of fun Monsters supplies in the party favors aisle of your Walmart store including fun cups, plates, and other party favors for an inexpensive night to enjoy while tackling your summer bucket list or our 100 Days of Summer Pinterest Board.

Now that you have the printables, here is the deliciously easy and tasty recipe for these Monster Cookie Bars. We recommend preparing these in a metal 9×13 pan for best results!

Monster Cookie Bars & Printables from MomAdvice.com.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews

Monster Cookie Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
 
Monster cookies made easy in a bar cookie. Be sure to pair these easy cookies with our free Monster printables.
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups creamy peanut buter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini M&M’s (approximately half a bag)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until blended. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until light and fluffy.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Mix in oats until well combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips and mini M&M’s
  7. Press dough evenly into prepared baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown and set in the middle. Let cool completely in baking dish then cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

 Happy Father’s Day to all of our Dad readers (I know you’re out there!) and here’s hoping you get spoiled by a few of your favorite monsters!

Be sure to check back this week for more great Father’s Day gifts on a budget!

 

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Baked French Breakfast Donuts

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Baked donuts have become a special food tradition in our house. These French Breakfast Donuts are the new family favorite though because they come closest to resembling those delicious fried donuts that we love so much from the doughnut shops. Do you have a doughnut pan?  You should put it to work with this delicious recipe.

I have heard often from people that they are disappointed in the flavor of baked donuts. I think it is important to go into baking donuts know that they will most definitely not take like a fried doughnut, but taste more like a muffin with a fun doughnut shape.

Since we have started eating baked doughnuts, my kids don’t really like the doughnuts from the doughnut shop which I find WEIRD because no kid should not love a doughnut from a doughnut shop. That being said, not to lead you astray that my kids are so healthy,  I think they just like that they can consume more of these baked doughnuts than they can of the fried version.

Have you sampled any of our doughnut recipes around here? We have a doughnut for every season in life. We have snickerdoodle doughnuts, fluffy cake doughnuts, apple pie doughnuts, rich chocolate doughnuts,  lemon blueberry doughnuts, pumpkin doughnuts, and even gingerbread doughnuts.

When I say I have a doughnut for every season, I mean it!

I find doughnuts enjoyed in another room in our house are always a hit. One day over our winter break, I laid out a tablecloth and served doughnuts on a breakfast tray with mason jars of orange juice for an unexpected morning treat. The kids were thrilled to get to take over our room AND eat doughnuts. You gotta love a cheap thrill like this!

These French Breakfast Donuts are light, fluffy, and laced with nutmeg. After they are baked, they are dunked in butter and coated with cinnamon and sugar.

They are so delicious that I guarantee that you won’t be able to eat just one!

5.0 from 2 reviews

Baked French Breakfast Donuts
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
A baked doughnut that actually tastes like a doughnut. If you don’t have a doughnut pan, these can easily be made in a muffin tin as well!
Ingredients
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat doughnut pan generously with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg; mix well.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg together. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk.
  4. Fill doughnut tins half full. Bake 15-20 minutes. Take out of pan immediately and swirl tops into melted butter, then sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  5. Makes 6-7 doughnuts.

Adapted from Cooks.com.

Are you a baked doughnut fan? Share your recipes or tips for great baked doughnuts here!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Want to make cookies, but don’t have a lot of time? These easy chocolate chip cookie bars are the perfect cookie bar recipe to add to your snack agenda. They offer all of the taste of a chocolate chip cookie, but are made in a chocolate chip cookie bar instead of the more labor-intensive drop cookie.

When I was growing up, my mom made many varieties of bar treats for us. We ate a lot of lemon bars, brownies, and chocolate chip cookie bars as snacks. When I would go to my friend’s houses though, their moms made homemade cookies and I would come home and beg my mom to make cookies instead of bars. I never understood why she always made bars for us…until now! Yes, I consider this the world’s most genius cookie shortcut!

Bars are so much easier than cookies and you dirty up a heck of a lot less pans. There is no cooling on racks that has to be done or switching of cookie sheets. All you have to do to make these cookies is mix and dump. Within minutes you can be snacking on a plate full of cookie bars without the mess or work that regular cookies can be.

Looking to achieve a bar cookie with a crisp edge that holds it shape when cut? Try my trick and keep a plastic knife handy in your utensil drawer. You can cut them into perfect squares without the crumby mess, even when they aren’t fully cool.

I think the best part about these is the gooey center where all of the chocolate seems to reside. You get all of the crispness on the outside, with the soft gooey center on the inside. You will find the same delicious delight in my easy homemade granola bars, that happen to be another one of our favorite treats!

These have become my favorite cookies to make and to share with others. I know after you try this recipe, they will be a favorite of yours too!

4.5 from 2 reviews

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12
 
The world’s easiest way to make a big batch of chocolate chip cookies by making them in one big pan. These make the perfect after school treat or a fun weekend surprise for the kids.
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9×13″ pan.
  3. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, both sugars and vanilla in large mixer bowl.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
  5. Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  7. Spread into prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

What is your favorite easy cookie or treat to bake for your kids?

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Getting To Know Your Bread Machine (Easy Recipes & Tips for Busy Families)

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

One of the most invaluable appliances in our home is our bread machine and today I wanted to share with you why I think a bread machine is a wise kitchen investment. This tutorial will offer advice on what to look for in a bread machine, how to use your bread machine, and the best bread machine recipes that our family enjoys on a weekly basis.

Perhaps you already have a bread machine that has been gathering dust in your kitchen or basement. Many people buy these appliances and then end up donating them to their local thrift store because they never use them. I think of the bread machine as a modern day convenience, but in a culture where we want everything NOW, waiting for a loaf of bread can seem like an eternity.

Why wait for a hot loaf of fresh bread when you can grab a loaf at your supermarket?

And what exactly is the purpose of that appliance that is taking up space on your shelves? Let’s get to know our bread machines and find a new way to use them.

What is A Bread Machine or Bread Maker?

A bread making machine or bread maker is a home appliance for baking bread.The bread machine is simple in its construction and consists of a bread pan (or “tin”), at the bottom of which are one or more built-in paddles, mounted in the center of a small special-purpose oven. This little oven is  controlled by a simple built-in computer, the settings for which are inputted on the control panel. Most bread machines have different cycles for different kinds of dough—including white bread, whole grain, European-style (sometimes labeled “French”), and dough-only (for pizza dough and shaped loaves baked in a conventional oven). Many also have a timer to allow the bread machine to activate without operator attendance, and some high-end models allow the user to program a custom cycle.

Some of the older machines have just a handful of simple settings while newer machines offer more advanced cycles including a cycle to make jam or to bake cakes. To be honest, I don’t use the fancy cycles on my bread machine and rely mostly on the Basic and the Dough cycle, which can be found on every machine. The basic cycle is just the basic setting for making a loaf of bread. The Dough cycle just completes the kneading and rising of the dough. Once the dough cycle is complete, you can take the dough out and shape it into your loaf pan or do fancy braids or rolls out of the dough.

The purpose of a bread machine is simple;  you are able to make fresh bread when you want it. The reasons vary from person to person on why they choose to make their own bread. Many people have concerns about the additives and preservatives that are found in store-bought breads. Another reason that many people choose to make their own bread is because they just enjoy the taste of homemade bread. My reasoning for making our own bread is because I like to save our family money. Making your own bread costs so much less than purchasing a loaf of bread, and the rising grocery costs have only fueled my desire more to make it at home.

How Do You Add Ingredients to a Bread Machine?

Inserting your ingredients into a bread machine is also very straightforward. If you are making the loaf right away, you can insert the ingredients in any way that you want. All of these ingredients will immediately be stirred together and so it will not matter what the order is. If you use a timer delay on your bread machine, delaying the start time of making your loaf, it is imperative that you put the ingredients in the right order or your loaf will not turn out right. The order of ingredients is liquid (liquids include water, oil, milk, eggs, or honey), flour, other dry ingredients (salt, sugar, baking powder, seasonings), and ending the ingredients with your yeast. The most important part of putting the yeast in is to make sure that you make a small indentation into the center of the flour so that the yeast does not react with the other ingredients.

Upon inserting your ingredients, your bread machine will take over the process from there. The machine will knead the ingredients together, give the bread its rising time, and then it will bake the bread. The bread machine will signal when the bread is ready and you can allow the bread to cool inside of the bread bucket.

Do I Need to Buy Bread Machine Mixes For My Bread Machine?

There is no need to spend the money on convenience bread machine mixes; in fact, you can make your own convenient mixes handy for the week. I take plastic storage bags and make an assembly line of the dry ingredients and do my bags once a month. On the outside, just write what liquids you will need to add and you will only have a dirty kitchen once instead of weekly.

What is the difference between Instant Yeast, Bread Machine Yeast and RapidRise Yeast?

Just their names because these are all the same yeast. Nothing like making it EXTRA confusing for a novice bread-maker.

Is There Savings in Making Bread at Home?

A quick glance at grocery store prices and you will wonder how there could be any possible savings with making your bread at home. The key to making this the least expensive on your family is to purchase all of your ingredients at your local wholesale club. With proper storage, you can buy the ingredients in bulk and save your family loads of money.

I don’t use my wholesale club membership very often except for our family’s eye care needs and for the occasional party. I won’t ever let my membership lapse though because with one trip to buy my baking supplies, my wholesale club membership has earned its space in my wallet. I make a trip twice a year to buy all of the necessary supplies for my baking and pizza-making needs.

Don’t believe me? Here is the current prices from my local Sam’s Club:

25 Pounds Bread Flour- $6.59 (needed depending upon the recipe)

25 Pounds All-Purpose Flour- $6.68 (needed depending upon the recipe)

2 Pounds of Yeast- $4.16

Cheese (5 pounds for $10.43) , pepperoni (5 pounds for $11.88), and crushed tomatoes (102 ounces for $2.68) can also be bought at a fraction of the price, but in the past I have lacked the capacity and ambition of storage for all of the ingredients.

As a side note, if you do own a membership to Sam’s Club, they have a wonderful Click ‘N Pull service that you can utilize for your shopping day and they can pull the ingredients right to the front and email you when your order is ready to pick up. This is a fantastic free service for moms with small children or who are short on time!

How Do I Store My Bread Machine Ingredients?

For storage, flour can be stored for up to a year in an airtight container. With bulk storage, a large plastic bin that has been clearly labeled is ideal to keep your flour fresh. Yeast is the easiest ingredient to store and has a very long shelf life. I store my yeast in a mason jar in our refrigerator door. With both of these ingredients, writing an expiration date on the label will also remind you of when the item is going to expire. I have also provided a handy Yeast Freshness Test that you can use to see if your yeast is still working. This will come in handy when buying yeast in bulk.

What Kind of Bread Machine Should I Buy?

If you do not have a bread machine and are looking for one, garage sales and thrift sales are a great place to hunt. I see these machines for $10 or less, and you will definitely get your money back from the savings of making your own bread. When you find one, ask if you can plug it in and make sure it is working. Just check that it actually powers up, that there is a bread bucket inside, and that there is a paddle in the bottom of the bread machine to stir the ingredients. Having a manual with it is handy, but usually can be found by searching online.

Over the past five years, I have been using my Sunbeam Bread Machine with great success. All of my past models have been found at the thrift shops and garage sales, but when our bread machine quit on us, I ran out to our local superstore so we wouldn’t have to miss our weekly pizza night. You know an appliance has become invaluable to you if you can’t imagine a day without it. Our bread machine is that invaluable to us.

What Are Some Foolproof Bread Machine Recipes I Can Try With My Family?

On any given day in our house, you will find our bread machine happily humming along and whipping up fresh dough and bread for us. Not only that, but our bread machine has a regular performance in our house on Friday night for our infamous weekly family pizza night.

Here are a few of our family favorites, but you can learn more in my first book, “The Good Life For Less,” that is available on bookstore shelves now: 

The Perfect Pizza Dough (so easy that your kids can roll this one out on their own!)

Bread Machine Pita Pockets

Bread Machine Hamburger Buns or Hot Dog Buns

Whole Wheat Bread Machine Hamburger Buns or Hot Dog Buns

Bread Machine Calzones

Bread Machine Portuguese White Bread

 

Bread Machine Monkey Bread/Bunny Bread

Buttery Bread Machine Rolls

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls 

 

 

Yeast Freshness Test
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Not sure if your yeast is still fresh and active? This simple test will help determine if your yeast is still performing!
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ½ cup warm tap water (110°F-115°F)
  • 2¼ teaspoons dry yeast (make sure it is at room temperature)
Instructions
  1. Using a one-cup liquid measuring cup, dissolve 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar in ½ cup warm tap water at 110°F-115°F. Using a thermometer is the most accurate way to determine the correct liquid temperature. Any thermometer will work as long as it measures temperatures between 75°F and 130°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, the tap water should be warm but NOT hot to the touch.
  2. Stir in one ¼ oz. packet (7g) or 2-1/4 tsp of dry yeast until there are no more dry yeast granules on top.
  3. In three to four minutes, the yeast will have absorbed enough liquid to activate and start to rise.
  4. After ten minutes, the foamy yeast mixture should have risen to the 1-cup mark and have a rounded top.
  5. If this is true, your yeast is very active and should be used in your recipe immediately.
  6. If the yeast did not rise to the 1-cup mark, your yeast has little or no activity. Discard this yeast.

Do you have a bread machine? What is your favorite thing to do with this appliance?

 

I love helping you cook in the kitchen! If you like this cooking tutorial,  be sure to visit my tutorial on How to Cook A Butternut Squash With the Skin On, How to Roast a Spaghetti Squash, and  How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker.

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Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Cinnamon rolls are one of those treats that I always found intimidating to make in the kitchen. Luckily, with my bread machine, these are a cinch to pull together and enjoy on a lazy Saturday morning. Today I want to share with you my bread machine cinnamon roll recipe to create this yummy treat at home in your kitchen.

Growing up, one of my favorite Saturday treats was a Pillsbury Cinnamon Roll. My mom would make these for us on Saturdays and we always fought over the ones that had the most frosting. Sadly, it was such a thrill when my dad worked in the mornings because that meant that there would be two extra rolls for us to fight over. Who could resist those rolls and the simple pleasure of having a sweet treat once a week?

I still love those cinnamon rolls, but at $1.69 a roll, they are an unnecessary addition to the grocery budget. What I do have though is flour and sugar, purchased in bulk, and a bread machine that can turn out cinnamon roll dough like nobody’s business.

The best part about making these cinnamon rolls is that you can vary the sizes and I can make mini-versions of the rolls for the little kids and tuck these in the center of the batch so that they don’t get overdone. The kids love these mini versions and I control the amount of sugar they are getting. Just give them a teeny drizzle of frosting and they will be set!

Of course, I have been know to reheat these in the microwave for a nice snack in the evening or for breakfast the next day. Place one on a microwave-safe plate and zap for about twenty seconds. It make a great snack paired with a hot cup of coffee.

Tomorrow I will be sharing more about our beloved bread machine and what you can do with it! For now, I hope you can enjoy this easy and delicious treat with your family!

 

 

5.0 from 1 reviews

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Homemade cinnamon rolls are a breeze when created in your bread machine. This bread machine cinnamon roll recipe is foolproof and a perfect Saturday morning treat.
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups skim milk
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil or canola oil
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • Cinnamon Roll Filling: ⅓ cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • Cinnamon Roll Glaze: ½ cup powdered sugar to 1-2 tablespoons milk
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in order recommended by your bread machine manufacturer.
  2. Select DOUGH CYCLE and start machine.
  3. Preheat your oven to 100°F and then turn off.
  4. When dough cycle is complete remove from machine.
  5. Roll out to about 12 x 15″ and spread with butter or margarine. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture over all and roll up tightly .Roll it tightly and slowly, being careful to keep all the filling inside. At this point you should have a long log that you can cut your rolls from. You can wrap the dough with plastic and store in the fridge overnight or you can slice your rolls and put them on your cookie sheet or pizza stone.
  6. If preparing now, cut into as many rolls as you want. (I usually make ten large rolls).
  7. For the next day or right away: Cover with cloth and put in the warm oven for 45-60 minutes to rise.
  8. When doubled remove from oven.
  9. Turn oven to 400°F and when you put the buns in the oven, reduce temperature immediately to 375° and bake for 12-15 minutes or until done.
  10. When the rolls are done, drizzle your frosting over the rolls and serve them warm or room temperature (although they are best served warm).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest Post: Peppermint Candy Cane Ice Cream

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

The holidays seem like so long ago already.  The Christmas lights are down, the ornaments packed away, and we’re charging ahead into the new year.  If you’re like us, the only remnants are a handful of candy canes leftover from the too many boxes we bought in a fit of holiday spirit.

In hindsight, the candy cane excess was the best decision ever made because it led to what may be the tastiest homemade treat I’ve made all winter:  Peppermint Candy Cane Ice Cream.

Super minty and winter fresh, this ice cream is the stuff Frosty the Snowman’s dreams are made of.  It is downright delicious.  You may even find yourself clearing out the boxes of candy canes left at the store just to make more batches of this ice cream.  Good move!  They’re probably on sale!  You win at life.

This recipe starts with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Base – a tried and true method that may seem slightly unconventional, but results in creamy dreaminess.  Jeni’s method for making her famous scoop shop ice cream at home uses a bit of cream cheese and cornstarch rather than egg yolks to achieve a wonderfully dense and creamy texture.  Best of all, it doesn’t require the fuss of making a custard base with all that tempering, and careful heating, and straining.  Less time fussing, more time ice cream eating.  Words to live by.

To our sweet cream blank canvas, all that’s left to do is add a few teaspoons of peppermint extract and crushed candy canes, and wait for that ice cream maker to do its thing.

Prepare to be quite pleased with yourself.  This Peppermint Ice Cream will become a perennial favorite.  Here’s what I’m dying to do…are you ready?  I can’t wait to try topping a mug of hot chocolate with a scoop of this stuff!

Full of sweet cream and minty winter freshness, this peppermint ice cream is the perfect way to polish off those candy canes.  It is so good, I guarantee it will become a perennial favorite, holiday season or not.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Peppermint Candy Cane Ice Cream
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 quart
 
Don’t throw out those leftover candy canes after the holidays! Reinvent those candy canes into a fun frozen treat that the whole family will love!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1½ ounces cream cheese, softened/room temperature
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1¼ cup heavy cream
  • ⅔ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 4 crushed candy canes (pulse in a food processor)
Instructions
  1. IMPORTANT NOTE: 24 hours (or more) BEFORE you want to make the ice cream, make sure to wash the canister, dry it well, and place it in the coldest part of the freezer. Do not remove it until you are ready to pour the chilled ice cream mixture into it.
  2. In a small bowl, mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to make a smooth slurry.
  3. In a large bowl, add the salt and room-temperature cream cheese and whip until smooth.
  4. Make an ice bath (heavy on the ice) and set aside.
  5. Pour the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and remaining milk into a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, set a timer for precisely 4 minutes and boil for exactly 4 minutes—the timing is critical. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  6. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Do this a little bit at a time so that you can whip out any lumps of cream cheese. Mix in the peppermint extract.
  7. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag, seal, and submerge the bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until very cold, about 30 minutes.
  8. Set up your ice cream maker and pour the chilled base into the frozen canister. About 10 to 15 minutes into the churning process, sprinkle in half of the crushed candy canes. They will mostly dissolve, turning your ice cream a pretty pink color. The ice cream is finished when the machine isn’t freezing the ice cream anymore; the ice cream will begin to pull away cleanly from the sides (about 25 minutes).
  9. Eat right away, sprinkling the remaining candy cane bits on top of your scoop – there are few things better than freshly churned ice cream – or if you’re storing for later, press a piece of parchment paper directly against the surface and seal in an airtight, freezer-safe container. When you remove the ice cream from the freezer, let it sit and relax until it is scoopable. Once you’ve scooped it, be sure to return any remaining ice cream to the freezer. If the ice cream has melted too much at room temperature, refreezing it will result in an ice cream that is too icy.

Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, by Jeni Britton Bauer

I would like to say thank you to my fabulous guest blogger, Stephanie Hua,  today for sharing this fantastic guest blog entry with our readers! You really must head right over to see Stephanie’s blog.  I am SO darn proud of my friend because she is out there pursuing her dream to start culinary school and kicking butt at it already. Read about her first day at culinary school and visit Lick My Spoon for fresh takes on delicious & healthy dishes. She even has t-shirts!! I wear mine proudly and my husband can attest that this is one of my favorite shirts to wear!

Now hurry over to her blog! 

Stephanie Hua is the creator of Lick My Spoon, a place for all things delicious. So far she has learned that she very much enjoys salted caramel anything, a good soup dumpling is worth a scalded tongue, and a barrel of cheese balls never ends well.  Follow her on Facebook and @lickmyspoon.

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