Sunday, March 28, 2010

Homemade Graham Crackers

I was intrigued when Sassy Radish posted the pictures and recipe for these honey graham crackers. Graham crackers are a staple snack in our home but the thought of homemade crackers sounded inviting. The recipe was fairly simple. The butter, honey and sugar were beaten for a few minutes. Then the dry ingredients were added. I made the dough one day, refrigerated it, and then baked the crackers the next. The dough was a little crumbly but once it was fully warmed it was much easier to work with. I cut them with a cookie cutter so they'd all be a uniform size and docked them with a fork. Then I refrigerated them for about 15 minutes before baking them. They came out beautifully browned and subtly flavored, just like graham crackers should be. These would be delightful, as Sassy Radish suggests, as gourmet s'mores complete with dark chocolate and homemade marshmallows. Maybe another post!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pinched Orange Macaroons

The December issue of Martha Stewart's Living had so many activities and recipes in it that appealed to me but these little cookies sounded and looked delicious so I put them on my to-do list. One free afternoon I finally got around to making them. It was all pretty easy. All I had to do was whip up some egg whites with some almond paste. Add a little orange zest and juice (in place of the Grand Marnier) and some powdered sugar. The most difficult part was getting my hand dirty as I rolled each small bit of dough in egg white and then in powdered sugar. By the time I'd rolled each cookie my hands looked like they were covered in concrete! These baked up puffier and bigger than the ones in the picture so I'm not sure what I did wrong. They were really tasty though. Very sweet and very orange-y. Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Really, I could only eat one at a time they were so rich. These are a great gluten-free cookie to serve to any of your gluten-free friends.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Popcorn Brittle

This Christmas I handed out a few homemade treats to friends and neighbors. One of the things I tried was this Popcorn Brittle a la Cooking Light. I love peanut brittle but it hurts my teeth so I thought this would be a good substitute. It was yummy and easy to make. I wish I'd made more of it. Honestly, it tasted a lot like Cracker Jack. If I make it again I might add some nuts - almonds or peanuts - just to jazz up the flavor a bit.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chocolate Mint Snowflake Cookies

If you know me, then you'll find it hard to believe that I have never been to a cookie exchange before this year. I'm not sure how this is possible, but it's true. So, when the invite came for a cookie exchange at a good friend and neighbor's house this year, I agonized over what to make. My favorite holiday cookies to make are usually ornately decorated sugar cookies with an assortment of brightly piped royal icing colors. But I wanted the actual cookie to be more unique since this was meant to be a fun exploration of everyone's recipes.

Eventually I settled upon 3 factors in my cookie making pursuit: I wanted to do a chocolate cookie since they are not as common as butter or sugar cookies, a pairing of mint would somehow be nice, and a sandwich style cookie would be different (hopefully) than the norm. Regardless of what I made, I knew the decoration would be my favorite part, so piping something was a given. I stumbled upon a nice, chocolate sandwich cookie recipe from Martha Stewart and I had my base ( The main tweaks were adding peppermint extract to the white chocolate creme filling and using small snowflake cookie cutters instead of just cutting into squares. Also, I did pipe snowflake patterns on with royal icing (peppermint flavored as well) instead of drizzling with white chocolate.

The results were wonderful! These little snowflakes were just the right size for a party where you're eating lots of cookies. The chocolate mint pairing was delicious and I'm trying not to eat anymore as I type this blog entry.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Seed Packets

Jonathan's kindergarten class held an Halloween party this year. All the parents were asked to bring in a 20 items to put in a favor bag so that each child would get a collection of fun trinkets at the end of the party. We were asked that the item not be candy as they would get plenty of sweet stuff at the party. I went to Target thinking I might get stickers or glow sticks but when I got there I was just unimpressed. Everything was stamped "Made in China". I knew things would either break in five minutes or just add to the collection of junk that every parent hates. I went back home frustrated. Then I went online and found a website that listed "green" alternatives to candy treats at Halloween. Band aids, cookie cutters, coins, acorns . . . seed packets! I knew I had it! Jonathan LOVES to plant seeds. This was a perfect idea. But when I looked up seed packets they cost about $1 to $3 a packet which was too steep for my budget. Then I hit on a great idea. I could make them! We had seeds air-dried from a pie pumpkin. I'd been meaning to salt and roast them but never had gotten around to it. I found a template for a little seed packet online and cut them out of an old paper bag. These I glued together and then wrote on them with a permanent marker. The pumpkin was a quick outline that I then dabbed with orange finger paint. On the back I wrote directions for planting and watering. No plastic! No chemicals! No candy! Just pure fun of planting pumpkins. Now that's a treat!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Easy Donuts

Lest you think I'm all about homemade, fresh, from scratch all the time, let me show you what I made today. Easy donuts. I saw this "recipe" in Real Simple a while ago and when my son asked me to make donuts today I was thankful it popped into my head. I took some Pillsbury biscuits from the refrigerated section of the supermarket, cut holes in the middle with a little biscuit cutter, and fried them up in some vegetable oil. Easy peasy. Well, it would have been easy if I'd not made my oil quite so hot. The outsides cooked faster than the inside so a few were a little underdone in the middle. Oops. The ones we ate, though, were delicious. Almost as good as an HOT-AND-NOW Krispy Kreme donut. I made a glaze out of powdered sugar and milk and then sprinkled them with sprinkles, of course! Yum!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mini Apple Pies

As a fan of Bakerella and a follower of her blog, I knew I would eventually find a good reason to attempt the Luxirare inspired Pie Pops on her site. With Fall Family Fun night on the horizon at my son's preschool, I knew I had the perfect excuse to delve into creating these little goodies. Apples were the theme for the night, so deciding my filling was easy. I found an apple shaped cookie cutter and set to work. I wanted to put more filling in these mini pies based on Bakerella's note that the crust overshadowed the filling. To avoid potential disaster with a top heavy pop (ie. one bite and it's on the floor), I eliminated the lollipop sticks taking a hit on the cute scale. To make up for the sticks, I pulled out my powdered food coloring and lemon extract to paint my mini apple pies. A few minutes to dry, a coating of egg white and a generous round of matching color sprinkles and they were ready for the oven. They came out tasty and adorable with just the right amount of filling. I took the easy route with pre-made crust and canned filling to save time, but these would be even more heavenly if they were homemade.