Friday, December 31

It's been fun... (Veggie Panini)

Not to wax poetic for you, but 2010 was a wonderful year.  A lot of great things happened this year - I left my despised job, we adopted Layla, I started school, Bob had a successful year at the golf course, we traveled some, I discovered solace in baking and started this blog.  Just about all of my 2010 resolutions came true.  Except that one about becoming a Victoria's Secret model and writing the great American novel.  Oh well.  

My 2011 resolutions are pretty simple.  Finish school.  Get a job.  Make a quilt.  Enrich my friendships.  Conquer my fear of vegetables.

Wednesday, December 29

Snowed In... (Throw Pillows)

It snowed here on Monday, about 12 inches.  I love snow.  Snow means that my hardworking golfer husband gets to take it easy for a few days.  Since school doesn't start again until Jan 3, we get another entire week together this week!  So far we've laid around, ate a lot, played in the snow with Layla, caught up on our DVR'd television, did the whole post-holiday clean up and generally relaxed.  It's nice.  :o)

Bob gave me this on our first Christmas together, so long ago!

I have not, however, turned on my oven.  I can't.  The idea of more butter and sugar gives me palpitations.  Next week, I promise I'll have some deliciousness, but for now I have something else.  Not delicious, but something I'm thoroughly proud of.

Monday, December 27

What's for dinner? (Christmas Dinner)

For Christmas, my wonderful husband gave me a new camera!  It has a "food" setting!!  And it took these beautiful pictures...
Merry Christmas morning from the Hennefers!
Bob and I had two Christmases this year - with his family on Christmas Day, and with my family when they came the day after.  I cooked dinner for Christmas 2.0.  I walked around the grocery store on Christmas Eve with a cart empty except for a ham.  I had no idea what else to serve.  Potatoes?  Macaroni and cheese? Salad?  No idea.

Saturday, December 25

Put a little love in your heart (Sugar Cookies with Eggnog Icing)

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Sugar Cookies with Eggnog Royal Icing

Royal Icing
1 egg white
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons eggnog
3 tablespoons milk
Beat the egg white into the powdered sugar.  Beat in the eggnogg until smooth - mixture will be very stiff.  Beat in the milk until you get the desired consistency.  Because I wasn't flooding my cookies, just outlining them, about 3 tablespoons worked perfectly.  Decorate with icing and sugar. 

Wednesday, December 22

Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie (Peanut Butter Buckeyes)

That song always makes me thing of home, especially around Christmas, mostly because I'm from Pennsylvania and we always had homemade *some kind of* pie around our table.  Makes me all warm inside.  

What I have for you today is not pumpkin pie.  It is not pie of any kind.  But it is homemade.  And it is delicious enough to drive from Tennessee for.

Monday, December 20

Haul out the holly (Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies)

Because we need a little Christmas, right this very minute...

I'm back!  Lest you think that I failed all my finals and jumped off the Ben Franklin Bridge, I've returned.  Finals actually went better than expected, a pleasant surprise.  For my first week of vacation, the husband, pup and I drove from New Jersey to the Keys.  

We're going in the car?!?!  The car!!!!!

Tuesday, December 7

Take two and call me in the morning (Sugar Cookies)

We're halfway done with exams.  I've actually done really well on them so far, so here's hoping that the stream of luck will continue.  During a study break on Sunday, I decided that my classmates and I needed something to help us get through these stressful and anxiety-ridden times.

So I made Valium cookies.

Or rather, the generic version, diazepam cookies.

Friday, December 3

Over a hill... (Puppy Chow)

My birthday is on Monday.  I'll be 27 years old.  Somehow 27 seems so much more grown up than 26.  When you're 26, you're still in the mid-twenties, you can still get away with being a "retired college kid" (as my husband calls us) and the life is all ahead of you.  By the time you're 27, you're closer to 30 and to figuring out how to be good at this thing called life.  I'm 27 and starting over with a new education and (hopefully!) a new career.  It's been a long road, this 26th year, but I think it was one of my best.  I made some great friends, found furry love, grew a new marriage with my wonderful husband, took some huge risks (like quitting my job for something completely different), discovered new parts of me (like this blog) and learned to trust myself.  When I look back to the turning 26 me from the me who is turning 27, I think I did good by the old me.  I think I can honestly say that I took stock of my life and then made it better.

I guess we'll see if that's true when grades are posted.  :o)

Tuesday, November 30

Going bananas (Banana Overnight French Toast)

Finals are next week.  In five days.  I should be studying drugs for multiple sclerosis and interventions for children with cardiac defects.   Or reviewing the evaluations I have to turn into my clinical professor tomorrow.  Or looking at community health powerpoint packets.

But to tell the truth, I'm a little burnt out at this point.  Today was the last day of classes for the quarter.  We have three more clinical days this week, then a weekend (which was supposed to be my birthday weekend!), then the grueling exam schedule.  Eight exams, four days.  Who thinks up this torture?!

Friday, November 26

Chappel Pie and Bobby Flay (Chappel Pie)

After the turkey was carved and the plates were mostly washed, it was time for my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner - serving dessert!  I made two desserts for our Thankful Thursday:  Cherry Apple Pie and Bobby Flay's Pumpkin Bread Pudding

So much happiness on one little plate...

(I'm not going to post the recipe for Bobby Flay's, because my pictures don't do it justice and the recipe is pretty easy to follow.  The Pumpkin Bread Pudding was featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay:  The Pioneer Woman, and Husband decided he must have it.  So we did.)

Going to the Chappel and we're gonna eat piiiiiiieeeeee...

My dad coined the "Chappel Pie" name:
Me:  Do you want pumpkin bread pudding or cherry-apple pie?
Dad:  Do you mean cherry pie OR apple pie?  Or cherry-slash-apple pie?  
Me:  Cherry-slash-apple pie.
Dad:  So that makes it....chappel pie?

Wednesday, November 24

Happy birthday, happy birthday (Giant Cookie Cake)

Last night we celebrated my friend Kristen's birthday with a surprise dinner celebration at Benihana.  When her husband Tony and I were planning the dinner, I asked what kind of cake she would like.  Tony suggested that I get a cookie cake from Mrs. Field's at the mall.  Buy a cake?!?  That is essentially a big cookie??  I self-appointed myself to the challenge of once again recreating a homemade version of a store bought classic.

This was a task with high expectations.  I was slightly nervous.  Especially when Husband, after seeing my nervousness, said "You should have just bought a cookie cake."  

Fork - for scale.
(Yeah, sometimes his brain-mouth filter has a large hole in it.  I love him anyway.)

Wednesday, November 17

Best. Brownies. Ever. (Snickers Brownies)

I rarely think of what I make as perfect.  I'm usually hard on my creations, and my second bite is often chewed thoughtfully, as in "this could use more garlic" or "that could have been in the oven another 2 or 3 minutes".  These, however...


Sunday, November 14

Love at First Sight (Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza)

My new oven has an incredible feature.  

It has a "Proof" option.

That's right. My new oven can set itself at a pleasantly warm enough temperature for yeast dough to rise happily.  

This might be one of those things that everyone knows about but me.  Like jeggings.  Or how to get mustard  stains out of a white sweatshirt.  Either way, when I looked across the Sears appliance department and saw this little beauty winking at me, I knew it was love at first sight.

Saturday, November 13

New Beginnings (Peanut Butter Cup Cookies)

Something very exciting happened this week.  One of the integral parts of this blog was replaced.

No, it wasn't the girl.

Let me out, let me out!!
And it wasn't the dog, either.

So that leaves....the oven!!

Our new stove/microwave finally came this week!  Our old stove was about 1000 years old, and the front two burners didn't work.  The oven space was tiny and the attached microwave hood was about 12 inches above the burners.  Not exactly the easiest thing to work with.  

In celebration of my newest toy, I decided that cookies were in order.  What better way to break in your new oven and use up extra Halloween candy while simultaneously ensuring the love of your Friday clinical classmates?


Enter the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookie.

I was going for more of a chocolate chip meets peanut butter cup feel, but ended up with a more peanut butter infused cookie taste.  I think where I went wrong was to throw the pieces in the stand mixer instead of folding them in by hand.  That would have probably helped with the pieces staying intact, which is what I was going for.  However, still delish!

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspon vanilla
3 eggs
3-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
10 Reese's peanut butter cups, chopped (5 packages)

There they go!
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars, then add the vanilla and salt.  Mix in the eggs until completely combined.  In a small bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar.  Add gradually to the sugar/butter mixture.  Gently fold in the peanut butter cup pieces.  Drop by the teaspoon (or tablespoon) on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes.  Share with people you have to spend all day with.  :o)

Wednesday, November 10

Who You Callin' "Pumpkin Eater"? (Pumpkin Roll)

Things have gotten a little nuts around here!  We're so lucky to have such amazing friends, and as a result have been having a great deal of fun lately, with dinners, a comedy show, football tailgating and other good times.  I have several recipes from the past week or so to post, but I knew that this one had to be the first in line.

Back in Pennsylvania, my family rarely gets together in the fall without Pumpkin Roll.  My awesome Aunt Jessie has a signature recipe that has graced our tables with its sweet deliciousness for as long as I can remember.  When Bob and I were invited to an autumn dinner party, I knew that it was up to me to continue this tradition.  I also wanted to put my own little spin on a classic, so I added a little extra something - toffee bits.  The result is rich and cakey, like the original, with a little surprise crunch in the middle.

Pumpkin Roll
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
8 oz cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup toffee bits

Line a 10x15 cookie sheet with parchment paper and butter the paper.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and allspice.  Beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy and light yellow, 3-5 minutes.  Add the vanilla and pumpkin.  Gradually add the flour mixture, stirring until incorporated.  Spread the mixture on the cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 14 minutes.  Lay a tea towel flat over your wire rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Remove the cake from the oven and invert on the towel.  Sprinkle the top with a smallt amount of powdered sugar.  Roll the cake up, jelly-roll style, and allow to cool.  (This step ensures that the cake will cool in the shape that you want and won't crack when you roll it back up with the icing in the middle.)   I rolled my length-wise to maximize the length of the log, but you can do yours width-wise to maximize the icing surface area inside.
Beat together the cream cheese, vanilla, powdered sugar and butter.  Unroll the cooled cake, spread the top with the cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle the toffee bits over the top.  Roll back up, without the towel.  Sift powdered sugar onto the top, then cut off the ragged ends.  Eat that part as a reward for your own traditions.  :o)

Wednesday, November 3

Goodness (Good Caramel Apple Goodness)

Things that are good:





Pretty flowers.


And this dessert is good.  Gooey, like a candied apple.  Handy, like a bar cookie.  Sweet and cinnamony, like any good fall treat.  Gooey Caramel Apple Goodness. 

Gooey Caramel Apple Goodness
5 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1-1/4 cups butter, cold
3 eggs
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons + 1-1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Cut or rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, water and vinegar.  Gradually add to the flour mixture, tossing with a fork until a ball forms.  Divide the dough into two portions, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

10-1/2 cups sliced, peeled tart apples (about 12)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1-3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup butter, cubed
1 cup chopped walnuts
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugars, flour, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cream.  In a dutch oven, melt the butter, than add the apple mixture.  Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, until the apples are tender.  Stir in walnuts and vanilla.  Roll out one ball of crust gently and press into the bottom of  a 15"x10" pan.  Spread the apple mixture into the crust.  Roll out the remaining dough ball and press gently over the apples.  Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm with ice cream.

Sunday, October 31

Happy Halloween! (Cheesecake Cups)

The treats have been made, the party was thrown, the drinks were imbibed and then slept off.  Time for trick or treaters!

But first, some pumpkin carving.

Isn't my husband a hottie?  Needs a shave, though.  :o)

One of the other desserts that I made for last night's party was Trick or Treat Cheesecake Cups.  You think you're getting traditional orange colored cheesecake.  You unwrap the little guy and bite into it.  Bam!  Tricked you!  The bottom is an Oreo cookie!  What a treat!

OK, done with the cheesiness.  But these little cups aren't!  (Because they're cheesecake . . . hahahaha . . . )

I found this recipe a few weeks ago, and it's been an open tab in my browser ever since.  Needless to say, after 10 days of pretending to ignore it in mouth watering anticipation, I was very excited to be able to make them.  I wasn't disappointed.  This is a rich cheesecake and the added texture of the Oreos adds some great balance.  I highly recommend these; they're really easy to make, and you could probably personalize them with other holidays, like Christmas or Easter. 

Trick or Treat Cheesecake Cups
1 package Halloween Oreos
1 pound reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
Orange food coloring

Line a cupcake pan with liners, and in each liner lay down 1 Oreo.  (I got 16 out of this recipe.)  Beat the cream cheese until smooth, then add in the sugar and beat until smooth.  Add the vanilla and eggs, then sour cream.  Once the mixture is completely combined, add the orange food coloring (or a combination of red and yellow).  Crush 6 of the remaining Oreos and fold into the mixture.  Eat the rest of the cookies.  Fill each cupcake well nearly to the top with the cheesecake batter.  Bake at 275 for 25-30 minutes, until the centers are set.  Allow to cool.  Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Friday, October 29

Jack-o-Cake Balls (Cake Balls)

There's a chill in the windy air, the smell of smoky leaves and a nearly bare tree outside my window.  

There are also bloody hand prints on my door.

Maybe Dexter was here?
This can mean only one thing.  It's Halloween!!

In honor of Halloween and a good friend's 30th birthday, we're throwing a party tomorrow night.  Dessert is one of my contributions, so I've been busy this week.  I'll post all the recipes over the next few days, but these were so cute that they needed to be posted first.  

Inspired by Bakerella's Cake Pops, I thought that the cake-ball shape was perfect for jack-o-lanterns.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any fine tipped writing icing, so some of the pumpkins have what look to me to be snowman faces.  No one will ever mistake me for an artist.  Or a face painter. 

These are actually very time consuming, but not difficult, per se.  After my artistic struggles with basic jack-o-lantern faces, I whole heartily applaud Bakerella's abilities to make her balls o'cake absolutely adorable!  Check them out on her website - she actually came out with a whole cookbook for them.  Most inventive things on a lollipop stick since someone put a tootsie roll inside hard candy.

(redecorated from Bakerella)
1 box white cake mix (or make your own sheet cake)
1 can cream cheese frosting (or make your own with 8 oz cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla)
2 bags orange candy melts
50 green jelly beans 
Black writing icing/pen

Bake the cake according to the directions and allow to cool completely.  Crumble the cake into a large bowl and scoop the frosting on top.  Mix with a fork or your hands until all incorporated.  Shape into golf ball sized balls and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  Melt the candy melts in the microwave or a double boiler and dip each ball into the candy.  Push a jelly bean vertically into the top of each ball.  Allow to harden, 1-2 hours.  Decorate as desired.

Sunday, October 24

Cooking for Canines: Cheesy "Milk" Bones

Today I am excited that our evil giant cable conglomerate has opted to show the Steelers game, and I get to watch my boys play the Fish.

Layla is excited that in the midst of my biweekly bread baking, I decided that she also needed a fresh baked treat.  

For the past few weeks, I've been buying her treats from the natural pet store.  They aren't very much more expensive, and I feel good about the lack of fillers and preservatives in the ones we pick.  Yesterday, we ran out.  The store is maybe 3 blocks from me, so it's out of pure selfishness that I refuse to leave my television and go buy some more.  (Hey!  They show the Steelers on TV here about 4 times a year, and I soak it up as much as I can.)  I see this as a challenge.  If I can make Oreos and royal shortbread, I can certainly muster up some dog treats, right?

Plus, I have these adorable dog bone cookie cutters.

I think she's happy with the situation.

Layla's Cheesy "Milk" Bones
(You could easily customize this basic recipe with whatever your pup likes.  Substitute chicken broth for the milk, add garlic powder or bacon bits or whatever you like.  I wanted to try a basic recipe first.) 
1-1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup milk

 Mix together the flour, salt and cheese.  Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix in the softened butter until crumbly.  Add the milk and mix until combined.  Press into a ball; roll out on a floured surface to approximately 1/4" thickness.  Cut into shapes.  Bake at 375 for14-15 minutes, until brown around the edges.  Cool completely before sharing with your furry friends.

Thursday, October 21

What I found in my empty fridge... (Fudgy Chocolate Cookies)

I've stopped buying food.  By that, I mean, I've stopped buying a week's worth of groceries that seem like a good idea at the time, but inevitably lose their excitement or appeal by the time I do with them whatever I had planned.  Like the broccoli that sits in the crisper until I remember that it's there and think that broccoli and red pepper calzones would taste yummy...and then when I go to take it out, it looks like I'm trying my hand at making penicillin.

I'm not proud to admit that this happens a lot.  With only two of us (two and a third, if you count when Sis is here for dinner), it's been a challenge for me to plan an entire week's worth of meals that has some variety and uses up all the things I bought in the appropriate amount of time.  Maybe it's lack of imagination or something, I don't know.  But what I do know is that even if  it means that I end up at grocery store every day, or every other day, I'm going to teach myself to cook without wasting enough food to feed Luxembourg.  The hope is that eventually I'll stop buying impulse things (but that cheese looked so pretty in the package!) and buy things that will get used.  So, once a week, I go to the store for things I know I'll use:  milk, flour, eggs.  Whatever I will cook in the next two days. 

Because of this, our fridge looks frighteningly empty.  One of the nice things about this, though, is that you never forget what you have in there.  For instance, yesterday I found a jar of sweetened condensed milk.  I'll spare you the details of the ridiculousness that caused it to migrate from a can on my shelf to a jar in my fridge.  Either way, there I stood.  A table full of pediatric nursing study guides behind me and a small jar of sweetened condensed milk in front of me.  It stared at me with it's ooey goodness.  It dared me to eat it right from the jar with a spoon.  I should have turned around and walked away.

Brownies?  Cookies?  Brookies?
What I did instead was make chocolate fudge cookies.

Milk and chocolate:  a match made in my mouth.
I promise, these won't go bad.

Check out the brownie like texture.

Fudgy Chocolate Cookies
These cookies are incredibly easy and take very little hands on time.  Perfect for a study break!
2-1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour 
1/2 cup peanut butter chips, chopped (optional)

In a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate chips, butter and milk until smooth.  Pour into a medium bowl (or leave in the saucepan, if you so choose).  Mix in the egg, vanilla and baking soda.  Add the flour one cup at a time, stir well.  Allow to cool for a few minutes, then mix in the peanut butter chips.  The longer you wait to mix, the less the chips will melt.  For streaks of peanut butter, mix immediately.  For chips, wait a few minutes until the mixture is cooled.  Move the dough onto wax paper and shape into a log or square or dodecahedron, or whatever shape you desire.  Chill in the fridge for 2 hours.  Remove and slice into 1/2 to 1/4 inch slices.  Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes.  Remove to wire rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Peanut butter chunks can be so beautiful...
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