Friday, December 21, 2012

Peanut Butter Fudge

Since my butterscotch fudge didn't turn out as planned, I decided to try one more fudge recipe this holiday season: peanut butter fudge . . . and it was a success!


Ingredients:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cup into little blocks

Directions:
Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.

Combine the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, peanut butter chips, peanut butter, and butter in a medium glass (heat proof) bowl.

Create a double-boiler by setting the bowl over a medium-size saucepan of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl shouldn't touch the water. Stir in chocolate chips. Mix until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth.

Pour the fudge into the prepared dish and smooth the top with a spatula. Refrigerate for 5 hours or until the fudge is firm.

To cut the fudge, remove the parchment paper from the dish. Run a knife under hot water, dry it off, and use it to cut the fudge into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Cornflake Wreath Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Christmas Candy Corn
Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries
Sea Salt Nutella Fudge
Spiced Cranberry Juice

Check out last year's baking list!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Butterscotch . . . Somethings

In the summer, we usually hit up the local ice cream shop. 99% of the time Eric orders a butterscotch milkshake. I think next to peppermint, it's his favorite flavor. So I had planned on making butterscotch fudge for him this Christmas. I used the Nestle Toll House recipe for butterscotch fudge. The only alteration I made to the recipe was taking out the nuts. But the fudge never set. I even tried freezing it. The recipe had awesome reviews; I don't know what went wrong, but the fudge was a fail. However, while some kitchen fails have to go in the trash, others can be transformed. So that's what I attempted to do with the butterscotch fudge. It tastes damn good (Eric said he'd happily eat it with a spoon) so I turned it into a truffle-like candy I'm calling a "something." But these somethings need to be kept in the freeze, otherwise they don't exactly melt, but become gooey and lose their shape. Even transformed, they're not my most successful concoction, but Eric loved them so much that I thought I'd share the recipe anyway.


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 2/3 cups (11-ounce package) of butterscotch chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extra
nuts, powdered sugar, sprinkles, etc.

Directions:
Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and salt and bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring continuously. Let boil for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Stir in marshmallows, chips, and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously until the marshmallows and chips are completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour into prepared pan and freeze overnight.

Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the butterscotch "fudge," roll into ball, then roll the ball in chopped nuts, powdered sugar, sprinkles, whatever you'd like. I used up some leftover pecans and powdered sugar. Set the balls on waxed paper lined plate and refrigerate. Since these suckers become gooey rather quickly, it's better to work in batches.

Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Cornflake Wreath Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Christmas Candy Corn
Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries
Sea Salt Nutella Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge
Spiced Cranberry Juice

Check out last year's baking list!

Sea Salt Nutella Fudge


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Source

I've made homemade caramels, marshmallows, and even candy corn. But for some unknown reason I've been intimidated by fudge. I don't know why. It's not difficult to make. So I decided to tackle it this holiday season. I absolutely love hazelnut-chocolate spread and I love chocolate and salt, so when I found this recipe I knew it had to be my first fudge recipe. But I do have a confession. I didn't use Nutella. I used Jiffy's Hazelnut-chocolate spread. It's cheaper and just as yummy.

Recipe comes from here.


Ingredients:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cup into little blocks
sea salt

Directions:
Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray (you can also grease it with butter).

Combine the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, chocolate chips, hazelnut-chocolate spread, and butter in a medium glass (heat proof) bowl.

Create a double-boiler by setting the bowl over a medium-size saucepan of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl shouldn't touch the water. Stir in chocolate chips. Mix until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth.

Double boiler


Pour the fudge into the prepared dish and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate for 2 to 5 hours or until the fudge is firm.

Sprinkle with salt
To cut the fudge, remove the parchment paper from the dish. Run a knife under hot water, dry it off, and use it to cut the fudge into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Cornflake Wreath Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Christmas Candy Corn
Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries
Peanut Butter Fudge
Spiced Cranberry Juice

Check out last year's baking list!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

No-Bake Marshmallow Cornflake Wreaths


If you love rice crispy treats, you will love these no-bake Christmas cookies. My mom used to make these for me and my brother and we always loved them. I don't make them every year--there are just too many delicious cookies recipes out there--but the years I don't, I always miss them.

Now I usually decorate these with cinnamon candies. But not this year. I had a big bag of them. But a certain someone (ahem, Eric) ate them all. This is why I usually hide my baking goodies. In his defense, though, I didn't tell him not to eat them all. I just didn't think he could/would eat so many in less than a week. So I just used sprinkles to decorate them instead.



Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
3 cups mini marshmallows
4 cups plain cornflakes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5-8 drops green food coloring
cinnamon candies

Directions:
In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add marshmallows, stirring until the marshmallows are melted. Add vanilla and food coloring. Mix until the mixture is smooth. Carefully stir in cornflakes, making sure they are well-coated. Remove from heat. On waxed paper, form the mixture into wreaths. You can make them as large or small as you'd like. Decorate with cinnamon candies. Store in an airtight container.




Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Christmas Candy Corn: Peppermint and Cinnamon
Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries
Sea Salt Nutella Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge
Spiced Cranberry Juice

Check out last year's baking list!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chocolate Covered Cherries

I love chocolate covered cherries. In high school my mom used to always put a box in my stocking. In college, I treated myself to a box every Christmas season when they began popping up in the grocery store in abundance. This year I decided to make my own. Chuck, my future father-in-law, considers himself a connoisseur of chocolate covered cherries. He loves them and has tried a lot of different kinds. He absolutely loved these. He even told me I should be proud of myself, they were that good. Eric was madly in love with them too.

With that said, these chocolate covered cherries were supposed to have liquid centers. However, the centers stayed cream, a very tasty cream, but still a cream. So if you're looking for a recipe for chocolate covered cherries with liquid inside, this recipe isn't for you.

Fair warning, these need to age for about a month to get the best flavor so you have to start early, like in November.

Ingredients:
2 5-ounce jars of maraschino cherries (roughly 60)
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cherry liquid from the jar of cherries (you can also use vanilla extract, almond extract, or brandy)
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 cups chocolate chips*

Directions:
Drain the cherries in a strainer and dry the cherries using paper towel. You want to get the cherries as dry as you can, but be careful not to crush them. Reserve 2 teaspoons of cherry liquid.


In a large bowl, combine butter and corn syrup. You can use an electric mixer or do it by hand. I did it by hand with ease. Stir in cherry liquid and salt. A cup at a time, add the sugar to the mixture until it is well incorporated. After about 2 1/2 cups and began kneading the sugar into the fondant.

Take about 1/2 tablespoon of fondant, wrap it around a cherry, and place on a wax-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining cherries. Freeze for 1 hour.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Since chocolate is easy to burn, only microwave the chocolate for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between intervals, until it is melted and smooth. Coat the cherries in chocolate and place them back on the waxed cookie sheet.

Place the chocolate covered cherries into the freeze for 30 minutes then transfer them to an air-tight container and store for 7 to 30 days in the refrigerator. 

*The original recipe calls for 2 cups chocolate chips. I probably used double that. I always end up using a ton of chocolate when coating stuff.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Cornflake Wreath Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Christmas Candy Corn: Peppermint and Cinnamon
Sea Salt Nutella Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge
Spiced Cranberry Juice

Check out last year's baking list!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chocolate on Chocolate Cake

Happy Birthday Chuck!

Today is my future father-in-law's birthday. Since my future mother-in-law recently underwent surgery, I made the birthday dinner (lime mustard chicken and mashed potatoes) and cake. He loves a chocolate on chocolate cake (chocolate cake with chocolate frosting) so that's exactly what I made. I think this is my first cake from scratch, believe it or not. I chose it because of it's simplicity. It's incredibly moist and light in texture and rich in taste. Everyone enjoyed it. But I can't help but wonder if I could intensify the chocolate flavor by using coffee or chocolate milk instead of water.

I topped the cake with one of favorite frostings--chocolate buttercream (see recipe below).

Original Recipe (with minor alterations)

Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups hot water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoon shortening, rounded
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl. Mix together until well combined.

Divide equally between the two pans. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool then frost.


Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Ingredients:
3 cups powdered sugar
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-1 cup cocoa powder, sifted (the amount depends how chocolaty you want your frosting)
4 to 6 tablespoon milk

Directions:
Place the the butter into a large bowl and cream with a hand mixer or standing mixer. Add vanilla and mix. Add 1 cup of sugar and blend on low speed until well incorporated. Then add another cup of sugar and beat until well blended. By now your buttercream is getting thick. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons milk and mix. Blend in the the final cup of sugar. Add a couple more tablespoon of milk if desired. Beat in the cocoa powder. To get light, smooth buttercream you need to blend the buttercream for 15 to 20 minutes on low.



Enjoy!

~Krissy

More Cake Recipes:
Apple Cider Cake
Chocolate Swirl Cake
Rice Crispy Cake
Starlight Mint Cake

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Candy Corn: Peppermint and Cinnamon

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For Halloween I made homemade candy corn and it was a hit with everyone who tasted it--even those that don't like store bought candy corn. I knew right away that I was going to experiment with other flavors. So for Christmas I made a batch of Peppermint Candy Corn and a batch of Cinnamon Candy Corn.

I do have a confession to make though. Two confessions actually. Number 1: I wasn't paying close enough attention to my candy thermometer and let the peppermint candy corn go two degrees higher than it should have (230 instead of 228). This made the dough less pliable and harder than it should have been, which in turn made molding the candy difficult. So my Christmas candy corn doesn't look nearly as pretty as my Halloween candy corn. Confession Number 2: I didn't realize I was only one drop away from being out of red food coloring. Though I made sure to cook my cinnamon candy corn to the correct temperature, it's the wrong color. But at least the candy taste good, even if it doesn't look the prettiest.



Peppermint Candy Corn
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup non-fat milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon peppermint extract*
Green food coloring

*I'm not a huge peppermint fan, but Eric loves it. 1 teaspoon of extract is more than enough for me, but the first thing Eric told me when he tried these was that they needed more peppermint extract. So if you're a huge peppermint lover like Eric, you could add an extra 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.

Directions:
In a large bowl, sift powdered sugar, milk powder, and salt. (Sifting is very important). Set aside.

Over high heat bring corn syrup, granulated sugar, butter, and peppermint extract to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. When the mixture just begins to boil, reduce heat to medium-high. Stirring frequently, bring the mixture to 228 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove pan from heat.

Gradually stir in the sugar mixture until it's completely incorporated. Now I'm going to be honest with you, doing this with a spatula wasn't easy. I finally got to the point to where I kneaded the rest of the sugar mixture into the dough (for lack of a better word). If you decided to do this, be very careful. The dough is still quite hot and can burn you. I only handled it for maybe 10-15 seconds at a time.

Once the sugar mixture is completely incorporated, place the dough on a piece of wax paper for 10-15 minutes or until the dough is cool enough to handle.

Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Add about 3 drops of green food to two of the pieces and knead the color into the dough. If you're worried about staining your hands, use gloves, but the food coloring washed right off my hands. Leave the third bowl uncolored.

Roll out a large piece of wax paper over your work area. If you want, you can roll three ridiculously long, thin ropes of dough (two green, one white) or you can do what I did and work in batches. If working in batches, make sure to cover any unused dough with plastic wrap or else it will dry out. Line the ropes up so they form a long rectangle with green on top, white in the middle, and green again on the bottom. Press the ropes together and flatten them a little. Using a knife, cut the rope into little triangles.

Store the candy corn in an airtight container, making sure to separate the layers with waxed paper. Keep container at room temperature.



Cinnamon Candy Corn
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup non-fat milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon extract OR 1 heaping tablespoon ground cinnamon*
Red food coloring

*My grocery store sells every type of extract under the sun except cinnamon extract. So I took a risk and used ground cinnamon. This didn't affect the texture of the candy corn and gave it amazing flavor. BUT it does make your candy brown, which isn't the most appetizing color. You can probably dye it red with food coloring but as I was making this I discovered I only had one drop of red food coloring left so mine turned out brown. Plus you can't make white and red stripped candy corn (or little stripped candy cane!) if you use ground cinnamon. Next time, I'm going online and ordering cinnamon extract.

Directions:
In a large bowl, sift powdered sugar, milk powder, and salt. Set aside.

Over high heat bring corn syrup, granulated sugar, butter, and cinnamon extract (or ground cinnamon) to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. When the mixture just begins to boil, reduce heat to medium-high. Stirring frequently, bring the mixture to 228 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove pan from heat.

Gradually stir in the sugar mixture until it's completely incorporated. Once the sugar mixture is well combined, place the dough on a piece of wax paper for 10-15 minutes or until the dough is cool enough to handle.

Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Add about 3 to 5 drops of red food to two of the pieces and knead the color into the dough. If you're worried about staining your hands, use gloves, but the food coloring washed right off my hands. Leave the third bowl uncolored.

Roll out a large piece of wax paper over your work area. If you want, you can roll three ridiculously long, thin ropes of dough (two red, one white) or you can do what I did and work in batches. If working in batches, make sure to cover any unused dough with plastic wrap or else it will dry out. Line the ropes up so they form a long rectangle with green on top, white in the middle, and green again on the bottom. Press the ropes together and flatten them a little. Using a knife, cut the rope into little triangles.

Store the candy corn in an airtight container, making sure to separate the layers with waxed paper. Keep container at room temperature.

Despite my pliability and color issues, I got a little creative with the candy corn dough. There really is so much you can do with this recipe aesthetically.

Uncolored peppermint snowballs
Peppermint snowman decorated with different sprinkles. (Maybe a good decoration for a gingerbread house?)

Cinnamon stars and candy canes
Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Cornflake Wreath Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries
Sea Salt Nutella Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge
Spiced Cranberry Juice

Check out last year's baking list!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Spiced Cranberry Juice


I think I may have found a new winter tradition: spiced cranberry juice. The spices, the sweetness, the tartness, all perfect for a cold winter day. I've wanted to make this for a while, but I didn't want to spend the money on whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and other spices. This past fall, Eric mom gave me a carton of Aspen Mulling Cider Spices. Best gift ever. I could finally make spiced cranberry juice. I should have made spiced apple cider with them. I can only image how delicious it would have been. Next year I will for sure. I now kind of want to experience with mulled wine too.


Ingredients:
4 cups cranberry juice (not cocktail juice)
the juice of 1 orange
1/8 to 1/4 cup honey (depending how sweet you like it. I prefer tarter)
4 teaspoons Aspen Mulling Cider Spices

Directions:
Add all the ingredients to a stock pot and warm over medium-low heat for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm.

Even Eric who doesn't normally enjoy warm beverages couldn't believe how good this was. And when I'm craving something sweet that will warm me up, I finally have something other than hot chocolate to drink (I still love my homemade hot chocolate though!).


Enjoy!

~Krissy

2012 Christmas Baking List
Christmas Kiss Cookies
Tea Cookies
Cornflake Wreath Cookies
Candied Citrus Peels
Christmas Candy Corn
Homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries
Sea Salt Nutella Fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge

Check out last year's baking list!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Roasted Sausage, Potatoes, and Peppers

It's the week of Thanksgiving. The big meal--turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, rolls, pumpkin pie (or in our case pumpkin dip, per Eric's request)--is just days away. With all that cooking ahead, what in the world do you make in the days leading up to the holiday? Something easy, comforting, and filling: roasted sausage, potatoes, and peppers.

One pan, 45 minutes.

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:
4 to 5 potatoes, diced small (we used russet)
14 ounces jalapeno sausage, chopped (or your favorite type of sausage)
1 to 2 red bell peppers, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
rosemary, to taste (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil for easy clean up.

Toss the potatoes, sausages, and peppers with oil and spread out on the cookie sheet. Season with spices. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.

Eric was not thrilled when I told him what was for dinner tonight. He doesn't care for peppers. But one of the many great things about him is that he'll try anything. Well, he went back for seconds.


Enjoy!

~Krissy

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Basic Pastry Recipe and Its Many Uses

This recipe has appeared a number of times on my blog. I use it to make pies, cheesy twisty straws, and cinnamon-sugar pastries to go with my pumpkin dip, to name a few. It even inspired my cheese crisps recipe. So I thought I'd finally give it its own page.

Ingredients:
 2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
5 to 7 tablespoon cold water


Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening using two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the mixture is moist and can be pressed into a ball. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured board or work surface, roll the dough out so its about a quarter inch in thickness and do with it what you will. Baking time depends on what you're making.
A crust for a pie, quiche, or tart. A savory or sweet pastry. You can't go wrong with cinnamon-sugar pastries; they're Eric's favorite (and mine too). Pies take about 45 minutes. About 15 minutes for small pies or tarts. About 5 minutes for cookie-like pastries.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cheese Puffs, Cheese Crisps, and Something In Between

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Source

I have a few different writing projects going right now (not to mention a wedding to plan--but the dress is taken care of!), and Eric has been warning me that I'm going to burn out. He keeps telling me to relax and actually take a full day off--something that is nearly impossible for me. But he's right. I'm getting burnt out. An avid gamer, he recommended shooting zombies, monsters, and whatever else in a video game for a good tension reliever. I decided to spend some time in the kitchen instead. Yesterday I made chocolate-covered cherries which I will be sharing with you next month (they need to age a bit). Today it was supposed to be a cheese cracker recipe I found on Pinterest. I probably have at least a dozen recipes for crackers bookmarked on my computer. Cheez-its, Triscuits, Wheat Thins, Goldfish, Cheese Nips . . . you name it, I have it in my archives. But for my first cracker recipe, I went with the easiest one I had, a five ingredient cheese cracker: cheddar, flour, cayenne, salt and rice krispies.

And I managed to screw it up.

I had a brain freeze while adding the flour. So I could either scrap the dough and the 2 cups of delicious cheddar cheese, or I could experiment and come up with something on my own. Since the recipe was already a disaster, I knew I couldn't make it any worse. With just cheese, butter, too much flour, salt, and cayenne in the bowl, the crumbly dough reminded me of my pastry dough recipe. Keeping that recipe in mind, I added some water and left out the rice krispies. Not sure how these would cook (I really need to invest in a book about the chemistry of baking), I played with different thicknesses. My first batch, which were the thickest, came out as delicious cheese puffs. I ate half a plate of them without realizing it. They were that good.

Cheese Puffs
 The second batch were thinner but not thin enough. They ended up as a cross between puff and cracker.

The in between
I rolled the dough of my third and final batch as thin as I could possible get it. Those were the perfect cheddar cheese cracker. I ate too many of those, too.

Cheese Crisps
So instead of tossing that messed up recipe in the trash, experiment with it. You just might come up with a new recipe of your own.

Ingredients:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 5 tablespoons water

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

On low, beat the butter and cheese together in a large bowl until well combined. Add in flour, cayenne, and salt and combine. Your dough will be crumbly. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough sticks together. With your hands, roll the dough into a ball.


For Cheese Puffs: Roll your dough out to roughly a 1/4-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out circles (or any shape you want, trees or candy canes for Christmas, bunnies for Easter, pumpkins for Halloween, etc). I didn't have a cookie cutter on hand so I used a napkin ring. Place dough on the cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the bottoms slightly brown. You can actually make thicker puffs or roll the dough into balls and bake. You just need to adjust the time.

Before baking

After baking
For Cheese Crisps: Roll your dough out as thin as you can possible get it. So thin it's almost tearing. Some of my crackers had little holes in them where the dough did rip a little. Cut out small circles and place them on the cookies sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the crackers begin to brown.


These really do come out as crisp as any cracker. These are so simple that I can't wait to experiment with flavor. Add thyme or rosemary. You can also make these (or the puffs) look pretty by placing an herb in the center of the cracker before baking.

Eric came home from work and I made him try my puffs, crisps, and in betweens. He said they tasted just like Cheez-its then walked away with the container.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Royal Icing

I find myself referencing this recipe for time to time so I thought I'd give it its own post. I use royal frosting when I decorate my Christmas gingerbread house and my Halloween gingerbread house. I also happen to use it on Christmas sugar cookies. Whenever I need a frosting that hardens, this is my go-to recipe. However, you're not supposed to eat it. It contains raw egg which can make you sick. I know there are other recipes out there for frosting that hardens. I've even made a few. But I grew up eating this frosting. So did my mom. It's quick and easy and delicious. The raw egg doesn't bother me or Eric. We also eat raw cookie dough, cake batter, and sushi. Anyway, just know that if you eat this frosting, you're risking salmonella poisoning.

So the only half way decent pictures I had are from 2009, long before I began blogging.
Ingredients:
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
food coloring (optional)

Directions:
Beat the egg whites and tartar on high until frothy. Gradually add the sugar until peaks form, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring if desired.

Keep the icing covered with a damp paper towel until you're ready to use the frosting. If left uncovered, it will harden in the bowl.

Eric helping to frost cookies. Look at how young he looks without the beard!

Enjoy!

~Krissy

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Haunted Gingerbread House Ideas


Happy Halloween!


My mom loves decorating gingerbread houses. She does one at Christmas and one for Halloween. Last Christmas I did my own gingerbread house and couldn't believe how much fun I had with it. This fall, I did my very first haunted gingerbread house. It was more fun than the Christmas gingerbread house. Now, I don't bake my own gingerbread. One day maybe. For now, I buy the kit at Target. It comes with white, green, and black icing; a gingerbread tombstone; candy corn; candy bats; candy skulls; little candy balls; and a gummy witch's head. I went out and bought more candy for decorating: M&M's, chocolate Twizzlers, fruit slices, extra candy corn, Oreos, pumpkin marshmallows, some Halloween sprinkles, and Wilton Black Gel, and Wilton Red Gel.

Target Kit
The haunted house came in pieces so I asked Eric to put the house together for me since he has more patience for those types of things than me. Wilson kept him company. Now, I have to admit that I wasn't thrilled with the icing that came with the kit. It didn't hold the greatest.


I covered the bottom cardboard in green royal icing I made. The roof and front path are autumn M&Ms. I lined and filled in the windows and door with Wilton gels. The bricks are outlined in neon green royal frosting and filled in with more red gel.

 In the window you see little ghost sprinkles. I used a toothpick and black gel to draw on faces. The grave is crushed Oreo cookies. In the corner is a chocolate Twizzler tree. They are super easy to make. Just cut the candy along the grooves with a pair of scissors. However, if you make the branches too long, they droop.

The witch is my favorite part of the haunted gingerbread house. 


Her head came with the kit. I then used purple/grape fruit slices for her body and arms. Though sticky, you can manipulate gel kind of like molding chocolate. I used green/lime fruit slices for her hands. The broom is made out of a yellow/lemon fruit slice and a piece of Twizzler. 

The jack o' lantern is an adaptation of this Pillsbury recipe.

Ingredients:
1 2/3 cups white chocolate chips
16-oz can orange Halloween frosting
small pieces of chocolate Twizzlers


Directions:
In a saucepan, melt the white chocolate chips over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in frosting. Refrigerate for approximately 1 hour.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Shape the chocolate mixture into falls. Use a toothpick to make a groves in the pumpkin or to carve a face. Insert a piece of Twizzler in the top of each pumpkin as the stem.

I was working with odds and ends (a handful of leftover chips, a little bit of leftover frosting) so my pumpkins didn't come out as nice as they could have. I carved faces in the pumpkins then filled the features in with black gel. I also added a green frosting leaf on top.

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On the back of the house I molded a ghost out of the cream filling from the Oreos I used to make the grave in the front of the house. I used the black gel to draw on the face.

I also attempted to make a second kind of pumpkin. With more practice I think they could come really cool. Eric made a snowman out of marshmallows for my Christmas gingerbread house. I used the same idea to make these out of orange marshmallows. If you pull on marshmallow like taffy, it turns into a very sticky, malleable substance. So I pulled on the marshmallow, rolled it into balls then froze it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. I then rolled them in orange sugar and stuck a piece of Twizzler in the top. Mine turned out pretty lumpy. I had been working on my house for 6 hours. I was tired and didn't have the patience to make better pumpkins. Next year they'll be better, I promise.

I have a bit of an announcement. This has been an amazing autumn. Beautiful weather, colorful foliage, delicious food . . . but what really made it amazing was that Eric and I got engaged! A fall engagement and hopefully a fall wedding next year.

Enjoy!

~Krissy

For more autumn recipes, click here.