January 27, 2012

Pin It Looking back at 2011- Part 2

So I have a few more recipes that I tried out and thought I would share.  I failed on a few in that I forgot to take pictures (?!), however, the recipes were still successful and that’s mostly the point anyhow.
Here are some highlights from 2011…

Gingeriest Molasses CookiesTaken from Sweetapolita

These were super good! I love the ginger molasses Starbucks cookie and wanted to try my hand at making my own.  I found this recipe and made them when I was home in Seattle over Thanksgiving, the family loved them.  I did some more searching and found a site that had the “actual” Starbucks cookie recipe. It’s the same ingredients and the same proportions (pretty much) so I knew I was on the right track. I made them again and gave them out as part of my holiday treats, and they were a huge success! They are only a slight pain because you have to roll them into balls then roll them in sugar, but they are worth it. What I learned is that chilled dough works best (end up with thicker chewy cookies), and it’s super important not to overcook them as you want them to turn out soft and chewy (how I prefer ALL my cookies).
Chilly dough rolled into balls and sugar

Cookie close-up

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms - Taken from Shutterbean

This is one on my new favorite food blogs. She makes some really interesting stuff and I found quite a few new recipes on her site.

I had only ever made spaghetti squash once before years ago, and it was only okay.  I wasn’t really sure how it was supposed to turn out as I had never eaten it before.  We didn’t eat a lot of veggies growing up. My dad isn’t huge fan of green things so it was a lot of corn, potatoes, and a lot of canned green beans (the kind the squeak when you bite into them).  But that’s cool, you do what you gotta do with 8 kids and we all turned out great, love you Mom!  Anyway, I made spaghetti squash a few years ago at the recommendation of my awesome, hippy dippy co-worker and it was okay (no fault of hers).  Side note, she also told me every meal should start on a bed of lettuce, whatever.  Anyway, now I can’t get enough spaghetti squash, I could eat it for every meal! (Funny story, I did eat it for every meal a few days in a row, gave me quite the gut ache.  I suggest mixing it up a little and toning it down to once a day if you are the kind of person that needs boundaries).  Anyway, moral of the story is, I love spaghetti squash because it’s delicious, versatile, a great alternative to a traditional starch. This recipe was great.  It was very quick, super easy and delicious (3 big pluses).  I know some of you may be thrown off by the raisins (I included them because I happen to have golden raisins in my cupboard from a Matzo Kugel I had made) but trust me they work really well in the dish and are very yummy.  All in all, I’ve made it couple times (yet took no pictures?) and will definitely be including it in my winter/fall recipe rotation.

Photo courtesy of: Shutterbean

I love, love, love Joy the Baker.  She’s coming out with a cookbook in February and I can’t wait! 

The recipe was a little involved, but I had some time and it looked really good.  The biscuits turned out really well and were very easy to make, just takes time as it is an extra step.  You could use store bought biscuits if you are in a time crunch, but these are really yummy if you have the chance.  Everything else was fairly simple, just a lot of chopping, my least favorite part of cooking.  I really need a sous chef.  Specifically for chopping onions. Any takers?

This was a delicious, hearty meal that kept nicely for a few days.  The only thing I noticed was somehow in the end, I ended up with biscuits, but not so much of the goodness under it.  Where did it go?! Was it absorbed by the biscuits?! I’m not sure, but I wasn’t going to complain about having extra biscuits to eat. I would absolutely recommend this recipe and most things Joy makes.

Photo courtesy of: Joy the Baker

Photo of my friend Jenna's finished product after sharing the recipe with her

Peanut Butter CookiesTaken from Smitten Kitchen 

Smitten Kitchen is also one of my favorite blogs for dinner ideas. These were not dinner (although I won’t say I haven’t done cookies for dinner) but they were amazing.  So a little backstory for you: I’ve never liked peanut butter cookies, ever.  I won’t even allow a peanut butter cookie in the vicinity of my cookie, as I feel its overwhelming flavor and scent rubs all up on my cookie, making it essentially a peanut butter flavored whatever-I-was-having, and this is something I am not okay with.  I love peanuts, peanut butter, Nutter Butters (explain that one) but never liked traditional peanut butter cookies….until now.

I had given my younger sister Leah, Ninja Bread Men cookie cutters for her birthday (because I’m the best), but because she doesn't like ginger bread (odd) she decided to use them for peanut butter cookies.  She sent me a photo of her seemingly inappropriate gesturing men with this recipe, and they looked so good, I had to try them!  I used a 2:1 ratio for chocolate chips to PB chips, as I was still skeptical about the whole peanut butter cookie idea, so I wanted to make sure they had a good amount of chocolate in them.  End result, awesome! Great cookie and guess what? Now I like peanut butter cookies! Or at least these ones. I don’t see myself buying any at a local bakery anytime soon, but it’s a start.
Leah's PB Ninja Bread Men

My double chocolate PB cookies

 Salted Caramel Cheesecake - Taken from Joy the Baker

Remember how I said I loved Joy the Baker? Well this is where it all began.  Really the name of this recipe should be Salted Caramel Cheesecake with GINGER SNAP CRUST, as that was a total selling point for me. My friends Bonnie, Kristen and I were hosting a fondue dinner party for New Year’s Eve, and Bonnie found this as a dessert possibility. As I’ve gained the “baker” title of the group, this became my responsibility.  It was a little more pressure than I’m used to but it was totally worth it.

I followed Joy’s directions to a T as I didn’t want to mess it up, and it totally paid off, didn’t even crack! (Combo of baking it in a water bath and letting it cool for 45 minutes in the oven with the door cracked). This was also my first crack at making caramel, and was very proud that I didn’t burn it (thanks to some pointers from a season salted caramel maker, Bonnie). Really though, I think my favorite part of this dessert (besides everyone’s praise) was the ginger snap crust. I used Trader Joe’s triple ginger snaps, which have little pieces of crystallized ginger in them, making them extra good. The cheesecake was amazing and one of the only things we were able to finish all of at our dinner party (we had way to much food). This recipe was a little involved as there are three separate parts and cheesecakes are a little finicky, but hands down one of the best deserts I’ve ever had and defiantly ever made.
No crack!
Finished product

The last recipe I’ll share was also for our New Year’s dinner party.

Caesar Salad Deviled Egg - Taken from Smitten Kitchen

We had a hard time coming up with appetizers for our fondue dinner party that did not involve bread or cheese (why would anyone not want to eat bread and cheese before eating bread and cheese?!? However we tried to think of our guests), so deviled eggs were a good option.  I found this recipe and thought it seemed like a good spin on a classic.  They were very good, and pretty easy.  Plus, I got to use my new pastry bags and tips to fill the eggs.  This is how my mom always does it so it’s obviously the only way to do it :)  It gives it a little flare, makes it looks fancier and less like blobs of crap in egg whites. We skipped the lettuce leaves for ease but they were still very good. This is always something that goes very fast at dinners in my house so I always opt for more than you would think you need. I think we eneded up with 36 egg halves for a 10 person dinner party. Needless to say, they were all gone. 

Photo Courtesy of: Life as an AmeriCanadian (Kristen)

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