Tuesday, July 26, 2011

DIY Oreos

I'll be 100% honest; I hate Oreos.  I wouldn't even eat them if they were the last thing in my cupboard.  I am not really sure why I detest them, I don't really care for any store bought cookies, but I have always wondered what all the hype is with Oreos.  I ran across this DIY Oreo recipe and decided to give it a shot because I figured homemade has got to be better than store bought.  These were really good!  I made one batch with a really crunchy cookie, and another with a soft cookie (which is soooooo good) and I will definitley be making these again!  Don't be afraid of the filling recipe, even though it calls for shortening.  As a general life rule I never, ever, in a million years would use shortening in a recipe, but Annie highly recommended it, or the filling would be like cake icing; which is yummy, but not really the effect we are going for here!  Make these with your kids today, because the sun ain't shining!

DIY Oreos
Yield: about 20-24 sandwich cookies

For the cookies:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1-1½ cups sugar*
10 tbsp. (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg

For the filling:
4 tbsp. (¼ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tsp. vanilla extract

*The range of sugar called for here allows you to make these cookies as sweet as you like (or not).  To make it closer to a store-bought Oreo, use 1 cup.  For a sweeter cookie, use the full 1½ cups.  I split the difference and used 1¼ cups.
Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

In a food processor or the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Mix briefly to combine.  Add the butter to the bowl and pulse or mix briefly to incorporate.  Add in the egg and mix until the dough forms a cohesive mass.

Scoop a scant tablespoon of batter onto the baking sheet. (I used the Pampered Chef medium cookie scoop.)  Continue scooping, spacing the dough balls a couple of inches apart.  With moistened fingers, gently press down on the dough balls to flatten slightly.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack and let cool completely until the cookies are firm and set.  

Be sure the cookies are completely cooled before filling.To make the filling, combine the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth.  Add the confectioners’ sugar to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the vanilla extract.

To assemble the cookies, pair them up by size.  Use a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip to pipe a swirl of filling onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair.  Sandwich together with the remaining cookie and press down so that the filling reaches the edges.

Source: annieseats.com who slightly adapted it from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Retro Desserts by Wayne Brachman

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quick Roasted Chicken & Potatoes by Gwyneth Paltrow

I'm back!  And seeing as how I have not done any cooking or baking in the last few weeks due to the arrival of a new little man in my life, I am actually going to blog about something I did not make.  All credit is due to my lovely friend, and provider of meals, CCSR, and this one, even though I didn't make it, but just popped it in the oven, hit the spot!  She told me it is super easy, and with two little ones in her house, I have to believe that what she says is true!  So without further ado, I will introduce you to Gwenyth Paltrow's Quick Roast Chicken and Potatoes.  It is truly sad that a roasted chicken is permissible as a meal during the height of summer, but really, with the weather we have been having soups and stews are fair game too!  This was delish, and the flavors all melded together to make a scrumptious plethora of goodness.  Plus, I was still picking at the leftovers a day later and may have even tried to eat it for dinner the next night.

Quick Roasted Chicken & Potatoes

3 to 4 pound whole chicken
1 lemon, cut in half
6 garlic cloves, peeled
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme (Superstore sells a Poultry Blend)
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
About 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 dozen new potatoes

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Lay the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan.

Squeeze the lemon over the chicken, getting the juice on and around the bird - throw the halves into the pan, along with the peeled garlic.

Liberally salt and pepper the chicken and drizzle with enough olive oil to coat - about 3 Tbsp.

Top with sprigs of herbs.

Arrange the potatoes around the chicken, and drizzle with another 3 Tbsp. of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover and roast in oven for 20 minutes, remove foil and roast another 45 minutes or so, or until the chicken is browned and the juices run clear.

Source: Adapted from goop.com

Monday, July 4, 2011

Cake Pops

I had really been wanting to try my hand at making cake pops for a while now, what with my ravenous, incurable sweet tooth and all.  I was intimidated; it looked super time consuming and adding a toddler into the mix and being hugely pregnant, I just didn't think cake pops would be in the stars for me for a few years.  I also thought that even with my love for sugar that they might be over the top in the sweet department; I have had Starbuck's cake pops and pretty much had to pace myself over an entire day to finish just one because it was so sweet. 

Alas, mom-in-law's birthday rolled around and Janelle had the idea to make cake pops, so I told her that I HAD to be involved and that she HAD to let me blog about it.  Being the nice gal that she is, she let me do both and we had a great time!  It took us 3 hours, mind you, but doing it with someone didn't make it feel that long and we had a blast doing it!  I took lots of pictures to remember what we did - although there are a ton of great websites out there that have great photos too!  It was a huge success and they were super yummy, and didn't have an inch of coating on them like all the other Cake Pops I have seen!  The basic instructions are below.

Cake Pops:

You will need: 1 boxed cake mix, 1 container frosting, melting wafers (we used white and milk chocolate and dyed the white with food coloring), shortening, lollipop sticks

* Bake a cake, any cake!  (We opted for a store bought vanilla cake, and a brownie mix; you can make any cake you like.  We went the boxed route for ease and time, and also because you need a cake that comes out perfectly moist, but not too moist.)

* Let the cake cool, and then mash with a fork

* Mix approx 1/3 of a container of store bought frosting into the cake (we opted for cream cheese frosting because it is slightly less sickengly sweet); the frosting allows you to roll the cake into balls, add  more frosting if it isn't coming together.  For the brownie, we didn't need to add frosting because it can be rolled into balls without it.

* Roll the cake dough into balls of the same size (a pampered chef cookie scoop does a perfect job!)

* Melt wafers with about a tablespoon of shortening (approx 1.5 cups wafers:1 Tbsp shortening); you can opt not to use the shortening but we highly recommend it; it means that the coating won't be super thick, and putting it onto the cake pop will be much easier.

* Dip sticks into warm wafer mixture and position into the cake balls.  Allow to cool.

* Dip cake balls into the wafer mixture (if you have trouble coating it, heat it up again), and then shake or twist off excess over the pan/bowl.  Put lollipop sticks into floral foam or styrofoam to dry.  Sprinkle with decorations!  Eat!