Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mini Gingerbread Houses


Gingerbread Ingredients:

  • 3 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup of corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup of margarine
*Note: if you like the look of a darker gingerbread house, use dark brown sugar and dark corn syrup. I used a dark brown sugar in mine.
*Read before mixing gingerbread ingredients: (It will be repeated later but in case you don't always read through instructions before mixing:) Combine corn syrup, brown sugar and margarine in a saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until margarine is melted. Please make sure to remember this because I made the mistake of accidentally skipping over this and not actually doing it. 

Royal Icing Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of powdered sugar
  • 2 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar
*Note: the frosting should have a nice and thick texture to it. Add extra powdered sugar to ensure that it is thick enough. (For some reason mine turned into a thin icing type texture but I am not positive that I used the correct measurements for the powdered sugar.)

To make the gingerbread 
1. Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 
2. Combine corn syrup, brown sugar and margarine in a saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until margarine is melted. Combine liquid and flour mixtures. Mix well using hands to mix as dough becomes stiff.  Chill dough for half an hour.
3. Roll dough into 1/8 inch thickness onto parchment paper. Using this template from www.notmartha.org and cut into shapes.
Remove the scraps and re roll into more dough to cut into shapes.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown at 350 degrees. Cool completely on a rack.

To make the royal icing
a. Place egg whites into the bowl of a mixer. 
b. Sift the sugar into a bowl. Add sugar and cream of tartar to whites while mixing. 
c. When all sugar is incorporated, turn mixer on high and beat until thick and very white, about 5-7 minutes. Cover the icing with a damp cloth until you use it because it dries quickly.
d. Pipe icing into a piping bag with a small tip (or into a sandwich baggie and snip a tiny bit off the corner if you don’t have a piping bag). 

House Building and Decorating
1. Ice one side to the front piece and let it dry completely before assembling the rest of the house.
2. To make the roof ice the top and them cover in sprinkles or crushed candy canes and allow to dry completely.
3. Attach the roof to the house. Decorate the fronts of the houses with patters and dust them lightly with powdered sugar.

Rating
5/5 
   I chose this recipe because looking at the pictures from the website, they looked like totally adorable and simple gifts that I could give to my friends for Christmas. Little did I know, (this was my first time coming in contact with any type of gingerbread houses so I had been in oblivion to how hellish these things actually are.) that making ginger bread houses turned out to be a totally awful experience.) ( Also adding that I got really sick on the day I stayed home making these so while assembling, I was not on my top game.) 
   Assembling difficulties aside, everyone that ate one really liked them so the recipe for the actual gingerbread is good. 
   While these things look cute and all and sort of turned out, I'm never making them again. The whole thing was tedious and I was exhausted by the time it was over. (More than 4 hours in the making.)

Notes:
   This is the kind of recipe that you have to read over before making. The site that I got it from had many pictures in between the parts of the instructions so i actually missed a huge point in the process and had to start over. If you do not melt the wet ingredients before combining everything, it becomes crumbly and doesn't mix in.
   During the back aching process of cutting all of my pieces out, I had noticed that the dough did not feel right to me. What I advise is after every time you cut a bunch out and have to re-roll, put the dough in a bowl and warm it up in the microwave for about 11 seconds and then roll it out. 
   I'm not sure if it was just something that I did in the process of mixing, but it felt as though I was missing something or there weren't enough wet ingredients. While making the houses, I discovered that my frosting didn't dry right away and I had to have the sides of the houses lean on something before I could stand the house up. As shown in pictures, this was the technique I came up with.
   If you have space between the two roof pieces, adjust the cookies to where you want them on the house and make a connecting line between them to hide it. 

This was how I had everything set up for the building process.
This was the assembling process for each of the houses with a couple minutes or so between each added part to ensure stability before the next piece was added or it was moved.

While waiting for the bottom part of the house to dry, I frosted and decorated the roof pieces. The decorating of the actual houses are really up to the individual. I chose a simple style while the next person may want to get fancy with a type of design or something. Truly, it will always be up to you.


These are my finished houses. I didn't really add anything as far as decorations go besides the roof tops. Also, as you can see below, I fixed any gaps between the roof tops with frosting and disguised it with the same sprinkles as on the roof.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mug Brownie

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 dash salt
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. melt butter in mug (I usually put it in for 48 seconds)
  2. add water
  3. add vanilla and salt
  4. add cocoa and sugar
  5. add flour
  6. Microwave for about 68 seconds (Mamma just likes to eat the batter but that's just me)

Review:
4/5  This tastes like a legit brownie and I've made this about 15 times so I do recommend. Sorry for the lack of photos by the way. I ran out of time this weekend but look out over the next week or so for Holiday themed recipes including gingerbread houses which I'm going to be giving out as gifts for my lovely friends. Our school is going on winter break next week so I'll have plenty of time to make things. (Though it'll probably be mainly cookies but I did find a recipe for a cranberry punch that I'd really like to find. See you later!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows With Crushed Peppermint

Ingredients:
1 pack of marshmallows
1 bag of peppermint candies (or candy canes) 
1 pack of sweetened melting chocolate (or chocolate candy coating)
Tooth picks

Directions:
1. Cut off the top of an egg carton. (This is for holding the marshmallows up while they set.) Set this close to your workspace. 
2. Unwrap peppermints and put them in a plastic baggie ( you can use a sandwich or gallon size). Using a metal spoon, mash the peppermints into small chunks. (We used an herb grinder to get a fine powder.)
3. Melt the chocolate (the one that I used said to put it in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time, stirring in between.) 
4. Put a toothpick through the middle of the marshmallow and dunk it in the chocolate. Let some drip off for a couple seconds and then sprinkle your peppermint on. After it has the amount you want, stick the end of the toothpick through the top of the egg carton (it works as a stand until the chocolate sets.) 

Notes:
This recipe is a hot mess. If you're not a fan of really messy food, I don't recommend this. We made these over a cookie sheet which is pretty ideal seeing how it ended up covered in peppermint and chocolate drippings. Stir the chocolate once and a while to make sure it doesn't harden. If it does, it's okay to just warm up in the microwave again. 
We used store brand melting chocolate which tasted sort of like hot chocolate. 
If you're using an herd grinder, make sure it isn't marble because the grinder (stick...thing) broke in half at one point.
Also, it's important that the chunks of peppermint are very small because otherwise, they'll drip off.
Melt the chocolate in a class measuring cup because the chocolate is easier to access and there's a handle for when it gets hot.
(We also found these HUGE marshmallows in my friends cupboard and made a couple gigantic ones.)

Rating:
Testers: 5/5
Mine: 0/5
Okay so maybe that's a little biased, seeing as though I really dislike chocolate peppermint...
Well my friends all really enjoyed them giving it an overall 5/5 ratings and a marriage proposal. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

French Bread Pizza

French Bread Pizza

Ingredients: 
2 baguettes
1 can of pizza sauce
1 bag of mozzarella
1 bag of Parmesan
Olive oil
2 tbsp Butter

Directions:
1. Cut both baguettes in half length and width
2. With a pastry brush, paint inside of bread with olive oil on all pieces. Once that is done, melt butter and do the same on the bread. Put them on a cookie sheet and slide them into the oven until tops are lightly crisped and golden. (5 mins.)
3. spread pizza sauce over each half of bread in whatever amount you desire. Add cheese and any other pizza toppings you like. Pop it back in the oven for about 8 mins or until the cheese is melted.

Rating:
5/5
When I made this, I had a pretty general idea of what I needed to do, but I couldn't find the recipe that  I was planning on using. I believe that this worked out anyways because my lab rats liked it. I didn't time the pizza while it was in the oven, so sorry for any inconvenience. Just make sure to keep your eye on them and you'll be fine.

Notes:
Please keep in mind that I did not time the pizza while it was in the oven After adding the olive oil, put it in for about 5 minutes and test it with a fork or something to make sure that it has gotten crispy. The completed product will have all of the cheese melted as a tell for when it is done.
Reheating is recommended in the oven because the microwave will make it soggy and it will lose the crispiness.
I used one jar of sauce with a medium-generous amount on each piece. The cheese is sort of an add however much you want sort of thing. I had about half of a bag left of each when I was done so it's safe to only get one of each.
The butter was added for a hint of an extra flavor and or texture but it is not necessary.



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Une Croque Madame


Une Croque Madame

Ingredients:
Sliced Bread
Sliced Mozzarella Cheese
Sliced meat (Ham used in traditional French recipes)
Butter
Eggs
Directions:
1.Head up Butter in a pan. Place a slice of bread in, add a slice of cheese, then some meat, then another slice of cheese. Add another piece of bread. Once one side is done, flip and brown the other side of the sandwich. 
2. Place finished product aside (On a plate).
3.Re-butter the pan. (The butter should heat up right away so be careful not to let it burn.) Fry the egg and put it on top of the sandwich.
Notes: This is a very simple thing to make, a perfect mommy snack, if you will. For the ones I made, I used mozzarella and salami. The traditional ham used is the thickly cut kind, but lunch meat works well too. I used two sliced of cheese and three of salami (For flavor balance). It's proper to eat this with a fork and knife too. I used honey wheat bread too. It gave it a little bit of a sweet flavor which was a nice touch. This sandwich is literally a grilled cheese with an egg on top so making it shouldn't be too difficult. (The fact that it's got a fancy french name will make you in turn seem fancy. 
Rating:
5/5
My taster this week liked it so much, they would have eaten about three if I'd have stayed longer. The taste is savory and the food its self is quite satisfactory. This is a simple and fast recipe to make. I'll definitely be making this more. 

Good luck with your baking!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Introduction to Get Baked



    Growing up, I've always loved the idea of cooking and baking: someone is given some raw ingredients and by mixing them together a certain way, they're able to create a master-piece. It doesn't matter to me how simple or complex the recipe is, it still fascinates me.  

     With just a little training on how to cook and bake in middle school, I've now gotten the time to actually start making new recipes. This blog will be about my experiences before, during, and after making things. By the end of this school year, I will be creating a recipe book full of everything I've made along with tips and reviews for making them. I like the freedom and care put into food. I have the freedom to alter ingredients put into recipes and it takes great care in order for the food to turn out right. Maybe later in life (or even this summer), I can take some cooking classes to further advance my culinary skills. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Strawberry Tart
















Strawberry Tart
Ingredients:
Crust:
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and sliced
Filling:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Topping:
Fresh strawberries, kiwi slices, blueberries, raspberries
(You don’t have to use all)
Glaze:
1 (6-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
(Or just buy store-bought if you’re feeling lazy)
Whipped cream, for garnish
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust: In a food processor (Or mixer. You can also just pastry blend), combine the confectioners’ sugar, flour, and butter, and process until the mixture forms a ball. With your fingers, press the dough into a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, taking care to push the crust into the indentations in the sides. Pat until the crust is even. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until very lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Seriously. Don’t be that guy.
For the filling and topping: Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Spread over the cooled crust. Cut the strawberries into 1/4-inch slices and arrange around the edge of the crust. For the next circle, use kiwi slices. Add another circle of strawberries, filling in any spaces with blueberries. Cluster the raspberries in the center of the tart.(Or y’know, you can just make your own design because really, it doesn't matter. I know it’ll be beautiful because you made it.)
For the glaze: Combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice, and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until clear and thick, about 2 minutes. Let cool. With a pastry brush, glaze the entire tart (Or, if you’re not that fancy, just scoop some up with a spoon and drizzle evenly). You will not use all of the glaze.
Keep your glorious masterpiece cold like your heart. (Refrigerate please). Slice into wedges and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
Review:
4/5
This is a recipe that I've made before, but it’s been a while. Last time I made it, my lab rats (a.k.a. my family) gave it all good thoughts. This time has also been a success so far. I have to say that I enjoyed this one as well, that’s probably why I've saved it for so long.
Anyways, I have to say, the crust? Holy god of pudding that needs a lot of butter! Don’t worry though, the finished product is as flaky and heavy as sin. The strawberries (I like using strawberries all the way because it just looks prettier in my opinion and it tastes better with the glaze I used (Strawberry store-bought for the win). (Though I haven’t attempted to use anything else besides strawberries and sketchy raspberries)) balance out the heavy-ness of the crust. Next time I make this, I’m going to try using a pie crust recipe, just to see the difference in the textures. (Because I can and also… SCIENCE) But the given crust is the real deal as far as tarts go. Back to the tart of all things holy and good, if you like cheesecake, then you will definitely want to shove some of this stuff in your face. The filling is literally a block of cream cheese. I mean, I don’t particularly like cheesecake, but I definitely like this stuff. For the glaze, I haven’t used the one included in the recipe. Because I’m kinda lazy and like taking shortcuts, I used a store-bought strawberry glaze. You really don’t need it to be fancy, heck, I used a store brand so you can tell how much it really matters.


Notes:
While making the crust, mix dry ingredients first for thorough distribution. Also, for the butter, what I did was cut it before softening it. (Obviously this makes it easier to cut into the dry ingredients.)
Make sure the crust is cool before you add the filling. I cannot stress this enough. If you don’t, your filling will start dying and turn into a half soupy mess. Seriously. Just stick it in the refrigerator a few minutes after you take it out of the oven. ( If you're worried about it melting the shelf, just slide an oven mitt under your tart pan.)
While applying the filling, I just used a rubber spatula. The filling is very important because it’s the glue for sticking the fruits and keeping them down. It also kind of mellows the flavors
For the fruit, make it look neat, y’know? This has gotta look classy. (Not really). Start from the outside and go in in neat little circles. When you get to the middle, you can do something fancy like put a raspberry there or something crazy like that. Go wild. Throw a party man.
Chill your glorious feast and make some tea or something while you wait around about 15 mins. (The tea is just to make yourself look really classy. That’s how we do.)
Only remove sides of the pan once, more than once may cause crumbling of that sweet, buttery crust.
Caution: bottom pops out for the love of all things holy, be careful!

Bon appetite! Good luck with your baking!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Buttercream Frosting

Butter cream Frosting
Prep time:15 minutes
Ingredients:
1/2 cup of butter or margarine softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1lb confectioners 10-x powdered sugar
1& 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 3 tbsp milk
Directions:
1. Cream butter or margarine and shortening. Gradually add remaining ingredients and beat at MEDIUM-HIGH speed with an electric mixer until frosting is light and fluffy (about 5min)
2. For chocolate: prepare as directed and add 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa and 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (melted in microwave or slowly on stovetop). Continue mixing frosting for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
Store unused portion of frosting in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks

Notes: 
When making this, I had to frost 33 cup cakes and let me tell you, frosting is not one of my strong points. In all seriousness, I'm pretty sure whomever you share your frosting covered whatever with someone, as long as it tastes ok, they probably wont care what it looks like. 
I was really happy with this recipie because once I was finished, I only had a tablespoon or two left (so no leftovers!! (Which by the way, is kind of a hassle when you do.)).
Don't have any piping tools? Fill a sandwich bag with your frosting and seal it up. Take a bottom corner and cut off a small piece of the corner. (Make sure the hole isn't too large because otherwise, it'll be too much frosting coming out at once.) If you've never piped frosting before, it helps to practice!! Your frosting skills will take time to develope so don't stress about them not being all that neat.
Make sure that if you want to add sprinkles, you do as soon as you finish frosting each thing (for example cupcakes). This way, the sprinkles will stick to the frosting and wont get everywhere.

Taste:
3/5
Even though I'm not much of a frosting person anyways, the recipe was pretty mediocre. Definitely not the main point of the cupcakes. Still, I'd make it again because my taste testers seemed to like it, only one bad review.
Also, note that it didn't stick as well as I would have liked when adding it to my cupcake.

I'll be back with another recipe next week! Good luck with your baking!