Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 1: Let's Start That Cleanse!

HELLO FELLOW BLOGGERS! ... I gave you a heads up, now I bring to you my "new and improved" (I'm sure that's up for argument) challenge- Wedding dieting! As I have mentioned, I have grown to appreciate food A TON this year. It seems the only time I socialize anymore is to meet with people to grab lunch, dinner, or bake with them... Which has clearly made an impact on my waistband. When Stephen and I first started dating, I was a solid 139 pounds... up three from my lightest since high school, but still fairly fit. During my time in Pullman, I had packed on the pounds- up to 166 at my heaviest. After dropping those thirty pounds, I had sworn I would never let myself get that heavy again. Although I am nowhere near that weight, I am gaining. I yo-yo pretty badly... one day I'll be down to 142, the next up to 146. It's annoying, especially considering the awful weight issues I've always had.

Weight has always been a sensitive subject for me. For whatever reason, over the years, my weight has repeatedly been an issue. People will make offhanded comments about it, my family has never been polite when it comes to being overweight, etc. If I gain weight, it will literally be the only thing I can focus on for days on end. VERY UNHEALTHY. My weight is what I measure myself up against. I don't want sympathy of any kind, I just think you all need an understanding of where I am coming from.

It became even worse over the course of dating Stephen, which sounds awful... he and I love to eat and food and cooking together... plus, on top of that, he is VERY supportive of my looks. Which is amazing... I have never dated a man who continually tells me how wonderful and beautiful I am. Usually, the men I date make comments about weight constantly... which did WONDERS for keeping my waistline a little more trim, but did nothing good for my self-esteem. So I have been enjoying life, and food, and by BMI shows it.

I want to be small again. I hate how my thighs are always rubbing together. I hate how I have gained more muscle over the course of the summer with my personal trainer than I have had in years, and yet no one can tell. I hate that I can work out five days a week, and yet my pants are getting TIGHTER. I hate that I woke up this morning, tried to put on my engagement ring, and it hurt to do so. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

I am starting clean today. I've been researching diets for months, and I think I have finally found one that I am eager to try. My diet is starting today with the Jillian Michael's 7-day cleanse. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to shed that access Holiday water weight, and see what it is that I really need to lose. The cleanse is easy- you combine 60 oz. of water with one dandelion tea bag, one tablespoon of sugar free cranberry juice, and two tablespoons of lemon juice. It actually doesn't taste bad either- I took my first 24 ounces of the cleanse with me to Zumba this morning, and I am already almost done. It has a zesty, spicy taste to it, one that I can actually stomach, and let me tell you what- it really does make you have to go to the bathroom. Sorry, but just be prepared for that. Anyways, I am going to do this for the next seven days and report to you what I find. My diet will consist of watching my caloric intake... I'm hoping to eat between 1500-1700 a day.

So what are my goals? Cleanse for 7 days, start my official diet after that, while working out at least four days a week. I want to bring my starting weight of 146.6 pounds to at least 135... one pound under my smallest a couple of years ago. My personal trainer said that 135 is perfectly healthy, but if I wanted to push it, she said to hit 125 if I could. Considering I haven't been 125 pounds since my senior year of high school, I thought that might be a little much... but who knows? If I can hit 135, maybe I'll keep going.

I took "before" pictures this morning... but I won't post those. You don't want to see. But I will keep you updated on my progress. The ultimate goal? Spend my entire honeymoon in a bikini... or less. You know what I mean? Here is the official guide I pulled the cleanse off of:

#50: Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese

All right, we've hit a major milestone. Not only am I technically half way to my goal of 100 recipes in a year, this will also be the last recipe I blog about for sometime. I promised an explanation, so here goes...

I feel good about my accomplishment thus far. 50 recipes, for a non-baker! That's a fairly amazing task, if you ask me. Considering when I started in April, I had no real knack for anything kitchen related, so the confidence I have now is a HUGE improvement! Although I do eventually want to tackle the other 50 recipes I had planned to bake, I knew there was no way I could do those in the next five months... which is basically all the time I gave myself to finish my one year challenge. Plus, on top of that, I fully intend on starting my pre-wedding diet ASAP. Within the last year, butter has become a food group in and of itself in my diet, and that HAS to stop if I'm going to look good naked on my honeymoon... know what I mean? So I bring you the final recipe I will be blogging about for quite sometime... my apologies for those of you who REALLY enjoy reading my blog for culinary inspiration (all 8 of you... thank you readers!). I will however be using this blog to keep myself in line with my diet plans, and I am sure some of you will get a laugh with the techniques I am gearing up to use. I WILL BE BACK. Boom.

#50: Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese (as found on http://www.closetcooking.com)

Disclaimer- Yeah... this isn't technically a baked good. I had originally wanted to temporarily close my blog with a recipe that included yeast, since I haven't tackled that crud yet. I was even planning on trying a copycat Texas Roadhouse roll recipe I had found on Pinterest WITH their delicious cinnamon butter, but I just didn't have the time. Instead, I pulled up five or so recipes from my Pinterest and had Stephen choose one that we were going to make his family for dinner. This was the one he chose, and according to the fam, it's a winner!

Ingredients:


  • 1/4 cup cooked shredded chicken, warm
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon mayo (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon carrot, grated
  • 1 tablespoon celery, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon green or red onion, sliced or diced
  • 1 tablespoon blue cheese, room temperature, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, room temperature, grated
  • 1 tablespoon butter

That is the "official" recipe... but I made some changes. We bought a delicious rotisserie chicken from Albertson's (which, those of you familiar with Albertson's know IT'S THE BEST!) and shredded it ourselves. Instead of using mayo, we used creamy bleu cheese dressing (buffalo chicken... come on, why wouldn't we use bleu cheese?), and we opted out of using the crumbled bleu cheese and onion.

Directions:

This guy didn't include the BEST instructions, so I'm going to tell you how we did it-

1. Mix the chicken, hot sauce, carrot, celery and bleu cheese in a large bowl.
    - For the eight people we were cooking for, this translated to 2 cups of shredded chicken, 8 tablespoons of Frank's buffalo sauce (my anti-drug), 4 tablespoons bleu cheese dressing, 8 tablespoons shredded carrot, two stalks of celery diced, and then I also added some of the shredded cheddar cheese to the mix.

2. Assemble sandwich and grill until golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes per side.
    - So, we took the sourdough bread we bought, spread bleu cheese on both sides, put a handful of cheddar cheese on one side, slathered on the buffalo chicken salad, placed the other piece of bread on top, and then spread butter on the outside of both pieces of bread. Stephen put them down on his new George Foreman (you're welcome!), and they were amazing!

I naturally didn't take pictures, but here is the picture from the website. These were DELICIOUS... clearly bad for you though. So good, SO BAD. I was only able to eat half of one before I had to stop. It was so rich! Try them... preferably before you start your post-holiday diets...



Wednesday, December 28, 2011

#48: Snowman Doughnuts and #49: Grinch Cookies

Two treats. One fourth grade Christmas party. I am the queen of all things DIY. Considering we are very close to reaching a temporary hiatus of my baking blog (I'll explain later), I wanted to cram as many recipes into this before the holidays were over- hence my making two treats for our classroom holiday party, even though I always know my two treat days NEVER turn out quite right. Luckily for me I chose two VERY simple recipes, but two also very much worth mentioning. The first I put Stephen in charge of- Snowman doughnuts. Three ingredients, five minutes of your time, and they are PRECIOUS... although for WHATEVER reason, Steve-o had some adorable "I'm-a-man-so-I-can't-be-creative" issues with them. The next are called "Grinch Cookies," which are essentially chocolate chip cookies with mint... but so much more. I bring you the HOLIDAYS... in blog form...

#48: Snowman Doughnuts (as found on http://creativeholidaygiftideas.blogspot.com... I love fellow bloggers)

Ingredients:

24 white powdered doughnettes (I'm not sure if that is how those mini-doughnuts are actually spelled...)
24 candy corns
Black icing in a tube

Directions:

Place candy corn inside doughnut hole, with the orange and white end sticking up through the hole. Place black icing dots as nose and mouth.

Yeah, that's it. I think this takes the cake as the EASIEST "baking" project ever. It's not even close to something requiring baking though... so maybe it's more of a "craft" project. Regardless, it was ADORABLE watching Stephen trying to put black dots all over the doughnuts, especially because for whatever reason, he couldn't get the icing to stick to their surfaces. On top of that, when we left the doughnuts overnight in the Tupperware, the icing "bled," so all of the eyes and mouths were smudged. I forced the kids to all tell Stephen how "cute" the treats were though... so I think he got over his "failure" as a baker. Plus, they seemed to be a big hit, so score ONE for Miss Peters... and Mr. Baird.


This is a picture from Pinterest because in my excitement to finish school, I forgot to take ANY photos of the holiday party. Well played. Look how CUTE these are though!!

#49: Grinch Cookies (as found on Bettycrocker.com)

Ingredients: 

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
6 to 8 drops green food color
1 egg
1 cup creme de menthe baking chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in creme de menthe baking chips and chocolate chunks.
     - I don't know what creme de menthe chips are. A lot of people who left comments about this recipe on Betty Crocker's blog said they chopped up Ande's mints and used those. I found a bag of mint chocolate chip chips from Tollhouse that worked amazingly. Also, I added a little more peppermint extract than what was called for in the recipe because I like a really minty cookie.
2. Using small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
    - Teaspoon? Try tablespoon!
3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Serve warm or cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature.
     - I actually ended up baking these for 12 minutes, because the bottoms got super crunchy, and the centers were still raw. Very strange. I also didn't like how the bottoms were so brown compared to the rest of the cookie... I'd have to play around with this recipe to see if I could prevent that next time.

YUMM-O. The dough tastes and looks just like mint chocolate chip ice cream... if I could somehow take the egg out of the recipe, I'd eat the dough all alone by itself!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

#47: Gingerbread Cookies

I love gingerbread. Or I did... in gingerbread lattes. I've never been a big fan of the treat itself, as usually whenever I did come across gingerbread it was stale or had chunks of actual ginger in it (and I'm sorry, but I usually hate chunks of ANYTHING in my pastries). The reason for this particular recipe actually started WAY BACK in April, when I first came up with the idea for this blog. After sharing my blog with Stephen's mom, she immediately turned to me, and with all seriousness in her voice said "You NEED to make gingerbread!" Now, I've never heard a request like that, but with my willingness to take on any sort of project, I agreed. With it being December, there is no better time, especially considering I found a recipe that AGAIN is all over Pinterest... and this is actually a really good recipe, no fooling. I'll admit though, rolling out cookie dough, remembering to dust EVERYTHING with flour to avoid stick... age, and then waiting to frost and decorate everything is TEDIOUS. I might just stick to pre-made dough for these sort of projects, ugh.

#47: Gingerbread Cookies (as found on  meetthedubiens.blogspot.com)


Ingredients: 


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 egg
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg



Directions:


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in molasses and egg.
     - Molasses is GROSS. I didn't realize that until this recipe, because you use a ton of it. Even the sugar didn't help the taste... nothing like pouring tar into your cookie batter, yeah?



Yeah, that's tar! ... molasses!



Nope, not any better.

2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; blend into the molasses mixture until smooth. Cover, and chill for at least one hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or not).


4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

     - Okay, PLEASE, use tons of flour. Seriously. More frustration came from forgetting to dust everything EVERY TIME I rolled anything out, or cut anything, than anything else in this recipe. Seriously.


5. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until firm. Let cool for 10 minutes on pan. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.




Cute? Yeah... they are.



6. Frost or decorate when cool.



Easy enough, but oh holy night, SO TIME CONSUMING. Ahhhh!! Mothers Baird better be pleased.







Sunday, December 4, 2011

#46: Candy Cane Blossoms

I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I also love that this year I have a whole list of Christmas treats to make. I have BIG plans for this blog post-New Years, so I want to make sure I get in all of the sugary, buttery goodness I can as quickly as possible. Savor the holidays without any guilt, you know what I'm saying? ANYWAYS, the first weekend in December has brought with it an opportunity to harness my baking powers for good, so I quickly took out my laptop and scanned through my Pinterest account looking for a cookie that I knew would WOW the women of the branch. THIS is the best I could do. I wanted something festive, yet not overly complicated so I knew I couldn't mess it up. I still managed to, but the results were still deliciously edible. Here goes...

#46: Candy Cane Blossoms (as found on bakedperfection.com)

Ingredients:


1 bag Hershey's Kisses brand Candy Cane Kisses
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
Red and Green colored sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove wrappers from candies (approx. 35)


Bowl full of awesome.

2. Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg in large bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add alternatively with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
     - This sugar cookie recipe isn't very sugary. Although obviously the gobs of colored sugar I added to the cookie prior to baking definitely sweetened them up, I'm not sure if this is a recipe I would use for just, straight sugar cookies... you know what I'm saying?

3. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in red and/or green colored sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 - 1o minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookies is set. Remove from oven; cool 2 to 3 minutes. Press candy piece into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Yields approximately 35 cookies.
     - So many lies. First of all, NO, 12 minutes is the amount of time I kept them in. My parent's poor oven strikes again. Second, three minutes to wait isn't enough either. I placed the kisses in the center of the cookie after said time, and they immediately melted. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of this mistake... subconsciously I think I didn't want to admit I am STILL a klutz in the kitchen.

There you go. SO CUTE. I have seen this recipe ALL OVER Pinterest, and it is worth making. My mom is even going to make this recipe again for our own family cookies, they're that easy and ADORABLE! Here are some pictures to prove it:


But I'm too silly to remember to take pictures of the cookies once they're COMPLETED, so here is the picture from the recipe:


Sunday, November 27, 2011

#45: Turtle Pumpkin Pie

Okay, I caved. I decided to make ONE MORE pumpkin recipe before Thanksgiving and autumn came to a close. Although the calender says it's still fall, Christmas always starts for me the day after Thanksgiving, and my baking will reflect that. However, I knew I wanted to bake a pie of some sort for my dinner with the Bairds last Thursday. I love pumpkin pie, but knew that was completely overdone- luckily for me, I found the following recipe in my mother's Taste of Home magazine. No baking is actually involved in this dessert, but the results are pretty phenomenal. There wasn't a slice left, and I got MANY compliments. Another one for the future family cookbook, if you ask me!

#45: Turtle Pumpkin Pie (as found in Taste of Home magazine. Again, it was in another advertisement; this one states that the recipe can be found at dessert.com)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping, divided
1 graham cracker pie crust, 6 ounces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans, divided
2 packages (3.4 ounces each) vanilla flavor instant pudding
1 cup cold milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 8 ounce tub of cool-whip, thawed, divided

Directions:

1. Pour 1/4 cup caramel topping onto crust; sprinkle with 1/2 cup nuts.

2. Beat pudding mix, milk, pumpkin, and spices with whisk until blended. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cool-whip, spoon into crust.
     - I used an electric mixer. I am a convert to the power of electricity in the kitchen.

3. Refrigerate for one hour. Top with remaining cool-whip, caramel topping, and nuts before serving.

That's it. Oh my goodness, so good though. I recently saw a recipe for a pumpkin dip that incorporated the pudding, milk, pumpkin, and spices in this recipe, and to be completely honest, I could eat that filling alone with a spoon. DELISH.

Unfortunately, I haven't learned from past mistakes. Stephen and I were running late to his parents' for dinner, so I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the pie prior to eating, and by the time I thought of grabbing a camera and taking a picture WHILE we were eating, it was already gone. So... here is a TERRIBLE cell phone picture of the picture the magazine provided. Classy.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

#44: Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

In an effort to broaden my fall baking horizons, I spent some time scouring the internet and my mother's cooking magazines to find a treat that contained ingredients OTHER than pumpkin. For Thanksgiving this year, I wanted to bake more than one dessert, and this is the first I chose to make. Inspired by my FAVORITE Starbucks pastry of ALL TIME, I found this recipe in one of my mother's TASTE OF HOME magazines, and knew I needed to give it a shot. Although I love cranberries, I'm not one to want to dump a ton of cranberry sauce on my plate at Thanksgiving and eat it straight like that. This incorporates one of my favorite "healthy" snacks and makes it a little LESS so...

#44: Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies (as found in Taste of Home magazine. The recipe was actually on a recipe card in an Ocean Spray ad, which says it can be found at Oceanspray.com)

Ingredients:

2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 6-ounce package Craisins original dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well.

2. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.
     - Teaspoonfuls? No, no, no, momma likes a BIG cookie. Try tablespoonfuls. And yet, the cookies still turned out pretty small.

THAT'S IT. I'm under the impression these days that once you make ONE kind of cookie, you can more or less make any kind of cookie. This recipe was a QUICK one too. I think the prep work was done in 10 minutes, and the baking in about 40, so you could whip these cookies out FAST. Be forewarned though- this isn't nearly as sweet as most of my other creations are. My instincts are telling me I want to add more sugar or white chocolate chips or SOMETHING to them, but my dad is insisting they taste just fine the way the are. Try them!! OH, and the very happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours!




I NEVER claimed to be a photographer... but check out my sparkly, festive Thanksgiving nail polish!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

#43: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies

Ugh. You should smell my house now- it smells JUST like pumpkin pie. But it's not. As an active pinner on Pinterest, I have multiple amazing recipes for pumpkin brownies, and I was DETERMINED to chug out one more variety of said treats prior to the end of the Thanksgiving holidays. Considering the next two days will be our ever-challenging-enlightening-draining-thank goodness to be over with them BEFORE Thanksgiving break-parent/teacher conferences, I decided there was no better time to bring in treats to Lori and Nichole. Especially when you consider the bunch of students we have to conference about this year- it's going to be a doozie telling some of those parents the news about their students' grades. What better way to soften the blow than with delicious fall time treats? I bring you my SECOND brownie recipe, which is just as good as the last I made for you all, and probably a little healthier.

#43: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies (as found on "Chef in Training, a blog on blogspot. URL http://chef-n-training.blogspot.com/2011/09/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-brownies.html)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips



Directions:


1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Line an 11″- x 7″-inch pan with parchment paper.
     - I didn't use parchment paper, but I DID use tin foil. I learned my lesson after the gigantic mess those last brownies made.

2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, eggs and oil until smooth.  Set aside.
    - See, look! Healthier! Only 1 tablespoon of oil, I think that's pretty good, considering all of the butter I typically use!

3. In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and brown sugar.  Add to the wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
     - All Spice terrifies me. I've never used it prior to this recipe, and the recipe included on the bottle was for a MEATBALL recipe. I trusted the recipe, but what exactly IS all spice?

4. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until passes toothpick test.  Cool completely before cutting.

That easy, and with DELICIOUS results. I'm pretty pumped to share these guys tomorrow. Take a look at them... and I apologize ahead of time for the shotty lighting. I couldn't tell you WHY these pictures turned out the way they did...



EAT ME.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

#42: Gooey Pumpkin Butterscotch Brownies

Well it's a good thing I have devoted myself to working out again, because this brownie will tighten your waistbands, let me tell you. Delicious though. It is my goal to try all of the recipes in my Pinterest which contain pumpkin prior to the Christmas holidays... since it is my belief that Christmas cookies should be full of peppermint and chocolate, rather than pumpkin. I might be alone in that, but with it being said, I decided to take on my fall FAVORITE recipe I have gathered. I had originally wanted to make this last weekend with Stephen to eat while we were carving pumpkins and watching "The Nightmare Before Christmas," but it didn't happen (probably for the best- the Crown Burger trip we had probably had us loaded up on enough calories to last a week, let's be honest). So I opted to make it this weekend instead.

This is a good one. EXTREMELY gooey. So much so, I made a mess of my parent's oven (oops). The Bairds have gotten me into a bad habit of putting brownies and cake into a bowl, and surrounding it with milk prior to eating it with a spoon... and this is a GOOD ONE to do just that with. TRY ME... at least after your Thanksgiving dinner. Seriously.

#42: Gooey Pumpkin Butterscotch Brownies (as found on pickypalate.com)

Ingredients:

1 family size brownie mix (I used Pillsbury Family Size Chocolate Fudge)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 bag butterscotch chips (it was a struggle not to eat what was in the bag before using them for the brownies...)
1 small box instant butterscotch pudding mix (it's the box that says it contains 4 1/2 servings in it)
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (of course, now I have like 1/2 a cup of unused pumpkin sitting in my fridge)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butterscotch ice cream topping (I used caramel... explanation to follow)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl mix brownie mix, water, oil, eggs, chips, pudding, pumpkin and cinnamon. Mix until well combined. 




I HAD to put this on the blog... because even though these brownies are delicious, they look like a messy situation prior to baking. But the batter is AWESOME! Reminds me of Mexican hot chocolate.


2. Pour half of mix into a 11×7 inch baking pan that has been lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. 
     - Heads up, that step about making sure you coat your pan in foil AS WELL AS cooking spray is important. These brownies will stick to everything, including the pan. In fact, when I was ripping them out of the pan, the foil actually got stuck to the sides. I am currently soaking the baking dish trying to remedy this problem.




The next following steps= pure, unadulterated food porn




Ugggggh.


3. Pour 1/2 Cup butterscotch ice cream topping over brownie mix. Pour remaining brownie mix over top and bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes mostly clean from center. Let cool for 1 hour before removing from pan and cutting into squares.
     - All right, first thing, I used caramel topping because it was about a $1.50 cheaper than the butterscotch. NO IDEA WHY. They both contained the same amount of topping, maybe it's because the caramel was Smucker's and the butterscotch was Mrs. Richardson's? Who knows... second thing, place a cookie sheet below the baking dish. When I opened up the oven after an hour, the caramel had overflowed the sides of the pan, getting all over the bottom of the oven. The resulting mess was filling my kitchen with smoke... luckily the brownies were done. And delish. And that's what's really important here.


Here you be. Try not to drool all over your laptop, eh?




Saturday, November 5, 2011

#41: Scarecrow Crunch

This was my laziest recipe to date. In fact, I don't even know if I should it include it in a baking blog because there was literally no baking involved, let alone any effort. But for the sake of my "challenge" (which we know with my current deadlines and wedding weight loss schedule, I will NEVER meet), here comes recipe #41. I obviously love baking, and sharing the goods, and I knew I wanted to make something for my kiddos for their Halloween party. Little did I know that not only would I be missing the party for my trip to Utah, but I'd also have NO TIME to bake... thank goodness for PINTEREST. I found the easiest, adorable fall recipe, and even though my kids were BAMBOOZLED by my absence from their party, my party mom assured me one girl shouted at her- "MISS PETERS MUST REALLY LOVE US! SHE MADE US STUFF!"

#41: Scarecrow Crunch (as found on Just Make Stuff- URL http://noragriffin.typepad.com/ndg/2009/09/three-things.html)

Ingredients:

8 cups crunchy oatmeal square cereal
8 cups tiny twist pretzels
2 22-ounce bags of Autumn Mix honey candies (Albertsons was out, so I used my own personal favorite stand-in: CANDY CORN!)
4 cups Reese's Pieces
4 six-ounce boxes of Crunch and Munch
2 6.6-ounce bags of Goldfish chocolate graham crackers

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl; serve as desired.

HA HA, that's it! So easy, but I used these adorable cellophane Halloween goodie bags with orange ribbons tied around them, and the mix looked gourmet. It clearly wasn't, but that was my little secret. This recipe easily made 26 bags of about 1 1/2 cups of the mix in each of them. If I was smart, I would've taken a picture as proof... but I'm not, so here is a picture from the website I snatched the recipe from, complete with the recipe tacked on to the bottom:



Next time, I vow to actually bake. PROMISE.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

#40: Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies

I can't believe this is the first time I am baking with pumpkin this fall, and it's already the fourth weekend of October- crazy! Although I have a plethora of pumpkin recipes to use, I really wanted my first foray to be these particular cookies- not only have I had it stored away to use since this last June, but I realized I hadn't made cookies in quite awhile, and they are so easy to make and share. Plus, I had to make a stop at the Baird's house and do a little... negotiating about some details for the wedding, so what better way than to butter them up with EXTREMEY buttery, pumpkin-ey cookies?

Be forewarned: these bad boys are LETHAL. So stinkin' moist, with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, they taste just like Starbucks' pumpkin scones... and they probably have just as many calories. Seriously... take a look at the ingredients list *gulp*

#40: Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies (as found on Better Homes and Gardens online... bhg.com)

Ingredients:
cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs
teaspoons vanilla
15 ounce can pumpkin
cups all-purpose flour

For the frosting:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 and 3/4 cups powdered sugar
Ground cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat 2 cups butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. 


In case you EVER wanted to know what two cups of butter looks like... eww... 

2. Add eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in pumpkin. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.
     - With this step, I added in 2 cups of flour at a time. You're going to want to use a MASSIVE bowl, because this recipe makes A LOT of batter. By the time I got to the final 2 cups of flour, I was mostly just adding it in my stirring- the electric mixer was causing a lot of it to fly right out of the top of the bowl!


See? Tons of batter... and this was even AFTER I had scooped out enough for 16 cookies.


3. Drop dough by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.
     - I used a cereal spoon to scoop out my cookies. And I left mine in for about 13 minutes to get brown, although I doubt these cookies would ever get crunchy. They puff up beautifully and are almost the consistency of those red velvet whoopie pies I made way back in May or June. 

4. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until melted and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread frosting on cookies. If desired, sprinkle with additional cinnamon. Makes about 60 cookies.
     - This recipe makes WAY more cookies than called for, and not enough frosting, so adjust accordingly. I think after all was said and done, I made six batches of 16 cookies, which, if my fourth grade teacher math is correct, is 96 COOKIES. Holy guacamole. My the time I got to the final batch, I think I had ten cookies or so that didn't get any frosting, and I had to ration it to get THAT many frosted. Plus, I didn't add the cinnamon on top because we were running low... and I didn't want to get in trouble for using it all up.

There you have it. As my dad said when I told him I had done a very bad thing creating these monsters (since they are SO addicting)- "WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? These cookies are great!"


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

#39: Cake Batter Blondies

Oh my goodness. Does this dessert have a story, or what...

Every story has a beginning, and this one starts with me pouring over recipes I found on Pinterest, naturally. Following my birthday last month, I came across this particular dessert recipe, and I knew I needed to try it out. My birthday had already come and gone, so I needed an excuse to make a birthday treat... and who better to try this out on but Midge Baird? She had been such a WILLING and POSITIVE participant in my baking forays earlier this month, plus her birthday fell on October 17th, so I thought what better person to make this for?

So here is where the story gets interesting. Several weeks ago, Stephen had mentioned that his sisters were planning on having a SURPRISE birthday dinner for their mother this last weekend. I knew this dinner would be a great time to spring the blondies on Mothers Baird, so I showed up on Saturday night with a bag full of birthday presents on one arm, and a pan of these cake batter blondies on the other. Little did I know the surprise would be on me that night...

Long story short, I ended up getting engaged to my most wonderful boyfriend... errr... fiance on this night, and... I DIDN'T EVEN GET TO TASTE THESE BARS. They were eaten up before I could even finish dancing around and screaming about my ring... so they must've been good! I'll have to try these again for myself sometime, but the Bairds insist they were delicious. Here's the recipe that APPARENTLY will get you engaged:

#39: Cake Batter Blondies (as found on cookiesandcups.com... another FABULOUS Blog... she's pretty funny)

Ingredients:


  • 1 box vanilla cake mix (I used Funfetti)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chip
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows

  • For the marshmallow buttercream icing:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Marshmallow Fluff
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
Directions:


1. Preheat oven to 350°


2. Prepare a 9×9 pan with baking spray.

3. In a large bowl combine cake mix, vegetable oil, egg and milk. Mix on medium low speed until the ingredients are just combined. Batter will be dense.
    - And very hard to resist eating at this stage. Be forewarned.

4. Stir in your chips and marshmallows until distributed evenly.

5. Spread in your prepared pan

6. Bake for 25 minutes until center is just set.
     - Again, I had to keep this pan in the oven just a little longer, but I think I might have gotten a little over zealous. I kept it in for an additional 20 minutes, or about 45 all together. I should've taken it out after about 40 minutes, the top was a little to browned for my taste.

Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting directions:

1. Mix butter and Fluff until smooth on medium speed until smooth.

2. Slowly add in powdered sugar with mixer on low.
     - Or it'll end up all over the counter and apron... not that I have ANY personal experience with this...

3. Add in milk and turn speed up to medium and mix until all combined and smooth.

4. Color frosting if desired.
     - I tried teal, it turned out 'dishwater green,' apparently no one noticed.

5. Spread over cooled blondies.

There you have it. Super simple, and luckily still crowd-pleasing...


The blog's photographer captured them much better than I did...



And here's my ring... in case you haven't seen it. Engagement? MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.