Strawberry Lemon Muffins

I know I haven’t published in a while. It just seems when Summer arrives I find so many things to do outside of the kitchen that I become a little lax in my posting goals. But even though I haven’t posted for some time I think this recipe is well worth the wait.

If you’ve never baked with strawberries before, you’re in for quite a treat. Strawberries have a wonderful light tartness to them when they’re baked that beautifully offsets the sugar in a recipe. Combine that with a hint of lemon zest and juice and you have an incredible balance of flavors.

These muffins require very little effort to make and are decadently delicious. You must try them. So let’s talk about strawberry lemon muffins…

Lesson Learned 1 – Don’t cut the strawberries in too large of chunks: Strawberries give off a lot of moisture when they’re baked so you don’t want large chunks of strawberries in your muffins. That will make the muffins soggy. I cut the strawberries in half and then in half again. After that I cut the remaining pieces in thirds. The picture below gives you somewhat of a perspective on size. Just to the right of center and near the bottom is a strawberry cut in half from top to bottom. You can see the other pieces are smaller by comparison. You want to cut the strawberries into these smaller sized pieces.

It is also very important to make sure the strawberries are evenly distributed in the batter at the very end. Otherwise you might have soggy pockets in your muffins. Take the time to fold them into the batter completely before filling your muffin cups.

Lesson Learned 2 – The batter will be thicker than you think: I was surprised at how thick the batter was in this recipe. But the combination of a thick batter and strawberries creates the perfect balance for a moist and flavorful muffin. All the magic happens in the oven, so don’t worry about how thick the batter is.

Lesson Learned 3 – Fill the muffin cups almost to the top: Many times, especially when making cupcakes, recipes will say to fill the cups about 3/4 full. With these muffins fill the cups almost to the top. The muffins will rise in the oven but not dramatically so don’t worry about spillover.

Lesson Learned 4 – Tips for glazing and storing the muffins: Make sure the muffins are completely cooled before glazing them. I used a “home-made” pastry piping bag to glaze my muffins. I simply put the glaze in a sealable sandwich bag, twist the bag to get all the glaze in one corner and snip the corner squeezing the glaze over the muffins. The result is very professional looking and the process could not be any easier. Below are pictures of my “home-made” pastry bag and the muffins after they’ve been glazed.

These muffins can be stored in an air tight container for up to 5 days. They also freeze nicely. Try them and let me know what you think!

Strawberry Lemon Muffins

  • Servings: 12-15 Muffins
  • Time: 35 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups flour

3/4 cups sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 large egg, room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Zest and juice of one lemon

1 1/4 cup fresh strawberries, diced

GLAZE:

1 cup powdered sugar

Zest and juice of 1 medium sized lemon (2-3 Tbs. of juice)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with muffin cups and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Set aside.

Whisk together the egg, vanilla, vegetable oil, yogurt, lemon juice and zest. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Gently fold in the strawberries.

Fill the muffin cups almost to the top. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes then transfer the muffins to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Mix the glaze ingredients together and drizzle over the cooled muffins. Store muffins in an airtight container or freeze them.

 

Glazed Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies…

Lately I seem to be on a “sweets” kick with my posted recipes and even though I do have some savory ones in the queue I moved this one to the top simply because it it just too good. Many of you know that I bake a variety of cookies at Christmas time so normally during the year I don’t venture a lot into cookie making. But I had to try this one and it was so good that my husband would not even let me give any away. I had to freeze them so he could eat them all.

When I make cookies over the holidays I have an unwritten rule that I try one new recipe every year and phase out one recipe. That way I always experiment and I keep the cookie making manageable. I am definitely adding this recipe to the 2017 list but will still have to find another recipe to be the “new” one since technically this one is no longer new. But I am really excited about the recipe.

The thing that I love the most about this cookie is how the tartness of the blueberries balances out the sweetness of the cookie. I also like how simple this recipe is to make, you can do it with a hand mixer and a wooden spoon. But there are some specific things you need to be aware of when you make them that will help you be successful so let’s get right into my lessons learned…

Lesson Learned 1 – Be gentle when mixing the blueberries into the dough: You don’t want the blueberries to break. If they do you will wind up with blue cookies. So be careful when folding them into the dough. Do that at the very end. I also suggest adding the blueberries in a couple of batches. The dough is pretty dense and if you pour the blueberries in all at once chances are you won’t get them incorporated into all of the dough and wind up with some cookies without blueberries. Fold them in carefully and in a couple of batches and you should be just fine.

The Cookie Dough

Lesson Learned 2 – These cookies really spread: Don’t roll the dough in too big of a ball as these cookies really spread. And make sure you have enough room between each one so they don’t bake on top of one another. I would roll them into about a 1 inch ball and put two inches between each ball on the baking sheet.

Give the cookies room to spread

Lesson Learned 3 – Remember blueberries stain: Blueberries are wonderful but they will stain and when they do it is virtually impossible to get rid of the stain. So here are a couple of tips to prevent any staining. First line your baking sheet with parchment paper. That helps in two ways. These cookies are very gooey and will stick to your baking sheet. Not a problem with parchment paper. Also when blueberries bake they pop and the parchment paper prevents them from staining your baking sheet.

Also be careful when you are cooling the cookies and the blueberries may still be “leaking”. I cooled mine on a wire rack and then transferred them to a paper plate. That way I didn’t have to worry about staining any dishes as well.

Lesson Learned 4 – These cookies take a long time to bake: On average these cookies take about 14 minutes to bake depending upon how big you make them. In my first batch I rolled the dough into somewhat larger balls and that batch took about 20 minutes to bake (keep in mind I also live in high altitude and everything takes longer to cook here). Once I got the size of the balls down pat it took anywhere from 14-16 minutes, which is a lot for a cookie. You know the cookie is done when you see it begin to lightly brown around the edges. The center of the cookie may still look pale, but that’s ok. Don’t over bake this cookie. If you do you the cookies will be way too crunchy.

Lesson Learned 5 – Let the cookies somewhat cool on the baking sheet: These cookies will be very loose when you take them out of the oven. If you immediately try to put them on a cooling rack the cookies will break apart. Give them about 4-5 minutes to cool on the baking sheet before you put them on the cooling rack. The cookies will need to set a little before you can move them. Don’t worry about doing this. Since your baking sheet will be lined with parchment paper the cookies won’t stick and will transfer easily to the cooling rack once they’ve had a chance to set.

I can’t say enough about how delicious these cookies are. I know if you make them they will become a household staple. You’ve got to try these cookies. And as always, please let me know how they turned out for you. Enjoy!

Glazed Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies...

  • Servings: 2 Dozen
  • Time: 14-16 Minutes Baking Time
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla

3 cups quick cooking oats

1 cup blueberries

GLAZE:

1 cup powdered sugar

juice of one small lemon

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugars. Beat thoroughly until very creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla.

With a wooden spoon add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Add the oats and stir to combine. Last fold in the blueberries in a couple of batches being careful not to break the blueberries.

Roll the dough into one inch balls and place on the baking sheet, leaving approximately two inches between each ball.

Bake for 14 minutes or until the edges start to turn brown (the center of the cookie may still look light and that is ok). Remove the cookies from the oven and let them set on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes. Remove the cookies from the baking sheet to a wire rack to finish the cooling process.

Combine the ingredients for the glaze. You may find you need a little more powdered sugar depending on how thick you want the glaze. If the glaze is too thick add a little more lemon juice until you get the desired consistency. Drizzle the glaze over completely cooled cookies and let the glaze harden. Store cookies in an air tight container or freeze them.

Glazed Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies

Raspberry Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies…

If you have been following me for a while you know every holiday season I bake cookies, and I mean lots of cookies. I can do anywhere from 6-9 different kinds. My one promise to myself is that every year I will try a new cookie recipe. Well here’s this year’s pick. Now I know I’ve made thumbprint cookies in the past, but I couldn’t remember why I stopped making them. Well, I remember now. The thumbprint cookie is an excellent subject for this type of blog since there is one big lesson learned that they just don’t seem to tell you in recipes. So, if you want to be successful making thumbprint cookies, this is the blog for you.

So let’s not waste any time – let’s talk thumbprint cookies…

Lesson Learned 1 – NEVER FILL THE THUMB IMPRINT ALL THE WAY WITH JAM!!! – I had completely forgotten about this and had a rude awakening when I put my first batch of cookies in the oven. Although you may be really tempted, never completely fill the thumbprint indentation with jam. During the baking process the jam will bubble up and if you fill the imprint completely you will wind up with jam spilling all over the sides of the cookies and onto the baking sheet. I’m not sure why they don’t make a point of telling you this in recipes, but they don’t.

Fill the imprint halfway or slightly less. Then when the cookies come out of the oven fill in the imprint to make the cookie look full and lush. That way you will have great looking cookies and not have to worry about cleaning baked-on jam off the cookie sheet. If you do get some baked-on jam, clean the cookie sheet right away. The longer you wait the harder it will get until you feel like you are trying to remove rocks.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls

Lesson Learned 2 – I’m not sure why they call them thumbprints when you really should use your index finger: I found if I use my thumb to make the imprint in the cookie one side becomes lower than the other. But if I take my index finger and stick it into the middle of the cookie I get a nice even indentation. You can also use the butt end of a wooden spoon to achieve the same results. Just another trick that will help with potential “jam spill over” and will make the cookies look uniform.

Index finger indentations

Lesson Learned 3 – Let the cookies cool before you drizzle on the glaze: As with any type of glaze, if you want it to be noticeable on your cookie and not melt in, you need to make sure the cookies have cooled before drizzling it on top. Also the thicker the glaze the more visible it will be. My glaze was somewhat thinner and it was not quite as noticeable but still did the trick.

These are very tasty cookies and they were a great addition to my cadre of traditional holiday cookies. Try them and see what you think. But make sure you heed my lessons learned…

RASPBERRY THUMBPRINT SHORTBREAD COOKIES...

  • Servings: 3 1/2 Dozen
  • Time: 90 Minutes Including Prep
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

1 cup butter, room temperatureRaspberry Shortbread Cookie

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. almond extract

2 cups flour

Seedless Raspberry Jam

Glaze:

1/2 tsp. orange zest

2 -3 Tbs. orange juice

1 cup powdered sugar

(You can also use the type of glaze listed below – I like the mixture of the orange and the raspberry)

1 cup powdered sugar

2-3 Tbs. of water

1/2 tsp. almond extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the almond extract. Gradually add the flour and mix well until the dough forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using your index finger make an indentation in the center of the ball. Fill the indentation only part way with jam (filling in half the hole or slightly less).

Bake for 14 – 18 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are slightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Add additional jam into cookies if needed or desired. Let the cookies cool.

FOR THE GLAZE: Mix all the ingredients together. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies. Refrigerate or freeze cookies that will not be consumed right away.

Right out of the oven

Cooling on the rack

Raspberry Shortbread Cookie

Raspberry Thumbprint Shortbread Cookies

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake…

There’s a lot going on in my life right now so over the next few months I may not be able to meet my weekly goal of publishing a new recipe. I will try to publish as often as I can but rest assured I will get back to my weekly postings asap. I do have some time to post today and so I chose a recipe that my husband went bonkers over. When your husband turns to you and says, “Hon, this cake is really, REALLY good” you know you hit the jackpot!

I never tried making a coffee cake before so I was a little leery. But judging by the results I will certainly be making one again soon. There were a few tricks in getting this right and I’ll share them in my lessons learned. So let’s talk apple cinnamon coffee cake…

Lesson Learned 1 – The hardest part of the recipe is spreading the batter in the pan: The first layer of batter you spread over the bottom of a springform pan lined with parchment paper. It was an interesting trick trying to keep the parchment paper in place while spreading the batter. What I wound up doing was dolloping the batter in various spots over the parchment paper and spreading it with my right hand while holding the parchment paper down near one of the edges of the pan with my left index finger. After a while I got the hang of it but just be warned it may be an interesting journey starting out.

Then the next hardest part is spreading the second layer of batter over the apples and crumble. My advice is to make sure you dollop batter all around the pan versus putting all the batter in the center and then trying to spread it out. Remember on the second layer you will get part of the crumble mixed in with the batter. Don’t worry about that. You can’t avoid it.

Lesson Learned 2 – A little bit of batter goes a long way: This recipe does not have a lot of batter. When you spread the batter on the bottom it creates a very thin layer. But the combination of the batter, apples and crumble creates a substantive cake. Just be forewarned that the layer of batter on the bottom will be thin so don’t worry about that.

Slice the apples in small chunksLesson Learned 2 – Cut your apples into small pieces: You want to make sure that the apples cook and so you need to slice them in small pieces. I normally do this part of the recipe first. Then in order to prevent the apples from oxidizing while I get everything else ready, I squeeze just a little bit of fresh lemon juice over them and make sure all the apples are lightly coated with the juice. By doing this the apples will retain their color until you are ready to add them into the cake.

Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paperLesson Learned 4: Make sure you prepare the pan so the cake can be easily removed once it has cooled: You need to do a couple of things to prepare the springform pan. First you need to grease the sides and the bottom. Second you need to cover the bottom with parchment paper. I start out by opening the latch on the pan and removing the bottom. I normally take a piece of parchment paper, put it over the bottom part and trace the outline of it onto the paper. Then I just cut out the what I outlined. I do that first before greasing the pan. Then I reassemble the pan, grease the bottom and sides and then put the parchment paper in place to cover the bottom.

Lesson Learned 5 – The layering of the cake is a process: Let me show you that process in the pictures below…

The first layer with the batter and diced apples

The first layer with the batter and diced apples

The first layer completed with batter, apples and crumble

The first layer completed with batter, apples and crumble

The second layer of batter on top of the crumble

The second layer of batter on top of the crumble

Ready to go into the oven

Ready to go into the oven

The finished coffee cake

The finished coffee cake

Assembling this may be a little tricky but I guarantee you the end result is worth it. Try it and tell me what you think…

APPLE CINNAMON COFFEE CAKE

  • Servings: 16
  • Time: 1 Hour Including Prep
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

Crumble:

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 small granny smith apples, peeled and diced small

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup sliced almonds for the very top (not added to the crumble mixture)

The Batter:

4 Tbs. unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 extra large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

The Glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1-2 Tbs. heavy cream (use the smaller amount for a thicker glaze)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8 inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and set aside. Peel and dice the apples. Pour the lemon juice over the diced apples and stir until all the pieces of apple are coated. Set aside.

For the crumble, whisk together all of the dry ingredients except the sliced almonds. Add the melted butter and vanilla and stir until combined. Set aside.

For the batter, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add the vanilla and sour cream and beat the mixture until well combined. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.

Dollop half the batter around the bottom of the springform pan and spread to evenly distribute. Distribute the apple chunks evenly over the batter and sprinkle about 1 cup of the crumble on top of the apples. Spread the remaining half of the batter over the top of the crumble (it will be easier if you dollop the batter around the pan before spreading). Spread the remaining crumble over the batter. Distribute the sliced almonds evenly over the crumble.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges of the cake before unlocking the springform pan.

Let the cake cool completely before adding the glaze. To make the glaze combine all of the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze all over the cake. Slice and enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Cherry Pie Squares…

I was looking for a way to use a can of cherry pie filling I had in my pantry and I didn’t  want to make a traditional pie so I decided to make these instead. I love these because you satisfy your cherry pie craving with a tasty little morsel. These squares are easy to make and impressive looking. Your friends will think you are an accomplished baker when you make these.

So let’s talk cherry pie squares…

Lesson Learned 1: You need less batter on top than you think: Initially I only used 1 1/2 cups of batter for the bottom crust of he squares. That left me with quite a bit of batter for the top. I found in making this that a little batter goes a long way. It is better to dot the top with small dollops of batter far enough away from each other so they spread out but not necessarily touch. The pictures below show the amount of batter I put on top and my final product. Next time I make these I will use smaller amounts of dough to dot the top and probably set aside 1 3/4 cups for the bottom crust.  That way I will have a little more dough for the crust and the small dollops will still be more than enough for the top.

The batter on top of the pie filling

Cherry Pie Squares

Lesson Learned 2 – A little bit of baking spray goes a long way: The best way to insure that the squares don’t stick to the pan is to either spray the pan with baking spray or line it with parchment paper. This time I chose to use baking spray. Don’t overdo spraying the bottom of your pan with the spray. You don’t want to make the crust soggy. Just spray lightly. Next time I make these I am going to line the pan with parchment paper instead of spraying the bottom. I tend to prefer that method.

Lesson Learned 3 – The batter is very sticky: When spooning the crust batter into your baking dish you might want to take large spoonfuls and put them in various parts rather than taking the full amount and just putting it in the middle. You will need to pat the batter down with your hands to cover the entire bottom of the baking dish. I suggest spraying your hands with baking spray. It makes this job much less difficult. After I covered the entire bottom I smoothed the batter with an icing knife.

The bottom crust of the cherry pie squares

Lesson Learned 4 – Leave about an inch around edges when adding the cherry pie filling: The cherry pie filling will run during the baking process. Leaving some space around the edges will allow the batter to rise around the edges making it easier to remove the squares when the time comes.

Adding the cherry pie filling

Lesson Learned 5 – If you can use heavy cream when making the glaze: I found that if you use heavy cream in a glaze the consistency and flavor are much better. Don’t go out and buy heavy cream just for the glaze if you don’t already have it. But if you do I think you’ll find you’ll prefer glazes made with heavy cream to those that are not.

After I made these I gave some to my neighbors. Everyone of them asked for the recipe. I think you will enjoy these a lot! Try them and let me know what you think.

CHERRY PIE SQUARES…

  • Servings: 20 Squares
  • Time: 50 Minutes Including Prep
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

Cherry Pie Squares1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1 1/2 cups flour, sifted

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 can cherry pie filling, 21 ounces

Sliced almonds

GLAZE:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp. almond extract

2-4 Tbs. of heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with baking spray or line with parchment paper. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until completely combined. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Do not over mix. Take 1 3/4 cup of the batter and smooth over the bottom of the baking dish. Spoon the cherry pie filling over the batter, leaving about an inch of batter around all the edges. Dollop the remaining batter on top of the pie filling. Sprinkle the top with sliced almonds.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool completely. Mix all of the glaze ingredients together and drizzle over the top. Cut and serve.

Cherry Pie Squares

Cherry Pie Squares

Cherry Pie Squares

 

Iced Cranberry Orange Walnut Cookies…

It’s cranberry season, my favorite time of year. I love cooking and baking with cranberries. Their tartness adds zip to both sweet and savory recipes. I especially like them in cookies. I think they balance out the sweetness in cookie recipes and add a festive flavor.

Now need I mention that it is also getting very close to holiday baking season, and every year I try out at least one new cookie recipe. I saw a version of this recipe in an Allrecipes magazine and tweaked it not only from an ingredient perspective but also to adapt it to high altitude baking.

High altitude baking can be tricky and unless you purchase a cookbook specifically written for high altitude baking you are most likely using ingredient amounts designed for sea level. The higher the altitude the lower the air pressure which makes it difficult for the baker. Baking depends on specific interactions of various ingredients such as flour, leavening, fats and liquid. Those interactions change with a change in air pressure. And to make matters worse, baking at 3,500 feet is different from baking at 5,000 feet and as you continue to rise in elevation the trickier it gets. I live at a 5,000 feet and have done a lot of research into how to adapt recipes for that elevation and still have some baking failures. But the more you do it, the better you get at it. The additions to this recipe are specifically designed for baking these cookies at 5,000 feet. I played around with the ingredients and I nailed it! But since many of you are probably at sea level I will use sea level amounts as the base and note what needs to be changed for high altitude.

IMG_8408Lesson Learned 1 – Use the juice from fresh oranges: Fresh ingredients are always the best. This recipe requires both orange zest and juice. Don’t take the easy way out and use bottled orange juice. Plus take a look at the amount of sugar in your orange juice. It’s crazy the amount of sugar there is a most juices. It can be anywhere from 10 to 30 grams. That’s a lot of sugar. Use fresh juice. Any small way that you can control the amount of sugar in anything you make is a good thing.

Cookie batter and scoopLesson Learned 2 – Use a cookie scoop to ensure even amounts of cookie dough: When I was growing up most cookie recipes would say drop the dough in rounded teaspoons or tablespoons onto the cookie sheet. That wasn’t very precise and you want to make sure you can, to the best of your ability, make each cookie the same size. That way every cookie will bake evenly versus having some baked and others raw or burnt.

These days you can purchase what looks like a small ice cream scoop to make the cookie dough virtually the same size on your baking sheet. Working with them can be a little tricky so here is a helpful hint: spray the inside of the scoop with baking spray before scooping any dough. That way the dough will release more easily. I found that even with using baking spray the scoop gets pretty gummed up after scooping out a dozen or so cookies. Once you’ve filled your baking sheet, put your dirty scoop into a glass of warm water. When you’re ready to scoop out more dough, take a paper towel, wipe the inside clean and spray it again. This may sound like a lot of work but the results are evenly sized, evenly baked cookies.

Cooking dough on the baking sheet

Lesson Learned 3 – How to glaze cookies: I’m not a professional baker nor do I have some of the tools that professional bakers have namely pastry bags and decorator nozzles. When I glaze cookies I put the glaze in a plastic bag, work it into one of the bottom corners, twist close the top of the bag and snip the corner where the glaze settled. Voila, a home made pastry bag! Here are a couple of helpful hints for glazing cookies and working with a homemade pastry bag:

  1. Open the plastic bag and put it in a tall drinking glass, spreading the bag open as widely as you can inside the glass. Now you have an easy way of pouring the glaze into the bag and both of your hands are free to do this.
  2. Snip only a very small portion off of one of the corners of the bottom of the bag. That way you’ll have a manageable stream of glaze when decorating your cookies.
  3. Put a sheet of wax paper under a cooling rack and put your cookies on the cooling rack before glazing. That way clean up will be a breeze.
  4. Just free flow the glaze over your cookies. You can do each cookie individually or do one long strip back and forth over a row of cookies. Have fun with it.
  5. Let the glaze set before storing them. Touch the glaze and if feels firm then you’re ready to store them.

These are fabulous cookies and perfect for a holiday get-together. You really should try these and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Iced Cranberry Orange Walnut Cookies

  • Servings: 4 dozen cookies
  • Time: 90 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

Cookie Dough:Iced Cranberry Orange Walnut Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar (minus 1 Tbs. for high altitude)

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (minus 3/4 Tbs. for high altitude)

1 egg, room temperature

1 tsp. orange zest (1 large orange will give you the zest and juice you need)

2 Tbs. orange juice (plus 2 Tbs. for high altitude)

2 1/2 cups flour (plus 2 Tbs. for high altitude)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Glaze:

1/2 tsp. orange zest

3-4 Tbs. orange juice

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in egg until thoroughly combined. Add zest and juice and combine.

In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add in batches to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until combined. Stir in the cranberries and walnuts by hand.

Drop dough in rounded tablespoons (the cookie scoop will do this perfectly for you) two inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes (mine baked in 13 minutes – sea level baking on average takes less time). Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

For the glaze: combine all ingredients together. Drizzle glaze onto the cookies. Let the cookies stand until the glaze has set and then store.

Iced Cranberry Orange Walnut Cookies

IMG_8456

Iced Cranberry Orange Walnut Cookies

Cinnamon Roll Cake…

I like to dabble with baking, trying new and interesting ways of creating sweet delectable treats. And let me tell you, where that’s concerned this recipe takes the cake (pun intended)! Every bite of this cake tastes exactly like a cinnamon roll. It is unbelievably good. I took some of this to work and one of my co-workers said it was an absolutely wicked treat. You must try this one.

So let’s talk about making this cake..

Lesson Learned 1 – The ingredients for the cake are a bit untraditional: Most cake recipes use a combination of baking soda and baking powder, usually a teaspoonful or less of each, as leavening agents for the batter. This particular cake recipe uses 4 teaspoons of baking powder and no baking soda. It seems like a lot of baking powder, but what that amount actually does is create a yeasty bread-like quality for the cake. You can see in the picture below the bubbles created by using the large amount of baking powder. It was interesting to see its affect on the batter. And when you think about it, cinnamon rolls tend to have a texture that’s more like bread than cake, so using the larger amount of baking powder to create that consistency makes sense.

Bubbles In The Batter

Another somewhat non traditional aspect to making the batter is adding the melted butter. Once you’ve combined all the ingredients together, you slowly add the melted butter into the batter. It is important to add it slowly so that the butter fully incorporates. I poured a little in at a time, mixed it in, and repeated that process until all the melted butter was fully incorporated into the batter. It gave the batter the luxurious consistency you see below.

The Cake Batter

Before adding the melted butter the cake batter will look a little lumpy. As you slowly add the melted butter the lumps will disappear.

Lesson Learned 2 – The cinnamon topping will be thick in consistency: A lot of cinnamon cake recipes have more of a streusel-like mixture that you incorporate into cake batter. The topping for this cake is thicker and more frosting-like as you can see from the picture below.

The Cinnamon Topping

When preparing this mixture it’s very important the butter be as soft as possible without melting it. I put the butter in the microwave and kept nuking it in 10 second increments until it was slightly runny along the edges. You can see from the picture below how soft the butter was before I mixed it with the other topping ingredients.

The Topping Ingredients

Lesson Learned 3 – How to combine the cinnamon and cake batter: Many recipes similar to this require sprinkling the topping on the batter and using a knife to swirl it down into the cake. You don’t need to do that with this recipe. All you need to do is dollop the cinnamon mixture on top and use a knife and spread it around. The cinnamon will permeate the batter while it bakes. Try to spread the mixture as close to the edges as possible. That way the end pieces will have some cinnamon in them as well.
Swirled Cinnamon Mixture

Dollop The Cinnamon On Top Of The Batter

Lesson Learned 4 – Add the glaze when the cake is still warm: Most of the time you wait for a cake to cool before you add glaze. With this recipe you add the glaze while the cake is still slightly warm. That way it seeps into the cake as well as stays on top. I prefer to make thicker glazes for this type of recipe so I combine heavy cream and milk with the vanilla and powdered sugar to get a rich, thick glaze.

Thick Rich Glaze

I hope you decide to try this recipe. It is sinfully delicious and keeps well in an air tight container. I got two thumbs up on this on this one from my co-workers and my husband!

Cinnamon Roll Cake…

  • Servings: 20-24 Squares
  • Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes Including Prep
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:
CAKE BATTER:

Cinnamon Roll Cake

3 cups flour (plus 2 Tbs. high altitude)

4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup sugar (7/8 cup high altitude)

1 1/2 cups milk

3 tsp. vanilla extract

2 extra large eggs

1/2 cup butter, melted.

CINNAMON TOPPING MIXTURE:

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 Tbs. flour

2 heaping Tbs. cinnamon

1 cup very soft butter

GLAZE:

2 cups powdered sugar

5 Tbs. heavy cream

2-3 Tbs. Milk

1 tsp. vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all of the ingredients for the cinnamon topping and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of the cake batter ingredients except the melted butter. After everything is combined, slowly add the melted butter in small amounts making sure it is thoroughly combined before adding more. Continue with this process until all of the melted butter is incorporated into the batter.

Spray a 9 x 13 dish with cooking spray. Add the batter to the dish and smooth until evenly distributed. Dollop portions of the cinnamon mixture on top of the batter. Using a smooth edged knife, swirl the cinnamon mixture all over the top of the batter getting the mixture as close to the edges of the pan as possible.

Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Mix together all of the glaze ingredients. While the cake is still slightly warm, pour the glaze all over the top of the cake. The cake keeps best when stored in an airtight container.

The Cake Right Out Of The Oven

The Cake Right Out Of The Oven

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf…

Being forced to take it easy after spinal surgery has its advantages and disadvantages. For the life of me I never thought I would feel guilty just taking it easy. It’s made me realize that our lives are so full and programmed that once you’re forced to just relax and heal it feels very strange – and it’s also very hard.

The one could thing about my recuperation is I am relatively mobile. I have to be careful with my movement, no bending or twisting and the waist, and no lifting anything over ten pounds. But other than that my activity is based on what I think my body can tolerate and how I feel. The key is to try to continually build up my strength and activity.

And what kind of activity has in recent years become a passion of mine? Well, cooking and baking of course! So today instead of just loafing around it was time to get active and make a loaf, a lemon blueberry yogurt loaf to be exact. This recipe comes from a website called Sweet Peas in the Kitchen and I found it on Pinterest (surprise, surprise). What intrigued me about the recipe was the process for making the loaf.

Ingredients

Ingredients

The ingredients consist of all the usual suspects, flour, sugar, lemon juice and zest, yogurt, eggs, vanilla, blueberries and such. But the interesting part of making this loaf is what you do to it once it comes out of the oven. This recipe calls for making a lemon sugar syrup that you cook on the stove and brush all over the loaf after you’ve thoroughly pierced it with a toothpick. Once the syrup soaks in you continue the process again until the syrup is completely used up. The idea here is to add moisture to the inside of the loaf after it bakes. This was a new one for me. Then once the loaf is completely cooled you make a simple lemon juice and confectioners sugar glaze and drizzle it all over.  Sounded interesting, so I had to try it.

As with all recipes I get from Pinterest, once I initially try them I like to rate them and talk briefly about some lessons I learned while making them. So, first the RATING: A. I really like this recipe. It is easy and very flavorful. You know when you lick the batter and it’s yummy that you’ve got a winner on your hands. This is definitely one to put into your recipe box.

Lessons Learned: 1 : The recipe calls for fresh or frozen blueberries rinsed and coated with a little flour, a common trick to get the blueberries not to gather at the bottom of the cake while its baking. I couldn’t find fresh blueberries so I opted for frozen. Frozen ones are mushier and wetter and so next time I will use fresh blueberries. Although my blueberries did not totally sink the the bottom, they definitely showed a propensity to being there and I’m thinking fresh blueberries will be drier and because of that more evenly distribute themselves in the loaf.

Folding Blueberries Into The Batter

Folding Blueberries Into The Batter

Lesson Learned 2: I was intrigued by the process of piercing the warm loaf and brushing it with a lemon sugar syrup. I’d never heard of using this type of technique to infuse moisture into a loaf once it’s baked. I found that it does indeed add moisture but felt that using the entire amount was not necessary. The recipe calls for a mixture of 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar cooked on the stove and applied until gone. I would decrease that to 1/4 cup each and maybe even after some experimentation to 1/8 of a cup. I definitely don’ t think you need all of it, but try it and see what you think.

Loaf Basted With A Lemon Sugar Syrup

Loaf Basted With A Lemon Sugar Syrup

Lesson Learned 3: Note to self. I need to get a new loaf pan. I currently use a dark one and it tends to really cook the edges of loaves much faster than the center and so my edges tend to get very crispy before the center is completely done. I want to try either a glass or just light metal pan to see if it makes a difference. I have a feeling it will. Have you any thoughts on what works best?

All in all, as you can see by the final product below, I am very pleased with the way it turned out considering it was the first time I made it. You should add this recipe to your repertoire – it’s a keeper!

The Finished Iced Cake

The Finished Iced Cake

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf