Monday, December 19, 2011

Festive Cream Cheese Cookies

I made the festive cream cheese cookies for the Junior League Holiday party.  They require a bit of prep work, but otherwise are easy to make.  The dough needs to be refrigerated or frozen prior to baking, so I made and rolled the dough the night before.  All that was left to do the day of was roll the dough in red and green sugar, slice, and bake.
I found the recommended baking time of 15-18 minutes to be a few minutes too long, so keep an eye on them.  My cookies were ready to take out of the oven after 12-13 minutes.
These cookies taste great with a cup of tea or coffee.  I'm sure Santa would love them! 

Thanks Martha!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Carrot Cupcakes with White Chocolate Icing

These cupcakes were made to bring to the Junior League Christmas Party, and they were such a hit! They are such a great alternative to your average store-bought cupcakes because they definitely have that homemade taste. The ingredients in these cupcakes, like fresh shredded carrots and crushed pineapple, make them taste delicious and fresh! And I like to say that they're extra-healthy because they have carrots and fruit in them.

The icing is the perfect compliment to the cupcakes because white chocolate makes everything taste a little better. Next time I may add a little color to the icing, or maybe sprinkle some crushed peppermint on top!

Thanks Shannon!

Almond Cookies

The new members hosted a Holiday Party this past weekend and I made a batch of Almond Cookies to bring along! This cookie recipe is pretty traditional and includes many ingredients you probably already have (baking soda, flour, sugar, etc.). I loved mixing up this recipe and my husband loved the spoonful of dough I saved for him (hooray for no raw eggs in this one!).

It includes a recipe for icing, too, which you can make any color. I chose red and green for obvious reasons. :) Happy holidays!

Thank you Shannon!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Both Joanna and Martha made this recipe and I wanted to share both of their thoughts about this delicious recipe:

From Joanna:
Last week I made the delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to bring in as a treat for my office.  I stuck pretty close to the recipe, though I did omit the oats and added in a pinch of nutmeg for some extra fall flavor.  The recipe was very easy to follow and the results were fantastic!  I recommend eating your cookie with a big cold glass of milk!

From Martha:
I made the chocolate chip pumpkin cookies for a surprise baby shower for one of my coworkers last week.  Mom-to-be has been enjoying all things pumpkin during her pregnancy, so these were perfect! 

One thing to note is that this recipe makes a lot of cookies.  The recipe notes that the yield is 8 1/2 dozen and I found that to be the case, even though I tend to end up with fewer (but bigger) cookies than called for in recipes when I bake.  Use the biggest bowl you have to mix the dough if you are going to make a full batch.  I could have make a half batch for the shower (we had about 20 people) with plenty of cookies to spare.  I actually ended up taking the rest of the cookies to a Christmas cookie exchange party the next night, so it all worked out. 

 The pumpkin makes these cookies very moist and the chocolate chips add just the right amount of sweetness.  A lot of people at the shower complimented me on the cookies and the cookies were a favorite at the cookie exchange. Another good recipe from A Thyme to Celebrate! 

Crunchy Cranberry Pie

My office always has a luncheon the day before Thanksgiving, so I took the opportunity to make something from A Thyme to Celebrate to share with my coworkers.  I decided on crunchy cranberry pie, because I love cranberries and I cannot resist buying the fresh ones that are in stores around this time of year.

I don't have a food processor (and I recently broke my blender while trying to use it as a food processor), so I chopped the cranberries by hand.  I'd say it only added 5 minutes to my prep time at most. Other than that, the preparation was straightforward and did not take much time.   I used a deep dish pie shell just to make sure the filling would fit.  

This pie was beautiful and tasted delicious.  Needless to say, my coworkers happily ate the whole thing.  My only complaint is that the pie fell apart when it was cut, but no one really seemed to mind.  I plan to add this into my rotation of fall/Thanksgiving desserts.   

Thanks for sharing Martha!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Market Days

Thank you Market Days for allowing us to sell our cookbooks at your event!!

League members volunteered to sell Pepsi products at Market Days this past weekend. We also passed out samples of our Very Best Blonde Brownies. Everyone loved the samples :)

Tomato Sauce

I rarely buy tomato sauce from the grocery store anymore because homemade sauce is really easy to make, I usually already have everything I need to make it, and it tastes SO MUCH BETTER than store-bought sauce.  I was in a pasta mood, so I thought I would try A Thyme to Celebrate's tomato sauce and serve it over pasta for dinner. 
 I made a few changes from the original recipe.  I substituted diced tomatoes for half of the crushed because I had a surplus of canned diced tomatoes in my cabinet.  This made the sauce a bit chunkier than it would have been otherwise.  I also opted for fresh basil instead of the Italian seasoning.  I added the basil to the pot with the rest of the seasonings.  I let it simmer on low for a good portion of the afternoon.  
This sauce has a great kick to it from the red pepper.  I ended up making chicken parmesan with it and it was fantastic!  The sauce tasted even better the next day.  I froze the leftover sauce for a future pasta/Italian night and I can't wait to use it!

Thank you Martha! :)

Pumpkin Roll

On the range of level of skill required to make a dessert, the pumpkin cream cheese roll would probably fall into the intermediate category. In terms of putting the ingredients together properly so that it tastes good, it's very easy, but making it pretty is a little more difficult!
 The batter is simple with few ingredients and bakes very quickly. I was concerned about it falilng apart when I tried to roll it up, but I was pleasantly surprised when it held up beautifully!  I encountered a challenge with rolling it up into the elegant pinwhell shape that these types of roll cakes are supposed to have.  I think I will have more success next time if I use a  larger baking sheet so that the cake comes out a bit thinner and less ungainly to roll up.  It's also possible that it would have looked prettier if I had used less of the cream cheese filling, but it was so delicious when I tested it that I just couldn't stand to part with any of it :)
I think this dish would be a very elegant choice for a fall brunch to go with coffee. The finished product is very similar in flavor to a carrot cake, only less sweet.

Thanks Brittany O'Connor!