Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Years Eve! Fitting In One Last Recipe Review

Its already New Years Eve!Wow! This year has gone by so fast that I really feel I didn't post that much this year.Well, to end the last day of 2011 gracefully I will fit in one last blog post.

This week,I was actually struggling with writers blocks the whole time and I guess the holidays were keeping me distracted from writing.Now with all that time wasted It ended up being a good thing because now I have lots to share for this New years eve post.

Anyways, Doesn't anyone feel that Christmas sure went by fast this year? I sure think so because after Christmas I thought I had lots of time to share with all of you about it.Distracted I guess, because now I'm here on December 31st writing about it.Well I guess to sum it up, my Christmas was full of great gifts, great food and yummy baked good.For gifts, I received some cute handmade items, baking equipment,a new outfit and some chocolates/candies.I hope everyone else had a great Christmas/Holiday.

Also, for the holidays I did some baking, which I shared about on my previous post;however I never revealed what I made as a baking gift.Now that all the gifts have been given out I can now share with all of you about the special treat.When I was choosing what treat to make I went with a simple recipe,simple ingredients and treat that looks fancy.Also, I picked something easy to handle for wrapping and wouldn't spoil to fast.So I went with a choosing a cookie recipe.

Now when you look at these cookies your probably thinking these aren't fancy, they are just simple sugar cookies rolled in colored sugar.Well, your right for the most part, but they are actually so much more then a sugar cookie.Their texture and flavor are completely different and their is more then meets the eye, with these cookies.Meaning a SURPRISE!

Surprise? You say.Yes! I didn't mention what these cookies are actually called till now.Their name is Hidden Surprise Cookies.When you take your first look they are a sugar cookie with sprinkles;however when someone takes a bite they will be pleasantly surprised by a chocolate cookie center.I loved this idea as a baking gift and I was ready for the challenge.

 The recipe was pretty simple as I wanted;however it was more time consuming then I wished.This should of went through my thought process since you have to roll and wrap 1 tbsp each of white dough around each 1 inch chocolate ball.It gets easier as you go on and its okay if you end up with leftover chocolate balls.I ended up with two leftover and just baked it with the rest.If you want every single cookie covered be sure to be exact how much dough you use from each.I'll will give this recipe 2.5 out of 3 because its sometime hard to be exact all the time.

Now on to the texture. These cookie layers worked quite well together and have all the favorite elements of chewy,crunchy,soft and melting in your mouth.I going to give these cookies a 3 out of 3 for texture. For flavors, well I got to say this cookie bounces around with flavors. White cookie dough and chocolate cookie dough are of course going to be a great mix together,but the layering bring something more then just a marble cookie could bring. I think its because you always get a rich chocolate moist center. Also, for an surprise their is almond flavoring added to the white dough, which works well with the rich cocoa powder flavor of the chocolate center. Neither becomes to over barren on each other, which I think is a bonus.I'm also going to give these a 3 out of 3 for flavor.

Now on to the last and most important part about this cookie, its appearance. This is what really sells these cookies.At first you see green and red sprinkles on a sugar cookie and then when you break them apart they have a brand new look.However to get the best appearance I do advised to be very careful how much you use of each layer because you can end up with chocolate showing though the cookie.This happened with a few of my cookies;however the sprinkles helped to hide this issue.

These are great for the holidays, including new years eve parties.They are even great year round because you can easily change the sprinkles.The hidden surprise was the one aspect of this recipe that made be excited to make them.I've seen them in various ways and was always afraid to tackle the idea until now.Now I can make them anytime I want and bring something new to the table. I want to also thank my sister for taking the lovely photo of the cookie split open.

Have a great new years everyone! 
Happy New Year!

Hidden Surprise Cookies 

(Adapted from Christmas Cookies 1997,Better Homes And Gardens Special Interest Publications)

1/2 cup butter ( no substitutes)
1/4 cup butter or butter flavoring shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1 egg
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 sifted powder sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp melted butter
1 /4 tsp almond extract
Coarse colored sugar or candy sprinkles

Cream 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup butter in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed.Add granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt,beat till combined.Then beat in egg, egg yolks and vanilla till combined.Beat in as much flour as you can with the electric mixer.Stir in the rest with a wooden spoon.

Clean electric beaters.

Remove 3/4 cup of the cookie dough and place in a small bowl.Add in powder(icing) sugar,sifted cocoa and melted butter.Beat ingredients very well.Shape into 1 inch balls.

Beat almond extract into the remaining white dough.

For Hidden Surprise Cookies:Wrap about 1 tbsp of rolled out almond flavored dough around each 1 inch chocolate ball.Be sure to roll gently to make a smooth ball and gently pinch to completely enclose the center.Once that's done roll each ball in colored sugar or candy sprinkles. Then place them on a greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart from each other.

Bake at 375 F.Don't place them a preheated oven. They will be done after 10 minutes.Bottoms will be lightly brown and edges will be lightly golden.Also don't worry if  the bottoms are showing the chocolate center this sometimes happen when either the chocolate ball was to big or not enough dough covering it. If this happens sprinkle on some more sprinkles while they are warm.It won't completely hide it, but it will help.They will be eaten so quickly no one will notice.

Cool cookies on pan for 1 minute.Cool completely on a wire rack.Makes about 28- 30 cookies.30 cookies if you have pretty close to the exact measurement of the cookie balls.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!


Wow! This exciting day is already here. I hope its full of joy and great food for everyone. I just got all my Christmas baking done on Christmas eve. I ended up making my favourites from last year. Speculass Cookies and Butter Tarts. Enjoy the pictures and happy holidays. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A New Holiday Favorite!

 Happy Holidays Everyone!

Wow! Only four more sleeps till Christmas and I still have to do some Holiday baking for this week.I'm always that last minute person to get everything done. However if you think about, my baked treats will end up being fresher for Christmas day!

Anyways, what is every body's holiday baking plans for this week? Maybe your making a traditional gingerbread house or something simpler like sugar cookies.Whatever it need be, be sure to share about it in the comments. I love to hear all the delicious treats your making for the holidays.

If your someone that's still stuck in what to make.I highly recommend trying out this delicious recipe for a Blueberry Coffee Cake. Now your probably thinking "this really doesn't fit the holidays and blueberries aren't in season.Well don't worry because this is a super adaptable coffee cake where you can easily change the topping to whatever you want. Also, if your someone like me that has frozen fruit on hand.This can be easily used for your topping.Just remember to thaw!

This is a simple cake that will easily impress a crowd.Its great served warm and as well cold.It uses very little fat content in the cake and streusel, which I think is a big plus.It is a slightly smaller coffee cake only about 9inch square size cake or one 9 inch round cake.However I can easily see doubling this recipe to create a 9 by 13 inch cake for a larger crowd.The streusel is actually pretty optional. This cake holds it own without it;however if you choose to go with the streusel, I highly recommend using cold butter for flavor and texture.Hard margarine would be a secondary choice.For me I only had a slightly softer margarine to use so I wasn't able to create the best topping, but it was good enough.

The cake batter is really easy to make and uses very little ingredient to create it.I can see adding a little more to the cake such as fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg,cloves etc.Also the milk in the recipe can be easily change to maybe buttermilk or eggnog for a richer moister cake.Yum! Now I wish I did that for this cake.The ideas are endless for this recipe.

Now, I've tasted quite a few coffee cakes and this is a top favorite of mine.The cake is moist and crumbly, while not being overly sweet.The topping gives a great sweetness while the streusel gives a crumbly, crunchy texture.Really the appearance, texture and flavor will be different from each cake made based on what choice you have as a topping.All I can tell you is that its a simple recipe to follow and I recommend following the streusel recipe ingredients closely to create the best topping.

It may not be your first thought to create a blueberry or even a fruit coffee cake.But try it out you might be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Super Easy Applesauce Raisin Cookies!

These applesauce raisin cookies remind me so much of hermit cookies.They have a similar texture and use the same basic spice mixture.The only difference with this recipe is it contains applesauce.The apples give a small flavor of fruit,but mostly works its magic in keeping them moist.Because of this ingredient you don't want to put these cookies in a jar.If done they will stick to each other.Other then that these cookies are the best!

These are a basic spice cookie,which are very popular during the Christmas season. I assume spice cookies are quite liked around this time because their quick to make and you can basically throw any ingredient you like in with them.They are aromatic as well and a great milk cookie.Also, they are a great last minute cookie to make to serve Santa when he arrives at your home on Christmas eve! Easy for the children to make as well.

They have great spice flavor and have the texture combination of soft,chewy,fluffy and just a little crispness .They rise very well and don't spread to thin.They are thick and are very cake like.The raisins give just that added chewy texture and another fruit flavor to go along with the apple.I really like these cookies and will make them again.Using very little ingredient and bake quite fast,I have to give two thumbs up to the recipe.Also,just remember if you make these don't put them in a cookie jar! 

Anyways, I have to say TGIF because its that much closer to the weekend.But I'm also slightly bummed because then theirs no mail! Oh well, have a great day everyone!

Applesauce Raisin Cookies 
(Adapted from Applesauce Raisin Cookies by Lacy Evans in Carols & Cookies,Cowichan News Leader Pictorial Booklet)

1 cup chunky or smooth unsweetened applesauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup soft margarine/hard margarine/butter
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins  to 1 cup raisins

In a medium bowl, I creamed the margarine,applesauce, egg and sugar till well combined.
I stirred in the flour,baking.powder,baking.soda, cinnamon,cloves and salt till well combined.Then stirred in the raisins. Turned the oven on to 350F.Dropped by spoonfuls onto a nonstick pan(greased cookie sheet would work too)I baked them till golden brown and spring back.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Review Of The New Kraft Dinner Smart Vegetable

I just recently tried the new Kraft Dinner Smart Vegetables Macaroni And Cheese. I haven't had Kraft dinner for a long time and since I had a 75 cent coupon off for the product.I thought I should try this out and review my findings.

Now, what is specifically new about this New Kraft Dinner?

Well right from the get go you can see they have a brand new look. I actually really like what they have created here in the background because they use bright colors and nature to bring positivity.You can see the blue sky and clouds hovering a big field.The picture really connects with the product and is eye catching to the consumer.Image is extremely important in a product and sometimes we don't even notice we buy based on look. Its also quite easy to find in stores since it looks so different from the original KD.

Kraft has also introduced three other macaroni and cheese products, which include Flax omega-3 high fiber and vegetables three cheese .They also have the same bright and positive image; however they  all have a color on each one to tell the difference(check out links).I haven't try these specific KD products yet and at this time I can only give my opinion specifically to this one.

All three of these New Kraft Dinners, include wheat flour in their macaroni pasta;however with this one you get the added bonus of the pasta being made with cauliflower. They actually explain on the package that it includes 1/2 serving of veggies per 50 grams of pasta.I'm glad that Kraft is making their products healthier,especially since Kraft dinner is such a popular meal with children.Also, the new K.D.S products are still a source of fiber and calcium along with being a good source of protein and iron.Its also a popular item among adults and did you know its quite a popular item in Canada.We love our pasta!

Now people that are reading this that hate cauliflower or have children that do.All I have to say is "Don't worry, you or your children wont see or taste the difference" The commercials that you may of seen for this product are proven to be right, you can't taste vegetables at all! So for the picky eater's of the world,which their are many, this is specifically made for you. 

What's also new is they have improved their cheese sauce by removing artificial flavors,colors and preservatives.For me I've never been to keen on the powdered cheese aspect of this product, but I know its all about making the product non perishable and convenient.So I'll let that attribute slide because the sauce does deliver in flavor.Its still the same from what I remember as a kid,which is rich,smooth and cheesy.The noodles are tender and are still extremely small compared to actual macaroni noodles.You taste no veggies and its exactly the same as original Kraft dinner.

 Its a quick and filling meal that we all seem to love.If it be the convenient version
,homemade or restaurant.Its a comfort food at its best and is very adaptable.We can add our favorite meat,seasonings,cheese or even vegetables to this dish.For me even after a few bites I added in one slice of Kraft process cheese to create a richer and creamier macaroni and cheese.It was so good and highly recommend the idea.

The recipe is still the same as always even though I recommend less milk to be used.Who wants liquidity pasta, not me! For more information on nutritional facts, be sure to check out the first picture,which includes the back of box.I was actually quite surprised that I was able to understand everything written in the ingredients list.Good on you Kraft!. 

I'm given two thumbs up for this product,but I do wish they would deliver bigger macaroni noodles for KD eventually.

 (I was not compensated or asked to do this review.I wanted to test my review skills and I'm a Kraft fan)


    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Almost Perfect Chocolate Peppermint Slices

    This is the first time I have ever made chocolate peppermint slices and this treat seems to fit well for the holiday month.The treat came very close to being my favorite, but it still needs a little more experimentation to the layers to create a favorite.It has great qualities while other attributes need work.

    These treats had a filling and bottom layer that were very simple to create.The filling seemed to be a basic smooth flavored icing and the crust was a heavy,stable cookie dough that reminded me a lot of graham crackers in flavor.The top chocolate layer deemed to be more difficult to create because I had to experiment with the top layer recipe because I was missing an ingredient from the list.So I improvised by using margarine,unsweetened cocoa and sugar. I would learn soon after that melting all these ingredients in a sauce pan would create a grainy chocolate sauce.With no other chocolate insight to use and to not waste ingredient I used the chocolate sauce for the top layer anyways.

    With all these layers together it still created a pretty good chocolate peppermint slice;however I found the textures and flavors a little off mostly towards the chocolate.It blended to much into the filling and I feel now that it should of been a hard chocolate layer.The filling and crust were perfectly fine because those were the layers that made this treat come very close to a favorite.So I plan to redo this recipe sometime and create a different layer.Maybe I'll make a new chocolate topping or scrape that idea and add crushed peppermint candy to the top.In the end these treats reminded me a lot of after eight mints and I hope to make to make it a favorite.

    For the recipe below.I gave the original ingredient list for the topping and not my experimentation.I also gave my recommendation of using baker's chocolate or chocolate chips to create a hard chocolate layer.Anyways, hope you enjoy trying out this recipe and give your own ideas to it.

    Look out for my new product review posts coming soon!

    Chocolate Peppermint Slices
    (Adapted from Chocolate Peppermint Slices.Company's Coming,150 Delicious Squares by Jean pare)

    Bottom Layer:

    1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    1/2 cup white sugar + 1/2 tbsp molasses ( or brown sugar)
    3/4 cup butter or margarine (I used half soft margarine and half lard)


    2 tbsp soft margarine
    2 tbsp milk
    1 1/2 cup icing sugar
    1/2 tsp peppermint flavoring

    Top layer:

    6 tbsp margarine
    1 cup chocolate drinking mix
    (or melt chocolate chips or baker chocolate)

    Bottom Layer:

    Mixed flour, white sugar,molasses,and fat in a medium bowl.Using your hands to combine the ingredients, works well to help blend the molasses into the dough.It will have a few tiny dark spot,but don't worry about that.As long as their is no large spots, your fine.

    Then press the dough into an ungreased 9x9 square pan.Try to make it as even as possible.Bake for 20 minutes at 350F.When it springs back and golden. Completely cool.10 minutes room temp and rest cooled in the fridge.


    Mix margarine,milk,icing sugar and peppermint flavoring in a medium bowl.Beat till smooth.Set aside in fridge.Once crust is fully cooled pour the filling on top, spread as evenly as possible with rubber spatula.

    Top Layer:

    Melt margarine in a small saucepan on low heat.Then add the chocolate drink powder.Let it cool off heat and then pour it on the filling.Evenly spread the sauce out and then let it set in the fridge overnight.Cut into squares.It takes some strength to cut these because the crust is very hard.

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    My Favorite President Choice Product

    President Choice Blue Menu: Twice the Fruit Strawberry Jam has been a favorite around here for a long time. I've always used it for my toast,bagels,oatmeal,sandwiches and baking.I've actually used this jam for many recipes I've reviewed on here.Its definitely a favorite of mine because its not overly sweet and has real chunks of strawberries.Most jams I've tried are always to smooth, but with PC twice the fruit jam you get the best of both worlds,smooth and chunky.

    It has a rich strawberry flavor, while not being overpowering.I definitely think its a big contender to other brands because its a flavorful, affordable and healthier jam.Also,with the blue menu factor you get 50% less calories than jam with pectin and only 25 calories for each tbsp.I definitely recommend President Choice jams for others to try out for themselves and I think this jam is great for using in baked good.The only negative thing about these jams are they get eaten up so fast because its so good.Anyways,here are a couple recipes I've used this jam in.

    (I was not compensated for this review.I just wanted to share my favorite product that I use in baking)

    Friday, December 02, 2011

    Best Month For Baking!

    Now that were in December, I can officially start doing some holiday baking.Its so exciting because I can now use some of my festive items I got last Christmas and try out new holiday recipes.

    What are you excited about for this seasonal month?Maybe its decorating the tree or home,planning a party,gift shopping ,going on a trip or like me creating some delicious treats. Whatever it may be, we should try to make this month as stress free as possible and make it fun.

    So to start off this month,I'm going to share with all of you a new recipe I tired out from all recipes website.It's simple and a well loved baked item.If you randomly guessed brownie with out me giving any hint.Well good for you because your right.

    For this brownie recipe I actually tested it out at the end of November;but I thought to share my review to open up December. It just seemed like a treat that would better suit this holiday month.Its simple,stress-free and fancy.Those are three elements you like to have when this month really gets hectic.

    When I found this recipe, I loved that it used very little fat content in the brownies.It only had 1/4 cup of margarine or butter and it still stayed moist and fudge like. Most recipes I've seen use so much of either ingredient for just one baked item and I would like to keep those items to use on multiple recipes.So that's why I usually pass up most brownie recipes.

    This recipe is great for its lack of fat being used.But its negative aspect is a missing ingredient that most brownie recipes have.Its baking powder. When I read a couple reviews describing the appearance I knew the pictures for the recipe made it confusing to what these would looked like. I knew myself that they be thinner based on reading the recipe;however I wanted to review to see what this recipe would do.

    There was very little batter making these and they did bake into thin brownies.However the flavor and texture made up for it and you can get away with eating a lot more.The recipe is quite adaptable and I even put my own ideas on it as well. For my version I sprinkled salted chopped peanut on top of the brownie just before they were finish baking.I also replaced carob power with cocoa powder and use 2 eggs instead of egg whites. The peanuts gave just enough crunchy texture to fit well along side the moist texture of the brownie.They were rich and chocolaty and I actually like that they were tiny bite size in the end.

    Brownies, including these are the best when their kept in the fridge overnight to soak up their flavors.Or to cool them at room temp for 10 minutes and then placed in the fridge to totally cool.It will make cutting 10 times easier and if your taking pictures like me.

    They are simple and elegant. I can actually see these being served at a Christmas party and if their are people that can't eat nuts. Sift some icing sugar for a topping.You can add any topping you like or leave them without.

    Its an exciting month! My blogger friends, be sure to watch out for those holiday blog giveaways.I'll even post some of my favorite giveaways on my blog when I see them.Have a great weekend everyone!

    Peanut Brownies 
    (Adapted from Walnut Brownies by J.J. Waters   )

    1/4 cup margarine,melted
    6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa,sifted
    1/2 cup all purpose flour
    1 cup white sugar
    1/4 tsp salt
    2 tsp vanilla
    2 large eggs
    1/4 to 1/3 cup salted chopped peanuts

    I preheated the oven to 300F. Greased a 9 inch glass square pan with shortening.Measured margarine and melted it in the microwave for about 20 -30 seconds.

    Poured the melted margarine in a medium bowl.Sifted in the cocoa powder, sugar,salt and flour.Then  added the vanilla and eggs.

    Stirred all the ingredients together till smooth. The batter will be thick. I spread the batter evenly in the pan and placed it in the oven. 

    I baked the brownies for about 15 minutes.Then took them out and sprinkled on the salted chopped peanuts. I baked it for about 15+ minutes until the top spring backed and toothpick came out clean.

    Cooled for about 10 minutes in room temp and then transferred into fridge.Brownies are best eaten the next day when they sit in the fridge to become nice and cold.However I did cut these brownies before the next day so I could take pictures.I did have a nibble of one that broke!