“I could eat a million of these!,” exclaimed my husband, Chris, as he took a bite out of the first of many mini sticky buns he had for breakfast. I definitely agree with him as not only are they cute, but they are delicious and very easy to make. These miniature version of sticky buns are filled with orange-flavored cream cheese and pumpkin butter and topped with a pecan and brown sugar glaze. Continue reading
Growing up, my mom loved fruit and always kept a variety in the house which she encouraged my brothers and I to eat. However, one fruit that was conspicuously absent was the apple. It was not the taste she didn’t like. Rather it was the sound of someone biting into one that bothered her. It was like fingernails on chalkboard and the sound literally gave her goosebumps and sent chills up her spine. Continue reading
These days, I am completely obsessed with stone fruits. Every time I go to the store, I pick some up, either to eat fresh or to cook with. I am featuring apricots in this recipe, but peaches, nectarines, or even plums would work just as well. I came across this recipe from A Spicy Perspective, a beautiful blog from professional writer, recipe developer, and food stylist, Summer Collier. What intrigued me was her addition of Chinese Five-Spice Powder, which I have only (narrow-mindedly) used in savory dishes. Continue reading
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was waxing poetic about the many things I loved about the summer. Yet, it feels like summer is quickly slipping away. June is a distant blur; July came and went in a blink of an eye. Now, the days are getting shorter and there’s a hint of autumn in the night air. August is almost halfway over. Where did the time go? Continue reading
While grilled corn is delicious with just some butter and sea salt, try this Mexican version, called elote, grilled corn that is smothered in crema Mexicana or mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder seasoning, and freshly-squeezed lime. This is a popular snack sold by street vendors in Mexico. Some ingredients are Mexican staples but are widely available in grocery stores and Hispanic markets here in the US.
Every cook should have a homemade custard recipe in his or her repertoire. It is the base for so many desserts and yet, is fairly simple to master. The key is to temper the eggs with the milk so you don’t end up with bits of scrambled eggs.
If you’re looking for buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookies with a nutty crunch, look no further than these cream cheese shortbread cookies flavored with toasted walnuts and orange. The addition of cream cheese transforms these from the traditional sandy and crumbly shortbread to lighter, softer cookies. For an even more cake-like texture, roll the dough into balls instead of using a cookie cutter. Continue reading
It seems that I inherited my sweet tooth from my Dad. Like me, he favors quick breads, cookies, and candies, and, like me, he also loves chocolate. When I saw this recipe for Chocolate Almond Toffee Bars, I knew it was the perfect treat to make for him. I got my opportunity last weekend when we had a family gathering. I made sure there would be some extra pieces for my Dad to take home. What I didn’t expect was that he would have some competition for the leftovers…from my nephew, who proclaimed that all the leftover bars were his. I had to be the peacemaker and divide up the remaining pieces equally. It appears that a sweet tooth runs in my family. Note to self: Make a double batch for Christmas morning so Dad and little nephew could have as much as they want.
I have always loved reading catalogs from my favorite stores like West Elm, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and CB2. To this day one of my guilty pleasures is leafing through pages looking for food styling inspirations and new props to use for plating. I’ve been busy lately, but yesterday I finally had a time to relax with a cup of coffee, a cookie or two (or three) and my pile of catalogs. Naturally, I found a few things I want so I folded down the page corners and left the catalogs conspicuously on the coffee table in the hopes my husband would get some hints for my upcoming birthday. I wonder if it will work? Continue reading
Today I’m doing my best Paula Deen imitation with this recipe for Pumpkin Swirl Coffee Cake which requires almost 12 ounces of butter. I certainly don’t recommend baking with and eating this much butter all the time, but it is a nice indulgence once in a while. The result is quite possibly the most buttery and moist cake I’ve ever made. It is also light and tender with just the right amount of sweetness and spice. The crumbly pecan and brown sugar streusel made for a great topping, as well as a base, for the cake. My kitchen was filled with the heavenly aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, reminiscent of Thanksgiving, which, by the way, is a mere 56 days away!
A month ago, I would have passed on making this cake. It wasn’t because this recipe, from Aran Goyoaga of the breathtakingly beautiful blog Canelle et Vanille, didn’t sound delicious. On the contrary, her recipe have always been so tempting, but I’ve never attempted any of them. Why, you ask? Well, I’m a little embarrassed to say! Continue reading
I just love baking (and eating) biscuits, and this recipe elevates them with the addition of parmesan cheese and basil. The cheese gives the biscuits its savoriness and slightly crumbly texture, while the purple and sweet basil, which came from my garden, adds a subtle peppery, yet sweet flavor. These rich biscuits make a wonderful accompaniment to pastas, soups, and salads. They’re also great for making Italian breakfast sandwiches filled with slices of prosciutto and eggs. Above all, they are absolutely delicious to eat plain, with only a generous dab of butter. Continue reading
Pâte à choux, or cream puff pastry, is versatile dough that is used as a base for many sweet and savory treats. Strictly speaking, it is more like a thick paste that is made by adding flour to boiling water and butter to form a sort of roux to which eggs are then added. The resulting dough, called panade, should be light, with a smooth and shiny appearance and sticky consistency. Continue reading
For someone with a such a sweet tooth, I am actually a little surprised that I don’t make candies and chocolates more often. Well, since Chris and I had such a great time making these caramels, that’s about to change. It was surprisingly simple to make, with one caveat: extra care is needed when cooking a sugar/cream mixture. It is lava-like and will stick to any exposed flesh if splattered, causing a nasty burn. That’s why I always have a big bowl of ice water nearby for emergencies.
Aren’t these Santa Hat Brownies just so cute? Thanks to Erica’s Sweet Tooth for the inspiration. I was looking for a fun and simple holiday treat and I ran across a recipe on her website. They’re so good and easy to make, especially since I bought Trader Joe’s Ready to Bake brownie mix (just pour the ready-made brownie batter in an 8-X 8-inch pan and bake for 22-25 minutes). You can use ready-made brownie bites or bake a pan of your favorite brownies. I whipped up some vanilla-mascarpone buttercream to simulate the white trim on the hats. Voila! A festive dessert to get everyone into the spirit of the holidays. It really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!
Update: November 17, 2013
This year, I plan to bake these Santa Hat Brownies and other holiday treats to give as gifts to friends and co-workers. Since I will be making homemade gifts, I thought it would be a great idea to make the gift tags too. I want to make recipe cards so I can easily share the recipe and it could double as the gift tag as well. The card below is the one I designed for the Santa Hat Brownies using Picmonkey, an online photo editing tool. Pretty neat, huh? I love Picmonkey and already use it to add text and overlays to the photos on this blog. For my recipe cards/gift tags, I am going to print the photo of the food on one side and the recipe on the other. This is going to be a real fun project!
Note: I have been paying for Picmonkey’s monthly Royale Plan for the past year. Picmonkey provided me with a free month’s membership ($4.99 value) to use them to make these recipe cards. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own. (Product Review Disclaimer).
Santa Hat Brownies
Yields 12-16 brownies
1 pan of your favorite brownies, cooled and cut into desired size and shape (I used a round cutter)
12-16 small strawberries, cleaned and hulled
vanilla-mascarpone buttercream (recipe below)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2-1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and mascarpone cheese until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract and salt. Add 2-1/2 cups of sugar, half a cup at a time and continue beating until smooth. Add more sugar, if needed to reach desired consistency and sweetness.
To assemble, pipe a ring of vanilla buttercream on top of each brownie. Cut off the base of a strawberry so it is flat and place it upside down on each brownie, pushing slightly to secure in place. Top the tip of the strawberry with a dot of buttercream to finish the santa hat.
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