Easter 2015 

Easter was especially special this year with our newest addition. We did an Easter egg hunt with our three year old, Easter baskets, played outside, and I made a delicious Easter dinner. As I’ve mentioned before, my husband isn’t a huge ham fan so I normally go a non traditional route for Easter dinner. This year I made a pot roast with all the fixings and the most delicious double carrot cake for dessert. The carrot cake and pot roast recipes are on here if you want to check them out. 

I hope everyone had a great Easter! 

Rejoice! He Is Risen! 🙂 

   

                 

French Silk Chocolate Pie

My husband isn’t a big pumpkin pie fan so I usually make an alternative pie for him on holidays. I usually go with my chocolate mousse pie (recipe on here) that he loves, but this year decided to try something a little different. As a general rule of thumb, and especially while pregnant, I don’t like to make things with raw eggs so when I started searching French Silk pie recipes I was a bit dismayed to find that most of them did in fact contain raw eggs. I finally found a recipe without eggs that still sounded like a traditional French Silk, so I gave it a try. I. So glad that I did too because hubby said this was his new favorite pie and he even liked it better than my chocolate mousse pie! Score! 🙂

Ingredients:
– One (9-inch) pre-baked pie crust, use my favorite pie crust recipe (on here) and bake it for about 15-20 minutes at 375F. Let cool completely.
– 2 sticks butter (1 cup) softened
– 3 cups powdered sugar
– 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
– 2 tsp. espresso powder, I couldn’t find it at the store so I just used I stand coffee
– 4 tsp. vanilla extract
– 4 Tbsp. sour cream
– homemade whipped cream

Directions:

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate and instant coffee (or espresso powder) to the bowl. Add in sour cream and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Pour the mixture into the cool pre-baked pie crust and chill for at least an hour. Top with the whipped cream and garnish with chelate shavings or sprinkle chocolate chips on the top.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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My Favorite Carrot Cake

If you read my post from last night, you’ll know that I have a certain carrot cake on my Sunday dinner menu 🙂
When I do previews or test cakes I usually send my husband with the extras to work. Today, he told me that a lot of people had been asking when I was going to do another test cake, and they would willingly offer themselves up as guinea pigs whenever I needed them 😉 This was super sweet to hear, so I decided to just do a practice run on my Carrot Cake, and that way he would have a nice Easter surprise to bring into work tomorrow too 🙂
Normally I just leave the top of this cake plain, it’s such a delicious cake on its own, that I don’t feel it really needs any embellishments. However, I thought it would be fun to do a little carrot on the top, and an excuse for me to practice with my icing tips 😉
Since I don’t want to cut into the cake, I wasn’t able to try it, but it’s really a wonderful recipe. I don’t know if I’ll be able to wait for Sunday to make one that I can actually eat! 😉
Enjoy!

Cake Ingredients:
– 2 cups cake flour
– 2 cups granulated sugar
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 2 tsp. cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– 3 cups grated carrots
– 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
– 4 eggs

Cake Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Blend together. Add oil, beat until combined. Then, add the grated carrots, and beat until combined. Finally, add eggs, beating well after each addition.
Pour batter into your prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes pass the “toothpick test”. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for just a few minutes, and then turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
– 8 oz. cream cheese block, softened
– 1 stick of butter, salted, and softened
– 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
– 2 tsp. vanilla

Frosting Directions:
Cream together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and beat until combined. I usually start a little light on the sugar and then just adjust as needed. However, personally I feel like this recipe does require the full pound, but you could always use a bit less if desired, and it should be fine.

Cake Assembly:
Start by spreading a good layer of frosting on the bottom layer of cake. Flip the second cake layer so the bottom is now on the top, I like to use this little trick so I get a nice flat top to work with. Now place a good layer of frosting on the top layer and just start frosting away! For the middle, you’ll run into a bit of a gap, since the top one is flipped and not even. Just fill in the gaps with frosting, and it will start looking more even as you keep going. I am in no way a frosting professional, so there could be a better technique, this is just what I do. Frost all the way down the cake, and just keep going until the cake is covered. Like I said, I’m not a frosting expert, so please forgive me if it looks a little messy, I just used a butter knife! I did however, use one of my frosting tips and a piping bag and did the carrot 🙂
Happy Baking!

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My little helper, she loves to help mama bake! 🙂

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All ready to go! 🙂

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Cranberry Bliss Bars

This is a Starbuck’s copycat recipe of their bliss bars that they have every Holiday season. I first fell in love with these in high school and have tried to go in and get one every year since. This is a pretty good copycat recipe, although the one I made last Christmas was a bit better if I remember correctly. I just cannot find the one I used last year, these were still good though and a hit at our Christmas dinner.
Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Blonde Layer:
– 3/4 cups ( 1 1/2 sticks) butter
– 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
– 2 large eggs
– 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
– 2 1/4 cups all- purpose flour
– 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used craisins)
– 6 ounces baking white chocolate

Frosting:
– 1 (8 oz) package softened cream cheese
– 1 cup powdered sugar
– 6 ounces white baking chocolate, melted (and divided)
-1/2 cup dried cranberries
– 1 tsp. grated orange zest, optional

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350F. Spray a 9x 13-inch pan generously with nonstick cooking spray.
Prepare the blonde layer: in a medium bowl, melt butter in the microwave until melted and stir in the brown sugar. Pour the butter and sugar into the bowl of your mixture and let it cool to room temperature. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix just until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Gradually add this mixture to the egg sugar mix and blend until combined. Stir in the cranberries and the white chocolate. The batter will be very thick.
Spread the blondie batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Watch this closely so you do it over bake. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
For the frosting: clean your mixing bowl and place the cream cheese and powdered sugar in it. Beat this until combined. Gradually add half the melted white chocolate; beat until combined. Frost bars. Sprinkle with the rest of the cranberries and orange zest if desired. Drizzle with the remaining white chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut bars in triangles when ready to serve.

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Cranberry Sauce

I’ve always had cranberry sauce out of the can, you know the one that you just dump out and cut in slices and serve. It seems a lot of people do that and that circle is almost a part of pictured holiday meals. This year however, my husband’s aunt made homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and it was delicious! I tried my hand at it for Christmas and it was so good and a cinch to make! Here’s what you’ll need!

Ingredients:
– 1 twelve ounce bag fresh cranberries. Watch for these to go on sale around the Holidays and then grab a few. You can freeze them very successfully and have fresh cranberries the whole year through!
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup sugar

Directions:
Rinse and drain cranberries. Add sugar and water to a medium saucepan. Stir and then bring the mixture to a boil. Add cranberries, and return to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once cooked, pour cranberry sauce into a bowl and allow to cool. Once cooled, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Easy peasy!

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The best stuffing!

Oh stuffing. Stuffing is one of those things that a lot of people aren’t that hot on, I think one of the main reasons is because it’s usually pretty dry, and can just taste like you’re eating chewy breadcrumbs if not prepared the right way. Well ladies and gentleman I am here to save the day and give you a superb recipe for flavorful, moist stuffing!

Ingredients:
– 1 bunch celery, chopped
– 1 onion, diced
– 2 boxes stuffing mix
– 3 cups chicken broth
– 8 tbsp. (1 stick) of butter and then some for sautéing

Begin by melting a couple of tbsp. of butter in a large sauté pan. Sauté the celery and the onions until the celery is soft but still firm and the onions are translucent.
Boil 3 cups of chicken broth, and add in the stick of butter. Melt the butter down completely and then add it to the pan with the vegetables. Add in the boxed stuffing mix, and cover with a lid. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

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Brining and roasting a turkey!

Brining a turkey was a strange concept tome until about 3 years ago, when one of my co-workers, who would later become one of my best friend’s, introduced it to me. She is from the South and brining is apparently pretty typical around here, where a so the West Coast, not so much. She promised me that I hadn’t lived until I had eaten a turkey that had been brined, she was indeed correct! I now brine my turkeys every year and have even done a pork chop in a brine with great results. You must, must, must try a brine the next time you’re going to cook a turkey! This particular brine is from The Pioneer Woman, it’s the first brine and only one for that matter that I’ve ever tried. I’m very happy with it, and know you will be too!

Ingredients:
– 3 cups apple cider or apple juice
– 2 gallons (32 cups) cold water
– 4 tbsp. Fresh rosemary leaves
– 5 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 – 1 1/2 cups salt
– 2 cups brown sugar
– 3 tbsp. whole peppercorns
– 5 whole bay leaves
– peel of three large oranges
– brining bag
– butter, about a half stick
– poultry seasoning

This concoction is enough for a 20 pound turkey, you can halve it for a smaller bird, if needed.

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover. Allow to cool completely. Now, I would recommend making your brine about a day before you need it. I had forgotten how long it takes for this amount of liquid to boil, let alone cool down completely. I tried to make mine the day before I was going to cook the turkey, and i don’t feel like I had enough time for it to really reach it maximum potential. Next year, I’m going to do the brine about 2 days in advance, so it has adequate time to cool down and I’m not trying to rush it. (See pictures below) 😉

When your brine is ready, you’ll want to prepare your turkey. Start by rinsing off your turkey, remove the neck and the giblets packet. I know some people boil the neck to make soup and use the giblets for things, but I never do and they always just go in the trash. Rinse out the cavity and pat your bird dry.

Now, place your turkey in the brining bag, and pour the cooled brine into the bag with the turkey. The brine should be at least halfway up the bird. Place your brine and turkey in the refrigerator and refrigerate for 16-24 hours. 16 hours is alright, but 24 is better. I also usually flip my turkey about halfway through the brining time so the whole thing gets a chance to soak up some of that delicious liquid!

About a half hour before you want to get your turkey in, preheat oven to 325F and rinse off your turkey. Don’t worry, you’re not washing away the brine, just giving him a good rinse so the skin isn’t too salty. Remove from the sink and pat completely dry with paper towels. (Always remember to sanitize your sink before and after having the turkey in, as not to spread germs). Rub your turkey down with butter and then sprinkle him with poultry seasoning. Cover with foil and roast according to your directions on the turkey packaging. During the last hour of roasting, I remove the foil and let it roast uncovered. This will give the turkey some nice color and look a lot more appealing than a pale bird! 😉

Once your turkey has reached an internal temperature of 165F you can remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 20 minutes. Then, find a handy person who knows how to carve a turkey (that which I am not) and carve away that scrumptious bird! Your guests will swoon over your soft, moist turkey, and beg your for your method I promise!

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This is what happens when you forget how long it takes for that much liquid to cool… It ends up outside!

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This is after the turkey has been removed from the brine, and is getting a lathering of butter!

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Notice how he still looks a bit pale, I stuck him in for about 40 minutes more to get some color.

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Well hello Mr. Handsome! Much better!
Enjoy!