Welcome to my little space in the virtual world that consists of all things that make me happy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oh the Wonders of Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nothing beats a homemade chocolate chip cookie...warm and fresh from the oven...with a glass of milk. Just when I thought these simple treasures couldn't get any better, I experimented with other wonderful chocolately delights, creating stuffed chocolate chip cookies! Below are an array of cookies I stuffed with various yummy goodness. I tested these new treats at our staff meeting at work and they were a hit! 

Reeses Cup Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies     
Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brownie Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Milky Way Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite are the Smores ones...which is literally a smore wrapped in cookie dough (yum). These were the hardest but definately worth it. With a little creativity you can stuff just about anything into a cookie :D

Smores Stuff Chocolate Chip Cookies


Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies:
2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
3 to 3.5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 bag chocolate chips

Mix butter and sugars until fluffy, then add eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt and baking soda. Gradually mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients, adding a little at a time. Add chocolate chips. Bake on 350 between 8-15 minutes, depending on what you have inside your cookies. Cookie dough is best for handling if it has been refrigerated at least 20 minutes. Pam your hands to prevent dough from sticking. For the cookies I made above, I used individual Reeses Cups, Milky Way and Snickers bars cut into thirds, individual DoubleStuf Oreos, and brownies I baked and cooled cut into 1.5 inch squares.

My Sidekick in the Kitchen

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Learning Everyday

So last night I tried something I've been wanting to do for awhile now, I went to a painting class! I cannot and have not ever painted anything before, being that I'm not exactly that coordinated, but I thought it'd be fun. And it really was! I attended a "Wine Down with Nikki Cherry" class at the Colorshow Gallery in Asheboro...if you ever are in town I recommend doing this, she posts classes online at thepreppypossum with different pictures each time. It was so much fun and I got to learn something new! I can't wait to do another, hopefully a cow. I love cows. Almost as much as my brother loves squirrels. Looks like my brother's getting a homemade birthday present this year :D

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Plum Season

My dad planted a plum tree in the backyard a few years ago, and this summer he suggested I find some good uses for its fruit since it produces SO many plums, most of which go to waste. I didn't even think I liked plums, but now I am addicted. Here are some good uses for my new favorite fruit.

Cinnamon Plum Jelly
About 3 qt plums, pitted (do not peel)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Box No-Sugar Added Sure-Jell
4-5 cups sugar
2-3 tbsp ground cinnamon

Toss pitted plums in lemon juice and boil down in a large pot. Add cinnamon and Sure-Jell. Add sugar 1 cup at a time, adding more or less than I recommended to meet your taste. Plums can be a little tart so you may want more sugar. Cook slowly for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid sticking on the bottom of the pot.
Test the thickness of the jelly with a chilled spoon. To do this, let a spoon sit in a glass of ice cold water until chilled then scoop out a sample of the hot liquid. Let sit out for 5 minutes or so until it cools off and thickens up. This will give you an idea of how thick your finished jelly will be.
When jelly mixture is ready, carefully place in CLEAN canning jars and seal tightly. Then set each jar upside down (lid down) in a small pot of boiling water for a minute or two to help it seal. This is a quick and messy process. Some jars may take up to 24 hours to completely seal.

Purple Plum Pie
4 cups sliced and pitted plums 
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 unbaked deep-dish pastry shell (9 in)
For Topping:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup oatmeal

Mix all ingredients and pour into pastry shell. For the topping, mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and oatmeal. Cut butter in chunks and mix into topping until it makes a crumble. Sprinkle topping on pie and bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes, covering crust edges during the last 20 minutes to keep it from overbrowning. Top with ice-cream or cool whip!

Plum Bread
1 1/2 cups chopped and pitted plums
1 tbsp flour (for plums)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup vanilla yogurt (or half a 6 ounce container)
1/4 cup brown sugar

Toss plums with 1 tbsp floor to coat and set aside. Mix together the butter, white sugar and vanilla until fluffy, then add eggs. In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/2 cup flour with salt and baking soda. Stir these dry ingredients into the egg mixture, alternating with adding yogert until a smooth batter forms. Swirl in plums to batter and carefully pour into a greased 9x5 inch bread loaf pan. Sprinkle brown sugar on top and bake on 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Let cool before removing from loaf pan.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cake Pops!

Cake Pops are the new cupcake....and so much cuter! They are super easy and allow plenty of room for creativity. Bakerella is the founder of these treats and author of the book, which I hope to get one of these days. I took a shot at making some of these goodies, and although mine are nothing like the ones she does, I think I did decent.

1 box cake mix (any flavor)
1 tub store-bought icing (any flavor)
White chocolate/Almond Bark/Candy Melts (any color)
Candy sticks
Styroform block
Parchment paper

Bake the cake mix as directed on the box in a 13 x 9 pan and let cool completely. Once cooled, break up cake in tiny pieces in a bowl and mix with about half to three-forths of the icing, depending on how you like it (in my case, the more icing the better!) Form into balls and place on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Place in the freezer at least 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt your candy coating in the microwave according to directions on package. You can color the white coating with food coloring, just make sure it is oil based coloring. Once the cake balls are chilled and firm, you are ready to dip. Dip candy stick into coatng before sticking it into the cake ball, this holds it together better. Coat cake pops completely and stick straight up into stroform block to dry, this allows it to dry evenly without forming a flat bottom. Decorate however you like!

I tried out some this past easter...chicks, easter eggs, flowers, and bunnys. Even though my brother said the bunnys look like hamsters! Oh well, it was my first time.

I also work part-time at the Flying Pig in Asheboro, NC. Everything there is themed around pigs, especially ones that fly...so I had to try some Piggy Pops. I have yet to perfect one with wings yet though!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Homemade Salsa

Tis the season for fresh tomatoes and peppers! Yummy! My summer lunches consist highly of tomato sandwiches on white bread but here's something different to help you get rid of all them tomatoes...homemade Salsa! This recipe make about 4 pints. This is not a real spicy salsa, but you can always add more chili peppers or jalapenos to your liking.

10 cups fresh garden tomatoes (any kind will do, but my favorite are Beefsteak or Better Boys)
4 cups long green chili peppers, seeded and chopped (add more for spicier salsa)
1/4 cup jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (add more for spicier salsa)
5 cups onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1.5 cups cider vinegar
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp oregano leaves
3 tbsp fresh cilantro
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder

Remove the tomato skins by first boiling them whole for about 1 minute, then dump them into a bowl of ice water. This is make the skins fall right off. Then slice in half and squeeze out as much of the water and seeds out as possible, too much water will make a soupy salsa. Place squeezed tomatoes in a collander in sink so additional water can be removed.
Chop tomatoes and place in a big pot with additional ingredients. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste it as it cooks and add additional chili powder or hot sauce if a spicier taste is desired.
Fill 4 pint jars or 8 half-pint jars 1/4 inch from the top and top with lid and ring tightly. Boil filled jars for up to 15 minutes to seal. Boil lids and rings beforehand to help with the sealing process. Jars may take several hours to seal.