Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Grandma B is spreading the Joy

Don't you wish elves were a thing year 'round?
I know I could use a cleaning elf because housekeeping is not my specialty, just ask my kids.
One elf I don't need is that Elf on a Shelf. I hear he creates all sorts of trouble and messes.
The kids over at The Idea Room had a great idea - The Kindness Elf. An elf that cleans bedrooms and helps out around the house. What the what??
I loved their printable too and decided to use it to elf Grandma B's friends, customers and community members.
So far 2 neighbors and a co-worker have been elfed with baked goods and their own little elf.

You could be next!
Feel free to regift and elf someone yourself.

All the kids are doing it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

This is one of those, I can't believe it's so easy, it tastes like I spent hours making it, recipes.
All you need is your favorite brownie recipe/mix, some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Minis, and a simple frosting. 
Ok, if you want the frosting to look fancy you will need some decorator equipment. But still, easy peasy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bites:
Stir up your brownie batter and divide into your desired size of muffin pans. 
Place a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in the batter pressing in just until the top of the candy is level with the batter.
Bake until done but still soft, about 10 minutes for the minis.
Remove from pans and cool.
Prepare frosting and spread or pipe onto the top of the candy, leaving an edge of brownie unfrosted.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 c butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c peanut butter
3 c pwd sugar
2 t whipping cream
Cream the butter, cream cheese, and peanut butter until smooth. 
Mix in the pwd sugar and cream.

You can make these as full-sized cupcakes but the minis
are so cute and just enough sweetness to satisfy your chocolate craving. And if you go for the larger cupcakes you'll need to use the slightly larger Reese's Miniatures
which are individually wrapped...annoying. 
When I buy brownie mix I use this one, even though I have to go to Wal-Mart (ugh) to buy it. But it includes four bags of brownie mix in one box so I don't need to buy it that often.
You can find it in the large family supplies section, I know it well!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Zach's favorite Lemon Cheesecake Bars

The fourth born turned 17 yesterday. Seventeen.
He requested his favorite dessert...Lemon Cheesecake Bars and a trip to the city for a steak dinner.
He's always been the easy one.
Happy Birthday Zach!

Lemon Cheesecake Bars
2 c flour
1/2 c pwd sugar
1 c cold butter, cubed
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
4 eggs
2 c sugar
1 t lemon zest
1/3 c fresh lemon juice
1/2 t baking pwd
1/4 c flour
Non-melting pwd sugar
Butter baking dish, I use a 10x15" dish. A parchment lined straight cornered baking pan works well also.
Stir together 2 c flour & 1/2 c pwd sugar. 
Cut in butter with pastry blender or food processor until crumbly.
Press dough into prepared dish.
Bake @350º for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. 
While crust is baking combine cream cheese and 1 c sugar until smooth. Add 2 eggs and vanilla.
Pour cream cheese mixture over hot crust.
Whisk 4 eggs in a large bowl until smooth, add 2 c sugar, lemon zest and juice.
Stir together baking pwd and 1/4 c flour, whisk into lemon batter.
Slowly pour over cream cheese layer.
Bake an additional 25 minutes or until filling is set.
Cool in pan for 30 minutes. If using parchment paper, lift from pan and cut into bars.
Chill completely in refrigerator and sprinkle with non-melting pwd sugar.
Garnish with sugared lemon zest, if desired.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Breakfast Burritos...Customized

Breakfast burritos are not difficult to make, can easily be adapted to your personal taste and make for a satisfying breakfast or even dinner, if that's when you choose to eat breakfast.
With the following recipe you can make 4 different breakfast burritos:
Egg and Cheese
Egg, Cheese and Sausage
Egg, Cheese and Vegetables
All of the above
You can also customize the size from bite, snack to full sized - depending on the size of tortilla you use.
I served the bite sized burrito recently at a certain wedding weekend event and at a bridal shower brunch. Even the little grandmothers came back for seconds.
You can also adjust the spices according to your liking. 
We like things spicy at our house.
All I added was a little basil but if you buy unseasoned sausage you might want to add a little cayenne pepper or the like.
If you like vegetables or meat and vegetables this mixture is awesome.
The cheese is pretty basic but may I suggest you shred it yourself instead of buying it shredded, unless you like a little wood pulp with your cheese. And I recently learned this store will give you a discount for buying the whole block.
All that cheese calls for a new cheese knife from one of my favorite kitchen stores.
Next you'll need to scramble the eggs, which couldn't be easier right?
Just don't over do it with the scrambling or the cooking. I like to just push the eggs lightly with a spatula(the kind that won't melt) and take off the heat while the eggs are still "wet".
You'll be cooking them again in the final step so dry over-cooked eggs are not desired. 
Finally ready for the assembly line. Heating each tortilla in the microwave for 10 seconds makes folding a little easier.
Spread on the cream cheese and add your choice of toppings.
Fold up the bottom third and pinch in the sides like so.
Tuck in the sides and fold over.
Wa-lah! You can fold/roll however you wish but that's how I do it.
Snack sized vs. full sized. I like to grill the burritos on a panini press but you can also heat in the microwave.
If you are assembling the burritos for later consumption, individual wrapping, labeling and dating are all good ideas. I, for one, don't care for the taste of frozen eggs so I just hold mine in the fridge for up to 5 days but you can freeze them if so desired.
I do however freeze the extra sausage mixture and use it for future burrito building occasions or even in chili.

Breakfast Burritos
1 lb ground sausage
2 t olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 t red pepper flakes
18 eggs
3 c colby jack or pepper jack cheese, shredded
8 oz cream cheese, softened
12 burrito or 24 fajita sized tortillas 
Brown sausage in skillet over medium heat.
Drain fat and season to taste.
Transfer to bowl to cool.
Wipe out skillet with wet paper towel.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
Cook onion and pepper for about 5 minutes.
Add beans and red pepper flakes and heat for 2 minutes.
Season with salt & pepper, if desired.
Transfer to bowl to cool.
Wipe out skillet with wet paper towel.
Whisk eggs just until mixed.
Reheat skillet over medium high heat.
Reduce heat to medium low and add eggs, lightly stirring until cooked but not dry.
Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Transfer to bowl to cool.
To assemble burritos; spread a bit of cream cheese on tortilla within an inch of the edge and layer each tortilla with 1/2 cup eggs, 1/3 cup bean mixture or meat or mixture of both.
Top with 1/4 cup cheese. (reduce these amounts for smaller tortillas)
Roll up and wrap in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to cook.
To serve; heat in microwave for 30 seconds & then on panini grill until crisp.
Serve with salsa, sour cream and fresh cilantro, if desired.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Weather update: Chance of Showers expected/blog posting spotty at best

64 days, YIKES!
That's how many more days I have to pull off a lovely wedding in the neighboring state of Colorado.
The awesome bride is doing most of the leg work but I did recently finish one of my assignments, that was creating some anxiety for both me and said bride. I don't think she had a lot of confidence in my sewing ability. Mostly because I failed as a Mother and didn't teach my only daughter to sew or even give her the opportunity to witness sewing in action. I learned to sew in 4-H and high school but only the bare minimum to complete the project seconds before the county fair began or the deadline for a subpar grade. I haven't touched a sewing machine since and lets just say that's been a few years!
After fruitlessly scouring Pinterest and Etsy for burlap bags that were large enough for our intended purpose and didn't cost 1/2 the (minuscule) wedding budget I boldly announced that I could just make some bags. I figured it was as little as 3 seams, how hard could it be? 
First, I had to locate a friend that wouldn't mind lending me a sewing machine since I certainly don't own one or could afford to buy one (see wedding budget). I would think most people that enjoy sewing are pretty protective of their sewing machines and would not even consider lending it to the likes of someone who didn't respect the craft enough to continue after high school. Well, long story short and wonderful friend Connie came to my rescue, dusted off her machine and let me borrow it. 
I failed to take many photos of the project, just the occasional update for the bride. I do have a few which should provide endless entertainment for my seamstress friends:

         Since I couldn't find a tape measure I used the bride's ruler she received from church in '94                        (I know this because it's printed on the back, not because I have any sort of memory)

                                              This is a size comparison for the bride's approval.

     This is the photo from the fabric store I sent to the bride in hopes that she could identify the extra 2 yards of fabric I needed to buy.

                                                   Last of the stack awaiting the actual sewing. 

                                            The LAST bag when the bobbin thread ran out...again! 

                   The photo that had to be sent to the bride who had no idea what a bobbin was.
                                                                      Again, I blame myself. 

                          All 124 completed bags ready for shipment to the bride for the next step.

While the bride was home for her first (absolutely amazing) bridal shower given by my aforementioned crafty queen/friend Roni 
she picked up 5 yards of canvasey material, which we thought would be 1. easier to sew than burlap and 2. better for the stencil stamping step of the project.
I instructed her to get at least 6 yards of fabric for 100+ bags 'cause I'm an expert at guestimating (insert chuckle). But since she is her Father's daughter and didn't want to buy too much for fear of wasting a whole 4 dollars, she came home with 5 yards...which made exactly 89 bags. But she saved the receipt so I could easily drive 32 miles back to the store to purchase more. In theory, that plan works but not so good when you forget the receipt that you so carefully saved taped to the mirror in your office/pantry. The ever so kind fabric lady assured me that I had the same fabric after taking a quick look at photos from my phone. How did we live without smart phones?
After more measuring, ironing and sewing those 3 seams I ended up with 124 of the cutest little bags a non-sewer has ever made(as long as you don't look too closely). 
And the bride was impressed.

But since this is more or less a cooking blog I'll also include an insert from my favorite magazine that came yesterday:

The tip for "plucking" herbs...pure genius. 
Obviously, I'm also easily impressed.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

Almost everyone has a go to sugar cookie recipe and this is mine.
Basic ingredients, rolls out easily and with the freezing trick cut outs keep their shape without spreading.
What more could you ask for?
Oh, and they taste great too. 
With buttercream frosting or as a base for fruit pizza.
Doesn't get any better.

Sugar Cookie (thanks to Bake@350)
1 c cold butter
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
3 c flour
2 t baking powder

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add egg and extracts. 
Stir together flour and baking powder, gradually add to creamed mixture and beat just until combined.
Roll onto floured surface and cut into shapes.
Place on baking sheets and freeze for about 5 minutes.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes then transfer to cooling rack.

Buttercream Frosting
1 c butter 
3 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 T cream or half & half

Mix together sugar and butter on low then medium for 3 minutes.
Add vanilla and cream and beat for another minute. 
Frost or pipe on cooled cookies.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

#1 Rule in Baking, Broken.

Who taught you to bake/cook? 
In my case it was Mrs. Pederson and Mrs. Selland, my 4-H leaders. 
I hope they won't be too disappointed to learn I broke one of the rules they tried so hard to teach me: Read the entire recipe before you begin.
When King Arthur (my baking bible) announced they had finally found the best chocolate chip cookie recipe on Joy Wilson's, aka Joy the Bakerfood blog I knew I had to make them. 
We've discussed my obsession with browned butter.
I quickly scanned the ingredient list and determined I indeed had all the items listed.
Who doesn't have butter, brown sugar and chocolate chips on hand?
Between loads of laundry and checking Facebook I began with the first entry in the directions without reading the whole recipe. And that's when it was decided that I would be making a double recipe of these cookies, thank goodness they are "the best"!
As you will soon read, the amount of butter called for is divided and mixed into the batter using totally different techniques. Mistake #1 fixed.
Not to be deterred by my stupidity I paid closer attention to the next few sets of instructions and finished mixing the dough properly. 
I located the correct sized cookies scoop, (I own 6 different sizes & I am aware I have a problem) portioned out the dough and put the pan in the oven while checking to see the bake time suggested.   
I then noticed the recipe states to chill the dough for 30 minutes before baking. 
Drat, mistake #2. 
So I put the rest of the dough in the fridge, I had plenty *see mistake #1.
But I persevered and convinced myself that it would at least make a good blog post since I could post a photo of cookies baked before and after chilling the dough. 
Exhibit 1 below:
See the difference?

Exhibit 2:
How about now?

No? Me either. So apparently not all directions are that important.
Why am I even making chocolate chip cookies when I have umpteen orders of sugar cookies to fill for the May DOTMC?
But they are very good chocolate chip cookies. 
The best? I say yes, as does my son and all his fellow soldiers. This recipe is the most requested care package cookie. 
But you decide.

Joy's Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans
1 c butter
1 c br sugar
2 t vanilla
1 t molasses 
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 c flour
1 t salt 
1 t baking soda
1 c bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped pecans
sea salt
1) Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
2) Place half the butter (8 tablespoons) in a medium skillet. Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling it in the pan occasionally. It'll foam and froth as it cooks, and start to crackle and pop. Once the crackling stops, keep a close eye on the melted butter, continuing to swirl the pan at intervals. The butter will become fragrant, and brown bits will form in the bottom. Once the bits are amber brown (about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes or so after the sizzling stops), remove the butter from the burner and pour it into a small bowl, bits and all. Allow it to cool for 20 minutes.
3) Beat the remaining 1/2 cup butter with the brown sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth.
4) Beat in the vanilla and molasses.
5) Pour the cooled brown butter into the bowl, along with the granulated sugar. Beat for 2 minutes, until smooth; the mixture will lighten in color and become fluffy.
6) Add the egg and egg yolk, and beat for another minute.
7) Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, beating on low speed just until everything is incorporated.
8) Use a spatula to fold in the chocolate chips and pecans.
9) Scoop the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, waxed paper, or plastic wrap. Flatten it slightly into a thick disk, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. About 15 minutes before you're ready to begin baking, preheat your oven to 350°F, with the racks in the center/upper third.
10) Scoop the dough in 2 tablespoon-sized balls onto the prepared baking sheets. Each will weigh about 1 ounce (28g). Leave about 2" between the cookies; they'll spread as they bake.
11) Sprinkle the cookies with sea salt, to taste — as much or as little as you like.
12) Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until they're golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to rest on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before moving them.