Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Drop Sugar Cookies

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...as it should, I suppose, since it is, in fact, Christmas Eve.

When I was a kid I would go to my Godmother's house to bake cookies with her for Christmas. I always loved baking with her because she always did "fancy" stuff. Also, because she actually let me help, unlike when I baked with my mom, who let me help by cleaning (although I did get to lick the beaters).

I carried the tradition on myself for years, but it's been quite some time since I've spent the day baking a billion cookies and making deliveries to friends and family. I had wanted to reignite the tradition this year with some friends, but it didn't work on account of being an adult is busy. Hopefully next year!

One of the most common Christmas cookie (as far as I'm concerned) is the sugar cookie so I decided I would at the very least make these for the holidays. Seeing as though I thought they were so popular, I was shocked to find that there wasn't a single sugar cookie recipe in any of my four of my high altitude baking books. Thankfully, the interwebs exist and I was able to find a very awesome recipe. I chose drop cookies instead of the cute cooking cutter type cookies because I've never really had much luck with them (but maybe I'll try again, one of these days.

These cookies were really simple and very delicious. Hubby doesn't want me to make these again because he couldn't stop eating them.

Drop Sugar Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
colored sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg in a small bowl. In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Slowly add flour mixture, a little at a time, until everything is well combined.

Set aside for 15 minutes.

Roll into 1-inch size balls. Roll top in colored sugar and flatten a bit. Place 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Bars

I've been saving posting about these because they have kind-of been my secret weapon. I've been told by more than one person that these are the best thing in my arsenal of goodies. One friend had this to say, "I want you to make these every week. I don't care if it's summer."

On a side note, when I bake my kitten/cat (I'm not sure what he is at the point, he's like 6ish months) has learned that I'm a klutz and will most likely spill something at sometime, so he has started to take residence at my feet hoping to hit pay dirt (he usually does).
His name is NOT Starbucks, because he was named after the most delicious coffee maker in the world. Burn.

Back to my ace in the hole...the bar part is very quick and easy to make but I find the icing to be a little cumbersome, but I think that's mostly because I don't like have to stand over the stove stirring. I may bake, but I certainly prefer easier recipes. But this one is so good I'm willing to suck it up and be a "real" baker. Sometimes the icing get a little sticky and hard to manage, so you need to be quick about getting it on the bars or you'll have a mess to deal with.

I got this recipe from my ever handy favorite baking book.

Spiced Pumpkin Bars

1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in a bowl. In a mixer, combine sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and pumpkin. Add flour mixture a little at a time, until everything is mixed well. Spread batter into a greased 9x13 inch glass baking dish. Bake for 15-20. Cool slightly and then add spiced frosting (recipe to follow). Once completely cooled, cut into bars and remove from pan.

Spice Frosting

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sifted powder sugar

Combine sugar, butter, milk, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a saucepan. Cook on medium-low heat and stir constantly. Once mixture bubbles, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Slowly beat in powdered sugar until mixture is a spreading consistency. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lemon Basil Chicken

Mark this recipe under the category of "shit I came up with by looking at what I already had available in my kitchen." It has been snowy and extremely cold this week in Denver and besides making the drive to and from work, I haven't been stopping anywhere along the way (I usually run errands on my way home from work) because I'm trying to reduce the possibility of getting into an accident. Also, it's ridic cold and I don't want to get out of my car more often than is completely necessary.
Note: not an actual photo of what Denver looks like right now
I had defrosted some chicken from the freezer and hadn't prepped/marinated it in anything and was about to just bake in plain but I just couldn't bring myself to do that. I opened the fridge and looked at what was in there and then hit up the spice rack/cabinet. The following was what I was able to come up with. I was pleasantly very surprised at how well this turned out.

Lemon Basil Chicken

2 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut fat off chicken and place in a glass dish. Cover with lemon juice. Sprinkle on garlic salt, basil and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pumpkin Bacon Cookies

Because of course this had to happen. How could I not combine my two favorite things to bake with - pumpkin and bacon?

I was baking a few things for a Halloween party (yes, I am super behind on posts, I don't need you to remind me!) and wanted to do something a little fun and different (and delicious).

Speaking of the Halloween party, check out the awesome pumpkins we carved. Can you guess which one is mine?

I have two types of pumpkin cookie recipe that I could use for a base: Frosted Pumpkin and Oatmeal Pumpkin Chocolate Chip. The former is more cake-like and I really wanted to make cookies so I decided to modify the latter (random side note: I actually remember learning about "former" and "latter" when I was in elementary school and I remember thinking the concept was so cool. God I was such a nerd).

These cookies turned out really well. You could taste the bacon, but it wasn't overwhelmingly bacony (yes, that's a word).

Pumpkin Bacon Cookies

1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup cooked, chopped bacon

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and ginger.

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugars. Beat in eggs, vanilla and pumpkin. Add flour mixture slowly, mixing thoroughly with each addition. Add milk and mix completely. Stir in bacon.

Roll into 1-inch size balls and place 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes and then place onto wax paper or wire rack until complete cooled.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pumpkin Bread

First, I need to explain why this post is so delayed. Especially since I am so backed up on my posts (and there are quite a few pumpkin treats). But, I feel like I have a very valid excuse. I was on my honeymoon! Yes, I got married over 11 months ago, but when you elope, especially right before Christmas, there's not much time to plan, let alone time for, a honeymoon. So there you have it, my extremely valid excuse for being an absentee blogger.

Wanna look like a rock star this Thanksgiving and not have to do a lot of work for it? Then this, my friends is the recipe for you. It's super easy and super tasty and I was even told it was "better than Starbucks'." Yup. I got the recipe from my favorite high altitude tome. I've made it a few times and it's always a hit!

**Update - In my haste to get this post out, I forgot to include this awesome picture of my friend, Angela, enjoying a piece of pumpkin bread topped with a Frosted Pumpkin Cookie. Apparently it was delicious this way.

Pumpkin Bread

1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
1/3 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine dry ingredients (excluding the sugar) and set aside. In a mixing bowl, mix pumpkin, water, eggs, oil and sugar together until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Pour into a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fiesta Chicken

There are two things I almost always have in my fridge - salsa and cheese. I'm not sure why - well, actually, I guess I do know why - because salsa and cheese are awesome. Especially cheese.

But I digress. Anyway, I had chicken and was trying to figure out what I could do to make it delicious. I did my typical fact finding mission by looking through the fridge to see what was in there for me to use. It was hard to miss the gallon of salsa verde (green salsa) and 5 pound bag of shredded Mexican cheese.

I figured it taste great on chicken tacos, so why not just bake with them? It was super easy and ended up tasting great. As mentioned previously, I used salsa verde and Mexican cheese, but you can use any salsa/cheese combination (I'll definitely be experimenting with these). Go nuts. And enjoy another super easy, why-didn't-I-think-of-that? dinner!

Fiesta Chicken

2 chicken breasts

1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup shredded cheese

Cut fat off of the chicken. Combine chicken with salsa in a large zip locking bag. Shake until chicken is completely covered. Let sit in fridge for 30-45 minutes (or longer).
Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken in a glass dish and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for 20-40 minutes, depending on size of chicken.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Frosted Pumpkin Cookies

This is totally unrelated to my recipe, but I read an article about a woman who baked her neighbor cupcakes to distract him so that she could steal his car. I mean, how awesome of a tactic is that? Sure, she could have just bought the cupcakes, but what's the fun in that? This woman actually took the time to make the
cupcakes beforehand. She obviously must have been hatching this plan for some time. "How can I get into this man's house so I can get access to his keys? I know! I'll make him a delicious treat that he can't resist, make my way into his home and steal his car keys while he's distracted." Brilliant.

On a side note, don't be frightened if I come to your home with baked goods. I promise I'm not trying to steal anything...or am I?

Anyway, these cookies were one of the first things I ventured to bake when I moved to Denver...more than 6 months after I arrived. I was terrified of baking in high altitude and was afraid to even make an attempt, even with a high altitude recipe at the ready.

I am super glad I decided to take a chance a try baking, because these cookies are delicious and still, after a whole year of baking, are my husband's favorite. The cookies are soft and a bit cake-like and the frosting is sweet but not in the oh-god-this-is-way-too-sweet kind of way. They are more-so sweet in the oh-my-god-these-are-awesome kind of way.

Frosted Pumpkin Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. In a mixer, beat butter, sugar, egg and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Mix in dry ingredients, a little at a time. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for easier handling.

Preheat oven to 350.

Shape the cookie dough into 1-inch balls and place them on a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until set. Let the cookies stand on the cookie sheets for 1 minute. Remove the cookies to cookie racks or wax paper and let cool completely before frosting with the Pumpkin Frosting (ingredients and directions below).


1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted powdered sugar, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons milk, divided

In a small bowl, sift together the powdered sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg together. In a mixer, beat the shortening and the vanilla for 30 seconds, or until light and creamy. Gradually beat in about 1 cup of the spiced and sifted powdered sugar until well combined. Add 1 tablespoon of milk, beating until well combined.

Gradually beat in the remaining spiced powdered sugar and the milk. Continue beating until well combined.

Spread the frosting on the completely cooled cookies.

They only lasted long enough for me to get a shot of this one cookie.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Day in the Life

I work for the federal government, and two weeks ago I deemed "non-essential" and was furloughed during the shut-down. I was getting stir-crazy (don't worry, there has be PLENTY of baking I'll be blogging about) and complained to my husband about it. He suggested that he plan a day for me and since I was running out of things to do, I readily agreed. So yesterday, I had a Ryan Day. Here's what was on the agenda:

Here's a break-down of how it went:

9:30 - run
10:15 - shower
Outfit for the day (per instructions):

10:30 - coffee and imgur
I wasn't sure if "Coffee - Dunkin" meant drink Dunkin Donuts coffee or drink coffee with Dunkin, so I did both:
 10:50 - Breaking Bad, episode 1
 Ryan put Breaking Bad on the list because he has been wanting to get me to watch the show and I have no interest (yes, I realize this makes me weird). My thoughts on this episode? The scene of Walt and his wife in bed after his surprise party was extremely uncomfortable. Yeah, not much else to add.

12:00 - Breaking Bad, episode 2, beer #1
I figured I'd just go ahead and get Breaking Bad out of the way. After episode 2 I was still not interested in the series. Ryan told me a just need to watch two more. I have a feeling after two more episodes, he'll just tell me to watch two more until I've watched the whole series. No thanks.

1:10 - lunch, beer #2, imgur
 Here's a snidbit of a convo between Ryan and me at this point:

how is it going?
Making grilled cheeses
I'm drunk after one beer so I need foods

this pleases me

I was going to order pizza but it was just soooo complicated
My stomach had not been feeling well before I had started my day, but I decided to go through with the day anyway. That, combined with the fact that I hadn't had anything in my stomach, cause me to go from 0 to drunk in one beer.
1:30 - Army of Darkness, beer #3 and 4
2:10 - Soup
Yes, straight from the container (yes, I heated it up).

This is how Army of Darkness went:

Army of Darkness takes place in medieval times?
am I watching the right movie?

oh yeah
are you sure this isn't Monty Python and the Holy Grail?
I thought he had a saw for an arm?
or is this not Ash

good lord what are you watching?

now he does
I swear he didn't have it before

yeah he didnt have it on for long in the begining when he was a 'slave'

so...it just magically came back?

the wizard guy gives it to him
this movie is confusing
because beer
my confusion is partly because I took a bathroom break and didn't pause
I can't back that up
I didn't know what was going on before I went to the bathroom
he swallowed a tiny version of himself and now he has two heads?
I'm not asking for me, Dunkin wanted to know
omg the animation is TERRIBLE
it's like claymation?
no, claymation is better
And some of my favorite lines from the movie: 
"You know, your shoelace is untied."  
"Yo! She Bitch…Let's go."
"I've got a bone to pick with you." 
"Buckle up, bonehead, cause you're going for a ride."

3:10 - NAP
4:25 - beer #5 and imgur

4:40 - The Last Starfighter, beer #6
I could see why my husband loved this movie as a kid. A kid gets a high score on an arcade and then is recruited to fight in an intergalactic war. I'm sure every time Ryan played one of his games he thought it might be the day he got picked to join space war. While watching this, Ryan came home and we ate leftovers and my Ryan day was complete. I was sad I didn't get to play any video games, but overall, I think the day was quite successful.