30 August 2011

Crazy Sweet Tuesdays (My First Linky Party!)

It was only a matter of time, right? I'm jealous of all you party hostesses. I want to be a hostess too!

So now I am!

This is the first installment of Crazy Sweet Tuesdays. It's a day to link up all the sweet treats you've been making over the last week. Each week I'll go through all the yumminess that has been linked and choose a few to highlight that make me drool the most.

I even made a button!


CrazySweetTuesdays

I hope you'll come join my party! I really am a great hostess. I make cookies and everything.

So, let's get the party started. I only have a few simple rules:

  1. Sweet treats only please! Please link to the URL of your post, not to your main page.
  2. Please either subscribe to Crazy for Crust or follow through GFC, Facebook, Twitter, or Networked Blogs.
  3. Link back to Crazy for Crust or grab my button (in the sidebar). Anywhere is fine!
  4. Visit some of the links and comment. Drool along with me at the sweet goodness of it all.

Then, be sure to check back next Tuesday to see who I've featured!



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29 August 2011

Peanut Butter Cup M&Ms


I've found that there are a lot of things in life I wish I could do at the same time, but can't.

Like, reading a book and watching TV at the same time. I can't concentrate on both at once. The TV can be on while I'm reading, but it has to be muted.

Or, trying to read two books at the same time. I used to hate it in college when we had all sorts of English Lit books to read and I couldn't read the latest Dean Koontz thriller until summer. That would just kill me.

How about trying to talk on the phone while being a parent? Just. Can't. Happen.

Or, better yet, trying to sleep past 6:00 am while being a parent. Again: not gonna happen.

My most recent favorite conflict is really frustrating me. Being thin and being a food blogger. Those two together just aren't working for me.

But now I've found two things that, in the past you may not have considered pairing, but can.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and M&Ms. Glue them together with chocolate and you can enjoy your two favorite candies all in one bite. (Well, more like three or four bites. These babies aren't small.)

Now, when you get frustrated that your child wakes you up before the sun bothers to rise and you haven't had a decent conversation with your BFF in months, you can eat some of these hearty treats and you'll feel better about it all.

I promise.


It's as easy as melting some chocolate chips or melts and using them as the glue to hold the M&Ms onto the peanut butter cups. I added the basket weave on the top for a decorative effect.

These would make great party gifts or just a good pick-me-up snack at the end of a long day.


Now about that food blogger vs. thin conflict, I don't know if these will be much help.

You know one other thing you can multitask? Reading this post and clicking HERE to vote for me! (Thank you again for letting me pester you.)

Happy Multitasking!

Peanut Butter Cup M&Ms
Print Friendly and PDFRecipe by Crazy for Crust

Ingredients:
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Peanut M&Ms
Chocolate chips

*The amount of these items depend on how many you are making. You need four M&Ms and only about a tablespoon of chocolate chips for each peanut butter cup.*

Directions:
Melt chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl. Add some melted chocolate to the top of the unwrapped peanut butter cup. Place four M&Ms on the top and drizzle with more melted chocolate. I used a squeeze bottle for my chocolate but it is not necessary to do so. Chill until hardened.

Enjoy responsibly (unlike me, who can eat several at a time).



This recipe may be linked with:
MondayMingle Monday (Add a Pinch), Joy of DessertsTuesday2 Maids a Baking (2 Maids a Milking), Tea Party Tuesdays (Sweetology). WednesdayCast Party WednesdayMade It On Monday (Lark's Country Heart), This Chick Cooks.  ThursdaySweet Treats Thursday (Something Swanky), Chic-and-Crafty (Frugal Girls), Turning the Table Thursdays (Around My Family Table), Tasty Thursday (The How-To Mommy). FridaySweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son), I'm Lovin' it Fridays (TidyMom). SaturdaySweets for a Saturday (Sweet as Sugar Cookies). SundayA Well-Seasoned Life,Sharing Sundays (Everyday Sisters)

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25 August 2011

Almond Joy Mountains


I was going to call these "Almond Joy Bites" but that doesn't exactly fit, does it? Almond Joy Mountains fits much better. They actually remind me of Mountain Bars (anyone remember those?)

I've been thinking of Halloween lately (thank you Michaels craft store for accosting me with fall items starting in July). Whenever I think of Halloween, I think of Almond Joy. You see, growing up I never liked coconut. At least I didn't think I did. You wouldn't have caught me within 10 feet of an Almond Joy candy bar.

Until last Halloween, that is.

For some reason last year I decided to try a mini Almond Joy. And it was love at first bite. I couldn't get enough. My daughter had gotten a whole bunch of them in her trick-or-treat bag and I ate them all. Myself. I couldn't get enough of them.

The funny part of the story is that my good friend Joann had the exact same experience on the same night. A few weeks later I happened to mention to her about my new infatuation and she laughed and told me she was now obsessed with them too. It was like we had a new angle to our friendship. We ate Almond Joys as often as we could. We bought them for each other and would buy them when we were together.

When Donsuemor contacted me and asked if I would consider making a recipe with one of their products and then write a post about it for their Dessert a Day campaign, I was intrigued. I went to their website to check out what they had to offer: French Almond Cakes, Mini Cakes, and Madeleines. They offer a variety of Madeleines: traditional, dipped, lemon zest, and chocolate.


As soon as I saw the chocolate madeleines, I immediately thought of Almond Joy. I'd been wanting to make Almond Joy bites for some time and knew these chocolate treats would be perfect for my recipe.

These chocolate coconut goodies are a breeze to make too.


They ended up a little larger than I had expected. They're small turtles, but they are so good. Every time I taste-tested one during (and after) making them, I was brought back to last Halloween and all my Almond Joy adventures since.


If you love Almond Joy as much as I do, you'll love these goodies. Go try some and start your own obsession!

{Oh...and if you still like me even after all the pestering, go HERE to vote for me!}


Almond Joy Mountains
Recipe by Crazy for Crust
Print Friendly and PDF
Ingredients:
30 Chocolate Madeleines
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 bag (14 ounces) sweetened coconut
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
30 whole almonds
3 bags (about 33 ounces) milk chocolate chips

Directions:
1.       Stir sweetened condensed milk, coconut, powdered sugar, and vanilla together in a large bowl. Mixture will be thick and sticky.
2.       Turn Madeleines upside down so that they lay somewhat steady. Scoop 2 tablespoons of the coconut mixture onto each madeleine. Add an almond to the top of each. Chill for 30 minutes.
3.       Melt your chocolate (work with one bag at a time and melt more as you need it). Place the coconut covered madeleines on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Scoop a spoonful of chocolate onto the top of the madeleine, covering as much of it as possible. If needed, help the chocolate to spread with an offset spatula.
4.       Chill until hardened (about 1 hour, depending on the heat in your house.)

Yield: 25-30 almond joy mountains.

***********
Fine print:
Donsuemor provided me with a box of madeleines in order for me to create and write this post. Donsuemor products can be purchased here. If you do not have access to chocolate madeleines, email me and I will give you substitution options.

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23 August 2011

Chocolate Oatmeal Zucchini Cookies


Do you still have zucchini in your refrigerator? I do. I still have three good-sized ones. Luckily there won't be any more (the plants came out of the garden last weekend). I don't think I want to see another zucchini for awhile.

It's gotten to the point where, whenever I put out something to eat (breakfast, dinner, dessert) my daughter asks, "is there zucchini in this?" like it's the most normal thing in the world.

By far, I think this is my favorite zucchini treat I've made to date.

I had seen a zucchini oatmeal cookie recipe in last months' Rachael Ray magazine. I was intrigued. But I've been wanting to try chocolate oatmeal cookies for awhile, so I decided to put the two together. I was nervous, because I made up the recipe as I went along. I haven't done many of my own recipes yet and I'm nervous each time I try.

But these cookies? They actually worked.


When I first tried them I was worried they didn't have enough sugar. They weren't totally sweet, like the other oatmeal cookies I'm used too. But the chocolate flavor hits a little after the cookie does and it's wonderful. And, because there isn't a ton of sugar (and there is actually vegetable in there), these make a great after-school (or lunchtime) treat. Jordan really liked them, even knowing they had zucchini in them.

But you know the best endorsement I got? It was from my husband. I mean, he likes everything I make. But he's not a total sugar person. He's famous for the "Wow! That's too sweet!" comment. (Whereas I'm thinking, "Um...are you crazy? There's no such thing!") He really liked these cookies because they are the perfect amount of sweet. The sweet is not overpowering. Which can be a good thing.


So if you have some leftover zucchini, give these a try. I am planning to make a few more batches for the freezer. My daughter loves to be surprised with one in her lunch box.

Enjoy!

**********

And again with the self-promotion...if you like me and want to help me out, please consider voting for me!

Here is the link:
http://sacramento.blogger.cbslocal.com/most-valuable-blogger/blog/449-crazy-for-crust/
It only takes a few seconds. There is no sign-in required and you can vote once a day through September 9th. Thank you so much for your vote!


Happy Tuesday!

Chocolate Oatmeal Zucchini Cookies
Recipe by Crazy for Crust

Ingredients:
½ cup butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup cocoa powder
3 cups quick oats
1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 small)

Directions:
1.       Preheat oven to 350°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (or spray them with nonstick cooking spray).
2.       In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and cocoa. Set aside.
3.       In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, oil, and sugars. Add egg and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined. Slowly mix in dry ingredients.
4.       Add oats and mix on low speed. Continue mixing on low speed and add zucchini. Mix until well combined.
5.       Scoop uniform balls onto cookie sheets. (I used a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop.) Bake 11-14 minutes until center of cookie no longer looks wet. Cool 10 minutes on cookie sheets before removing.

Yield: about 2 dozen large cookies


This recipe may be linked with:
MondayMingle Monday (Add a Pinch), Joy of DessertsTuesday2 Maids a Baking (2 Maids a Milking), Tea Party Tuesdays (Sweetology). WednesdayCast Party WednesdayMade It On Monday (Lark's Country Heart), This Chick Cooks.  ThursdaySweet Treats Thursday (Something Swanky), Chic-and-Crafty (Frugal Girls), Turning the Table Thursdays (Around My Family Table), Tasty Thursday (The How-To Mommy). FridaySweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son), I'm Lovin' it Fridays (TidyMom). SaturdaySweets for a Saturday (Sweet as Sugar Cookies). SundayA Well-Seasoned Life,Sharing Sundays (Everyday Sisters)

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21 August 2011

Apple Oreos


Last week my daughter started first grade. First. Grade.

Sigh.

Wait a minute. I'm having a flashback to my post about when she ended Kindergarten. I think I said the same thing. I guess I'm nothing if not predictable.

I mean, in first grade she's with big kids. On the playground. When I dropped her off on the second day she went out to play on the yard first. With, seemingly, every other kid in the school. I lost sight of her after about 10 seconds and about had an anxiety attack right there on the blacktop. Usually on playgrounds I can see her whenever I bother to look (just kidding, of course).

So, now that she's in first grade, the first thing people like to say to me is "What are you going to do with all that free time???"

(Let me preface this by saying I worship you working moms. I mean, I know my mental capacity and it doesn't include that. You ladies are amazing.)

Here is a list of things I plan to do with my free time:

1. Clean my house. Like, really clean it. Not shove things under the bed and in the closet because I'm rushing since my daughter is on her seventh iCarly of the day.

2. Grocery shop, go to Target, run to the mall to find the exact pair of Sporty Shorty Light UP! sneakers that they show in commercials on iCarly, then run back to Target again because they called about a prescription after I'd already left.

3. Bake, photograph, photo edit, and blog. While I'm alone. So that my daughter knows what I look like from the eyes down (all that she can see of me while I spend endless hours behind the computer screen). Oh, and so that I don't have to listen to the 19th iCarly of the day. Because my daughter can impersonate Sam to the T, and that scares me a little.

4. Eat bon bons and watch trashy reality TV. Otherwise known in the business world as a "lunch break."

5. Continue making a bulletin board at school because no one else stepped up to volunteer and when I asked the principal who was taking over he said (chuckling)..."Um...you?"

6. Make wonderful treats like these Apple Oreo Cookies for the teachers because I am now the Hospitality Chair on the PTC Committee. (Yes, I am a sucker. Let's paint a big PTC bullseye on my forehead, shall we?)

These Oreos are a great way to say hello or thank you to a teacher. Or, make them for your kids. They'll love them. And, if you're not making 75 of them, they are super easy.


First, you have to make your apples. I used red and green candy melts (Wilton). I found the mold online at Custom Chocolate Shop. You can also find them at Country Kitchen Sweet Art.


Then you need to cover your Oreos with a nice warm coat of chocolate. I like using a mold I got at An Occasional Chocolate, but if you don't have a mold you can just dip them.

Now, you have this:


Just attach the apples to the Oreos with a dab of melted chocolate.


Wrap them up pretty and you have a wonderful teacher gift!


To all you teachers out there: thank you for what you do. You deserve so much more than you get and I hope your year is full of good students and good treats.

************

In case you missed my shameless self-promotion yesterday, I've been nominated for a Most Valuable Blogger Award here in Sacramento. If you like me and want to help me out, please consider voting for me!

Here is the link:
http://sacramento.blogger.cbslocal.com/most-valuable-blogger/blog/449-crazy-for-crust/
It only takes a few seconds. There is no sign-in required and you can vote once a day through September 9th. Thank you so much for your vote!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled recipe...

Apple Oreos
Recipe by Crazy for Crust

Ingredients:
Red candy melts (Wilton or other)
Green candy melts
Chocolate candy melts, chips, or almond bark
Oreo Cookies


Directions:

  1. To make the apples: melt the red and green candy melts and place them in a squeeze bottle (can be found at stores like Michaels). I find that working with a squeeze bottle is cleaner and easier. Squeeze some red into the apple mold for the apple, green for the stem. Tap it on the counter a few times to settle the candy and then freeze until hardened (about 3-5 minutes). They should easily release.
  2. To make the chocolate dipped Oreos: melt your chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl. You can dip the Oreos directly in the chocolate or you can use a mold. If you are using a mold, squeeze (from a bottle) or spoon some chocolate onto the base of the mold. Tap to level. Add the Oreo and cover with more chocolate. Tap to cover and freeze until hardened (about 5 minutes).
  3. Attach the apples to the Oreos with a dab of melted chocolate.
Yield: One 14 ounce bag of chocolate melts will cover about half of a 16-ounce package of Oreos (that's about 20-25 cookies). One bag of red candy melts will make about 40-50 apples (you will only need about half a bag of green melts for this many).


Happy Back to School!



This recipe may be linked with:
MondayMingle Monday (Add a Pinch), Joy of DessertsTuesday2 Maids a Baking (2 Maids a Milking), Tea Party Tuesdays (Sweetology). WednesdayCast Party WednesdayMade It On Monday (Lark's Country Heart), This Chick Cooks.  ThursdaySweet Treats Thursday (Something Swanky), Chic-and-Crafty (Frugal Girls), Turning the Table Thursdays (Around My Family Table), Tasty Thursday (The How-To Mommy). FridaySweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son), I'm Lovin' it Fridays (TidyMom). SaturdaySweets for a Saturday (Sweet as Sugar Cookies). SundayA Well-Seasoned Life, Sharing Sundays (Everyday Sisters)

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20 August 2011

May I please...

...ask for a favor?

I'm not good at this; the act of self-promotion. Half the time I don't even tell people I have a blog, and when I do I feel almost embarrassed by saying it. But, this is a special case.

See, I've had the honor of being nominated for a Most Valuable Blogger Award here in Sacramento. I stumbled upon it quite by accident the other day and was totally shocked. Me? Up for an award? On an official  website (a CBS affiliate, no less)? It's crazy (no pun intended).

What's even more of an honor is that it was one of my local readers who nominated me. (Thanks, Erin!) I feel happy (and, strangely, slightly embarrassed) beyond words.

So I'm doing some shameless self-promotion here. If you like my blog and think I'm worthy, would you consider voting for me? It takes only a few seconds (no sign-ups required). You can vote once a day through September 9th. Here is the link to vote:

Vote for Crazy for Crust in the Most Valuable Blogger Awards Sacramento 2011
(It's in the Lifestyle section.)

I'm up against some other awesome bloggers in that category. I want to thank you for taking the time to vote for me.

I've also added a badge that links to the voting site over there on my sidebar. That way when you come to read my fabulous content, you can just click-through over there. (Wink, wink.)

Thank you again! I had hoped to have a great recipe and some witty zucchini-monster stories today, but with Jordan starting school last week it's been a bit crazy around here. See you with a few new recipes next week!

18 August 2011

Frosting for the Cause



Frosting for the Cause


Today I'm not here. Today I'm over here, at Frosting for the Cause. Have you heard of this wonderful site? I came across it last spring and as soon as I saw it I knew I needed to join in to bake a difference.

Cancer touches all of our lives. Everyone I know knows someone who has been touched by cancer; either personally or in their family or family of friends. It's time that cancer becomes one of those diseases of the past; one for which you realize you have it and go get a shot and poof, it's gone.

I made Zucchini Bars and shared them with a local Breast Cancer Support Group. Click on over and read all about them. And then check out the Frosting for the Cause site. I can guarantee you will be inspired. I certainly was.


I know that making some yummy treats to brighten someone's day won't cure cancer. But it's something. And when you put a bunch of little somethings together, it can become something big. And maybe that "something big" will finally be a cure.

Thank you to Frosting for the Cause for all you've done over the past months and will continue to do. You are an inspiration.

Happy Thursday everyone!

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17 August 2011

Almond Roca Cake Pops


Does how one eats something define who they are? Because, if that's the case, I may be in trouble.

I am a strange eater. First of all, I'm picky. It's been downgraded from "seriously picky" to "moderately picky" but still finicky, nonetheless. I don't like condiments. I don't like most fruit. Cooked leafy vegetables make me shudder. (I haven't, however, ever met a carb I didn't like...which figures.)

Besides being picky, I like to dismantle my food. I like to eat the best part last. (I'm the same way at the dinner table; vegetables get eaten first, followed by meat, then the pasta/potatoes/rice.) However, "saving the best part for last" is a bit difficult when you're eating, say, a bean burrito (no sauce, no onions) from Taco Bell.

I mean, the best part of a Taco Bell Bean Burrito is the tortilla. Sans beans. Duh.

You can probably imagine how I manage to eat the tortilla last. It does not involve a spork, although that might be a more appropriate way to eat something in a public restaurant. I eat the beans first, then the tortilla. It's a bit vampirish.

How do you eat a Reese's? I like the peanut butter best, so I save it for last. That entails eating the chocolate off the outside first.

Let's not even discuss Oreos or Peanut M&Ms. It might make you think I'm really strange.

Enter Almond Roca. I've loved that candy since I was a little girl. My husband loves them too. To me, the best part of an Almond Roca is the toffee. So, if you're following along, that means eating the chocolate and almonds first.

When I was creating the dessert table for my husbands' birthday party, I thought about putting a bunch of Almond Roca in a fancy vase. But I was already doing that with M&Ms and Reese's. So my mind turned to cake pops and the idea for these came to me.


To make them more like Almond Roca I added toffee bits into the cake mixture. I then dipped them in milk chocolate and sprinkled the pops with toasted almonds. The toffee adds a little crunch inside the cake pop, a nice surprise when you're expecting just a bite of cake. Of course, the almonds add crunch too. But, because I'm me, I ate the almonds first. Since the center of a cake pop is the best part, of course.

What can I say? I eat things weird. Wait a minute. What does that say about me?? (Don't answer that!)


How do you eat an Almond Roca?


Almond Roca Cake Pops
Recipe by Crazy for Crust

Ingredients:
1 box chocolate cake mix, with eggs, oil, and water called for on box
1 can vanilla frosting
1 bag Hershey’s Heath Toffee Bits
2 bags (about 14 ounces each) milk chocolate candy melts or almond bark
1 cup almonds, chopped and toasted

Directions:
1.       Mix ingredients and bake cake as directed on box for a 9x13 cake. Cool completely before making pops (preferably overnight).
2.       Crumble cake into a large bowl. Make sure it is a fine crumb. Add the bag of toffee bits and stir. Add frosting to the mixture a little at a time (about 1/4 cup) and mix into cake crumbs. You will use about ¾ of the can. Form into desired sized balls (I use a cookie scoop for this) and place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes and then move tray to refrigerator. (You can make the balls a day ahead and refrigerate, not freeze, overnight.)
3.       Melt your chocolate (I like to start with one bag and add more as needed). If you are making pops, gather your lollipop sticks.
4.       Work in small batches so the balls stay cold. I like to remove 2 or 3 from the refrigerator at a time. Dip your lollipop stick into the melted chocolate (about ½ inch), then stick in a cake ball. Then dip the entire ball into the chocolate. Be sure the chocolate is deep enough for the entire ball. Do not swirl the pop in the chocolate. If needed, use a spoon to finish covering the pop. Remove from chocolate and, holding the pop in one hand, gently tap that wrist with your other hand to remove excess chocolate. Place upright in a styrafoam block. If you are making balls, just dip into the bowl of chocolate, remove and place on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet.
5.       While the pop/ball is still wet, sprinkle with toasted chopped almonds. Refrigerate to set. They can be made ahead and frozen. Serve room temperature.

Yield: approximately 40 pops, depending on size.


This recipe will be linked with:
Tuesday2 Maids a Baking (2 Maids a Milking). WednesdayCast Party WednesdayMade It On Monday (Lark's Country Heart), This Chick Cooks.  ThursdaySweet Treats Thursday (Something Swanky), Chic-and-Crafty (Frugal Girls). FridaySweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son). SaturdaySweets for a Saturday (Sweet as Sugar Cookies). SundayA Well-Seasoned Life

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15 August 2011

Baby Boy Cookies



I love sugar. (I know, huge revelation, right?) I love to eat baked goods. (I know, another shocker.) Thing is, with this blog, there are always baked goods around. I have pictures saved from months ago and ideas in my head that will take me well into next year or beyond.


The problem is that if I make all my ideas for this blog, then they are in my house. If they are in my house, I will eat them. Period. I have no willpower. I try to pawn off my desserts as much as possible, but after awhile I can see that the "Thanks! Ooooh I LOVE cookies!" (big smile, happy face) is replaced with "Oh, thanks...again..." (nervous smile, happy but wary face). I mean, I can only make other people gain weight for so long before they realize that I'm deflecting said weight from myself.




Which is why I absolutely love it when other people ask me to bake for them. A few of my friends have asked for cakes or cupcakes for birthdays. (I'm hoping word will spread and I'll have more opportunity. Hint, hint, friends...) 


(On a side note, I can make cupcakes way better than Walmart can and I don't charge much more. And your kid won't end up with a neon green mouth.)


Recently a friend asked me to make desserts for a baby shower that her sister-in-law was giving. It wasn't a cake party; she was having a dessert table. These cookies are part of what I made for her.




I used my sugar cookie recipe (which got rave reviews, thank you Land-o-Lakes) and SweetSugarBelle's royal icing. I've always used Wilton's meringue powder, but I happened to come across some at the Williams-Sonoma mecca that is their flagship store (in San Francisco). I like Williams-Sonoma meringue powder a lot. I like it more than the other brand. BUT, it wasn't glossy, so I will add corn syrup to it next time, because I like that glossy look.




The idea for the onesies and strollers came from Pinterest. (I am growing to love that site too much. It really is a time suck, but who cares. It's fun!) I was daunted by the amount of detail at first, but it was super easy.


Jordan even got in on the action. She really wanted to decorate her own cookies. Once I was done I gave her the pasty bags and let her have at it.



I think she did pretty good for her first time with royal icing. She used a food writer pen for the owl. A little Crazy for Crust in the making. Gotta spread it to the next generation, after all!


Thank you to my friends who ask me to bake treats for them. It lets me do what I love without the threat of calories!

(Note: There is a print link at the bottom of this post. Please visit the post to print.)


Sugar Cookies
Ingredients:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1.       Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a large bowl if using hand mixer). Beat at medium speed, scraping the sides as needed, until well mixed (about 3-4 minutes). Separate dough into 2 pieces and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate about 1 hour, until firm enough to roll.
2.       Preheat oven to 375°. Roll out dough on a well-floured surface to ¼ inch thickness. Cut with desired cookie cutters. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets.
3.       Bake 6-10 minutes, depending on size of cookies. I find it best to bake one sheet at a time and rotate it 180° halfway through baking. Start your baking time at 3 minutes, rotate, and then estimate about how long they will take to cook. Cool completely.

Source: Recipe adapted from Land O’ Lakes



Royal Icing (from SweetSugarBelle)
Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons meringue powder
4 cups powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons Water (or 5 Tablespoons + 1 Tablespoon flavoring*)

Directions:
Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks. This will take about 7-10 minutes on low speed with a stand mixer or 10-12 minutes on high speed with a hand mixer.

*SweetSugarBelle gives a great tip for Royal Icing: Flavoring! Reduce the amount of water by 1 Tablespoon and add 1 Tablespoon of extract THAT IS OIL FREE. OIL and Royal Icing do not mix. Pure vanilla or almond extract are two good additions, but you can do any flavor you want. Just make sure to check the ingredients list first to see that there is NO OIL.

After beating your icing until peaks form, transfer it to sealable containers (such as Tupperware), one for each color you are using. Add your coloring (if desired) and little bits of water until the consistency is thin enough to pipe but still thick enough not to run off the sides of the cookies. This will be your “edge” consistency. (Note: add a little to your pastry bag fitted with a #2 tip and test it. If it’s too hard to pipe, add more water. If it’s too thin, add some powdered sugar. If it doesn’t kill your hand and doesn’t run off the cookie, it’s good.) Edge your cookies and let them completely dry.

To flood the cookies, add enough water that the icing disappears back into itself when it drips off the back of a spoon. Transfer to a squeeze bottle and flood the cookies. Use toothpicks or an offset spatula to help fill in the little holes. If you’re having to spread a lot, your icing is too thick. You can add more water to thin it. Let this dry completely. It might even take overnight. Be patient, let this step take the time it needs!

You can store the royal icing overnight in the refrigerator, as long as it is sealed in a container.

If you are doing detail on top of the flooded cookies, like writing, make sure the consistency is stiff enough not to run. This may need some trial and error, so be sure to have a few extra cookies until you get the consistency right. Add powdered sugar or water to thicken/loosen as needed. Let the decorations dry completely before covering.

Source: SweetSugarBelle and Wilton

This recipe will be linked with:
MondayMingle Monday (Add a Pinch), Joy of DessertsTuesday2 Maids a Baking (2 Maids a Milking). WednesdayCast Party WednesdayMade It On Monday (Lark's Country Heart), This Chick Cooks.  ThursdaySweet Treats Thursday (Something Swanky), Chic-and-Crafty (Frugal Girls). FridaySweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son). SaturdaySweets for a Saturday (Sweet as Sugar Cookies). SundayA Well-Seasoned Life

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13 August 2011

And the Sur la Table Gift Card Winner Is...

And we have a winner of the Sur la Table gift card!

Comment #22!

{Okay I did the whole Random.org widget thing, hit generate, it said number 22, and then the number disappeared. I guess I have to practice it a little more. BUT the winner is number 22 and that means...}

The winner is...

erin said...Reply to comment
I follow you on facebook.

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12 August 2011

Peanut Butter Pie (for two)


Before yesterday, I had never heard of Jennie from In Jennie's Kitchen. I'd never read her blog. But yesterday I kept seeing references to peanut butter pie with links to her blog on Twitter. So I clicked through. And, as I read her post for mikey, I cried. It turns out her husband passed away of a sudden heart attack last weekend, leaving her devastated and alone to raise two small children.

It's a story I can't even imagine. One I don't want to imagine. A story I worry about on those days when worries like that pop up. My heart aches for her, her children, her family.

Her response to an overwhelming outpouring of "what can I do to help?" was to say, make a pie today, Friday. A peanut butter pie. It was her husbands' favorite. She had been meaning to make it for him for awhile, but hadn't found the time. She asked that we make a pie for him and then that we go hug our loved ones because you just don't know what will happen tomorrow.

So I made a peanut butter pie for Mikey. I didn't have the ingredients on hand for her recipe, or even for a full pie. But I didn't want to wait until tomorrow. I made two little pies, perfect for two. Perfect to make and share with someone you love.

Last night, after I read Jennie's story, I hugged my husband. Hard. And I am sending virtual hugs to all my family and friends afar. Because you just don't know what the future brings.

So, for Mikey, here is a Peanut Butter Pie.


Peanut Butter Pie (for two)
Ingredients:
4 large graham cracker squares
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, divided, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup peanut butter
7 ounces (1/2 can) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grind your graham crackers into a fine crumb in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and add melted butter. Mix with a fork. Grind 1/4 cup of the mini chocolate chips in the food processor and stir into graham cracker mixture. Press into the bottom and up the sides of two mini tart pans (I used 4 1/2 " pans). Bake for 7-8 minutes. Cool before filling (this can be done faster by freezing for about 10 minutes).
  2. To make your whipped cream, start with a cold bowl and cold beaters or whisk attachment. Add cream and sugar to the bowl and whip on high speed about 3 minutes until fluffy. Chill until ready to use.
  3. Add peanut butter, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice to a medium bowl. Mix with a hand mixer until incorporated. Add remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and stir. Fold into whipped cream.
  4. Filled cooled tart shells with peanut butter mixture. Garnish with additional chocolate chips. Chill until ready to serve. (There will be left over filling. That's okay. Eat it with a spoon - Yum!)
Yield: Serves 2

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie Dough Cupcakes


Yesterday was my dad's 65th birthday.

{Happy Birthday Daddy!!!}

Since we live two hours away from my parents, we can't always get together on our actual birthdays. This last week before school starts is kicking my bottom (does this happen to anyone else? Slow slow slow days and then BAM! School!), so my parents came to us on Tuesday for my dads' birthday visit.

What would a birthday be without cupcakes?

Um, not a birthday I want to celebrate, thankyouverymuch.

Enter these Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie Dough Cupcakes.

I've talked about how my dad isn't supposed to have sugar and how excited I was to find Pillsbury's sugar-free cake mixes and frostings.  Last time I used the yellow cake mix and chocolate frosting. This time I used the devil's food and vanilla frosting.

Yes, these cupcakes are from a box and a can. BUT they are delicious. You can, of course, use your favorite mix or recipe. (The cookies and cookie dough add another amount of time to the preparation of this cupcake, so I say take your shortcuts where you can find them.)

Let's talk about cookies, shall we?

Because I knew I was going to share these cupcakes and not everyone needs a sugar-free option, I made the same recipe with sugar and with Splenda. This recipe for oatmeal cookies is one I found in a magazine last year  and it calls for Splenda. I wanted to make sure they were okay with sugar. And they were. They tasted awesome.


The Splenda cookies are smaller (I think because Splenda doesn't react with butter like sugar does. The ones made with sugar spread quite a bit.) These oatmeal cookies were very good. They are different from the usual ones I make because they end up crunchy. You'll notice there is coconut in them - but you don't taste it. It just adds texture.


I filled the cupcakes with cookie dough. Could it get any better? I love the fact that you can substitute milk for egg in dough and then eat it without worry. (This could create a real problem for me!) To fill your cupcakes, just cut out a piece of the center and scoop a little cookie dough in.


I added cinnamon to the frosting to give it that oatmeal cookie-like flavor. It added a great flavor to the cupcake. I also discovered my daughter likes cinnamon frosting. A lot.


These cupcakes are dangerous. Because they are from a box, they are light and fluffy and go down easy. Which makes it easy to eat more than one in a sitting. (Not that I'd know or anything.)

I think cookie dough is my new favorite thing. Oh, and oatmeal cookies. These cookies would be great crunched up over ice cream. (Again, not that I'd know or anything.)

Oh, and you know what else is great about birthdays? Gifts. If you're in need of one, don't forget I'm giving one away! The giveaway ends tonight (Friday, August 12th). Be sure to click on over and enter!

Happy Birthday to my wonderful dad. I love you!


(There is a print link embedded at the bottom of this post. Please visit the post to print.)

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie Dough Cupcakes
Ingredients:


24 baked and cooled chocolate cupcakes (from your favorite recipe or a box mix)*

For the Oatmeal Cookie Dough:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar*
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon milk (more if needed)

For the Frosting:
2 cans vanilla frosting (or your favorite recipe)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Oatmeal Cookie Toppers:
1 cup old-fashioned oats
¾ cup flour
½ cup shredded natural unsweetened coconut**
¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar*
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

*For a sugar-free cupcake, use Pillsbury sugar-free devils food cake mix and substitute all sugar with Splenda (NOT Splenda for baking , which has sugar).

**I found my natural unsweetened coconut in the bulk bin section of Winco. They also have it at Whole Foods. Check the bulk bins in the natural food section of your grocery store. You can substitute more oatmeal if you cannot find the coconut. Or, use sweetened coconut, but cut down on the amount of sugar.

Directions:
For the Cookie Dough:
1.       Mix together oats, flour, and pumpkin pie spice in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
2.       Cream sugar and butter.  Mix in dry ingredients and add vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk and stir to combine. If needed, add 1 teaspoon more milk until the mixture comes together.
3.       Cut out a small section in the center of each cooled cupcake. Fill with about 1-2 teaspoons of cookie dough. Press into the hole. (You will probably have leftover cookie dough. Go ahead and eat it –it’s egg free! Or mix it in ice cream.)

For the frosting:
Empty the two containers of frosting into a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and stir. (This can be done with a hand mixer.) Frost cupcakes that have been filled with cookie dough. I like using a #12 tip.

For the Oatmeal Cookie toppers:
1.       Preheat oven to 350°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2.       Combine oats, flour, coconut, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3.       Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in oat mixture.
4.       Drop equal sized portions onto prepared cookie sheets. Cookies will spread and you don’t want them too big – they need to fit on the cupcake. I used my 1” cookie dough scoop.
5.       Bake 13-15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.  Cool completely and place one cookie on each cupcake.

Yield: 30 cookies, 24 cupcakes

Source: Cookie recipe from Family Circle Magazine May 2010

This recipe will be linked with:
ThursdaySweet Treats Thursday (Something Swanky), Chic-and-Crafty (Frugal Girls). FridaySweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son). SaturdaySweets for a Saturday (Sweet as Sugar Cookies). SundayA Well-Seasoned Life, Sharing Sunday (Everyday Sisters) Monday: Joy of Desserts, Mingle Monday (Add a Pinch), Muffin Monday (Talking Dollars and Cents)

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10 August 2011

Brown Sugar


Raise your hand if you've ever had one of those days. You know, the ones where things just don't go the way they were planned?

Like, you get to the gym and realize you've forgotten your cell phone. Um, what is the point of being on the elliptical if you can't check email and read Facebook and tweet?

Or, you spend forever getting yourself and your kid ready for a swim play date at the scorching hot swimming pool with no shade and when you get there you realize (a) you've forgotten sunscreen or (b) the nice cold, icy water bottle is sitting on the counter...at home.

Or, maybe you're like me and are super organized with a grocery list organized by aisle and the coupons have all been properly loaded onto the savings card for the store. You spend an hour shopping and (what seems like that long) lugging groceries into the house in 100 degree heat.  Then you start baking cookies needed for the next morning only to realize you forgot to buy the brown sugar.

Well, now you have a solution. You can make your own brown sugar. Did you know that? I thought I had heard it somewhere (turns out it was Joy the Baker who told me) so I did a quick Google search and there it was.

The recipe for brown sugar.

All right there on my computer screen.

No last minute run to the store. No crying that I just spent half my day making lists and shopping and putting away groceries only to have to get in my car and go there again.


All you need is one tablespoon molasses for each one cup sugar. That's it. Stir it together (I used a fork) and voila! You have brown sugar. I baked with it and the cookies I was making tasted great; the same as with store-bought brown sugar.

So, now all you have to do is go check your pantry for molasses. You know you have some in there somewhere...right?

**********

Don't forget about my giveaway that ends this Friday! A $25 gift card to Sur la Table...just for being you!

Have a great day!

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08 August 2011

Roasted Zucchini Pizza (with Homemade Sauce)


{First off, did you read about my first giveaway? Go check it out! It's open until this Friday!}

Now on with the matter at hand...

I have zucchini growing out of my ears.

Well, not literally. But seriously, there is mega-zucchini goings-on here in the Crazy for Crust household.

In the last two weeks I have made chocolate zucchini muffins, zucchini pizza, zucchini bars, and stuffed zucchini (recipes forthcoming). I have used zucchini in my Summer Salad (twice). I have stir-fried zucchini and put it in cous cous and turkey burgers.

And I still have five good sized zucchinis in my crisper drawer. Five.

This week I will do one or all of the following: (a) give some zucchini away, (b) make zucchini oatmeal cookies, and/or (c) dream about a monster, life-sized Santoku knife-weidling zucchini chasing me through the streets of San Francisco.

Needless to say, this is the first of several zucchini recipes I will be sharing with you.

This one comes in the form of a pizza. And, stop right there, don't leave. If you just were about to click the little red "x" because "Ewww!!! Zucchini doesn't belong on pizza!!!" stick with me for a minute. It's really good. And what was even better? The sauce.

I've never made my own pizza sauce before. {Gasp.} I've always used Contadina or Target brand or whatever was on sale. But never again people. Never again. Now that I know how easy it is to make my own pizza sauce, I'm doing it always.


Usually, my favorite thing about pizza is the crust. (Really, I'm sure you had no idea.) But this pizza? The sauce was the star. Even my daughter loved it. (And this from a girl who usually makes her place at the table look like a murder scene with all the pizza-sauce wiped napkins she uses because she "doesn't like sauce.") There was not one red sauce-smeared napkin to be seen anywhere. And that, my friends, is the best endorsement ever.

Make your own pizza sauce. Roast some zucchini and throw it on top with all your favorite toppings. Pizza + Vegetables all in one bite. Perfect!


Enjoy!

(Note: There is a print link embedded in this post. Please visit the post to print.)

Zucchini Pizza (with Homemade Sauce)
Sauce recipe from Baked Bree

Ingredients:
For the sauce:
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

For the pizza:
Pizza Crust (either homemade or store-bought)
Mozzarella Cheese, shredded (as much or as little as you like)
1 medium zucchini for each pizza (if you are making more than one)
Other toppings you like

Directions:

  1. To make the sauce, add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice zucchini and place on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Spray or drizzle zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes. (This can be done ahead of time.)
  3. Stretch out your pizza dough to desired size. Top with sauce, cheese, and roasted zucchini (as well as other toppings you choose). Bake according to your pizza crust directions.
Yield: the sauce makes a lot. I made two pizzas (1-lb of dough each) and froze enough sauce for two more pizzas.


This recipe will be linked with Savory Sunday (The Sweet Details) and Mingle Monday (Add a Pinch).

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