Homemade Breadsticks

Do you ever find yourself deep in a binge-session watching those fun baking competitions and think to yourself, “Oh I could totally make that.” Well, just the other day I thought the same thing. Up until this day, breadsticks were just something you get for free at restaurants to gobble down until there is one left in the basket that everyone secretly stares at until the entrees come out. I dug around Pinterest until I found the official Great British Bakeoff breadstick recipe: Olive Breadsticks.

But why bother even making your own breadsticks? Well, if you like playing with dough and getting your countertop full of flour, then stay tuned. (more…)

Oatmeal Streusel Muffins

Oatmeal streusel muffins are a combination of a muffin and a coffee cake all wrapped up in a warm pocket of delicousness. These are made up of cinnamon, butter, nutmeg and oatmeal and taste amazing! They have a soft base and are topped with a soft crumble that is irresistible next to a cup of warm coffee or tea.

Step 1: Make your oatmeal!

No, we are not prepping for breakfast or having brunch before we whip these babies up. This is an important step to having the ingredients prepped and ready to go. Stay focused…put down the mimosa (for like a few minutes at least). Pour boiling water over the dry oatmeal and set this aside to cool – you will want this very cool before adding this into the other ingredients. For me, you and every other person who has better things to do than watch a bowl of oatmeal cool down whack it in the fridge or freezer for a cool blast to speed up the process. Once that is done we are ready to cream together butter and sugars and add in the egg. Then add in that super chill oatmeal with a sprinkle of salt to cut through all the sugary sweetness.

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Step 2: Spice it up

In a small bowl stir together the cinnamon, nutmeg and other dry ingredients. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over mix or the baking police will come for you and tell you to put down the spatula and back away from the muffins, Sharon.

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Step 3: Shape and top

Finally we are nearing the end and our streusel dreams will come true. Prep large muffin tins and spray them lightly with cooking spray. Use a large spoon or ice cream scoop and fill the tins a little over 1/2 full with the mixture leaving room for streusel and to rise. Next top each with the streusel topping…load it up cause that stuff is delicious! The more crumbly and messy the better.

Once done baking, if you have any self control let these cool for about 10 minutes. Or if you are anything like me grab one and rip it open and slather it with butter and/or honey and have a baking blackout for like 5 minutes. Oh, and now you can finish your mimosa if you haven’t already.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1 Tsp soda
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup nuts (optional)

Streusel topping:

  • 1/2 cup flour (all purpose)
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter (cold and cubed)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

To make topping:

  1. Stir together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add in butter with a fork or pastry blender to cut the butter into the mixture until mixture just comes together and using hands, squeeze tougher the mixture to make large crumbles (look for a crumbly texture)

Note: Streusel topping can be made ahead of time and store in Tupperware in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare the streusel topping and set aside. Pour 1 1/4 cup boiling water over 1 cup oatmeal and set aside to cool. Cream together butter and sugars and add in egg. Once combined add in oatmeal and salt. Add in dry ingredients until just combined with spices. And nuts if desired. Spray large muffin tins with oil and  use ice cream scoop (or large spoon) to scoop batter into muffin tins. Top with streusel topping and bake.

Bake:

350° for 22-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Let these mostly cool in the baking tins and move to a cooling rack. These go well with a cup of tea or coffee in the morning.

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Easy homemade biscuits

As we sit inside on these hot summer days with the air conditioning breezing up through the vents and watching that binge-worthy show, why not make something new and exciting?! Crispy and crunchy biscuits are a fun and fairly easy challenge.

These are not your grandma’s fluffy buttery biscuits. Inspired by many years salivating over Paul Hollywood’s recipe for homemade biscuits I had to give these a try. (You know Paul if you binge on any certain well-known British baking shows). These are the type of treat you would eat as an appetizer when you’re looking for a snappy bite with some attitude. What we think of biscuits in the US are quite different from these biscuits we traditionally think of. What is the difference in UK and US biscuits? The next time you have questions like that, ask somebody else.

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Biscuits ready for baking.

The real difference is that an American biscuit is a soft and buttery baked good that you can slather with butter and eat with dinner. UK biscuits are mostly crunchy treats you eat with tea, and some are sandwich cookies and other varieties are sweet or savory with a crunchy and thin texture.

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This recipe calls for using a 2 3/4 inch round cutter, which I did not have! Perhaps one day if we open a crunchy biscuit bakery I’ll invest in a 2 3/4 inch round cutter. Instead of cutting each shape out individually and lose my mind, I used a cookie cutter. Thankfully it was happily hiding behind the Santa and stars cookie cutter in the pantry. 

What savory flavors would be good in biscuits?

  • Pesto and garlic
  • Tomato and olives
  • Cheese, cheese and more chunky cheddar cheese

What should these be served with?

  • Preserves, jams and jelly
  • Pickles and olives
  • Spinach and artichoke dip
Credit:Recipe adapted from Savory Biscuits. See link for original recipe. 

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 Cups flour
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cups butter (1 stick, unsalted)
  • 2.5 Tbsp water
  • 1 egg, beaten a separate bowl

Flavor add-ins:

  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp pesto (homemade or store-bought)
  • Shredded parmesan cheese (1/2 cup)

Method:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

  1. Put the flour, salt, butter, water and 1 beaten egg into a bowl and mix well for 5 minutes to create the dough.
  2. Once combined mix in flavorings: cheese, minced garlic, and pesto. 
  3. Put down parchment paper or on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/10in thick. Move the dough to a baking tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Lightly flour 2 large baking tray. Use a round cutter (2 3/4 in) to cut out 18 rounds from each dough. Place the discs on the baking trays. 
  5. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle on more parmesan (this step is optional)
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown, and then transfer onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or cold.

 

Would you try making these? Let me know!

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Devil’s Food Cookies

Coming off of the holidays there is nothing more fun than whipping together an easy cookie recipe when you don’t have much energy but have an intense addiction to chocolate. I don’t know about you, but after about five holiday parties and eating my weight in cheese the last thing I want to do is spend more hours in the kitchen with the hot oven breathing down my back. Insert this easy bake that requires very few ingredients. These also work very well with a variety of toppings based on what you have leftover in your pantry from the holidays.

Having a few days off from work and wandering around the house I found myself in my natural habitat inside the pantry looking up and down at the rows of flour and chocolate. Since I had an extra hour on my hands I decided to do a swift year-end organization of the pantry. As I was sorting through half empty boxes and containers, I found one lonely box hiding up in the top right corner of a shelf. I could barely reach this shelf but pushed myself on my tiptoes to just reach this delicious looking devils food boxed cake. Flipping it over I wondered what to do with this box of cake. Throw it away? Do we donate it to someone who could find it a loving home? Personally I’m not crazy about basic cakes. However, when you turn that cake into an ooey-gooey ball and form it into a cookie loaded with more chocolate and sugar…I’m in. For these chocolate cookies I jazzed up the first batch with sugar crystals and the second batch with powdered sugar because that is what I had in the pantry. This choc-aholic isn’t going to wait on a trip to the store to make these. So, dig around in your pantry and see what you have to throw into these easy devils food chocolate cookies! Keep on reading to find out out how to turn basic boxed cake mix into delicious chocolate cookies.

Make the dough

First you will need to make the dough by creaming together cream cheese and unsalted butter. Once that is combined, add in the egg. Slowly stir in the cake mix (about 1/2 of the bag at a time so it doesn’t fly all over the kitchen).  Last, add in the extra chocolate! I used a mix of dark & milk chocolate but you can use whatever your heart desires. You feeling light and sugary? Use milk chocolate. Feeling bitter and mysterious? Use dark chocolate. I keep an airtight container that is mixed with milk & dark chocolate in my pantry. I never know what to do with the random bits of chocolate leftover in the bottom of chocolate chip bags so I started a miscellaneous chocolate container which I use to add to a variety of recipes that call for chocolate chips. It’s a fun way to add a little mystery when someone asks what’s in the cookies.

1) Sugar Crystals

To make the sparkly cookies of your dreams you first need some sparkles! I used these chunky gold and silver sugar crystals because not only are they super fun but they add a delicious crunch for an extra layer of texture. It’s best to add the sugar crystals or sanding sugar before you bake these so the crystals fully adhere to the cookie. You can add them right after they come out of the oven for a less intense crystal topping (or if you forgot!).

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2) Powdered Sugar

For a powdery snowball effect roll the cold dough in powdered sugar before baking. Like the crystals, this makes the powdered sugar adhere much better to the cookie. Adding powdered sugar naturally makes the cookie more messy but by baking it on there there’s a smaller chance of it ending up all over your house….and face. If desired, you can wait to do this step once the cookies are out of the oven and slightly cooled. I personally prefer doing this step before baking so everything is done and baking on the powdered sugar creates an icing-like layer surrounding the cookie in yummy goodness.

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Once your cookies are out of the oven, be sure to move them to a cooling rack. I usually leave them on the baking tray for about 3-5 minutes or just cool enough to handle.

Tip: For extra gooey brownie batter-like cookies make sure to just bake these until set and remove them from the baking tray as soon as possible.

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Both the sugar crystals and the powdered sugar variety would be welcome on any cookie tray or mixed set. I put these out with some gingerbread for our fourth (yes FOURTH) Christmas get-together. It was a mixed bag between some guests preferring the crunch of the sugar crystals and a few preferred the powdered sugar better.

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Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz cream cheese (room temp.)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp.)
  • 1 egg (room temp.)
  • 1 box Devil’s food chocolate cake (15.25oz)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Toppings:

  • 1/4 cup sugar crystals or sanding sugar (colors are your choice!)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream together cream cheese and unsalted butter. Once that is combined add in the egg. Slowly stir in the cake mix (about 1/2 of the bag at a time so it doesn’t fly all over the kitchen). Last, stir in the chocolate chips! Wrap the dough in parchment paper and chill for about an hour. Using a cookie scoop, one-by-one shape dough and roll in your choice of toppings. Place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet 2 inches apart.

Bake:

350° for 8-9 minutes.

Let these just cool on the baking tray. Move these to a cooling rack as soon as possible to avoid these baking longer after they are out of the oven. This is essential to getting that chocolatey melt in your mouth devilish cookie!

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Tag me if you made either of these gooey chocolate cookies:

3 Ways to Make the Best Shortbread for the Holidays

Need a quick and easy cookie to bake for that last minute holiday get together? Look no further for how to make easy shortbread. It’s a crowd pleaser and easy on the eyes. Also there are three different variations I like to mix it up and give ‘er the old razzle dazzle. Start with the base dough and you can get creative from there. You can also play with extracts and toppings to show your personality!img_9437

Yes, make the dough! It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Cream the butter & sugar and then add in the flour. At this point let’s get our hands dirty. For real. It’s best to do this part by hand and knead the dough slightly. If it’s quite crumbly add a bit of butter until it just holds together. Chill the dough; I usually say until I’m done being patient and then roll it out and the real fun begins.

Dough texture pre-rolling out

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1) Sugar Sprinkles

The first decoration (and the easiest, I might add!) is to use a cookie stamp decorating tool. Cut out the desired shape and press the stamp into the dough to reveal a gorgeous design. Then sprinkle with sugar and bake!

2) Chocolate Peppermint Crunch

Number two!  The second option is for our chocolate lovers. For this variation you simply roll out the dough and cut a simple shape. I like to keep the shape simple for this so the outside decorations can really have their moment. Bake off, and while the cookies are cooling melt some dark chocolate and smash up a candy cane. Then dunk half of the shortbread in the melted chocolate and sprinkle with peppermint pieces. It’s best to set these to cool on parchment unless you like shortbread glued to your countertop. No judgement here.

3) Holly Jolly Trees

Aaaand number three. For the third variation we circle back to the holiday classic with MORE sugar. Grab your royal icing and get busy. Surprisingly adding royal icing to the shortbread really tops off the flavor and is a lot of fun. Of course buttercream would work as well if that is your icing of choice. Here you can mix & match the cookie colors of your dreams! I went with a fun twist of the Christmas tree and make it neon and top a few with sprinkles. Cause why not?!

 

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter room temperature (add more as needed to bring dough together if too crumbly)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons sugar (plus extra for topping)

Method:

Cream butter & sugar until just combined. Mix in vanilla. Stir in the flour 1 cup at a time. At this point its best to use your hands to finish incorporating the flour. Once combined, move the dough to countertop and lightly knead. Wrap in parchment paper and chill the dough. Roll out keeping the dough about 1/2 thick on floured surface. Use cookie cutters or cut your desired shape. Place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet. You don’t need to worry much how far apart to place these. Since there is no rising agent, these will not spread very much.

Bake:

350° for 15-20 minutes.

Let cool, add icing, sprinkles, or chocolate and peppermint crumbles to create your favorite variation. Enjoy the best shortbread for the holidays!

 

Did you make any of these variations? Tag me on IG and FB!

 

Rotten Apples

On our spooky creepy journey around Halloween I can’t help but dive deep into the need to bake up a disgustingly delicious treat. There is something about this time of the year where creativity is encouraged and the decrepit has no limits. On a recent trip to my local orchard the rotting apples below the trees kept catching my eye. There’s something about the soft, mushy interior with the wrinkled deep red skin surrounding the apple that is irresistible. This got me to thinking…how can I make something edible that also looks absolutely repulsive? How about make a rotten apple! IMG_E8454

IMG_E8425Method:

If you are still here and not hiding under a blanket from how SCARY that spider is, then grab your tea and a biscuit and tuck in cause this one is a doozy. The base of the apple is a choux pastry (see my method and recipe under Orange Puffs: Choux). (more…)