Thursday, December 31, 2009

12 Days of Christmas - Day 7

It's New Year's Eve, people! Can't type much....gotta go bring in the New Year with a smile and laughter. :)

Here's another of my family's favorites for Christmas.

Swedish Cookies
1 C butter
½ C powdered sugar
1¾ C flour
½ C chopped pecans (or a little more)
1 t vanilla
Cream butter well; add remaining ingredients. Roll into balls about 1" in diameter. Bake at 350°
for 15 min. While still a little warm, roll in powdered sugar.
(made by guest baker: my mom)

Bake well and prosper!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

12 Days of Christmas - Day 6

Ah. What would I do without my mother? Once again she was guest baker for today and took pictures while she worked (it's close to whistling while you work.) But I forgot to grab those pictures off her camera before I left TX. She was awesome enough to send them to me in time to post this for Day 6. :) And it is pretty awesome that she knows how to use technology!

She made Peanut Butter Crinkles. AND she took a picture of her mess (once again contained, but still a mess.)
She also took a picture of the cookies pre-oven and pre-chocolate.

Now, some of you guys might know this recipe as the one with Hershey kisses in the middle of the cookie. But my mom was creative. She used these cute Ghiradelli semi sweet baking chocolates that I shall rename buttons.

They turned out great!

Peanut Butter Crinkles
1 C butter or margarine, softened
1 C peanut butter
1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2½ C flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
nuts, M&Ms, chocolate chips, chocolate kisses

With mixer at medium speed, beat first six ingredients until fluffy. At low speed, beat in next four ingredients. Shape into 1" balls, roll in sugar. Place 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until browned. Immediately press nuts or candies into cookies. Cool. Store in airtight container. Makes 6 dozen.
Bake well and prosper!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

12 Days of Christmas - Day 5

I have to admit that ever since I was a little girl, this was my favorite day out of all 12 days. I mean, five GOLDEN rings?!! Awesome! Not to mention that when singing, this day got to be all fermata-ed (yes, I think I just made up another word - to hold out as long as one wants.)

So, in honor of my favorite day, here's one of my family's favorites. My mom always makes these cookies (and my dad even helps too! Well, someone has to know how to use this contraption and have the muscle to push the dough through it! And let me tell sure ain't me with my noodle arms.)
Voila! A cookie press!
****This just in: There are electric ones of these things?!!!! What?! No muscle needed anymore?! What IS the world coming to?

1 C butter
¾ C sugar
1 egg
½ t almond flavoring
2½ C flour

Mix in order given. Forming on ungreased cold cookie sheets, press dough through cookie press
in fancy shapes, strips, or circles. Decorate with colored sugar. Bake at 350° until edges are just lightly browned (8 minutes+). (made by guest baker: my mom)

Bake well and prosper!

Monday, December 28, 2009

12 Days of Christmas - Day 4

So, in the past several years, whenever I went home to TX for Christmas, I made holiday bars for one of my best friends and her family. Last year I didn't get to make them seeing my friend's son was in the hospital and the normal visiting didn't happen. :( But I made up for it this year by giving them some supernatural brownies too. :) (See: Ahhhh.....the Sweet Taste of Victory)

As I was making these bars I started admiring my fingernails. The red made everything I was doing better. Like chopping the pecans.
Smushing the graham crackers (who needs a rolling pin? I don't!)

Or pouring the sweetened condensed milk.
Aren't these pictures more festive with that splash of color?!!! Ok...whatever. It's been a long time since I got a mani-pedi. I was super excited. Leave me be in my enjoyment. (And make these bars to get into the holiday mood too and bring some enjoyment to yourself and those around you. *No painting of nails required.)

Holiday Bars (Please note: the pictures are of a half recipe. This is the full recipe.)
1/2 C margarine
1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 6-oz pkg chocolate chips
1 1/2 C shredded coconut
1 C chopped nuts (Erika's Extra: I always use pecans)

In 13 by 9 inch pan, melt margarine. Remove from heat. Sprinkle crumbs over margarine. Pour milk evenly over crumbs. Top with chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts; press down gently. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and cut into 3 by 1 1/2 inch squares.
Erika's Extra: On one half, sprinkle the nuts and keep the other half nutless (for those who don't like nuts.)(Is nutless a word? Oh my....)

Bake well and prosper!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

12 Days of Christmas - Day 3

So, you've made a pie but have extra unbaked pie crust dough left over. "What to do?," you wonder. Well, take a little page out of my helpful tips and make Pie Crust Crisps.

Pie Crust Crisps (Something my mom made up as far as I can tell....she probably stole it from her mom.)
Leftover unbaked pie crust
Cinnamon and Sugar

Turn the oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin and use some flour to make sure the dough doesn't stick to the pin.

Once it is rather thin, cut strips of dough and place them on a cookie sheet. Add cinnamon and sugar and bake for about 15 minutes or until crisps are slightly golden brown. Enjoy.

Now if I can only figure out how to not get my hand all covered in flour......

Bake well and prosper!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

12 Days of Christmas -Day 2

Did you realize that the 12 days of Christmas start ON Christmas, not before? I think I discovered this about 3 years ago. What a great idea!!! Why not prolong Christmas for as long as possible! This means more of a reason to make delicious desserts! Woohoo! (Obviously I've already had my fair share of sugar this season with all the !'s I just used in the past 4 sentences.)

Well, I have TWO special treats for you. 1. I am going to post an entry for the next 12 days and 2. My mother was guest baker for this entry!!!!!!!

She called me about 2 weeks before Christmas to ask what type of pie I wanted her to bake. Well, I prefer chocolate pies and my mom hardly makes that type. So, I requested that she make Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie. She's never made this before. I've never made it before (but to let you in a little secret.....I've NEVER made a pie before. I KNOW! Such a shock.)

Anyway, my mom was kind enough to try her hand at it AND she took pictures of the process!
Eggs plus sugar followed by mixing in the chocolate followed by the pie pre-heat.

But even better yet.....she took a picture of her mess! Awwww!
I know. Her mess is a lot more contained than mine, but hey! It's the thought that counts.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie (from
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
1 Cup Sugar
3 Tbsp. Cornstarch
3 eggs
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp. bourbon
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 1/2 Cup pecans (Erika's Mom's Extra: She used only 1 C of pecans.)

Mix together sugar and cornstarch in large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, mix. Add sweetened condensed milk, bourbon, chocolate, and butter. Mix well.

Pour into pie shell. Add the pecans in a circular design on top of pie. Bake for 45 minutes in 375 degree F oven. Serve with whipped cream if desired.
Bake well and propser!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Once again, I decided to make some cake pops. I took the reindeer idea from bakerella's site and then made my snowmen with my own imagination. Awwwww!!!
But don't you worry. Even though it is Christmas, I still wasn't any less messy. In fact, here's a play by play of my messiness.
I didn't have any plastic gloves, so I had to shape the balls with my hands.
Oh my! Look at these messy hands. What shall I do?!
Well, lick it off of course! I don't want to be wasteful. ;)
Merry Christmas!
(See Who you calling turkey? post for recipe to cake pops.)

Bake well and prosper!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Orange you glad I posted this recipe?

I love how I decided the title of this post earlier today and then I was talking to my 5 year old nephew on the phone in the evening and he just discovered knock-knock jokes. And yep! He knew the banana, banana, banana, orange one. (And the impatient cow one - my fav! - which I was very proud of.)

Well, I will have some super glad co-workers now that they have access to this Orange Drop Cookie recipe (after the huge success at their debut at my office.)

But first! Let's discuss the whole "making it work in a small NYC apt" subtitle. There's not much space in a studio. And the extra space I DID have I definitely put to work as counter space. Last week for our office admins' holiday party, I volunteered to make some desserts for the occasion. (I unlike me making desserts and all....ha!) So, I made Supernatural Brownies, Orange Drop Cookies, and Ritz Bark Cookies and in that order. Please see the counter space almost completely used after the second dessert was made: (WARNING – What you see may be frightening.)

Yes. I used the CLEAN lid of the trash can to prop my cook book up. And those brownies are on the dresser in my room…right by my make up. Yes. Totally lovely. This isn’t that bad actually. I didn’t even need to use my desk and there was still some room on the blue counter. I’ll start being scared when I have to use my bed (I’m thinking fondant might demand that.)

But don’t y’all worry. I made it work. Now it’s your turn.

Orange Drop Cookies (from my Mom’s Best Recipes Cookbook)
2/3 C butter
¾ C sugar
1 egg
½ C orange juice
2 T grated orange rind
2 C flour
½ t baking powder
½ t soda
½ t salt

Mix; drop on cookie sheet. Bake 375° about 8-10 minutes. Cool partially, then frost:
2 T soft butter
1 T grated orange rind
2 T orange juice
2 C powdered sugar

Blend and spread on cookies when they are mostly cooled.

Erika’s Extra’s: Buy 3 oranges just to be safe. Make sure the cookies are almost completely cooled so the frosting won’t run off them.

Bake well and prosper!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

First Celebrity Blogger Sighting! a couple of months ago the lovely people that run (my fav!) were doing a book signing tour and a cupcake wreck contest along with it. I was SOOOOO excited to buy the book, get it signed, meet Jen (and hubby), and present my cupcake cakewreck wrecklica when disaster struck their tour and they had to reschedule it. They rescheduled it to the EXACT time that I had tickets to see South Pacific with my mom. Well, sorry cakewrecks, I love ya....but I love me some musicals and my mommy more. *tear*

Alright....moving ahead a couple of weeks and through the sappiness..... I was Christmas gift shopping in Borders at Columbus Circle yesterday and they announced that Ree Drummond would be doing a book signing. Ree's blog is lovely! Lots of people love her pictures and recipes. But me? I loved her Black Heels to Tractor Wheels part. About 45 chapters on how she met, fell in love with, and married a cowboy. Man....that helped me spend some downtown in a great quality way. You know....the romantic comedy quality kind of way.

Unfortunately, I couldn't stay for her whole talk since my company had their holdiay party the night before. (Which equals me not getting enough sleep and being super duper tired.)

But, I snagged a quick picture with my blackberry before I left. :) First famous blogger sighting! Woohoo!

PS I also spotted Ted Danson this week on the street. I don't know who I was more excited to have seen.

Bake well and prosper!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I get by with a little help from my friends

My birthday was last week and I have to admit that it wouldn't have been any fun without my awesome friends that came out and helped celebrate. These crazy kids occasionally help me bake from time to time (help as in taste test/eat what I make.) But they aren't always available, so I have surrounded myself with "friends" to keep me company when I bake.

Meet my measuring cups and spoons. That's right. That is a goose cup and giraffe teaspoon. Aren't they oh so cute?!!!

The newest member of the team is Ralph, the alligator. He helps me do dishes by the sink. Ralph was a big help in making the cookies for this blog (seeing that no measuring needed to be done.) The cookies: Ritz Bark Cookies. Ever since their first appearance to my real live friends, there's been a hot demand for them. They were especially requested for my senior voice recital after being loved at my junior recital. Now that my school days are done, I usually make them around Christmas. I hope you enjoy them as much as everyone else does!

Ritz Bark Cookies (another gem from my mother's recipe book):
Ingredients needed:
Ritz Crackers
Peanut butter (creamy, not chunky)
Chocolate Bark (chocolate candy coating can be a substitute)

Melt chocolate bark in a double boiler. Spread a dab of peanut butter between two crackers and then coat with chocolate. Place on wax paper to cool.

Erika's Extras: Prep by making all the cracker and PB "sandwiches" first. Using two forks to move and flip the crackers around is quite helpful. Put in freezer to cool faster.

Bake Well and Prosper!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Who you calling turkey?

Well, Thanksgiving was last week. For the first time in my life I seriously pre-gamed Thanksgiving. I had turkey, stuffing, etc on Monday and Tuesday for lunch. This made me declare the whole week as Thanksgiving other words: No holds barred! Stuff yourself silly for a whole week.

Speaking of silly....what do you get when you put two best friends together who are up way past their bedtime making dessert? A silly movie with their newly made Turkey Cake Pops.

Ah, yes. You heard right. Turkey Cake Pops. I have no idea how to not make that sound as bad as it does. It's a ball of cake on a lollipop stick with decorations that make it look like a turkey. So there. A Turkey Cake Pop.

*sigh* See picture below for clarification.
I had stumbled upon bakerella's site of cuteness through the greatly loved cakewrecks site's twitter. I decided that I would make these time consuming cutenesses of dessert. Of course, with my friend Jen's help.

Jen and I went to Allen's for Thanksgiving. Allen and all his friends are serious foodies and professional chefs. I had to pull out the big guns to impress them, ya know what I mean? So, Tukey Cake Pops it was. It could have been a real mess. They could have looked like balls of poo. And yet, they turned out to be OH SO CUTE! So cute that one didn't want to ruin them by eating them. They were hard to gobble up (pun intended.)

Everyone loved them and they tasted great!!! I was even asked if I was a pastry chef! *one tear of joy gleaming in eye*

Items needed (all can be found on
1 box cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13x9 cake)
1 can frosting (16 oz.)
Wax paper
Chocolate Candy melts (1 lb. pkg.)
Lollipop Sticks
Edible Ink Pens

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl
2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can frosting. (You may not need the entire can of frosting, so start out by using almost the entire can and add more if you need to.) Erika's Extra Notes: Good idea to have plastic kitchen glove/surgical gloves to smush cake and frosting together and then make them into the ball shape.
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50.) Erika's Extra Noted: Bigger sized cake balls are easier to decorate, so maybe try Susan B. Anthony sized balls.
4. Melt chocolate in the microwave per directions on package. (30 second intervals, stirring in between.)
5. Dip the tip of your lollipop stick in a little of the melted candy coating and insert into the cake balls. (Insert less than halfway.)
6. Place them in freezer for a little while to firm up.
7. Once firm, carefully insert the cake ball into the candy coating by holding the lollipop stick and rotating until covered. Once covered, remove and softly tap and rotate until the excess chocolate falls off. Don't tap too hard or the cake ball will fall off too.
8. Place in a styrofoam blcok to dry. Erika's Extra Notes: Styrofoam is NOT environmentally friendly, so if you don't have any laying around, use a cardboard box and carefully poke a scissor or exacto knife into the top to create sturdy holes for the sticks.
9. Once dry, add decorations and draw faces on with an edible ink pen.

I used chocolate covered pecans as the heads, mini sugar hearts for that dangly throat thing, cut up jelly bellies for the nose, and Mike & Ikes for the tail feathers.

Bake well and prosper!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ahhhh.....the Sweet Taste of Victory

Sorry to all my faithful readers out there (all 3 of you). I have been slacking and haven't posted anything in awhile. Well, a girl has a right to take a break after a marathon, now doesn't she?

Ahhhh....the marathon. If you would have asked me within the last two miles of the marathon if I would ever want to do a marathon again I would have said, "Are you crazy?!!!!" But now it looks like tons of my friends and even the possibility of my freshman HS bball coach will run again next year and of course that means I have to run. Of course.

It truly was an amazing event. The crowds of people in NYC cheering us mere running mortals on was inspiring, uplifting, and just plain awesome! It was a party all the way until the end (although those last two miles all I could hear was my little running coach voice in my head saying, "Just keep running, just keep running!" in the Finding Nemo voice and "You're almost there!!!! Just keep running!!!!") My sister called later in the day and asked how I did. I set her up with, "I got a medal!" She said excitedly, "You did?!!!!" And I said with a devilish grin on my face, "Yep! Along with everyone else who finished." Ha!
But there IS one contest where I won. The Brownie from a Box vs. The Brownie from Scratch competition. It all started last year with the reception desk at my office debating which tastes better. We all were pretty sure the boxed version tasted better because we all have eaten some nasty homemade versions. Well, I volunteered to make some from scratch and Maggie said she would make some from a box. They had to be simple without extra fudge, peanutbutter, M&Ms etc in it. Well, I had never made brownies from scratch before and I was very intrigued to see what I could do. I researched them online and stumbled upon the NY Times Supernatural Brownie Recipe. Well, long story short....Maggie's brownies bombed and mine were truly supernatural. In a taste test mine won all the votes and the heart of my coworkers. I have made them numerous times after because of requests for the utterly splenderifc brownies. (Oh, and I didn't win a medal, but I did win a little McDonald's toy of a zebra on wheels. Woohoo!!!!)Supernatural Brownies
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado (Erika's Extra Note: light brown sugar works fine as well)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 3/4 cup whole walnuts, optional

1. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. (Erika's note: This recipe is so buttery I've never needed to use parchment paper.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.
2. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. If using chopped walnuts, stir them in. Pour batter into prepared pan. If using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack.
Yield: 15 large or 24 small brownies.
Note: For best flavor, bake 1 day before serving, let cool and store, tightly wrapped.
Bake well and prosper!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thank You, Off the Mark

I love comics. I love comics so much that my senior year of high school I wrote an essay about how everyone in the world should read the daily comics. It would make the world a better place.

Well, as a baker, I found this horribly wrong and deliciously funny.

Thanks for all the laughs Off the Mark! (In particular, this one:)

Go to for more.

Next blog: A great recipe for what to do when you have lots of eggs to use before they expire.

Bake well and prosper!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pile o'cookies

So, I made the banana bread and froze some for my parents' arrival for the big marathon weekend. (Next entry I will recap the marathon, but for now, yes, I DID finish!) Also, I decided to make some cookies they have never had before - cherry garcia cookies.

Now, usually when I bake, I have music on. I've been known to make Beethoven brownies, Jesus Christ Superstar Trials and Tribulations Almond Joy Cake (long story...), and Black Eyed Peas cookies. This past time was no exception....I listened to a past time....Oldies. I LOVE Oldies. I'm talking about the 50s and 60s and early 70s. The golden oldies and the hippie oldies. I was serenaded by the Beatles while making these cookies. Oh, and so was my cookie dough.

So, if by now you haven't figured out that I am a dork, well, I am very concerned about you. And if by now you don't believe that I am messy, well, that is because I sometimes hide it from you. But, I will be fair and share. Exhibit A is a fine example of a mix of flour and sugar that I accidentally dropped on the floor instead of in the bowl. Notice how I slightly pushed it aside, but I knew vacuuming it would be futile until all baking was done. Exhibit B is a great example of why I don't clean up until finishing the assembly of the baked good's goodness (dough.) More sugar was dropped just shortly after the flour and sugar episode. Yeah, I am that helpless. And yes, this (plus more!) messiness happens every time I bake.

However, do not despair. The cookies turned out just fine.

Cherry Garcia Cookies (from with my own tips thrown in)

1 cup dried cherries
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, (packed)
1 egg
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely-chopped macadamia nuts (optional) (I've never put these in and quite frankly think it might be overkill)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place dried cherries in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit 30 minutes to plump up. Drain well, pat dry, and coarsely chop. (I don't chop. I think they are perfect while whole.)

Whisk together salt, baking soda, and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Add flour mixture to butter mixture half at a time and mix until combined. Fold in cherries, white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and macadamia nuts. Refrigerate cookie dough 30 to 45 minutes to firm up.

Drop dough by the tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, placing cookies about 1-1/2 to 2 inches apart. Bake 12 to 14 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Cool 10 minutes on cookie sheets before removing to racks to cool completely.

Bake well and prosper!