Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another Entry into a Cupcake Competition

After posting so many recipes before Christmas one would think that I would stay away from the kitchen and rest from baking for a little bit. Ah, well. Maybe next year. I wanted to experiment again and so I made cupcakes for the Chocolate Adventure Contest while presenting them as birthday cupcakes for my coworker. (Two cupcake.)

Since I can't share the recipe with you (yet), I figured I would share some pictures of the snow NYC saw this past week. 
It started snowing on Sunday, Dec 26 at 10 am and I went for a run. Yes. I went for a 6 mile run. Crazy, I know. By the time I had come back to my apartment the snow was sticking and quickly!

Later that evening when I arrived at my apartment again, I saw a site that confirms I'm truly a Texan even though I've lived in the northeast for almost 10 year.
Yep. That would be snow that had blown in on my curtain since I forgot to shut my window. Whoops!

The next morning I walked across the south side of Central Park to take pictures of the snow. Wow! So much pretty snow! 
It was comforting to know that I had cupcakes ready to keep me warm and happy.
I found this road sign really hilarious. What about you? 
I safely made it to my office. This Texan isn't afraid of snow! :)

At my office I took some shots of the snow from above.
Then I hunkered down to work and left the snow alone. But not the cupcakes. I ate those. :)
Have a great new year!

Bake well and prosper! 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cinnamon & Sugar Fried Pancakes (and my Christmas Day) - 100th POST!

I've recently been wondering what else I could use vegetable oil and cinnamon and sugar on ever since I made the Yummy Cinnamon and Sugar Pretzels.  I woke up and decided that I would be experimental for my last of 12 Days of Christmas Recipes (and my 100th post!) I treated myself to pancakes slathered in the cinnamon and sugar "sauce." 
I mixed pancake batter as usual and made the pancakes in a pan. Once they were done, I dunked them in the cinnamon and sugar "sauce" which consisted of 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup white sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Then I place them back in the pan on the stove and added more of the sugary part of the sauce on top of each side before flipping them. I removed them once the sauce had glazed and solidified on both sides of the pancakes. It was messy, but the results were great! (NOTE: Pour the left over "sauce" from the pan into an empty can. It could wreak havoc in your sink if you don't.) 
After my glorious Christmas breakfast (that had maple syrup on it, of course), I HAD to have a glass of milk. After two sips I spilled the rest on my newly cleaned counter. *sigh* Of course... It reminded me of this. How come I only spill milk RIGHT AFTER I clean the counter? 
After cleaning that up, I headed out to sing at the noon Christmas service at the church I sing for. 
Both the church and the service were gorgeous. Afterwards, I headed down to Chelsea to visit my friend Frankie while he was working at his coffee shop job. While we were chatting and spreading Christmas cheer by being silly, Mario Cantone (from Sex and the City fame) came in and gave a Christmas gift of COOKIES to Frankie and his coworker.
I was even more shocked to find out that HE MADE THEM HIMSELF! Frankie was kind enough to let me try one. Let me tell you, if Mario starts a baking blog, I'll be out of business. They were so good! (Mario, if you read this, please send me the recipe!) 

So all in all, I've had a good, normal New York City Christmas.

I hope you and yours have had a great Christmas too!

Bake well and prosper!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Missouri Millionaires (Gluten Free)

It's the night before Christmas and all through my house, I am stirring and not being a louse. I've been cleaning and baking and a'picture taking.

For instance, here's a picture of the famous tree found at Rockefeller Center in NYC this year: 
It's a good one this year. However, I can't help but be partial to my own little and humble tree in my apartment:
The color scheme is plum and ivory and it is lovely!
Oh, and I can't forget the beautiful choral angel on top:
I think my little tree is about 300%  smaller than the Rockefeller tree. And I know it's smaller than my parents' tree. We always had 6 foot or taller trees for Christmas. My mom loves decorating the tree and passed her love of the Christmas tree down to me.

She also passed down her sweet tooth to me and today's recipe is her creation. It's a spin on Texas Millionaires and is Day 11 out of my 12 days of Christmas Recipes. It looks like I'll be right on time with my project. :) 
Missouri Millionaires (from my Mom's Best Recipes Book)
1 14-oz pkg caramels
2 T whole milk
1 1/2 C chopped cashews
1/4 chopped dried cranberries
1 giant Hershey milk chocolate bar (7.4 oz)
1/8+ block paraffin
(Chocolate Bark or Chocolate Candy Coating can substitute for the bar and paraffin)

Melt together caramels and milk in a double boiler.
Once melted, turn off stove and add cashews and cranberries.
Drop by tablespoon onto greased platter or wax paper and then chill in freezer.

Melt chocolate and paraffin (or Chocolate Bark/Coating) in double boiler. Remove candy from freezer and dip in chocolate mixture. Put back on wax paper/platter and chill. Once chocolate has solidified and cooled, serve and enjoy.
Bake well and prosper!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Bars 2 (Almond Chocolate Cracker Candy)

Do you see that white dot in the picture above? It's just off center and to the left at the top. That's the ice skating rink in Central Park.

Hopefully soon Central Park will look like this again:
It might snow this weekend. It looks like we won't have a White Christmas though, which is ok with me. Only time I've seen snow on Christmas is when I was in MN at my grandparents' years ago, so I just always expect to not see snow.

One thing I can always count on seeing is dessert! 
This recipe reminds me of the Holiday Bars I make each year. Just as good and yummy. Perfect for nibbling on through out the day.
Almond Chocolate Cracker Candy (found on Bakegirl's site)
1 sleeve Saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spray a jelly roll pan with non-stick cooking spray and line the crackers close together.

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a medium pan over medium-high heat, stirring often. Heat the mixture for about three to five minutes, until it turns a nice caramel-looking color.

Pour over the crackers evenly and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crackers. The chocolate should start to melt. Spread evenly over the crackers and then sprinkle with toasted almonds.

Allow to cool completely (on the counter or in the freezer or refrigerator if you want to speed things up) before breaking into pieces.

Erika's Extras: Note: This recipe is very crumbly. Also, I think a 12oz bag of chocolate chips works better than 2 cups. Then there is the perfect amount of butter vs sweet.
Bake well and prosper!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yummy Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

"It's Christmastime in the city" and I'm a big fan of it.

Even though window displays are lovely and super artistic, I enjoy the things that appear that aren't there the rest of the year. I mean, there's ALWAYS window displays in NYC. However, there isn't always giant candy cane wreaths hanging off buildings. 
Or giant wreaths hanging inside buildings.
I do have to admit I had fun taking funky photos of the Bergdorf windows and the reflections that my camera picked up. For instance, this mannequin with a beautiful red gown looks like she's flying up through the buildings on Fifth Avenue.
Oh, and if anyone wants to get me a new gown to sing in, this one looks LOVELY.
Having the city decorated from top to bottom makes me feel like I'm walking in a winter wonderland, even if there isn't any snow yet.  

As for food, here's another festive recipe. In fact, I'm taking it to a holiday party tonight. That is if I can stop myself from eating them all. They are REALLY good (and nicely refreshing after so many other heavy treats.)
Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels (found on Baking Junkie)
1 (16 oz) bag pretzel twists
⅔ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pour pretzels into a roasting pan. In a medium sized bowl mix together vegetable oil, cinnamon and sugar. Pour over pretzels and stir to coat. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, removing twice to stir.

Erika's Extra: I didn't come close to using the whole 16 oz of pretzels. Half a bag seemed perfect for me. Also, keep your eye on the pretzels. You don't want them burning so 25 minutes might be more appropriate for some ovens.
Bake well and prosper!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cookies and Cream Fudge

The last time I made fudge (2008) it was kind of a let down.

This recipe was NOT a let down. If you like good tasting and super sweet fudge, THIS is the fudge for you. And since it's super sweet, it's easy to serve tiny pieces which is great for sharing at a party or at the office. (Speaking of which, these were a big hit at my office. People loved them!) 
Cookies and Cream Fudge (from the always lovely cookies and cups
3/4 cup butter

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1 t. vanilla
2 cups white chocolate chips
2 cups crushed Oreos (about 30)
1 cup coarsely crushed Oreos (about 15)

Line 9x9 square pan with foil and spray with cooking spray evenly
In a medium saucepan combine butter and sweetened condensed milk.
Heat over medium heat until mixture is boiling, stirring constantly.
Continue to stir while boiling for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in Fluff, white chocolate chips, vanilla and 2 cups crushed Oreos.
Spread into prepared pan.
Now sprinkle 1 cup coarsely crushed Oreos on top and press gently into fudge.
Chill for 1 hour and cut into squares!

Erika's Extras: I only used a little more than a cup of crushed Oreos in the recipe. Also, to make these less sweet next time, I think I would use a little less sweetened condensed milk. But only a LITTLE less. I also used marshmallows (which I heated in the microwave for 20 seconds) instead of fluff and they still turned out fine.

Bake well and prosper!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mini Cinnies - Bite Sized Cinnamon Rolls

Here's another quick and easy recipe that's sure to please this holiday season.

Wait, what? You're wondering why all of a sudden there's a bunch of "quick and easy recipes"? Well, it's because I have a whirlwind of a schedule leading up to Christmas. I figured everyone was as busy as me and would enjoy quick recipes. Maybe not everyone was singing the mezzo solos in Handel's Messiah (Christmas Part) like I was, but probably equally as busy.
Yep, you heard right. That's me "all dolled up" for the concert. It was a blast! So was eating tons of these mini cinnies!
Mini Cinnies - Bite Sized Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from You Made That?)
1 can of Pillsbury crescent rolls
4 T brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 T butter
1 T flour
1/2 C powdered sugar
2 t milk

Use half of package at a time so the dough stays cold.
In a small bowl mix together a tablespoon of slightly melted butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and flour. Open crescent rolls, take half of dough and separate at the vertical seams. Press the diagonal seams of dough together so that the dough is smooth. Spoon half of the cinnamon mixture onto dough, roll short side up then continue with the remainding dough. Cut 2 inch slices and place all the rolls on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

When rolls have cooled, mix powdered sugar with  milk. Add more sugar/milk to get frosting to the consistency of your liking. Drizzle the sugar over the rolls then let dry. 

Erika's Extras: I found that this made a lot of brown sugar/cinnamon filling, so add according to taste.
Bake well and prosper!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rolo Pretzel & Pecan Bites (and a Bollywood Movie!)

While walking home from the subway a couple of nights ago, I noticed something extremely different about my block where I live. The difference made the apartment across my way light up.
That's because the difference on my block was a movie set!
Right outside my window was the camera. Seriously. This was the view from my window.
 And this was the main light that was illuminating my block. 
I had asked some street gawkers about what was filming and found out that a new Bollywood film titled Happy New Year was shooting and Shahrukh Khan was starring in it. I snapped a picture in case there are any fans out there that wanted to see him. :)
As exciting and so New York as this was, I couldn't help but grimace when the "ACTION!" was stilled being yelled at 10pm. Thankfully, it was all done by 11pm and my usually quiet street was brought back to normal.

Speaking of late nights (or almost late), in case you find yourself with the midnight munchies and need a quick fix, check out this easy and yummy recipe.
Rolo Pretzel & Pecan Bites(found at Glorious Treats)
Mini Pretzels (square of twist)
Pecan Halves

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the pretzels on wax paper that's on a cookie sheet. Unwrap Rolos and place one on each pretzel. Bake in oven for 4-5 minutes only.
When removed them from the oven, the Rolo will still be in the same shape as when it went in the oven. Place a pecan half on top of each Rolo and press down a bit. Place the entire baking sheet in the freezer for about 5-7 minutes to allow the Rolos to cool. Remove from freezer and enjoy! (Will also keep in a container for many days.) 

Bake well and prosper!