Happy Easter!!

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Happy Easter Everyone!!
I’ve been taking a little break from blogging, but I should be back to posting again soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this photo from the Easter Basket Cupcakes I made back in 2012.

Have a wonderful day!

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Favorite St. Patrick’s Day Recipes

Since St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to share with you some of my very favorite St. Patrick’s Day treats that I’ve made throughout the years.

Have a wonderful weekend and a happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!!

~Enjoy~
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Irish Cream Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting

Irish Cream Cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting

Irish Cream Cupcakes

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups Irish Cream
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons milk
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cupcake tins or line with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In another medium bowl or measuring cup, combine Irish Cream, water and milk; mix well.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract; beat well. Alternately add the flour mixture and Irish Cream mixture to the butter mixture. Beat for approximately 2 minutes.

Spoon batter into cupcake tins, filling cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.

Frost cooled cupcakes with Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting; if desired. (recipe below)

Makes approximately 30 cupcakes.



Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Irish Cream
3-4 drops green food coloring
decorative sprinkles

Directions:
Cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar; mix until completely combined. Add Irish Cream and food coloring; beat until well combined. If necessary, add more Irish Cream to thin or more powdered sugar to thicken frosting to desired texture.

Frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with decorative sprinkles.



Pistachio Cake

Pistachio Cake

6 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
8 tablespoons water
1 (18-1/4 ounce) package yellow cake mix
2 (1 ounce) packages Fat-Free Sugar-Free Jell-O Instant Pistachio Pudding & Pie Filling Mix
1 cup water
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch fluted tube pan.

Combine Ener-G Egg Replacer and the 8 tablespoons of water in a small glass or bowl. Mix well.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mixes, water, oil, and the egg mixture.
Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared tube pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a small bowl, combine the glaze ingredients. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Yields 12 servings.



Homemade Irish Cream

Homemade Irish Cream

Homemade Irish Cream

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, or 14 ounces of homemade sweetened condensed milk (recipe below)
1 1/2 cups Irish whiskey
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high power for about 20-30 seconds.
Store tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Shake well before using.

Makes approximately 25.4 fluid ounces.



Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/2 cup cold water
1 1⁄3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
In a medium bowl, stir milk into cold water. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir in sugar & vanilla extract. Refrigerate and cool before using.

Yields approximately 1 and 1/3 cups.



Chocolate Mint Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Mint Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Mint Whoopie Pies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add dry ingredients, alternating with milk, and mix until just blended.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 6-7 minutes, until cakes spring back when touched. Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 2 minutes. Transfer cakes to wire racks to cool completely.

Match cakes in pairs so tops and bottoms are similar in shape. Spread bottoms with Mint Cream Filling, recipe below, and cover with top.

Makes 18 whoopie pies.



Mint Cream Filling

6 tablespoons butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract
4-5 drops green food coloring
3-4 tablespoons milk

In a medium bowl, combine butter, powdered sugar, mint extract, food coloring, and milk. Mix until smooth. Spread on the bottoms of half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies.



Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Irish Cream
2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and egg together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and Irish Cream; mix until combined.

Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture and blend well. Fold in chocolate chips.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets 1 1/2 inches apart. Flatten with the bottom of a glass coated with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Whipped Shortbread Cookies

It’s Christmas cookie baking time again, and this season I’m kicking off my holiday baking with these cute little Whipped Shortbread Cookies. These crisp, light, melt-in-your-mouth little cookies are a cinch to make, and they only require four ingredients, plus decorations; if desired. They freeze well too, so you can enjoy some now, and save the rest for your holiday cookie platter.

One of the things I love about holiday baking, or any baking for that matter, is how warm and cozy it makes my kitchen feel. This time of year, when the weather is especially chilly, the extra warmth from the oven makes a wonderful, additional heating source.

I hear from various news reports, that many of my readers in the lower 48 states could really use some extra warmth. Many areas are currently in the grips of major ice storms, and are experiencing very chilly temperatures. Some places even have temperature readings well below zero degrees. We are sitting at a balmy 34 degrees right now, but we had ice storms blow through here twice in the past couple of weeks that closed schools and played havoc with driving conditions, so I can truly sympathize with what those states are currently going through.

Here’s hoping that the weather improves for those areas soon. Have a wonderful day everyone!

~Enjoy~
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Whipped Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
decorative sprinkles

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour and cornstarch, beating until well blended.

Dust hands lightly with additional cornstarch, and roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place dough balls 1-inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Press down lightly with a floured fork. Top with sprinkles.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheets, then remove cookies from pan and place on wire racks to cool completely.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

South Fork Eagle River Trail

South Fork Eagle River Trailhead

South Fork Eagle River Trailhead

Even though we had a pretty gloomy 4th of July holiday weekend last week, It was still decent enough to venture out into the wilderness for a nice long hike.

The South Fork Trail in Eagle River is a fairly easy, and relatively level, trail that winds through some very beautiful alpine and mountain scenery. Wildflowers were everywhere the eye could see, and the teal color and gently flowing waters of the south fork of Eagle River was so lovely.

There were many other hikers on the trail that day, so I wasn’t really worried about running into a bear – although I did find myself scanning the area frequently, so as not to have any surprise encounters. I did see quite a few moose though, including a mamma moose with a calf. The photo I took of them, seen below, was taken from a long distance away. You’ll find yourself in big trouble if you get between a mamma moose and her calf, so I always treat them with respect and give them a wide berth, when at all possible.

Sorry some of the photos are a little dark, but as I mentioned, it was a pretty gloomy day. As is typical on many of my hikes though, the sun started to emerge just as I was returning to the trailhead. (Note: you can click on any picture to view a larger version)

~Enjoy~
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Happy Holidays!!

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Happy Holidays from my family to yours!!

~Enjoy~
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Festive One Bowl Brownies

Festive One Bowl Brownies

Festive One Bowl Brownies

We’re getting down to the wire… Christmas is only two days away!!! I hope everyone is almost finished with their Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, and holiday baking. I still have some sugar cookies that I need to frost today, but after that, I’m declaring my holiday baking DONE!

If you’re looking for one more treat to add to your Christmas cookie/dessert platter, you may want to consider whipping up a batch of these Festive One Bowl Brownies. These moist, fudgy brownies are very quick and easy to make. So much so that, since I had a little time to kill while my sugar cookie dough chilled in the refrigerator, I decided to do some multitasking and make a batch to add to my holiday platter. I was able to prepare the brownie batter and bake the whole batch while my sugar cookie dough was still chilling out in the refrigerator. In fact, the brownies were finished before the sugar cookie dough was even ready to roll out.

The brownies turned out perfect, and I just love how the colored morsels sprinkled on top adds a splash of holiday cheer to them. These brownies will certainly brighten up my holiday platter.

Well, I think it’s probably time for me to head back to the kitchen. I don’t think there is any chance that those sugar cookies will frost themselves, so I guess I’d better get to it. 🙂

~Enjoy~
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Festive One Bowl Brownies

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 (10-ounce) package Nestle Toll House Holiday Morsels

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt all at once and stir until just combined. Fold in half of the Nestle Toll House Holiday Morsels. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the brownies cool for a couple of minutes, then sprinkle the remaining morsels over the top. (you want the morsels to melt slightly, but not completely)

Lift the brownies out of the pan with the foil and cool completely on a rack.

Cut into squares and serve.

Classic Creamy Fudge

Classic Creamy Fudge

Classic Creamy Fudge

I was having a conversation with some friends recently, and the topic turned to baking. We started talking about what goodies we were going to make, or had already made for Christmas, and I mentioned that I was going to be making a batch of fudge soon. My friends looked at me with wide eyes and began remarking on how hard it is to make fudge, and how time consuming it is. It took me quite a while to reassure them that making fudge was not as laborious a task as they thought it was.

Take this Classic Creamy Fudge recipe for example. From start to finish, it took me about 15 minutes to whip up this rich and creamy confection. (not including refrigeration time) Very few pots and pans were used, a candy thermometer was not needed, and cleanup was a breeze.

Exactly the type of recipe we could all use about now, considering Christmas is less than a week away. 🙂

~Enjoy~
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Classic Creamy Fudge

2/3 cup non-fat dry milk powder
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with foil. Butter the sides and bottom of foil.

Mix the dry milk powder and water together in a small bowl. Transfer the milk mixture to a medium saucepan. Add the sugar, butter, and salt to the saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Turn heat to low, and stir in the marshmallows, chocolate chips and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 or 2 minutes, or until the marshmallows are melted.

Remove from heat and pour into prepared baking pan; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Lift from pan and remove foil. Cut into pieces.

Store in refrigerator.

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