Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Pinwheels

IMG_2196

When I saw these delicious treats posted on Pinterest, I could not resist the temptation to bake them. I had four more days of summer before the hectic fall semester of nursing school began, so I had to spend some of that time in the kitchen.

The recipe was created by Kelly Senyei and her original post can be found on her blog Just a Taste: http://www.justataste.com/2014/07/raspberry-cream-cheese-pinwheel-pastries-recipe/

Ingredients:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1 large egg
Sanding sugar (optional)

Yields: 8 Pinwheels

Directions: 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Cream cheese filling: using the paddle attachment for the stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix to combine.
  • Once the puff pastry has thawed, roll each sheet into a 10 x 10 inch square. Then, cut each sheet into four smaller squares.

IMG_2192

 

  • With a fork, poke holes into each square of puff pastry.
  • Spoon about 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp of the lemon cream cheese mixture into the center of each square.
    • If you have extra in the end, you will want to eat it plain or use it as a topping for another dessert… it’s divine!
  • Put a spoonful of raspberry preserves on top of the cream cheese and finish it off with 3-4 fresh raspberries.

IMG_2195

 

  • Cut each pastry square from the four corners to the center. Stop cutting before you reach the filling. Then, fold each cut in toward the center to form the pinwheels.

IMG_1520

 

  • Whisk up the egg with 1 tbsp of water. Using a pastry brush, spread the egg wash all over the top of the pastries. Sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  • Bake on 400 F for 15-20 minutes. Monitor closely and remove the puff pastries when they are golden brown.

IMG_1521

 I added extra lemon cream filling, which tried to escape. A little messy, but all very tasty.

I recommend serving these fresh out of the oven or reheated. The warm pastry dough melts in your mouth. These tasted like a combination of Toaster Strudels and the authentic fruit kolaches from West, TX. What a fun, easy recipe to throw together for a party. They are cute, too!

Thanks Kelly from Just a Taste for this delicious treat. View more of her recipes here:  http://www.justataste.com/

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Kerry

 

Crisp Waffles

This summer, I have been making lots of waffles. There’s something about a freshly cooked waffle that gets my day going on the right foot. I originally started eating these waffles at my in-laws house. Bob’s mom, Patty, always makes us big, delicious breakfasts before work, travel, etc. One summer, I lived at their house while teaching sailing camp, and she made me breakfast every day. Now, I am learning how to make some of her breakfasts, such as these crisp waffles and her oatmeal pancakes!

IMG_1112

These waffles can be improved by soaking the flour overnight. More information about soaking flour in water and an acidic liquid medium can be read at: http://lifeonpurposemama.blogspot.com/2011/01/soaking-flour-whys-and-hows.html . This process breaks down the flour and makes the product more digestible and nutritious.

The recipe comes from a Betty Crocker cookbook and you can see it has been used for years!

006

 

The night before:

Soak the 2 cups of flour in the 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/4 cup of cultured buttermilk. Simply combine the flour, water, and buttermilk, cover with plastic wrap, and leave it out on the counter overnight. (This replaces the milk in the recipe.)

In the morning, proceed with the recipe:

  • Add the dry ingredients to the flour mixture: 4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt
  • Melt 1 stick of unsalted butter in a small saucepan.
  • Once melted, allow the butter to cool slightly, then add two beaten eggs and 1 tbsp of sugar. Stir to combine.
  • Lastly, add the egg, butter, and sugar to the flour mixture!
  • When your waffle iron is heated, pour 1/4 cup- 1/3 cup batter in the center of each square. This recipe yields about 12 Belgian waffles.
    • You will need to adjust the waffle iron temperature to your preferred crispiness. I usually cook on 3-4  (Medium) heat for a nice golden brown crisp.

Topping ideas: 

  • Maple Syrup with bananas and walnuts
  • Whipped cream with frozen sugared strawberries or any fresh fruit
  • And… fresh off the iron, these waffles stand alone well!

Don’t have buttermilk at home?

Bob and I do not keep buttermilk readily available at our house. In order to soak in an acidic medium, you can make buttermilk by mixing lemon juice with milk. The conversion is 1 tbsp of lemon juice in one cup of milk. You can make one cup of buttermilk and save the extra, or I often just put 1 tsp of lemon juice in 1/4 cup of milk. Let this sit for 5-10 minutes before adding the water and flour. Here is a link to more buttermilk substitute recipes: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-a-quick-easy-buttermilk-substitute-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-185757

Extra Batter?

If you have

extra batter, you can save it in a tupperware container in the fridge and use within 2-3 days. I like to make enough for the day and then make fresh waffles for a few days. If you do not plan to eat waffles as often or do not have the time to heat up the griddle the next day, you can cook up all the waffles and freeze them! They are great re-heated in a toaster oven for about 10 minutes on 350F or until warm and toasty.

Don’t wanna soak your flour?

This recipe for crisp waffles tastes good even if you do not soak over night and use all 2% milk rather than a water/buttermilk combination, but I recommend soaking your flour to see what you think. It tastes great, and it’s healthier!

Have a big crowd? 

This recipe can be easily doubled! I made a double batch for a Sunday morning breakfast for 8 people. Waffles were everywhere. We kept the cooked ones warm in the oven while I finished cooking the rest.

IMG_0142

Time to heat up your waffle irons! Enjoy!

Sexy Sugar Cookies

Last Thursday, I headed to Houston for Caitlin’s Bachelorette party. Another bridesmaid and I planned the evening, and we decided all the girls could decorate their own sexy sugar cookies! I made the cookies in advance, and we set aside some time during the party for decorating. Here is a photo from Pinterest that inspired me to try out Lingerie sugar cookies!

Image

Mrs. Fields sugar cookies

(Recipe source: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/mrs-fields-sugar-cookies/)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

1) In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the salt.

2) Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until evenly distributed.

3) Add the egg and the vanilla. Beat until well blended. Pause and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl periodically.

4) On low speed, add the flour in increments. Do not over mix.

5) Form the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

6) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

7) On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use any cookie cutters to cut the dough and place shapes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

8) Bake for 12-15 minutes. I baked mine for 13 minutes. Keep a watchful eye on the cookies to prevent browning.

9) Place cookies on a cooling rack. Make sure they have completely cooled before decorating.

I have been using this sugar cookie recipe for years now, and the cookies never fail to please the crowd. You can use this recipe as your starting point for any sugar cookie project!

To make the sexy sugar cookies, I used a heart cookie cutter. By cutting off the tip of the heart, I created cookie boobs and butts to be decorated! I had trouble locating a heart cookie cutter, but finally, I found a set of hearts at Michael’s.

Image

The girls expressed their creativity by decorating unique panties and bras. It was pretty tedious work spreading the icing carefully over the cookies! I tried my best to create a masterpiece similar to the inspiration photo posted in the beginning.

IMG_0210

Overall, sexy sugar cookies were a hit, but after a long day of celebrating, it was tempting to just eat the cookies plain!

❤ Kerry

 

Double-Stuffed Pop Tarts

Yesterday, I took on the task of making some flaky, buttery homemade pop tarts. Eagerly, I went to the store in the morning to purchase some last minute ingredients. I picked up some strawberry preserves for me, blueberry preserves for Bob, and orange juice for mimosas! I had not studied the recipe very much, so I was surprised to find out how many steps there were to complete!

I found this recipe from Cooking Classy (http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/05/homemade-pop-tarts/) via Pinterest. Use this website to retrieve the recipe from the source. It seemed like a recipe that needed to be tried at least once….

Here’s my brief summary of the recipe:

1: Make the dough. I used my Cuisinart food processor to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture just until it resembled coarse meal. Then, I added 5 tbsp of cold water while pulsing the processor several times. This caused the dough to begin forming a ball. (You can also use a handheld pastry blender.) Pictured is the dough’s consistency when I transferred it to my floured surface to shape it.

011

2: Using my pastry mat, I divided the dough into two balls and shaped them into 5-inch discs. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.

012

Hint: I have a Martha Stewart Pastry Mat (sold at Macy’s) that is perfect for making pastries, biscuits, etc. It has helpful tips for working with dough, and it has inches and centimeter measurements along the border as well.

3: Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove one disc of dough from the fridge. Each 5-inch disc makes 4 tarts.  Begin rolling the dough into a 13 x 11 inch rectangle. This is recommended in the source’s recipe so you can then cut straight edges at 12 x 10 inches. Now, cut the dough in half horizontally. Then, make three vertical cuts every 3-inches. This will give you eight 5-inch by 3-inch rectangles.

014

4: After cutting the dough into the appropriate dimensions, move the bottom 4 pieces to the lined cookie sheet. Place 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp of preferred preserves onto the bottom piece of dough, and then cover with the top piece of dough. You can use your fingers or a fork to seal the tarts together. I used my fingers, followed by the fork. Inevitably, some preserves leaked out while cooking. Poke the top of each tart with a fork about 4 times.

**These pop tarts were double-stuffed. Use as little or as much preserves as you desire, but not so much that it can’t seal shut!

5: Repeat steps 3 & 4 with the other disc of dough.

6: Place the prepared pop tarts in the freezer. Allow to chill for at least 2 hours.

7: Bake the tarts in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them, so they don’t burn. I removed mine when they reached a golden brown color. Allow to cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Then, transfer to a cooling rack.

021

8: When the pop tarts are completely cooled, frost them in any color that appeals to you. Then, top with sprinkles!

**Frosting the pop tarts was the hardest part for me. The white icing was hard to see on the dough, so I added a few drops of red food coloring to make a pink. My double-stuffed tarts were causing the frosting to roll down the sides. Possibly, I needed thicker frosting. Either way, they turned out great! In the future, I may skip the frosting all together and enjoy the naked tarts.

023

9: Store the pop tarts in a sealed-container. Freeze the extras and re-toast them on a busy morning.

I hope some of you will take on this challenge of baking homemade pop tarts! If you do, let me know how it goes and good luck! Remember, you will need several hours to finish the project, so do it on a lazy day. I’d recommend getting some quality blueberry preserves because those tasted the best to us!

Until next time! -Kerry

 

Gingerbread Extravaganza!

I hope everyone had Happy Holidays and a wonderful start to the new year!

This Christmas, my most noteworthy baking creation is a gingerbread house modeled after Bob’s family’s home in McKinney, TX. Thanks to Marian from sweetopia.net, I found a fantastic glue-like icing (http://sweetopia.net/2011/12/gingerbread-house-royal-icing-video-kitchenaid-7-quart-mixer-giveaway/) that held our house together perfectly and some other gingerbread making techniques. I encourage you to check out her site for very helpful tutorials for decorating.

The adventure began when I begged Bob to make a gingerbread house with me. Little did I know, or rather, I should have realized, he would not settle for a quaint, whimsical cottage. As I found the structural gingerbread recipes online and stocked the kitchen with our necessities, Bob designed away at his desktop using the Solidworks program he learned in freshman engineering. Eight hours passed and I waited patiently to start my share.

It was 1 am before the rest of the crew was put to work. Katherine helped cut out templates, Erin taped some large cuts together and the pups enjoyed the fired.

Structural Gingerbread House Dough Recipe

from about.com: http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/crossculturaldesserts/r/gingerbread.htm

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups light corn syrup (or dark corn syrup for a darker house)
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar (or dark brown sugar for a darker house)
  • 1 1/4 cups margarine
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

We worked away until 5 am, but it was time to hit the hay. The last templates were cut in the morning.This piece was a challenge because it was larger than all of our baking sheets. Thankfully, it baked well on the parchment paper/foil combination paper.

Next comes the fun part! After Bob cut edges here and there to make all the measurements exact to his plans, it was time to start assembling the house.

It definitely took more than two steps, but Voilà…

This view helps give you an idea of its massive size.

My favorite job was decorating my trees. I learned this technique from Marian on sweetopia.net. It’s quite simple. A sugar ice cream cone and a #18 star decorating tip. It gets easier over time. I must say that my trees in the back yard were better quality! I’ll need to figure out how to make my food coloring create a darker green. I’ll probably have to buy a different selection of colors. I simply used tootsie rolls and icing to represent the landscaping in their front yard.

We made it this far before I had to catch a 7 am flight on December 22nd to Las Vegas to meet the family in Utah for Christmas! The rest of the structure was left in Bob’s hands. Luckily, his sisters were there to help. Bob baked the rest of the gingerbread templates for the roof and assembled them all on his own! Now that is dedication! Plus, he has a hard time stopping a project once he’s started…especially one this cool!

And starting the cinnamon square cereal shingles…

THAT’S MY MAN!

Erin finished all the shingles, and it was time for a gingerbread break. A few days later, on the 27th, I was back and Bob and I created a special Christmas day for his family and me…A Very Kerry Christmas! We ate oatmeal pancakes for breakfast and homemade chicken pot pies for dinner! Then, I was ready to help finish decorations. We paid close attention to details. We dyed white fondant to a pale yellow to make the windows appear to be showing lights from inside. I used a pasta roller to roll the fondant into thin strips to cut the windows.

The Back View…


AND IT’S DONE! After hours of strenuous work, the reward was worth it!

Check out Bob’s beautiful icicles!

A Very Merry Christmas Creation with a happy ending!

Officially Kitchen aided

It’s official. My dad got me a KitchenAid for Christmas, and a friend got me an ice cream maker attachment! Besides studying for finals, I have been busy testing the waters with my fantastic new appliance. I never would have imagined receiving this gift, but it sure is nice to know my family knows what I like to do and how much I have wanted one of these bad boys. I was overnight babysitting the day it arrived, so I had to wait an entire night before I could open my gift!

The first experiment: Frozen Peppermint Cheesecake

I also made my first peppermint ice cream, but a disastrous event put a damper on the outcome of my ice cream. In the first attempt at making my custard for the dish, I must have had the burner on too hot. The yolk, milk, sugar mixture began to coagulate, but I left it on the heat for too long and cooked my eggs!!! The custard was a scrambled mess. My roommate, Subhada, and I attempted to strain the custard, but it was a lost cause. My second round for custard took forever because I was hesitant to raise the heat. I think we will just call this a learning experience. More delicious ice cream attempts to come!

I hope everyone is having a good holiday season! I cannot believe that Christmas is 14 days away! I have been busy with finals and a new job at the campus bookstore, but I promise there will be blogs this upcoming break!

Trials for the best Chicago style pizza

BRINGING CHICAGO TO TEXAS

Trial 1: Initiated by an intense craving for Chicago Style pizza and being about 1000 miles from the Windy City, Bob and I took on the challenge of learning the tricks of the trade ourselves. This inverted pizza style is very unique. After the dough is spread out in the pan, the mozzarella cheese (pre-sliced squares) are evenly placed on top. Next, all the toppings are thrown on. Our toppings of choice are always Italian sausage and black olives. Finally, throw on the sauce. Having a vegetarian in the family, our smallest spring-form pan is always for a cheese and black olive pizza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This trial was pretty good. Kind of greasy from the sausage. I suggest cooking the sausage prior to topping and draining some of the grease. First dough was pretty crispy.

 

 

A key to success is perfecting the dough. It takes time to master this process, and every trial will turn out slightly different. It is helpful to have a kitchen-aid, but I also enjoyed my most recent trial hand kneading the dough. Below is a dough failure when I used WAY too much.

Trial 2: St. Louis Zoo showing of Taming of the Shrew with a Pizza picnic.

Notice the sides of the crust. This was made with Whole Foods Wheat dough…..

I am not sure whether I should call this pizza or really thick saucy bread.

STILL TASTED GOOD.

Trial 3: Fourth of July Party….Pizza and Samuel Adams

These were by far the BEST yet. The key to making this dough perfect was sprinkling cornmeal on the olive oiled pans and brushing olive oil on the crust before and at the halfway cooking point. We made three pizzas to feed our guests.

Trial 4: WHAT NOT TO DO….

The first trial at my apartment in College Station did not go as planned. The dough was hand kneaded and turned out well. The issue here was my soupy sauce. I made the mistake of adding water and forgetting to drain the canned tomatoes.Also, the spring-form pan decided to break, so the pizza was stuck inside the pan until we finagled it open.

Drain some of the excess sauce, and it can still look BEAUTIFUL!

OUR PIZZA SAUCE:

Ingredients:

1 twenty-eight ounce can tomatoes (drained)
1 sixteen ounce can tomato sauce
1 six ounce can tomato paste
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons mixed Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon white sugar

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients, crushing tomatoes with a potato masher, fork, or the back of a wooden spoon.

Allow to sit half an hour or more to develop flavor.

Spread on pizza and bake according to your favorite recipe.

At least enough sauce for a 14-inch pizza or two medium sized pizzas.

YMMV (your mileage may vary)

Trial 5: The REAL deal… Giordano’s Restaurant and Pizzeria. 1 hour wait, but they start cooking your pizza and it’s ready for consumption right when you are seated. I liked that hour of hungry anticipation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The real deal was yummy, but after spending so many hours learning to cook these delicious pizzas myself, you can call me crazy but MY PIZZAS ARE BETTER! May have something to do with the amount of love Bob and I put into our homemade Chicago Style pizza.

I will say, there’s nothing like enjoying a slice of pie after a day of shopping on Michigan Avenue. After living in Illinois for eight years, I have tried several different deep dish pizzas and look forward to my next visit where I can compare some more!

You should check out Gino’s East pizzeria if you ever get the chance to visit the windy city. There’s Graffiti all over the walls….. REALLY cool.