Monthly Archives: November 2013

Liebster Award!

 

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I am very happy to share that Rachel of Derivative Dishes nominated me for a Liebster Award!  Thanks, Rachel! This is such a great way to get to know some more fellow bloggers as well as recognize their work and dedication.  I had so much fun answering your questions and coming up with new questions.  

If you’re unfamiliar with it, here are the rules:

  • Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you by acknowledging and linking them back

  • Answer the 11 questions proposed by the blogger who nominated you

  • Nominate at least 5 other bloggers, link them in your post, and let them know

  • Create 11 new questions for your nominees

  • Have the Liebster award photo somewhere on your blog
  1.  What inspires you?  All of the creative and talented bloggers that I’ve been following over the past few years. It has given me so much confidence to move forward and try out my own new recipes!
  2.  Anthony Bourdain or Mario Batali?  Anthony Bourdain! When I was in high school we used to watch “No Reservations” in my Spanish class. 
  3. What’s the worst meal you’ve ever had? Any time I’ve been on a bad date (which has only happened once or twice).  Another time was when I went to a “French” themed night and let’s just say it was interesting…
  4. What’s your favorite cookbook of all time?I love all the old recipe cards in my family, as well as this big Italian cookbook that doesn’t get used as much as it should!
  5. What are you looking forward to right now?  The holidays, and my upcoming vacation to Aruba in January 🙂
  6. What do you think about when you’re cooking? I go through a process in my head of “all right- I can do this!” and and sometimes “Oh crap that doesn’t look right” but overall I try not to over think it, I just put some music on and have fun
  7. What is your favorite thing to cook?  Pasta or anything with chocolate!
  8. What is the last great meal you had?Thanksgiving dinner 🙂
  9. What have you not tried to cook but think you need to make?  I would love to learn more about how to cook a full meal.
  10. What about the kitchen intimidates you?  breads/anything that requires yeast to rise, as well as any kind of fancy decorating
  11. What’s the most embarrassing kitchen moment you’ve ever had? In my 10th grade Chefs class, everyone was required to do a cooking demo.  I chose to make mint cheesecake with an Oreo crust.  Naturally, the weekend before my demo I did a test run at home and the mint was so overpowering it wasn’t even edible so I had to throw it out and start all over again (with much less mint!)
    And now I’m nominating…
    Fork and Bowl
    Neeks Notes
    Sweet Fling
    Love Eunhyee
    Scarlet Scorchdroppers

    Here are your questions bloggers, have fun! 🙂
    1. What is the most exotic food you’ve ever tried?
    2. Ice cream or frozen yogurt?
    3. How do you balance blogging with other parts of your life?
    4. What/who inspires you?
    5. Do you have any hidden talents?
    6. What is your dream vacation?
    7. What would you like to learn more about in terms of blogging?
    8. What is your favorite thing to bake/cook?
    9. What do you do with all your leftover products?!
    10. What is a movie/book you can watch/read over and over again and never get sick of?
    11. Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?

Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Crinkles

Happy early Thanksgiving!! I am so excited to have a day off and relax tomorrow.  However, I did struggle for weeks trying to figure out what to make for dessert.  I thought maybe something traditional but there was no way I was going to attempt a pie.  I went to the ever addicting Pinterest and searched through my “food” board, but still didn’t think I had anything special enough.  Until I came across these.  I don’t know who first decided that salted caramel + chocolate =amazing (that’s my kind of math, haha!), but these are truly decadent and that combination is perfect. Rich, dark chocolate cookies filled with a gooey center.  Funny story: when I was making these I actually forgot to put sea salt on top of the first cookie- oops! 😉
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Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

10 tbsp. salted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

1/3 tsp. vanilla extract

2 dozen caramels (Rolo’s or Kraft)

coarse sea salt/fleur de sel

3/4 cups powder sugar, + 1/4 cup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease cookie sheets.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl with a stand or hand mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each.  Add the vanilla extract, then the dry ingredients until just combined.

Scoop out 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball (you make want to flour or put powdered sugar on your hands).  Press a caramel into the center and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Shape back into a ball and coat in powder sugar.  Repeat this process with remaining dough.

Bake on prepared cookie sheets for 11-13 minutes.  Let cool on sheets then transfer to cooling rack.  Coat the cookies into additional powdered sugar* and store in airtight container.

*This is optional but it makes them look better!

Recipe from Cooking Classy

 

And here is a picture of my homemade vanilla extract! It’s been five days since I started and I can’t believe how dark it is already!

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Homemade Vanilla Extract

Want to feel like a superhero in your kitchen?  Making homemade vanilla extract is one of the easiest and coolest things I recently discovered. I absolutely love the scent of vanilla- it’s so comforting and just makes me happy. With only two ingredients, a jar, and a few weeks, you’re good to go!! I used Madagascar Vanilla Beans from Beanilla, but you can use any preference of vanilla beans that you like- Mexican, Tahitian, etc- they all have their own distinct flavor to them. These Madagascar beans are described as “dark, rich, and creamy with an overwhelming buttery, sweet aroma” and I definitely agree!

It is extremely cost effective if you do a lot of baking, and there are no added chemicals or imitation flavors, so the extract will be much more pure than store bought.  It also makes such a great gift for the holidays, hostess gift, favors, or housewarming parties! I will definitely keep you updated as my vanilla progresses!
vanilla extract Please excuse my not so great photography with this one!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Plain Vodka

5 Vanilla Beans, Split Lengthwise*

Measure out and pour vodka into mason jar.

Split vanilla beans lengthwise, leaving about one inch on each side,  and place in jar with vodka.  Cover, shake, and store jar in dry. dark place  (I’m storing mine in the back of my baking cabinet). 

Once a week for 8 weeks, give the jar a good shake.

 

*According to the Beanilla website, a general rule is to use 1 cup of vodka (or Bourbon) per 5 beans. 

 

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Pretzel Buttons

I can’t believe it’s already November! It seems like this time of year flies by, pretty soon it will be Thanksgiving and then Christmas! eeek!  These Pretzel Buttons are a quick, simple treat.  I was introduced to them a few years ago and was instantly addicted.  Chocolate and pretzels- what’s not to like?!  I actually think I prefer this combination to chocolate and peanut butter! They are perfect for a last-minute party idea or to snack on while studying (guess which one I’m doing..)  Either way, they are dangerously good!  They are extremely kid-friendly too, since they can help unwrap the hugs and place the m&m’s on with their little hands 🙂  You can also customized these by using any colored M & Ms to fit the theme! And there are only three ingredients!

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Pretzel Buttons

Mini square Pretzels

Hershey Hugs (unwrapped 🙂 )

M & Ms

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.   Then place unwrapped hugs on top of pretzels.  Place pretzels on a cookie sheet, then put one unwrapped hug on the center of each pretzel.  Bake for 4 minutes.

Let cool for two minutes. Place M & M on each hug, pressing down to flatten them a little bit.

Cool in fridge or freezer for ten minutes before transferring to an airtight container.  Store at room temperature.

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