Monday, August 30, 2010

A Match Made in Heaven!

Could there possibly be anything better than the pairing of peanut butter and chocolate? The correct answer is NO! It is the best combination ever, ever, ever! So what cookie could live up to the hype of the best combination ever? There is only 1. Peanut Butter Blossoms!!! The perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter, and easy to make too! Here's what you need:

48 Hershey's Kisses Milk Chocolate
1/2 cup shortening (solid white)
3/4 cup creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar 
                                FRESHMAN TIP:(Remember how we did this in past blogs?)
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
more granulated sugar ( you will understand near the end of the recipe)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the wrappers from all 48 chocolate kisses. Remember, if you can't resist temptation, and you decide to eat one, or two, or three, you will have to unwrap more. I have only heard about this, I would never ruin the sanctity of a recipe for the sake of chocolate.! (Ha!)

Mix the shortening and peanut butter in your bowl until it is well blended. 
Add the 1/3 cup of granulated sugar and packed brown sugar.
Beat until fluffy.
Add the egg, milk and vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Gradually beat into the peanut butter mixture.
After all your ingredients are well combined, start shaping the dough into 1 inch balls.
Place the granulated sugar in a bowl. Try to use one that is medium sized and not too shallow.

Place your rolled balls of dough into the sugar and roll it around in to coat it with sugar.

Place them on your parchment covered cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes. I like to check mine at 8 minutes just to be sure. You may want to turn your cookie sheet around in the oven at this time. Not all ovens bake evenly.
When you take your cookie sheet from the oven, place it so you can work with it and not burn yourself.

Place a chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie. Press down slightly, but not too hard. The cookie will crack around the edges, but don't worry. That's what makes them beautiful!

Cool on a wire rack until you can't wait any longer, or they cool off!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back To School Chocolate Chip Muffins

These muffins get their name from the fact that they are the first home baked item, of this school year, that I am sending to my son who is away at college. I love sending him homemade goodies, and I always try to include his favorite muffins when I do. These muffins are adapted from the book The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn.  All the recipes I have tried are fabulous and I have made several of them multiple times. This recipe was originally a cake, but lends itself well to the muffin category. Although I love creating desserts and meals from scratch, there is nothing wrong with using available products to make things easier and faster. Especially when they are this good! Here's what you need:

1 Bar ( 4 ounces) German Chocolate
1 package (18.25 ounces) of Butter Recipe cake mix (I used Duncan Hines )
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup milk
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Set up your muffin tin by putting your baking cups in the pan so you will be ready when your batter is. Break the German chocolate bar into pieces and use a food processor or hand grater, like I did, to grate the chocolate.

Put the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, and eggs into your mixing bowl.You are not making the cake according to the box directions, so ignore what the back of the box says.

Blend all your ingredients on low, for 1 minute, then stop your mixer and cleanly scrape down your bowl.
Add your grated chocolate.
Turn your mixer up to medium speed. Mix for two minutes, scraping the sides if you need to. Fold in the chocolate chips. By gently stirring the chocolate chips into your batter by hand, you are avoiding the possibility of breaking some of the chips.
Plus, hand mixing the chips ensures an even distribution of the chips into your muffin batter.
Spoon your batter into your baking cups. Place in the oven for about 17 minutes. Stick a toothpick in your tallest muffin and check to see if any batter comes out on the toothpick. If it does, continue to cook for 1 minute, and check again. Continue this until your toothpick comes out clean. (Invest in a box of toothpicks, you will need several because you use a new toothpick each time)
Once you have determined the muffins are done, pull them out of the oven. Let them cool on a rack for about 5-10 minutes. You need them to firm up a little. If you take them out of the tin now, they will be too hot and too soft, and you are risking smashing them.
After 5-10 minutes, take them out of the muffin tin to cool completely.
Enjoy your back to school muffins!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

    There is nothing quite as refreshing as a luscious, creamy, fruity smoothie. I am a big fan. But the price tag of purchasing such a thirst quencher can be too high to enjoy the treat. So, why not make them at home! Although strawberry season is sadly coming to an end, you still have time to make this delectable drink and make your taste buds dance! Here is what you need:

2 Cups crushed ice
6 oz strawberry or strawberry banana yogurt
4 oz 1% milk
a squirt of lemon juice
2 oz orange juice
10  medium strawberries
2 medium bananas

~Put the ice in your blender. If your blender crushes ice and your ice is in whole cubes, go ahead and crush        the ice before adding anything else.
~Add your yogurt into the blender.
~ Add the milk.
~ Add the orange juice
~ Add the lemon juice
~ Add your bananas. You can slice them, or cut them into several pieces.

~ Hull your strawberries. That means cut the stems off. You can buy a huller at the store or just use a knife
    to cut the stem out. Make sure you go down into the berry to get the entire thing.

 ~Blend your delectable concoction until smooth and creamy. You can put this smoothie in the fridge if you are not ready to drink it yet. Perhaps you have a nice husband who makes them for you when you are on your way home from work, so it is ready when you get home? (I am very lucky!) If you do, then this smoothie will keep for about 4 hours in the refrigerator.

~You can make changes to this recipe according to your love of fruit. You can add more or less of the
   bananas or strawberries. More banana makes the smoothie super creamy. You can add blueberries,
   pineapple, etc. You have a lot of choices.
~ You can use different yogurt. Match the yogurt to your fruit, or just use your favorite.
~ You can add ice cream!!!  Not as healthy, but oh so good!
~ Use a fresh lemon squeeze instead of the real lemon juice.

The only limit is your imagination! Experiment and have fun!!