Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies   These are a new favorite at our house! I decided that chocolate covered pretzels are yummy, so I used my regular Chocolate Chip Cookie dough recipe and just replaced the nuts with pieces of crushed pretzels. I used miniature pretzels, but any small or thin pretzel would work. Try to get your pretzel pieces no larger than ¼”. I just placed all my pretzels in a plastic bag and began crushing! This would be a fun part for the kids to do.
   Follow the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe's baking instructions, but I did find that they bake better when the dough balls are slightly flattened before being baked. Let them cool about a minute before removing from baking sheets to cooling rake. These come out a beautiful golden brown, and have a fun crunchy texture!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pizza Cookie

Pizza Cookie   I love to give these as birthday gifts!! They can be pretty expensive to buy at the store, but very inexpensive to make. And who doesn't love a personalized giant cookie?

Things you will need:
  • 1 recipe of Chocolate Chip Cookies dough
  • 15 inch baking stone
  • Parchment paper
  • Scissors
  • 15 inch pizza box
  • Milk chocolate frosting, canned
  • Star decorating tip (#14)
  • Mini M&M's, milk chocolate ones

Begin with your 15 inch baking stone.

15Cover it with parchment paper.

Cover stone with parchment paperPlace cookie dough in center of parchment covered stone.

Place dough in center of parchment covered stone.Using your fingers, spread dough in a circular shape until dough is about ⅜ inch thick.

Spread dough with fingersBake cookie at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes.

Baked cookieTrim parchment paper to fit into pizza box.

Trim excess parchment paper.Lifting parchment paper, lift cookie and place on cooling rack. Once cooled, place parchment and cookie in pizza box.

Place cooled cookie in pizza box.Using the #14 star tip and chocolate frosting, write your desired message on your cookie. Add star dots around the edge of the cookie.

Write message on cookie with frostingPlace one mini M&M on each chocolate dot around the edge of the cookie to add more color and fun to your message!

Add Mini M&M's to edge of cookieYour Pizza Cookie is complete!! These really are as much fun to make, as they are to give away as gifts!

The Best Banana Pudding

The Best Banana Pudding   My husband loves banana pudding, but it took me several tries before I found a recipe that we all love! This is the best recipe that I have found, and it makes the perfect amount for our family of six. Note that the size of the dish does actually seem to matter when making this recipe.

The Best Banana Pudding
   1 cup sugar
   ½ cup flour
   ½ teaspoon salt
   2 cups milk
   1 teaspoon vanilla extract
   1 Tablespoon butter
   4 egg yolks
   48 vanilla wafers
   5 ripe bananas

      4 egg whites
      5 Tablespoons sugar
      ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
      ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9" x 9" (or 8" x 11") baking dish with a layer of vanilla wafers. Peel the bananas and slice into ⅜” rounds. Cover the banana slices with plastic wrap to keep them from darkening and quickly make your pudding.

Combine sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl; stir well and set aside.

In heavy saucepan, beat the egg yolks well. Alternately, add flour mixture, milk, and vanilla to the eggs. Place pan on medium heat, and stir constantly. Bring to a gentle boil, and add butter when mixture begins to thicken. Continue to stir and remove from heat when mixture has a proper pudding consistency.
Place a layer of banana slices edge-to-edge on top of the vanilla wafers. Pour half the pudding mixture on top, spreading as necessary. Repeat with a layer of banana slices and then pudding.

For meringue, beat the egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form. Add the cream of tartar. At high speed, gradually add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the vanilla into the meringue. Spread meringue over the pudding, being sure to seal all the way to the sides of the dish.

Banana Pudding ready for oven
Side view of pudding before going into ovenBake until meringue is brown (about 10-12 minutes) . Serve warm or cold. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes about 8 servings.

   When making the meringue, be sure your bowl is completely clean and dry. If your bowl is wet at all, your meringue will not whip properly.
   I calculated the WeightWatchers points to be 10 points for 1/8th of this recipe.

Banana Muffins/Bread

Banana Muffins   This is the best recipe I've found for banana bread, and I simply modified it to make muffins! My family loves banana bread, but I hate the crumbs that get all over, so I decided to make muffins instead of loaves of bread. I found that by cutting the water in half, I got a perfect muffin batter! And best of all... no crumby mess!!

Banana Bread/Muffins
   1 cup sugar
   ⅓ cup margarine, softened
   2 eggs
   1½ bananas, mashed (overripe work best)
   ⅓ cup water
   1⅔ cups flour
   1 teaspoon baking soda
   ½ teaspoon salt
   ¼ teaspoon baking powder

Mix sugar and margarine. Stir in eggs; then add mashed bananas and water stirring well. Add four, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Put batter in greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Optional: You may add nuts; pecans are my favorite.

For muffins, decrease water by half. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Makes 18 muffins.

Note: To get a really moist banana bread, use over-ripe bananas!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Scripture Reading Jars

   If you are looking for help to read your scriptures daily, then look no further!
   This jar is filled with hard candy treats. The poem on top of the jar says:

"Scripture reading can be fun,
When eating treats while it is done!
Pick one treat to suck; don't chew,
And when it's gone, you are through!"
∼ by Kim Bennett ∼

   I used baby food jars for this project. I spray painted the lids pink and then sprayed a clear acrylic spray over the pink. I typed up my cute poem to fit on a 1¼” square label and printed it onto white paper. I used a 1⅜” circle punch to cut out my poems. I used decoupauge to adhere the poems to the tops of the lids. (I have an Epson printer which prints with archival ink that does not bleed. Be sure your ink does not bleed when it's wet.) I found a cute ⅛” ribbon, and used the decoupage as glue to adhere it around the edge of the lid. I filled my jars with Gobstoppers, Lemonheads, Sweetarts, Jaw Breakers, and Sprees!
   I gave these to the girls in my youth group at church! I hope they will remind the girls to read their scriptures each day!
   I was inspired by Dot to Dot's Scripture Reminder Jars. She used gumballs and had a cute poem to go with them. However, I'm not a big fan of chewing gum, so I wrote my own poem. I wanted it to work with any kind of hard candy. I hope you will be inspired by our ideas!

My "Baby" KitchenAid!

Liquid Blender Rod Attachment   I grew up with a KitchenAid stand mixer at my disposal! Yes, I was truly quite spoiled as a child. When I got married, my husband and I first lived in a tiny two room apartment. The kitchen was very small with almost no counter space, so I decided a stand mixer was not a good idea at the time. But what to get? I knew I wanted a hand mixer that would stand up to the thickest of cookie doughs! I was so excited to see that KitchenAid did make a hand mixer. So I got a "baby" KitchenAid and fell in love immediately. It was so cute, and worked great on all my cookie doughs!
   When my first mixer died, I was torn... should I get a large stand mixer or anther hand mixer? I now had the space to get a hand mixer, but I had learned to make all my bread doughs by hand, and loved the hand-kneading experience. So... I decided to get another "baby" KitchenAid. This one even came with dough hooks (which have never been used, as my hands still do the job great).
   Just this past week, my son lost one of my beaters to my KitchenAid. Initially, I was quite upset, but quickly decided that it was a great opportunity to get a new KitchenAid! (The old one was making some strange noises anyway.) I began my search online, and soon found a cute pink one with 7 speeds and on SALE! I quickly made my online purchase.
   It arrived a couple of days ago! I was surprised to see that it came with a "liquid blender rod". What is that you say? It is a milkshake mixer!!

KitchenAid with Liquid Blender RodI always wanted a handheld milkshake mixer, but never wanted to spend the money on it. What a fun surprise it has been! It makes milkshakes in seconds, and you can mix them noiselessly right in the glass you serve them in! We made peanut butter cup and cookies-n-cream blizzards tonight! (Do be sure to cut the PB cups in smaller pieces and crush the cookies up prior to blending them into your blizzard.)
   So if you want a great mixer, but space or money is an issue... get a "baby" KitchenAid! And if you already have a "baby" KitchenAid, you just have to get the milkshake attachment!!

7 speed KitchenAidI know mine will be getting much use this summer!

   The liquid blender rod attachment must be handwashed, so don't put it in the dishwasher.