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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Perfect Meringue

I love meringue. I've probably made at least 4 chocolate meringue pies in the past 2 weeks and have turned several non-meringue pie eaters into meringue lovers.

Perfect Meringue
4 egg whites (at least, more if extra high meringue is wanted), room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup of sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Add cream of tartar and vanilla to egg whites. With an electric mixer, beat on high until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and continue to beat on high until stiff peaks form. Spread over pie making sure that meringue is spread evenly and touches pie crust all the way around. Using a spoon or small spatula make high peaks. Bake until golden, usually around 12 minutes.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

On my Christmas List: Bakebooks

I forgot to put these on my wish lists. Maybe it isn't too late! And if you are shopping for a baker, here are some lovely picks:

I Love Macarons
Japanese pastry-maker Hisako Ogita shares her experience of the art of baking macarons with fully illustrated step-by-step instructions. And who doesn't love macarons?

How lovely are these cakes? Sarah does incredible things with cake and good ingredients. I also love how she gets kids involved in baking. I'd use this as a coffee table book because it is so pretty to look at!

Cover Image

The only Barefoot Contessa cookbook I have yet to add to my collection.
Cover Image
A collection of dessert recipes from ordinary North Carolinians, this book includes a recipes from each of the 100 counties. And I may be a little biased, but North Carolina has some amazing desserts!

I want to make this:

Croquembouche translates to "Crunch in the mouth" and is one the loveliest of French pastries. Although there are many variations (even macaron ones!) but normally is served with creme patisserie and then dipped in spun caramel to give it the "crunch".

Friday, December 18, 2009

Goooo Appalachian

So of course I got really happy when I got my holiday e-greeting card from Chancellor Peacock. Appalachian themed holiday cookies! I like the snowman wearing the black and gold scarf and the Appalachian Santa hat, and the little gold mitten.

Who cares about the national championships in football- I'm most impressed by nicely decorated cookies.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Favorites: Best Cookie

It's not the holiday season until I start baking. The past 2 weekends I've been out of town and have not baked a crumb. I'm deprived from baking to put it lightly. Last night, after a crazy day of school my first thought was-go home, grocery store, bake jam thumbprint cookies. They are my favorite Christmas cookie I believe, besides the classic sugar cookie. And it's not like I have to bake them only at Christmas, but that seems to be the only time I bake them.

I can never decide if I like the raspberry or apricot the best...

I've posted them before but here is a good reminder:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gobbler Cookies

I had full intentions of getting this up just in time for Thanksgiving but my camera was not being cooperative.

I found these to make with my 3rd graders. They loved them and I heard one girl saying to herself "This is the best day of school EVER."

They are quite simple:

  • Fudge strip cookie for the background feathers
  • Nutter Butter for the turkey body
  • Icing to hold it together (I used some pre-made Betty Crocker cookie decorator icing in the handy little dispenser)
  • Chocolate chip eyes
  • Candy corn beak
  • Gummy worm cut into smaller pieces for the wattle
  • Chocolate covered pretzel for the feet

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cranberry Fruit Conserve

Break out your fancy bowls for this one.

Ina changed my views on cranberry sauce. Really, I still love it from a can but this is soooo much fancier. This is one of my Thanksgiving staples (I think I've made it for three years now) and it has already been requested for tomorrow. Don't skip out on the orange and lemon zest since it gives it so much flavor and freshness. I do however skip the pecans since I don't see it as a necessity. So easy to make! It gels up wonderfully and your entire house (or little apartment in my case) will smell like Thanksgiving.

Cranberry Fruit Conserve

~Ina Garten from Barefoot Contessa Parties


1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, cleaned

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

1 orange, zest grated and juiced

1 lemon, zest grated and juiced

3/4 cup raisins

3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


Cook the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skins pop open. Add the apple, zests, and juices and cook for 15 more minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts. Let cool, and serve chilled.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

So my cheesecake cracked. I choose to think of it as having a T for Taylor. I've tried out a few pumpkin pie recipes over the last few Novembers and one was never completely right so I just combined a few together. This one is very creamy and has the right amount of spice. The cinnamon in the crust also brings out the pumpkin. I'm sure I'll make this for Thanksgiving later this month.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Slightly modified from a few recipes
For the Crust:
1 1/4 cups graham-cracker crumbs (from 10 whole crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Filling:
4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, very soft
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons pumpkin-pie spice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with rack in the center. Assemble a 9-inch nonstick, springform pan.

Make the crust: In a medium bowl, mix cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter until moistened; press firmly into bottom of pan. Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes.

Make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth; mix in flour (do not overbeat). Add in pumpkin puree, pie spice, vanilla, and salt; mix just until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next.

Place springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour filling into springform and gently smooth top. Transfer to oven and reduce oven heat to 300 degrees. Bake 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stay in oven 2 hours more (without opening).

Remove from oven; cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mini-Pumpkin Pies

Earlier in the school year I signed up to bring snacks to a Beginner Teachers meeting in November in hopes of making pumpkin pie. Tomorrow is the meeting but instead of doing an entire pie (or two) I decided to do mini pies. I've seen mini-pies everywhere lately and have been wanting to try some out. I saw some really cute mini-pumpkin pies on Bakerella and modified them by using pumpkin cookie cutters to cut out the pie crusts. I don't have a mini-muffin pan, surprising since I have nearly every other baking pan known to man, so I used a regular muffin tin. They turned out adorable and more perfect than I thought I could pull off being slightly rushed and worn out from staying at work til dark working on report cards. The tiny leaves add a cute touch as well.

I used the same pumpkin pie recipe as before with the refrigerated pie crusts. One package of pie crusts (2) made at least 18 mini-pies. I did use my rolling pin to re-roll out the scraps. The pumpkin made 36 mini pies!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Caramel Apples

As a teacher I sometimes think to myself, are the kids going to remember this 15 years from now? Here is a case of just that: In 3rd grade my class went and picked apples at Carrigan Farms and then we used the apples for all sorts of apple baking projects. One of these was caramel apples. I remember thinking it was the most fun I had ever had at school (maybe because it involved cooking?) and is one of the first things I remember when I think of third grade. So with this Thursday being our Halloween party (we're out on Friday) I'm pretty sure we're going to have to make some of these. I'm sure I can tie it into the Standard Course of Study somehow right???
Caramel Apples

Friday, October 16, 2009

ultimate rainbow

I've been seeing a lot of rainbow cakes all over the blogs lately. Most are 6 layers. This one however, for lack of a better term, takes the cake. via colourlovers

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Easy Pumpkin Pie

We are working on poetry in third grade. Today we touched on sensory language. I took a big pumpkin around and they brainstormed words and ideas for sight, touch, and hearing. They were actually pretty creative with the hearing part and they said it was "nature's bongo". That line was pretty good I thought.

Tomorrow we're going to finish up the senses with smell and taste. Originally I had some canned pumpkin left over from the last holiday season that I thought we could use. Then after having so many students mention pumpkin pie, and most especially their grandmother's pumpkin pie I knew what had to be done.

I had to venture out to two grocery stores to find pumpkin. The first had a sign up that said they would not have any pumpkin until November 1 due to a manufacturing defect. Hmmm... So I went to another store with a well stocked canned pumpkin shelf. I was nearly going to follow the recipe on the back of the pumpkin can until I spotted some pumpkin pie spice and decided to go with it's recipe. So easy, and although I usually prefer a complicated recipe (don't ask why) this one was wonderful for the moment at hand.

Easy Pumpkin Pie

1 can of pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 frozen pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix pumpkin, milk, eggs, and spice. Pour into unbaked crust and bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Turn oven down to 350 and continue to bake for 40 minutes.

I doubled the recipe and it made 3 perfect pies (note I was using a regular pie crust and not deep dish). I was kinda glad since I was afraid that I would only have enough for the kids and couldn't share with anyone else, or I'll admit, myself.

pics coming up shortly :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nutella Croissants

I made these last night for a quick snack:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

When I was little my mom and I would go shopping at Hanes Mall and the trip was never complete without a Cinnabon. While we sat there eating, I'd watch through the glass trying to memorize the steps that the worker would take to make the cinnamon rolls. It looked simple enough that I thought I could do it myself. So this cinnamon roll recipe let's me live out my 7 year old dream. And they are also the most delicious things ever.







    • Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixerfitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball.
      • Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.


      • Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.
      • Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15x11-inch rectangle.
        Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border.
        Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter.
        Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up.
        With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).
      • Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.

      • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes.
        Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.


      • Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls.
        Serve warm or at room temperature.