Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pumpkin Shortbread with Caramel and Pretzels


This weekend there are lots of events going on in our neighborhood!  I woke up to lots of barking from the 9th Annual Mutt Strut.  It took a LOT of restraint to not adopt the adorable 3 year old black pug the Chicago Canine Rescue group brought.  He was so cute and sweet.  Luckily I have my dad to call and bring me back down to reality instead of adopting puppies on a whim!

Then, the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce hosted a dessert potluck just around the corner.  I wanted to bring a fun fall dessert and I'd been eyeing this recipe all week.  It was the perfect excuse!


We all thought these were a delicious treat, and based on their tweet, I think the Chamber of Commerce and my neighbors enjoyed them as well.  They were sweet and a little bit salty, and plenty buttery.  I had these adorable apple napkins left from Rosh Hashana, which made them perfect for serving on.  Speaking of Rosh Hashana, I've been holding out on you with some really great recipes.  I promise, I will be posting my new favorite brisket recipe soon. It's amazing!!


Pumpkin Shortbread with Caramel and Pretzels
slightly adapted from Sugarcrafter

pumpkin shortbread
cooking spray
1 3/4 c AP flour
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
5 tbsp pumpkin puree
10 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces
12 tbsp butter
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 tbsp honey
1 c crushed pretzels

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line an 8" square baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray.
2. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin, and butter. Pulse until combined and when you press the mixture together with your fingers it sticks together like dough.
3. Press into the prepared dish and pierce all over with a fork. Bake 5 minutes, then lower the oven to 300F and bake and additional 30-40 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
4. In a deep glass bowl, melt the butter. Stir in the condensed milk and honey. Whisk until well combined. Heat in the microwave 7 minutes until boiling, stirring every 30 seconds. Don't walk away, because it can boil over! The caramel is ready when thickened and light golden brown.
NOTE: If you are multitasking and put the microwave on for 7 minutes and totally forget about it and don't stir it every 30 seconds, and when you remove it from the microwave it looks like butter with brown clumps at the bottom - don't think you TOTALLY ruined it. Sure it isn't perfect, but if you stir constantly with a spatula for long enough, it will still turn back into caramel. Not that I would know from experience or anything... oops.
5. Pour the hot caramel over the cooled cookie layer. Sprinkle the crushed pretzels over the caramel layer.
6. Cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge and allow to cool completely. Cut into small square and serve.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I've been cooking, crafting... just not blogging

Hiya! So, I made a huge dinner for Rosh Hashana, and even took photos of some of the recipes to share with you. Like, good photos. On my camera.  Which also means that in order to write a blog post, I need to actually boot up my computer. Obviously, hasn't happened yet.

My new art project

In the meantime, check out my recent crafting adventure over at Carly on Queue!  I have all sorts of fun talents, didn't you know?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cookie Decorating (with Sari's Sweets!)

Block M cookie

I have been wanting to try some serious cookie decorating for a long time, but I always always intimidated by fancy ingredients like Meringue powder and ...well my serious lack of artistic ability.  I love blogs like Bake at 350 and I'm amazed by the works of art she creates on her cookie canvas.  I knew if I was ever going to attempt this, I'd need some serious hands-on instruction from an expert.

Sari's Cookie Decorating set upMy coworker, cookie decorating

This week, I had my chance!  Sari of Sari's Sweets hosted a cookie decorating party for our office!  Sari works by day with me, but by night is an amazing cookie decorator.  For anyone with a big event coming up (engagement party, bachelorette party, wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, baby shower, etc), I seriously recommend checking out some of Sari's creations.  She's incredibly talented, not to mention an absolute sweetheart, and will come up with fabulous creations to make your event special. She even makes gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free creations!

attempting a flowerfailed flower attempt

Our cookie decorating party was an absolute blast.  While my first attempt was a bit of a flop (it was supposed to be a flower...I think I got a little over ambitious/overdecorated), I think by my 4th and 5th cookies - the starburst and the Block M) I improved a bit!  Sari taught us all sorts of neat techniques, like how to make the firework-like shapes.  It definitely wasn't as easy for me as Sari makes it look, but I enjoyed experimenting.

Filling in my cupcake frosting
My cupcake cookie

Have you tried cookie decorating?  How did it go? I'm excited to keep trying new designs, especially with the holiday season coming up!

If you'd like to have a cookie decorating party with Sari, be sure to check out her website!

Starburst CookieFirework Cookie

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Oops, a banana bread! [Greek Yogurt Banana Bread]

Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

If I've been a little quiet, it's because I'm away on vacation! I'm enjoying a little much-needed time up at my parents house.  I've been waterskiing, paddleboarding... just about everything except cooking.

My cousins came for a visit the other night and in the morning I decided to make banana bread with the littlest one since it was raining and we needed a little entertainment.  Even though I have my go-to recipe that always comes out great (although I'm failing to find it in my archives), I wanted to try something new.  I thought this Greek Yogurt recipe might make it even healthier, so I tried it out. Although we had no strawberries, so I substituted for chocolate chips.  Same thing, right?

Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

Of course, I got a little distracted cooking with my cousin, and after the bread had been in the oven for 10 minutes I realized I forgot the sugar.  Healthier, sure, but it would taste terrible. So I took it out of the oven and stirred in the sugar and... well not my best attempt at making banana bread. It definitely isn't even close to as good as when the Monkey Scientist's mom makes it, but experimenting with greek yogurt is worth a try!

Greek Yogurt Banana Bread

Strawberry Greek Yogurt Banana Bread
from Closet Cooking

1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup strawberries, sliced (I used chocolate chips)

1. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
2. Mix brown sugar, bananas, eggs, vanilla extract, yogurt and strawberries in another large bowl.
3. Mix the dryy ingredients into the wet ingredients.
4. Pour the mixture into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan.
5. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown and a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes.