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Gifts from my Kitchen: Cranberry White Chocolate Bars

23 Feb

When I saw this recipe posted on one of my favorite blogs, Glorious Treats, I knew that I would be making them for our teachers for Valentine’s Day.  Do not let the cute heart shape fool you….these are pure sin!  OMG….you can never go wrong with white chocolate and cranberries…am I right? 

This recipe is a keeper and I will be pulling it often!   I was in a hurry to get these packaged and ready to take to school, so check out Glory’s blog and see her beautiful pictures of these little gems.


Cranberry White Chocolate Bars

(recipe from Glorious Treats)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (slightly softened)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup dried, sweetened cranberries, chopped
6 ounces (about 3/4 cup) white chocolate chips

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon orange extract

1/2- 2/3 cup dried, sweetened cranberries, chopped
2 ounces white chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan.  Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving some hanging over the two long sides- this allows the bars to be pulled out of the pan after baking for easier cutting.  In a medium bowl add the flour, powdered ginger, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set bowl aside.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth.  Add eggs, vanilla, and orange zest and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture and blend until combined.  Stir in cranberries and white chocolate. Pour the batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake 25-30 minutes, until edges are light brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Prepare frosting by beating the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and orange extract. Beat about 1 minute until fully incorporated.  Assemble dessert by spreading the frosting onto the baked and cooled bars. Sprinkle additional cranberries on top. Drizzle melted white chocolate on top as desired.

To make the bars heart shaped, use a heart cookie cutter.

If you love cranberries (like me!), here is another awesome recipe to try:

Linked To:

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Gifts From My Kitchen: Peppermint Fudge Cupcake Jars

19 Jan
Right before the holidays, I was reading through one my absolute favorite blogs, Our Best Bites, looking for teacher’s gifts to make and came across this…cupcakes in a jar!  I know right?  Can you believe it?  How stinkin’ cute are they and so different?  And really very easy.  They were a hit.  Not only did they taste good but they were so pretty.  While these were made for Christmas, why not for Valentine’s?  I could not find the wide mouth jars anywhere in my town, so I used what I had on hand, the regular size jars.  I didn’t have any problems with the size difference.  I was able to find Andes candy in red and white bits that was perfect as a topping.
I made the decorating simple.  I covered the top of the jar with the lid and put a cupcake liner upside down and flattened the bottom of the liner and then screwed the ring over the liner.  Instant and easy! 
You really REALLY need to give these a try.  Perhaps for your Valentine!
Peppermint Fudge Cupcake Jars
(recipe from Our Best Bites)

Makes approximately 8 jars or 12 Cupcakes

Cupcakes (cake base for this dessert adapted from Shelly Kaldunski)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz chocolate, chopped. (or abt 1/2 C chips) Use bittersweet, dark, or semi-sweet.
1/2 C + 3 tbsp real butter, cut into pieces
3/4 C plus 2 tbsp sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

8 8oz wide mouth mason jars (or regular if you can’t find wide mouth)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Set mixture aside and let cool 10-15 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Using a wooden spoon (don’t use an electric mixer) stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture until combined. Stir in the eggs one and a time, beating with your spoon until combined after each addition, and then beat in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour mixture just until no traces of flour remain; do not over mix.

Place the mason jars on a cookie sheet. Divide the mixture evenly among the 8 jars (no need for greasing the jars) or 12 cupcake liners if you’re going that route. The jars should be about half full or a little less. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the jar comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached 22-25 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully (with a pot-holder!) transfer jars to a cooling rack. Let jars cool till at least close to room temperature before topping with ganache.

Peppermint Ganache
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips are fine)
1/2 C heavy cream
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Place chocolate chips in a bowl. Heat cream in microwave until bubbles form around the outside. Pour in bowl over chocolate chips and immediately cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit for 5 minutes, add peppermint extract and then whisk until smooth. Let cool uncovered until thickened slightly, almost like a thin pudding.

To assemble, pour 1 1/2-2 Tbs ganache over the top of each cupcake jar. If desired, use a paring knife to first hollow out a well in the middle of the cake. Tilt jars to distribute ganache evenly over the top of the cake and then let cool for the ganache to set. If storing overnight, place lids and rings on jars and leave at room temperature.

3 tbsp flour

1/2 cup milk (whole milk is best)
1/2 cup real butter
1/2 cup sugar (that’s granulated sugar, not powdered sugar)
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Let it cook, while stirring, until you can start to see the bottom of the pan. It should still be liquid-ish.  It’s okay if you have lumps, because we’re gonna strain those out right now. Place the mixture in a mesh strainer and stir with a rubber spatula to push it through. You should end up with a nice, smooth mixture. It’s almost like pudding before it’s set.

Put this mixture in the fridge and let it cool completely, it’s fine if it stays in there long enough to get chilly, you just don’t want it warm at all. When it is chilled, you can move on to the following step.

In an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You’ll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened
milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat to combine and then scrape down the sides. Don’t be scared. It’s going to look like a goopy mess and kind of lumpy and separated.  Beat on med-high for 7-8 minutes. After 7-8 minutes it will have transformed from that sloppy mess into something gorgeous, fluffy, and incredibly light and silky.

(See instructions on the Our Best Bites blog for creating a red and white striped look.) Pipe frosting on each jar, being careful to leave room for the lid. If desired, sprinkle on some crushed candy canes or candies and then screw on jar lids.

Linked To:
  * Blessed with Grace:  Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
  * It’s A Blog Party:  Delicious Dishes
  * A Beautiful Mess:  Wordless Wednesday
  * All the Small Stuff:  Tuesdays at the Table
  * Not So Homemade:  What’s Cooking Wednesday
  * From my tiny kitchen:  Gold Star Wednesday
  * We are THAT Family:  Works for me Wednesday
  * Simply Sweet Home:  Friday Favorites
  * Prairie Story:  Recipe Swap Thursday
  * Mommy’s Kitchen:  Potluck Sunday
  * Sister Sister Sunday
  * Miz Helen’s Country Cottage:  Full Plate Thursday
  * It’s A Hodgepodge Life:  Hodgepodge Friday
  * Alli-n-son:  Sweet Tooth Friday

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Gifts from my Kitchen: Snickerdoodle Blondies

8 May

Let me just say that I was a bit skeptical about these blondies.  I LOVE brownies/blondies!  They are my favorite dessert.  But, I love snickerdoodle cookies.  I just couldn’t see how these were going to work, but I gave them a try.  And I am so glad that I did.  They were so yummy! I used the recipe from Cooking with Cristine.

And let me just say that I am kinda proud of myself for getting four days of home baked goodies to all 12 teachers!  This has been a crazy week with us getting ready to move, finishing up school, etc. that I almost didn’t think I would get it done.  But I wanted the teachers to know how special they were to our kids.


Gifts from my Kitchen: Blackberry Cream Cheese Muffins

6 May
Well, I made it through the third day….just barely!  I had so much going on that I was only able to make one batch of these most delicious muffins.  Oh my gosh!  They were incredible.  Jenny @ Picky Palate came up with a most awesome recipe.  I am really not a blackberry fan, but these were so good and moist.  I hope the teachers enjoyed these as much as I did.
I made a few changes based on what I had in my pantry, but once we get settled, I will try her original recipe with whole wheat flour.  Enjoy!
Blackberry Cream Cheese Muffins 
with Sweet Berry Drizzle
(adapted from Jenny’s recipe @ The Picky Palate)
12 oz fresh blackberries
2 tbsp sugar
1 stick softened butter
8 oz softened cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp orange extract
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place blackberries and sugar in a large bowl. Stir to combine so that berries are coated in sugar. Set aside. Cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar and orange extract until well combined. Slowly beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined.  Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. With mixer on low, add half the flour, then half the milk, then remaining flour, then remaining milk until just combined.  Fill 6 extra large muffins tins or 24 regular size tins with muffin batter, about ¾ full, that has been sprayed with cooking spray or use liners. Press 3-4 berries into tops of each unbaked muffin, Reserve any berry juice in bowl for drizzle. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until golden brown on top and cooked through. Remove and let cool.  In the same bowl as berries were in, place powdered sugar and milk. Whisk until smooth and drizzling consistency; should be a light pink color from the berry juice. Drizzle over top muffins.
Linked To:

*Talking Dollar and Cents: Muffin Monday

Gifts from my Kitchen: Macaroni Grill Bread

4 May

I love baking bread!  My family loves me when I make bread.  There is nothing better than homemade bread…the smell as it is baking, the butter as it melts on a warm sliced piece.  My family has been known to gobble up an entire loaf of bread minutes after it has come from the oven.

I usually start off the bread making process in my trusty breadmaker and finish it off in the oven.  However, this time, I found Jamie’s recipe for Macaroni Grill Bread on her blog @ Jamie Cooks It Up.  Not only do you use your mixer but you get a finished product in about an hour and half.  The smell as it is baking is simply devine. 

I made a few adjustments because I am trying to use everything up in my pantry so it doesn’t have to be packed and moved.  But once we are settled, I am going to try her original recipe.

Macaroni Grill Bread
(adapted from Jamie’s recipe)

1 1/2 t active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp italian seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp dried rosemary

1 egg

In the bottom of your mixer combine water, yeast and sugar. Let it sit for five minutes.  Add the salt, melted butter and one cup flour. Mix for 30 seconds to incorporate. Add the rest of the flour about a half cup at a time.When all of the flour is incorporated mix on medium to high.  After about seven minutes, add the italian seasoning, black pepper and rosemary.  Mix just until incorporated.  Cover the bowl and allow to rise until doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a board. Divide the dough in half and shape into two balls.  Place the shaped dough onto a oiled pan or stone.  Make a criss cross cut onto the top of each ball.  Beat the egg in a small bowl until light and frothy.  Brush each ball with the egg wash, including the cuts.  Place dough in a 170 degree oven and allow to rise about 10 to 15 minutes or until doubled in size.  Turn the oven up to 370 degrees and cook for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove to a cooling rack.

Gifts from my Kitchen: Orange Creamsicle Cookies

4 May

Can I just say…..OMG?  These cookies are unbelievable!  I mean, really, unbelievable!  And, oh so, easy to make!  I had three dozen done in an hour and a half.  I packaged them in wax sandwich bags with a cute little sticker.  My girls were so excited to hand deliver them to all of their teachers and the front office.

Yea me….one day down!

Thank you Jo @ The Adventures of Kitchen Girl for a most awesome recipe!

Gifts from my Kitchen: Teacher Appreciation Week

2 May

Next week is Teacher Appreciation.  My girls have always been blessed with such wonderful teachers.  This year I would like to bake a different treat for each day of the week for each of their teachers.  This is going to be next to impossible with everything that is going on, but I would at least like to try.  So, here is what I am going to attempt:

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Macaroni Grill Bread

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins with Sweet Berry Drizzle

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Flowers/Potted Plants

Crossing my fingers that I can accomplish this all!  Wish me luck!