Archive for the ‘Holiday & Seasonal’ Category

21 Days Til T-Day

November 4, 2010

I am sooo excited to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family!  It’s always a very low key and comfy affair.  I normally get to my parents’ house on Wednesday night, sleep in on Thursday, and then we all head to the movies.  Last year we saw The Blind Side, which resulted in lots of tears.  Mostly mine of course.

Um, dear family, let’s lighten it up for 2010, shall we?

Post movie we head home, cook and of course eat!  Then we watch A Christmas Story 2.5 times before passing out on the couch.  It’s all lovely.  For food, we keep it hearty but healthy.  My family (minus me) has become a bit butter/cheese/cream-adverse in the past few years, so there’s not a lot of cheesy casseroling happening.  Still, everything is always delicious and I LOVE cooking with my Ma and sister J.  I’ve been busy snagging recipes from magazines and my fave blogs the past couple days.  Everything looks so good… I don’t wanna wait for November 25…

So, because I’m a hoilday-crazed, baking-crazed, and just generally crazed crazy, I am having an early Thanksgiving when my bestie Erica is in town in a couple weekends.  We’re going to have a blast cooking, baking, and destroying my teeny kitchen.  And no butter/cheese/cream will be spared for Thanksgiving Act I.  As a special treat for us, I bought these on Bake It Pretty:

Ammmazing.  I love everything on their site.  AND, I will be in Asheville next week so I get to visit their pretty shop.  I could do a lot of damage there. Oh boy.

Anyone been to Asheville, NC?  Any recs?

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Too much candy… just the right amount of Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

November 2, 2010

Post party we had quite a bit of candy left over. I brought it in to work to get rid of it. Unfortunately all my co-workers had the same idea. I’ve spent the last two days swimming in Nerds and M&Ms. It’s becoming a problem. I think I’m due for a dentist appointment too. Shudders.

The PARTY was funnn. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. I think you had a good time, yes? At some point in the night I lost possession of my camera. I found things like this on it:

The next morning?

Poor skeleton. Partied out. For political reasons, I cannot show you the rest of the party pics. But maybe just one of the whoopie pies I made.  They were yummy.  Whoopie Pies are popular now, popping up at bakeries everywhere.  I like how portable and individual they are–way less mess than cutting a full cake, even easier than a cupcake.  And because it’s fall, and because I’m obsessed with all things pumpkin and maple, here’s another pumpkin and maple recipe…

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Adapted from Bon Appétit

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
6 Tablespoons butter (3/4 stick), at room temp
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk

1 cup butter (two sticks), at room temp
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 (7.5 oz) jar of marshmallow filling or fluff
3-5 teaspoons maple syrup, to taste
salt, to taste

For the cakes:
Preheat oven to 350° F

Sift together the first eight ingredients into a medium bowl. Set aside. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars. Gradually add in oil, then the eggs, one by one. Beat in pumpkin. Mix in half of the flour mixture, followed by the addition of the milk. Finish by beating in the the last half of the flour until just combined.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon desired amount of batter onto your pan. I used about 2 tablespoons per whoopie pie “half”, and spaced them about 3” apart on the pan. Bake 15-18 minutes until edges are just slightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Watch these because the bottoms will burn! Carefully remove the cakes from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

For the frosting:
With a hand or stand mixer, whip together the butter and powder sugar. Add marshmallow filling and a dash of salt. Gradually add maple syrup to taste. I loaded up on the maple syrup and added another dash of salt to cut the sweetness.

Spoon 1-2 Tablespoons on the center of the flat side (pan side) of a cooled whoopie pie cake. Grab another cake and gently press together. Enjoy!

This recipe made about 24 assembled pies.

Party at the Mansion, Y’all…

October 21, 2010

Wow, I am CRANKY today.  I think it’s a Thursday thing.  It all began this morning when I hated everything in my closet.

Thank goodness for the holiday aisle at Walgreens.  And baby bunny pictures on Google Images.  And coffee.  Lots of coffee.  Otherwise it could have been a real bad day.

I’m having  a Halloween party next Friday.  If I know you, you’re invited.  I promise I won’t be cranky.  I’ll be party fun!  And there will be beer and bourbon ice cream.  What’s better than that?

Also, if someone could think of/create me the perfect Halloween costume, that would be awesome.

XOXO,

carly

What’s Going On

September 30, 2010

Hey people! I just got back from a work trip to Maryland. It was a short, and mostly sweet visit. Sadly I didn’t get to try anything from Cakelove, one of their local bakeries. I stopped in after dinner my first night just to check it out, but was so stuffed of tuna and coconut rice, I couldn’t bring myself to purchase anything. I vowed I would be back to devour a S’mores cupcake, but it just didn’t happen.

Boo.  Ah, well. I am headed to San Francisco tomorrow, so I think I’ll make up for it there with assorted baked goods & ice cream.

And then, a week from tomorrow, I will be en route to Kansas City to be in Jennie & Perry’s wedding!

I actually may have to rethink this San Fran Carly vs. Food thing.  I have a bridesmaid dress to fit into after all.  Hmm.

Speaking of health food, I found those Caramel Apple Pops on a recent Walgreens visit.  Different apple varietals–Green Apple, Golden Delicious, & Macintosh.  I should work for a candy company.  Seriously, how fun?  They were all delicious.  The Golden and Macintosh were a tad sweeter than the original Green.  I love the seasonal candy/decoration aisles at stores. Target is an especially dangerous place for me.  I lose all sense of time and purpose.  Just ask Roomie L.

I will try to keep posting during my travels.  Excited and just a bit tired…

XOXO

Apple Picking

September 14, 2010

We had our second annual family apple-picking outing this weekend.

My little brother wasn’t there. Tear. He’s too busy being smart in Minnesota. BUT, I had a great time with Jen and my rents. And it was about 50º warmer than when we went last October. No hats, gloves, or scarves required.

The best thing… one of my favorite bloggers, Joy the Baker, posted this apple pancake recipe. I can’t wait until next weekend to whip up a batch, so there will be a brinner dinner this week. Featuring apple pancakes. And probably bacon.

Also on the agenda, two batches of nectarine sorbet, and frozen pumpkin custard. If I commit my plans in writing here, that means I gotta do em, right?

I will go to the gym I will go the gym I will go to the gym I will go to the gym.

Am I Ready for Fall?

September 9, 2010

Am I ready for fall?  Let’s see… my electric bill for August was over $200 (90° days + antiquated mammoth AC window unit = trouble), I’ve lost both my pairs of flip flops, and my office declared last Thursday and Friday “wear shorts to work” days.

Yep, I am ready.  I’m ready for sweaters and tights and boots.  And I’m so so ready for caramel apples and tea dates.  And holing up in my apartment during stormy weather.  I have all my moody Fall things ready…

Moody, gothick novels.

 

Moody movies.  Hitchcock. Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, Jimmy Stewart.  Yes.

Double Shot Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Very necessary.

 

And speaking of pumpkin…

!  I am ready for baking.  FALL baking.

Also secured: trench coat, umbrella, red lipstick (so as to emulate Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Jimmy Stewart, and Kim Novak).  All important things for stormy weather.

Now all I need is the perfect Halloween costume idea and the leaves can start turning.  Any thoughts?

Holiday Cookie Exchange

January 10, 2010

My last post was about Thanksgiving.  And this one is Christmasy.  And it’s… January 10.  Yikes.  I spose in addition to my resolutions involving driving automobiles and daily vitamins, I should consider posting in a timely manner.  With relevant stories and recipes.  But I had to post these pictures even if it is a bit late.  My family hosted a holiday cookie exchange, and it was super great.  I was blown away by all the delicious cookies people brought.  And the decorating!

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies Orange Spice Sandwich Cookies

Poppyseed Kolachky Coconut Snowmen Iced Snicker Doodle

Andes Chocolate Mint Cookies Raspberry Truffle Peppermint Bon Bons

I had a blast.  I think others did too…

The Cookie Exchange

A very belated thanks to all the cookie exchange participants!  Everything was delicious.  And a very belated wish for a Happy New Year!

I think some sort of baking event needs to be planned for Valentine’s Day.  A cupcake exchange?  A cupcake decorating party?  Something.

Oh, and my sis J and brother decorated those gingerbread houses.  Pretty good, eh?

Bye for now.  I’ll be seeing ya… more… in 2010!

Happy Thanksgiving & Ma’s Guest Blog

November 26, 2009

Fellow thankful and grateful Americans: Are you currently unable to move from your couch, tryptophan coursing through your veins, pants unbuttoned? Have you spent most of your day watching Home Alone or football, only breaking to re-eat or nap? When you doze off do you have visions of yams and dancing green bean casseroles in your brain?

I have just the thing for you… PIE! So here’s my Ma to talk about one of the pies she made. She’s awesome, but a bit blog-shy. Take it away Ma…

Hi, I’m Carly’s Mother. I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. My memories of Thanksgiving are filled with thoughts of my own mother baking many delicious treats. My favorites were always the pies! She made everything from lemon meringue to chocolate cream. With family out of town, this year our Thanksgiving gathering was smaller than usual, but we had a great time. And great food!

Normally, for Thanksgiving we do traditional pumpkin, but this year we added a French Apple Pie. My husband “hinted” that I hadn’t baked an apple pie in a long time, so here goes…

French Apple Pie


Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook

For Pastry:
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon shortening
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 Tablespoons cold water

For Filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of salt
6 cups of thinly sliced tart apples (about 6 medium-sized apples)

For Topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 425°

Mix flour and salt (for pastry) in a medium-sized bowl. Cut in shortening until well-combined and crumbles are pea-sized. Add water, 1 Tablespoon at a time until mixture is moistened evenly.

Form a ball with your dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out—two inches larger than inverted pie plate. Fit into plate.

Prepare your Filling. Mix dry ingredients together and then stir in apples. Spoon into pie crust. In a new bowl, mix Topping ingredients together until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of your pie. Bake for 45-50 minutes until brown and bubbly.

Easy peasy, right? And delicious. Be sure to serve with ice cream.

Thanks Ma, you’re the best! And happy holidays everyone.

Boo!

November 1, 2009

How was your Halloween? Nursing a mean sugar hangover today?

Thought so.

Did you carve a pumpkin, bake with a pumpkin, and eat pumpkin seeds?

No?!

Well it might be a bit late to carve a pumpkin now, but it’s never too late to bake with pumpkin. The past couple weeks have been busy and filled with autumnal things. One of my FAVORITE cousins came to visit with her boyfriend. While boyfriend and my brother created pumpkin art (that’s their handiwork above), we all chatted and baked cookies. It was a lot of fun, and we spent the rest of their visit celebrating birthdays, eating good food, and playing rock band. Special thanks to sis J for baking these awesome cookies with me–there is nothing better than baking, surrounded by your friends and family. Also, I am totally in love with these soft & spicy cookies…

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

from AllRecipes.com

for cookies:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cream together the 1/2 cup butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

In a separate bowl combine the rest of the dry ingredients and spices. Gradually beat into the pumpkin mixture until combined.

Scoop batter by the tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet.  Keep cookies at least 2” apart and press the batter slightly into the pan.  Bake 15-20 minutes until cookies have browned slightly.  Cool on a wire rack placed over a piece of wax paper.

Prepare icing.  Mix all the ingredients together, adding more milk if needed to obtain a drizzling consistency.  Drizzle or dip cookies into the icing.  Let cookies dry on wire rack.  This recipe makes about 36 delicious cookies.

Fall Love

October 10, 2009

Today my family and I braved the cold to celebrate Fall and pick/eat a crazy amount of apples.  I hadn’t been apple-picking since I was a kid, but my little sis suggested it so off we went to Keipur Orchards in Maple Park, IL.  Despite the freezing temps we had a lot of fun.  I thought it would be a bit late in the season, but Keipur still had a ton of apples and varieties–some of which don’t even have harvest dates until late October/November.  We ended up with yummy Jonathans, JonaGolds, Ida Reds, Empires, and Blushing Goldens.

Oh yeah.  Their bakery/shop?  Awesome.  This apple cider donut coated in cinnamon sugar I devoured?  Awesome.  Everything from pies to caramel apples looked super yummy.  I nabbed some apple cider and my sister picked up some just-blended peanut butter.  Definitely a Saturday well spent.  There are a ton of orchards in the Chicagoland area, you can check them out here…

http://www.pickyourown.org/ILchicago.htm

And some baked apple goodness coming soon!