Chewy Lemon Cookies

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This is the first time i’ve ever made lemon cookies, and they are delicious!  I found the recipe on allrecipies.com, but used butter instead of vegetable oil, making them richer.  For something that came out of a cake mix, these are fantastic.  They took about 5 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to bake — super easy.  Give them a try!

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Lemon Cookies

Makes 2 dozen small cookies

1 18.25 oz. box of lemon cake mix

2 eggs

1/3 cup melted butter (or vegetable oil)

1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)

1/2 cup powdered sugar, for coating.

1. Preheat the oven to 375

2. Beat the eggs slightly, then add them into a big bowl with the cake mix, eggs, and lemon extract.  Mix.

3. Once a dough has formed, use a spoon to make little balls.  Roll each ball in the powdered sugar until coated.  Place onto an ungreased cookies sheet.

4. Cook for about 9 minutes or until the cookies set.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

 

This is Ina Garten’s cupcake recipe.  I knew it was perfect for my big little surprise.  Ina’s dishes are always of the highest quality, and these came out beautifully, as expected.

The whipped butter made the cakes so moist and fluffy.  And the buttermilk created a creaminess most cakes go without.  Unfortunately, I had already started the recipe when I realized I didn’t have buttermilk (I tend to do things like that).  However, it was crucial that I make these cupcakes, so I made the fastest Publix run of my life.

 

To frost the cupcakes, I made a decadent chocolate ganache.  Just heat some cream and pour it over chocolate, and the ganache is ready to go.  I originally intended for the ganache to fill the cupcakes, but I didn’t give myself enough time for the ganache to set in the fridge.  So, I simply dipped the tops of the cupcakes into the ganache, and viola, I had glossy, beautiful cupcakes for my little, Hanna.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Chocolate Ganache (from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 4.5 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cream

Directions

  1. Pour the chocolate into a medium bowl.
  2. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just boiling.  Immediately pour the cream onto the chocolate, and mix the chocolate until it completely melts.
  3. Once the cupcakes and ganache has cooled, dip the cupcake tops into the ganache to frost.

Cupcakes (from Ina Garten)

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line 18 cupcake pans with greased paper liners.
  2. Cream the butter and 2 sugars until light and fluffy.  If possible, use an electric mixer – however, I whipped it by hand.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla.  Mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee.
  5. In yet another bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Alternately in thirds, add first the buttermilk mixture and then the flour mixture into the whipped butter, gradually incorporating everything.  Do not over blend the batter.
  7. Divide the batter halfway into the cups, and scoop a teaspoon of ganache into each cup.  Divide the remaining batter over the ganache to fill the cups.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before frosting.

 

Chocolate Ganache Brownies

If you like rich flavors, you will DIE for these brownies.  They are d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.  The ultimate dark-chocolate lover’s dream – not too sweet, with an intense chocolate flavor, just what I like.  They make up for my brownie disaster last week, which was a total fail.

The idea to add the ganache came out of mere necessity.  I needed to use up the leftover ganache from my big little cupcakes, so I decided brownies would be perfect.

And they were.

This is the first recipe that I’ve really played around with, because I usually don’t have the guts to divulge from what’s printed.   The result of my ingenuity, however, was spectacular.  The ganache was literally boiling up over the brownies when I pulled them out of the oven.  Once they cooled, I had to give ’em a try.  They were chewy from the brownie batter and gooey from the ganache – perfect.

Warning:  These brownies are rich, considering the ganache is solely cream and chocolate, so be careful how many you eat.

My roommate, for example, regretted eating two in one sitting; she got a tummy ache from all the sugar.

Knowing myself, I’ll probably finish them by tonight  (no joke).  But really, I do have to control myself.  I don’t want to end up in the hospital from a sugar high.
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Chocolate Ganache Brownies (from Allrecipes.com)

Ganache

Ingredients

  • 4.5 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Pour the chocolate into a medium glass bowl
  2. Heat the cream in a small saucepan, until it boils.
  3. Immediately pour the boiling cream onto the chocolate.  Don’t let the cream boil for more than a second or it will over boil.
  4. Simply mix the cream and chocolate until the chocolate completely melts, leaving a silky smooth ganache.
  5. Refrigerate the ganache until it sets, for a couple of hours.

Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9 x 9” baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs.
  3. In another bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly mix it into the egg mixture until well blended.
  4. Spread half of the batter onto the pan.  Evenly distribute small scoops of ganache on top of the batter.  Pour the second half over the ganache.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

The ganache distribution. (Not very pretty)

Update : So it’s been two days since I made these brownies.  There’s not one left.
I’m embarrassed.  Kate and I ate them ALL.
Okay, so we had some help from my big Sheridan, I’ll admit, but she ate two.  Not cool.  If I keep this up I’ll be huge.
…I guess I’ll stop baking these sugary dishes.          NOT.  
I’ll never stop!  Mwahahah.

Chocolate Pecan Coconut Crunch Cookies

I had no reason to make these.

I was simply sitting on the couch at the yellow house when Kate popped up out of no where and said:

“I really want some cookies.”  I thought a second, and then yelled “No!”

I was fighting the urge.  I didn’t want anymore sweets on account that I had been eating so much sugar over the past couple of days.

With obvious disappointment, Kate said okay, and sat on the couch.

I turned my attention back to Paula Dean making some sort of chocolate cake.

…..Dangit, I thought to myself, I really want some cookies.

You’ll never guess what I did next.  I made cookies…

Pecan Coconut Chocolate Chip to be exact.

I do these things to myself all the time.  I say I won’t tempt myself, but I end up baking a dozen cookies.  Why does that happen?

I originally got this recipe from Allrecipes.com, but I added a bunch of stuff to it, to make it even better.

Once I had made the cookies, I wanted to photograph them.  But how?

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery.

I figured, since I’m new to this blogging thing (and made these oh-so-delicious cookies), I needed to look towards the big dogs to get some inspiration for my photos.  (My cookies deserve better than my expertise in snapshots).  So I searched  some of my favorite blogs and found great photos.  I then ventured out into the unknown and tried to replicate them.

Photo 1

First off, I’ll show you the photo from Bakeat350.

(From Bake at 350)


Look at how beautiful these look.

I want one.  Now.

She has the focus on the closest cookie, and it’s gushing chocolate all over.  I love having things in the background, like she has the cookies on the sheet.

Here’s my attempt with my cookies.

Not bad eh?

I have to say I am proud of this.

My closest cookie is definitely in full focus.  The only difference is that the background cookies are farther away, so they’re harder to focus on.

Don’t they look yummy?

And so golden brown?

Photo 2

Another Bakeat350 pic.

(From Bake at 350)

The arrangement is so pretty, and I love the bright plate.  Also, the shadowing is awesome; it looks like the light is coming from the right.

My attempt.

I was rather sad at how poorly my lighting came out.  Maybe I took them at the wrong part of the day?

I know it’s good to have some shadows, but mine are taking over this picture.  I swear this was the best one – however pathetic that may sound.  I’ll just have to deal with it.

Now it’s time to look at another one of my favorite blogs, ClosetCooking.

This guy is awesome, no joke.  I don’t understand how he gets such amazing pictures.  Every single one looks like it should be featured in a magazine.

The pictures that I’m mimicking are some of his more simple arrangements, but if you check out his blog you’ll be in awe of his more intricate photos.

Photo 3

(From Closet Cooking)

Can you say gooey?

This cookie looks like I can grab it right out of the picture.

I want my pictures to bring my creations to life (and make viewers hungry), and this picture does just that.

Get ready for my gooey pick..

Tada!!

I love this picture.  So yummy.

I even got a piece of coconut in the picture!  Yes, yes I know, I’m amazing.

Photo 3

Now for the final pic.  It’s one of the simplest, but it looks awesome.

(From Closet Cooking)

So simple, yet delicious – just like chocolate chip cookies.

Now my turn.

Believe it or not, I had the most trouble with this one.  It took me forever to make a triangle that didn’t look lopsided.  I had to switch around the sizes of the cookies for several minutes.

It’s not amazing, but it’s not bad either.  The camera I used wouldn’t focus on all three of the cookies, only one.  Maybe I’ll go out and buy a more expensive camera…Not.

It’s true that photography is all about lighting.  My pictures came out so much better when I waited until the sun was shining throughout the house.  And these little mimics helped me out a lot.  I’m definitely doing them again in the future!

Chocolate Pecan Coconut Crunch Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/8 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar.  Add the vanilla and egg to the butter mixture, and mix.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture, and mix.  Fold in the chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut.
  3. Bake on a cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges.
  4. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk.

Healthy Morning Glory Muffins

I came about these muffins through a great blog, Honey and Jam, about two weeks ago.  This was right before my chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi (my sorority) began its annual process of recruitment.

For those of you who don’t know, recruitment is a time consuming process.  In one week’s time, each sorority must meet every potential new member and choose the best girls for their respective houses.  The week is broken down into four rounds, each having a different theme.

Round one of recruitment was the definitely the longest.  We had to arrive at the house at 4:30 A.M. and didn’t leave until 10:30 at night!  Thank goodness most of our sorority was present, because there were 1,500 girls signed up to rush, and we had to give a house tour to every single one.

The rest of the week was very similar to the first day, except each round had a different theme.  Round two was dedicated to our philanthropy, Mr. UF, which is basically a beauty pageant for fraternity men.  All of our proceeds from the pageant go to the Arthritis Association.  The third round was centered around a tear jerking video filled with pictures of all of our sisters.  The fourth and final round is the preferential, where the potential new members choose their top three houses.  Our preferential was very somber; we all wore long black dresses and sang a beautiful a a capella piece.

The final day, known as bid day, was the most emotional of all.  We finally got to welcome all 70 new members into AOII.  Though I have yet to meet every single baby, as they’re called, the girls whom I have met are absolutely amazing and fit in perfectly.

That being said, I don’t know what I would have done without my muffins during that week.  Any time I had a moment I would snatch one from my bag and gobble it up.  My roommate Kate loved them too, along with Kayla, our psuedo-roommate who had been crashing with us that week.

I would compare these muffins to a carrot cake, but chunkier.  In every bite there’s the sweetness of the dates, the tartness of the blackberries, and the spiciness of the cinnamon.   The only difference between these muffins and carrot cake is that they’re actually quite good for you.  Because most of the sweetness comes from the carrots and apple sauce, they’ve got a fraction of the sugar as your usual morning muffin.  I’m not one to remake recipes very often, but I’ve already made these three times, so that says something.

What You’ll Need

2 cups carrots, either grated or chopped in a food processor

1 cup blackberries, or 1 grated/processed apple

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup quick cooking oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup orange juice

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and line a one dozen muffin pan with baking cups.

2. Next I like to prep all of my ingredients.  Process the carrots and apple (halve the blackberries if substituting those), chop the nuts, and throw everything into a bowl.  Don’t put the dates in yet, those go in last.


3.  Stir together the flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a big bowl.  Add the carrots, nuts, and apple/berries and carefully stir it together.

3.  Stir together the flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a big bowl.  Add the carrots, nuts, and apple/berries and carefully stir it together.

4.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs and add the apple sauce, vanilla, and orange juice.

5.  Lastly, carefully fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture.  Fold in the dates.

Distribute the batter evenly into the muffin tins and smooth it out with the back of a spoon.

Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes.  Check on the muffins after 20 minutes to see their progress.  When firm to the touch, they are ready to cool on wire racks for at least 10 minutes (although I can’t always wait that long).

voilà!