Category Archives: Baking

My Weekend in Instagram

Hello, Sunday night.

Yes, I took more than two pictures this weekend.  But (1) I am saving some for later this week and (2) you only need to see so many snaps of a pint of beer before you are like, ENOUGH ALREADY. WE GET IT.

I will spare us all from this fate.

What’s sort of hilarious is that I’ve gone from feeling wordless to having, well, lots to share.  So I’ve made a list for myself and we’ll get through all of that in time.

For now, this weekend.  In photos from Instagram.  I think that last week, I finally felt like everything was finally “normal.”  And last weekend was the most “normal” weekend that Marcus and I have spent together in probably two months.

That’s a little bit insane when you think about it.

So we needed this weekend big time, and it did not disappoint.

The snaps.

On Friday, Steel Toe’s taproom finally opened up and we showed up about an hour after they got pouring to drink and celebrate.

Steel Toe

It was wonderful and then some.   Jason (the Head Brewer) has a really good thing going on there and it’s really nice to see someone so deserving have such success.

More selfishly: I really appreciate having a taproom in St. Louis Park.  They will always be unlocking the doors on Friday afternoons as I am driving home from work.  This is a really good system in my book.

Today, I got together with all of the women on Marcus’ side of the family to bake hamantaschen for Purim.

It’s a really wonderful thing that we all do together every year.  And as I say “we all” and “every year,” I am now counting on my fingers and realizing that we have all been baking together for six years now.

:)

It was the pinnacle of industriousness.

Hamantaschen

About a thousand cookies later, we called it a day.  For inquiring minds that want to know, we mainly did mixed fruit, but there were also a few batches of peanut butter-chocolate chip and cherry pie filling.  Poppy seeds are nowhere to be found.

What did you do this weekend?

Sweets Week: S’more on a Stick

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Happy Sweets Week, y’all!

And more importantly, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Since I largely missed out on the festivities of Soup Week because I was in Israel, I was SO thrilled that I could get to work with my favorite cooks to fill your houses with little treats for loved ones.

If you’re like me, sometimes you have hours to dedicate to actioning all manner of baking and sometimes you’re left with minutes.

Today’s treat is one that will fit comfortably into the latter category.

You see, I planned a Toothpick Potluck for my department today.  Which means that everything being served has to be served on a stick.  Retrospectively, we probably could have re-named it State Fair Potluck, but I didn’t want everyone to be deep-frying everything.  You know?

Anyhow, since this potluck fell in the middle of the week, I knew that anything I made would have to be a night-before-sort of thing.

I bring to you, S’more on a Stick.

05 Stick

I was not kidding.

What you’ll need: Semi-sweet chocolate chips, graham crackers and jumbo marshmallows.

01 Ingredients

Oh, and some toothpicks (or cake-pop sticks or whatever).   This is profanely simple and straightforward.

What I’ll need for you to do: Crush the graham crackers (I did mine using an immersion blender) and melt the chocolate chips.

Personally, I microwave my chips or melt them on the stove in a pot over medium-low heat.  Yes, I realize that doing that whole double-boiler black magic-thing is supposedly “better” but (1) I don’t have that set-up and (2) this is really easier if you have the ability to watch your chocolate chips melt so that you can fend-off burning.

Because pretty much two minutes later, you’ll have the melted chocolate-arrangement you were hoping for.

From here, you will toothpick each of your marshmallows and get dipping.  Spooning the melted chocolate over your marshmallows is going to be easier and will yield a better “crust.”  So do that.

02 Chocolate

Once you’ve covered your marshmallow in chocolate, plop it in the middle of the graham cracker crumbs and spoon the crumbs over the marshmallow.

03 Graham Crackerws

No, you wont contaminate all of your graham cracker crumbs with blobs of chocolate.  So put that thought far from your mind.

From there, you’ll pop a toothpick into the top (chocolate-covered end) and slide the other toothpick out of the bottom of the s’more.  This is the part of the s’more that will sit on the tin foil while it cools and sets.

From there,  transfer it to the baking sheet.

Repeat.

04 Tray

Allow the s’mores to cool (I just left my baking sheets in the garage since it’s wintertime) and serve when the mood strikes.

Seriously.  How easy is that?!

But that’s not all!  Our fat pants-worthy Sweets Week run-down is:

Sunday:

Red Velvet Vanilla Marble Cupcakes – Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic
Retro Raspberry Divinity (and a giveaway!) – Jeanne @ Inside NanaBread’s Head

Monday:

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Pudding Cookies – Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen
Mini Meringue Strawberry Pie – Katie @ The Hill Country Cook

Tuesday:

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti – Madeline @ Munching in the Mitten
Samoa Crack Dip – Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama

Wednesday:

Avocado Peppermint Chocolate Mousse – Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain
Cherry Garcia Chocolate Bark – Megan @ Wanna Be A Country Cleaver

Thursday:

S’Mores on a Stick – Kat @ Tenaciously Yours
White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting – Mads @ La Petite Pancake

Friday:

‘Pucker Up’ Lemon Marshmallows – Allison @ Decadent Philistines Save the World
Mini Chocolate Mousse Pies – Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic

Saturday:
Berry Smoothie Ice Cream Pie & a Giveaway – Anne @ From My Sweet Heart

Cookie Week: Colossal Cookies

We need your help to kick kids’ cancer’s butt! Send Kirsten (ComfortablyDomestic AT gmail DOT com) an email by this Saturday with the total number of cookies that you’ve exchanged this holiday season, she will tack your number on to our Cookie Week Exchange total, and then Glad to Give will donate one dollar to Cookies for Kids Cancer for each one of your cookies added to our exchange.

It’s hard to believe party-kittens, but it’s actually time for Cookie Week!

The cookie exchange that I organize for my department-mates (Does this surprise you?  No.) was held on Monday.

Since another co-worker revealed to me that she was going to make Shortbreads, I scuttled my original plans and instead heeded the call of The Universe.

Which directed me to make Lauren’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Oat (AKA Colossal) Cookies.

You should too.

Because apparently they are some black magic secret from her husband’s grandmother written on an honest-to-God recipe card.

Those are the best kinds of recipes.

I’m not going to do an extremely detailed step-by-step here because

  1. Lauren already did that(it is beautiful, look at hers!)
  2. See #1.

First things first: Set the stage.

Baking 1

I have no real explanation for why I needed to have two pads of Post-Its present.

And then start drinking.  Be serious about it.

Baking 2

#DrinkLocal

You will mix together all of the things, as is our custom.

Baking 3

And then you eat all of the batter bake it all up.

Baking 4

Please note that this snap of my batter was taken something like, 36 cookies in.  These cookies can be colossal size-wise, or they can be colossal because they will take over your whole kitchen.

Baking 5

Give thanks because six dozen cookies later, you realize you will only have to make two batches for your department’s cookie exchange instead of four.

And then do some soul searching about whether or not it’s appropriate to exchange non-Christmas-themed cookies at a holiday cookie exchange.

Following that, package them in Hanukkah bags, realize you’re three short and in light of the 10″ of snow falling to the ground accept the fact that three people are getting cookies in ziploc bags.

Who else is baking?

Comfortably Domestic–Decorated Shortbread Cookies (plus a King Arthur Giveaway)
Inside NanaBread’s Head–Dark Chocolate Turtle Thumbprints
La Petite Pancake – Glazed Honey Lemon Cookies
Bakeaholic Mama–Bacon Maple Sugar Cookies
Wanna be a Country Cleaver–Homemade Mint Oreos
Comfortably Domestic–Gingersnaps Reboot
Decadent Philistines Save the World–Sesame Plum Thumbprints
Bakeaholic Mama–Brown Sugar Toffee Shortbread Cookies
Munching in the Mitten–Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

The Greatest Cheesecake Ever

A month or so ago at work, we were celebrating someone’s birthday and someone brought up this mythical cheesecake that a former co-worker used to action.

Like seriously, I have never heard people speak so lovingly about a baked good that was not their grandmother’s.  So there’s that.

To be totally honest, I’m not a big cheesecake person.  I’ll eat a slice if it’s the only thing on the spread, but otherwise I’ll usually go out of my way to pick something else.  Let’s just call me cheesecake-neutral.

Anyway, a few weeks went by and finally one of my co-workers rustled up the recipe (written in some sort of just-barely decipherable scrawl…because it was a secret recipe), which I was pressed into service to make.

Most important order of business: New York Cheesecake Supreme is not some sort of secret recipe, it is on the internet.  It’s actually the first recipe on the Cooks.com results page when you search “Cheesecake Supreme.”  Don’t tell my co-workers that, it will break their hearts.

Second most important order of business: Even to a cheesecake-neutral person like me, this cheesecake was phenomenal.

Look.

 

Having read the November AND December issues of bon appetit over breakfast this morning, I am fully aware that right now we’re supposed to be focusing all of our efforts on roasting meats/boozing and when we are not roasting meats/boozing we are supposed to be eating (crosses self) winter squashes and kale salads.

But save yourselves from that fiber-laden fate and do something that will spread joy instead.

Are you a cheesecake lover?  Cheesecake hater?  Cheesecake neutral?

Actioning Baking

My co-worker’s birthday was last Monday and in our department, the rule is that you action birthday treats for the person whose birthday comes after yours.

He suggested cupcakes, our family’s secret brownies or ice cream and fruit.  But I had other plans.  Because I will be so honest as to say that his birthday treats were 50% about him and 50% about me reinforcing my office baking dominance.

This is a source of great amusement to me because my co-workers think that I’m just 11/10 at baking and that I do it often.  They have no idea that pretty much every time I bring something in, it’s the only time I’ve baked since the last time I brought something in.  They have no idea that 99% of what I appear with is my first attempt at a recipe.  They have no idea that cooking is what I would actually describe as being my thing.

So after determining that he was neutral on the issue of nuts in baked goods, I settled on baking Café Latte’s Turtle Cake.

I have never been more terrified to serve something to a group of people in my entire life, since I have never made a chocolate cake before that has not come from a box, much less this ganache-like frosting.

It was a massive hit.

For a break from the dessert table, I was tasked with actioning bread for a little get-together.

I used the Dutch Oven Bread recipe from Ruhlman’s Twenty.  It revealed itself to me last week and when I saw it, I knew that I didn’t need to pick through any more recipes. 

We do not have a stand-mixer so the act of kneading was tasking.  Commentary ensued.

But I can honestly say that I cannot wait to make this bread over and over and over again.  When the end result turns out like this, I don’t think you would hesitate either.

It’s like…a honest-to-God loaf of real bread.  That came out of my oven.  I still cannot get over it.

Have you actioned any baking lately?

A Shower for Megan…

Our Megan is getting married to the love of her life and since we can’t be there to celebrate with her in the flesh, we celebrate here, potluck style.

I feel like a good bar is an essential staple of any bridal shower dessert arrangement, so I opted to action Courtenay’s Good For You Bars (make sure to click there for the recipe!).

Why they’re good for you: Courtenay got the recipe from a real, live medical doctor.  They have peanuts and peanut butter so they’re loaded with protein (duh).  Runners eat them like starved wolves.

See?  Good for you.

Now.  Let’s get ready to Bake With Kat In The Name Of Happily Ever After!

The ingredients:

First you’ll make the base.

You may have to get in there with your hands (I definitely did), so just be prepared for that inevitable moment.

Take this.

And make it into this, using your mitts once more.  I don’t usually take my rings off to bake, but this whole process from start to finish is a situation where you’ll probably want to if you’re a ring-wearer.

Bake it up just to let all of the meltable-type things (peanut butter, brown sugar, corn syrup) play nicely together to make a solid base.

Meanwhile, address the peanut situation.

I feel like every time I try to chop nuts it turns into a debacle where I’m finding tiny chunks of pecan weeks later.  So this time I just took a rolling-pin to the bag that the peanuts were in.

Easier.

Melt the good stuff down.  Resist the urge to go in there with a spoon.  Or your head.

And then stir said peanuts in when the time is right.

Finally, you’ll spread the butterscotch-chocolate-peanut butter-peanut mixture over the base.

Try to focus on getting it all into the pan and not on how much you’ll get to lick out of the bowl if you don’t get it all into the pan.

Pro tip: If you have leftover chopped peanuts, you might want to dump those in while you’re licking the bowl.  A friend told me it’s probably a good idea.

The bars will go into the fridge until they set, though far be it from me to stop you from eating them as an oat-y/chocolate-y/peanut butter-y mess.  So for all of the patience you didn’t have to use actioning these, you will need to use those reserves now.

But I think this is worth it, no?

For the recipe, click here.

And please continue in our celebration of Megan!

Appetizers
Heather’s Deviled Eggs Three Ways
Gina’s Cheesy Edamame Crostini
Kirsten’s Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Puffs
Tina’s Easy Bacon Cream Cheese Roll-Ups
Rachel’s Sausage & Red Pepper Stuffed Mushrooms
Allison’s Retro Cheese Cookies

Drinks
Laurie’s Blueberry Lemonade Spritzers
Cassie’s Lemon-Berry Granita with Balsamic & Basil

Entrees
Michelle’s Fresh Melon & Crispy Prosciutto Salad
Jeanne’s Greek Salmon Wraps

Desserts
Julie’s Mini Cherry Pies
Lauren’s Summer Strawberry Jello Pie
KimBee’s Red Velvet Ice Cream Cupcakes
Madelyn’s Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
Kathryn’s Eton Mess Shooters

What food do you look forward to the most at showers?

An Act of Improvement

Up today: More baking treat-making.

Because it’s Saturday.  Because last Monday I brought Vegan cookies (which my co-workers gamely chowed down on) to work.  Because Marcus’ cousin dropped off this year’s order of cookies last week and in the process of stashing them away, I discovered that we had three sleeves of Thin Mints in the freezer from last year.

I’ll be honest.  I think most Girl Scout Cookies are flavorless.  Maybe once upon a time they really were good or all of the other cookies you could buy at the store were that bad.  Maybe my palate has changed.  It’s anyone’s guess.

On that note, I’ll say that the Caramel DeLites (Samoas) have been my favorite since I was a pup, and that I’ve been known to down a Do Si Do or two before a run because they do not upset my stomach.

And then there’s that whole thing where I hate wasting food.  Yes, that.

So after I got done lunching, I whipped up a batch of Thin Mint Truffles.

Gorgeous, no?  There’s just something about draping things in chocolate and almond bark shells that’s just so aesthetically pleasing to these eyes of mine.

Probably because like wearing the color black, it’s just so darned forgiving.

I didn’t consult The Internet before making them, so I was more than a little bit nervous before I bit into my first one.  Sometimes it’s hard to know how these things will turn out.

The verdict?  Beyond the fact that they sit in your stomach like a rock (hard-boiled eggs watch out!) they are A Major Improvement over the original.  And I might be so bold as to say that I liked them even more than Oreo Truffles.

Buy a box and make them happen.

What’s your stance on Girl Scout Cookies?

p.s. Today marks the end of Cake Week!  If you too, have been compelled to Bake A Cake, PLEASE link up!  And if you haven’t gotten to drool over your keyboard yet, there’s still time!

MondayFilled Cupcakes from Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic
TuesdayMolten Lava Cake from Mads at La Petite Pancake
WednesdayIce Cream Cakelettes from Jeanne at Inside NanaBread’s Head
Thursday – Petite Bundt Cakes by Yours Truly
Friday Pupcakes from Allison at Decadent Philistines Save the World
SaturdayOmbre Rose Cake from Megan at Wanna Be A Country Cleaver