Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Sugar Cookies @ the Dille House

"Oh Christmas Cookies, Oh Christmas Cookies, how lovely that you taste!"



Every year at Christmas time we make LOADS and LOADS of Christmas goodies with a majority of them being Sugar Cookies.  The recipe we use is from a very old Betty Crocker cookbook and the recipe is called "Ethel's Sugar Cookies".  Its the recipe we have used ever since I was little. 
I'm not going to lie...I eat a LOT of this raw.


We always makes tons of batches of these cookies as obviously one batch would not be enough.  I believe we made about 6 batches this year and then ended up making an extra batch because we felt like we didn't have enough.  I am not really sure how this happened as you can tell by the pictures, we had PLENTY. 
This was about half way through....
We also use some really old school cookies cutters, along with a few new ones I pick up every year.  This year we went out of the box and added 2 Batman cookies cutters and 1 Superman cookie cutter.  I had bought these for Carlos' birthday in September this year.
Most of our cookie cutters....



Each of us girls take a big tin to work to share with our friends and coworkers and we also took a bunch to Dad's Dialysis Nurses as well.  They loved them also.  A few years ago I also started making everyone use piping bags to decorate the cookies rather than just slathering the icing on with a knife.  Mom of course, has always fought this.  This year she used her first piping bag and then said "that's it, we cant go back to using a knife, these are just too pretty". 


It got a bit hectic....




So, I guess that means I need to stock up on more #2 tips since that was the one used the most.  Below is the recipe that we use for the sugar cookies and the icing.  We don't use royal icing but may use it next year as an experiment. 


My Mom and my sister Sara (the socks and tree department).

My brother-in-law Carlos (the mostly superhero and a few bells department).

I was the "Snowflakes, Gingerbread Men and Snowmen" department.



We have ALWAYS used this icing recipe so I don't really see us changing it but because you cant "flood" the cookies, we might use royal icing next year. 


Sara's finished Christmas Trees


Did you make Christmas cookies? What all do you make? We also made Monster Cookies, Peanut Butter Fudge, Chocolate Fudge, Snickerdoodles and more pies (Pumpkin, Pecan, Cheesecake, Cherry Cheesecake) and cakes (Angel Food, Watergate, Pumpkin Logs) than any one family could actually consume.   Let me know if you want the recipes for anything else and I will try to get them for you.
Soooooo many cookies!!! (That's my Rudolph)

Ethel's Sugar Cookies

3/4 Cup Shortening (part butter)
1 Cup White Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt

Mix well the shortening, sugar, eggs and flavoring.  Measure flour by dip-level-pour method or by sifting.  Blend flour, baking powder, and salt; stir in.  Chill at least 1 hour.  Heat oven to 400F.  Roll 1/8" thick on floured surface, cut out with about a 3" cookie cutter.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 6 to 8 minutes.

Makes about 4 dozen.
My Dad is a real jokester.....
Carlos, Me and Dad
 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream

I don't know about you....but I LOOOOVE ANYTHING pumpkin. 
 

What you are making...
 

I wanted a slightly healthier pumpkin cupcake and found a recipe online and then made a few changes to make it my own.  These were extremely soft and moist cupcakes with a lovely cinnamon buttercream that isn't too sweet.  Hope you like it!! Let me know if you make it and what you think.  I would still classify this recipe as in the testing phase but thought I would go ahead and share it.


Cupcake Ingredients:

1/4 Cup - Butter, Softened
3/4 Cup - Unsweetened Applesauce (I used Mott's)
1 Cup - Granulated White Sugar
3/4 Cup - Packed Brown  Sugar
2 Large Eggs
3/4 Cup - Milk
1 1/2 t - Vanilla Extract
15 oz - Pure Pumpkin (canned)
2 1/3 Cups - All Purpose Flour
1 T - Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 t - Ground Cinnamon
1 t - Baking Powder
3/4 t - Salt
1/2 t - Baking Soda
1/2 t - Ground Ginger

 


  • Cream butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. 
  • In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients: Flour, Pumpkin Pie Spice, Cinnamon, Baking Powder, Salt, Baking Soda and Ground Ginger.  Stir with fork to combine or sift if flour is lumpy.
  • To your butter and sugar mixture, add the eggs (one at a time) and stir until just combined.  Add your applesauce, milk, vanilla and pumpkin and mix until combined. 
  • Add your dry ingredients by large spoonful, mixing between and scraping down the edges and bottom of your bowl. 
 

I believe I got these as a set with the sprinkles and toppers from WalMart.


  • Line cupcake pans with cupcakes cases and spoon mixture into each cup filling about 2/3 full.  This should make about 24 cupcakes. 
  • Bake your cupcakes at 350F for about 20 -25 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. 
  • Remove from cupcake pans and onto a wire rack for cooling.  Cool cupcakes completely before icing.

 


 
Cinnamon Buttercream Ingredients:
2 Sticks of butter, softened
4 Cups - Powdered Sugar
2 T - Milk
1 T - Vanilla Extract
2 t - Ground Cinnamon (or more depending on how spicy you want it, or you can additionally add some pumpkin pie spice)
 
Little flecks of yummy cinnamon!

Piped using one of the flower tips, inside to outside pattern.

  • Place butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for about 5 minutes or until the butter is pale yellow in color and fluffy.  
  • Add the powdered sugar, slowly, a spoonful at a time and mix on stir speed (unless you want a facial of powdered sugar) until all sugar is combined.
  • Add your milk, vanilla and cinnamon and mix until fluffy and combined.  Add more milk if it seems too stiff. 
  • Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and decorate as desired.

 

Pumpkin ALL THE THINGS!!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Oreo Surprise Cupcakes!

Yummmmm! Give me all the Oreos!
This weekend I tested a recipe that I had seen Tanya Burr (www.tanyaburr.co.uk) make on her YouTube channel. I altered the recipe slightly and they came out amazing! The only thing was, mine weren't quite done in the middle (even though they looked done) so my recommendation would be to bake at 325 instead of 350 as my edges we done but the center was not. I would also then adjust the time to about 20-25 minutes and check for doneness with a toothpick. The original recipe said 350 for 15 minutes. I did about 17 minutes but they still weren't done so I think lowering the temp and cooking a little longer will get them perfect. The chocolate cupcake recipe was delicious! Of course, I sampled the batter, I mean, who doesn't eat the batter? Nobody, that's who. 

Anyway they were really easy and everybody loved them! It yielded about 14 cupcakes that I had filled to nearly the top of the cupcake cases.
Fill with batter nearly to the top!


 
Odd kitchen equipment that you will need:
  • Stand mixer or handheld electric mixer
  • Scale (I didn't convert to cups as it just not as accurate)
  • Food Processor or Ziploc bag and a rolling pin or something heavy to smash Oreos with. 
  • Cupcake tins fitted with your favorite cupcake cases (don't try to make these without cupcake cases). 

Below is my altered recipe, let me know how they turn out! 

 
Cake Ingredients:
  • 175g softened butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 165g caster sugar (extra superfine sugar)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 125g self raising flour (not all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pack of Oreo's (1 Oreo per cupcake)
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cupcake Dry Ingredients



Frosting Ingredients:

  • 6 Oreos
  • 100g softened butter (1 stick)
  • 200g icing sugar (confectioners/powdered sugar)
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Making some Oreo Frosting!!



Decoration:

  • You will need half an Oreo per cupcake.  If you end up with 14 cupcakes as I did, then you will need 7 Oreo's (chopped in half).
Now you are ready to start to make your delicious Oreo Surprise Cupcakes!  Here are the instructions:

Starting with the cupcake batter (obviously)....
  • Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  • Add eggs, one at a time, combining completely in between and scraping bowl when necessary.
  • If your Self Raising Flour is a bit lumpy (mine was) you will want to sift it.
  • Sift together cocoa powder, flour and baking powder.
  • Add this gradually into your wet mixture, little by little, scraping the bowl in between.
  • Lastly, add your milk and vanilla and stir again just until combined.
  • Place your cupcake cases into your cupcake trays.
  • In each cupcake case, drop an Oreo into the case.

Place Oreo's in the bottom of the cupcake cases.




  • Once each case has an Oreo in the bottom of it then you can spoon your mixture into the cases. Filling nearly to the top of the case.  (You can see how full I filled mine in the picture above.

Not great picture of filled cupcake cases. Meh! You get the idea!

  • Bake at 325F degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cupcakes are done!



For the frosting you will essentially be making an Oreo Buttercream Icing - Here's how:

  • Add your butter to your stand mixer and beat until light and fluffy.  The butter should have turned a lighter color than you started with and should also have gotten slightly bigger in volume.  This will take about 5 minutes.
  • Add your icing sugar a little at a time (or you will have a sugar cloud) and fully combine until smooth.
  • Crush your Oreo's in a food processor or by placing them in a Ziploc bag and whacking them with a rolling pin or on the counter. You want these to become very fine granules.

    Smashed Oreos! I used a food processor as Hulk was busy.



  • Add your Hulk smashed Oreo's to your mixture and combine.
  • Add your milk and vanilla and stir just to combine.

    Mmmmmm Oreo Icing!

     
  • With a knife (you could pipe it if you want but you will need a wide tip) frost your cupcakes (you will want a decent amount on each cupcake so that you have a good mountain to place your Oreo decoration on).
  •  Lastly, chop each Oreo in half and place one half onto the top of each cupcake.

Yes, Please!!



Now you are ready to enjoy and share! I mean, you don't HAVE to share but you will have a lot more friends if you do!! These are amazing with a good cup of coffee.  Let me know if you make them and how they turn out.

-Heather


Friday, June 12, 2015

Creamy Vanilla Sweet Potato Mash

So, a few months back, I was sitting at a charity luncheon and the menu said "Vanilla Scented Sweet Potato Mash" and I was intrigued.  Now, I am not normally a fan of sweet potato.  I really only like it at Thanksgiving and Christmas when we make Candied Sweet Potatoes which, lets be honest, don't really taste like sweet potatoes but more taste like dessert.  Back to the luncheon day - when they brought me my plate I was like OMG THOSE SMELL FANTASTIC!! They were.  They were freaking delicious! I studied them whilst I ate my teeny tiny portion (stupid fancy luncheons) and decided that I MUST figure out how to make these.  I searched the internet for a recipe but couldn't find anything that was an exact match to what I ate.  What's a girl to do? I wanted Vanilla Scented Sweet Potato Mash and I wanted it right then!  So, I took about 4 recipes I found online and what I remembered from eating it at my delicious luncheon and created my own recipe. 


On my first try it turned out freaking fantastic!! I have tweaked the recipe here and there as sometimes requires slightly more brown sugar than other days (depending on the sweetness of the potatoes) but overall I have it pretty down pat.  You can boil the potatoes instead of baking them (which I did last night as I was in a hurry) but the mash turned out more watery and not as sweet since I would guess I boiled out a lot of the sweetness.



Below is my recipe, let me know how it turns out if you make it! Also, tweet me or Facebook me pictures. #cookingwithHD  Be careful though, this recipe has become quite a favorite around the house.  It will change the minds of people who say "but I don't like sweet potatoes".....yah, well, I didn't either....until I ate this.










Creamy Vanilla Sweet Potato Mash



Ingredients


  • 4 lbs Sweet Potatoes (scrubbed and patted dry)
  • 8oz (1 cup) heavy cream
  • ½ Vanilla Bean (split and seeds scraped)
  • 4 T butter or less if desired (1 Tablespoon per lb of sweet potatoes)
  • 4 T brown sugar (1 Tablespoon per lb of sweet potatoes)

Additional items needed

  • Food processor or blender
  • Baking sheet lined with Aluminum Foil (preferably nonstick foil)
  • Small saucepan
  • Large spoon for scooping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Scrub potatoes with veggie brush under water and pat dry.
  3. If potatoes are large, cut in ½ lengthwise.  Poke all potatoes generously with fork.
  4. *Bake on aluminum foil lined baking sheet (cut side up as we do not want to brown them) for 40 minutes (or more, depending on size) or until fork tender.
  5. In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream, scraped vanilla bean seeds and pod to a simmer.  Once simmer is reached, remove from heat.  Be careful not to scald milk.  Stir frequently to prevent ‘skin’ from forming on top of cream.
  6. Scoop potatoes out of skins using a large spoon and place into food processor (you only want the insides of the potatoes.
  7. Pulse potatoes a few times until semi-smooth.
  8. Add butter to sweet potatoes.
  9. Remove vanilla bean pod from cream and discard.
  10.  Stream vanilla cream mixture through feed in food processor and blend until smooth.
  11. Add brown sugar and pulse a few more times just to combine.
  12. Serve warm and enjoy!
If you don't have a food processor I am fairly certain that you could just use a mixer to beat them up and combine the other ingredients.  You might not get them completely smooth but it will be close. :)

A Little About Myself....

Who am I?  Well, I am the youngest of 6 children (yup 6).  My parents have been married for nearly 50 years which is so rare these days.  I grew up in Orrville Ohio.  Never heard of it? Bet you have actually! Orrville is a very small town (about 8k people when I left) in about the middle of Ohio.  Orrville is the home of the J.M. Smucker Company.  Yah, the people who make the awesome Jelly, JIF Peanut Butter, Crisco, Martha White..... I could go on and on.  Take a look on the back of your peanut butter jar the next time.  J.M. Smucker Co. Orrville Ohio... That's where I am from.  I lived there my entire youth and even went to college in that town.  In 2005, I moved to Alabama for work (that's about age 20), after finishing college for Business and not being able to find a job in Ohio. 



http://www.jmsmucker.com/smuckers-corporate/smuckers-store-orrville




Growing up in a small town was amazing.  Everyone knew everyone.....seriously, it took you an hour to go to the grocery store to get bread because so many people would stop to talk to you.  It didn't help that my Mom drove school bus in the town and my Dad was the Superintendent of the city's Street Department. It was impossible to go to the grocery store without getting stopped by someone.


Now, all of the immediate family has moved to Alabama.  We slowly trickled down, one by one. Its just me and my 2 guinea pigs (Ollie and Watson) at home, and the stray cat I feed outside my apartment.  However, my parents live in the next subdivision over from me so I go over there every night and have dinner with them and hang out, its quite convenient.  Most people get annoyed by their parents.  I love mine and CHOOSE to hang out with them everyday.  I like to spend as much time as I can with them while I can.  They have 3 dogs (Cullen, Spike and Rocky) and a cat (Lila).  We really like animals. Can you tell?  My oldest sibling, a sister, lives 1 street over from my parents (we can literally see her back yard from my parents back yard), another sister lives in town and the rest are spread about 20 minutes to an hour away (in Birmingham traffic that is) but its relatively close. 

Lila, the cat 🐱 aka "Cat Cow"





Spike, the Olde English Bulldogge who wants to help with everything 🐶




I mean, LOOK at that face!!





Rocky, mini dachshund 🐶  He is an old boy but he comes running if you have cereal!



Cullen, the Bassett Hound 🐶




Starting at a young age I began standing on a chair at the stove, helping my mother cook.  I remember stirring the béchamel for her famous lasagna was always my job.  I was always the one in the kitchen baking and cooking with her. We have always been the "make dinner at home every night" sort of family.  When I was a senior in High School I worked a half day and went to school a half day (took business classes). This worked out perfectly for me as the days I didn't have to work, my mom and her bus driver friend would come home for lunch and I would have made something for them.  They were my test subjects. 


So that is how I got started in the kitchen.  I hate following recipes, always have.  I even used to sneak different seasonings in my moms cooking while she wasn't looking.  I may use them as a general outline but always end up changing them and adding my own bit of something.  I have been doing this for years and have gotten to the point where people always ask me for my recipes so that is how and why this blog came to be.  I needed somewhere that I could put my recipes and pictures and crafty bits where people can go see them and get access to them at their leisure.  Facebook just doesn't give me what I need to be able to post full recipes on there and then trying to find something you have posted at a later date for reference? Good Luck! Its like a needle in a haystack!  Hopefully this will work out much better for you and me.


Please leave me comments on my recipes, especially if you have tried them and how they turned out.  Also, feel free to leave any questions you have and I will answer them.  Be sure to let me know if there is something you want me to make (or try to make) and I'll probably have a go at it!





Thanks for visiting!!

 -Heather