August 27, 2016

Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches with Marshmallow Filling

If you've ever had a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cookie or the chocolate chip version, then you know what I'm talking about.  Two cookies sandwiched together with a marshmallow frosting filling.  I've been making this kind of cookie for about 15 years now but I don't make it often, as sometimes I'm just too lazy (hey, I'm honest) and second, the family's favorite filling as marshmallow fluff in it, - which I don't always buy.  (This stuff - Kraft Marshmallow Creme)

When you make oatmeal or chocolate chip sandwich cookies, you want to be sure you bake your cookies a little longer than you normally would, as the filling makes them 'soft' and if they are too soft and supple to begin with, they will fall apart.

You have two options for the cookies;  you can either use a round cookie cutter to cut them perfectly round, or use the cookies as they are - which is a nice round cookie anyway.  Size is up to you as well.  Larger, smaller, it doesn't matter.  Just use 2 cookies from your favorite recipe (I will put one here just in case you don't have one) and then sandwich them together with a bit of filling.  That's all there is to it!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c butter
1 c packed brown sugar
3 T white sugar
1 large eggs
1 t vanilla
2 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c chocolate chips
Half of a 7 oz. jar Marshmallow Fluff (creme)
1/4 c white, regular shortening
1/6 c powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla
dash of salt

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugars until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, powder, and salt. Stir or beat into butter mixture until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough, 2 inches apart, onto baking sheets, greased or on parchment paper. Bake in a 375° oven until cookies are lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Bake them about 1-2 minutes longer if you think they may still be too soft.  Remember, the filling is going to make them very moist and soft after a couple hours.  A crisp cookie is good to start with!

Make the filling while the cookies are baking by mixing all in a bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy.  If it's a little dry, add just a teaspoon of warm water to it.  You want it to be stiff and not runny though.

When the cookies are done, remove them from the oven, let them set 2-3 minutes and then remove to cool completely.  If you are cutting them to be perfect circles, use a cookie cutter and cut them out while still warm (!).  If you want until they are completely cool they may crack or crumble if they are very crisp.  When completely cool, spread a bit of filling on the bottom of a cookie and sandwich it together with a second cookie.  Let set at least an hour or two so the filling can soften the cookie.  They will be perfect after about 6 hours if you can wait that long.   *if you 'cut out' your cookies you will have scraps.  I save mine in a Ziploc in the freezer to crumble and use as a cheesecake base.

Products related to this recipe:
Good Cook Set Of 3 Non-Stick Cookie Sheet
Wilton Comfort Grip Round Cookie Cutter
Ateco 11 Piece Plain Round Cutter Set
Kraft Marshmallow Creme

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August 26, 2016

Homemade Cream Puffs

Originally posted in 2014

I absolutely love cream puffs and cream horns.  The pastry with just a touch of sweetened cream or puddings is perfect.  Not a smidgen of chocolate or overly sweet sugary confections to be found.  Although you CAN fill them with chocolate pudding, or fill them with whipped cream and drizzle chocolate on top...  if you are a regular reader of my site you know I don't particularly care for chocolate so my filling of choice is usually homemade whipped cream or a mixture of whipped cream and vanilla pudding.

Unfortunately, I can eat 7 of these in one sitting!  Perhaps that is why I only let myself make them about every six months!  (And why I don't have a better photo to post...  they are gone now! Ha!).

Cream Puffs

1 c water
1/3 c butter (not margarine or spreads)
1 c flour
1/8 t salt
1 T sugar
4 eggs

Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl.  In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water and butter to a boil. Add flour all at once and stir until smooth ball forms. Remove from the heat/ let stand for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Place a greased or parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 350 and bake another 25 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely.  Fill with your favorite filling of choice.  I love to fill with whipped cream or a mixture of whipped cream and vanilla pudding.

You might also be interested in;
Farberware Nonstick  3-Piece Cookie Pan Value Set
Wilton Parchment Paper
The Art of French Pastry

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August 25, 2016

Moist and Delicious Homemade Banana Bread

Originally posted in 2014

Since I usually cook everything from 'scratch' that means I don't actually use recipes.  I often will take 3 or 4 recipes of a certain style or type of dish and then I just start 'cooking from scratch'.  To me, a recipe is more like a general idea or something to help me brainstorm.  So last nights banana bread recipes ended up being used to brainstorm amounts for the flour, baking powder, eggs and butter but everything else was by me thinking what sounded good, or doing taste testing and deciding to add some things.  It turned out AMAZING but since it isn't actually a recipe, I decided I had better post it to my online files so my kids could make it if they wish, or if I wanted to make it again and see what I did!  Ha.  Amounts are pretty much guesstimates - just taste the batter and see if you want to add more or less of something.  It's that simple.

Banana Bread

2 c flour
1/2 baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
4-5 mashed, really ripe bananas
2 1/2 cups cereal with flakes;  I used Grape Nut Flakes
1/4 c hot water
2 eggs
1/2 c butter, soft
1 c granulated sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla
1 t lemon juice
1/2 t cinnamon
1 c pecans, roughly chopped

Mix the bananas, hot water and the cereal together and let them sit for a couple minutes to soften.  Add the eggs, butter and sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and mix.  Add the final dry ingredients; flour, soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nuts.  Stir till blended.  Pour into a greased or parchment lined loaf pan.  Bake approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes until done.  Start testing the center at 1 hour with a knife to see if the center is done yet.  The pan you use and your own oven will determine if you need another 15 minutes.  You can cover the top with foil if it's starting to get too brown.  Let cool complete.  Turn out of the pan.  Wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight.  This improves taste and texture of quick breads!

You might be interested in;

Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 9-by-5-Inch Loaf Pan

Gifts of Good Taste:The Creative Kitchen

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August 04, 2016

Homemade Old Fashioned Sour Cream Donuts - (Whole Grain Sour Cream Donuts)

After craving cake donuts and crullers for a  couple months now, I decided to give in and make some old fashioned sour cream donuts.  Better to give in, have one, get a little sick from the wheat and sugar and not want them again for a couple years than to crave them and build them up in my brain.  Yesterday was the day!  And yes, I did use sugar in these instead of a substitute - but I've gotten picky about the sugar I use as I found out last year during Christmas baking that the brand and style of sugar I used made ALL the difference in how my baked goods turned out.  I used Zulka Morena Pure Cane unrefined, non-gmo sugar.  I had bought it at Sam's Club - which my Sam's doesn't have anymore, I saw some at Amazon so I linked to it if you are interested. 

I also grind my own wheat berries - so these donuts are not only sweetened with unrefined, pure sugar, but are whole grain wheat, ground with soft white wheatberries (also non-gmo and organic - I'll put a link at the very bottom of this post to the kind I order and use in our home).

I do not have a donut cutter, but I have various sizes of round cookie cutters, so I used one large and one small to cut the donut and the hole.  The only other hint I have this recipe would be use fresh, clean oil to fry - as the flavor of the oil is a big part of how your finished donut tastes.

Homemade Old Fashioned Sour Cream Donuts

3 c flour - I used soft white wheat berries, ground in my WonderMill on pastry setting which is similar to 'cake flour' but whole grain
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg
2/3 c good quality sugar
3 T butter, soft
1 t vanilla
2 egg yolks
1/2 c sour cream

In a bowl, place the cake flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.  In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and creamed together well.  Add the vanilla and egg yolks, beat briefly, add the flour mixture and the sour cream.  Mix just until blended smooth.  Chill for about 30 minutes while you prepare the oil for frying and get out a sheet of parchment paper, sprinkled with flour.

Roll the dough out about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick.  Cut out rounds and smaller rounds in the center for the donut shapes.  When the oil is hot enough to sizzle drops of water but not too hot (I use about a number 7 on my 1-10 stove) carefully add about 4-5 donutes in 1 inch hot oil.  They should cook about 1 minute per side - if they are dark immediately, your oil is too hot - remove from heat and turn it down.  If they sink and are taking 2-3 minutes to get golden brown, your oil is too cold and they are going to be a greasy mess.  Remove and throw away.  If they break apart, you don't have enough flour in the dough - gather up the cut raw donuts, put them back in the bowl and mix in 1/2 or more cups flour until you have a nice dough you can work with. 

When both sides are golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon, drain on thick layers of paper towels.  Drain well.  If the paper towels are saturated with oil for the 2nd batch, use new ones.  You want them drained nicely.

You can sprinkle with powdered sugar, sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, or eat plain but to make them like bakery and store bought donuts, use a simple glaze.

3 c powdered sugar
3 T warm water
dash salt
dash vanilla

Whisk and then dip the tops of the donuts into the glaze, place on a wire rack or parchment paper to let the glaze harden.  These donuts are best the next morning after setting overnight in a container that allows air flow - nothing with a lid or air tight. 

Showing the 2 cookie cutters I use - round circles

One large cookie cutter ring for the donut
A smaller one for the holes

Fry in hot, shallow oil

Dip the tops in a glaze and let harden
These are best stored in an open air container - nothing air tight or the glaze gets sticky wet

Products related to this post available through Amazon;

Ateco 2-1/2-Inch Stainless Steel Doughnut Cutter
The WonderMill
Soft White Wheat Berries | Non-GMO
Norpro Stainless Steel Donut Biscuit Cutter with Removable Center
Norpro Donut, Cookie Cutter


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August 01, 2016

Nature's Candy: Dehydrating fresh pineapple (only 1 ingredient needed)

The photo is silly with little sunshine's because it's a screen shot of my snapchat picture I put on my storyline for my family that day.  One of our favorite snacks this summer has been freeze dried fruit slices I ordered online.  I bought a multi pack of freeze dried peaches, cinnamon apple slices, strawberries and bananas.  (You can see what I'm talking about here as they are available through Amazon;  Fresh Essentials Freeze-Dried Strawberry Slices)  Freeze dried foods are expensive but I can make the next best thing by dehydrating and boy has our dehydrator been busy! 

Dehydrating pineapple slices is so quick and easy - I found I do not need any other ingredients at all.  You don't need to dip them in a lemon juice mixture or use citric acid or anything.  Just slice and dry!  

Dehydrated Pineapple

1 fresh pineapple

Clean and core your pineapple.  Slice it into either small 1" pieces or thin slices, depending on what you like best.  The idea is to have your pieces or slices pretty uniform in size and thickness.  Dehydrate according to your machine; ours does not have a temperature control, just a simple 'on' and 'off'.  It takes about 6-7 hours dry time for our machine (Weston Food Dehydrator, 4 Tray)  Flip the slices or pieces over half way through cooking. I also like to rotate the trays as they dry faster on the bottom rack than the top.  Remove slices to a plate to cool as they become dehydrated. 

Eat immediately or put in plastic baggy or vacuum food seal. 

Products related to this post available through Amazon;
Fresh Essentials Freeze-Dried Strawberry Slices
Emergency Essentials Freeze Dried Banana Slices - 16 oz
Weston Food Dehydrator, 4 Tray

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