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On beyond baking

Well I do feel it is time to go on beyond just baking. Since the baking season is "over" (is it ever really over?). Hopefully over the next few days I'll be able to get up a few of my all time favorite everyday recipes. A sneak peak of what to expect

  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Chicken & Bean Burritos in enchilada sauce (served with Mexican Style Rice)
  • Quick and Easy Chicken Noodles Soup with corn
  • Herb Roasted Chicken
  • Honey Pineapple Pork with Rice Pilaf
  • Moussaka
  • Slow Cooker Rotisserie Style Chicken
  • And way lots more!!!!

Sophia saw me making my pumpkin cheesecake this morning and really wanted to help me. Since cheesecake is a bit out of her league at this point - I found some big boxes of strawberry gelatin, I had bought some powdered gelatin and of course we had applesauce and a tree full of lemons. The following tasty treat resulted.

Homemade Gumdrops - makes - LOTS, depending on how you cut them depends on how many you get! (generally about 1 3/4 lbs)

Ingredients

1 1/3 c. applesauce
2 +1/2 sugar
6 oz of fruit gelatin (we use strawberry and lime during Christmas time, but other colors/flavors will work for different seasons/occasions)
1 t. lemon juice
2 packets of unflavored gelatin

Grease a 11-in x 7-in x 2-in pan with non-stick cooking spray, put in freezer to make very very cold.

In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups of the sugar, applesauce, fruit gelatin, unflavored gelatin and lemon juice. Let stand 1 minute. Bring to a boil over medium heat (note this takes a while, but fight the temptation to turn up the heat!). Stir almost constantly . Once at a good boil, leave to boil for 1 minute (no stirring). Immediately pour into your nice and cold pan. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm.

With a spatula loosen gelatin from the sides of the pan. Invert onto a large piece of wax paper. Using a knife, or cookie cutters dipped in hot water, cut into shapes/squares. Place on wax paper and let dry at room temp for about 8 hours (or until slightly sticky) .Roll in remaining sugar, store in an airtight container.

I made these as an after thought with some left over dough I had from my Mini Tarts. I thought it would be a shame to waste it since the dough was so nice and delicious (much like a shortbread). So for the shells, please refer to the previous post. These were super tasty as well (ok by now I'm sure you think I'm bias, but hey - I wouldn't recommend them if I couldn't promise a happy tummy)

Cranberry-Pecan Tassies - makes 2 dozen (so for all you not too keen on math, either double the filling recipe below, or half your shell recipe - if you don't you'll find yourself lopsided!)

Filling:
1 Egg
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. packed brown sugar (I used dark)
1/3 c. finely chopped dried cranberries
3. T chopped pecans

Beat together egg, brown sugar, vanilla and a dash of salt if your heart desires. Beat until nice and smooth. Stir in cranberries and pecans. Spoon filling into pastry shells (which should be in your mini-muffin tins, just like in the tart recipe)

Bake at 325 for 30 to 35 minutes, or until shells are golden brown. Cool in pan on wire racks - remove from pan and serve up or store in air tight container at room temp. up to 3 days. Or if you're the make ahead time, freeze them for up to 3 months.

*NOTE* Do not under any circumstances fill with a little extra of the syrupy part of the filling! Brown sugar loves to bubble up when cooked (thank you molasses!), and getting the tassies out will no only be near impossible - but scrubbing your pans will suck too!

I made these this morning - very tasty. So tasty in fact that I made 4 dozen but by the time I actually finished up the final touches I was down to 2 dozen! Hmmm... I'm pretty sure that DH had something to do with that. I made them with Mother's Kosher unsalted butter, Toffuti Better than Cream Cheese, Soy Milk and Ener-G Egg Replacement in place of the dairy and egg ingredients - once again, if they rock without the "good stuff" then you know they must be good!

Miniature Almond Tarts - makes 4 dozen (unless your hubby gets his hands on them first)

Ingredient list -
Shells:
1 c. butter, softened
2 pkg (3oz each) cream cheese, softened
2 c. AP flour
Filling:
6 oz almond paste, crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
1c. sugar
Frosting:
1 1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
3 T butter, softened
4 to 5 t. milk

Maraschino cherry halves (about 48) - make sure to dry thoroughly after slicing! :)

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese. Add flour and mix well - (try not to over-mix, too much gluten does not make for like and flaky goodness :)). Refrigerate for 1 hour.

While waiting patiently for dough to chill, combine almond paste, eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat at low speed until blended.

After an hour shape dough into 1 inch (or a little larger) balls and place in an ungreased miniature muffin tin. press into the bottom and up sides to form a shell. (Make sure to allow at least 1/8 - 1/4 inch bottom or getting them out of the pan is not an easy task!)

Fill each shell with 1 1/2 t. filling. It puffs up pretty good, so for easier removal leave a little space at the top so the filling doesn't overflow.

Bake at 325 for 25 -30 minutes of until edges are golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before removing and moving to wire racks to cool completely.

While being patient yet again, make the frosting and cut the cherries. - Combine the confectioners' sugar, butter and enough milk to achieve desired consistency (I'd say to start with 2 t. and add 1 at a time until you're happy). Pipe or spread over tarts (I dollop-ed as to not break the tart) - top with a cherry (this helped to "spread" the frosting evenly, it worked great).

*note* I had never made these before - so being a daughter I took the "advice" of my mother when she told me I had too much dough in my cups for the shells. Well, batch 1 was super hard to get out because they were too thin on the bottom. So I ended up with a decent amount of extra shell dough. I used it to make Cranberry Pecan Tassies. Super yummy! Recipe to follow.

While visiting the family up in NY, I was tasked with prepping a dessert for lunch after Lil' B's baptism. MIL bought an Organic's boxed yellow cake and frosting. I figured it would be easy enough and to make things more fun, I'd use it to make a Strawberry Shortcake type dessert. Well - many many not fun character building moments later - a Delicious Strawberry Tart resulted! So if you're up for something easy and quick and almost from scratch this is for you!

Daphne's Strawberry Tart

Ingredients:
1 box of Organic's Yellow cake mix (I'm sure you could use any cake mix, I just happened to use this one)
*the following are used IN PLACE OF what the box actually calls for*
2/3 c. sour cream
1/4 c. milk
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 stick of butter (melted)
1 Box of Organic's Vanilla frosting mix
+ 1 t. vanilla

Strawberries, hulled and sliced

Prepare the boxed cake - replacing the ingredients listed on the box with those listed above. Cook according to box instructions. Keep rather thin layer, I used a 9 inch cake pan and just made 2 tarts- you could use a sheet cake pan, or if you are super cool and own a tart pan go for it!

Prep frosting according to directions, add vanilla.

Slice up strawberries in any manner that suits your needs. I like to make pretty designs - but that's just because I want to try and trick people into eating my tasty treats by catching their eye first :)

Let cake cool completely frost and decorate with strawberries. *NOTE* Prior to decorating with berries, be sure that they are as dry as possible. If not the extra moisture will make the frosting soggy and pink! Not so pretty.

That's it! So easy wasn't it? And tasty too!

Whoopee! Pies *

I made these last year as part of a tasty good basket for everyone in our family (and believe you me, that is a lot of people). These Whoopee Pies were by far the most wide spread favorites. Even my 85 year old grandmother who is quite an amazing baker herself called to tell me how great they were! I thought for sure she'd have enjoyed the Kourambiedes the best - but in all reality, who doesn't love Whoopee Pies? Even saying the word whoopee is fun.

Whoopee Pies - makes just about 18

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin (the recipe called for using parchment on a cookie sheet, I found that using a muffin tin helped keep the cookies more uniform in size and shape. )

Put 2 oz unsweetened (I use the highest quality stuff I can find to ensure super tastiness - Even the really good stuff goes on sale sometimes!) and 4 oz semisweet chocolate, both chopped and 1/2 c. (that's 1 stick) butter(unsalted of course, but is there anything else in baking?) in a medium microwave-safe bowl; heat at 75 percent power until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir, and continue to microwave until completely melted, about 2 minutes more. (Alternatively, put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching the water, and stir occasionally until melted and smooth, we know how I feel about cleaning dishes so I often go with the least dirty option)

Whisk:
1 c sugar, 3 large eggs and 1 t. pure vanilla extract into the chocolate mixture until smooth.

Sift:
1 c. AP flour, 1/4 c. natural cocoa powder, 1/2 t. baking powder and 1/2 t. fine salt into another bowl. Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until moistened. Switch to a rubber spatula and finish folding the batter together; take care not to over-mix.

Use a small cookie scoop or spoon to drop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto the prepared pan. Repeat to make 36 cookies (spacing them about 1-inch apart if not using muffin tin) Bake until the cookies spring back when lightly touched, about 6 minutes.

Cool the cookies slightly. Transfer half of the cookies to a rack. Turn the remaining cookies on the pan over, so they lay flat side up. Place a marshmallow on top of each flipped cookie (that's 18 marshmallows folks, and the big ones, no skimping here!) and return pan to the oven. Cook just until the marshmallow begins to soften and puff, about 3 minutes. Cool marshmallow topped cookies slightly, about 2 minutes. Top with the remaining cookies, pressing lightly to make sandwiches. Cool whoopee pies completely on wire racks.

After completely cool eat your fill before everyone else in your family does. How sad would it be to miss out on such tastiness?!

FudGE?! Where?

Well! Hopefully in your kitchen after checking out this super awesome recipe. I'm going to warn however- this is a bit tricky. This is best prepared on chilly yet dry days - as fudge will absorb extra moisture in the air and the texture will be all wrong. I have made fantastically wonderful batches of fudge with this recipe - I have also had tasty fudge with a texture that is tragic. (although to my defense, the good days out weight the bad)

Chocolate Fudge - makes about 64 1-inch pieces


Grease an 8x8 -inch pan with butter. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 2 3/4 c. sugar, 4 oz unsweetened chocolate (I usually go with no less than 60 - 70 % cacao), 1 1/2 T of the butter, 1 c. half-and-half, and 1 T corn syrup. Over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved and chocolate is melted. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the cover and attach a candy thermometer to the pot. Cook until the thermometer reads 234 degrees F. Remove from the heat and add 1 1/2 T butter (usually place it on the top to do it's magic). Do not stir. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes or until it drops to 130 degrees F. Add 1 T vanilla (and 1 c roasted nuts, if desired), and mix until well-blended and the shiny texture becomes matte (stir very very fast - as fast as you can, it will get thick quick and really hard to stir.I usually keep DH on call for reserve stirring duty in case the texture isn't right yet - after all, we're going for little itty bitty crystals, not nasty lumpy clumpies) Pour into the prepared pan. Let sit in cool dry area until firm. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week- if you can get it to last that long!

This fudge often results in DH tummy aches and good Daphne chuckles :)

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