Sunday, January 26, 2014

Peppermint Shortbread Cookies

I managed to make a quick visit back home the other weekend and decided to treat my family to some baked goods.  

I searched through the cupboards and after examining what I had left over from the holidays I realized I had everything I needed to make these scrumptious little things!

The recipe can also easily be altered.  Instead of using peppermint chocolate you could use cranberries or walnuts!

Peppermint Shortbread Cookies
Recipe Adapted From: Rachel Cooks

2 sticks of unsalted butter
3/4 C. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
2 1/3 C. all purpose flour
3/4 C. peppermint crunch baking chips

Using a stand mixer, cream the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth.

Add the flour slowly, mixing on low until fully combined. 

Add the baking chips and mix on low for a short time to mix into dough.

Now, you can do one of two things:  take the entire batch of dough and form one large log with a diameter the size you want your cookies and place this in a freezer for about 30 minutes OR you can form individual little patties and freeze them for about 15 minutes.  I was in a bit of a time crunch so I opted for the patties.  If you are concerned with your cookies looking pretty, the log will give you better results.  

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your baking pan with parchment paper.

If you formed the log, you need to cut the dough into slices about 1/4-1/3 inch thick.  If you formed the patties just place them onto the baking pan and you're ready to go!  (these cookies really don't rise or spread so it is okay to place them pretty close together.)

Bake for 13-15 minutes

Enjoy!  :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

White Chocolate M&M Cake

You may or may not know that I am in a sorority.

This year I had the pleasure of becoming a big to a wonderful new member and we have become very close in the short time we've known each other.

When I came back to Lincoln after spending a couple weeks in Fremont with my family, we were overdue for some bonding time.

This bonding time included scary movies, a pizza run, and of course, baking!

I'm trying to use up some of the baking supplies I already have and I managed to find a recipe that only required ingredients I had on hand.  This recipe is for white chocolate M&M cake!   

This cake turned out great and was fantastic warm out of the oven.

White Chocolate M&M Cake
Recipe Adapted From: Delightful E Made

1/3 C. Butter
1 C. white chocolate
2 Eggs
2/3 C. sugar
1 C. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 C. M&M's of your choice

Preheat your oven to 350 Degrees and grease an 8x8 baking pan.  You may want to lay parchment paper on the bottom as well to prevent the M&M's from sticking.

In a microwave safe bowl, add butter and 1/2 cup of the white chocolate.  Microwave the mixture in 45 second intervals, stirring between each one until completely melted.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs.

Add the sugar slowly and beat until creamy.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.  (Stirring with a fork is what I always do)

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, mixing until a smooth consistency.  

Add the melted butter and white chocolate mixture and stir until completely mixed in.  

Add the vanilla, and stir.

Pour the batter into the pan, then sprinkle 1/2 C. M&M's on top (I used peanut).

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-34 minutes.  The top should be a nice golden brown.

After you have removed the cake from the oven, take 1/2 C. white chocolate and melt in 30 second intervals in a microwave, stirring between each one.  (If you happen to over heat the chocolate, you can thin it by adding Crisco.)

Drizzle half of the white chocolate on top of the cake, then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 C. M&M's, then the rest of the chocolate.  

Let sit for 30-45 minutes before serving, the cake should still be a little warm.  :)


**This is also a great starter cake!  Make it your own by adding different things to it like coconut, cranberries, or your favorite candy bar!**

Sunday, January 5, 2014


Everyone has that crazy awesome family recipe.  The one that grandma/great-grandma used to make and you just can't resist eating enough for three people when it's made. 

For my family, it is Kolaches.

My great-grandma learned to make them from my great-grandpa's mother, a full blown Czech.  This recipe has been in the family forever, and is treasured by all of us.

Many of you may have had these at fairs or bake sales, but nothing compares to a homemade Kolache fresh out of the oven.

These aren't easy to make, or quick.  This process takes out a good chunk of your day, and maybe your patience if you have never made them before.  But believe me, if you can successfully make these delicious little pastries you will not be disappointed. 

Like I said before, this is not a quick process at all.  Make sure you have at least 6-7 hours set aside to make these.


Kolache Dough: Yield 5 Dozen
You will need:
2 packages yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 C. lard (you can use butter or margarine instead but you will get the best results with lard)
1 C. sugar
2 tsp. salt
12 egg yolks (you can use 4 eggs instead but the yolks produce a much softer pastry)
3 C. milk
8-8 1/2 C. flour + enough for rolling
Butter/margarine for brushing, about 1 C.

In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, measure out 1/4 C of very warm water (110-115 Degrees), 2 packages of yeast, and 1 tsp. sugar.  Let this rise while completing the next steps.
Melt 1 C lard and let it cool slightly

In a small mixing bowl, combine the lard, 1 C sugar, 2 tsp. salt and 12 egg yolks.  Beat together until fully combined.  The appearance will be similar to whipped butter.

Warm 3 cups of milk on the stove, almost to a boil.  

In a large mixing bowl, add 4 cups of flour and the warm milk.  Mix until smooth.

Add the yeast mixture, then the lard/egg mixture.  Beat thoroughly.

Gradually add 4-4 1/2 C. flour.  Beat until it becomes too thick for the mixer (about 2 1/2-3 cups), then finish the rest by hand.  The dough will be sticky but will not fall off the spoon.

Now you must let the dough rise.  Turn the oven on to about 300, and place the bowl of dough between the back oven burners.  Place a tea towel over the bowl and leave until it has doubled in size.  (If your kitchen is cold you may need to crack your oven a bit.)

Once the dough has doubled (about 1 hour), punch it down (3 punches will do) and allow it to double again.  (about another hour)

You will need:
Cherry pie filling, 1 can
15 oz can of apricots
Package of pitted prunes
1 C applesauce
8 Tbsp. Sugar
4-5 Tbsp. Cornstarch 

In a small-medium saucepan, mix the cherry pie filling, and 1 Tbsp. of sugar.  While over medium-high heat use a potato masher to mash the cherries into small pieces.  Add 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch while still hot. (More if not thick enough) If the potato masher is not working well you can use a food processor, but you must be careful not to over do it.  Let cool before using.

Pour the can of apricots with the syrup into another saucepan and mix with 2 Tbsp. sugar and 3 Tbsp. cornstarch.  Stir well and heat to a boil, then let cool.

Put the prunes in a saucepan and cover with water.  Heat to soften.  Without draining the water, add 1 C of applesauce and 4 Tbsp. of sugar.  Mash or use the food processor.  Let cool.

Crumb Topping
You will need:
1/2 C. sugar
3/4 C. flour
1/2 C. firm butter

Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl, cut the butter into it with a fork or pastry blender.
Forming Kolaches
Punch the dough down again, and take out about a 2-3 C. portion.  String out the dough on a well floured surface and cut off about 2-3 Tbsp. portions.  

After flouring your hands, roll dough into balls.

After forming balls place them onto greased baking sheets.  Coat with melted butter or margarine, but do not let it drip onto the pan.

Let the balls rise again, then use your fingers to press a circle into the middle.

Fill centers with the filling, and top with crumb topping.

Let the dough rise again before placing in the oven.

Baking the Kolaches

Set the oven to 375 Degrees and arrange the racks second from the top and second from the bottom.

Bake on second rack from the bottom for 10 minutes, then second from the top for 10 minutes.  (If they start to brown too much you may need to take them out early)

Brush with butter or margarine after taking them out, and cover with wax paper to keep them from drying out while they cool.

You are finally done!  Enjoy them and don't eat them all in one day!! :)


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Strawberry Cake Puppy Chow

Last week I posted about the peppermint puppy chow I made for Christmas, today I'm posting about the strawberry cake puppy chow I made for New Years!

I love taking puppy chow to get-togethers.  It's easy to make, easy to eat, and people love it!

So it was no surprise when all my friends attacked the bowl of puppy chow right away. 

I've heard that the flavor of this puppy chow is comparable to those strawberry wafer cookies.  In other words: totally and completely addicting.  

Strawberry Cake Puppy Chow
Recipe Adapted From: What's Cookin Love
5-6 C. Chex cereal
1 12 oz. bag white chocolate chips
1 1/2 C. strawberry cake mix
1/2 C. powdered sugar

Measure the Chex cereal into a large bowl

Measure out the cake mix and powdered sugar and put it into a gallon sized zip lock bag.

Put the white chocolate chips into the microwave and heat in 30 second intervals until completely melted.  If the chocolate get's a little overheated and seems too thick, put a tablespoon of Crisco in the chocolate and stir until fully incorporated.  

Pour the chocolate onto the cereal and stir to completely coat.

pour the coated cereal from the bowl into the zip lock bag with the cake mix and sugar in it.  (You might want to recruit an assistant!)

Shake the bag until all the cereal has been coated with the cake/sugar. 

That's all there is to it!  Enjoy!