Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine Cupcake Pops

Okay. This will be the last Valentine-related post. Due to our snow week, Valentine's Day festivities have really been extended. School parties aren't even being held until this week. So we spent the end of our snow week making Valentines for Amelia's teachers.

We already had supplies laying around that were left over from our Christmas cake pops, and luckily Valentine's Day uses red and white too. We added a little pink and some heart sprinkles. We looked around the house for something to put them in and found these flower pots, which inspired our flower card and message.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Molten Chocolate Cake

I wanted a chocolate dessert for Valentine's Day but wanted to keep it really simple. I went with these delicious molten chocolate cakes which are very easy to make. Love that chocolate center.

Bittersweet Molten Chocolate Cakes
from Bon Appetit


12 teaspoons plus 5 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon all purpose flour


Generously butter eight 3/4-cup soufflé dishes or custard cups. Sprinkle inside of each dish with 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. (I used cooking spray and cocoa powder and it worked wonderfully. The cakes didn't stick at all.)

Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat. Using electric mixer, beat eggs, egg yolks, and remaining 5 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until thick and pale yellow, about 8 minutes. Fold 1/3 of warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture, then fold in remaining chocolate. Fold in flour. Divide batter among soufflé dishes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic; chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place soufflé dishes on baking sheet. Bake cakes uncovered until edges are puffed and slightly cracked but center 1 inch of each moves slightly when dishes are shaken gently, about 13 minutes.

Invert cakes onto a serving dish or eat right out of the soufflé dish. If desired, serve with ice cream.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I heart you.

My Favorite Sugar Cookies

2 c. flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond extract

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, milk, vanilla, and almond extract; mix until incorporated.

Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentines: Part 2

We're on Day 6 of being snowed in. Yesterday we finished up our cards.

There is a free printable card to use with the heart crayons at The Long Thread which you can download here. But we wanted to do our own thing and Amelia wanted to use a colorful peacock so I made this card:

I thought it would be fun to include a picture that the kids could color with their new crayon so I used Photoshop to remove all the color from the peacock and included a black and white version on the back of the card.

Then we attached the hearts to the front using foam dots:

Instead of using envelopes, I found some clear bags and we packaged them up:

Inspired by some fun owl pencils found at the dollar section in Target, we also made some owl cards for friends:

You can find a template for the owls, along with many others, at Family Fun.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Valentines: Part 1 (Heart-shaped crayons)

We had fun making heart-shaped crayons to use for Valentines for Amelia's class. This was a good project to work on with her since she was able to help peel off the paper and break up the crayons.

Step 1: Gather your old crayons and peel off the paper. Break them up into small pieces.

Step 2: Lightly grease a heart-shaped pan and fill each cup with crayon pieces in any color combination you like.

Step 3: Bake at 250 until melted, about 8 to 10 minutes. (You might want to put a baking sheet underneath to catch any possible drips.)

Step 4: Once they have cooled, pop them out and check out the fun colors!

I also tried cutting up the crayons with a knife to get even smaller pieces and put lots of different colors together. The results were very fun.

Next up: Attaching the crayons to cards...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Snow Day Foods

We had another snowy weekend. It put me in the mood for making and eating soup and warm bread. I decided to try making some artisan bread and my mom's white chicken chili.

I have tried a few different white chicken chili recipes but I really like my mom's recipe the best. Actually, it's not really her recipe. She found it on the internet but she won the church chili cook-off with it so I'm just going to refer to it as hers from now on. (Seems like the white chicken chili recipes are always winning these days.)

It just has the right flavor and the right amount of spice.

White Chicken Chili

16 oz or so of canned white beans

1 large onion, chopped

1 stick unsalted butter

1/4 c all-purpose flour

3/4 c chicken broth

2 cups half and half

1 tsp Tabasco

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 4-oz can whole mild green chilies, drained and chopped

3 boneless, skinless chiken breasts

1 1/2 c grated Monterey Jack
 (my mom uses Pepper Jack)
1/2 c sour cream

1. Heat a large skillet over moderately high heat and put in some butter and oil. Meanwhile coat your chicken with salt and pepper and maybe some chili powder. Throw them in the skillet and resist the urge to turn them over. Leave them for five minutes, or until nicely browned, then flip them. Leave it there until browned and then flip them every few minutes until they are done (which you can tell by poking a knife into the thickest part and seeing if it's white instead of pink).
2. Remove the chicken from the pan. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers and set aside.
3. While waiting for chicken to cool, cook the onion in the same pan with 2 Tbs of butter until softened.
4. In a heavy pot, large enough to hold all the ingredients, melt remaining 6 Tbs of butter over moderately low heat and whisk in flour. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, for three minutes. Stir in the onion and gradually add the broth and half and half, whisking the whole time. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, or until thickened. (It will be nicely and obviously thick.) Stir in Tabasco, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper (adjust quantities for your own liking). Add beans, chilies, chicken and cheese, and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Add sour cream. May be served immediately -- although it tastes awesome the next day.

Artisan Bread

The artisan bread recipe came from this website. The idea is to make a big batch of dough and then you can store it in your fridge for 2 weeks and just pull out a chunk whenever you want to make a loaf. You shape it, leave it on the counter for about an hour, and then bake it for 30 minutes. The key is to bake the bread with a pan of steaming water underneath which gives the bread its nice crusty outside and soft inside.

Here are the loaves I've baked so far. I think I can get at least 2 more loaves out of the batch over the next week.