As much as I love chocolate (baking with it AND eating it), sometimes it's good to mix things up and bake something different. And if I can't bake with chocolate, I might as well bake with fruit - like lemon. Over the years I've begun to like lemon-flavored foods and that includes these lemon cookies that my mom found online last year and made for Christmas. I guess they were such a hit because she added them to our list of what to bake. I volunteered to bake them, not realizing that they'd be a little more complicated than I originally thought. No problems - just time-consuming.
'Tis the season to be baking! Since the 1st of December, my mom and I have been steadily baking, making at least two different types of cookies per week (all of which have gone into the freezer to keep fresh for Christmas). My mom made a list of what she wanted to make this year and it was pretty obvious who was making what: some were for her to make (like the Russian Tea Cakes/Mexican Wedding Cakes that I don't care for) and others were for me to make - like Peanut Butter Blossoms. I've always loved making these. What's not to like: Hershey's Kisses + peanut butter = yum!
Other than the cheesecake, my mom wanted me to make something else, particularly with chocolate. I kinda wanted to make this Rolo fudge that I came across a couple years ago and made last year (I think for our Labor Day get-together but I can't remember). So I decided to make it, even though my mom felt it was too rich for Thanksgiving (um, what?). The recipe is from a blog called Shugary Sweets. The blogger there actually made Rolo Turtle fudge, also adding chopped pecans. Because of Carly's allergy and my preference for nut-free baked goods, I just left the pecans out and doubled the amount of Rolos (at the suggestion of the blogger, which was in response to my comment about not liking nuts). These were also a hit on Thursday.
On Halloween my mom went to a family friend's house for dinner and dessert. One of the desserts was a pumpkin cheesecake, which my mom just loved. She brought a few slices home for us and she was right - it was delicious! I think the family friend got it at Costco, but Mom wanted me to make it for Thanksgiving. So last week I started my search. After a while I remembered the obvious: the Philadelphia Cream Cheese website. So I searched there and found a few choices, finally choosing the 3-step cheesecake since it would be quick to make on my pre-Thanksgiving, double-baking day.
Sometimes you wanna bake just because. Yesterday was one of those times. Earlier this month I got the urge to bake cupcakes while watching Cupcake Wars (honestly, this never really happens). I decided on Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting since it's fall and I kinda prefer pumpkin-flavored things to apple-flavored things (cream cheese frosting just sounded like a good partner for pumpkin). So while I was looking for cupcakes for my grandma's birthday, I kept an eye out for pumpkin ones. I had to wait a few weeks because my parents (although it might just be my mother) fulfilled a long-time wish and got granite countertops in our kitchen (with subway tiled-walls to match), leaving the kitchen unavailable for baking. Finally the kitchen was (somewhat) back to normal by this weekend so after a little searching par deux, I found a unique recipe in Taste of Home's Cupcakes for Every Season (released in spring 2011).
My family is all about birthdays. Sure, we don't go all out and hold big blowout parties for each one, but we do get together to celebrate them. And that includes the only member of my mom's side of the family who lives up here in the Puget Sound: my grandma. Her birthday was last week and as always, we had dinner this weekend to celebrate it. We decided to go to Vince's Italian Restaurant in Renton. Because we were going to a restaurant, my mom suggested it'd be easier for me to bake cupcakes that we could hand out for dessert instead of having a cake to cut. After some searching through all of my cookbooks and recipe magazines (there's at least 3 dozen of them), I finally decided on the Chocolate Town Syrup Cupcakes from the Hershey's 1934 Cookbook (an updated version published in 1971). The recipe didn't include a frosting so I just purchased a can of Duncan Hines Whipped Chocolate at the store (frosting has always been hit and miss for me so this was for the better). I tried to decorate the cupcakes fancily with a pastry bag but, well, that didn't work out. One more try next time and then I'm sticking to my new frosting motto: you can't go wrong with a can and a spreader.
I love my cousin Carly. She's one of my favorite people. She's sweet, creative, and loves to hug. That being said, there's one thing I don't like about her: the fact that she's allergic to peanuts. As much as I don't like baking with nuts as an ingredient, I LOVE peanut butter and baking with it. Except I can't choose a recipe with peanut butter when picking a recipe for family gatherings (which isn't a problem: there are plenty of peanut butter-less recipes). So when my parents decided to have friends over yesterday - no family - I jumped at the chance to bake something with peanut butter. I started in the Reese's recipe folder of my bookmarks and came across this simple chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting from Dulce Dough.