Thursday, June 19, 2008

TWD - Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Obivously I made a substitution for this week - and I went back and did one of the first challenges instead for a few reasons...

1. I left on Saturday for Young Life camp in Colorado, so I wasn't going to be around for the week and didn't want to make something that would go bad.

2. I didn't have anywhere to take the Peppermint Cream Puff to - which considering my weight loss goals, is essential.

3. I needed a gift for my dad for Father's Day, and these were the ticket! He loves shortbread, and I figured I could wrap them up and they'd hold up in shipping, so it was a go!

These were pretty good - I think I overdid it with the pinch of cloves, but I'll be mindful of that next time. I liked the texture though!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bookmarks Galore!

I figured it was time for another update on my craft projects - there have actually been quite a few lately! Mainly I've been creating gifts for a lot of graduating seniors. I'm an adult volunteer leader for Young Life - I began last September. So it's my first time to have graduating seniors - and there were LOTS this year! There was no way I could afford to get them all something, so I decided I would take it upon myself to just make something. Considering they are all going off to college, and will be studying VERY hard, I thought bookmarks might come in handy, so I created a couple...

And then I needed to design a card for them to go in, and this is what I came up with - it reminded me of a concho belt when I got done with it...

And then this coming week I'm going to be in Buena Vista, CO at Frontier Ranch with the Young Life group as well and wanted the girls in my cabin to be able to take a little something back with them from me. There will be 15 of them though, so once again, buying stuff was cost prohibitive, so I created another bookmark!

The message on it says "All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. -Ralph Waldo Emerson" - which is PERFECT for camp because one of the main points is to put the kids in one of the most beautiful places on earth, surround them with God's beauty and hopefully they will be inspired by it.

That's all for now - I've got to go pack!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Body for Life Cheesecake

Ok - a few years back I embarked upon Body for Life - and it WORKED. I did get burned out on it, and picked up my old (bad) habits again and in turn gained back the weight I lost. My fault though - nothing's going to work if you don't work at maintaining...

ANYWAYS - all of that to say that when I get back from Colorado (leaving on Saturday, returning on Sunday), I will be pushing forward with BFL once again. This week I decided to get a bit of it back into my routine and baked this BFL Cheesecake. It's not bad at all and has lots of protein in it thanks to cottage cheese and egg substitute...

First of all the picture (admit it - you would eat it based on looking at it - AND you would like it!)

And the recipe:

1 cup FF cottage cheese
1 cup egg substitute
12 oz FF cream cheese
3 TBSP Splenda (I use 6 TBSP based on reviews from others - and this is NOT Splenda for Baking, just normal Splenda)
1 TBSP Vanilla
1 RF Graham Cracker Crust

In a blender, mix the cottage cheese and egg substitute together - it will become smooth. Add in blocks of cream cheese a little at a time. Then add in the splenda and vanilla. Pour into the crust and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Top with whatever your heart desires! I pureed strawberries so it would still be BFL friendly!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

TWD - La Palette's Strawberry Tart

It's another Tuesday which brings us to another Tuesdays with Dorie!

This week Marie from A Year at Oak Cottage chose La Palette's Strawberry Tart. It's a very simple recipe - I made a few modifications (I can't seem to leave well enough alone) - so I changed the simple shortbread tart to a chocolate shortbread tart and I swirled a little semi-sweet chocolate and white chocolate on top just for funzies... Here are the pics - enjoy!

Next week is a Peppermint Cream Puff, but I'm not sure if I can make it because it requires a stand mixer... I'll see what I can do!

Monday, June 2, 2008

TWD - French Chocolate Brownies

So in my perusal of cooking/baking blogs, I came across a group called Tuesdays with Dorie. The concept is that each week we bake a different recipe from the book, Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I finally plunged in, bought the book and this week marks my first official participation as a member of the TWD group! And what a way to start - French Chocolate Brownies chosen by Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook.

These brownies are amazing. Perfect and fudgy with a flaky, sugary top. And chocolate, oh my, chocolate. Perfect balance!

These brownies are supposed to be made with rum-soaked raisins, but I opted out of that part. #1, I'm not a big raisin fan and #2 I didn't want to go buy dark rum just for brownies. So I made them without, and this might very well become my default brownie recipe - they were awesome and easy easy to put together...

French Chocolate Brownies (from Baking From My Home to Yours)

makes 16 brownies


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional, I didn't use it)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 1/2 bittersweet 1/2 semisweet)
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!

Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Baby Shower Cards

I went to a baby shower for a friend this weekend and made a couple of cards that turned out pretty cute...

The first one was for a gift for the mom (vs. a gift for the baby). A group of us went in and got her a gift certificate for a pedicure or a massage, but wanted it to be pretty. So I came up with this 'presenter' for the GC:

And then for the gift that I gave her, this is the card I made:

More projects coming soon - including birthday cards, sympathy cards, and bookmarks!