Tuesday, June 26, 2012

paradise bakery sugar cookies.

paradise bakery has the best cookies. whenever i'm in utah, i always go to paradise to get a cookie, and walk out with a cute little box filled with a dozen, because buying in bulk is such a better deal than buying just one (this is what i call "spending money to save money." one of my sound financial principles that chase loves to tease me about). i then like to take a bite out of each cookie--because they have so many flavors!--before they make it home to be devoured by family. my mother, and probably all of my family members, hate when i do this.

my favorite are the sugar cookies. my mom told me about this recipe for paradise bakery sugar cookies and i decided to try it. and i love these cookies. do they taste like the ones at paradise bakery? i have no idea. i haven't tasted one since december. but they're delightful. they're very delicate--almost a shortbread texture, and very sweet. you could frost 'em but i prefer them just rolled in sugar with sprinkles on top.

paradise bakery sugar cookies
makes about 2 dozen 3" cookies

1 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, beaten
4 1/3 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

1. preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. cream together the sugars and shortening in a large bowl, about 3 minutes. add the vanilla and egg.
3. in a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. gradually add to the shortening mixture and stir until just blended.
4. scoop dough with an ice cream or cookie scoop and roll in sugar. after rolling in sugar, i pressed each ball into a plate of sprinkles, flattening it to about 1/2". if you don't use sprinkles, still flatten the cookies with the palm of your hand after placing on the cookie sheet. 
5. bake for 8-10 minutes, until small cracks appear. i pull mine out the minute i see any golden appear. ideally, they do not brown at all. let sit on cookie sheet for another ten minutes after pulling out from oven.

these cookies are best once they have cooled! store in an airtight container for as long as they last (these ones made it to day two).

Monday, June 25, 2012

eggplant pizza on naan.

i bought an eggplant recently and had absolutely no idea what to do with it! to be honest, eggplant kind of scares me-- it just seems so dry when you cut it open, and i know you have to salt before using it which always seemed a bit too complex for a vegetable i wasn't completely convinced i was a fan of. turns out, eggplant is delicious. i'm sure all of you already knew this, but some realizations you have to come to on your own. 

we roasted our eggplant, put it on naan and called it pizza. if you don't already buy the naan from costco, you really should. i have no idea how to make naan, but maybe i'll do some research and try that next. for now, seriously the stuff at costco is gooooood.

eggplant pizza
makes 2 pizzas

2 pieces of naan
2 tbs. olive oil
1 small eggplant, diced
salt & pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

1. lay the eggplant out on a cookie sheet covered with tin foil and generously salt. let sit for 30 minutes.
2. preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
3. drizzle one tbs. olive oil over the eggplant and roast until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
4. brush the remaining olive oil evenly on the two pieces of naan. layer the garlic, eggplant, tomatoes, then mozzarella on top of the pizzas. lightly salt & pepper them.
5. bake at 400 degrees until the cheese has melted and the edges of the naan are a light golden brown.

enjoy! and if you have other ideas of what to do with an eggplant, let me know!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

coconut french toast.

we picked up some cinnamon bread at our school's farmers market yesterday with intentions to make french toast for breakfast, and woke up realizing we had no milk. instead we subbed coconut milk & it was dang good. seems like a yummy breakfast always ensures that the day will be a good one.

coconut french toast
serves 4

10 pieces cinnamon bread (or more, or less, depending on the size of your bread)
1 can coconut milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
butter, for cooking

1. heat your griddle to 350 degrees.
2. toast the coconut flakes in a small pan over medium heat, shaking constantly so they don't burn. once golden brown, take off heat and set aside.
3. whisk together the coconut milk, eggs, vanilla & salt. pour into a shallow dish.
4. butter your griddle. soak each piece of bread in the coconut milk mixture (about 20 seconds each side) before placing on the griddle.
5. cook each side until golden to dark brown brown, about 3 minutes.
6. serve with butter, powdered sugar & the toasted coconut.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

beet hummus.

i am likely the last person in the world to jump on the pinterest bandwagon, but it's happened. i don't feel as guilty about spending unnecessary amounts of time on pinterest, because, unlike facebook or instagram, it actually inspires me to get up and do things-- like make beet hummus. i admit, i'm not in love with beets just yet, but i want to be, because they're just so good for you (i hear). i have a hard time getting past the fact that they taste a lot bit like dirt, but i keep telling myself the more you eat something, the more you grow to like it. disguising beets in hummus and eating it with goat cheese and good bread is working for me for now though.

beet hummus
makes 2 cups
adapted from simplyrecipes.com

3 large beets
the juice and zest of one large lemon
2 tbs. tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 tsp. cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
salt, to taste

1. preheat the oven to 400 degrees. cut tops off of beets & scrub them. set inside a baking dish with 1/2" water and cover. bake until easily poked with a fork, about 30 minutes. let cool.
2. once cooled, peel the beets. the skin should slide off pretty easily using just your hands. cut into large chunks.
3. puree the beets with the lemon juice and zest, tahini, cumin, garlic and salt until smooth.
4. serve at room temperature or chilled. we spread a thin layer of goat cheese on top of baked crostinis and topped them with the hummus. enjoy!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

onion rings.

i'm not exactly sure what came over me last sunday that inspired me to make onion rings, but for whatever reason, i was set on it. after church, chase & i came home to make sweet potato & white bean burgers with thai sweet chili sauce and onion rings on top. of course we ate a dozen onion rings before our burgers were even ready, and we both felt extremely sick afterwards. but still, these were extremely delicious. 

onion rings
1 medium white onion
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups panko
olive oil & vegetable oil, for frying
salt & pepper, to taste

1. cut off the ends of the onion and peel off first layer. slice onion into rings and separate.
2. combine flour, baking powder and salt. dip the rings into the flour and set aside.
3. pour half vegetable oil & half olive oil into frying pan 1" deep. heat over medium heat until small bubbles start to form.
4. add egg and milk to flour mixture and combine. put panko onto a plate.
5. one at a time, dip the rings in the flour mixture, transfer to plate and cover in bread crumbs, then place in frying pan. fry one ring by itself first to make sure oil is the correct temperature-- the rings should turn golden on one side after 1-2 minutes. once one side is cooked, use tongs to flip them over and cook the other side. 
6. when finished, transfer to a wire rack or baking sheet lined with paper towels. salt & pepper to taste & serve immediately. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

ice cream cake.

chase turned 26 last week, and anyone who knows the boy knows we had to celebrate with ice cream cake. i grew up eating carvel cakes, but at our ridiculously overpriced grocery store, a small carvel cake is $40, on sale. so, my friend denise & i set off to making an ice cream creation that puts those grocery store cakes to shame: 4 layers of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, separated by fudgy mint oreos. it was seriously soooo good! we've been eating it for breakfast ever since. 
it isn't very labor intensive but it does need time--i made the cake a day ahead and frosted it about 6 hours before we ate it. and warning: it took us a real hefty knife (run through fire) to cut this monster when it first came out of the freezer.

ice cream cake
serves one million
(or like 15)
1 gallon vanilla ice cream
1 gallon chocolate ice cream
1 pkg. mint oreos
1 jar hot fudge sauce (i used smuckers)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
food dye and sprinkles or whatever else you want to make it look pretty!
you will also need 4 9" round foil cake pans.

1. first, clear room in your freezer for a giant cake. seriously.
2. trace the cake pans on wax paper and cut out 4 circles. place one on the bottom of each pan.
3. working with one flavor at a time, spoon the ice cream into each cake pan until full, smoothing with a rubber spatula. cover the top with wax paper and stick in the freezer once full. repeat with all four pans.
4. make your cake base. i cut out a slightly larger circle from cardboard and covered it in foil.
5. place the entire package of oreos in a large ziploc bag and smash into little pieces. move to a bowl and add the jar of hot fudge. it might help to slightly warm the fudge first--i didn't, because i don't have a microwave, but it could aid in spreading. divide the mixture into thirds (or just estimate when spreading it).
6. take the first layer you froze out of the freezer and peel off the wax paper. run a butter knife around the edges to loosen, then carefully flip onto the cake base. remove the circle of wax paper from the top. 
7. evenly distribute 1/3 of the oreo mixture on top of the ice cream. place the cake back in the freezer for at least ten minutes.
8. repeat steps 6 & 7 until all four layers are placed, with three layers of oreo in between. smooth the sides as much as you can, and put back in the freezer for at least two hours. i waited about 24 hours before frosting mine.
9. at least two hours before you want to eat it, whip the cream, powdered sugar, vanilla & food dye with a mixer until soft peaks form. (or if you are a poor college student like myself, use a hand whisk. it's ready when your arm feels like it's going to fall off.) 
10. working quickly, frost the cake with the whipped cream using a rubber spatula. place back in the freezer until ready to eat.

ta da! an ice cream cake that looks, and tastes, better than carvel.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

zucchini cupcakes with caramel frosting.

i made these cupcakes for a bake-off we hosted at our home a few weeks ago. . . actually many, many weeks ago. i've been falling off the blogging train lately, largely because i started working at a restaurant where i get free food cooked for me everytime i work, robbing me of all motivation to cook at home. i actually have been sucking lately. i need to pick things back up for my sweet husband. 

anywho, we crammed about 30 people into our one-room apartment and had a bake-off. the winners earned coupons for dinner with the carlstons (that's what happens when your hosts are forgetful and cheap), and all in attendance left with tummy aches for days.

zucchini cupcakes with caramel frosting
makes 18 cupcakes

3 eggs
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated

for the frosting:
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. beat together the eggs, sugar, oil, orange juice & almond extract in a large bowl.
3. whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, soda, salt & cloves in a small bowl. and to egg mixture & stir until combined. add the zucchini.
4. fill lined muffin tins 2/3 full with batter. bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack.
5. combine the brown sugar, butter and milk in small saucepan. bring to a boil over medium heat. lower heat and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, or until thickened. remove from heat and stir in vanilla. cool to lukewarm.
6. gradually add the powdered sugar to caramel mixture. frost cupcakes once they are cooled & enjoy!