3.25.2012

Peanut Butter mini Chocolate Chip Cookies:
 Having Freshly baked cookies anytime you want,
in only 15 minutes!
Everyone loves warm, freshly baked cookies right? Especially when they're YOUR homemade cookies made from scratch. But who has time to do THAT these days? In this busy world? Especially if you're a mom, like me, there are more important things (like sleep and making a living) than baking a batch of "grandmas homemade cookies".  

Well, there is a way. If you can get through at least one batch or double batch of cookies, you can enjoy them for a month or two. Wah?! Yeah, that's right.
You will love it, and be so proud of yourself, when you can provide homemade cookies, FRESH, and effortlessly at the drop of a hat. For YOU and ANY one else, for that matter.

Your husband will love you when he get’s to come home to a house smelling like cookies and finds a plate of them waiting for him. Or even when you are both cuddling up on the couch to watch a movie and need some yummy chocolaty cookies to go with that vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer. You don't have to say "hold on" and then disappear for a couple hours only to find he fell asleep while you were slaving away making them.

Your kids will love you when you have freshly baked cookies waiting for them with a glass of milk when they get home from school .

Your last minute guests/family will love you when you pop those cookies in the oven and have them ready and waiting to be devoured when they come over.

Your neighbors will love you when they get a cute little plate of freshly baked cookies on that rainy Saturday afternoon.

and your co-workers will love you when you come in, unexpectedly with cookies on a dreary Monday morning.

How can this be done? It's a really simple concept that you may have heard before but, I thought I would share it because you can actually apply this principle to may other food items to make your life easier and make yourself look like a super-hero. :)
So, here it is...
***Next time you make a batch of cookies, freeze half the batch of dough, or make a double batch so you have even more to freeze for later. That's it.***
Step 1. Mix a batch of your famous home made-from scratch cookies and bake what you want.
Step 2. Then on a cutting board or or cookie sheet that fits in your freezer, lined with parchment paper, scoop dough into mounds right next to each other with a cookie portion scooper(seen in the picture below).
Step 3. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
Then toss frozen cookie dough balls into a large freezer baggie and store in freezer for up to two months. You could even have a couple kinds of cookies stored up if you wanted.
-When you want to bake a batch of cookies, just place them on a cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake(usually at 350 for 10 minutes).
-Even if you don’t bake a batch, you could even send a friend home with their own baggies of frozen cookie dough with baking directions that they can enjoy at home and bake with their own kids.
This frozen idea can be applied to other types of cookies too such as cut-outs, and sandwich cookies, or even other treats and dinner items. 

I love that scene in the movie Clueless, where Alicia Silverstone's character narrates, "When you have boys over, you should always have something baking." So she plops a whole store-bought cookie dough round in the oven and it ends up burnt. The idea was to fill the house with that yummy baked-cookie aroma and to impress with your baking skills. However, bought cookie dough-isn't really the way to go.

So why not just buy cookie dough and have it on hand to achieve this?
Well, the difference between freezing your cookies for convenience and just buying cookie dough from the store (an easy way for fast cookies too) is the difference between all natural and a whole bunch of additives, high fructose corn syrup and honey, tons of sugar versus less of... all natural cane sugar.  Highly processed ingredients versus whole wheat flour/gluten free. The list can go on but, my point is they are YOUR quality custom cookies at your finger tips not some unhealthy junk food cookie.I suppose you could buy a small tub of all-natural cookie dough from Whole Foods...but, again that could be pricey, they aren't your delish cookies, and you will have to wait to thaw the whole container before scooping and baking.

Here's a yummy cookie recipe I recently applied to the freeze and bake later principle.
Ivy's Peanut Butter mini Chocolate chip cookie recipe
crunchy crust and soft middles
makes 36 1 inch dough balls
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter, half melted
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbs vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
-Preheat oven to 350 and line a cookies sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat.
-whisk flour and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
-Take butter and microwave until you have half the butter melty liquid.
-In a large bowl, whisk butter, sugars, vanilla, and peanut butter until supper fluffy and white.
-Fold in eggs one at a time
-Slowly add flour mixture.
-Fold in mini chocolate chips.
-Scoop 1 inch mounds about an inch apart and bake for 9 minutes.
-Flatten gently with a slotted spatula to make ridges, and bake another 2 minutes.

P.S.  Isaak says, hello...

3.05.2012

Strawberry Cream Cake
To celebrate Isaak's milestone of being able to blow bubbles, he told me he wanted a homemade strawberry cake. So, we made this cake together and I thought I would share the step by step with you. Isaak choose strawberries, like I said, but you can make it with any fruit or flavor you want which is the fun part about it. I have done coconut too.
Make a two layer cake any flavor you want. I did strawberry from a box to make it easy this time. Let the two layers freeze, with a large bread knife and taking precaution, saw off all cake crusty edges and make layers even and the same size. Slice horizontally so you have four thin cake layers. Place back in freezer with parchment paper in between each layer.
Whip 1-2 cups whipping cream and add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and a tablespoon vanilla to taste. Set aside in fridge until ready to use.

Get out your cake plate and place a piece of parchment down, then your first cake layer, bottom side down. Brush with rum if you so desire. I found a strawberry rum. Yummy.
Then, spread a layer of your whipped cream and fruit.
Place another cake layer on top and fill in edges with whipped cream to make even corners and such. Brush your new layer with rum, spread whipped cream layer and fruit again.
Repeat above steps until you get to the fourth cake layer, place the layer bottom side up this time so you have a nice even top to your cake.
Frost entire cake with whipped cream. Starting with a large dollop of frosting on top and spreading out and down the sides. This is easier then having to add more frosting later.
Smooth sides and edges with frosting spatula. If you need to, sometimes dipping the spatula in hot, hot water and wiping it with a paper towel with help give you smooth frosting edges.
My final decorated cake picture did not have the greatest lighting. So, decorate as you wish. I topped mine with more pretty strawberries and placed chocolate covered strawberries at the bottom edges.

Everyone will love this cake because it is very light and airy. The cake brush with rum gives it a nice flavor and the whipped cream frosting is not super sweet like some of the those store bought butter cream cakes.
Until next time...keep having fun in the kitchen. ;)