March 24, 2011

Strawberry Shortcakes.

We are getting together with family tonight & I volunteered to bring dessert. After making super rich chocolate mint brownies last week for St. Patrick's Day & then a chocolate peanut butter torte when we had friends over on Tuesday, I thought it would be best to make something lighter this time. I had a huge container of strawberries in my refrigerator that I needed to use sooner rather than later. So naturally, my thoughts drifted to strawberry shortcakes, one of my favorite light(er) desserts.

Now, I have made strawberry shortcakes a few times before, but I never was crazy about the shortcake recipe I used. It was alright, but not anything special. So today, I turned to one of my older cookbooks & decided to use their shortcake recipe, that I had bookmarked sometime ago.

I had a big oops when I was making this... When I "made" my buttermilk, I accidentally poured the entire cup of liquid into the flour mixture, instead of the 3/4 C the recipe called for. I didn't realize it until I turned out the dough to cut the shortcakes & had a sticky, wet mess in front of me. I would have just doubled the recipe, but I didn't have another cube of butter. So I improvised by adding more flour, until the dough seemed to be the right consistency, and then added just a touch of sugar to balance out the additional flour. But I didn't think to add more baking powder, so my shortcakes didn't rise like the should have. None of this impacted the taste (which was amazing), but it did mean that I couldn't cut my shortcakes in half and instead just used one flat shortcake for the top & one flat shortcake for the bottom.

Taste wise, this recipe blows my old one out of the water. I loved it. The shortcakes had just the right amount of sugar (which one was thing I didn't like about my old recipe - not sweet at all). And the lemon zest? Such a great addition. I loved tasting a bit of lemon with every bite. These are a perfect treat to welcome spring!

Strawberry Shortcakes
Williams-Sonoma Desserts

For the shortcakes:
1 2/3 C all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon zest
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 C cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 C buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

4 C strawberries, hulled and cut into slices
1/4 C sugar
Sweetened whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 400°.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, zest, and salt. Using a pastry blender (or your fingers), cut in the butter until the pieces are no larger than peas. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and gently toss with a rubber spatula until the flour is just moistened and the ingredients are blended.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently press the dough into a thick rectangle about 6 x 4 inches. Trim the edges with a large sharp knife, then cut the dough into six equal squares.

Place the squares on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them well apart. Bake until they are puffed and golden, 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack & cool slightly or completely.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss the strawberries and sugar. Cover the berries and refrigerate until well chilled, or until ready to use.

To serve, split the shortcakes in half horizontally and place the bottom halves, cut side up, on serving plates. Spoon some of the strawberries, including the juices, over each half and top with a dollop of whipped cream. Top with remaining shortcake halves, cut side down. Serve immediately.

March 15, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I feel like I am cheating by posting this; it was that easy. I mean, it uses ready made cookie mix. No measuring, no opening flour & sugar & baking soda. While I do try to avoid making cakes & cookies from boxes, sometimes, the box works in a pinch & produces great results. And when I saw this recipe last week, I knew that a doctored up mix would taste just as good as any similar from scratch cookie.

I made these for a St. Patrick's Day picnic I am attending on Thursday. Perfectly festive & who doesn't like chocolate + mint? If you need a quick & festive & yummy green treat this week, give these a shot.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
Betty Crocker Recipes

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/2 C butter, softened
1/4 to 1/2 tsp mint extract
6 to 8 drops green food color [I used gel coloring - it's all my local grocery store had - & wished I would have added more, to get the cookies a darker green; I would recommend being liberal with the food coloring]
1 egg
1 C creme de menthe chips [Andes brand]
1 C semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, mix cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg with a hand mixer until soft dough forms. Stir in creme de menthe baking chips and chocolate chips.

Roll into teaspoon sized balls and drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until set. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Serve warm or cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

March 1, 2011

March Link Up!

Welcome, welcome!!

I am excited to be your hostess this month for our challenge!

Are you guys having fun? I am sure am. Although my folder of to-make recipes is growing rather than shrinking as a result! Anyone else?!

The challenge is easy:
1. You know that stack of recipes you have been wanting to try? Pull one out. What? You don't have a stash? Then just find any new recipe.
2. Make it.
3. Blog about it, including if you would make it again.
4. Link up and then see what other people are making this month, too.

When you link up, please use the following format:
Your Name: Elise (Baked Potato Soup)
Your URL:

If you haven't joined in the challenge yet, you can start now. The more the merrier!

Also, there will be a prize for two lucky participants who try a new a recipe this month! I haven't 100% decided on a prize (I am toying with a couple ideas), but it will most likely be kitchen related (this is a cooking challenge after all!). The winners will be selected using & each unique recipe that is linked up will count as a separate entry. To be qualified for the prize, you must post your recipe links by March 31st at 8:00 PST.

On April 1st, I will do a round up of the entries & announce our winners!

Have fun Whipping Up Something New this month!

Lemon Blueberry Crumb Bars.

My husband asked me if I would make a treat that he could take over to a couple families he visits monthly for our church. Since we take goodies to these families frequently, I often use it is a chance to try new recipes, so that we don't have massive amounts of baked goods sitting around our house.

Since I made brownies last month, I decided to do something non-chocolate & lighter this month. This recipe for Lemon Blueberry Crumb Bars I found months ago sounded perfect. Admittedly, they are probably a better spring/summer treat, but living in San Diego, I can almost always get good quality fresh blueberries, and after a very rainy weekend, a splash of springtime sounded just perfect.

These were easy to make, especially using a food processor to combine the dough. I have made bars that have a similar base in the past, but this recipe produced a dough that was much more dry than I had used previously & I tripled checked to make sure that I used all the exact measurements. However, once I started patting the dough into the pan, I quickly realized the dough was the perfect consistency.

These bars were a really good, light treat. And because they were not too sweet, I think they would be perfectly acceptable as breakfast, too. My only complaint was that I didn't really taste the lemon zest, so next time, I think I will add more, because I really love citrus.

Lemon Blueberry Crumb Bars
My Baking Addiction

1 C white granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 C all-purpose flour
1 C unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
zest of two lemons
4 C fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 C white sugar
3 tsp cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, salt, lemon zest and baking powder.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla together until combined.

Use food processor to blend the flour mixture with the butter and egg/vanilla mixture. Dough will be very crumbly.

Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together 1/2 C sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting.

- - - - - - - - - -
Technically, I made these in February (the 28th!), but since Trish already did her round up & I didn't get my post finished until this morning, it's going for March.