TWD: Creme Brulee

The host for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie challenge is Mari from Mevrouw Cupcake and she couldn't have picked a better dessert. Check out her blog for the recipe. This was the first TWD challenge that I have been really excited about. I have been wanting to take a shot at Hibiscus Creme Brulee ever since my honeymoon. The day after we were married, Jeff and I had dinner at The Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island.

It is probably my favorite meal we have had together. For dessert, I had a delicious Hibiscus Creme Brulee. I haven't been able to find a recipe for it...so I decided to use this TWD challenge to create my own! I've noticed how my dog Marley loves to eat the flowers on our hibiscus plant. In fact, we have to keep it on a table so she can't get her fat butt up to the delectable flowers and bite them off.

Dorie suggested infusing a flavor when the milk was warm. So, I tossed in a few of the hibiscus petals to see if that would add flavor. Unfortunately, I couldn't even tell. More research is needed. If anyone has any ideas, let me know!

Still, this is a great creme brulee recipe. What is even better is that I have six of them waiting in the fridge...and only two of us in the house. My odds are pretty good of going into Creme Brulee Overload.


Grandma Bernie's Rustic Apple Bars

Growing up, one of my favorite things my grandma would bake is apple bars. This is the second time I have attempted to bake them...and was once again unsuccessful. I don't know how she does it. The dough is my big problem. Now that I think about it, I've never actually watched her make these. They were always just around when I visited. I am beginning to think she got them from the bakery.

Don't get me wrong, the bars you see above taste just like hers. I had major problems with the dough. I actually ended up almost doubling the crust recipe below. Also, it didn't roll out well and was nearly impossible to get in one piece on top of the pan.

Grandma Bernie's apple bars are not rustic. The top crust is smooth, neat and perfect. Mine, however, was all ripped up. I prefer to call it rustic.

Apple Bars
Recipe from my Grandma Bernie

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
milk as needed
1 egg yolk beaten

1. Sift together flour and salt.

2. Cut in shortening until crumbly.

3. Add enough milk to egg yolk to make 1/2 cup. At this point, if you need to run to the store to get milk, go ahead. Not that I would know. The Vanilla Bean kitchen is always stocked with the essentials.

4. Add milk/egg to flour mixture blending until moistened. Divide dough almost in half making one section a bit larger than the other. Roll out larger portion and cover bottom and sides of pan of l-inch jelly roll pan with dough.

1 cup of crushed cornflakes
8 large apples pared and sliced
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg white, beaten

1. Sprinkle crust with cornflake crumbs. Arrange apple slices over top.

2. Combine sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over apples.

3. Roll out remaining dough and fit over top of apples. Or patch together pieces like I did, for a more rustic look.

4. Moisten edges of dough with water. Seal. Brush with stiffly beaten egg whites.

5. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown.

Mix together
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Spread over bars while bars are still warm. Serve warm with ice cream or a cold glass of milk. These are great at room temperature, too.

Thanks for the recipe, Grandma!


Daring Bakers: Lavash Crackers and Hot Crab Dip

Well, this was my first official Daring Baker's Challenge. And, I am already breaking the rules. That's how I roll.

I joined this baking group after looking at the past recipes they have made. From eclairs to a Hazelnut Gateau, I knew this group would get me baking things I would never otherwise bake.

The month of September featured Lavash Crackers and a homemade dip and is hosted by Natalie from Gluten a Go-Go and Shel from Musings from the Fishbowl. I printed off the cracker recipe as soon as the challenge was announced...almost a month ago. Of course, I put off baking until the final day. Honestly, I am lucky I even got it done, what with the marathon of "Dirty Sexy Money" on today.

What I neglected to notice when I first read the challenge is that the dip was supposed to be vegan. I knew Jeff wouldn't eat the Artichoke and Goat Cheese Spread or White-Bean Hummus Dip I wanted to make. Both of which would have fallen in the meatless category. I had to go with the Hot Crab Dip. I'm living on the edge.

Lavash Crackers
Peter Reinhart's: The Bread Baker's Apprentice

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers (actually, I got two sheets)

1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings (I put a combo of sesame seeds, kosher salt, rosemary, and paprika)

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed. I actually used a little bit more.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bread-Dough-Has-Been-Mixed-Long-Enough for a description of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap


2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.


4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Hot Crab Dip
Paula Deen

Actually, I'm not going to type all of this out. Jeff has been working overtime lately and had to work all day. So, instead of blogging all night, I am going to spend some time with my sweetie. You can find the hot crab dip recipe here.


Little Pillows of Goodness OR Homemade Ravioli

I love it when a last minute meal turns out to be so tasty. Last night I was rooting for take-out. Jeff, however wanted to try out our new toy.

New toy

Last Christmas, Santa brought me this, a pasta machine. Homemade pasta is so much better than boxed pasta and it really isn't all that time consuming to make. I try to make a double or triple batch and freeze some, cutting down even more on prep time.

We started with a basic pasta recipe and added some dried basil from our herb garden to the dough. Unfortunately, I do not have photos of each step. Jeff has a low tolerance for my incessant need to take photos every two minutes. Combined with the fact that I have become a bit anal about my food photos and the lighting just wasn't right. I told him I have a certain level of quality here at Vanilla Bean and I didn't think a picture of him holding a sheet of pasta in the bathroom would cut it. (Evidently the light was better in there, he said).

Homemade Pasta
from The Little Guides: Pasta

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 beaten eggs
1/3 cup water
1 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour for sprinkling
1/3 cup finely chopped dried basil (optional)

1) Place flour, salt, basil and beaten eggs into a food processor. Cover and process with a pulsing action until the mixture is the consistency of fine crumbs. This happens very quickly, so be careful not to over process.

2) Put water and oil in a measuring cup. With the processor running, slowly pour in the liquid in. The flour mixture will begin to form a cohesive mass.

3) Continue processing the mixture until the dough forms a ball. Stop once or twice to scrape down the sides of the work bowl so all ingredients are incorporated. Remove from the work bowl, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

4) Have a glass of wine while the dough rests.

5) Sprinkle kneading surface with the 1/3 cup flour. Turn dough out onto the surface and knead dough until soft and elastic (8-10 minutes).

6) Divide dough into quarters. Press each piece flat and slowly feed each one through the pasta rollers. Pass the dough through the machine several times, each time on a narrower setting. With each pass, fold and give the dough a quarter turn. Or, just roll it out onto a floured surface into a 12 inch square about 1/16 inch thick. In either case, let the sheets rest for 20 minutes.

The filling is just something we threw together and didn't follow an exact recipe. Make it according to taste and omit the herbs if you like.

Ricotta Filling
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
salt and pepper
2 tsps of dried oregano
2 tsps of dried basil

Making the Little Pillows of Goodness

Little Pillows of Goodness

Place one sheet on top of the metal ravioli rack. Press the tray on top of the dough to form the wells for the filling. Put about 1 tsp. of the ricotta mixture in each well. Brush another sheet of dough with water and lay on top of the filled wells. With a rolling pin, firmly roll the top of the ravioli rack. The zigzags on the rack will help seal and cut the ravioli. Tap out the ravioli on the counter. You should have the Little Pillows of Goodness you see above.

The sauce is from my freezer. You might not have any in yours. Go check. If not, here is how I made it:

Classic Tomato Sauce

45 oz. canned whole Italian-style tomatoes, with juice
2 tbls. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic (or more if you like it. we added even more when we reheated this)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic, salt, sugar, and pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or to desired consistency. If you want a smooth sauce, transfer it to a blender or food processor and blend. Return to Dutch oven and stir in the basil. Heck, go crazy and toss in some dried oregano and parsley while you're at it.

Now, after all of this you are finally ready for the finished product. You might need your sunglasses for this photo...it's pretty bright. No, it was not taken in the bathroom. I went a little overboard in post-production.



TWD: Dimply Peach Cake

Maybe my peaches weren't ripe enough. Or, maybe it was the word "dimply" in the title and the fear that eating this cake would bring more dimples to my thighs. Whatever the reason, this week's Tuesdays with Dorie was not a big hit. It sat for two days, virtually untouched by anyone at my house and in the office. Only one piece was missing...and that was the one I had.

Nonetheless, I would like to thank Michelle of Bake-En for hosting this week's TWD. I chose to go with peaches because the grocery store didn't have any fresh cherries and Jeff doesn't like plums (the actual name of this is Dimply Plum Cake). I also added lemon zest to the brown sugar-based batter.

To see more successful attempts at this, visit the TWD blogroll. Check back next week when we make Creme Brulee.


Grape and Rosemary Focaccia

This recipe goes way back in my Italian roots. I know what you are thinking. There aren't alot of blonde hair, blue eyed Italians running around out there. But, I can say it for two reasons. One, I've always wished the generations before me would have made something as delicious as this. And not focused so much on lutefisk and lefse. Second reason (and most important): my mom hasn't figured out how to leave a comment on my blog yet, so I can get away with talking about my Italian roots.

Technically, this recipe did come from my mother. In the form of a magazine subscription to Better Homes and Gardens. This was in the October 2008 issue. I was excited to use some of the rosemary I had in my herb garden and I've been wanting to make focaccia for awhile now. And, this recipe called for refrigerated dough. Which gave me more time to drink my wine. Italians love wine.

Grape and Rosemary Focaccia

1 lb. refrigerated pizza dough
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. course salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil, crushed
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
1 tbsp. snipped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp. grated Romano cheese

1. Let pizza dough stand at room temperature for 15 min. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 12x8-inch rectangle. If dough begins to pull back while rolling, let it rest for 5 min. Transfer dough to lightly oiled baking sheet and prick with fork. Cover and let rise in warm place for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush dough with 1 tbsp. of olive oil and sprinkle on the salt and basil. Arrange the grapes on the dough; sprinkle rosemary and cheese. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Drizzle with remaining oil, cut into strips and serve!

Technically, this is Crispy Grape and Rosemary Focaccia. I pulled it out at 19 min. and discovered that was already too long. I blame it on the wine.


Mac & Cheese

I don't know what it is about rainy days, but it just makes me crave comfort food. So, after St. Louis got pummeled from the remnants of Hurricane Ike, I knew exactly what we needed. Mac & Cheese. Once again, I turned to my new cookbook Everyday Food: Great Food Fast.

The recipe calls for a combo of yellow Cheddar and white Cheddar cheese. But, like Emeril, I decided to kick it up a notch and used Hot Habanero Cheddar Cheese and Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese by Cabot. The habanero cheese features habanero and jalapeƱo peppers...and it is hot! Because of this, I left out the cayenne pepper the recipe called for. If you like, use just one type of Cheddar and mix with another melting cheese, such as pepper Jack, Muenster, Swiss or mozzarella.

Mac & Cheese
Serves 8

1 pound elbow pasta
4 tbls. butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups milk
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded yellow Cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded white Cheddar cheese
Course salt and fresh ground pepper
2 slices white bread

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions; drain and reserve. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-5 minutes. Whisk in the flour to coat the onion. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk until there are no lumps.

2. Cook, whisking often, until the mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon. 6-8 minutes. Stir in the cayenne, if using, and 1 cup each of the yellow and white Cheddar cheese. Season with 1 tsp. of salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

3. Toss the pasta with the cheese mixture. Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish. Set aside.

4. In a food processor, pulse the bread until large crumbs form. Toss together with the remaining 1/4 cup each cheese, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Top the pasta with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until the top is golden, about 30 minutes.


Flank Steak with Lime Marinade and Crisp Goat Cheese Salad

My mom recently sent me Everyday Food: Great Food Fast. I already get the Everyday Food magazine each month, which is usually packed w/ "must make" recipes, so I was excited to get this book. Not only are the recipes quick and easy, each one is accompanied by a photo. I always like to see a pic of the finished product.

We were drawn to these two recipes because it was a new way for us to cook flank steak and I liked that the salad also had potatoes in it. Since I would be slaving away at making and broiling those little goat cheese rounds, I didn't want to have to mess with making something else to go along with the steak. This was perfect!

Do you know what else is perfect? Those little goat cheese rounds. The recipe only calls for 2 per salad. But, once you polish those off, you are left wanting more. You'll know better next time.

Flank Steak with Lime Marinade
Everyday Food, Great Food Fast

Serves 4

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (we used 3 limes)
2 tbls. soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced (we used red onion instead)
2 tbls. minced peeled fresh ginger (we used a couple pinches of ground ginger)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
Vegetable oil
Course salt and pepper

1) In a resealable plastic bag, combine the lime juice, soy sauce, scallions, ginger and red pepper. Add the steak and seal the bag; marinate the steak in the regrigerator, turning occasionally, for 30 min.

2) Heat the grill to high; lightly oil the grates. Remove the steak from the marinade, letting excess drip off (discard remaining marinade); season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill; cover. Cook, turning once, until the meat has reached the desired doneness, 6-8 minutes for medium-rare. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes before slicing thin.

Crisp Goat-Cheese Salad
Serves 4

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
3 large red potatoes
1 large egg
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 log fresh goat cheese (12 ounces)
1 tbls. white-wine vinegar
1 tbls. grainy or Dijon mustard
8 ounces mesclun or mixed salad greens

1. Heat the broiler. Brush a baking sheet with oil; set aside. Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer just until fork-tender, 20-25 minutes. Rinse the potatoes under cold water until cool enough to handle, and cut into 1-inch chunks.

2. In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place the breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl. Slice the goat cheese into 8 rounds (see note below), and pat each into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Dip the disks in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs, coating evenly. Place on the prepared baking sheet.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper> Slowly add 1/4 cup of the oil, whisking to emulsify. Set aside.

4. Brush the disks lightly with the remaining 1/4 cup oil, and broil until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.

5. Toss the greens and potatoes in the dressing. Divide the salad among 4 plates and top each with 2 goat cheese disks.

*To make slicing the goat cheese easier, place the log in the freezer for several minutes first.



Taco Soup

I'm not a busy mom. But, if I was, I would use a crockpot every day. Why? Because you can set it and forget it. Or am I getting a crockpot confused with something from Ron Popeil? Nonetheless, I love coming home and having a meal ready and waiting for me. And, one of the recipes I would make is Taco Soup.

One thing I neglected to notice about this is that it makes 16 cups. That's alot of soup. My crockpot was filled to the top. I froze some, but have yet to see how well it will reheat. Next time I would definitely only make half the recipe.

Also, while the book boasts "Kids Love It!", there is one can of beer in it, which you can definitely taste. I doubt your little one will be slurring his words after a bowl of this, but you could always omit it or use non-alcoholic beer. But, what fun is that?

Taco Soup
Southern Living Slow-Cooker Cookbook
makes 16 cups

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup chopped red onion
1 package of taco seasoning
1 envelope of Ranch-style dressing mix
2 cans of whole kernal corn, undrained
1 can of pinto beans, undrained
1 can of black beans, undrained
2 cans of chili-style diced tomatoes with green chilis (I used Rotel)
1 can of light beer
1 1/2 cups of water
Toppings: cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, cilantro

1. Cook beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink.

2. Combine meat mixture and all other ingredients (except toppings) in a 5 1/2 quart slow cooker.

3. Cover and cook on LOW 5 to 6 hours. Serve with desired toppings.

Spaghetti with Pinot Grigio and Seafood

One of the reasons I wanted to start a blog, besides loving to cook, is to improve my photography skills. As I have quickly learned, it isn't easy!I blame it on the fact that I live in a dungeon with no natural light. So, while I experiment with different techniques, you might be forced to look at images that are unpleasant to the human eye. In those instances, just quickly move on to the recipe...

Spaghetti with Pinot Grigio and Seafood
adapted from Everyday Pasta by Giada De Laurentiis

1 pound of spaghetti (I used whole wheat noodles)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 1/2 cups Pinot Grigio
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
10 bay scallops
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
fresh basil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, until tender but not brown. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and cook for another minute. Add the wine, shrimp and scallops and bring the liquid to a boil. Toss in some fresh whole basil leaves. Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer until the shrimp are pink and scallops are firm.

Add the spaghetti to the skillet with the seafood mixture. Add the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Sprinkle with fresh basil and grated Parmesan and serve immediately. There is plenty of extra sauce with this, so have some bread on hand!


Malted Milk Ball Cupcakes

Besides having a recipe clipping addiction, I also love cookbooks. I have actually been hiding some at work just so my husband doesn't know how many I have bought lately. (I am also hoping he won't read this post.)

My father-in-law retired in June and for a late retirement "celebration" I made him these cupcakes. The recipe is from one of my new cupcake cookbooks, A Baker's Field Guide to Cupcakes by Dede Wilson. I baked, frosted and served the cupcakes all in the same day, for ultimate freshness. These have a great malted milk flavoring. The one thing I didn't like is the frosting. I've come to realize I am not a fan of confectioners' sugar frosting. So, next time, I will use a different frosting.

Malted Milk Ball Cupcakes
from A Baker's Field Guide to Cupcakes
makes 14 malted cupcakes

2 tbls. malt powder
1 cup malted mild balls, such as Whoppers, finely chopped
1 batch Yellow Cupcake batter (recipe below)
1/2 batch Classic Confectioners' Sugar Frosting (recipe below)
14 whole malted milk balls

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in cupcake tin.
2. Place malted milk balls in food processor and blend until finely chopped.

2. Thoroughly stir malt powder and 1/2 cup of malted milk balls into cupcake batter. Divide batter evenly among liners. Bake for about 18 min. or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs. Cool pans on racks for 5 min., then remove cupcakes to cooling racks to cool completely.

3. Beat remaining chopped malted milk balls into frosting. Frost cupcakes using an icing spatula or spoon. Top each cupcake with a single whole malted milk ball. Cupcakes are now ready to serve!

Yellow Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk at room temperature

1. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl to aerate and combine. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 min. Add sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 min, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition, allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Add the flour mixture in 4 additions, alternating with the milk. Begin and end with the flour mixture, and beat briefly until smooth on low-medium speed after each addition.

3. Continue with Step 3 in the above recipe.

Classic Confectioners' Sugar Frosting

1/4 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
4 cups confectioners' sugar; plus an additional 1/2 cup if necessary, whisk before measuring
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 min. Add 1 cup confectioners' sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 min., scraping down the bowl once or twice. Add 1 more cup of sugar and about half of the milk and beat until smooth and creamy. Add 1 more cup of sugar and remaining milk, and beat well, scraping down sides of the bowl. Add remaining 1 cup of sugar and vanilla extract and beat on high speed until very light and creamy, about 5 min. Assess texture. If it is too soft, add a portion or all of the remaining 1/2 cup sugar.

2. At this point you can continue beating the frosting, if you like, which will make it lighter, creamier, and a little airier. You want it as smooth as possible.

3. Beat remaining chopped malted milk balls into frosting. Frost cupcakes using an icing spatula or spoon. Top each cupcake with a single whole malted milk ball. Cupcakes are now ready to serve!

Jumbo Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

Whew. I am tired just typing the name of these cookies. This was my first official Tuesdays with Dorie post. I would like to give Stefany from Proceed With Caution a big round of applause for picking this recipe. These cookies have a bit of everything in them. The cookie dough is delicious. The baked cookie is gooey and moist. The only downside, and it was a fault of my own, is that I ran out of milk halfway through my first cookie. BIG mistake. These are perfect with a tall glass of milk. Or, in my case, a shot of milk.

According to the TWD rules, we are not supposed to post any recipes. That way, we encourage people to buy the book, Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I encourage you to check out the website and look at the other baker's blogs. Also, you can find the recipe on Stefany's website, if you must. And, I think you should.

I basically followed the directions for these. I used chunky peanut butter and halved the recipe. I also chilled the dough for about 24 hours. I've read that for some people, this didn't work well. However, mine turned out great. I also made my cookies a bit larger, hence the Jumbo added to the title. That left me with about 12 big cookies. Perfect for ice cream sammiches, which I plan on making right now!


Jalapeno Poppers (Squared)

I recently came across The Pioneer Woman's recipe for Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies. I had just purchased a bunch of super cute jalapenos from a nice Amish woman at the Farmer's Market, so I knew this would be a good use for them. Also, they follow the Bacon Wrapped Food Theme I seem to be on. I'm thinking of buying my own pig.

First cut your super cute jalapenos and scoop out the insides. If you are not able to find super cute ones, just regular ones will work. Just make sure they aren't too big.
Stuff each jalapeno with cream cheese and wrap with a half piece of bacon. Secure with a toothpick. Place on a pan with a rack to catch drippings.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 min. or until they are golden brown.

Your first instinct is going to pop one of these little buggers into your mouth. BUT WAIT! Remove the toothpick first. Now, pop away! I don't need a lawsuit on my hands.

Shortly after I made these, I needed a crockpot appetizer recipe for a potluck at work. My search led me to Stephanie at "A Year of Crockpotting" and her Crockpot Jalapeno Poppers. Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of these. I can say though, they were awesome. I already have a request to bring them in again next month for a co-worker's birthday. Also, this recipe mixed sour cream, Parmesan, and bacon bits into the cream cheese, which I prefer to just the plain cream cheese. Next time I make the baked version, I will add sour cream and Parmesan to the mix.