Friday, February 24, 2012

Bake Me Happy - Pretzel Bottomed Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Pie

I tend to be a fairly conventional person.

I’m not a “fly by the seat of my pants” kinda gal.

I like the norm.  The status quo.  A schedule even.

I work well with structure and repetition.

That doesn’t translate into boring…I am just prepared.  Isn’t that what we try and teach our children?  To be prepared for life.  Have a plan and stick to it…that kind of thing.

When people say they are looking for “spontaneity” and “excitement” I just don’t get it.

I tried to be that person when I was young, but the truth is…it was never “me”.

I like what I like, I do what I do, and I don’t need anyone coming in all willy-nilly and messing up my order.

Don’t pop over to my place unannounced.  I don’t have a “pop over-able personality”.  I need time to “wrap my mind” around the fact that you are coming over.  Mr. AKM would say I’m anti-social.  I’m not really.  I love to socialize…I just wanna KNOW when I’m expected to do it.  I have conversations to prepare for…and I usually need to wash my hair before I face people…or at least throw on my favorite baseball cap.  Is that too much to ask?

I don’t do spontaneous vacations.  The thought of a get up and go trip gives me anxiety.  Like the fact that I need to go to the doctor to get anxiety meds kind-of anxiety. 

I hate to fly…not because of my fear of heights or fear of crashing but because I can’t just pull the plane over and get out anytime I want.  It’s a “control” thing for me.

I am still a fun person.  At least that’s what I tell myself.  I just like to plan my fun.

So back to predictability…

When it comes to making desserts I make what I like…brownies and chocolate cake.  Nothing wrong with that.  Again, I like what I like.  And if I’m baking it, why shouldn’t it be all about me and my likes? 
My kids tell me its “boring”…predictable even.  GAH!  Can’t they just be grateful that I like to bake at all?  Geesh!

Soooo…I decided that maybe it might be time to step outside of my comfort zone and try something a little less “predictable”.

And then I found these.

And then I made them.

And we all ate them.

And they are not at all boring or predictable!

Go make them and see for yourself!

Pretzel Bottomed Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Pie

by Angi McCarthy of AKM designs & delights
Keywords: peanut butter pretzel pie cookie

Ingredients (1 cookie pie)
    Pretzel Bottom
    • 2 cups crushed pretzels
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    Cookie Pie
    • 1 cup butter, room temp
    • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 1/4 cups white wheat flour (or you can use white)
    • 1 cup milk chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli cuz its the best EVER)
    • 1 (8 oz) bag Reese's minis
    Preheat oven to 350°
    Combine crushed pretzels, 1/2 cup melted butter and 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl. Press mixture firmly into the bottom and up sides of a 10" pie or tart pan.
    Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven.
    While crust is baking make the blondie filling.
    Cream butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar with your mixer.
    Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined and smooth.
    On low speed add in your baking soda, salt and flour until incorporated evenly.
    Stir in your chocolate chips and Reese's Minis until evenly distributed.
    Press mixture on top of baked crust.
    Place pie back in oven for 30-35 minutes.  Remove and cover top with aluminum foil to prevent burning the top and put back into oven for 15 - 20 minutes.
    Let cool COMPLETELY on wire rack before serving.  If you do not let it cool completely, the inside will be mushy.

    Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and come back and tell me how much you LOVED it!
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    **Post inspired by Cookies & Cups.

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    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Chocolate Cupcakes w/Cinnamon Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

    Apparently, I have a bit of a memory in, I forget EVERYTHING!  At least this is what my kids and husband claim.  A pile of clothes is left on the floor and I ask my kids why they weren’t put in the laundry hamper and the answer is “you forgot to tell me to put them there”.  I forgot…not them.  The trash wasn’t taken out on my oldest son’s chore day to do so and it is because I forgot to remind him to do it.  Our dogs ran out of food and my husband did not know this and subsequently did not pick up any while he was at the store (though he feeds them everyday) and I forgot to mention to him that the dogs were out of food.   SeriouslyI’m really starting to worry about myself and “my” forgetfulness.
    Friday, after working all week long, and nearing that “special” time of the month, I decided that I needed chocolate…LOTS of chocolate so I made a batch of rich, dark chocolate cupcakes and thought I’d surprise everyone with a cinnamon chocolate butter cream frosting.  Sound’s divine doesn’t it?  I worked on these decadent treats for over an hour.  I even took the time to pipe on the frosting instead of doing it old-school with a knife. 
    Then the men of my family showed up.
    And the conversation went something like this…
    Oldest “what are those?”
    Youngest “why did you make cupcakes?”
    Me “It’s Friday and I wanted to give everyone a treat”…said with a smile
    Oldest “you said you’d make cheesecake”
    Youngest “I don’t like chocolate”
    Me “since when?” said to the youngest
    Oldest “you promised me cheesecake”
    Youngest “she probably forget” said to the oldest
    Husband “Is it that time of the month?”
    Me – no words…just thoughts “are you freaking kidding me???”  I slave in here for an hour and all you can say is “no cheesecake?”  and did you seriously just ask me if it was that time of the month?... Though it was but I don’t need to admit to that!  I just made freaking cupcakes for crying out loud!!
    Oldest “ugh…you forget EVE.Ree.THING!”
    Then the conversation spiraled downward even further so I casually poured myself a glass of wine, while they all continued to bicker amongst themselves, took the cupcake with the most amount of frosting on it,  walked out of the kitchen, directly into my bathroom and LOCKED.THE.DOOR!

    I then proceeded to enjoy them both in a hot, bubble filled tub while listening to Enya playing in my ears all the while forgetting the men in my life still arguing in the kitchen.  
    And I have to tell you all, that THAT was the best. damn. cupcake. EVER! 
    So here you have it…the NOT cheesecake Chocolate Cupcake with Cinnamon Chocolate Buttercream frosting.
    I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did! 

    Chocolate Cupcakes frosted with Cinnamon Chocolate Buttercream

    by Angi McCarthy
    Keywords: dessert chocolate cinnamon cupcake

    Ingredients (serves 12)
      Chocolate Cake
      • 2 cups sugar
      • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
      • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
      • 2 teaspoons baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 cup buttermilk
      • 1 cup strong black coffee (I used Starbucks Cafe Verona Roast)
      • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
      • 1/4 cup EV Olive oil
      • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
      Cinnamon Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
      • 1 cup unsalted butter softened (but not melted!)
      • 3 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
      • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
      • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      • 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
      Chocolate Cake
      Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside.
      In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa(s), baking soda, baking powder. Mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oils and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes; the batter will be thin. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
      Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
      Frost with any icing you'd like. I topped mine with a Cinnamon Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.
      Cinnamon Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
      Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar, cinnamon and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa mixture are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
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      You may find this post partying in the following places:

      Friday:  Finding Fabulous - Chic on a Shoestring Decorating - Fingerprints on the Fridge - Shabby Nest - WhipperberryMiss Mustard Seed - French Country Cottage - Sweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son), I'm Lovin' it Fridays (TidyMom), Friday Favorites (Simply Sweet Home), Latest & Greatest Friday (Days of Chalk and Chocolate), Bacon Time, Fusion Friday (Jane Deere Blog).

      Monday, February 13, 2012

      DIY Magnet Organizational Board

      Magnet Organization Board
      the place to put all your coupons/reciepts/notes and more...

      I don't know how you keep track of all your coupons, notes, shopping lists, receipts and all the other little odds and ends that seem to get stock piled collected on a day-to-day basis but at our house...all those little "things" kept piling up in stack on my kitchen counter or written on sticky notes and slapped on the fridge or cabinet door or sometimes to Mr. AKMs forehead :) 

      There was no true rhyme or reason to how it was handled.  It was more of a bad habit than anything.  Well, I decided it was high time to put the bad habit to rest!

      I absolutly LOVE how colorful it is...and that EVERYTHING is in one place!  LOVE IT! 

      So here is how it came to be...

      I had the black frame already and had been trying to figure out what I wanted to do with it.  Then my sister mentioned wanting to make a magnet board for her daughter...and I thought "I can do that!"  But I honestly didn't know where I would put one...then my mom purchased the AWESOME Michael Miller fabric from Hypernoodle.  She has the CUTEST fabric like EVER!  If you are into sewing you must go check out the stuff on her website.  You won' be dissappointed.

      Anyway, back to my story...the minute I saw the fabric I knew what I had to I ran to Lowes to get me a sheet of metal.  And then it went something like this...

      AKM Note:  Please wear gloves when cutting the sheet metal as the edges can get pretty sharp...not that the new blood stain on the work bench is mine or anything. 

      Then step back, smile and admire all your handi-work!


      I am excited to finally have a little organization going in my life...and a bright, happy place to put it all!

      What are some of your favorite ways to organize your clutter in the kitchen?

      You may find this post partying in the following places:

      Thursday, February 9, 2012

      Small Changes = Big Impact

      Adding Ledges to the Staircase

      For 3 long years I have looked at this space in my home and hated it.  Like, every time I walked thru the entry way or rounded the corner to head up the stairs I would literally groan to myself at my displeasure in this "space".  At one point I tried putting large frames filled with family photos there thinking that looking at all of our happy smiling faces would make me love this wall more. NOT!  In fact, it made me hate it even more for being so dark and dreary and not allowing me to see our smiling faces without grabbing a flashlight.  Ugh!

      Eventually the frames came down and the wall went bare.  It was a sad, empty space at the bottom of our stairs.  No smiling pictures or art...just a wall of nothingness.


      Eventually I hung some mirrors in an effort to "brighten" the space a bit with some reflective light.

      I felt like it was improving...but it was still lack-luster.  (see how dark it is...UGH)

      Until my mom decided to re-decorate her living room that is...and then I got to have the cast-offs.  WOOHOOO!  Nothing like scoring some FREE decorations!  

      She had these ledges that she bought from Pottery Barn several years ago that she was no longer using.  Ummm...SCORE!    At 3 feet each, these babies proved to the the perfect addition to my sad, empty space. 

      So we Mr. AKM busted out some power tools and a level and went to work.

      After finding only ONE stud to work with in a 3 foot space...WTH?  I thought that there were supposed to be studs every 16"?  HA!  Now that would be fun to have "studs" lined up every 16" wouldn't it?  Mine would go something like this...Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gossling, Patrick Dempsey...Oh, yea, and Mr. AKM too!  Love ya babe!

      Sorry...I got a little sidetracked on the stud we only had the one stud to work with;  therefore, we had to put some anchors in to support the other side of the bracket.  I'd show you photos of this, but I'm a bit embarrassed to show you the major holes mistakes that we made trying to accomplish this.  Suffice to say, these babies are NOT coming down anytime in the next fact, if we move, these just might need to stay behind.  I'm just sayin'.

      In the was so worth the swiss cheese effect that our wall now sports...

      And this is what I see when I walk down my stairs now...

      Its the small things in life that make my heart go pitter patter.  And because Valentines Day is just around the corner, I traded out my photo mats and replaced them with red ones...I heart them :)

      So what do you think of the space now? 
      Do you have any projects that you completed for absoluty FREE from someone elses cast offs?  I'd love to hear/see them!

      You may find this post partying in the following places:

      I'm Lovin' it Fridays (TidyMom), Friday Favorites (Simply Sweet Home), Latest & Greatest Friday (Days of Chalk and Chocolate), Bacon Time, Fusion Friday (Jane Deere Blog). 

      Tuesday, February 7, 2012

      I've been featured - Cheap Crafty Mama

      I am so excited!  My Thin Mint Cookie Truffles have been featured!  YEA ME! 

      Go check it out at Cheap Crafty Mama's !  Her blog is pretty darn awesome!

      Bake Me Happy - Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies

      It seems that lately the only thing on my mind is desserts. 

      What kind can I make and when am I gonna eat them. 

      That's it. 

      Everything else seems to get lost in my thoughts of chocolate, cakes, brownies, truffles and the occasional cupcake. 

      Like was Super Bowl Sunday and everyone around me was getting all caught up in the Pre-Game shows and the chips, dips, wings and big bowls of chili. 

      I, on the other hand, was lost some where in a swirl of peanut butter and chocolate.  I dug through my kitchen frantically looking for some Reese's peanut butter cups to satiate my craving. 

      But found none.  UGH! 

      When out of the corner of my eye, I spotted my jar of Peter Pan Honey Roasted Peanut Butter.  Have you had this stuff?  I seriously love it.  Like floating red hearts in the sky kinda love.  It is totally swoon worthy! 

      I figured I would just dunk a chocolate bar in the jar of peanut butter and shovel it in my face.  You know, old school style.  Pre-Reese's Peanut Butter cup style.  I admit it, I've been known to do this on occasion.   

      Its cool, I'm not embarrassed about it.
      One problem, NO CHOCOLATE BARS!  What tha?  I started to jump in my truck and drive off to the nearest grocery store and buy a pound of them when it hits me...

      BROWNIES!  Oh yea bay-bee!  My fail safe dessert.  They never fail to deliver all my hearts sweetest desires of rich dark, gooey chocolate.  They are faithful like that and I love them for it.

      So I busted out my tried and true recipe.  I've talked about this here in case you missed it :)  And mixed it all up and dumped it into my brownie pan.

      I seriously saw the jar of peanut butter give me the "come hither" look while curling its finger at me gesturing for me to come and get it.  It begged me to put it into my brownie batter.  How could I deny it this wish?

      And so I did!  And then I ate them...and felt good about it.  So good, I even shared a few...and they felt good about them too :)

      Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies

      by AKM designs and delights adapted from King Arthur Flour
      Keywords: peanut butter chocolate brownie

      Ingredients (12 large brownies)
      • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
      • 2 1/4 c. sugar
      • 4 large eggs
      • 1 1/4 c. Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa
      • 1 tsp salt
      • 1 tsp baking powder
      • 1 tsp espresso powder - I use Starbucks Via
      • 1 TB vanilla extract
      • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
      • 2 c. Ghirardelli dark chocolate chocolate chips
      • 1/4 c. Peter Pan Honey Roasted Peanut Butter (or any other kind you may have)
      Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan

      In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Or simply combine the butter and sugar, and heat, stirring, until the butter is melted. Continue to heat (or microwave) briefly, just until the mixture is hot (about 110°F to 120°F), but not bubbling; it'll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the mixture to this point will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.

      While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla till smooth.

      Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

      Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather than melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.

      Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan.

      Melt Peanut Butter in a microwave safe bowl for approximately 30 seconds. You want in to be the consistency of syrup.

      Drizzle thick lines over brownie batter and pull through with a knife to "infuse" into batter.

      Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving.

      Enjoy with an ice cold glass of moo-juice (milk)!
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      So where has your head been lately?  Are you dreaming up new decorating ideas or ways to decorate your your dessert ideas?

      You may find this post partying in the following places:

      I'm Lovin' it Fridays (TidyMom), Friday Favorites (Simply Sweet Home), Latest & Greatest Friday (Days of Chalk and Chocolate), Bacon Time, Fusion Friday (Jane Deere Blog). 

      Friday, February 3, 2012

      Bake Me Happy...Red Velvet White Chocolate Cheesecake (for two)

      I’m just going to say it…I’ve never been a huge fan of Red Velvet Cake.

      There, I said it.  It’s out there and now I can’t take it back.

      Whew!  It feels so much better to just let it out.

      I’ve been feeling weird or like something is off with me with all the Red Velvet recipes blowing up the Internet on blogs and Pinterest and me NOT wanting to take part in the hoop-la.  I mean EVERYONE seems to LOVE this Red Velvet craze.

      Except me.

      Then, I came across this recipe at Angie's Sweet Natured Things for Red Velvet White Chocolate Cheesecakes for two.  Ummm…I totally love cheesecake…AND white chocolate.  And these are just so stinking cute.  How could I NOT want to make them???  I showed the recipe to Mr. AKM all excited to make it for the two of us to have after a romantic dinner for TWO.  I’m thinking candle light…a bottle of wine…me an my man dining al fresco on our patio surrounded by twinkle lights…maybe some Chris Issak or David Gray playing in the background the smell of fresh roses in the air (hint, hint babe)…are you with me here ladies?

      Like I said, I showed him the recipe thinking he’d be all like “Yea babe, that’s awesome…everything you make tastes like heaven in my mouth”.  That would be the appropriate thing to say in my opinion.

      That’s not how it happened.

      Instead he says (and I quote) “sure, make it but I HATE Red Velvet…it tastes like CRAP!”  Whah?  My entire romantic setting just flew off the table and smashed on the floor.

      Hate is a pretty strong word here peeps.  I mean, I don’t love it, but hate????  WOW!

      And in that instant I knew…I had to make it my personal mission to “change” him.  I had to…no I needed to prove him wrong!   Sure that’s not the mature thing to do but after 14 ½ years of marriage I feel that I’m entitled to proving him wrong occasionally.

      And guess what???

      I DID!  In fact, I even got my little cheesecake "hating" son to fall in love with this minature piece of Red Velvet and White Chocolate Heaven on earth!

      I'm just THAT awesome!

      I won't lie...making this was a bit time consuming. I was fooled into thinking that making 2 "small" cheesecakes would equal less time in kitchen...not that case.

      But so completely worth the effort. 

      Red Velvet White Chocolate Cheesecake - For 2

      by Angi McCarthy at AKM designs and delights
      Keywords: White Chocolate Cream Cheese Red Velvet cake

      Ingredients (2 - 4/12" Cheesecakes)
        White Chocolate Cheesecake Layer
        • 1 ounce white chocolate
        • 1 ounce heavy cream
        • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
        • 2 tablespoons sugar
        • 1 egg
        • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
        • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
        Red Velvet Cake
        • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
        • 1/4 cup sugar
        • 1 egg white
        • 1 teaspoon red food coloring
        • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
        • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
        • 1/8 teaspoon salt
        White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
        • 1 ounce white chocolate
        • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
        • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
        • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
        • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
        • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
        • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
        • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
        • 2 tablespoons sour cream
        • 1/8 teaspoon white vinegar
        White Chocolate Cheesecake Layer
        Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Butter two wells of a small cheesecake pan. (I recommend this one).
        Melt white chocolate with heavy cream either in a double boiler or in the microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.
        Beat together cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Add egg, lemon juice, and vanilla, mixing on medium-low speed until well blended. Finally, add melted white chocolate and mix on low until incorporated.
        Divide batter between the two cheesecake wells. Bake until set, approximately 15 minutes.
        Allow cheesecake to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least two hours
        Red Velvet Cake
        Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two wells of a mini cheesecake pan.
        Cream together butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy. Add egg white and continue beating until thoroughly combined.
        With mixer off, add food coloring and cocoa powder. Mix on low until incorporated, then beat on medium-high for two minutes.
        Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix together vanilla extract and buttermilk. Alternate adding half of dry ingredients with half of buttermilk/vanilla mixture to the butter mixture, beating on medium until combined after each addition. Mix in sour cream and vinegar on low speed until combined.
        Divide batter between the two prepared wells. Bake until cakes test done with a toothpick, 20-25 minutes. Allow cakes to cool for about five minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to complete cooling.
        White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
        Melt white chocolate together with heavy cream in either a double boiler or in the microwave in 15 second increments. Set aside to cool.
        Beat together cream cheese and butter until thoroughly combined. Beat in melted white chocolate. Add powdered sugar in batches, beating with each addition. If a stiffer frosting is desired, add additional powdered sugar.
        white chocolate shavings
        powdered red food coloring (optional)
        cocoa powder (optional)
        If necessary, level mini-red velvet cakes, then cut each cake into two halves using a serrated knife.
        Place one chilled cheesecake layer between two layers of cake.
        Cover each cake with a thin crumb coat of frosting to lock in any loose crumbs, then chill for at least 30 minutes. Apply a final coat of frosting and garnish with white chocolate shavings. If desired, sprinkle with powdered red food coloring or cocoa powder.
        Refrigerate until ready to serve.
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        In the spirit of love, go forth and make this cheesecake for someone you love.  You will be glad you did!


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