Category Archives: Baking

Accepting Fall & A Giveaway Winner

First up, the winner of my Oloves Giveaway thanks to Random.org is commenter #2: Lauren G.! Send me an e-mail with your shipping information and the olives will be on their way!

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My favorite season is summer, and I have no problem admitting that each year as fall creeps up, I get a little sad. Sure, fall means apple picking, cider, cooler (but not cold) weather, pretty foliage, etc., but it means we’re that much closer to winter, which I dread. It probably doesn’t help that I’m not into the whole pumpkin obsession either (except for pumpkin beers) since I don’t really love the flavor. Despite my love affair with summer, I don’t loathe fall – I appreciate all the things that come with it, especially when it comes to food and fashion.

Even though peach season is almost over, it’s perfect weather for apples here in New Jersey. So my fresh box the last few weeks has included peaches and apples, resulting in an overflowing crisper drawer full of the two fruits. My sister is a baking fiend, and any time she’s home, she’s in the kitchen just throwing together desserts on a whim. While she was still home during the summer she made a phenomenal peach and blueberry crumble, so I decided to try an recreate it with peaches and apples.

I love cooking, but baking still intimidates me. Some people (like my sister) just have a knack for baking and can throw things together easily; that definitely isn’t how I roll. I’m extremely comfortable in the kitchen cooking savory dishes, but for whatever reason, baking requires a different level of confidence I just don’t have, so I rely heavily on recipes when it comes to baking. But this past Sunday, I went a bit out of my comfort zone and threw together this simple peach and apple crumble, that is perfect for breakfast, a snack, or dessert!

Peach & Apple Crumble | FoodosaurusRex.com

Peach & Apple Crumble
– serves 4 – 

Ingredients:
2 apples, seeds removed and sliced (I used Gala, but you can use your favorite type)
2 peaches, pitted and sliced (I used white peaches, but same applies here – any kind will work)
2 Tbsp butter, cut into little pats (8 squares)
2 tsp flour
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
For Crumble:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp butter, cut into little pats

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the apple and peach slices, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and pats of butter.
3. Spray a a cake pan with cooking spray, and add in the fruit mixture. 
4. In the same bowl you had the fruit, add the remaining flour, sugar, butter, and oats. Use a fork to mix everything together, slightly mashing the butter in the process. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the fruit. 
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown.

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Filed under Baking, Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Sweet Success

I’ve tried my hand at cake balls and cake pops a few times before, and I’ve never been completely satisfied with the result. For whatever reason, no matter what I do (aka follow the recipe exactly), I can’t seem to get the cake balls to stay intact long enough to coat them in melted chocolate or candy melts. After giving up on the cake ball phenomenon, I decided to give truffles a try. I started with the basic chocolate truffle, and graduated to the (barely more complicated) Oreo truffle. After feeling confident enough in those attempts, I decided to try something new.

The biggest problem I’ve had with the cake mix and frosting mixture, as I’ve said, is that it just doesn’t stick together. The frosting is sticky, but it just isn’t sticky enough. I’ve only had success when ingredients like cream cheese or peanut butter are involved. So, after thinking long and hard about what I could use as a bonding agent, I realized there was a simple solution: sweetened condensed milk! Not only would it add an extra sweetness, but it’s sticky enough to hold everything together without being over the top sticky, like some syrups. Enter the cake truffle!

On Wednesday at work, my (new) department decided to celebrate Festivus. This meant a White Elephant, an ordered lunch, and of course, treats! Since I’m known as the resident baker and food provider in the office, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to try my truffle idea. You only need four ingredients, and everything comes together quickly. Sure, you have to spend some time waiting for the cake to harden so it can be shaped into balls and coated in chocolate, but I don’t mind the down time… it lets you do other things!

These are a perfect last minute dessert to take to a Holiday party, or something just to enjoy for yourself! These were such a success, I’m thinking I may have to make a few more batches to share before the year is up.

Truffles-001

Vanilla Cake Truffles
– makes 30-40 truffles, depending on the size –

Ingredients:
2 cups of vanilla cake mix (I used French Vanilla)
½ cup + 1 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
8 oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Combine the cake mix, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract in a medium-sized bowl. Make sure everything is well combined; the mixture should easily stick together. 
2. Refrigerate the mixture for 15 minutes. 
3. Using the chilled dough, shape them into balls, placing them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. My truffles measured out to be about 1.5 teaspoons each. Of course you can make them smaller or bigger – it’s up to you!
4. Freeze the dough balls for another 15 minutes. 
5. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in a glass bowl. Your time may vary (I like to do 1 minute, stir, and then do another minute). 
6. Using two spoons, drop each dough ball into the melted chocolate, being sure to coat every side, scraping it along the edge as you finish. Lay them back on the baking sheet with parchment paper. Freeze for at least 15 minutes, and then refrigerate to keep intact until you’re ready to eat them! 

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Running and Cupcakes

On both of my runs this past weekend, I couldn’t help but think about my pace and how that should translate to race day. I usually find myself sneaking a peak at my watch and being concerned with not going fast enough. When it comes to marathon training, though, I need to have a different outlook on my training runs than I did when I was training for my last half marathon… slow and steady.

Most of the training plans I’ve come across suggest running your long runs about a minute or so slower per mile than your goal marathon pace. So far, this has been a big struggle for me. I finished my first marathon in November in 4:37, which was about a 10:30 pace. Since then, I think I can very easily run a 9:30 pace, bringing me to just over 4 hours. My husband, on the other hand, thinks I can easily run a sub 4-hour marathon considering my easy 1:47 half in April, which of course would be fantastic. Either way, that means I should be running my long runs at about a 9:30 to 10:30 per mile pace, depending on what I ultimately decide my race day goal to be. Well, I ran 10 miles last weekend with an average 8:20 pace, and today’s 8 as slow as I possibly could in 8:50. I realize that once I get to the higher mileage long runs I’ll slow down, but I’m wondering if I need to readjust my goals, or somehow figure out how to run slower. I suppose I’ll have to experiment over the next few weeks.

Even though most of my weekend revolved around running, I did make time for cupcakes and a BBQ. Some friends were celebrating their engagement with a relaxed backyard party, so I knew I had to bring cupcakes. I’ve become known for bringing cupcakes to parties, and when I show up with anything else everyone seems to be disappointed. Thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest, I found a recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with a Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Frosting from Gimme Some Oven. They were a hit, and I had plenty of leftover frosting that is currently taunting me from the fridge. I’m thinking of turning into truffles (just shaping it into little balls and coating it in chocolate), but that’s if I can keep my spoon away.

Pinterest has really become a source for my meals and workouts in the past few weeks, and I’m really loving what I’ve found so far. It is a little dangerous at times (links to adorable clothes, and a serious time-waster), but I like to think the helpful things I’ve found outweigh the negatives of spending so much time on one website. I mean, I did find those cupcakes. Now if only I could find an answer to my marathon pace dilemma.

What did you do this weekend?
Any suggestions or words of advice for my marathon training pace dilemma? 

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Filed under Baking, Cupcakes, Running

Super Pie

Happy Pi day!

Every year, I celebrate the one thing about math I don’t completely loathe – piE. I remember growing up and struggling with math, crying to my mom and dad about how I just didn’t get it, while I’d fly through my language arts homework. My mom would try to make it “fun” by teaching percents in terms of shopping, and thinking about food when it came to fractions. But at the end of the day, I just didn’t (and still don’t) get math. But that’s okay, because I at least know that pi is 3.14… and all you need to do is add an “E” and you’ve got yourself dessert!

Since blogging I’ve made some type of pie every year, but this year we had pie for dinner AND dessert! Thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest, I found both recipes. The first, spaghetti pie from A Kitchen Muse, caught my eye because it seemed impossible that it would all stick together in a pie dish. But, all you need to do is throw in an egg, and you’ve got yourself spaghetti that holds up enough to cut it and actually eat in pie shape. The recipe called for cottage cheese, which made me nervous since I’m not a CC fan. In the mix with the pasta sauce and cheese, though, it tasted great! The recipe was super easy, and provided enough food for my husband and I for two days.

The dessert pie, also found on Pinterest, is a play on the infamous pie from The Help. I should mention there is one very important ingredient missing from my pie that was in Minny’s pie, and I wouldn’t suggest adding it in – if you know what I mean. This pie is so incredibly easy to make – you probably have everything you need right in your pantry already! It’s from Food & Wine, and is actually the recipe that was used for the pies in the movie. It was great with some whipped cream, and came together quickly. I’ll definitely be making this pie again.

While I didn’t come up with my very own Pi Day recipes, I have been playing around in the kitchen making some other things that I’ll hopefully be posting soon! But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I enjoy finding and recreating recipes that are already created – sometimes at the end of the day I just don’t have enough energy to create something new in the kitchen. That’s why I’m thankful for cookbooks, blogs, and the wonders of Google searching. My meals would probably be very boring without those resources!

So, how did you celebrate Pi Day? Do you celebrate the E, or nerd out?

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Easy Baked Donuts

This past weekend was my first attempt at lesson planning. Sure I’ve made some mock lesson plans for courses I’ve taken over the last two years, but not plans for an entire week, that I’d actually be teaching. Thankfully it snowed on Saturday, so I was forced to stay inside and get it done. Teaching is no joke (not that I ever thought it was), and I definitely have a lot of work ahead of me.

Nothing like a little Shakespeare

Teaching aside, the husband and I were in the mood for something sweet on Sunday morning. The mini donut pan I have from my bridal shower hasn’t been used in months (and was only used once), so I figured I’d break it out. These are your “old fashioned” style baked donut – it isn’t anything fancy, but boy are they good. With a simple cinnamon and sugar coating, they’re perfect with a cup of coffee. It certainly beat getting in the car and going to Dunkin’ Donuts, and then feeling bad about that decision later. The only time I allow myself to have donuts (and by “have” I mean devour) is after long runs – usually accompanied by a Coolata.

Easy Baked Donuts
– makes about 14 donuts –

Donut Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup milk or creamer (I used coffee creamer which makes it richer, but any % milk will work fine)
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 egg
4 Tbsp butter

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk together.
3. Combine the wet ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat, until the butter is completely melted. Be careful not to have the mixture get hot – the butter just needs to melt.
4. Add the wet mixture and egg to the dry ingredients and whisk together.
5. Using a tablespoon, scoop out the dough from the bowl and into your donut pan. You want the mixture to sit just below the rim of the pan.
6. Bake for 12 minutes, then take out to cool for about 2 minutes.
7. As the donuts are cooling, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping on a plate, and melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave (about 30-40 seconds).
7. Once the donuts can be handled, dip one side into the melted butter and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

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Two Weeks

Every once in awhile, I get the urge to make something on a week night, and realize there is no way it should stay in our house. It’s usually a combination of fear that the treats will disappear quicker than they were made, and also the realization that there is a strong possibility they’ll be forgotten about in the fridge. So, that’s when I bring my treats to work. I know that everyone in the office appreciates those surprise treats, as I’ve won multiple contests in the office. It’s certainly a nice pat on the back!

At the end of the month, though, my office treats will be no more. Rather, I’ll be trading them in for classroom treats! For those of you that have followed the blog for the past year and a half, you may have noticed my alluding to homework, and being back in school. I never wanted to mention exactly what I was in school for, just in case things didn’t work out. However, after three semesters of online courses, it’s finally time for me to student teach. I graduated from The University of Scranton with an English degree, and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. After getting into the working world, I realized my initial thoughts about teaching were what I truly want to do. So, I took the steps necessary to get the ball rolling, and am finally in the last stages. In order to become a certified teacher, I have to student teach for a semester. Basically, I get to work full time, for free!

I of course am going to miss everyone I work with, and the company will always hold a special place in my heart. But, I need to follow my heart, and believe it or not, my heart is working with the teenagers of America, trying to make reading and writing seem cool. Or, at the very least, not torture.

To soften the blow of leaving, I’ve been bringing in treats more frequently. I may also still be a contributor to their documentation and online knowledge base. So these last two weeks are going to be filled with desserts in the break room. What a better way to get in the Holiday spirit! First on my list was pumpkin chocolate pie.

Unfortunately I thought I had a can of pumpkin left in the pantry, but I was wrong. So, I decided to make a chocolate silk pie instead! My co-workers were fans, so it worked out in the end. Hopefully my future students and fellow teachers will be fans of my baking as well!

Easy Chocolate Silk Pie

Ingredients:
1 pie shell (graham cracker, short bread, regular – whatever you like!)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 12 oz. can condensed milk
2 egg yolks

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2. If using a regular pie shell, blind bake for 10 minutes
3. Meanwhile, whisk together condensed milk and egg yolks in a sauce pan over medium-high heat until thick, being sure not to have the mixture boil
2. Stir in chocolate morsels until completely mixed
3. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pie crust, and bake for an additional 5 minutes
4. Cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving (the longer the better!)
*I drizzled some fleur de sel caramel sauce over a slice which was absolutely delicious!

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Baking Bonanza

I set out to bake something at least once a week during the month of November.

With four weeks in a month, that means I should have made at the very least, four things (what can I say, I’m a math genius). I started the month off with Fauxreos and Funfetti Fudge for our work Halloween celebration, and then didn’t do anything the following weekend as it was jam packed with a family wedding and a 20 mile (attempted) run. I came back with a vengeance the following weekend and made the exceptionally delicious Funfetti Cheesecake Bites, but that was where things had ended. The second to last weekend in November was consumed by the Philadelphia Marathon, and obviously last weekend was Thanksgiving fun. I know, I’m a discrace for not even contributing a pie to my own Thanksgiving feast.

But before you shake your heads in disappointment, I’ll have you know I made up for it the very last week of the month! Thanks to feeling like I was hit with a ton of bricks on Sunday  night into Monday morning, I stayed home from work and did as much work as I could from my bed. By the afternoon I was feeling a bit better, so I ventured to the kitchen and decided to make some white chocolate chip cookies. Going off of the base vegan recipe I used when making regular chocolate chip cookies, I simply substituted milk for white chocolate.

Even though I didn’t contribute pie to my own Thanksgiving (my mom made apple and a friend made pumpkin), I did try my hand at pecan pie later in the week. This is actually one of my favorite pies, and I fell in love with it one year when my Aunt made a chocolate pecan pie. This particular recipe is a bit different, though, because there aren’t any pecans! I found the recipe over at Sugar Crafter, and was intrigued. This would be a perfect pie for anyone with a nut allergy. I wasn’t sure if it would actually taste like the pecan pie I love so much, but since the base was pretty much the same, the pretzels were an excellent replacement. Next time, I may top it off with some chocolate ganache to snazz it up a bit.

Even though November is over, I’m planning on continuing to bake. I have my sights set on this chocolate pumpkin pie. It’ll be my last-stitch effort to squeeze out any fall flavors left before finally giving in to winter flavors. We also have our annual Festivus party coming up, which will of course involve lots of treats!

Next on the project list for the month of December is to try and run at least 4 times a week. Since this past week was our first week back running, and December started on Thursday, I didn’t get in 4 runs, but rather 3. With the Goofy Challenge in Disney only about a month away, I need to get in as much running as my little legs will allow!

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Funfetti Cheesecake Bites

The past few weeks have been super busy with family events, work and work events, and this whole training for a marathon thing (which is on SUNDAY!). So, my time in the kitchen has been rather sparse – I think my husband has spent more time cooking for himself while I’ve been gone!

So this past Sunday after a successful last “long” run of 8 miles and a trip to get race day supplies, I spent the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen. I started with slow-cooker lasagna, going off of a recipe I saw posted on YumSugar. Growing up I remember my mom always bemoaning lasagna and how labor intensive it was (as you can guess we didn’t have it very often). So after seeing a recipe were I didn’t have to precook the noodles, I was all over it.

While dinner was cooking away, I got to work on my next project – Funfetti cheesecake bites. After the success of the Funfetti fudge I made for Halloween, I figured I could work Funfetti into more things. I had made Mini Oreo Cheesecakes before and they were awesome, so I took the same base recipe but instead used Golden Oreos, some Funfetti cake mix, and sprinkles. Not only was the recipe straight forward, but they are pretty darn tasty. The combination of cheesecake and Funfetti may sound weird, but it works – I promise.

This got me thinking – cheesecake is one of those vehicles that can really take on a whole bunch of different flavors. It might be time to branch out in the cheesecake world and try some different combinations. Or I can just stick to what I know and love – Oreos and Funfetti. Either way, these would be a perfect bite-sized treat to bring to a Holiday party… and you know that’s where you will be spending most of your weekends between now and the new year.

Funfetti Cheesecake Bites
– Makes 20 –

Ingredients:
20 golden Oreo’s
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp Funfetti cake mix
2 Tbsp sprinkles

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line your cupcake/muffin tin with paper liners and place one Oreo into the bottom of each lined cup.
2. With a stand or hand mixer on medium-high, beat cream cheese until creamy and smooth, then gradually beat in sugar until combined. Beat in vanilla.
3. Drizzle in the eggs a little bit at a time until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and Funfetti mix. Add sprinkles at the very end (or the colors start to run).
4. Divide the batter evenly among the cookie-filled cups, filling each one almost to the top. Bake until the cakes are set (about 22 minutes), rotating the pans halfway through.
5. Remove from oven and place pans on wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, chill the cakes in the pans for at least four hours (or up to overnight).

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Weekly Baking: Take One

The month of weekly baking started a bit early, since Monday was Halloween. My office decided to have some Halloween related festivities at the end of the day, including trick-or-treating to one another’s cubicles. So, instead of handing out store-bought candy, I thought it would be nice to make something since there are only about 25 employees in my office. Because one dessert just isn’t enough, I made two.

The whole purpose of this month’s attempt to bake something every weekend is because I enjoy the act of baking, but more importantly myself and my husband enjoy the fruits of my labor. It’s true that baking can be time consuming, scientific, and tedious, but it’s almost always worth it. Plus, who doesn’t like taking homemade treats to work as snacks?

I’ve been eyeing this Funfetti fudge from Little Bitty Bakes for quite some time now and finally remembered to pick up white chocolate chips at the store. I’ve had Funfetti mix and cans of condensed milk for weeks, but have somehow always managed to forget the chocolate. I know they aren’t Halloween related, and are instead much more fun and whimsical looking than scary, but I thought the idea was just so cool, and the recipe seemed easy enough. This was my first attempt at “fudge,” and considering how easy it was, I definitely need to make it more frequently.

Next up were homemade Oreos, or as Eat, Drink, and Run called them, Fauxreos. Either way, I was able to make them a little more festive by using some food coloring for the centers, and these were pretty simple to make. This recipe also gave me the opportunity to use my beloved KitchenAid stand mixer twice. My husband likes to make note that I don’t use it nearly enough (his way of trying to get more dessert from me), so this recipe let me really put it to work. I can’t believe not that long ago I used to try and make buttercream by hand. No wonder I couldn’t write for days.

These two treats weren’t particularly daunting or required much baking, so that is why I chose them both together, and as my first weekend baking project. I figured I could get more involved and creative from here. Who knows, maybe by the end of the month I’ll be making macaroons! Well, at least a girl can dream, right? I’m thinking next week might be a pie – since I just recently purchased and subsequently gave away as a birthday gift a cookbook simply called Pie. Of course before wrapping it I flipped through, and had a serious craving for chocolate pecan pie. We’ll see. I’ve got a week to decide!

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This Week in Yum and a Winner!

As I mentioned last week, I’m thinking about doing a weekly post for all of those things that I ate and were noteworthy, but didn’t necessarily have a recipe for, or did, but it wasn’t my own and I really didn’t change anything.

The week was rather low-key in the kitchen. Since I spent the weekend up in Rochester, Sunday night’s dinner was quick and easy, and went unnoticed. We also didn’t have anything for dessert, which might as well be blasphemy in our household. I quickly remedied the situation for the rest of the week, though.

On Tuesday night I made a batch of Carrots ‘n Cake’s Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins, which were posted on FitSugar last week. They are perfect any time of day – breakfast, snack, dessert… and as you can imagine I’ve had one for each. I left out the nuts (simply because I didn’t have any), but they were delicious. You should make them.

The rest of the week was passable with the highlight being a re-do of these Mexican Stuffed Shells. They are one of my husband’s favorite dishes. This time, I swapped out the ground beef for beef soy crumbles, and they were still just as delicious. We had some homemade burritos, and then peirogis the other nights. We headed to Stuff Yer Face on Friday to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and I devoured my stromboli and washed it down with a Franziskaner Weissbier… yum.

Since Halloween is on Monday, the husband and I attended a party Saturday night. I of course went as my favorite baked good, a cupcake!

Sunday was an attempt at a long run (that wound up to be a failure thanks to some knee pain), and plenty of time spent in the kitchen. I whipped up a batch of The Post Punk Kitchen’s Scalloped Potatoes. Oh. my. goodness. These are absolutely delicious, easy, and even cooler, completely vegan. I’m psyched that we have leftovers! The only change I made to the recipe was instead of using eggplant bacon (Hubs isn’t a big fan of eggplant), we got tempeh (which he actually really enjoys) and I used some liquid smoke to add the “bacon” flavor.

I ended the week with some serious baking for Halloween in the office, but I’ll have to save that for another post!

So onto the winner of the Hormel limited edition chili and cheese and super cute football chip platter (I just got mine and can’t wait to use it)! Thanks to Random.org, the winner is Kat! Send me an e-mail with your address to foodosaurusrex [at] gmail [dot] com, and the goodies will be on their way!

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Filed under Baking, Cupcakes, Food Blogging, Giveaway, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan