Friday, November 16, 2012

The Perfect Pumpkin Pie and the Flakiest Pie Crust Ever

As long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday.

Here is a short list why:

  • Pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING
  • My grandparents come in to celebrate with us
  • I love how every part of the Thanksgiving dinner is the same every year. Tradition is great.
  • Pumpkin is the best flavor
  • I am allowed to eat as many carbs as I want on that glorious day
  • The Macy's day parade is so much fun to watch! I always love the dancers.
  • Pumpkin rolls are a family tradition
  • We always put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving
  • Two words: BLACK FRIDAY
  • As long as I can remember, I've gotten to help my mom cook Thanksgiving dinner.
And last, but certainly not least: The Pumpkin Pie. 


I capitalized the name because The Pumpkin Pie is so gloriously delicious that it deserves to be capitalized. 

The Pumpkin Pie is so smooth and perfect, held in a deliciously flaky pie crust that begs you to eat one more slice (I always find it is best to obey The Pumpkin Pie). 

The Pumpkin Pie is perfect ("Those are really... good alliterations!" Okay, excuse the Princess Diaries reference).

The Pumpkin Pie uses my favorite flaky pie crust, brought to us by America's favorite baker, Martha Stewart. The trick is the ice-cold water. 

Perfect Flaky Pie Crust

Yield: 1 single crust 9-inch pie 

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
9 tbsp butter (1 stick plus 1 tbsp), chilled and cut into 1 tbsp cubes
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp ice-cold water

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. 

2. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles crumbs.

This is a pastry cutter. 

3. Slowly add the water while cutting until it's incorporated and flaky but sticks together. 

4. Form into a ball with your hands and flatten slightly so it's a disk shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 1 day. You can freeze it for up to a month, as long as you thaw it for 24 hours in the fridge before using. 

5. Roll it out and transfer to a pie pan. Cut the extra on the edges of the pie pan. "Fork" the crust. Preheat oven to 425 F. Refrigerate pie crust for 15 minutes while the oven is heating. 

6. Bake for 15 minutes, making sure to puncture the crust with a fork if it gets puffy while it's baking. 

The Pumpkin Pie

3/4 cup sugar
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs
1 (15 oz, or 1 3/4 cup) can of pumpkin puree
1 (12 oz) can of evaporated milk
1 recipe of the Perfect Flaky Pie Crust

1. In a large bowl, beat the two eggs with a whisk. In a separate bowl, whisk the two dry ingredients. 

2. Add the sugar mixture to the eggs. Whisk. Add the pumpkin and whisk.

3. Slowly pour the evaporated milk into the pumpkin mixture and whisk until thoroughly incorporated. 

Unbaked The Pumpkin Pie still looks delicious. 

4. Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 425 Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 Fahrenheit and bake for 40-50 more minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

I'll cover up that toothpick hole with fresh whipped cream. 

5. Cool completely and top with fresh whipped cream. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cinnabon Copycats and Scentsy Cravings!

I've finally moved into BYU! It's been great so far. We've been on tons of adventures! We've hiked the Y and gone on midnight runs for random groceries. My "family" group that I have activities with on Monday nights recently went to Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon.

The water was absolutely freezing

After all these wild adventures, we always seem to end up back at our apartment baking something.... which I'm totally fine with. 

My friend Lian bought me a Scentsy (I promise this is totally related) for college, which I was very thrilled about. You see, Lian knows me very well. She bought me only food-scented wax thingies to melt in my Scentsy. 

The wax thingy I picked for this week to make my room smell like was the "Cinnamon Bun" wax, and for about a week I craved cinnamon rolls without understanding why. But worry not, for I have discovered the source of my craving and have been able to satisfy it with a recipe I found for Cinnabon Copycat Cinnamon Rolls!

Cinnabon Copycat

Yield: 12 cinnamon rolls

1 cup warm milk (microwaved for about 60 seconds or until it's warmer than your finger)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted, cooled down to room temperature
4 1/2 cups flour (I used all purpose although bread flour would be a good replacement)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 package yeast (1/4 oz)

1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 butter, softened

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

1. Dissolve yeast in warm milk for about 10 minutes. 

2. Add eggs and butter. Combine flour, salt, and sugar, and add to the wet ingredients. 

3. Mix well and knead with your hands (or your stand mixer if you're not a poor college student) for about 1 minute. Spray a bowl with cooking spray and put the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place (I used my oven at 175) for 1 hour or until doubled in size. 

4. In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar with cinnamon. 

5. Once the dough has risen for 1 hour, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 16"x21". Spread the softened butter across the dough and sprinkle the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture on top of the butter. 

6. Roll up the dough so that it's 21" long. Cut it in half, then each of those in half (so you have four equal pieces). Cut each of those into three so you end up with twelve equal pieces. Hopefully that wasn't too confusing. 

7. Butter up (or cooking spray if you're in a hurry) a 9x13 pan. Place the cinnamon rolls 4 by 3 in the pan. Let them rise another 30 minutes, or until doubled, covered in the warm place. 

***If you're making them the night before, now is when you put them into the fridge***

8. Preheat the oven to 350 fahrenheit. Bake cinnamon rolls for 20-24 minutes, or until golden brown.

9. While they're in the oven, beat the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt until well combined. 

10. Slather the frosting all over the cinnamon rolls and devour!

They smell even better than the Scentsy, if that's possible. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread Update

In honor of my dad's birthday, I made the Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread again. This time I used dried rosemary, still from my garden. I put 1 tsp of olive oil with the dried rosemary before I added my other herbs and spices, just so they would stick to the rosemary. I also transferred my dough to a metal bowl sprayed with my handy dandy olive oil before letting it rise. The third thing I did differently was every ten minutes the dough was rising, I would take the rag off and microwave the rag for another 30 seconds to make sure the rag stayed damp and warm.

Other than those minor improvements, I did it the same! Now I just need some Macaroni Grill pasta to go with it!

The original recipe is here

Mmmm... olive oil and balsamic vinegar go so well with this bread. 

What restaurant foods do you want a recipe for?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Oreo Cupcakes


If you don't like them you should probably go away, because everyone with a brain (poor Scarecrow) loves Oreos. 

Now that we've gotten rid of the Scummy Oreo-Haters, we can talk about how great they are. They make any normal cake, ice cream, or plain dessert instantly more delicious. Today when I remembered it was my friend Megan's birthday, I decided she deserved Oreo cupcakes, as every girl does on her birthday. 

I used my go-to vanilla cupcake recipe, this time using cake flour to make them a little fluffier. When deciding on the frosting, I went with something akin to the taste of the Oreo innards. The whipped yummy insides of Oreos are what make them worth eating, much like how the frosting makes a cupcake worth eating. 

Oreo Cupcakes
Yield: 12 regular cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes

1 1/4 cup cake flour (you can use AP flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 large egg plus 1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla (I used clear)
1/2 cup half and half (I have used anything from skim milk to heavy whipping cream and it always works out fine)

6-8 Oreos, smashed to smithereens

1. Preheat oven to 350 fahrenheit (I used a toaster oven which always seems to overheat, so I heated my oven to 325).

2. Line the cupcake pans with paper liners

3. In a bowl or mixer, beat the sugar and butter until it's light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg white and beat until incorporated throughout. Scrape the bowl and beat for 15 more seconds.

4. Quickly mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a dry ingredients bowl. Mix this in with the butter/sugar alternately with the half and half. Beat until no flour is visible, making sure to scrape the bowl often. Don't overbeat! Add the crushed Oreos and mix until just incorporated. 

5. Scoop batter into the prepared cupcake liners. Spray a cookie scoop with cooking spray so the batter is easily removed. Divide batter evenly (Or, if you're me, you divide batter so they're all equal except one is giant and you claim that one as soon as they leave the oven). 

6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool on a drying rack (If you're impatient or time-crunched like me, you can refrigerate them on the rack for 15 minutes).

Fluffy Oreo Frosting

Yield: enough for 12 cupcakes

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp clear vanilla
2 tbsp powdered sugar
6 crushed Oreos

12 mini Oreos or 6 regular Oreos, cut in half

Mix whipping cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form. Add crushed Oreos and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. 

Listen, I know my fingernails look great. You don't have to tell me. 

It's been a while since I've painted them...


Saturday, August 11, 2012

S'mores Cheesecake

Having been a Girl Scout for 13 years, I have done my fair share of camping. I know how to make a campfire, how to pitch a tent, and how to clean the latrines.

The one thing I didn't know was that the Girl Scouts invented s'mores! S'mores are only the greatest invention ever, so I was thrilled. They're all full of deliciousness and sugar, which are my two favorite things.

My personal favorite dessert is cheesecake, but yesterday happened to be the national s'mores day. I couldn't just pass up on the best holiday ever.

I decided to compromise and create my own recipe for s'mores cheesecake, and let me tell you: BEST IDEA EVER. I deserve a Nobel prize. No jokes here.

Cheesecake already has a graham cracker crust, so I just needed to add the marshmallows and chocolate.

Also, my 6 inch springform has been feeling very lonely lately. I adapted a traditional New York Style cheesecake recipe to make it work for a 6 inch springform.

S'mores Cheesecake

Yield: 6" cheesecake

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 tbsp butter (I used my homemade butter)
2 tbsp sugar
1 Hershey king-size chocolate bar
2 packages (16 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla (clear if you can)
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup chocolate chips
3 tbsp whipping cream
Kraft Mallow Bits, for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

2. Mix graham cracker crumbs with 2 tbsp sugar and butter. Use a fork to mix it together until it's crumbly. Press it along the bottom of the springform pan. Bake it for 8 minutes.

Delicious homemade butter! 

3. Open the Hershey bar. Take a bite. You deserve it. Break up the rest of the bar you didn't eat and line the crust with it.

4. Beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl. Add egg, vanilla, and cornstarch. Mix until barely incorporated. Add sour cream and beat until smooth.

5. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the crust-lined pan. Tap the pan a few times to get rid of any bubbles (I do this with cake, too). Bake for 35-38 minutes. When a cheesecake is done, it still jiggles in the middle.

6. Turn the oven off and leave it open for 3 hours. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

7. Melt chocolate chips with whipping cream and stir until it's smooth.  Pour over cheesecake. Sprinkle with mallow bits, and any leftover graham cracker crumbs.

8. Devour.

Can I have s'more, please?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mason Jar Butter

I'm finally back home! After a week in San Francisco, it's nice to be home in good ol' Texas. 

One thing I love about San Francisco is how every food place seems to try their hardest to find good quality, fresh ingredients. It seems everything is fresh, organic, and homemade. 

While we were at one of the restaurants, my mom told me about how she used to help her grandmother make butter out of whipping cream. She said her grandmother would hand her grandchildren the mason jars to keep them busy and productive... for about 20 minutes or so. 

This was back in the day- my mom's in the back right. 

I didn't believe my mom that butter was just made of cream. Surely there was something else!

I was wrong. It really works! I did as my mother said (Surprise!) and filled a mason jar with cream. In 25 minutes I had butter! Weird!

The best part was I got a nice arm workout. 

Mason Jar Butter

1 mason jar
1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream (or however much fills your jar up 3/4 of the way)
1 tsp salt (optional- I didn't use this)

You can add cinnamon, sugar, honey, garlic powder, whatever you want, depending on what you're making it for! I personally just did the cream so I can add whatever I want serving by serving. 

1. Wash the mason jar to make sure it doesn't have anything dusty/weird smelling in it (mine had obviously had pickles in it before so this step was necessary).

2. Fill mason jar 3/4 of the way full with heavy whipping cream. Screw the lid on very tightly. 

3. Shake vigorously for 20 minutes. Work those arm muscles! 

4. Open and look. There should be a buttery-looking substance floating in milky stuff. The milky stuff is buttercream (I can hear the lightbulbs turning on). Pour the buttercream out as best you can into a separate container. 

5. Close the lid tightly and shake for 5 more minutes. Open and pour out some more buttercream. I actually spooned the butter out and stirred it a little to get the excess buttercream out. 

6. If the butter still isn't thick enough, you can shake it for a few more minutes. Work it! Here you can add whatever you want, salt, honey, sugar, etc. 

7. Store in the refrigerator if you like your butter cold. We actually keep our butter out for up to 5 days and it always stays fine and soft. 

Thank goodness for the second amendment. 

Are there any kitchen memories you have from your childhood? Anything mom would let the kids do?

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Best Croissant I've EVER Had

Guys... I've discovered it. I've finally found it.

The Best Croissant Ever. 

My sister lives in San Francisco, so my parents and I decided to visit her for a week to escape the heat. It was 106 when we left and it's 57 in San Francisco right now. (Insert angels singing here)

Last year for Christmas, my sister got me the Tartine Bread cookbook. Although I haven't been brave enough to tackle any of the recipes yet, I'm planning to do it as soon as I get home.

They're famous for their sourdough, but it was the croissants that impressed me. They were the perfect marriage of buttery and flaky. I think I'm in love.

I ate it without anything on it... "Naked," if you will. 

The front is a double pain au chocolat, which has TWO delicious strips of dark cocoa chocolate. 

All of the pastries and delicious baked goods all lined up...

Bakers hard at work!

They start to sell assorted bread loaves at exactly 4:30 pm. We got there at 4:34 and the bread was so hot it almost burned my hands... the burns would have been worth it. The bread was fantastic.

Look at how yeasty it is! This is the Country loaf, and it tasted like a French sourdough. 

We may have overeaten a little... or is that even possible when it comes to croissants?

I say no. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Original Girl Scout Cookie

I have been a Girl Scout for 13 years. Starting out as an adorable daisy when the cookie sales were aided by pigtails and grins missing front teeth, I made it all the way to a Senior Girl Scout, where, for the last two years we didn't even try to sell cookies. We just aren't the cute ones anymore. 

Anyway, my Girl Scout troop will be having our "Final Hurrah" party tonight to let things go out with a bang. We will laugh and cry over old pictures, remember camping trips, and do what we do best-- eat. 

Eating for our troop has always been a joyous affair. When we went on camping trips, we probably spent at least 80% of our waking hours preparing, making, and cleaning our meals. Camping food is usually worth it, but there are always those failures that make for laughs later (campfire nachos? ashes-filled barbecue chicken?)

A few years ago, I found a recipe for the Original Girl Scout Cookie, and I was very intrigued. This cookie was made by Girl Scouts only five years after Juliette Gordon Low started the organization. 

I decided our "Final Hurrah" would be a great time to have these cookies!

Fun fact: Girl Scout cookies are now $3.50 a box here, but when these were first sold in 1917 in a high school cafeteria, they were 25 cents a dozen (if they were still that, I think we can all agree we'd weigh about 500 pounds). 

Original Girl Scout Sugar Cookies

I got the recipe from the Girl Scout Website
Yield: 6-7 dozen thin cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (I used salted)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla (they're sugar cookies so try to use clear if you have it)
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Sugar for topping, if desired

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat until it's mixed in fully. 

Double yolk! I've never seen this before!

3. Add milk and vanilla. 

4. Mix together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add them in, slowly, to the wet mixture. 

As you can see, it's REALLY sticky. That's normal. 

5. Refrigerate dough wrapped in plastic wrap for 1 hour. 

Thanks, Siri!

At this point, I was looking through photos to bring to the party. I've decided to share this one for your viewing pleasure. 

Everyone at once: D'awwwwwwww!

6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Roll out dough onto floured surface with floured rolling pin. Cut into trefoil shapes, or just 2"-3" circles. I bent a football cutter into the best trefoil I could make, because seriously, I do not need a football cookie cutter. 

Keep in mind this dough is SOFT. I had to roll it out and then freeze it for about 3-5 minutes before cutting it out, but that made it so easy. I found the cookies did best if they were rolled out very thin. Sprinkle with sugar. 

See how the cookie stays stiff on the spatula? It's frozen. 

7. Bake on a silpat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet for 8-10 minutes (if really thin, 6-7 minutes), or until golden around the edges. 

I baked the leftovers (did you really think I was going to waste those delicious little pieces?) and they made some really funny shapes. I burst out laughing when they came out of the oven. 

That takes skill.

Here are the real ones:

Who else was a Girl Scout? How much were cookies when you sold?

Peace out, Girl Scout.