Happy Father’s Day

My father and I, circa May 2011. Ah, graduation.

Hey there, Bakers Anonymous family.

So, tomorrow is Father’s Day. And for as long as I can remember, I have been a daddy’s girl to the core. I’m the oldest out of five, and the most like my father; in my earliest recollections, I wandered the town at my father’s side, “helping” him with computer and alarm work.

And even though I haven’t lived at home for nearly five years, I still love to spend time with my daddy, quoting lines from our favorite movies and television shows, discussing the trials of owning cars (that don’t want to work all the time) and sometimes sharing recipes.

This would be the part where I list out five of the favorite recipes I’ve come across this week in my Internet travels, but to very honest with you, this has been a slow week for all of us. Instead, please check out my to-bake list and gather up some baking inspiration of your own.

I’ll see you all back here on Wednesday with the recipe for my Father’s Day present!

– Niki

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Croissants

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and if your weather was anything like New Jersey’s gorgeous 80 degrees, I bet you enjoyed it by staying outside and playing with your family.

I stayed inside, out of the sun, so my pale self could stay that way. Oh yeah, and I made these delicious croissants for my friend (who’s like a second mother to me) because she’s awesome. And I’ve been spending way too much time on Pinterest. Did you know that Pillsbury has its own Pinterest boards?

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Croissants

Ingredients:
1 can of Crescent rolls (I used reduced fat)
1/4 C strawberry preserves
1/4 C semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I used a non-stick cookie sheet lined with foil, so if you use something different, make sure to note the temperature changes on the can’s package.
2. Unroll the crescent rolls into the eight triangles.
3. Spread about one to two teaspoons of the preserves on the short end opposite of the triangle point (crescent rolls are usually isosceles), and then sprinkle with some chocolate chips (however many you want).
4. Roll the dough up, tucking in the sides and the point to ensure that the filling doesn’t leak out.
5. Spread the bundles evenly on the tray.
6. Bake for 12 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve while warm.

Makes eight.

Cinco de Mayo Taco Cookies: some history and maybe a blister

So, apparently Cinco de Mayo is a relevant holiday and has nothing to do with Mexican Independence day. Personally, I just thought it was another day for Americans to get shwasted. And did you know that U.S. didn’t start observing this day until 2005? That was like, seven years ago. WHAT?

Anyway, this weekend is Cinco de Mayo and the dogs are off to a flyball tournament aptly named, “Cinco de Flyo.” At these tournaments, my friend and her lovely flyball dog racing friends have a ton of fun and enjoy getting away from the rigors of everyday life with a specialty cocktail in one hand and a treat in the other.

This week’s treats are based on this “recipe” I found while searching for alternatives to the pinata cookies. At the end of the day, I feel like I would have done less work if I’d gone ahead and made the stinkin’ pinata cookies after all. Geesh. This was a trial.

I want to put this out there – if you have a sturdy sugar cookie recipe, one that you know can stand up to being baked into odd shapes (say, a folded taco shape?), then, by all means, use it! These sugar cookies are delicious on their own, BUT MAN, were they a pan in tuchus to fold.

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Minty Sugar Cookies

Bakers Anonymous community, my life has been insane these past couple of months. I applied for graduate school (University of Baltimore, here I come!), started working on the outline for my second resident assistant musical and finally finished that portfolio website that’s been driving me crazy. On top of all of that, I work five days a week at two different offices and do freelance jobs here and there. Oh. And did I mention that I’m trying to better my food photography?

Don’t worry. My brain only explodes every other day.

I’ve been baking more often, though, as an outlet for all that stress, and it’s been a good thing (I even found some new banana recipes. More on that another day). Tomorrow, I’m taking the day off to have a fun trip with my little sister and brothers and I wanted to bake a treat that we could snack on. It’s St. Patrick’s day this Saturday, so I intended to make sugar cookies with an Andes Mint frosting, but would you believe that Target had absolutely no Andes Mints?

I know. Devastation.

So I substituted with these delicious mint MnM’s, which, believe it or not, aren’t even listed on the MnM’s product website. Not only are these MnM’s a delectable  combination of dark chocolate and mint essence, but also each MnM is the same size as the peanut version.

The original sugar cookie recipe was pulled from allrecipes.com. Next time, I’ll probably lessen the amount of flour in the dough from three and a half cups to just three. They baked up nice and fluffy, but I would prefer to taste the butter and sugar just a little bit more. I also ditched the shortening in the recipe and used butter. I have an aversion to shortening, remember?

Minty Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/3 C butter
1 1/2 C white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 bag of mint MnM’s
Extra white sugar for rolling
Green sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, foil or silicone mat. These cookies will slide easily off the tray right out of the oven.

2. Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. It is important to make sure that you do not melt the butter beforehand. This mixture is the base of your cookie!

3. Stir in the eggs and vanilla extract, thoroughly incorporating them.

4. Next, add the baking powder and the salt. Usually I would mix in these two in with the flour, but it being a lazy afternoon, I mixed them in first. This also made sure that the baking powder and salt would reach all the corners of the batter.

5. Add the flour, one cup at a time. By the third cup, the batter will be stiff.

6. Roll into walnut-sized balls, and then roll in the extra white sugar for rolling.

7. While these cookies will spread and out and puff up during baking, flatten the balls out slightly. Press two to three MnM’s (on some I put four) in the top of the cookie. You may have to angle them in to get them to stay. Don’t worry! They’ll settle in during baking. I also sprinkled some green sugar on a few cookies for color.

8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the bottom is lightly browned. My cookies only took 10 minutes.

9. Immediately remove the cookies to wire cooling racks.

Makes four dozen cookies.

Niki’s Note: Thanks for sticking with me during this whole transition time. I’m looking forward to when my schedule is less crazy and I can spend some more time with you!

Bakers Anonymous Thanksgiving: Chapter 1, Dessert First

Happy Thanksgiving my Bakers Anonymous friends! Today is my big day to break out my culinary skills and wow my family with Cornish game hens and spruced-up stuffing. Am I nervous? You bet I am. But I started off my Thanksgiving celebration with a favorie tradition of mine – cookie turkeys. It began nine years ago when, on Thanksgiving, I got it into my head that I wanted to do something special, start a tradition of my own. After a search through the cookbooks under the microwave, I came across the following recipe, which I altered just this year for the sake of time and sanity.

Cookie Turkeys

Ingredients (for 36 turkeys):
2 boxes of Mallomars
1 package of fudge stripe cookies
1 bag of candy corn
1  package of chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Gather up your ingredients and un-box them.

2. Carefully slice the fudge stripe cookies down the middle, doing your best to make as an even a cut as possible.

3. Melt the chocolate (about 1/2 – 1 cup of chocolate chips) in the microwave at 30-second intervals. Stir until smooth. Chocolate chips may retain their shape in the microwave.

4. Take the fudge halves and glue them to the Mallomars using the chocolate.

5. Gently flip the cookie over. Using the chocolate, stick a candy corn to the front of the of the Mallomar.

6. The assembled cookie should like this:

7. Put the cookies (18 to a large dinner plate) in the freezer and chill them until the chocolate sets or until you’re ready to serve. I like them best chilled, but family members have enjoyed them room temperature and I’ve never heard a complaint!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinners! I’ll report back tomorrow with details of how my meal went, as well as a few choice recipes prepared for today. And no matter what, don’t forget to give thanks for the blessings in your life.