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DIY Fluffy Lamb Cake

Happy (early) Easter to those who celebrate it! I spent my afternoon making this adorable fluffy lamb cake – this one is easy enough for even an adventurous beginner. I can’t take credit for the design (stumbled upon it on Pinterest), but had to make it after my nephew saw it and gave his seal of approval.

You’ll need to purchase or make your own cake/icing (Immaculate Baking Co. cake mixes may be worth trying if you’re short on time – the ingredients are simple and don’t include preservatives).  Lyndsay from Coco Cake Land posted a great tutorial for decorating this cake on Handmade Charlotte.

My Tips:

In the spirit of saving time, I cut up marshmallows for the ears (rather than fondant), and melted chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth.  I used a marshmallow for the nose as well, dabbing a little frosting on it and sprinkling with pink sugar.  If you don’t have piping bags, cutting the corner of a Ziploc bag will work (just make sure to tape the corner to reinforce before you cut).  Freezer bags are thicker and will work a bit better.  I didn’t have the Wilton no. 22 tip, but used a similar star-shaped one and it worked great.

What are you making for Easter?

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Cheesy + Garlicky Dinner Rolls | happyandsimple.wordpress.com

I have been promising a bread recipe and here it finally is (we won’t talk about the slight anxiety attack encountered while the recipe was temporarily misplaced – the best things are worth the wait, right?).  The recipe I’m sharing today is about as basic as it gets, and it is delicious!  I usually try to stick to whole grains, but sometimes white bread just hits the spot – especially with cheese and garlic.  They are also a great roll when made plain (my favorite, slathered with sunflower butter).

Please note that this recipe is geared toward using a bread machine, but may also be made by hand.  Guidance can be found within the reviews section on the recipe page (link below).

Before you click the link for this recipe, make sure to read my tips below for recipe success and how to easily turn these plain rolls into cheesy garlicky goodness.

Click here for the ‘Soft Dinner Rolls’ recipe.

Basic tips:

  • The order in which you place ingredients into your bread machine matters.
    • Manufacturer suggestions may vary, but I always place all liquids in first, followed by dry ingredients.  In this case, I place the sugar as my first dry ingredient so that it can dissolve into the liquid more readily.  Finally, I proof my yeast in a minimal amount of water, then use my finger to dig a little well in the flour, pouring the yeast mixture into the well.
  • Margarine may be used instead of butter if you want a dairy-free option (note that not all margarine is dairy-free).  Make sure your butter or margarine is very soft (but not melted) so that it will mix well.
  • All-purpose flour may be used if you do not have bread flour.  I have always used Wheat Montana All-Purpose flour with great results (they make great non-GMO/unbleached flours).
  • Make sure your dough isn’t too dry or too wet.  Your ball of dough shouldn’t look like it’s melting and it shouldn’t look like it’s cracking.  I usually end up adding a little extra flour to this recipe, and my dough has just a tiny hint of tackiness let to it once it’s been kneaded together.
  • They will turn out okay with less yeast.  If you only have one packet of yeast, don’t worry – they’ll still turn out!
  • Eco-friendly tip: skip covering the rolls with plastic as they’re rising and use a damp dishtowel instead.

Cheesy + Garlicky Dinner Rolls | happyandsimple.wordpress.com

Cheese/garlic tips:

  • While forming your dough into rolls/balls, place the desired amount of shredded cheese (I use a couple tsp cheddar) into the center and stretch your dough into a ball around it, pinching it shut on the bottom.  I store my shredded cheese in the freezer and place it in the dough while still frozen.  It should work just fine at room temp, but note that I’ve not tried it that way before.
  • Brush rolls with butter ( or margarine) after they’ve baked but are still warm.  After brushing butter, immediately sprinkle with your favorite garlic salt.  If you prefer fresh garlic, try adding a little minced garlic mixed in with your cheese.

Cheesy + Garlicky Dinner Rolls | happyandsimple.wordpress.com

These freeze very well – loosely wrap in foil and stick in the oven to thaw for a few minutes.

Happy baking!

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Friendship Tea Recipe - without all the artificial junk!

You may have heard of friendship tea… the sweet orangey tea flavored hot drink made with Tang or orange breakfast drink mix of your choice.  Tastes great… until you read the ingredients on your jar of Tang!  Artificial flavors, colors, preservatives – blech!  Our bodies don’t need that stuff, so I set out to create a friendship tea recipe, minus the junk.

While you’ll likely need to tweak it to fit your own tastebuds, It’s full of orange, lemon and tea.  Be forewarned, it won’t taste as sugary sweet as the original version, so if it’s too bland for your taste, you might choose to sweeten it up with some honey or extra sugar.

Friendship Tea Recipe - without all the artificial junk!

Before you get started, you’ll need a few ingredients (which you may or may not need to order from the internet) – they’re available on Amazon.com, but check here first to see if you can buy them locally: truelemon.com

True Orange packages (I bought the smaller size with 32 little packets, runs about $5, and you’ll have extra!)

True Lemon Powder (runs about $4 for a little jar – you’ll also have leftovers for other uses!)

*Please note, I am not affiliated with the True Lemon / True Orange brand in any way.

Friendship Tea Recipe:

  • Nine packets (0.8g each) of True Orange

  • 1 1/4 tsp True Lemon powder

  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

  • 1/4 C unsweetened instant tea (I use Lipton and like the taste of tea – try less if you want the predominantly fruity flavor.)

  • 1 1/4 C granulated sugar (this recipe isn’t overly sweet – you may choose to add honey or more sugar)

Place in small jar and whisk or shake ingredients until blended.  Store in an airtight container.
Boil/heat 1 Cup water and add 3 teaspoons of tea mix (more or less, to taste).  Stir well (it won’t completely dissolve due to the spices, so don’t worry if you see a bit sinking to the bottom).

Although I don’t ever plan to return to the old artificial-laden recipe, I’ll share it (or one of the variations, anyway) for those who may already have the ingredients on hand:

  • 2 1/2 C dry Tang mix
  • 1/2 C unsweetened instant tea
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 package lemon flavored Koolaid (the little packets, without the sugar already mixed in)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/8 tsp ground cloves

Did you try my recipe?  I’d love to hear suggestions or comments!

Happy 2015 – may we all find a happy and simple balance!

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Grandma's Carrot Cake Bars - made with baby food!  (Easily made lactose or dairy free). These cake bars are another family favorite from Grandma Marie’s recipe box!  These were the bars we always had at potlucks and holidays – loved by all.  Not your typical carrot cake, these get their flavor from jars of….. baby food!  In fact, we all call them baby food bars, but I renamed them so as not to scare off anyone.  Sounds strange, but don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.  Soooo good, cuts down on prep time and jars of organic baby food are easy to find.  Best of all, they’re easily adapted to be lactose or dairy free  if you choose! A baking note:  Batter will be light in color – it’ll darken a lot by the time it’s finished baking so don’t worry! Grandma's Carrot Cake Bars - made with baby food!  (Easily made lactose or dairy free).

Click on the recipe image below if you want it to enlarge and open in a new tab to print!

Grandma's Carrot Cake Bars… made with baby food! (recipe easily made lactose or dairy free)

Grandma's Carrot Cake Bars - made with baby food!  (Easily made lactose or dairy free).

Merry Christmas, enjoy the holidays!

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Grandma's Ginger Crinkles Recipe! A family favorite, these perfectly spiced ginger crinkles are incredibly easy to make – great for the holiday season!  They also have molasses in them, but we’ve always called them ginger crinkles.  Years ago, after my mom inherited grandma’s recipe collection, I spent hours hunting for this one.  She had at least five ginger/molasses cookie recipes in her box.  I knew it was this one when I saw the recipe card, complete with molasses drippings and doughy finger smudges! This is a great recipe to try with the littles – my nearly 3-yo nephew rolled all the balls in sugar himself!  I wasn’t sure if he’d like the taste of a cookie with so many spices – but he loved them – great flavor that’s not overpowering. Soft and chewy, old-fashioned crinkles, and dusted with sugar – yum!  They can also be made thinner/crunchier if that’s your thing – simply flatten the dough balls a little with the palm of your hand and bake a few minutes longer.  Since they use shortening, they are also lactose-free (assuming you use Crisco, which qualified at last check).  Here we go!

Grandma Marie's Ginger/Molasses Crinkles Cookie Recipe | happyandsimple.wordpress.com

-click on above image to save or print recipe-

Grandma's Ginger Crinkles Recipe!

Thinking ahead tip:  freeze some dough balls after you’ve rolled them in sugar – then bake later!

Happy Weekend!

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Easy Raspberry Turnovers Recipe - this dough is magic!

It’s been a while, AGAIN.  I have so many projects I want to share and so little time.  Today’s baking project turned out so well that I had to make time.  I baked these for a neighborhood get-together and there was so much food that I was left with a bunch of these (I may or may not have eaten three over the course of 10 minutes).  So, I spent my evening trying to convince people to take them – I think I need more sweet-toothed friends!  I almost volunteered some to a stranger walking down the street, but he already had this hands full.

This blitz puff dough is like magic and I am so excited to share it with you!  It’s seriously easy and seriously delicious.  Looks like it took 18 hours to make, but really only claimed about an hour.  Resist all future urges to buy frozen puff pastry dough and make this – you will be so glad you did!  I have an insane amount of raspberries on my bushes this year, so I made fresh filling – but, you could very easily substitute with a fruit jam, apples, a blob of chocolate, or even something savory like spinach and feta.

Easy Raspberry Turnovers Recipe - this dough is magic!

I have made croissants and turnovers from scratch many times before and these taste just as flaky and just as buttery, in only a tiny fraction of the time.  The recipe is from the King Arthur Flour website:  http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/raspberry-puff-turnovers-recipe

King Arthur also has a blog posting for this particular recipe – it walks through the whole thing picture-by-picture: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2009/07/02/love-flaky-turnovers-dont-love-fussing-blitz-puff-to-the-rescue/

Simple Raspberry Turnover Recipe - this dough is magic!

Rather than posting the recipe here, I’ll let you read through it at the above link – but, here is a list of tips that may make things even more simple when you make these:

-For the dough, use a food processor if you have one!  Speeds things up a lot.  A hand pastry blender or hand mixer will also work.

-The dough can get soft/sticky.  Once you’ve done the final roll-out and cut it with a pizza cutter – stick it back in the fridge for a couple minutes before adding your filling and brushing on the egg wash edging.  It will make it easier to seal your seams so that they look nice.

-If you are making the raspberry filling from the recipe and use cornstarch rather than ClearJel: keeping adding water, slowly, until the cornstarch dissolves – you might curse when it stirs like cement at first, and then, all of a sudden, when you add just the right amount of water it immediately dissolves!

-Whatever filling you choose:  make sure it is cold (or at least firm) – if it’s soft or runny, it is hard to cleanly seal the dough edges.

-You can freeze these!  Fill and seal them, then straight to the freezer instead of baking.  Just pop them in the oven from frozen and allow a few extra minutes of bake time.

Raspberry Turnover Recipe

Raspberry Turnover Recipe

-I brushed the tops with an egg wash and then sprinkled ‘Sugar in the Raw’ (a coarse sugar you can buy at your local grocery store – very inexpensive).

-I chose to squiggle some chocolate ganache on top of each after baking.  Ganache is very simple to make:  use heavy cream or a soy creamer and a chocolate of your choice.  In a microwave-safe bowl, heat your cream until the edges bubble (you want to ‘scald’ it, in other words, you’ll see a thin layer of’ skin on the surface).  Immediately place a nearly equal amount of chocolate into the hot cream (i.e. 6 oz. cream, 6 oz. chocolate), and let it sit a few minutes.  If you are in a hurry, using less cream will help it to thicken more quickly.  Stir until smooth.  Chill in the refrigerator until it’s thickened enough to pipe or spoon on top of your turnovers (don’t over stir it, or it may become too thick – if this happens, just reheat for a short time).

Easy Raspberry Turnover Recipe - this dough is magic!

Happy Eating!

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gooe raspberry brownie recipe (whole grain!)

I promised my raspberry brownie recipe ages ago but didn’t have photos to go with it until now.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day –  these are gooey, fudgy and decadent – best eaten with a fork (and a scoop of milk chocolate ice cream?)!  The best part (aside from eating them) is that they contain whole wheat flour and are easily made lactose-free.

(By the way, I think I’ve finally gotten this dual blog thing down – so no more random photos popping up to email subscribers!  Yay – and thanks for your patience!)

First, the printable version:  click on the image below to enlarge, then print.  

gooey raspberry brownie recipe (whole grain!)

Brownies: 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C packed brown sugar (make sure there are no clumps)
  • 4 oz (8 Tbsp) unsalted melted margarine (as usual, I use Fleischmann’s unsalted because it’s lactose-free)
  • 2 tsp milk (I use oat milk, any type will suffice)
  • 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder (my favorite flavor-wise is Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1/3 C white whole wheat flour (I’ve not tried it, but you could likely use regular whole wheat as well in these)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (if making lactose-free, double check ingredients on these!)

Raspberry Filling:

  • 1 1/2 C raspberries (if frozen, place in colander & run under lukewarm water until thawed a bit)
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 C sugar

Prepare raspberry filling:

  • In medium sized microwave-safe bowl, combine flour & 1 Tbsp water (taken from your 1/4 C water). Stir until smooth.
  • Pour in remaining water (discard an additional 1 Tbsp if you used frozen berries as they’ll have more moisture).
  • Add sugar, stir until combined.
  • Last, add raspberries and stir/mash them up into your mixture.
  • Heat in microwave until boiling (you’ll need to watch – it may take a few minutes depending on your microwave).  Allow to bubble/boil for ~30 seconds.
  • Stir/mash your berries again and then return to microwave and heat them until bubbling/boiling for an additional 15-20 seconds.
  • Set aside to cool.
  • (if you do not want seeds in your filling, allow to cool 20-25 min. before straining mixture through a sieve or cheesecloth.)

simple microwave raspberry sauce

Prepare brownie batter:

  • Preheat oven to 325•F.
  • Lightly spray/grease (bottom ONLY), a pie plate with 8 inch or less diameter across the bottom; then, lightly flour and shake off excess.
  • In large bowl, beat eggs until fluffy.
  • Add both sugars and mix on low or stir by hand until well combined.
  • Add melted margarine, milk, cocoa, flour, salt and vanilla.  Stir by hand until all dry ingredients are combined into mixture.
  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Pour half of batter into pie plate.
  • Pour/spread raspberry filling on top of batter.
  • Top with remaining brownie batter (it’s okay if the raspberry filling doesn’t stay underneath the batter – see photo below).
  • Bake for 55-60 minutes.  Start checking with toothpick at 50 minutes – remove from oven as soon as a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool about 30 minutes.  At this point, you may choose to serve them warm & gooey (YUM!), but they won’t have fully solidifed yet.
  • If you’ve waited to eat them until cool, cut with a butter/table knife (makes a cleaner line than a sharper knife).
  • Optional: garnish with chocolate syrup and fresh raspberries.

brownie layers

brownies cut

brownies 2

Have a dessert recipe you want see next?  Let’s hear it!

Happy Tuesday :)

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