Friday, December 30, 2011

Some 2011 Favorites

The holidays are just about over. It came and went way too fast, but that's how it usually goes. In a couple days everyone will be on a health kick for a couple weeks (hopefully more!), then it'll be time to start drooling over Valentine's day yummies. I know this is the time of year food blogs have their list of favorite recipes from the year. And I wasn't going to do it. Do you know how hard it is to choose a few favorites when there's SO many?? My friend told me a couple months ago that I should just send her my favorite recipes and ever since i've been thinking I should do a little roundup of favorites. I figured now would be the time to stop procrastinating it. So without further delay, in no particular order, here they are..

The Sweets:

This is what I made for my birthday this year. I though it would be too much for the 2 of us, so I shared some of it. And the greedy side of me regretting it when it was gone way too fast.

Super soft and moist, topped with the perfect cinnamon cream cheese frosting. I'm looking forward to fall again-just for these.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

This was recently just made again last week for Christmas. It's light in texture, rich in flavor, and all around delicious.

A little effort required, but well worth it if you're looking for an amazing fruit tart that you won't be able to put down.

All the flavors of the best cookies combined into one. These are one of my go-to's that I often find myself looking for reasons to make.
Smore's Pie

You should know by now that I have an undying love for smore's that extends beyond summertime. It's December, you say? Sounds like a great time to make smore's to me! Or atleast a smore's pie. Even my own mother who claims to not like smore's was pleasantly surprised with this one.

Nothing fancy here, but that's what I love about them. They're a cinch to make and are a good part of why my diet starts tomorrow. But then again, my diet always starts tomorrow..

Real Food. Look at that:

I have a thing for spaghetti and meatballs. I hardly ever make it but it's on my mind a lot. The reason it's not often made though is because i'm too lazy to make meatballs. Sad, but true. Of all the recipes i've tried, this is the one.

I love bread. Love it. It's even better when you put cheese in it.
Cucumber Sandwiches

You're probably wondering why I put this one in here. It's nothing real fancy or real amazing. But they're practical, and really good. And perfect for such occasions as bridal showers or baby showers (and you know there's a lot of those going on right now).

Bloomin Bacon Onion Bread

(I didn't have a pic. for this one so I featured his just as delicious brother, the bloomin' pizza bread). Again with the bread love. And cheese. And bacon?? This would be a typical Friday night around here..
Stuffed French Toast

French toast is probably my all time favorite breakfast. This is an awesome version of stuffed french toast and perfect for special mornings (say...Valentine's day??)

**Have a great New Years! I know you're all going to want something a little more healthy come Sunday, so i'll be back next year to help you out with that :) Atleast for a day..then i'll probably be back to posting something with chocolate. Sorry.
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Toffee Bars

I know, i've already got a toffee bar recipe on here. But this is a little different version, as the shortbread here contains peanut butter and oatmeal. Both are equally delicious to me, it just depends on what you're wanting! Great addition to your holiday cookie plates.

Peanut Butter Toffee Bars
from cookbook: Chocolate Therapy, seen in Family Fun magazine

1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. peanut butter
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 quick oats
1/2 t. salt
3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line a 9x13 in. baking pan with foil so ends extend over the edges of the pan 2 inches.
In large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar, and egg yolk on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add the flour, oats and salt and beat the mixture on low until the ingredients are just blended, about 30 sec.
Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared plan. Bake the crust until it's golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes (be careful not to overbake).
Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chocolate chips evenly over the crust. Return the pan to the oven for 1 minute. Remove the pan and spread the chocolate evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the toffee pieces over the chocolate, gently pressing them into place.
Set the pan on a wire rack to cool until the chocolate has set, about 2 hours. Using the edges of the foil, life from pan and cut into rectangles.
Makes: 32 bars Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chocolate Pecan Bars

My friend and I have baking 'dates' once in a while, and these are what we made during one of them. I liked them so much I even made them again a couple weeks later and ate about 1/4 of the pan by myself. In one sitting. Maybe I shouldn't disclose that kind of stuff...but let's be honest. They're good. They're even better still warm from the oven on top of some vanilla ice cream. These are so easy to make, the hardest part is waiting for them to cool. But since we're on the whole honesty thing..I don't actually let them cool. They come out of the oven and i'm waiting with a spoon in hand. Skip the traditional pie this Christmas and just go with the bars :)

Chocolate Pecan Bars

For the Crust:

1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

¼ cup packed brown sugar


3 large eggs

¾ cup corn syrup

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1¾ cups coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (I just used chocolate chips)

1½ cups chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
2. For the crust, mix together the flour, butter and brown sugar until crumbly. Press into the baking pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown.
3. For the filling, beat the eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla extract with a wire whisk. Stir in the chunks and pecans. Pour evenly over the baked crust and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set.
4. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cool completely and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Praline-Pumpkin Cake

I mainly decided to make this cake because I happened to have a yellow cake and some extra pumpkin on hand when I wanted to bring a 2nd dessert to a church dinner. It actually turned out really good and I had several people tell me that. Matt didn't know I had made this cake and when he went to choose a dessert (there were about a million, too) he ended up picking this one. However, I don't know if i'll be making it again since i'm a chocolate girl. It takes a lot to win my heart over if it's not chocolate. Be warned though, that this cake feeds a small army. Originally the recipe calls to be made in 2 8x8 pans, but after reading some people's reviews and some problems they had with it, I decided to just do a single layer in a 9x13 pan.
Praline-Pumpkin Cake
Betty Crocker

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 container Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy cream cheese frosting
Caramel topping, if desired
Additional coarsely chopped pecans, if desired

1. Heat oven to 325°F. In 1-quart heavy saucepan, stir together butter, whipping cream and brown sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, just until butter is melted. Pour into two ungreased 9- or 8-inch round cake pans; sprinkle evenly with 3/4 cup pecans.
2 In large bowl, beat cake mix, pumpkin, water, oil, eggs and 1 teaspoon of the pumpkin pie spice with electric mixer on low speed until moistened, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Carefully spoon batter over pecan mixture in each pan.
3 Bake 41 to 47 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
4 Stir remaining 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice into frosting. To assemble cake, place 1 layer, praline side up, on serving plate. Spread with half of the frosting. Top with second layer, praline side up; spread remaining frosting to edge of layer. Drizzle with caramel topping and additional pecans. Store loosely covered in refrigerator. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

BBQ Chicken Fettucine

Here's a real quick and simple meal for ya. Not to mention deeelicious. It's a fun twist on traditional alfredo with bold flavor and a little spice. It's not often I repeat recipes, but this is one i've made a couple times now, so that's telling you somethin.

BBQ Chicken Fettucine
adapted from Patio Dadio BBQ

1/2 lb Fettucine
3 Grilled boneless/skinless chicken breasts, sliced in 1/4" slices
1 can (14.5 oz) Diced tomatoes with onion and green pepper
1 jar (15 oz) Classico Four Cheese Alfredo
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup Water
2 tsp Hot sauce
1 tsp Smoked paprika
1/2 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
1 9. oz bag fresh spinach

Cook the pasta according to the package directions while you prepare the sauce.
Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add the can of tomato/onion/pepper. Saute until about half of the liquid has reduced, then add the chicken. Continue sauteing until almost all of the liquid has evaporated.
Reduce the heat to medium and add all of the remaining ingredients, except the pasta. Cook this for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Be careful to not let the sauce scorch. If that starts to happen, reduce the heat.
Add the drained pasta to the pan and toss well for several minutes. You want the sauce to nicely coat the pasta without becoming too dry. If it starts to get too dry, just add a splash or two of milk. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Monday, December 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Cups

Matt's favorite candy is peanut butter cups, so I knew eventually I would try my hand at a homemade version. I was pleasantly surprised with how close these tasted to the real thing. Even the texture was pretty spot on. The biggest things I noticed were that the real Reese's pb cups taste saltier and the pb to chocolate ratio was just a tad more in this version. Overall, they turned out great and my plans to share them..well, atleast I had good intentions.
Peanut Butter Cups
Brown Eyed Baker

Yield: About 3 dozen peanut butter cups
Prep Time: 45 minutes Chill Time: 1 hour, total

1 cups creamy peanut butter
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup light brown sugar
1¼ cups powdered sugar
4 cups milk chocolate chips (two 11.5-oz bags)
¼ cup vegetable shortening

1. Line a mini-muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. Line a baking with parchment paper; set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the peanut butter, butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Heat until completely melted and starting to bubble a little, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Add the powdered sugar a ¼ cup at a time, stirring until completely combined with the peanut butter mixture after each addition. Set aside and let cool.
3. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips and shortening together in the microwave on 50% power in 30-second increments, until completely melted, stirring after each burst.
4. Using a small cookie scoop or a couple of teaspoons, spoon melted chocolate into the bottom of each lined muffin cup.
5. Use a heaping teaspoon to scoop out the peanut butter mixture. Roll it into a ball, and then flatten it slightly into a disk. Place on the prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once finished with all of the peanut butter mixture, refrigerate both the muffin tins and the peanut butter patties for about 30 minutes.
6. Place a peanut butter patty on top of each chocolate-lined muffin tin. Then use a scoop or spoon to add more melted chocolate on top and around each peanut butter patty.
7. Refrigerate again for 30 minutes, then they’re ready to serve! Store in the refrigerator or freezer. You can keep at room temperature in an airtight container if you’re going to serve them the same day, but they’ll start to get soft if not at cool room temperature Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Homemade Marshmallows

Homemade marshmallows are a cinch to make. I'm not a fan of eating them plain straight out of the bag (and that goes for either store bought or homemade), but roasted over a fire or in hot chocolate and i'm all over it. I thought this homemade version made hot chocolate super creamy and delicious, more so than the store bought ones. In fact, since making these I keep finding myself making hot chocolate just for the melted creaminess of the marshmallows. The recipe makes plenty so be prepared to share!

Homemade Marshmallows

The Smitten Kitchen

Makes about 96 1-inch cubed marshmallows

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin

1 cup cold water, divided

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites

1 tablespoon vanilla


Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.
In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.
In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer.

In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and don’t fret if you don’t get it all out. Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.
Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.
Do ahead: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.
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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Sugar Cookies

It's Christmas time, what better time to decorate cookies? I wanted to try my hand at decorating sugar cookies with royal icing again. I think it's a lot of fun, but it's a little difficult to get them to look flawless, as you can tell by mine. It was only my 2nd attempt, so i'm still learning. The "pink" on the trees was supposed to be red. Last time I tinted using a hot pink coloring and I put to much so after drying it turned almost red. This time I had the opposite reaction where I put too little, thinking it would dry a lot darker. Which I guess means next time it should be right on. Atleast I hope. They take some time with all the drying and decorating, but well worth it in the end. I found that the squirt bottles you can purchase for cheap at stores like Michaels help a ton.
The cookie recipe was really good. In fact, Matt kept sneaking the extra cookies, a little more so than normally. The icing..not so much..but that's expected. Not that it was bad, but we're going for presentation over taste on that one.
Here's the sugar cookie recipe and royal icing I used, from Bake at 350.
Now get in the kitchen and show Santa some love!
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Layered Toffee Cheesecake Pumpkin Pie

They (whoever "they" are) say pie's going to be the new cupcake, I hear. Personally I don't think I would take it that far, but to each their own. As I promised in the last post, here's the other pie I made for Thanksgiving. I'm not into pumpkin all, really. But layered with the toffee cheesecake and a graham cracker crust turned it into something I could eat (not only eat, but love) without completely submerging it in whipped cream. It also looks pretty fancy too, you would never think it was so easy. Be sure to add this one to your pie list this season.

Toffee Cheesecake Pumpkin Pie
Our Best Bites

I swear I had a picture of the inside.. the bottom layer is the cheesecake with the pumpkin pie on top, they're distinctive layers.

2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (just short of 2 sleeves)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 bag toffee bits
1 15-oz can pumpkin
3/4 cup whipping cream
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie seasoning
1/8 teaspoons salt
Cool Whip or sweetened whipped cream for topping

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Spray a 9 or 10″ springform pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix crumbs and butter. Press in bottom of pan. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
In large bowl, beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in 2 of the eggs. Stir in 1 cup of the toffee bits. Spread over crust.
In a new bowl, Mix pumpkin, whipping cream, 2/3 cup sugar, the cinnamon, pumpkin pie seasoning, salt and remaining 3 eggs just until blended. Slowly and carefully spoon over cheesecake layer.
Bake for 2 hours or until edge of cheesecake is set at least 2 inches from edge of pan but center still jiggles slightly when moved. Turn oven off; open oven door at least 4 inches. Leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes. Run spatula around edge of pan. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Run spatula around edge of pan; remove side of pan. Pipe whipped topping or whipped cream around edges of cheesecake; sprinkle with remaining toffee bits. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chocolate Cream Pie

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Ours was so fun, and relaxed. As opposed to the hectic Christmas season we've just entered. For dessert, my brother in law thought it would be fun if everyone brought a pie. There were a lot of people..and even more pies! I'm not a huge pie person but they were all so good. I brought 2 (the other i'll post next time). I'm a chocolate person so to ensure there would be some chocolate I decided on this chocolate cream pie i've been waiting to make. I loved it and it must have went over pretty well since it all got eaten. Thanksgiving might be over, but Christmas is coming up and if you're in need of a pie, this one won't make you sorry.

I think I forgot to mention before, but the Index is FINALLY updated. Wow it was overdue. But every recipe is now in it and hopefully it'll never again get that far behind.


Chocolate Cream Pie

(Ok, so not the prettiest picture, but it was the only one I got that shows the inside)

For crust:

1 1/3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

For filling:

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 large egg yolks

3 cups whole milk

5 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

For topping:

3/4 cup chilled heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

Make crust:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.Stir together crumbs, butter, and sugar and press on bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate (1-quart capacity). Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack.

Make filling: Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will be thick). Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours.

Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.

Make topping: Just before serving, beat cream with sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then spoon on top of pie.
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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Skirt Steak Salad with Blue Cheese

It's a few days before Thanksgiving and I got a cold today. I really hope this is over soon! It's bad enough to be sick, but let's not have it during a holiday, please! Last Thanksgiving I was busy recovering from getting my appendix removed. (Which was the most painful thing i've ever experienced and i'm glad I won't go through again.) On a good note, I got a Kitchen Aid stand mixer!! I scored an awesome deal and i'm very excited about it, if you can imagine. And it's red. That just adds to the awesomeness.
Having nothing to do with baking, here's a salad for ya! I first made this last year and Matt dubbed it one of the best salad's he's ever had. He's a steak guy, if you didn't know. I'm not a blue cheese person (or atleast I didn't think I was..) but I loved it here.
Skirt Steak Salad with Blue Cheese
Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4
1 pound skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat if necessary, halved crosswise, at room temperature
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
1/2 pound baby arugula (I used spinach)
Vinaigrette (below)
3 tablespoons minced chives, 2 thinly sliced scallions or 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion, for garnish

Pat steak dry and season on both sides 1/2 teaspoon salt and many grinds of black pepper.

In a cast-iron skillet: Heat skillet on medium-high to high and add olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, place steak in skillet and do not move it for 5 minutes. Turn it once, and cook for another 3 minutes for medium-rare. You may need to cook your steak halves separately, depending on the size of your pan.

On a grill: Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal or high heat for gas. Oil grill rack, then grill steak, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, 4 to 6 minutes total for medium-rare.

Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest, loosely covered with foil, for five minutes. Arrange arugula on a large platter. Thinly slice steak on the diagonal, across the grain. Arrange over arugula then toss with tomatoes and blue cheese. Add viniagrette to taste and sprinkle on chives.

Steakhouse Mustard Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil

Whisk ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and adjust ingredients to taste Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Giant Cookie

Some things are just more fun really big. Or really small. When it comes to cookies though, the bigger the better, I think. I've wanted to make a really big cookie for a long time but haven't had the right occasion. So when my friend's birthday was coming up I knew immediately I wanted to make it. Now I can't vouch for how good (or not) this cookie is because I wasn't about to give someone a cookie with a slice taken out. But if there's any lack of flavor, I think the giant factor would make up for it. It's a little trickier making a large cookie as opposed to small ones. The edges definitely start to set up before the rest of the cookie, so just keep your eye on it to make sure they don't get too crispy before the rest of it even gets cooked. Now go make someone's day!

Giant Cookie
From Mel's Kitchen Cafe, seen on Tasty Kitchen

½ cups White Sugar
½ cups Brown Sugar
½ cups Butter, Melted And Cooled Slightly
1 whole Egg
½ teaspoons Soda
½ teaspoons Salt
½ teaspoons Vanilla
1-½ cup Flour
½ cups Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugars and butter. Add the egg and mix. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Line a large (11X17-inch) baking pan with foil and press the cookie into a circle. Press the cookie into a 9-inch circle, about 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick. When it bakes, it spreads to about 11 inches, which fits perfectly onto a 12-inch round cardboard circle you can find at most craft stores.
If desired, top the cookie with M&M’s or any other garnishes.
Bake for 13-16 minutes until the cookie is lightly golden brown. Let the cookie cool completely on the baking pan. Once cool, gently use the foil to lift the cookie off the pan.
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Pull Apart Bread with Vanilla Glaze

My baby boy is 5 months old today. Next month he'll be halfway to his first birthday and that's just crazy. Yes, it's still a while away, but I know it will approach far too soon and I refuse to let it happen! My husband, however, is planning all the manly things they'll get to do together when he gets a little older. Like camping and wild pig hunting.
Now for the recipe, I doubled it and made 2 loafs. It seems somewhat of a shame to go through all the work of making bread only to have it gobbled up so fast. Besides, I needed to take 1 loaf to something and I of course wanted a loaf for myself. Looking at the recipe it seems like a lot of steps. It really isn't too bad though. If you've ever made cinnamon rolls, it's a similar process and definitely similar taste. My glaze was a little clumpy, maybe I should have sifted the powdered sugar. It's funny how i'm not too lazy to make something like this, but when it comes to sifting, that's another story. I find slight joy in pulling the soft layers off, you'll understand once you try.

Pumpkin Spice Pull Apart Bread with Vanilla Glaze
Willow Bird Baking

Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread Ingredients:

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast

2 1/2 cups bread flour

Filling Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Butter Rum Glaze Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/8 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons milk

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the pull-apart bread dough:

Grease and flour a loaf pan and set aside. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, brown the 2 tablespoons of butter. Let it bubble and foam and when you see it start to brown, stir it so that it browns evenly. When it’s the color of dark honey, remove it from the heat and pour it into a large heat-safe mixer bowl to cool. In the same saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk until it bubbles. Remove it from the heat and pour it into the bowl with the butter. Let these cool until they’re about 100-110 degrees F. Set the saucepan aside for another use later. Stir the sugar and yeast into the milk/butter mixture and let it sit for about 10 minutes to proof. Stir in pumpkin, salt, and 1 cup flour. Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring between each addition. When the dough is combined, knead on low speed with a dough hook until smooth and elastic, or knead by hand. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour until it doubles in size (After it rises, you can put it in the fridge overnight to use it in the morning, but let it sit out for half an hour before rolling if you do.)

Make the filling:

While the dough is rising, whisk the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Toward the end of the rising time, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter for the filling in the saucepan over medium-high heat and brown it as directed above. Put it in a small heat-safe bowl to cool for use later.

Shape and bake pull-apart bread:

Knead a sprinkling of flour into the dough, deflating it, and recover it. Let it sit to relax for 5 minutes. Flour a large work surface and turn your rested dough out onto it. Roll it out to a 20 inch long and 12 inch wide rectangle, lifting corners periodically to make sure it’s not sticking. If it seems to be snapping back, cover it with your damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before continuing. Spread the browned butter over the surface of the dough with a pastry brush and then sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top, patting it down to ensure it mostly sticks (I didn't use all of the cinnamon sugar mixture, it seemed like way too much to me).With the long edge of the rectangle toward you, cut it into 6 strips. Stack these strips on top of one another and cut the resulting stack into 6 even portions. Place these portions one at a time into your greased loaf pan, pressing them up against each other to fit them all in. Cover the pan with your damp cloth and place it in a warm place for 30-45 minutes to double in size. While dough rises, preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 325 if you have a glass loaf dish instead of a metal pan. When it’s risen, place the loaf in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until dark golden brown on top, if you take it out at light golden brown, it’s liable to be raw in the middle, so let it get good and dark. Cool for 20-30 minutes on a cooling rack in the loaf pan while you make the glaze.

Make the glaze:

In your saucepan, bring the butter, milk, and brown sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove it from heat, add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and whisk it to a smooth consistency.

Assemble and serve:

Use a butter knife to loosen all sides of the bread from the loaf pan and gently turn it out onto a plate. Place another plate on top and flip it to turn it right side up. Drizzle glaze over top. Serve each piece slightly warm with a drizzle of glaze.
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Monday, November 7, 2011

Pretzel Rods

I wanted a quick snack to take to a girl's night and these were perfect. My favorite thing about them, other than they're super quick and easy to make and are a tasty little snack, is that you can customize them for any occasion. And if you don't want rods, you could just as easily use regular twisted pretzels. Next time I want to try a few other variations, especially one with a caramel drizzle. Options are endless!

Pretzel Rods

What to do: Get a bag of pretzels (rods or twisted) and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Melt some chopped chocolate, candy melts or almond bark (I used almond bark) and dip the pretzels. If using rods, leave an inch or two of space at the bottom for the handle. If you're going to roll the pretzels in anything like sprinkles, or crushed nuts/candy, do that immediately after dipping so it sticks then place on the baking sheet. When you're finished dipping them all, put in the refrigerator until set. When they're set, you can drizzle over them if you wish, then place back in the fridge until set.

Also, Family Fresh Cooking is giving away a 7 qt. stand Kitchenaid Mixer. Go on over to enter!!

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

I mentioned that I made pumpkin spice pancakes last month, so this time I decided to try waffles. They tasted pretty much the same except one was pancakes, and these are waffles. I chose to post the waffles because I prefer them to pancakes. And if you don't have a waffle maker, I highly suggest you get one. I know..some people will tell you don't bother, it'll sit in the cupboard and you'll never use it, which may be true..but we use ours monthly. And who doesn't love waffles?? Instead of buying frozen waffles, I just make 2 big batches and freeze them, it usually lasts us about a month or two. So here you go, go make yourself some waffles.

Pumpkin Spice Waffles
Tammy's Recipes

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) melted butter
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, buttermilk, egg, and melted butter. Stir to combine.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir just until moistened.
3. Preheat waffle iron. Spray hot waffle iron with oil or non-stick cooking spray, spoon batter onti iron, and cook until done. One my Belgian waffle maker, these waffles take about 5 minutes to cook fully. The outsides will be browned. Serve waffles hot with maple syrup Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Cupcakes

We went to the Exploratorium a couple months ago in San Francisco. It's a really fun science museum with a ton of different exhibits to check out. One of the exhibits in the 'mind' section was a water fountain that looked like a toilet. It was saying that most people wouldn't drink from the fountain (although it was perfectly for as drinking fountains go) simply because it was a toilet. I think that same thing would apply to food. I'm not too big into the gross looking Halloween food. I mean, it looks cool and all but isn't presentation a big part of eating? I don't find severed body parts or kitty litter cakes very appetizing. So here's some cutesy treats that are simple and don't take too long. Unless maybe you have babies distracting you like me and my friend did while trying to decorate them. We also did a little Halloween photo shoot for our babies and I gotta say, they're the cutest things. Ever. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

No recipe here, it's pretty self explanatory from the pictures. Make yourself some cupcakes. I just used a box of Funfetti to make life easier. Color some icing the different colors you want and go to town! We did mummies, vampires and pumpkins here.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Being sick is NO fun. I don't know where this cold came from that is cursing my family, but with a holiday weekend coming up, it needs to be gone soon! Here's another cheesecake brownie recipe I saw recently and knew immediately I would be trying them soon. After making pumpkin spice pancakes last weekend I still had some left over pumpkin puree (and still im sure you'll be seeing another pumpkin post soon!), I also happened to need a dessert for something so I think it was fate. These are just as good as they look and sound and definitely worth giving a try. Not in the mood for brownies? ( that possible?) Try giving these pumpkin chocolate chip bars a shot. They will surely test your will power.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
seen on the amazing Perry's Plate


Brownie Batter:

3/4 cup butter, melted

1 cup sugar

1 T vanilla

2 eggs

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cheesecake Batter:

6 oz cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1/3 cup sugar

2 T flour

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp each ground ginger and ground cloves


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8" or an 11x7" baking pan.

For the Brownies:Beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time. Combine dry ingredients in small bowl, and then gradually stir into butter mixture by hand.

For the Cheesecake:In another bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in remainder of ingredients until smooth.Spread about 2/3 of chocolate batter into prepared pan. Spread the pumpkin batter over top, distributing evenly. Drop the remaining brownie batter over cheesecake batter. To make the swirls, run a butter knife back and forth through the pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely and chill before cutting and serving.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

Someone tell my boy it's not cool waking up multiple times during the night. I don't remember the last time I slept through the night. It's been a very long time. And I don't see an end to my sleepless nights anytime in the near future. It took Rylee about a year until she slept good at night. Then not long after that I was pregnant again. And sleeping while pregnant at times can be as bad as when the baby is actually out. Landon is only 4 months. And while I don't want my baby to grow up, I miss sleep! That has nothing to do with these brownies, other than the fact that I can't think about anything else right now than i'm ready for bed!! So, brownies are good. Cheesecake is good. I don't see how these could possibly be bad. I've made plain cheesecake brownies before, but I think I prefer the chocolate ;)

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies
Baking Bites

1/2 cup butter
2-oz dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

Cheesecake layer:
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 or 9×9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Stir in cocoa powder until fully incorporated. Set aside to cool.In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisking steadily, pour chocolate mixture into sugar mixture. Stir until smooth. Sift flour and salt into the bowl and stir until just combined.Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.Prepare cheesecake mixture. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, cocoa powder, egg and vanilla extract until smooth.Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Gently swirl two batters with a butter knife.Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture will come out clean.Cool in the pan completely before slicing and serving, either at room temperature or chilled.Brownies can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.
Makes 16 large brownies. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chips

I don't understand this weather. The last couple days have been so hot! Hotter than most of summer. I've been pulling out the fall recipes lately but it just doesn't feel right when it's 80 degrees out. In fact we made pumpkin spice pancakes this morning (very good). This, however, is not a fallish recipe. It's one i've been wanting to make for a while, but you see, they require planning ahead. I rarely plan ahead when it comes to baking. Usually when I bake something it's because I want it in that moment. I'm glad I finally decided to think ahead. These were really good peanut butter cookies and I absolutely loved the addition of chocolate chips. My only issue with these? There wasn't enough of the chocolate chips. Next time i'll be adding twice as many. These cookies spread a lot so be sure not to flatten them much, give plenty of space between each, and allow the dough to rest the 3+ hours indicated.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chips
from Baked: New Frontiers In Baking, seen on Crepes of Wrath

Yield: about 24 cookies

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes

1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 cup more for rolling the cookies in

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup creamy peanut butter

6 ounces good milk chocolate, coarsely chopped


1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl.
2. Beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, at least three minutes .Scape down the bowl and add in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. The mixture will look light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract and the peanut butter. Beat until combined.
3. Add in half of the flour mixture, mix for 15 seconds, and add in the rest of the flour. Mix again until just moistened. Fold in the chocolate chip with a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl tightly and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours

4. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line and/or grease two large baking sheets. Using your hands, roll the dough into tablespoons-sized balls. Roll in granulated sugar. Place on the baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. Press down gently with the palm of your hand, but do NOT press too hard and do NOT press it flat.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown, being sure to turn the pan around halfway through the baking time. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10-15 minutes before removing to another surface to cool completely. Store in an airtight containers for up to 4 days at room temperature, or freeze for up to 2 months.
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Neapolitan Marble Bundt Cake

I didn't plan anything spectacular for Matt's birthday cake because he didn't even want one so I just decided to try something new, a bundt cake. I had to scour the neighborhood to find a bundt cake pan and I was really by surprised how unpopular they are. But after knocking on several doors, I finally found one. The cake was good, but I think I overcooked it slightly because it was a little dry. Originally this recipe doesn't have any frosting on it, but since I had so much of the cream cheese frosting left over from the cupcakes I used it on this cake as well. And I was a little dissappointed that the frosting was the highlight of the cake. The cake was pretty good, but the frosting was delicious. Of course my favorite flavor of the 3 was the chocolate :)

Neapolitan Marble Cake
adapted from Baked's Marble Bundt Cake via. See You In The Morning

(Looks kind of like a donut, doesn't it?)

Sour Cream Cake
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, soft, cut into pieces
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
16 oz sour cream
2 tsp vanilla

for chocolate swirl
6 oz dark chocolate (60-72% cacao), chopped
1 tsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder

for strawberry swirl
1/2 cup diced strawberries
1 tbsp strawberry preserves

a few drops of pink coloring

Make chocolate swirl
: in the top of a double boiler over simmering water or in microwave, melt the chocolate. when it's completely smooth, add the cocoa powder. remove from heat and set aside.
preheat oven to 350. spray the inside of a 10 inch bundt pan. sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. scrape down the sides and add the sugar. beat until smooth and fluffy. add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. scrape down bowl and mix. add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until just incorporated. add the dry ingredients in 3 additions. do not overmix!
pour 1/3 of batter into the chocolate and combine. fold strawberries and preserves into another 1/3 of batter. plop large spoonfuls of 3 batters into pan. then use a butter knife to pull through the layers and make swirls. bake in the center of the oven for about an hour, rotating halfway through.
let cake cool in the pan for a bit and then invert.
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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

The first fall-ish recipe of the season is here, and it's a good one. I can't get enough pumpkin desserts (unless it's pumpkin pie..maybe if it's slathered in whipped cream but even then..) and baked goods. Mostly the baked stuff though, I love how it makes the final product so moist.

My husband's birthday is this weekend, the big 2-8. When did we get so old?? It wasn't that long ago that he turned 24 (about 2 weeks after we started dating). So I wanted to make him something to take to work. He didn't want me to. I didn't care. And guess what? He also doesn't want a birthday cake. Like that's gonna happen. How were they? I suppose it's a good sign when he comes home empty handed, right?

PS- Just FYI, but my index needs to be updated, baaadly. The last couple months of posts aren't in there. I'll try to work on it when I have some time..which isn't often.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

from Martha Stewart as seen on My Baking Addiction

Pumpkin Cupcakes
yields: approximately 20-24 cupcakes


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.2. In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8) ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 stick butter, softened

2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar

1 TBS ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Using a mixer, blend the butter and cream cheese together until well combined. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated. Finally mix in vanilla and cinnamon

*Note that the frosting makes a ton. If you plan on only using it for 1 batch of cupcakes, half the recipe. I realized it would make a large bowl so I set aside half of the frosting and kept it plain, without the cinnamon and plan on using it to frost the cake, too.
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Bloomin Bacon Onion Bread

You may remember the Bloomin Pizza Bread from a couple of months ago. If not, do yourself a favor and go check it out. We really enjoyed it so I decided to make the bloomin onion bread a couple weeks ago. Oh my.. it was a very close competition. I had some bacon in the fridge and thought it would be a lovely addition. And I was so very right. I wasn't expecting to post about it, but after we had it I knew I wanted to share. The part that really surprised me though? The leftovers (which wasn't much) the next day were even better than when I freshly made it! If you're into cheese, green onions, bacon..some of the best stuff in life..add this to your list to make!
Bloomin Bacon Onion Bread
adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

1 unsliced loaf sourdough bread
12-16 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, thinly sliced (I just used pre-shredded cheese)
Bacon-however much your heart desires
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup finely diced green onion
2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook bacon and set aside.
Cut the bread lengthwise and widthwise without cutting through the bottom crust. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Insert cheese slices between cuts. Combine butter, onion, and poppy seeds. Drizzle over bread. Wrap in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Unwrap the bread and sprinkle bacon on top/between slices and bake 10 more minutes, or until cheese is melted. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

It officially feels like fall. Why does summer always go by SO fast, leaving me with a list of things I wanted to do?? It rained just about the whole day today so I mostly stayed inside with sweats on and looking like I just climbed out of bed. You think I would be used to it, growing up in Washington and all. As long as it doesn't stick around for too long, i'm ok with it.
Anyway, on to the cookies. I think of Christmastime when I think of sugar cookies. Growing up that's the only time we really made (and decorated) them. I'm not a big sugar cookie person, mainly since there's no chocolate involved. But I wanted to try these so I made them for a girl's night. These cookies were really good, thick and fluffy. I would make them again. The frosting wasn't what I expected though..I was hoping for a light and fluffy frosting, but instead this was more like a glaze. A little runny at first but then hardens rather quickly. Overall, I would definitely reccomend giving them a shot!
Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
Annie's Eats

Yield: about 2 dozen large cookies
For the cookies:
4½ cups all-purpose flour
4½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
5 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting:
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
7-8 tbsp. milk (plus more, as needed)
Food coloring (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk together to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients mixing just until incorporated and evenly mixed. Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, scoop a scant quarter cup of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies at least 2-3 inches apart. Bake about 10-12 minutes or just until set. The edges should be no more than very lightly browned, if at all. Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To frost the cookies, place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter, vanilla, and milk to the bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in additional milk as necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Tint with food coloring if desired. Use an offset spatula or spoon to frost the cooled cookies. Top with sprinkles if desired. Store in an airtight container. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Turkey Pesto Panini

I can only imagine how real Italian food tastes. My brother served a mission for our church in Italy. When he was finished my parents went out there to visit before he came home and unfortunately that was about 2 weeks before I got married. Not wanting to leave my soon-to-be husband for soo long (a week), I decided not to go. What was I thinking?? Right? So now he owes me a trip to Italy. He knows this and actually brings it up often. Last night's dinner was Italian inspired. I've been sick the last couple of days and cooking is on my list of last things I want to do when i'm sick, so panini's it was. You can use whatever kind of sandwhich fillings you like, I used the traditional flavors of fresh mozzarella, basil, pesto and turkey (my husband opted for pancetta). I also bought some smore's gelato cause hey, it's Italian night, i'm sick, and I have a thing for smore's.
P.S.- you don't need any fancy panini press to make the sandwhich.

Turkey Pesto Panini

Bread- you can use whatever type you prefer, I had a loaf of sliced sourdough that I used and it was great.
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Pesto- homemade or store bought. I went the store bought route.
Fresh basil (optional)

Preheat grill pan, or skillet.
Spread a layer of pesto on one slice of bread.
Top with mozzarella, turkey and basil then top with another slice of bread.
Butter the outside of top slice of bread then lay buttered side down in preheated pan.
Using another skillet, place it on top of sandwhich and press down slightly.
Cook until golden brown then remove skillet and butter the slice of bread facing up then flip sandwhich over.
Replace skillet back on top of sandwhich and grill other side until golden brown. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter