Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sweet Raspberry Lemonade

The last couple days have been pretty hot, close to 80. It was perfect weather to play outside with sprinklers and drink lemonade. Normally my idea of making lemonade is opening a can of frozen concentrate and maybe mixing it with some frozen berries, if im feeling fancy. This time I decided to go all out and do it home made. It's not something i'll do everytime, but definitely when i'm feeling up to it. Even with making the mistake of adding all of the raspberry puree to the lemonade (oops! I was wondering why it was so strong..) it still turned out fine.

Sweet Raspberry Lemonade

Joy the Baker


1 cup sugar, for a less sweet lemonade, take the sugar down to 3/4 cup

1 cup water to make the simple syrup

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-6 lemons)

4 cups cold water

2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup raspberry sauce, depending on how much raspberry you like (recipe below)

Directions: Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice. Add the juice and the sugar water to a pitcher. Add 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Add the prepared raspberry sauce and stir to combine. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it. Serve over ice. Serves 6.

Easy Raspberry Sauce


1/2 of a 12-ounce bag frozen raspberries, thawed

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon water

Directions: Place the thawed raspberries in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Add sugar and water and mix until the raspberries form a smooth puree. Transfer raspberry puree to a fine mesh strainer fit over a bowl. Press the puree through the strainer, until only the raspberry seeds and a bit of pulp remain the the strainer, and a beautiful raspberry sauce is all that’s in the bowl.

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Tartine Bakery Deluxe Double Chocolate Cookies

Usually when I make cookies it's not planned. A sudden craving hits and I need to make them now. When I was looking through my list of 'to make' recipes a lot of them required hours of refrigeration, which wasn't going to work. So I picked this one since it was a new recipe I had all of the ingredients for and wouldn't take long. These cookies are very, very soft. There's no crispy/crunchiness to them at all. They're very decadent..-pure chocolate. Be sure you have plenty of milk in the fridge before you make'll need it. They were good and i'm glad I tried them, but I think i'll stick to my 'go to' double chocolate cookie recipe.

Tartine Bakery Deluxe Double Chocolate Cookies


8 ounces SCHARFFEN BERGER 70% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate (I used Guittard 72% cacao)

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons SCHARFFEN BERGER Natural Cocoa Powder (It was Ghiradelli for me)

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 large eggs

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup whole milk

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a stainless steel bowl set over simmering water. Be sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.

When the chocolate is melted, remove from the heat. Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Set aside. Beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Slowly add the sugar and mix until the mixture is completely smooth and soft. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the salt and vanilla, and then add the melted chocolate and beat on low speed until incorporated. Add the milk and beat until combined. Finally, add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated.

Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies until they are just barely firm on top when lightly touched but are still very soft underneath, about 7 minutes (mine took longer). They will get firmer as they cool. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool. They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

Yield: about 2 dozen
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I wasn't planning on posting this. It was just something I had made for dinner...and LOVED and couldn't help but share it. This photo is actually left overs the next day, which by the way are just as delicious, if not better. I've made a few different meatball recipes before but nothing that amazed me. And now I don't know if i'll ever make another meatball recipe since this one is just what I was looking for. The sauce was also really good. It had a little spice (but wasn't spicy) and great flavor. I've never been a fan of jarred pasta sauce; I think it's for the most part bland and i'd rather not eat it. The sauce to noodle ratio in this recipe is really low so if you like your pasta saucey I would suggest either doubling the sauce recipe or not making as many noodles. Another thing is, the recipe says "serves 6." That's an understatement. I made the whole recipe but only cooked half, I froze the other half of the meatballs and sauce to make another night since there's only 2 of us. I had a total of 21 meatballs. Of course how many you have will depend on how big you make yours, but either way it was a lot. We each ate this for 3 meals over a couple days and that's only half of the recipe. So I would say it serves closer to 12. I would still make the whole batch next time though because it's nice to know I have more waiting in the freezer for next time.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

For the meatballs:

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground beef

1 1/4 cups bread crumbs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon onion powder

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup warm water

Vegetable oil

Olive oil

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

pinch of sugar

1/2 cup red wine

1 14 ounce can tomato puree

1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

1 1/2 pounds spaghetti noodles

Freshly grated Parmesan


To make the meatballs, place the ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, onion powder, egg, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl. Mix lightly with a fork. Use your hands to lightly form the meatballs. Place meatballs in the refrigerator for at least one hour to rest. Remove from fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking to allow them to reach room temperature.

To cook the meatballs, pour equal parts olive oil and vegetable oil in a deep frying pan to a depth of 1/4 inch. Brown the meatballs in batches, turning carefully with a fork or spatula to brown all sides. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. When all of the meatballs are browned, discard the oil but do not clean the pan.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in the same pan. Saute the onions until translucent and soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute more. Turn the heat to high and add the wine, using it to deglaze the pan. Continue cooking the wine on high heat for 3 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the tomato puree, diced tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper, and parsley. Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve over hot, cooked spaghetti and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serves 10-12
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Asiago (or Parmesan) Ciabatta

This recipe comes from King Arthur Flour. Those people really know what they're doing because this bread is simply amazing. It's an easy recipe and doesn't require a lot of work. It's hard to believe something requiring simple pantry staples turns out to be so good! The first time I made it I used Asiago cheese and this time I tried Parmesan since I was making some other stuff using parmesan as well. Both are equally delicious. The bread is soft and chewy and has bursts of cheese throughout it. And be sure to eat the crispy pieces of cheese that ooze out onto the pan :) (I ate them before I took the picture, but you can see 1 little piece still on the end) Asiago (or Parmesan) Ciabatta For some reason Blogger is messing up the formatting when I put the recipe in, so visit here, King Arthur Flour for the recipe. I'll just add that I didn't use a mixer on the dough but instead kneaded it by hand for a few minutes until soft and slightly sticky. I also had to add a little extra water. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Monday, March 21, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Bread

I was craving some bread, yes..I crave bread, and usually bread takes foreverrr to make, with all the rising and everything, and I just didn't want to wait that long. So I found this recipe i've had saved for a while and just happened to have 2 apples. Perfect! It wasn't long before it was done and I dug into it as soon as it came out of the oven. The bread was so good and we all enjoyed it. Except I have a hard time calling it bread because really it seems more like cake to me. Which would make it good for breakfast seeing as how so many breakfast foods are really dessert in disguise anyway. It reminded me Amish friendship bread, if you've ever had that before, except better, and without all the waiting and leaving it sitting around, which actually seems kinda gross to me. Anyway, this bread didn't last long and it's one i'll make again.

Apple Cinnamon Bread
Brown Eyed Baker

1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups peeled and chopped apples (about 1½ to 2 apples)

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×4-inch loaf pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper; set the pan aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, allspice and cloves. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add in the oil, applesauce and vanilla and mix until smooth. Next, add the sugar and mix until well-combined.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture and mix until the flour is just barely combined. Gently fold in the apples with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the loaf is golden and a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a dull knife around the sides of the loaf and turn it out on a cooling rack, remove the parchment paper and place right-side up. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap leftover loaf in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Monster Marshmallow Cookies

Not a lot of baking has been going on lately. We just got back from a trip we took down to Pismo Beach and Solvang, CA. It was a lot of fun! While everyone was up here getting rained on we were building sandcastles on the beach. And in just a few days we're about to go on another trip for a few days to San Diego. Not looking forward to the 8 hr drive, but it'll be worth it. So anyway, the other thing that quickly caught my eye in this months food network magazine were these cookies. They did a contest where readers had to submit recipes using the secret ingredient, which was marshmallows, and this is the entry that won. I made these last week right before we took off and I was really confused. Either not many good recipes were entered, I did something wrong (but it's cookies..they're simple. and I've made cookies enough to know how to do I don't think that was the problem) or maybe they didn't make the recipes before picking a winner. Although they weren't terrible, I really don't see how they won.. they sounded great but the outcome wasn't that amazing, which stinks because I love marshmallows and think it was a pretty easy secret ingredient to work with. They were very crunchy (and I even left out the nuts) and I prefer a softer cookie. I also found them to be rather tasteless. I ate a few and the rest ended up getting tossed. Give it a try if you'd like but this isn't one i'll be keeping.

Monster Marshmallow Cookies
food network magazine April 2011

I didn't post the recipe, but instead posted the link to it on food network's website since it's already typed up and everything. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Almost Famous Rosemary Bread

I was flipping through my food network magazine I just received and came across this copycat recipe for the rosemary bread they serve at Macaroni Grill. I knew right away it was something I wanted to make. I saw that the recipe takes about 5 hrs. total and I had about 5 1/2 until I needed to leave to pick up Matt from the airport. I got to work right away and was able to take the bread out of the oven just as I was leaving the house. It's been a while since i've been to Macaroni Grill so I can't say if this is exactely like theirs, but it is really really good. The bread is so light and fluffy. I also liked that it came together so easily. Sometimes it's a battle with dough being too sticky and having to add a bunch of extra flour but this was perfect. I was so glad I was able to make it when I did because I wanted to serve it with a steak salad and minstrone soup I was making for lunch the next day and this went perfectly with the meal. It's also a great snack by itself served with a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper for dipping.

Almost Famous Rosemary Bread
food network magazine April 2011

Yield: 4 small loaves
1 1/2 oz. pckg. active dry yeast
2 t. sugar
2 TBLS. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and serving
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 TBLS. dried rosemary
1 t. fine salt
1/2 t. kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Stir the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let sit until foamy, about 5 min.
Add 1 TBLS. olive oil, the flour, 1 1/2 TBLS. rosemary, the fine salt and 3/4 cup warm water, stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting lightly with flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Brush a large bowl with olive oil. Add the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until more than doubled, about 2 hours.

Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil. Generously flour a work surface; turn the dough out onto the flour and divide into 4 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, sprinkle some flour on the dough, then fold the top and bottom portions into the middle. Fold in the sides to make a free form square. Use a spatula to turn the dough over, then tuck the corners until to form a ball. Place seam side down on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, putting 2 balls on each baking sheet. Let stand, uncovered, until more than doubled, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Bake the loaves 10 minutes; brush with the remaining 1 TBLS. olive oil and sprinkle with the kosher salt and the remaining 1/2 TBLS. rosemary. Continue baking until golden brown, about 10 more minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve with olive oil and salt and pepper (I also like to add balsamic vinegar).
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cucumber Sandwiches

This is a really tasty recipe that's great for showers or get togethers. And as a bonus, they're super simple and quick to put together. This recipe could easily be halved, which is what I usually do. I don't know what else to say about it other than try it, you'll like it.
These pictures were also taken by my computer's webcam since my camera was out of town.

Cucumber Sandwiches

2 loaves of french bread, sliced into 1 in. slices (the skinny loaves, not the fat, puffy ones)
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. mayo
1 .7 package dry Italian salad dressing mix
2 cucumbers, sliced
dried dill weed

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, mayo and dry salad dressing. Cover and refrigerate atleast 6 hours, or preferably, overnight. Spread mixture onto rounds of french bread and top with cucumber slice. Sprinkle with dill weed.
*Mixture can be kept for up to a week in the fridge to make as many or few as needed at a time.
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Friday, March 11, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Frosting

It's not often that I get to make cupcakes, but I get excited about it every time I do because they're so much fun to make. Matt's sister was having a birthday and people were asked to bring an appetizer type thing or dessert. I knew I wanted to make some cupcakes since it's been so long but I had no idea what kind! I get of overwhelmed when there's so many options and flavor combinations to choose from. Finally I stumbled upon these ones and decided to end my search here. They were very chocolatey so if that's what you're looking for, these are great. If not, these are still good recipes but I would pair them with something other than chocolate on chocolate. The taste and texture of the swiss meringue frosting was just like chocolate mousse. I added a mini peanut butter cup inside each of the cupcakes but they got slightly hard since I had the cupcakes stored in the fridge. The chocolate pour (chocolate ganache, really) could easily be left out, but it does make them appear a little more fancy, especially when paired with sprinkles! I thought I should also add that my husband is out of town and took the camera with him so the only way I was able to get a photo was from the built in webcam on my computer. It was either this, or no picture, but atleast you got the idea.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
As seen on Bakers Royale

Yield: 12 cupcakes
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt
½ cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan with two inches of simmering water. Gently stir butter and chocolate until melted and combined. Set aside until mixture is warm to touch.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in small bowl to combine.
Whisk eggs in second bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is homogeneous and thick.
Fill cupcake line ¼ full. Add a Reeses peanut butter cup to each well (optional) and finish pouring cupcake batter on top of it until the wells are two-thirds full. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
Cool cupcakes to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes

Swiss Meringue Frosting (I only made 1/2 of this recipe and had just enough)
5 large egg whites
11/2 cup sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, diced and softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring mixture to 150 degrees F while whisking constantly.
Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until mixture cools and doubles in volume.
Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine. Add cooled chocolate and mix to combine.

Chocolate Pouring Sauce:
2/3 cups dark chocolate
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
4-5 tablespoons water, warm (I only needed 1 T.)
Place chocolate and heavy cream in a bowl over simmering water. Let chocolate and cream sit for 2-3 minutes to melt without stirring. Then slowly stir mixture to combine. Add powdered sugar and mix to combine. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition until pouring consistency is reached. Set aside and let sauce cool to warm.

Frost cooled cupcakes. Freeze frosted cupcakes for ten minutes. Drizzle chocolate pour over chocolate frosting. Shake sprinkles on chocolate sauce.
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Baking Misadventures

Don't you hate when you make something and it doesn't turn out very good..especially if you put a lot of time, effort or money into it? Most of the time things turn out pretty good, but it's bound to happen once in a while, especially when trying new recipes. I'm going to post about these because I like to know not only when something is amazing, but also when it's not, so I can avoid those things.
The first one I made a month or two ago. It was in the evening and I was needing some chocolate. I turned to these Self Frosting Nutella Cupcakes (if you want the recipe, just search it online) because they were really quick and easy and i'd be able to satisfy my sweet tooth in no time. It didn't taste at all like a cupcake to me. They were heavier and to me, tasted similar to corn bread. Sounds weird, I know.. but it did. I also didn't like how the nutella felt dried out, like some crusty frosting that's been sitting around. I don't mean to sound harsh, they weren't the worst thing out there, but I wasn't a fan.

Self Frosting Nutella Cupcakes

Next up is this Classic Coconut Cake that I found in the current issue of Bon Appetite (March 2011). A reader of the magazine inquired of this recipe from a restaraunt in Charleston. I also made this to take for my mother in law's birthday. Matt doesn't like coconut and I love it so I knew if I wanted to try this cake, I had to make it when there would be other's around to help partake of it. I got really excited because i've never made a coconut cake before and I figured this one would be really good (maybe that was part of the problem, I had high expectations for it). I followed the recipe exactely so I have a hard time thinking it was something I did wrong. I'm not sure why, but I didn't think the cake had very good flavor. However I did love the frosting, I thought it was really good and I would make that again.
So obviously these are just my opinions, take them as you want :) I'm sure there's people out there who have tried these recipes and might think differently.

Classic Coconut Cake

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake

It was my mother in law's birthday last week and I was asked to bring a dessert for the family dinner. I know she likes the red velvet cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory and i've had this recipe bookmarked for some time so I thought I would give this one a try. I know it's not even close to the one they have there (theirs is red velvet cake layered with regular cheesecake) but I wanted to try this one anyway. The crust stuck to the pan pretty good instead of the cheesecake, even with a piece of parchment paper under it, so that was a little messy. I also felt like it had a lot of dye in it. I might make this again but with so many other recipes i'd like to try it might be a while before I get back around to it.

Red Velvet Cheesecake
my recipes

For Crust:
1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs or Oreo crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 (1-ounce) bottles red food coloring

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
2 tbsp. butter, at room temp
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Line 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; press mixture into bottom of pan.

Beat 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar at medium-low speed with an electric mixer 1 minute. Add eggs and next 6 ingredients, mixing on low speed just until fully combined. Pour batter into prepared crust.

Bake at 325° for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 300°, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until center is firm. Run knife along outer edge of cheesecake. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven; cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes. Cover and chill 8 hours.

For topping, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth then gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla. Spread topping over cheesecake and remove sides of pan. Garnish, if desired.

*Linked to Sweets For A Saturday Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter