Monday, December 26, 2011

a sneak peek.......

Here is a quick sneak peek at the fun I am looking forward to....

I will also be attempting some Yo Gabba Gabba cookies. It will probably get interesting... But I will share more pictures later.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!!!

For the holidays every year I make pumpkin roll. It has always been one of my favorites and since I discovered Eve's pumpkin roll recipe I have been a goner.

Eve, in case you are wondering, is a very real person and she also is famous for her pumpkin roll. I remember when I started at my first job and I was working around the holidays. I was working hard (haha) one day and all of sudden a buzz started around me... "The pumpkin roll- it's here!" "Eve's pumpkin roll is here!" "Pumpkin roll- where?". And the first bite of that roll made me a forever convert.... Fast forward a few years and Eve and I are working together and she gives me a pumpkin roll for Christmas and the RECIPE!!!! Thanks Eve!!

Soooooo I have been making her pumpkin roll ever since. I know that a pumpkin rolls sounds complicated but really it is a rather simple recipe. The key to making a pumpkin roll are the tools. A jelly roll pan is a must have as well as a large tea towel. Other than that- I bet you have everything you need to make it.

Here are the ingredients minus a few... such as powdered sugar and eggs.. and who knows what else I forgot to include in the photo... I always have been a touch flaky, but more on that later....

And yes Kroger brand cream cheese works great!! You will mix your pumpkin mixture by hand and spread it into a parchment paper lined jelly roll pan. And trust me the parchment paper is key- it really does help pull the roll out of the pan after baking.

After you spread the pumpkin mix in the pan and pop it in the oven, you can get your tea towel ready. Be sure to put plenty of powder sugar all over the towel so that the roll does not stick when you roll up the pumpkin mix in the towel.

This is what the baked and cooled pumpkin roll look like pre-roll part....

And this is where things get a little sketchy... I forgot to take pictures of the process where you roll the roll (haha roll the roll) in the towel- insert flaky moment here. But to clarify- I gently pull my roll from the pan after it has cooled for 15 minutes (this is where the parchment paper helps) and place the roll top side down on the sugared towel. I then carefully peel the parchment paper off and starting at one end, begin rolling the roll in the towel. I think I almost needed to take a video to explain this process, but as I have not yet seen an Iphone tripod, we are out of luck. Once the roll is in the towel I let is rest and cool some more.

I then prepare the cream cheese filling. The filling is simple as well and can be mixed by hand or with a hand mixer. Once the roll has cooled in the towel, then it can be gently unrolled. You will then spread the cream cheese filling over the roll. Since the roll has cooled in the rolled up position, it will then easily roll back up with the filling inside.

Here is a picture of the completed roll. I then refrigerate mine until ready to serve For some reason I like mine a little chilled and I actually find that it is easier to slice when chilled as the roll holds it shape better, but I think most people prefer to eat their roll at room temperature.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas Everyone (or all one or two of my readers! lol)


(recipe below)

Eve's Pumpkin Roll

2 eggs
2/3 cup pumpkin or half of 15 ounce can of pumpkin
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup all purpose flour

Other tools:
parchment paper
jelly roll pan

combine pumpkin, eggs and sugar and stir together till well combined. Add dry ingredients (baking soda, cinnamon and flour). Stir till all combined well. Then spread in parchment lined jelly roll pan. A hint- spray the bottom of the pan and the parchment paper will stick beautifully. I also do a small spray of cooking spray on top of the parchment in case...

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Cool the roll in the pan for 15 minutes. Then dump roll on powdered (sugar) towel and roll up and cool for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile make your cream cheese filling:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs butter (softened)
1 8oz cream cheese (softened)
1 tsp vanilla.

Blend all ingredients together until creamy and smooth. Unroll your pumpkin roll and spread filling over roll and carefully roll back up.

*** Thank you EVE for the best pumpkin roll recipe EVER!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This is really what Christmas is all about......

For some reason this holiday season has been a tough one for me. I have found myself procrastinating and putting off holiday "chores" more than usual. For example, I still have not put up a Christmas tree and to be frank I am not sure if I will even put one up. I do have a small miniature tree up and I did put up a few decorations. I also have not bought any cards to mail and again- to be honest am not sure I will even send them out this year. I am struggling because all of these tasks are starting to feel more like chores to me. I am sad over the fact that I feel this way, but am trying to pull myself out of this "funk".

I did get a chance to see zoo lights again this year and although it was a cold- it was a beautiful night and the lights were spectacular. This photo does not in any way really show how amazing and beautiful the lights display is. It seems since I got my iphone I have been neglectful of my other camera. One of these days I would really like to invest in a quality camera so I can really take some amazing pictures. My Dad would have loved me loving photography as much as I do.

The other night I had my nephew over to decorate sugar cookies. I had made some cut outs a couple of nights before and had some icing and sprinkles ready for him. At first he was very hesitant and did not want to decorate, but after his Nana arrived he was ready to go. And he got very into the cookie decorating.

Here is a picture of his sweet little face as he concentrates on spooning sprinkles over everything- oops I mean his cookies.

According to my nephew this is how cookie decorating goes..... Step 1- apply some sprinkles.....

Step 2- apply some more sprinkles......

Step 3- and just in case apply some more sprinkles...

And the finished product looks something like this.....

But the mess never mattered at all.... because he had fun and it warmed my heart seeing him have so much fun.

We made some beautiful cookies the other night... they may not look like the ones I see on some of my favorite cooking and baking blogs, but they were made with love. And I think that is what Christmas memories are all about.

Sending Christmas love to everyone!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A new job and a new oven.....

This past weekend was monumental... I finally got a new oven. And it is a purty one.... It has a hidden bake element so hopefully spills will be easier to clean out of the bottom of the oven. Not that I ever spill anything in my oven. I wish I had taken a picture of the inside of my old oven- it was embarrassing how much food spillage had happened in there. My new oven also has a convection feature. And the cook-top is ceramic. I really wanted a flat top stove after having to deal with coils for the past few years, but I have recently heard mixed reviews from others about the ceramic flat tops. So the jury is still out on what I think of the stove.

And the drum roll...... Here is a picture of the new oven.

And since I was spending so much money I figured I might as well go for broke.... So I got a new dishwasher as well. I did not end up getting the same brand of dishwasher as I did oven, but I am very happy with it. My new dishwasher is super quiet, allows me to run a half rack load and has a stainless steel interior. I had never heard of the Bosch brand before I went shopping, but I heard universal praise about the brand. And I must say so far I agree.

I used my new oven for the first time the other night and I am glad I broke it in on a casserole I made before making cookies. I never knew that the first time you use a new oven it can produce a strong "chemical/burning smell". And oh boy did it smell. So it would not have been a good idea to bake up some yummy cookies because you would have never been able to enjoy the smell of deliciousness baking.

So tonight, I decided to give the oven another whirl and baked up a recipe I found on Pinterest. I made the "Cherry Chocolate Cookies" by The Curvy Carrot.

I must admit this cookie dough smelled divine as I was mixing it up. And as I was chopping up the cherries I kept eating them. Just an FYI- this cookie dough is more of a shortbread dough as it does not use any rising agents and bakes at a lower temperature. The cookies appeared a little dry as I pressed the chocolate kisses into them, but they were perfectly delicious.

Here is a quick snapshot of the dough- I love the pale pink color and pop of red from the cherries.

Here are a few cookies from the first batch from the oven. The cookies were just as beautiful as promised. The faint hint of almond and pop of cherry flavor is delicious and the chocolate is the prefect finishing flavor in your mouth. So pop on over to The Curvy Carrot to try out this recipe for yourself.

I plan on doing some more baking in the next couple of weeks and really need to get started on my Christmas shopping soon.