Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays!


I am going to be taking some time off from Sophie in the Kitchen over the holidays.  Since I have started Sophie in the Kitchen, I have heard from so many family and friends that they are actually reading my blog.   Many of you have either told me in person, emailed me or liked/commented on a post via my Facebook page and I appreciate all of your support this year.  I am also grateful for so many of my blog followers and readers who are located all over the world.  Thank you!

Wishing everyone peace, prosperity, and happiness throughout the holidays and new year! 


P.S.  Thank you to one of my best friends, Sarah, for taking my holiday photos this year!  If you are in need of a baby/children photographer in the DC metro area, check out her Facebook page at SB Photography and let her know I sent you.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pretzel Rolo Candies


How adorable are these Pretzel Rolo Candies?  I used Christmas colored peanut M&Ms and pretzel wheels this time.  In the past I have used square pretzels as well as topping with pecans to make pretzel turtles.  I left a plate of these Pretzel Rolo Candies and Christmas Bark for my dog walker today too.  These would make a great homemade holiday gift if you package them up in cute bags or containers. 


Pretzel Rolo Candies

Ingredients
1 package of mini pretzels
1 package of rolo candy
1 package of peanut M&Ms


Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place pretzels in a single layer on baking sheet.  (You may also line the baking sheet with foil but it’s not necessary.)


Unwrap a rolo and place on top of a pretzel.  Repeat.


Bake for 3 minutes, until rolo candies are softened but not melted.  


Remove from oven and lightly press an M&M on top of each rolo.


Allow to cool before storing in an air-tight container.  You can store them in the refrigerator as well.


*Note: I was able to make exactly 54 candies since I had 54 rolo candies in the package.

Buddy was waiting in the kitchen while I was making these pretzel rolo candies...he was hoping I was making doggie treats!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Bark


This is one of my favorite holiday desserts and I have made it every Christmas for the last few years.  I first got this recipe from a coworker who made it for our holiday work luncheons.  I had no idea that it was made out of crackers when I first tasted this Christmas Bark.  I ended up using saltines and leftover matzos.  You can feel free to top with nuts such as pecans, almonds, or walnuts.  I like topping with crushed candy canes to give the peppermint taste for the holidays.  FYI - I placed candy canes in a plastic bagged and crushed them with a hammer, easy!  You should definitely make this if you like toffee because that is what this Christmas Bark tastes like.  I can't stop eating this Christmas Bark but I better so that I can share with my family and friends.  Enjoy!

P.S. I finally added Disqus to my blog to make commenting easier, so feel free to leave comments :)

 
Christmas Bark

Ingredients
1 to 2 sleeves of saltine crackers (and/or matzos crackers)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
crushed candy canes (optional)


Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line baking sheets (jelly roll pans with sides is best) with foil or parchment paper.  If using foil, spray lightly with non-stick spray.


Arrange crackers in one layer to completely cover baking sheet/pan.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add butter and brown sugar.  Bring to a boil for 3 minutes.


Pour butter sugar mixture immediately over the crackers.

Bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Let sit 5 minutes to allow chocolate to melt.  Spread melted chocolate with a spatula.


Sprinkle crushed candy canes on top of chocolate.  

Allow to cool to completely before breaking into pieces.  You may also refrigerate it to cool overnight. 

Store in airtight container.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting


These Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting were a major hit at the charity bake sale at my work last week.  One of my old bosses told me he bought 3 of them too!  Several coworkers who have tried my last recipe of Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting had bought these new cupcakes at the bake sale.  They helped sell out the cupcakes by telling other coworkers how good they were (thanks guys).  I promise that this new recipe is even better than the last one.  I cheated by using the boxed spice cake mix, but I made it healthy with using 1 can of plain pumpkin puree.  There is no added eggs or oil to the cupcakes.  These cupcakes are so light and moist too.  I can't say that the maple cream cheese frosting is healthy but I can say it is absolutely delicious!  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
1 box spice cake mix
15 ounce canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie)


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in muffin pan.


In a bowl, whisk together the box of spice cake mix and pumpkin.


Fill cupcake liners halfway with batter.

Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.


Place cupcakes on wire cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (1 package)
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup


Directions

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy and smooth.  (You can also use a hand mixer.)

Add vanilla and maple syrup.

Slowly add in confectioners’ sugar half a cup at a time.  Continue beating until well combined and smooth.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Oatmeal Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies


I made these Oatmeal Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies last week for our charity bake sale at work.  (I also made Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Treats too which sold out first!)  I was happy that all my baked goods were sold out during the bake sale.  These Oatmeal Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies were delicious.  I love the taste of the cinnamon chips in these cookies and adding chocolate chips and craisins made the cookies even more awesome!  I mostly followed the recipe that was on the back of the Hershey's Cinnamon Chips bag, but of course I changed it up a bit to my taste.  These cookies will be great to share during the holidays, enjoy!


Oatmeal Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks of butter)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cinnamon chips
1 cup chocolate chips
½ cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins.)


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a stand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy.


Add in eggs one at a time and vanilla.

In a bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda.   Slowly add to butter mixture, beating well.


Stir in oats, cinnamon chips, chocolate chips and dried cranberries.


Drop by heaping tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Allow to cool for 1 minute on baking sheets.


Place cookies on wire cooling racks.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sophie in the Kitchen Latkes


Happy Hanukkah!  Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of lights and is a Jewish holiday.  This holiday is celebrated for eight days and nights and commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks.  The miracle of the oil that burned for eight days was that there was only enough oil to light the menorah for one day.  This great miracle that occurred is why food fried in oil like latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (doughnuts) are traditionally eaten.  I have made latkes annually for the last few years and this is exactly how I've made them each time.  I like mine served with sour cream and I now use plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream.  Also, I did a small batch with shredded carrots, these give a hint of sweetness which are delicious.  Enjoy!  Chag Sameach to my Jewish friends!



Sophie in the Kitchen Latkes

Ingredients
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and shredded
½ large onion, grated (or finely diced)
3 tablespoons flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
3 eggs
vegetable oil (for frying)


Directions

Wash and scrub potatoes.  Peel potatoes and cut each potato into quarters.


Shred in food processor with shredding disc.   Place shredded potatoes in a bowl of cold water.  This allows the potato starch to settle in the bottom.  The water will turn brown.  (You can also use a box grater to shred potatoes if you don’t have a food processor.)

Grate onions with a box grater or if you are already using a food processer, place onion in food processer to finely dice.

Drain potatoes in a colander and press down.  I placed a paper towel on top of potatoes while pressing down to drain.  You can also place potatoes in a cheesecloth and wring well.   (*When you pour off the watery brown liquid in the bowl, save the layer of pale beige paste at the bottom.  This is potato starch, and it will help your latkes stick together.  Scrape up the paste, dump in the potato mixture!)


In a bowl, combine potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt.


Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet (I used my dutch oven) over medium-high heat and add enough oil to cover skillet.

Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until golden brown on one side.

Flip latkes onto the other side to brown.  Press down to form a ¼ to ½ inch thick patty.  Cook for additional 3 minutes or until golden brown.

Place latkes on paper towel lined baking sheet to drain excess oil.

Serve hot with sour cream or applesauce.  (I use plain greek yogurt in place of sour cream.)

Makes about 30 latkes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Treats


We are doing a charity bake sale at work this week and I wanted to make some dog treats to sell.  These peanut butter and banana dog treats passed the Buddy and Ellie test.  Buddy is the most impatient with food and treats so he could hardly wait to try one!  Can see you see that is he not even looking at me but he's looking up at the counter where the cookies are?  I really do enjoy making homemade dog treats because I know exactly what the ingredients are and I know its healthy.  This is also a great recipe to use up overly ripe bananas instead of making banana bread.  This recipe is super easy and I basically just threw all the ingredients into my stand mixer.   If you don't have a stand mixer, you can easily mix everything together in a bowl by hand.  Go ahead and spoil your dogs soon!

Update - these dog treats sold out first at the charity bake sale!  Yay!


Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Treats

Ingredients
1 egg
1/3 cup peanut butter, creamy
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tablespoon honey
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup oats
½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)


Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease baking sheet (spray with non-stick cooking spray).

In a stand mixer, mix together egg, peanut butter, bananas, and honey.


Slowly add in flour.

Next, stir in oats and cinnamon.

Drop by spoonful onto baking sheets. 


After 15 minutes, I removed from oven and flattened with a fork and continued baking for additional 15 minutes.


*Total bake time 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire cooling rack.


Makes about 30 treats.