All the Harry Potter themed baking!

Yesterday, I went to a work party, so of course, I had to bake a little something. By a little something, I mean pudding pie and cookies. And because we had decided that our party was Harry Potter themed (we’re librarians, we do nerdy things like this), I decided to make butterbeer pie and butterbeer cookies.

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The cookies I had made before, and I used this recipe. I had made these before, and they turned out great like always. They have pudding mix in them, which always makes for really soft, chewy cookies. But overall, they might just be the best cookies ever. Everyone I’ve made them for has loved them. I like that this recipe also has tips at the end of the post to alter the recipe. One of these is a tip for not chilling the dough before baking, which is something I always do (because who has the time to chill dough?).

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The second thing I made was butterbeer pie, using this recipe. This was something I had never made before, but I was pretty pleased with how it came out. It’s essentially pudding pie with whipped cream mixed in, so the filling is really light and fluffy. When I was mixing it, I was worried that it wouldn’t hold it’s shape, since it was so light. But I chilled it for probably a bit longer than it says to in the recipe, and it worked better than I expected. It was still a little hard to cut, but it at least didn’t melt all over the place the way I expected.

I should also note that I decided to use graham cracker crust instead of regular pie crust, because I like pudding pie with graham cracker crust better. Since the pie really ends up being just a mound of filling and crust on your plate, graham cracker crust mixes in a little bit better, in my opinion.

One last thing I’ll mention is that I wasn’t blown away by the whipped cream. The recipe includes instructions for making marshmallow whipped cream to top the pie with. It’s essentially just whipped cream with marshmallow fluff mixed in. But I had trouble getting the fluff to mix into the cream. The way it says to do it is to whip the cream first, and then fold the marshmallow fluff in, but marshmallow fluff is kind of hard to mix into something that’s cold. And I didn’t want to over mix, and take all the air out of the whipped cream, but it seemed like it was more chunks of fluff in the whipped cream, rather than a smooth marshmallow whipped cream. Not that it wasn’t still tasty, but I don’t know how marshmallowy is was.

If you try these recipes, I’d love to know how they turned out. Or if you know of any other good Harry Potter themed recipes.

Happy baking!

Alyss

(photos courtesy of recipe links)

Cauliflower fried rice

Despite my trouble with beginning Whole 30, I have already found a really great recipe for cauliflower fried rice that follows the diet completely.

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Here’s the link to the recipe if you’re interested. 

I’d seen a few recipes on Pinterest for cauliflower rice, and I’ve been intrigued to try it. So, I was really glad to finally get the opportunity. It was definitely worth it, and I will be making this again soon.

If you’re worried about the similarity in taste to real fried rice, you shouldn’t worry too much. It’s not exactly the same, but the addition of the egg and usual fried rice vegetables makes the  experience really similar. The biggest difference is probably the coconut aminos, which are used in place of soy sauce. These are supposed to be a really similar soy-free option, and although it is similar, it’s a lot less salty than real soy sauce. Not that this is a bad thing for your sodium intake, but it does change the taste a bit.

Overall though, this recipe is definitely worth trying, and a really great alternative to regular fried rice.

Happy cooking!

Alyss

(photo courtesy of recipe link)

All the baking!

I’m visiting family for the New Year, so of course, we’re having a lot of different family gatherings. And because I’m one of the designated bakers in the family, I’ve been baking a lot. I made the gingerbread cookies that I’ve posted about a couple weeks ago (here’s a link to that post), and then gave my grandma the recipe because they were so well received. I also made two different kind of cupcakes, although those were from box mixes, so there’s really nothing much to say about those.

Today, I made sour cream pound cake, because we’re having another gathering which includes dinner out and dessert at home afterward. This pound cake recipe is from a book I bought awhile ago, called All Cakes Considered.

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(photo courtesy of Goodreads)

It’s seriously one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever used, because the recipes are very detailed and helpful if you’re a new baker, or are just hoping to improve your baking technique. It’s also mostly cake recipes, so there’s a lot of variety for everyone’s particular tastes.

This pound cake recipe is especially good. It’s technically sour cream pound cake, but the flavor is so nice and citrus-y, because it has both lemon and orange extracts in it. And the texture is thick and dense, yet fluffy at the same time. If you know anything about good pound cake, you’ll know what I mean, and this one is the best I’ve ever had.

However, it’s definitely a lot of work, and I feel like people should go into baking aware of what they’re getting themselves into. There aren’t a ton of ingredients, but the batter requires a lot of mixing and adding each ingredient slowly in portions. I should also mention that this is the first recipe in the book, so it goes into a lot of detail about exactly how to make this cake right. So you’ll spend a lot of time mixing, especially if you don’t have a stand mixer. I have one at home, which makes things a bit easier (though you still can’t cut corners on mixing if you want the pound cake to come out right). But the problem this time is that my mother doesn’t have a stand mixer, so I had to use her hand-held mixer, which is really hard work for thick pound cake batter. And did I mention that it takes an hour and a half to bake? This cake is definitely an all afternoon endeavor, but it is so worth it, especially with some strawberries on top.

It all turned out good, and there was even enough batter left over to make a loaf to keep for ourselves. Which was a good thing, since it was completely devoured! Also, my grandma (who loves pound cake) asked for the recipe, so that’s always flattering.

This book is really worth the investment if you love baking. It includes great recipes, pictures, helpful instructions, and the funniest baking insights throughout.

Happy baking!

Alyss

Christmas baking, part two

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For the second installment of my Christmas baking, I decided to make Nutella cookies, because who doesn’t have enough Nutella in their lives?

This is the recipe I used, courtesy of American Heritage Cooking. I found it on Pinterest, and decided to go with this one over a couple of other Nutella cookie variations.

This one was pretty easy, although this recipe does call for a few more ingredients than the shortbread from the first installment of my baking adventure. I did cut out the chocolate chips, because I’m not a fan of dark or semi-sweet chocolate, and I thought it would be a little much on top of the Nutella. But I’m sure they would be good either way, depending on your preferences.

The one thing I will say is that these cookies seem really easy to overcook. The writer of the post mentions to be careful of over-baking, so I was being careful to watch them, but I think I still managed to cook them just a little bit too long. They were still really good, but I prefer a softer cookie, so I will definitely be even more careful next time I make them.

But even if they were a little bit harder than I liked, they still tasted amazing, so I highly recommend them to anyone who’s a fan of Nutella. Which, let’s be honest, who isn’t a fan?

Happy baking!

Alyss

(photo courtesy of American Heritage Cooking)

Christmas baking, part one

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Although you could probably consider gingerbread and gingerbread cookies to be Christmas baking, they weren’t for anything specifically Christmas-y. So I’m going to consider this to be my first Christmas baking, since I’m baking for a Christmas Eve Eve party. I decided to bake two different kinds of cookies to bring to the party, and started today with shortbread cookies.

This is the recipe I use, so you can check it out if you’re interested.

I’ve used this recipe before, and it’s really simple and easy to do. There are literally only three ingredients: flour, sugar, and butter. And you pretty much just mix them together, knead it a little bit, and then press the dough into a large cookie sheet and bake it. The cookies come out soft and crumbly and delicious every time.

While shortbread isn’t necessarily a traditional Christmas cookie (I’ve definitely made it other times of year), I’ve been making it at Christmas time for the past couple of years. So it’s become one of those cookies that I get a little bit excited for at this time of year.

So this was part one of my Christmas baking, and part two will come tomorrow when I bake another batch of cookies. I’m bringing a lot of cookies to this party.

Happy baking!

Alyss

(photo courtesy of Taste of Home)

Honey Beer Bread

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Here’s the link to the recipe, from Gimme Some Oven.

This was my first year making a Thanksgiving meal (up til now, I’ve only ever helped or made a certain dish or dessert), and at the last minute I was looking for a good bread recipe that I could make with ingredients on hand. So I turned to Pinterest, like you do, and found this recipe.

I’ve made bread with beer before, and enjoyed it, so I had high hopes for this bread. I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Not only is this bread easy to make, but it’s also a really nice combination of flavors. It’s nice and bready from the beer, buttery from the melted butter used, and slightly sweet from the honey. It’s also a really moist and dense bread, which I appreciated. It didn’t need any butter or spread of any kind. It’s good all on its own.

This is one of those mix-it-all-up-and-bake type recipes that’s really simple to whip up. The weirdest part of the recipe is the fact that it calls for you to not only grease the pan with melted butter, but also pour some over the batter before baking. I was a little skeptical about this, since I’m used to putting butter on bread after it’s been baked rather than before. But it really turned out good. The melted butter essentially just gives the bread more of a buttery crust. I might try using a little bit less melted butter next time, but it definitely wasn’t the worst thing ever.

I recommend trying out this recipe. It was good with our Thanksgiving meal, but I’m sure it would be great with soup too. If you do try it, let me know in the comments how it worked out.

Happy baking!

Alyss

(photo courtesy of Gimme Some Oven, at the link above)