Top 11 Recipes from 2011

2011 was a good year. I finished school, started my career, and got to witness the birth of my beautiful baby nephew, Jack.  I also decided to start this food blog back in July.  I’ve had a lot of fun making new things in the kitchen and writing about some of my most treasured recipes over the past five months and I’m excited to keep on chugging right along through 2012.  This past week, I’ve seen some other food bloggers out there that have been doing a review of their favorite 11 dishes from this past year (Prevention RD and Alida’s Kitchen) and I thought it sounded like a lot of fun to look back and pick my personal favorites.

Happy 2012, everyone! I wish you all a fun and safe holiday weekend.

Here are my top 11 favorites for 2011:

Caramelized Onion Rolls Made from my favorite artisan bread dough, these rolls combine a deliciously chewy bread with gloriously caramelized onions.

Pumpkin Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and Cream Cheese Filling Moist and flavorful pumpkin cake with a rich cream cheese filling. A perfect dessert for Autumn.

Sweet and Spicy Chili Our favorite chili that gets better and better as it simmers. Pair it with a slice of cornbread and you have comfort food at its best.

Baked Garlic Fries The lightened up version of the real thing and you won’t even miss the deep fryer.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies Pumpkin and cream cheese in a just-right handheld cookie form. I can’t wait to make these again next year!

Buckeye Cupcakes Dark chocolate cake. Peanut butter filling. Rich chocolate ganache. All topped off with a bite-sized buckeye. A treat fit for any dessert-lover.

Baked Jalapeno Poppers A delicious and easy summer appetizer. Plus, they’re baked- so they have to be low-calorie right? ;)

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies The dough requires a little extra time and planning, but the end result is so worth it. My favorite chocolate chip cookies. Nom nom.

Fresh Ginger Ale Inspired by The Northstar Cafe, one of the best restaurants in Columbus. This is a must for all you ginger lovers out there!

Creme Brulee A special occasion dessert that won’t disappoint. Bonus: you get to play with fire.

Butterbeer Cupcakes In honor of the end to the Harry Potter series. So sad to see it come to close, but I was comforted with these special treats. :)

The Lollypalooza Cocktail

Have you ever had Chambord? Until this past weekend, I hadn’t; and boy was I missing out! Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur and it is absolutely scrumptious. I received it as a Christmas gift from my parents and, after our Christmas dinner, I whipped up a little cocktail that my dad aptly named The Lollypalooza. With Chambord, vodka, ginger ale, and fresh lime juice, it tastes like sherbet in a glass. It has officially become my new favorite cocktail, just in time to ring in the new year.

The Lollypalooza Cocktail

  • 1.5 fluid oz (1 shot) Chambord
  • 1.5 fluid oz (1 shot) vodka
  • 6 fluid oz (1/2 can) diet Ginger Ale
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Lime wedge, for garnish

Combine the chambord, vodka, ginger ale, and lime juice. Pour over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge. Enjoy.

A Little Change

Hey everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I know we sure did. I’ve decided to make a slight change to my blog. I am going to start including a wider variety of recipes, so I decided to change the name from Lolly’s Sweet Treats to Lolly’s Sweet and Savory Treats. Everything will still be pretty much the same, I just thought it was time for a change in 2012! :)

I’m planning on doing a best of 2011 post this week as well as a post for my new favorite cocktail!

Food Memory Friday: The Christmas Edition

Christmas is a really special time of year. It’s a time of reflection, appreciation, and tradition. Some of my most treasured memories are from childhood Christmases.

Every Christmas eve, my mom would make a variety of appetizers and my siblings and I would get to open one small gift. After that we usually watched Christmas movies and then we were sent to bed, where we were often too excited to fall asleep. In the morning my mom and dad would make us wait at the top of the stairs while they scouted out the living room. “The old boy has been here,” they’d say and, after what seemed like agonizing hours, we were finally allowed to scurry down the stairs to see the stacks full of presents underneath the Christmas tree. My mom usually had a breakfast casserole and some cinnamon rolls for us to eat after we opened our gifts and I can recall several Christmas mornings after the dust had finally settled, when I thought to my young self, “I don’t think life can get much better than this.” The gifts were a big part of the celebration, but the most fun- as sappy as it may sound- was having that uninterrupted time with my family. Now that my siblings and I are grown and out of the house, it’s getting more difficult to spend each holiday season together. Still, those fond memories of Christmas past make me so excited for the Christmas present and future.

These buttermilk cookies with brown sugar frosting are very similar to a cookie my mom used to make at Christmas time. They usually made it onto the plate of cookies we left out for Santa. I can very vividly remember my mom baking these cookies one year and I would sneak several spoonfuls of this icing while she wasn’t looking. In fact, I ate so much that I ended up getting sick later that night. And to this day I still love these cookies dearly, even after all that.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday and that the memories you make from this Christmas will be ones on which you can fondly reflect years from now.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Buttermilk Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting

Printable Version

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp baking soda

For the frosting:

  •  1/2 cup unsalted butter
  •  1 cup brown sugar
  •  4 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
  •  2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

Whip butter and sugar in a large bowl of an electric mixer. Add vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time until well-blended. In a a separate bowl, whisk together the baking powder and the flour. Pour the buttermilk into a liquid measuring cup and then add the baking soda to it. Alternately add the liquid and flour mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Chill the dough for 2 hours or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use a cookie scoop to measure out equal ping pong ball-sized balls of dough. Roll the dough into smooth balls and then place on a cookie sheet. Pat down the cookies gently until they are slightly flattened (you may need to wet your hands slightly to prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers). Bake for 12 minutes or just until the cookies are baked even (don’t overbake!). Place on a cooling rack.

To make the icing, melt the butter in the saucepan; add the brown sugar and whisk together until smooth. Heat for two minutes, whisking constantly. Stir in the milk or cream. Bring to a boil, continuing to stir constantly. Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm. Place the mixture in a bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add in milk if it’s too thick.

Spread the icing onto the cooled buttermilk cookies. Store in an airtight container.

Sea Salt Caramels

Making homemade candy can quickly turn a person into a scrooge. Especially if your candy thermometer hasn’t been calibrated in awhile. I had these lovely visions of deliciously chewy and slightly salty vanilla bean caramels that I was going to make for Christmas.

I bought the (expensive) vanilla beans, the heavy cream, the butter. I was ready to go. I carefully stripped the vanilla beans and brought the cream to a simmer. I gingerly swirled the pan as the sugary mixture bubbled around my candy thermometer, gradually causing the temperature to rise. Several minutes went by and I barely took my eye off the pan, nervously waiting for thermometer to read 248 degrees. I prepared a small bowl of ice water to check the state of the caramel as it neared the finish line. Last year, I made the mistake of taking the caramel off of the heat too early and it didn’t set up as well as I’d hoped. “Not this time,” I thought.

When it reached about 244-ish, I dropped a small blob of the piping hot liquid into the ice water. My heart fluttered… then sank. It seemed more like a hard ball consistency. In a state of despair I quickly took the pan off the heat and then, foolishly, I picked up the bowl of ice water and brought it just a little too close to the pan before I could stop the momentum of my haste and a big ole splash of frigid water spilled smack dab in the center of my overdone caramel.

I clung to just a glimmer of hope for a Christmas miracle and I poured the sugary mess into a buttered pan. Unfortunately, the caramel cooled into one big crumbly brick of wasted ingredients. I was mildly defeated for about 10 minutes before I rolled up my sleeves and made another batch, sadly having to swap vanilla extract for the real vanilla bean. This time I took the caramel off the heat about 15 degrees earlier and paid more attention to the ice water trick. In the end, I ended up with a tasty batch, albeit not as big of a batch, of homemade caramels.

After I was all finished, I calibrated my thermometer by placing it in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Instead of the standard 212 degrees it should have read at boiling, it only reached 204 degrees. Eight degrees off. I have learned my lesson!

Anyone know what to do with overcooked, crumbly caramel chunks? Also, does anyone have any recommendations for a really good candy thermometer? I’m in the market for a new one… and a few tips on how to successfully make homemade candy. ;)

Sea Salt Caramels

Printable Version

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to drape over 2 sides, then brush the paper lightly with vegetable oil.

In a deep saucepan (I used a dutch oven), combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar and corn syrup and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown. Don’t stir — just swirl the pan.

In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream, butter and 1 teaspoon of sea salt to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.

When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. The mixture will bubble up. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer.

Very carefully pour the caramel into the prepared pan and let set for a few hours before sprinkling with more sea salt. Then let the caramel set until completely firm.

When firm, remove the caramel from the pan and cut into small square pieces.

Source: Ina Garten

Gingerbread Biscotti

One of my favorite spices is ginger and one of the most synonymous treats with Christmas are gingerbread cookies. These gingerbread biscotti are just a little twist on the classic cookie. In the dunkable, coffee-friendly form. There’s three types of ginger in these spicy bad boys- powdered ginger, crystallized ginger, and fresh ginger, which makes the ginger flavor extra-prominent and extra-delicious in a hot cup of coffee.

I didn’t always love gingerbread and I didn’t always love plain, black coffee. I guess that’s one of the nice things about being a grown up now- appreciating grown up foods. I sure do miss those 2 week Christmas breaks though. Ahh… the joys entering the”big kid” world.  ;)

It’s hard to believe Christmas is this Sunday. Is all your baking and shopping done?

Gingerbread Biscotti

Printable Version

Yield: About 2 dozen biscotti

Ingredients

  • 2 stick (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp molasses
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one, beating after each egg. Gradually add in the molasses. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and powdered ginger. Add to wet ingredients and then stir in the fresh ginger and crystallized ginger.

Form two logs of dough (each log should be about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide) on a lined sheet tray. Bake logs for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Carefully slice logs into biscotti and then turn each biscotti over on it’s side and continue to bake for another 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Source: Slightly adapted from Eat, Live, Run

Aunt Khaki’s Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

I’ve mentioned my Aunt Khaki several times before. She is the youngest of my mother’s siblings and when it comes to food and exercise, she is one of my main role models. Unfortunately, Khaki lives all the way out in Santa Monica so we don’t get to bake together very much. It’s kind of a bummer, but that’s where snail mail comes in and saves the day.

We’re able to have a long distance baking relationship and I was thrilled to see a glorious box of heaven on our kitchen when I got home from work the other day. Khaki raised the bar once again with her creations. She made a salty maple pecan fudge, pistachio nougat, rum raisin chocolate, and four different types of buttery sugary cookies.

There were four different flavors of cookies and Khaki color-coded the cookie bags with a specific color of ribbon and I was supposed to guess the ingredients (isn’t that a cute idea!?). The jury is still out on a few, but there was definitely basil, lavendar, lemon, and vanilla bean.

The cookies were perfectly crispy and buttery and apparently very easy to make. As a result, I wanted to share one of the  recipes, the vanilla bean, with all of you. You can skip out on the vanilla bean if you want, but I think using it takes the cookie to the next level.

Whelp… I’ve got a lot of work to do before I send my chunk-inducing box of sweets out west. Look for more of Aunt Khaki’s creations in the next months. I want to start including more of her recipes on LST because she has so many delicious and creative ideas. Thanks so much, Aunt Khaki!

Aunt Khaki’s Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

Printable Version

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temp
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
To make the vanilla sugar, place the two cups of sugar in resealable container. Slice the vanilla beans down the middle and scrape out the bean into the sugar. Place the leftover bean in the sugar as well. Let sit for a day.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and one cup sugar. Beat in the egg. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a log 1 ½-inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper and chill for 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Roll the log in the remaining vanilla sugar. Cut the logs into ¼-inch thick slices and place 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.