Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Awww yeah- it’s the week before Valentine’s day and pink and red hearts are flooding my thoughts and dreams. While I don’t consider myself a girlie girl who likes chick flicks  and princessey (I’ve decided to make that a word) stuff, I absolutely adore Valentine’s Day. Mostly because I love chocolate. And baking. And, of course, my wonderful husband Robert. :)

To kick off the Valentine’s day celebrations, I made these red velvet whoopie pies. Two cakey red cookies are filled with a rich cream cheese frosting for a fun twist on a special dessert.

Whether or not you are celebrating this Valentine’s day with a special someone, it’s always nice to have a little heart-shaped treat to help remind us of the people in our lives that we love, be it our moms, dads, siblings, friends, partners, or even pets. Love is in the air. :)

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Printable Version

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 oz red food coloring, more or less depending on how red you want the batter to be (I used Americolor food coloring)

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa power, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, add in the egg, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined.

4. Gradually add in the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.

5. Add in the food coloring and stir until mixed evenly. Do not overmix!

6. Transfer the batter to a piping bag with a large round pastry tip (I used Wilton #12 tip).

7. Pipe hearts onto the baking sheets, keeping them about 2 inches apart. Smooth down the top of the batter with a greased knife.

8. Bake for 7-9 minutes, remove from the oven, transfer to baking racks,  and allow to cool completely.

9. To make the frosting, whip together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined. Gradually add in the powdered sugar until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag.

10. Pipe frosting onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, leaving the edges clear.  Sandwich the cookies together so the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling reach the edges.  Refrigerate or freeze in an airtight container.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Homemade Ranch Dressing

What is it with Americans and ranch dressing? People eat it with everything- salad, raw vegetables, baked potatoes, pizza, chips.  I’m starting to think all of these foods are just vehicles for the creamy sauce that us Americans apparently can’t eat enough. I’m not usually a fan of ranch dressing. I prefer blue cheese and vinaigrettes, but I saw this recipe on Pinterest and thought I should give the homemade version a try. The result? No contest. The homemade version is ten times better than what you buy in the store. It’s so much more flavorful with the fresh herbs and garlic. And it barely takes 10 minutes to throw together. I even lightened it up by swapping some of the mayo and sour cream for plain Greek yogurt.

If you love ranch dressing, you must give this version a try.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Yield: 16 2-Tbsp dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 small bunch of chives
  • 1 small handful of parsley leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (white pepper, preferred)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk

1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender with only 1/4 cup of buttermilk.

2. Blend for 10 seconds. Gradually add in more buttermilk until you achieve the desired consistency.

3. Store in an airtight container for 1 week.

Source: Slightly adapted from Pennies on a Platter

My Favorite Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal cookies are one of my favorite comfort foods. Especially chewy ones. Like these. A few years ago, my mom stumbled upon this recipe and it has been our favorite ever since. They are perfectly chewy with a perfect balance of salt and cinnamon. The only thing that would make them better is throwing in a heaping handful of plump, juicy raisins; but there is a boy that I live with that likes oatmeal cookies sans raisins. He’s not normally picky, but in this instance he is. And since I can’t eat the whole batch myself- well technically I could- I left them out. Also, my mom sometimes adds in coconut and almonds and that is really delicious too. It’s really up to personal preference.

If you are looking for a great oatmeal cookie that’s chewy and flavorful, look no further. These are quite tasty. And they make your house smell heavenly. :)

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Printable Version

Yield: About 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • Raisins, nuts, coconut (optional)

Directions

1.In a medium bowl, cream together butter and both sugars.

2. Beat in eggs, one at a time until well blended. Stir in vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.

4. Add in the oats and stir until just combined. Add in any extras (raisins, nuts, coconut, etc), if desired.

5. Transfer the dough to plastic wrap, cover, and chill for at least an hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch diameter balls and place on the cookie sheets, about two inches apart. Press down gently with fingertips.

7. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Don’t overbake. Allow to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com