Thursday, September 29, 2016

Homemade Cherry Cola

Sorry to have been so sporadic posting here recently, I have been crazy busy with lots of things happening in my non-internet life. Many changes have occurred over the past four weeks and I'm hoping they mean that I will have more time for cooking, blogging and life!

The big news? I quit my job,! Then I took off two and a half weeks before I started a new job! I'll miss the people at my old job, the international travel and the unique business model. What I won't miss? The 2 hour and 15 minute commute.  Each way.  

In addition to my new job, I also got myself a car! I haven't owned a car in almost six years. Since I lived in Connecticut, I got around on my own two feet or via public transportation. Trains, trams, buses, I've learned the tri-state area system pretty well over the past five years. Need to know how to get anywhere via NJ Transit? I can get you there. Now I just need to learn how to drive in New Jersey. Trust me, it's a whole different game from driving anywhere else!

With these changes, I've added so much more time to my life. I finally have the time to finish my Junk at Home Challenge! I decided to get going on it right away and try my hand at cherry cola.  

I've made a few recipes from the Homemade Soda cookbook by Andrew Schloss, but I've always shied away from making this recipe. It requires a lot of ingredients. Most of the ingredients are pretty common, but I had quite the grocery list and had to visit a specialty grocer to pick up dried bitter orange peel.

The recipe itself comes together very quickly. Once the cherry cola concentrate is finished, you just have to let it cool and you can be enjoying floats in no time! This cherry cola definitely tastes like cherry cola, but it doesn't taste like something that you would buy in the store. The flavors are much more complex and pair really well with vanilla ice cream!

Let's see if I can finish my 2015 challenge by the end of 2016!

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Mallomars
Two Year Ago: Rigatoni with Pepperoni, Mozzarella and Arugula
Three Years Ago: Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Four Years Ago: Sun-dried Tomato Ravioli with Basil Cream Sauce
Five Years Ago: Pumpkin Pie Mallomars
Six Years Ago: Chocolate Crisps

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Dulce De Leche Filling

Welcome to Autumn! This morning I had my first hot apple cider, which is what makes the season a reality for me. Apples, pumpkin, cinnamon, cranberries. They all scream Fall to me! I'm sure you've noticed that your Pinterest board is full of pumpkin-flavored recipes. I'm about to add another one to the pile.

Today I'm happy to partner with Dorie Greenspan and OXO to bring you my first Fall-related recipe of the year! Dorie Greenspan is set to release her first ever cookie cookbook this October and several bloggers across the internet are working together to Bake a Difference for Cookies for Kids' Cancer. For each blog post, OXO is donating $100 to the Cookies for Kids' Cancer Foundation, with a possible donation of $100,000!

Today I'm featuring Dorie's Pumpkin whoopie pies with dulce de leche filling. The recipe came together super fast with a few new OXO additions to my kitchen. I used the new On Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer from OXO to make the cookie dough. I haven't owned a hand mixer in probably six years, but this one is so cool! The controls are digital and the mixer has its own light, you can make cookies in the dark! Additionally, the mixer comes with its own on-board storage system for the beaters and the cord wraps neatly around the base. A quick turn of the dough with a spatula and the dough was ready to go.

I quickly scooped out the perfect amount of cookie dough with the 2-tablespoon (medium) cookie scoop. Using a cookie scoop ensures that all of your cookies are the same size and that they bake evenly. I have all three sizes! Side note - the large size is perfect for making cupcakes. The cookie dough for these whoopie pies is a little loose, so using a muffin pan to bake the cookies is the perfect solution. OXO sent along their non-stick Pro 12 Cup Muffin Pan to bake the cookies. This is the most heavy duty muffin pan that I have even owned! It's ceramic-reinforced, two-layer construction with a commercial-grade coating. The cookies popped right out!

With the cookies baked, the dulce de leche filling was incredibly easy to whip up. Just five ingredients and you've got tasty filling in under five minutes. After filling the cookies with the frosting, I may have eaten a good portion of the leftover frosting...

If you too want to get into the Autumnal spirit, head to the store and pickup some pumpkin puree and frozen cranberries. Your house will be smelling of cinnamon in no time! Get yourself a pumpkin spice latte, throw on your fuzzy pants and get ready for the cooler temperatures!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Tailgate Time! - Football Celebration Cake

Today I woke up to chilly temperatures and a definite Fall-like feel to the morning. While the days still feel like summer, the mornings and evenings are beginning to take a turn toward Autumn. In the US, nothing says Fall more clearly than the start of football season. 

This past weekend was the opening of regular season football. Last week I created a few recipes for your tailgating party, today I bring you something to get you ready for the end of the season! It's time to think big for your team and plan your playoff celebration cake!  Being a Buffalo girl I find it a little difficult to even think about calling this a playoff celebration cake, but you can always dream!

I made this cake to celebrate the Buffalo Bills. The layering of colors in this cake is reminiscent of the team logo, with a red stripe slashing across a blue buffalo. If you call yourself a fan of another football team, just swap out the colors for your own team colors! I made a custom blend of red, white and blue sprinkles from three bottles of single colors that I bought at a local cake supply shop. You can pick up your team colors at Michaels Arts & Crafts or online at Amazon.

The cake toppers are also super easy to make! I found a clipart image of a football and traced it onto wax paper. Melting some chocolate chips and transferring them to a zip-top bag with a small piping tip, I was able to draw out the chocolate football and endzone upright.

To keep the local spirit going, you should pair your celebration cake with a local brand of ice cream! Perry's is the local brand of choice in Western New York and I have paired my celebration cake with the "Sundae at the Ralph" flavor. The red and blue sprinkles in the ice cream go right along with my team color theme!

Go ahead and plan for the best, buy your sprinkles and food coloring and get ready to celebrate!  Or just enjoy practicing your layer cake skills and eating the delicious results.

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Mallomars
Two Years Ago: S'mores Cupcakes
Three Years Ago: Cookies Dough Stuffed French Toast
Four Years Ago: Southwest Chicken Burger
Five Years Ago: Baked Pears & Salad
Six Years Ago: White Chicken Chili

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