Friday, July 27, 2012

It's My Birthday!

Today is my 40th Birthday!  I'm 40....I'm 40.....I'm 40......

It doesn't matter how many times I say it, it doesn't sound right.  I don't feel 40!  How does a 40 year old feel?  I'm guessing that I should probably feel like more of an adult than I do, because in my mind I am still in my 20's.  I can tell you this.....I am not where I thought I would be at 40.  I did not ever think that I would be a single mother, working hard to pay the bills while trying to get another, more useful, degree in college (much harder the second time around), and raising my sons (and dog).

I can also tell you that I have never been happier!  I love my boys and we have a stronger, better relationship than ever!  Not many people can tell you that they truly like their teenagers and enjoy spending time with them!  I am blessed with them (and the dog) and I am blessed with the most perfect mother who ever walked the Earth!  She is supportive and loving and fun and I would not be who I am today without her!  I am also so lucky to have the best family in the world and the most wonderful friends any girl could ask for!  Mine is a life surrounded by love!  Can't ask for more than that as a Birthday gift!

Thanks to all of you who read my blog with it's silly kid stories, terrible photography, ramblings of red wine and thankfully, it's yummy recipes!  I have always loved baking and I am so happy I found a way to share my baking experiences with others who feel the same as I do.

So....Happy 40th Birthday to me!  May every year be even more of an adventure than the last!  May my life always be this full of love, friendship, support, happiness and of course....COOKIES (probably should add red wine too)!!

Baker Becky (the 40 year old)

(BBQ tomorrow and I'm in charge of for new recipes next week....)   ;-)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Caribbean Turkey Jerk Sliders with Mango Salsa (and Pina Colada Jello Shots)

I promise you that I have a recipe to share with you today, but you will have to bear with me for a bit while I go off on a blogging tangent....but in a good way!  :)

Today I am feeling like a blogger!  What is a blogger?  According to a blog is a Web site containing the writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites.  A blogger is the keeper of such weblog or blog.  What this definition doesn't tell you is that as a blogger you can become part of a community of people who have the same hobbies or love of a craft.  In my case it is baking and cooking.  I never knew that I would meet and interact with so many other people who have this same love as I do.  I did not know that I would feel so much love, praise, encouragement, acceptance and friendship from so many strangers all over the world.

I started my blog because I am always baking and cooking and trying new recipes.  I am forever bugging my facebook friends and my children with pictures of all these experiments and I decided it would be nice to see if I could connect with other people out there who share my love of food and cooking.  I didn't know what I was getting myself into.  I have been lucky to have such supportive friends and family who have passed my blog along to all that they know.  I feel so honored to have such support and love from all of them.  Growing followers outside of friends and family has taken more effort.  I learned a lot searching the web and doing my research.

One of my greatest finds was  This is a wonderful site where bloggers, chefs, and people who just love to cook can share blog posts, pictures, recipes, etc.  It is a site where you can connect with these people and become friends with these people.  I feel so lucky to have found all of these wonderful bloggers who make me feel like a superstar baker!  These fellow bloggers are all over the world, reading my recipes and sharing theirs with me too.  I receive emails from some of these friends, lovely comments, and wonderful humor!  Pretty awesome!!  With Foodbuzz changing, I hope that I will find other ways to keep up with all of these wonderful bloggers!

Ok....back to the food!  I was recently invited to a themed get together.  The theme.....Tropical!  Put on your coconut bra and grass skirt, and pull out the rum!  What a great get together with so much yummy food!  Marinated shrimp, Grilled chicken with tropical salsa on coconut rice and my contribution.....Caribbean Turkey Jerk Sliders with Mango Salsa and Pina Colada Jello Shots!

I will admit....I have failed my blog!  I took only one picture of the sliders and none of the jello shots!  This could have something to do with tasting (just a tiny taste, I promise) the jello shots as I was making them (no really, probably just a sip).  But even without pictures I can promise you.....DELISH!!  Next time I make these I will post more pictures but for now, you will have to use your imagination!


Caribbean Turkey Jerk Sliders with Mango Salsa

1 lb ground turkey
1 tablespoon jerk seasoning
2 tablespoons jerk marinade, plus more for after cooking
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 dozen slider buns or dinner rolls

Mix together and form your sliders.  I cook mine in my electric skillet but you can use your stovetop non-stick skillet.  Be sure to spray with non-stick spray.  Heat over medium-high heat for 3 minutes on each side.  Take off of the heat and brush the tops of your sliders with more jerk marinade.

Jerk Mayo:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons jerk seasoning

Mix together and set aside.

Mango Salsa:
3 fresh mangoes, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 small jalepeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/4 fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of one lime
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients aside and let sit to meld the flavors together

Assemble the sliders:
Spread jerk mayonnaise on both sides of roll, place slider on roll and top generously with fresh mango salsa.

Pina Colada Jello Shots

1 packet unflavored gelatin
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup Malibu Rum

Heat pineapple juice to boiling and pour over gelatin.  Mix until disolved.  Allow this to cool to room temperature before adding your Malibu Rum.  Stir in rum.

Pour into small plastic or paper condiment cups and refrigerate until firm, approximately 2 hours.


Award Time!

I have recently received an award from one very sweet and talented blogger!  The name of the blogger is Miss Messy (I love this name) and she makes such beautiful and yummy food, her pictures are always fabulous!  Please check out her blog Mess Makes Food.... (here)

The award was the Addictive Blog Award.

The rules are as follows:
Thank the person who nominated you and link them back.
  • Share a little bit about why you started blogging.
  • Copy and paste the award onto your blog.
  • Nominate up to 10 other bloggers you think are addictive enough to deserve the award.
My nominations are:

These bloggers tempt me every day with their wonderful posts!  They inspire me to keep trying new things and expand my skills in the kitchen!

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Harry Potter Marathon and Homemade Cinnamon Rolls!

Yesterday my boys and I had a Harry Potter movie marathon!  We stayed in our pajamas all day long, covered the family room with pillows and blankets and got through as many movies as we possibly could.  I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan.  I love, love, love the books and have read each of them multiple times.  I saw every movie in the movie theater and have since re-watched each of them.  The only thing I haven't done is watch them all in order in one day.  I can honestly say....I still haven't.  I forgot how long all of the movies are.  They are not 1 1/2 to 2 hours long.....they are all 2 to 3 hours long!  We only got through the first 4 movies and still need to continue  throughout the week to complete that last 4 disks. 

Since we didn't want too many interuptions during the day, I planned our meals ahead of time.  Don't laugh but I actually went through the Harry Potter Cookbook looking for ideas for our themed day.  In the end I didn't make any Harry Potter recipes, instead we opted for homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast!

My Mom has subscribed to Bon Appetit magazine for as long as I can remember and occasionally one or two of them end up in my house ;).  I'm sure she knows I take them.....well, she probably knows I take them.....ok, ok, ok....I take them without her knowledge but only if there is a REALLY good recipe!  In March of 2008 there was a fabulous looking recipe for Cinnamon Rolls, had to give them a try and they were yummy. 

I am always on the quest for the perfect cinnamon roll recipe. I will admit, I haven't found it yet.  I stress the YET....because, I WILL FIND IT!!!  I have a copycat Cinnabon recipe that I love (but can't find), and I have tried most every cinnamon roll recipe out there.  My kids tell me they are all the best ones I've ever made, so I have come to the conclusion that I make good cinnamon rolls, no matter what the recipe!  I always tweak the recipes a bit.  For instance, I prefer brown sugar in my filling, I like lots of cinnamon in my filling, and I prefer to cut my rolls bigger than many recipes call for because I like a bigger, taller, cinnamon roll.  

This recipe makes for a tender roll and the dough is extremely easy to work with.  Even those of you who are nervous about yeast doughs will find it super easy.
Spread all of that butter over the dough, this will help turn your cinnamon/sugar into a gooey, yummy filling!
 The recipe makes quite a lot of filling so use it according to your tastes, if you prefer a sweet cinnamon roll, use all of it.  Rolling and sprinkling the dough is a fun task for your kids and gets them involved and helping in the kitchen.  I had Max as my helper yesterday !
Bon Appetit called for a cream cheese frosting which I didn't use.  It is my favorite way to frost a cinnamon roll but I am outnumbered in my home and we use a simple powdered sugar glaze.  Please make sure to add the vanilla to your glaze, I think it gives it an extra depth of flavor.

Well, it is Monday, my blog is finished for the day and there are leftover cinnamon rolls to be eaten....I'm thinking it's time to start the 5th movie!!

Enjoy and wish me luck getting through all of these movies!

This recipe is featured on:

Cinnamon Rolls 

1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast 
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 2 1/2  cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Switch paddle to dough hook and knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball. Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.

Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15x11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 12 equal slices.

Spray 9 x13" glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Arrange rolls cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.

Combine powdered sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla in medium bowl.  Mix until smooth and drizzle over rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine 3/2008

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups with Reese's

I am not a big fan of candy, with the exception of good chocolate, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Twix, black licorice and hot tamales.  For times when I am in the mood, I keep a secret stash!  So far the boys have not found this secret stash, even though it is in the kitchen and not all that hard to find.  Shhhh....don't tell them but I hide all my good candy behind my baking supplies!  Going into the baking supplies would mean they were going to do work, so I figure that's a safe place to hide things! Oh shoot! Now all of you know where to find my good candy, I'm going to have to come up with a new hiding spot!

My collection of candy has grown faster than I care to eat it all so I decided to reduce it by contributing my bag of mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to a blog post!  Really I am killing two birds with one stone because I have been dying to try the Mini Muffin Pan from Demarle at Home.  My friend Kim is a representative (here) and she loaned a few pieces for me to try out and give my opinion!  So happy to try out any baking or cooking equipment, always looking for a good excuse to bake!!  

I see people making cookie cups with peanut butter cookie dough and a mini Reese's PB cup in their mini muffin tins all the time.  I felt that might be peanut butter overload so I made my personal Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe but substituted mini chocolate chips for the regular sized ones.  I used my smallest cookie scoop to fill the muffin pan and baked until almost done, then I set a Mini Reese's on top and baked for 3 more minutes.  I absolutely loved the mini muffin pan!  Super easy to use, no spray or oil necessary and my cookies popped right out without any sticking or mess.  Can't wait to try the regular muffin pan and make some CUPCAKES!!!  

The cookies were YUMMY!!  They were also gone before I had a chance to hide any in my secret stash for later!  ;)  Oh well, I did what I set out to do....all of the Reese's are gone and I have a new favorite baking pan!!

Before I forget....I set up a Facebook fan page!  Please stop by and "Like" me (here).


Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups with Reese's

2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 t salt
2 t vanilla
2 large eggs
1 t baking soda
2 ½ cups flour
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 bag mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixer, cream butter with the two sugars until fluffy and light.  Add the vanilla and eggs and beat until fully blended.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Add to the creamed butter mixture just until mixed.  Mix in the chocolate chips.

Use a small scoop to fill the cups of a mini muffin pan.  Bake for 8 minutes, pull pan out of oven and place a mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in each cookie.  Pop back in the oven for 3 minutes.  Cool on rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Store at room temperature.

Recipe Shared On:
Foodie Friends Friday

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cherry Hand Pies

4th of July!  When I think of 4th of July, I think of parades and BBQs and fireworks!  Growing up it was always a special holiday, as I have a very patriotic family and there is no more patriotic holiday than the 4th of July.  I remember going to parades and every time an American flag would pass by, Mom would make me stand.  Up, down, up, down for the entire parade.  It probably would have been easier if I'd just stayed standing! Mom and I joke about it now but I have to tell you, whenever I am at a parade and the flag passes, I find myself standing, hand on heart! :)

The boys were with their Dad for fireworks this year so I wasn't planning on doing anything to celebrate but at the last minute I had a few friends over for an impromptu dinner.  It was not your typical 4th of July meal but it was soooooo delish!!!  My friend Jen made a yummy baked cod dish and nectarine salad that was to die for!  I made summer corn cakes with avocado salsa, which I promise to blog about another day, they were so yummy!

Of course, I was in charge of dessert.....what to make???  I planned on doing something with apples until my niece, Samantha, posted on Baker Becky's Facebook fan page (here) that she would like me to make a cherry dessert for the blog.  I LOVE homemade cherry pie but I know that Samantha doesn't have a rolling pin (and I'm opposed to store bought pie crust) so I decided to make Cherry Hand Pies, which use puff pastry!  I saw the recipe in Bon Appetit last year and meant to make them but completely forgot.  Couldn't find the magazine anywhere so thank God for!!!  The recipe (here) is simple and the ingredients easy to find at any grocery store.

The other reason I wanted to make these hand pies rather than a traditional pie is that I wanted to use my new silpats!!!  My good friend Kim (here) is a representative for Demarle At Home and I just got my new Silpats from her.  My old Silpats lasted at least 15 years (which is a long time for someone who uses them almost daily) and I have been flying through the rolls of parchment paper.  So happy to have the new mats so that I am not  using so much paper! No sticking and easy cleanup from the cherry juice that drizzled out of my hand pies!! 

I love this recipe because it uses puff pastry which is easy for anyone to use, even those who are not experienced bakers.  I used Pepperidge Farms because that's what I have available to me but feel free to use any brand.   I defrosted each sheet in the refrigerator and then rolled them to make them a little longer, but this is not necessary if you don't have a rolling pin.  The only real work to this recipe is pitting the cherries.  I'll admit it is a bit of a pain-in-the-you-know-what, but it's not impossible!  Cut your cherry in half and pull out the pit, ta da!!  If you have a cherry pitter it is even simpler!!

Totally worth any extra work from pitting the cherries because these are delicious!  Those of you who don't like cherry pie have probably had pie filling from a can.  Trust me, fresh cherry pie is unbeatable!!  Perfect for 4th of July or any summer BBQ!!  

Cherry Hand Pies

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted, or about 12 ounces frozen pitted cherries, unthawed
2/3 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 14-ounce package all-butter puff pastry,  thawed in refrigerator
Flour (for dusting)
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoon course sugar

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a silpat mat (can use parchment paper). Stir cornstarch and 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl to blend. Combine fresh cherries and next 4 ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cherry juices are released, about 5 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture; bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to an 10 x12" rectangle (if you don't have rolling pin, skip this step). Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut each dough into 4 6x5" rectangles (cut into 4 equal squares). Whisk egg white and 1 tablespoon water in another small bowl for egg wash.

Working with 1 pastry rectangle at a time, place on a work surface and brush edges with egg wash. Scoop 3 tablespoons cherry mixture onto one side; fold dough over filling so that short ends meet, forming a 5x3" packet. Crimp edges with a fork to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in top of pie to vent. Place on prepared baking sheet; repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Brush tops with egg wash, then sprinkle with raw sugar. Chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake pastries until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Makes 8 hand pies.

Adapted from

Recipe shared on:
Foodie Friends Friday

Sunday, July 1, 2012

More Donuts!

Yep...donut time again!  

This weekend was my son's 13th Birthday Party.  Every year I get excited wondering what my kids will want for dessert on their birthdays.  I start thinking about unique cakes I can make, or even cupcakes.  I can pull the fondant out or get out my piping bags and tips and make some cool characters.  But alas, it is never to be so.  My youngest does NOT like cake.  I have to beg him to try the cupcakes I make for my blog.  No, he is not a lover of cake and so, he requested donuts for his dessert! 

I guess they were on his mind since we just made them two weeks ago for the blog,  "Baked Donuts with Chocolate Glaze".  He requested vanilla donuts with chocolate glaze, vanilla donuts rolled in cinnamon sugar, and, chocolate donuts with vanilla glaze and toffee bits!

I'm all for making life easy, so I used the same recipe base for all three donuts.  

I got up at 6am on a Saturday morning for that silly boy, the things we do for our kids!  My vanilla with chocolate glaze turned our perfect, probably even better than the first time.  We added sprinkles to make them look more like "Birthday" donuts!

To make the cinnamon sugar donuts, I used the same vanilla donut recipe.  When the donuts are done baking and are still warm, I dipped them in melted butter and then tossed them into a cinnamon sugar mixture.  So easy, you don't even need a recipe!  Just melt a half a stick of butter for a batch of donuts and mix 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon for the topping.  Then place on your rack to cool!

The chocolate donuts were also the same recipe but with 1/4 cup of cocoa mixed into the dry flour mixture.  I then glazed the donuts with vanilla glaze made from 1 cup of powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  You can sprinkle anything you like on top, I chose toffee bits (because I'm an addict)!

All of the donuts were yummy!  The favorite for everyone was the cinnamon sugar donut.  I mean....the kids were fighting over them!  Next time, I make an extra batch of these!!!  The butter kept the donuts super moist and the cinnamon sugar made them taste FABULOUS!!  The chocolate donut was yummy but denser and less moist.  Next time I will try taking out some of the flour and adding more buttermilk.  

The house smelled and looked like a bakery!  There was flour everywhere but the end result was beautiful donuts and a VERY happy Birthday Boy!

For my baked donut recipe, click HERE