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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I am so excited to be back and share all the great experiences of this past year with you.

First off and most excitingly, you are looking at Mrs. Colin Brown! I know, married - amazing ha? Family is one of the most important things on earth so I decided to honor both sides of the family and hyphenate my name, which every bride and groom will think about amongst many other pre-wedding things.

And you know what they say, first comes LOVE, then comes MARRIAGE then comes...a honeymoon trip to FRANCE!  Colin and I loved our small DIY style wedding that allowed us to spend our first few weeks as hubs and wife traveling together. As you can imagine not much baking got done, but a whole lot of crafting did. I cant wait to share!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

S'mores are as American as Apple Pie

You know how much I love smore's (see S'more Tarts 2010), so much after having several traditional smore's that summer I thought to make a s'more brownie. Yes, it's been done before but I've never had one and had a huge hankering for brownies. 

Brownies take me back to my childhood home when my sisters and I would run around with nothing to do every summer afternoon. My mom would make brownies - she LOVES brownies and would succumb to the power that chocolate had over her. I tell you, she would cut one for me, one for my sis, one for my big sis and one for herself and we all stood there in the kitchen eating hot ewwey, gooey, fudgey brownies straight from the oven. Ah what a delight! The next day we would see the brownie pan washed and in the drying rack like nothing ever happened. What happened to all the brownies? Brownies didn't last more than a day in our house. Same with apple pie (apple pie post coming soon.)

This recipe showcases the chocolate aspect of the s'more. I read many tips from this recipe and they all said that it was difficult to cut the brownies once the marshmallow had melted, sliding right off like cheese does on pizza. With that said, I cut the brownies into perfect squares then topped each one with a marshmallow before putting the tray back in the oven to roast for a few minutes. Try it, kid tested, Mother approved!

You can find the recipe for S'more Brownies here compliments of Food Network. Happy Baking!

Cooked and Cut Ready for S'more Toasting

Graham Crust, Gooey Brownie topped with Toasted Marshmallow

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Savory is Sweet with Puff Pastry

I realized recently that I have a foul proof, crowd pleaser appetizer recipe that I hadn't yet shared with you. Yes, its savory but every bit as sweet.

I would like to share with you a recipe I found on the Food Network website. I have been making this recipe for years so much I know it by heart. This is a perfect recipe when the girls come over for brunch, a great side to bring to a dinner party and it was even a hit with the guys at our Super Bowl party.

The recipe for this Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart is simple and so delicious just wait til you see peoples faces when they take the first bite. Oh so savory goat cheese with the sweetness of the onions paired with the mushrooms all on a flaky puff pastry! Yum!

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart 

 Bon Appetite!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Decorating with Nostalgic Candies

Hi Everyone, 

Lets start with decorating. Decorating is by far the thing I love most about baking. Adding candies to the top of cupcakes, topping a tart with thinly sliced fresh fruit, making candy flowers to garnish a wedding cake; all of which are ways to put your own touch on your wonderful baked goods.

Now, you can do this with your own recipes or store bought items. The only thing that's important is that it looks and tastes delicious! Whenever I am out, at the corner store, a candy shop, I will even go out of my way to go to the grocery store in Japan Town just for different or old fashioned candies.

Here are pictures with some of my favorite decorating candies, Necco Wafers and colorful chocolate candies!
Traditional Necco Waffers

Flower Buttons and Pastel Chocolate Candies from Miette

Lime and Lemon Candies from a British Candy Shoppe
The final product! Meyer Lemon Cupcakes for a friends baby shower party for one of her girl friends. Half the fun of decorating is color coordination. The mother-to-be is keeping with gender neutral colors so that's what I did too. Although the chocolate candies have dusty pinks and blues there are also yellows and greens to offset the standard "its a boy" and "its a girl" colors.

Minis perfect with a Necco Wafer on top

Meyer Lemon Cupcakes!
Happy Baking!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gifts from the Heart and your Oven

Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas is almost here and once again I seemed to have made it and ready to celebrate! As you know last year I made several cookies and decorated boxes and also made chocolate caramels and coconut macaroons. 

This year I wanted to stand out. I made Merry Berry Pie in a Jar. I saw this blog post for great homemade wedding guest gifts. Check it out here. The important thing to remember is that you can make these with store bought pie dough and canned pie filling. It's up to you what you make of it.  Here is my version:

Alex Wenton Photography

Foolproof Pie Dough
From America's Test Kitchen 
Makes 1 9-inch pie 
Will make 4-6 4 oz mason jar pies. Double the recipe if making 4-5 16 oz mason jar pies.
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup vodka , cold
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
  • 2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. (Note: the dough for me was very wet but still turned out great.) Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Alex Wenton Photography

Cherry Pie filling:
Recipe by Sandra Lee
Will make 4-6 4 oz mason jar pies. Double the recipe if making 4-5 16 oz mason jar pies.
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 12 ounces frozen mixed berries, drained
  • 1 tablespoon Kirsch (or amaretto liquor)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • (I added dried cranberries, candied ginger pieces and cinnamon to taste)
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine cherry pie filling, mixed berries and Kirsch or desired liquor. Set aside. 
    Further directions from 

  • Press the unrolled dough bit by bit into the jars a bit at a time (not too thick!) until the jars are lined with the dough up to the rims. Reserve some dough for toppers. Next, fill jars nearly to the top with filling of choice.
Alex Wenton Photography
  • Roll out reserved dough to roughly 1/8 inch thick and cut out 6-8 of your shape of choice. Place the filled jars on a sturdy cookie sheet and place into oven.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for roughly 30-35 minutes (for the smaller jars) and 50-55 minutes (for larger jars) or until dough becomes a light golden color. 
  • At that time, arrange the dough shapes on the pies, brush the hearts with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes until dough is golden brown all the way around the jars. If needed, place foil over the tops of the jars to keep the hearts from burning.
  • Remove and let jars cool on a rack. Decorate with ribbon, tags, or labels on lids as desired! Have fun with it!

Alex Wenton Photography

Happy Christmas and bake on!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A French twist on your holiday dessert

We made it through Thanksgiving and I am already craving turkey dinner again! Here is a great dessert idea for your holiday dinner table and it will look great next to mouth watering prime rib.

I have to admit, I prefer tart crust over pie crust only because it seems hard to screw up. A tart crust puts a great twist on the American pumpkin pie dessert, simple yet elegant. This recipe for Pumpkin Pie Tart was everything perfect - far from a soggy mess.  

Tart Shell:
Recipe by Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone  
Makes 1 9-inch tart shell
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • A mixture of 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons water

Prepare Tart Shell:
Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a bowl, then work in the butter with two knives, your fingers, or a mixer until it makes fine crumbs.  Don't let it become completely smooth, though.  Stir in enough vanilla-water to pull the dough together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. - You can also do this step ahead and store in the freezer until you are ready to bake. Defrost fully in refrigerator.

To line the pan, roll the dough out into a 9-inch circle then set it in the pan.  Using the heel of your palm, press the dough up the side.  If some pieces are too long, break them off and add them, as needed, to areas that are too short.  The sides should be about 1/4 inch thick, rise 1/4 inch above the rim, and be slightly thinner at the base of the pan.  This way, when the dough slumps during the baking, this shallow space will be filled evenly instead of being overly thick and under baked.  Carefully set the tart shell in the freezer to harden.

Bake Tart Shell:
Tart shells are nearly always pre-baked before filling.  To pre-bake a tart shell, preheat the oven to 400.  Place the frozen shell on a sheet pan and bake until set and lightly browned, about 25 minutes - 15 min worked fine for me.  Check it several times for swells and prick any large bubbles with the tip of a knife. - If tart begins to brown too quickly put a piece of foil over shell and continue to bake checking regularly.

Pumpkin filling:
Recipe by  
  • 1 1/2 cups pure pumpkin (from a 15-ounce can; not pie filling)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream  

Fill and bake tart: 
Whisk together pumpkin, sugar, spices, and salt in large bowl. Whisk in eggs, then cream. Pour filling into cooled tart shell and bake until puffed about 1 1/2 inches from edge and center is just set, 40 to 45 minutes. (Cover edge of tart with foil if browning too quickly.) Cool in pan, about 2 hours. (Tart will continue to set as it cools.) 

Remember, have fun baking this holiday season. 
Bon Apettit! 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Some Cheesecake to go with that Turkey?

The holidays are here and I am ready to go! Well, I was ready late September but some say that's a bit early to be dreaming about pies, turkey and eggnog.  I disagree.

This is just my house but lets face it, sometimes the pumpkin pie resembles a soggy mess and tastes like pumpkin puree straight out of the can. Good thing Mom brought her famous apple pie.

My solution this year, to make something different! My favorite recipe for a holiday cheesecake would be Pumpkin Cheesecake with Marshmallow Topping. Everyone loves a good cheesecake with a good graham crust. No one likes a soggy mess!

Dont worry about dark spots or cracks because this will be covered with fluff in no time. 

You can even take a torch to the fluff to give it a nice caramelization.

Top with a nice garnish. Here I did a piece of candied ginger since there is ginger in the crust.

Happy holiday baking to you all! I hope this season brings you tasty treats and time with family!