My Best Fraaaaan and Eggnog Truffles

So...guess what?

I can barely sit still in my seat long enough to type out this post.  And you wanna know why?

Because my BEST FRIEND in the whole entire world [I sound like I'm 5] is visiting me in Omaha.  And yes, I've been counting down the days until her arrival.  I was that pumped.

Obviously you will not hear from me for the rest of the weekend because we shall be too busy catching up on anything and everything.  And having a grand time while doing so.  We always have too much fun together so who knows what the next couple of days will bring.

So since this is a short and sweet post, I figured this would be a great opportunity to leave you with a recipe that is just as short and even sweeter.  I made these Eggnog Truffles while I was in Washington for Christmas and I really can't believe I haven't gotten these out to you sooner.  I'm slowly, but very surely, becoming a truffle addict.  I seriously love them in all of their rich, creamy glory.  And I'm an eggnog fanatic, so needless to say these are one of my favorite truffles to date. 

Which brings me to a rather ironic point: these truffles don't contain any eggnog.  Nope.  Not a drop.  Rather, they're perfectly flavored by white chocolate and those crucial eggnog spices.  I kid you not.  Craziness, huh?  No one could believe they didn't have any eggnog in them!

Anywho, I must get going.  Have a wonderful weekend! I know we will!!  .

Adapted from Taste and Tell
2 lbs. white baking chocolate
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. imitation rum extract

  1.  Melt 1 pound of the white chocolate according to the package directions.  In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, nutmeg, and rum extract until smooth.  Add in melted white chocolate and beat until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate mixture until firm (about 4 hours).
  2. Shape the mixture into balls (size depends on how big or small you'd like; I used a very scant teaspoonful).  Place balls on a wax-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until firm.
  3. Melt the remaining 1 pound of white chocolate in a large bowl.  Using two spoons, dip each truffle in the chocolate and place back onto the lined baking sheet to dry.  Sprinkle with nutmeg, if desired.
Yield: 3 dozen truffles

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Secret Recipe Club: Vanilla Cupcakes with Honey Ricotta Frosting

.  Hello, my dear readers.  And fellow SRCers.  It's good to be back.

Well, for SRC, I mean.  If you didn't notice, SRC took a [much appreciated] break in December due to the craziness of the holidays.  So even though I received my assignment oh, two months ago!, I've had to keep it hush, hush.  No worries though, we're here now.

To kick off 2013, I was assigned to a unique and first class blog: Feast on the Cheap.  Feast on the Cheap was created by a mother-daughter duo, who together have experience in professional catering and share a complete love for food.  Solid base, right?  Right!

But to add an extra element, Feast on the Cheap offers tips and advice on maintaining a versatile, stocked pantry as well budgeted recipes for all wallet sizes [e.g., recipes under $5].  Nifty, huh?!

Perusing through their recipes, I was almost certain I'd be making a savory dish this month.  Seriously, SO many delicious sounding recipes that I started pinning them just to keep track.  Some of my front runners included a Four Cheese Southwestern Breakfast Strata, Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, and Orzo with Creamy Brie, Bing Cherries, and Basil.  Now, I don't cook.  At all.  But I'm fairly certain I will be trying out some of these recipes because they sound that good.  And regardless of your skill level, Feast on the Cheap recipes are very do able.  Even for me.

But then I stumbled upon these Vanilla Cupcakes with Honey Ricotta Frosting, and my SRC fate was sealed.

Mariel [the daughter] posted these cupcakes and gushed about how they were her favorite vanilla cupcakes she'd ever made.  And her tastes must be spot on, because these cupcakes are delicate and light, yet packed with wonderful vanilla flavor.  I'd go so far as to say these are my favorite vanilla cupcakes I've made to date, too.  Yes, ma'am [or sir].

As for this honey ricotta frosting?  Well...it's different!  I wouldn't exactly call it a frosting though, more like a thick glaze.  For one reason or another, my frosting/glaze was a bit runny but in hindsight, I could have just added more powdered sugar to solve that problem.  Regardless, the flavor was great!  The honey enhances the ricotta flavor, adding a lovely sweetness to the mix.  And paired with the classic vanilla cupcake gives you a simple yet elegant treat.  Not overly sweet, but the cupcakes would perfectly complement a rich dinner.

So in closing, thanks Mary Anne and Mariel for a winner of a cupcake recipe and introducing me to the wonders of ricotta!  You have a beautiful and informative blog, one that I know many people thoroughly enjoy.  Glad to be your newest follower!  .

My Notes:
  • The original recipe included a garnish of toasted walnuts but I left them out only for the fact that I was being lazy.  But I wouldn't leave them out, they'll add a great crunch and depth of flavor to the cupcakes.

From Feast on the Cheap

1 c. cake flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. plus 1/4 c. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. plus 1 tbsp. sugar
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg

Honey Ricotta Frosting:
1 c. ricotta
2 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Line a standard muffin tin with liners (fill the empty slots halfway with water to ensure even baking of the other cupcakes).
  2. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In another small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla extract; set aside.
  3. In bowl of electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter until pale and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Add egg and beat until combined.  Reduce speed to low and alternately add flour mixture and milk in two additions.  Beat until just incorporated.  
  4. Evenly portion batter into prepared pan.  Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.  Transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, for frosting, beat together ricotta, honey, powdered sugar, and milk until thoroughly combined.  Frost cupcakes as desired.
Yield: 10 cupcakes
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Improv Cooking Challenge: Banana Bread Cookies with Nutmeg Cream Cheese Frosting

.  Karma is a biaaaaatch.  Right?!

If you haven't noticed, I've sat out the last several months of ICC.  Whether it's been for a lack of time or I just plain forgot, I have in no way been a consistent ICC participant.  And guess what happened when I decided to come back?


Fo' reals.

Okay, it wasn't the worst mess up I've ever had.  I mean, I ended up with a finished product.  But it was less than decent.  I won't even use 'good' there.  Let's see, where shall we begin?

The ingredients we were assigned to kick off 2013 were Bananas and Nutmeg.  Easy enough?  Well, you'd think!

Here's what happened.  One, I might have gotten a little over zealous.  I wanted to really twist things up and make this treat a special one.  So I think that may have clouded my judgement a bit.  Oopsies.

Second, I didn't trust my baking instincts!  Who does that anyway?!  I went against my intuition and kept adding in a certain ingredient [ahem, nutmeg] only because the original recipe said to.  FAIL.

So all in all, here's what came of the Banana Bread Cookies with a Nutmeg Cream Cheese Frosting.  The cookies were good enough.  But nothing crazy.  I think I may have overmixed the batter so the cookies [to me] were a bit tough.  Mistake three.  My favorite thing about them though was the bits of chocolate studded throughout.  The cookies only saving grace.  Oh and hey, my bananas were basically green.  So that didn't help.  Mistake four?

But the thing that took me over the edge was the dang frosting.  The overly nutmeggy frosting.  Ugh, makes me mad just thinking about it.  I knew I should have stopped adding in the nutmeg after, say, the second teaspoon but the recipe I based these off of said to keep going.  So I did...  Never again!  Needless to say, the frosting was one of the least favorite things I've ever made.  I like nutmeg but this was just too much.  Mistake five!

If I hadn't made the countless number of errors these cookies might have stood a chance.  But you live and you learn!  And that's what this challenge is all about, testing out that creativity.  Or at least I'll keep telling myself that.

See you next month, ICCers [...hopepfully]!!  .

My Notes:
  • As you can tell, I didn't like the nutmeg cream cheese frosting.  So, I adjusted the ingredient amounts below but I would suggest just using the plain cream cheese frosting.  The banana cookies will really shine through that way, too!

Banana Cookies:
3 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1-1/2 c.)
1 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. canola oil
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 c. quick cooking oats
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Nutmeg Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
4 tbsp. butter
2 to 2-1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Combine bananas, light brown sugar, canola oil, vanilla extract, and egg in a large bowl.  Beat until combined.  Add in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Beat on low speed just until combined.  Gently stir in oats and chocolate chips.  
  3. Drop batter by scant tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden and centers are set.  Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
  4. For frosting, beat together cream cheese, butter, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a medium bowl until smooth.  Frost cookies as desired.
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

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7-Layer Magic Bars

.  Life...life.  Oh, how you slay me.


Some major changes have been going on in my life as of late.  Nothing I care to talk about at the moment, but it fully explains my extended hiatus from LSM and the blogging world.  I realize I've been alluding to this for the past several months but you'll just have to bear with me.  Sooner, rather than later, I'll get back into some sort of routine and I'll be back raring to go.  Trust me, it's been eating away at me that I haven't been able to get in the kitchen.  And now more than ever I could really use that baking stress relief.  But patience is a virtue, right?

However, in true Jess fashion, I did manage to squeeze in a quick baking sesh last week in honor of one of my co-workers.  A few months ago, my co-worker made a bet with a buddy of his to see who could lose the most weight by the New Year.  Honestly, I give him props.  I could never do the diet thing because I would be the most crabby person on Earth.  My family refers to it as 'low blood sugars.'  I don't know what they're talking about though [wink, wink].

Anywho, my co-worker pulled out the mighty win and promptly requested a baked goodie for his efforts.  And he knew exactly what he wanted.  I mean, what better way to celebrate a victory than with a bar layered with all of the most wonderful ingredients one can find in the baking aisle?  Count me in!

Whether you call them Magic, Bars, 7-Layer Bars, or a combination of the two, these bars are legit.  Simply the most addicting, classic bars you will find.  And when I say seven layers, I mean seven layers.  One after the other.  Let's count them, shall we?

Graham Cracker Crust [1]
Walnuts [2]
Semisweet Chocolate Chips [3]
White Chocolate Chips [4]
Butterscotch Chips [5]
Shredded Toasted Coconut [6]
Sweetened Condensed Milk [7]


If that isn't convincing, then...you're just SOL, huh?  Just kidding.  But you won't regret this one.  And whadda ya know, they're easy peasy.  Basically a sprinkling of ingredients and into the oven they go.  You're welcome!

Until my next post, but who knows when that will be  .

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

1 c. sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1-1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. butterscotch chips
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

  1. Place oven rack in lower middle position.  Heat oven to 350°F.  Spray a 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Spread coconut evenly on a baking sheet.  Bake 4 minutes or just until outside edges begin to brown.  Set aside.
  3. Melt butter and combine with graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl.  Press crumbs evenly into bottom of prepared pan.
  4. In order, sprinkle walnuts, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut in even layers.  Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over layers.  
  5. Bake 25 minutes or until top is golden brown.  Cool completely in pan before cutting (about 2 hours).  
Yield: 2 dozen bars

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