The Baker Upstairs: October 2015

10.29.2015

caramel apple dip

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How is it that Halloween is only two days away? This month has flown by, and I have so many fun activities packed into the next few days that I don't even know how we're going to fit everything in. We've got a preschool pumpkin party, a visit to the pumpkin patch, the school costume parade, a trunk or treat, a caramel apple party with friends, and trick or treating on the big day itself. I'm exhausted just thinking about it all. :) This week I gave in to the kiddos at Costco and bought a giant bag of pre-cut green apples. Only to find, shortly after we got home, that my four year old only likes red apples (which she had conveniently forgotten when we were at the store). I knew I had to come up with a brilliant plan to use our multitude of apples, and this caramel apple dip totally fit the bill!


I've made caramel several times (check out my favorite caramel recipe ever by clicking here) but it was kind of fun to try a new method with this dip. It's really important not to stir the sugar after it's on the heat because it will disrupt the caramelization process and make things not turn out well. I love the beautiful rich color the caramel gets when it's done... it's beautiful with the bright green apples!


I honestly didn't plan to post so many pictures in this post, but this caramel dip is as tasty as it is photogenic! :)


Caramel Apple Dip

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add the sugar, corn syrup, and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat without stirring. Simmer until the sugar has turned a dark caramel color, about ten minutes. Remove from heat and add the butter, heavy cream, sour cream, salt, and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Let cool slightly before serving. Best served warm. 

adapted slightly from Lil' Luna


10.19.2015

halloween funfetti cupcakes

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How cute are these cupcakes? These halloween funfetti cupcakes are kind of like the adorable kid sister to those spooky Halloween cupcakes I shared last week. There's something super fun about funfetti cupcakes... I've loved them since I was a child. They're even more fun for Halloween! I started with my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, made even better by swapping out the milk for sour cream. I've decided that sour cream is totally the way to go in baked goods. I absolutely love the texture and moisture it adds! These cupcakes have a little more frosting than I usually add, but I love the candy corn effect, so pile it on! :)


Halloween Funfetti Cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1/2 cup) butter, cut into pieces
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup Halloween sprinkles

for the frosting:
4 ounces (1/2 cup) butter, softened
3.5 ounces (1/2 tub) marshmallow cream
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 - 2 tablespoons half and half or heavy cream
orange and yellow food coloring
additional sprinkles for decorating

directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. Line 12 wells of a muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl or a the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until well blended and smooth. Fold in the sprinkles using a spatula. Fill paper liners 2/3 full and bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat the butter and marshmallow cream together until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add half and half as needed to make a frosting that is smooth and easy to pipe. Divide the frosting into three bowls and add orange food coloring to one and yellow to another. Pipe the yellow frosting onto the cooled cupcakes, then layer the orange frosting, and top with the white frosting. Add sprinkles and enjoy!

cupcakes adapted from Baking a Moment




10.16.2015

soft pretzel rolls

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Because bread is just better when it's pretzeled, right? A few days ago I was craving burgers, and having a full afternoon in front of me with no urgent plans, I decided to make my own pretzel rolls for the burgers. Best decision ever! These rolls are soft yet sturdy, just slightly crisp on the outside, and the perfect bun for any kind of burger or sandwich! 


I have to confess, this was another of those recipes (like the aebelskivers of yore) that made me all kinds of frustrated during the process of making them, but the end result turned out so good that I have determined them to be blog-worthy. The problem is that after the dough rises, it's really hard to pick the dough up off the counter without collapsing it. So what goes into the boiling water is kind of a smushed up hot mess. However, the rolls come out of the oven plump and round and perfect, so there's no harm done. I would recommend putting them on a greased surface to rise and being as gentle as you can, but don't stress if they're imperfect! They'll be delicious either way. :)

Soft Pretzel Rolls

1/2 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup warm milk
3/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 - 4 cups flour

3 quarts water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup baking soda
coarse salt for sprinkling

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the yeast, oil, milk, and water. Let sit about five minutes, until the yeast is starting to bubble. Mix in the salt and 2 cups of the flour. Add additional flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until a soft dough forms that does not stick to your finger when lightly tapped. Cover and let rise one hour, until doubled.

When the dough has risen, gently punch the dough down and divide into 12 equal sized pieces (mine were exactly 3 ounces each). Shape each piece of dough into a ball and place on a greased cookie sheet or greased countertop to rise. Cover and let rise one hour.

When the dough has nearly finished rising, preheat the oven to 425. Heat the water, sugar, and soda to boiling in a large pot. Add the pieces of dough to the pot, 2-3 at a time, and boil 1-2 minutes on each side. Place the boiled pieces of dough on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Make 2  gashes on the top of each piece of dough with a sharp knife. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe


10.14.2015

easy chicken caesar sandwiches

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I love that this is basically the easiest recipe in the whole world. Lately I am just too tired to do much cooking most nights, and so I am depending on super easy recipes to get me through. I've seen those slow cooker chicken caesar sandwiches all over Pinterest for a long time, but the problem with them is that I just don't love the texture of chicken cooked in the slow cooker. The chicken doesn't even cook with the caesar dressing anyway, so it occurred to me that I could just add the caesar dressing to some rotisserie chicken and have some delicious sandwiches with basically no work on my part. Score! I know some of you purists are going to scoff at this "recipe" since it's not really a recipe at all, but these sandwiches are too darn delicious not to share! You could definitely make your own caesar dressing if you want to (I think the dressing from these wraps would be delicious here) but if you're like me and have zero time and need something tasty, buy the bottled dressing and try these sandwiches!

Easy Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup Brianna's Asiago Caesar Dressing
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 sliced tomatoes
4 sandwich buns (I used these pretzel rolls)

Mix the chicken with the caesar dressing in a microwave safe bowl, and heat until cooked through. Assemble the sandwiches on the buns and enjoy!

10.12.2015

spooky halloween cupcakes

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Yay! It's the first Halloween recipe of the season! I'm a little late getting on the Halloween band wagon this year, but it's hard to think about fall and Halloween when it's 80+ degrees out every day. Anyway, I saw these cute Peeps and bone sprinkles at Target a few days ago, and knew I had to make these cupcakes happen. I love that they're super easy to make but still impressive and cute!

I know I have a "perfect" chocolate cupcake recipe on the blog, but I have to say... I like these chocolate cupcakes even better! I've posted them before in some different forms (chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes, bee cupcakes) and they are consistently the best chocolate cupcakes I've ever made. They're always moist and tender, without falling apart. They can stand up to a good amount of frosting and have the perfect rich chocolate flavor. They are simply the best!


This was my first time adapting my favorite marshmallow frosting to make a chocolate version, and it was fantastic! These cupcakes are pretty much just perfect and cute to boot!

Spooky Halloween Cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold butter, cut into pieces
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

for the frosting:
1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter
3.5 ounces (1/2 tub) marshmallow cream
1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons half and half or heavy cream
12 tombstone shaped Peeps marshmallows
24 bone candies (I found mine at Target)
5 Oreo cookies, crushed

directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. Line 12 wells of a muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the sugar, flour, cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the greek yogurt and vanilla, and mix well. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling wells 1/2 - 2/3 full. Bake 15 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and let cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat together the butter and marshmallow cream until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy. Add additional powdered sugar or half and half as needed to make a smooth, pipeable frosting. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and top with Peeps marshmallows and bone candies. Sprinkle with crushed Oreos. To help the marshmallows stand up a little better, I added a toothpick behind each marshmallow as a support. just be sure to remove them before eating! :)

cupcakes adapted from Baking a Moment


10.08.2015

got milk? snacks and #bestinclass giveaway!

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This post is sponsored by Got Milk? Snacks as part of a campaign for the Mom It Forward Blogger Network. I was given products to review and compensated for my time.


If your kids are anything like mine, they love milk! We try really hard to stay away from sugary drinks for the kiddos, except for special occasions, so my girls have their choice of milk or water with their meals and snacks. My four year old Lizzy especially loves milk and could probably drink a gallon on her own every week. :) 

Got Milk? Snacks consist of snacks, cookies, cereals and granola bars that are designed to pair perfectly with milk and get kids excited about drinking more milk! They offer a variety of classic, organic, non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan offerings, so there is something delicious for everyone. We were given the opportunity to try some delicious Got Milk? Snacks this week, and the kids had a blast! 


My girls tried the mini chocolate chip cookies, shortbread cookies, and soft and chewy granola bars, all with a bottle of cold milk on the side. It was the perfect after school snack! My daughter Lizzy could not get enough chocolate chip cookies, and my daughter Abby really enjoyed the blueberry granola bars. They were both really excited to drink milk through their stripy straws too! (It's the little things, right?)

Nearly 16 million children in the United States live in food-insecure households and face the threat of hunger daily. Many children do not have consistent access to healthy food and have difficulty getting the vitamins and nutrients they need to support their growing bodies. Got Milk? Snacks is launching the Best in Class campaign to celebrate deserving classrooms and fight child hunger at the same time. For every classroom that is submitted, Got Milk? will donate to The Great American Milk Drive, which provides milk to families in need through Feeding America.


If you know of a deserving classroom, go to the Got Milk? Snacks page and submit your classroom's information! Five classrooms will be chosen to receive a Got Milk? party in a box, which will include decorations, branded items, snack products and a gift card to a local grocery store where they can purchase milk. Submissions close October 19, so hurry over and submit your classroom!

For more information, visit www.gotmilksnacks.com or find them on social media:

facebook: Got Milk Goodies
twitter: @gotmilkgoodies
instagram: @gotmilkgoodies

10.07.2015

slow cooker indian butter chicken

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One of the great debates of our marriage revolves around how much Indian food is the proper amount to be eating. Per my husband Geoff, we should be eating Indian food at least 3 nights a week (and the other 4 nights we should be eating pizza). To me, Indian food is more of a once-a-month kind of experience. I don't dislike it, but it's not my favorite either. We have a favorite Indian restaurant that we go to fairly regularly for date night (Bombay House for you SLC locals), but I've never been super comfortable cooking it at home. This slow cooker Indian butter chicken was my attempt to recreate one of our favorites at home, and I'm going to consider it a success! Geoff was pleased, my kids actually tried some bites, and it was such an easy dinner that I will happily make it again. Dinner win!

Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into one inch pieces
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup half and half
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

Spray the inside of a crockpot with cooking spray and place the chicken in the bottom and sprinkle the onions over the top. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients except the butter. Pour the mixture over the top of the chicken and sprinkle the butter over the top. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Serve over hot cooked rice and enjoy!

adapted from Half Baked Harvest


10.05.2015

peach crisp pie

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Pie! And not just pie, but peach crisp pie! Pie is one of my favorite desserts, but I've only successfully made a few pies during my lifetime. Like, maybe three in all of my thirty two years. I feel like I totally have a mental block when it comes to pie and I have convinced myself that it's just impossible. Anyway, a few months ago when we took our family trip to Portland, we drove out to Mount Hood and stopped for lunch at the cutest little barbecue restaurant called Apple Valley BBQ. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich (to die for!) and it came with the most delicious pear coleslaw. For dessert, we ordered a piece of peach crisp pie to share as a family, and it was the most heavenly piece of pie I've ever eaten. It reminded me of the peach crisp my mom used to make when I was a kid, but even better because it came in a delicious piece of pie crust.


This peach crisp pie is my loving homage to that delicious piece of pie that I will remember all my life. (No seriously, I loved it that much.) I used a store-bought pie crust because I'm too afraid to attempt a homemade crust, but it was still fantastic. I used fresh peaches from my mother in law's trees for the filling, and topped it with a buttery, cinnamony, crunchy crisp topping. The pie turned out incredibly delicious! I'm still not sure it lives up to the Apple Valley BBQ pie (perhaps if I can master the homemade crust?) but it was a good substitute for this girl who lives 700+ miles away from the pie of her dreams.


I should add that I was too eager to eat the pie to let it cool, and I cut into it while it was still steaming hot, thus the total hot mess all over the plate. (It was still delicious, of course.) If you want your pie to look more like a pie, and less like a random pile of peaches and crisp topping, let it cool before you slice into it. I totally understand if you don't, though, because it's hard to exercise will power with something that tasty waiting in front of you.

Peach Crisp Pie

1 refrigerated pie crust (or make your own!)

for the filling:
3 pounds fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour

for the crisp topping:
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350. Press the pie crust into a pie dish, shaping it as you please. In a medium bowl, toss the peaches with the lemon juice, sugar, and 2 tablespoons flour, and pour the mixture into the pie crust. To make the topping, whisk together the flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two knives, until the mixture clumps together. Sprinkle the crisp topping over the peaches. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until the topping is golden and crisp, and the peach juice is bubbling around the edges. Remove and let cool before serving.

filling adapted from Cooking Classy

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