Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cookin' makes you good lookin'

That's what my buddy P Dawg says at least. (P Dawg is Paula Deen for those uninitiated.)

I've been a baking fool this winter! During the summer, it gets so hot in my house I can't stand to use the oven at all, so I make up for it in winter time. I love baking. The best part is that you have something lovely to share at the end of it.

The next two images show my wonderful cooking heritage. Thanksgiving dinner and my aunt Annie's perfect chocolate pie. My aspiration!

Thanksgiving Dinner
Chocolate pie with beautiful meringue 
Pinterest has fueled my baking fun. Here are some of the goodies I've baked this fall/winter and the recipes when available.

Blueberry Muffins
My classic breakfast food is whole wheat blueberry muffins. I always love them, and have blogged about them before. My friend Rachel suggests making mini-muffins in many baked goods, because they help with portion control and trick your mind into thinking you're eating more.

Just 2 ingredients
I haven't taken a picture, but I've made this 2 ingredient gem several times. 1 can of pumpkin puree, one cake mix (I always use spice cake). Mix, bake. I use the recipe from Big Red Kitchen. I've never put a glaze on it. It's a perfect, not-too-sweet treat for the winter.

Monkey bread- easy and yummy
Another easy breakfast fave is monkey bread. Just do it.

Truth- from the Betty Crocker 1950 Cookbook 

This winter I made a goal to get familiar with pie. I've always shied away from it because it seemed difficult. Lots of science involved. But I knew it was something I wanted to attempt. I tried several different styles and recipes and am still coming into my own, but think I'm doing pretty well!

I personally like Pioneer Woman's pie crust recipe. However, I replace the vinegar with vodka. The crust is delicious and flakey. As you can see below, perhaps too flakey! That one was made in my mini-pie maker, and fell in on itself when I tried to take it out of the machine.

Blueberry pie- TOO flakey?

Blueberry cobbler, much prettier

Purty fudge pie, a la P Dawg with PW's crust

Mini fudge pies
Sugar cookies with icing
Piece de resistance- Homemade bread
I've always been intimidated by bread. So much can go wrong with the yeast, the kneading, the science of it all. But last night I decided to go for it. And sweet baby Jesus, it was delightful! I followed this recipe exactly, and it was perfect. It smells like heaven. It is beautiful. It is all I could hope for in life... um, I mean a bread. ;) If you've been intimidated by bread, my suggestion is to give it a shot.

Homemade vanilla from Rachel
I'd also like to give a shout out to my coworker and friend Rachel, who made homemade vanilla and gave me some. It's made all of my baking so much more delicious!

What do YOU enjoy baking during the winter? Send me some recipes you love!