Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie

       This is my last post about what I made during Christmas, then we're caught back up to date. I did make several other things, but I unfortunately neglected to take pictures. That's okay, though, I took pictures of my favorites! Included in which was this Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie. Last December, I really wanted to try my hand at making a pie from scratch again. (My official first time making pie was when I made the Personal Cardamom-Apple Pies.)  Not only that, I wanted to make a pie I had never eaten before. Considering I was in the midst of a Sweet Potato kick, I figured this pie was my best option. Yep, I was right. This pie was so silky and fluffy and smooth I didn't want to stop eating it. I did, though. I had to share. It's similar to pumpkin pie, but there is just enough of a difference where the flavor keeps you intrigued. When you make this, you won't want to share either.

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 prebaked, 10 inch crust
  • 1 1/4 cups Sweet Potato Puree
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated (3 yolks and 3 whites)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpoe flour
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk


--Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

--In a large bowl, combine the sweet potato puree, butter, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.  Mix thoroughly after each addition.

--In a different bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks for about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat together until creamy, about 1 1/2 minutes.

--Add the egg yolk mixture to the sweet potato mixture and mix together until everything is thoroughly incorporated.

--Add the flour in parts and stir after each addition. Mix thoroughly.

--Add the buttermilk and stir until completely incorporated. You want the mixture to be creamy and smooth looking.

--Next, put the egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer; have the whisk attachment hooked up. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. This can take a few minutes.

--Once the egg whites have hit the desired consistency, fold in the sweet potato  mixture with a spatula until thoroughly combined.

--Pour the sweet potato mixture into the prebaked crust.

--Set the pie on the middle oven rack and bake 35-40 minutes. You want the center to be firm and set. When you jiggle the pie, it shouldn't slosh around.

--After the pie is done baking, let it cool completely.

--Serve the pie at room temperature or chilled with dollops of whipped cream on top (optional).


Happy Baking!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Googley-Eyed Monster Cake

       My sister is THIRTY today!! Happy Birthday, sister! Distance often separates loved ones from being able to share special moments together. Fortunately, there is a wonderful invention called the internet. I really wanted to make my sister's third-decade-old birthday cake, but I couldn't afford to fly to the west coast. Nor do I trust the mail to send a cake without it turning into "birthday soup". So this picture will have to suffice. How cute is this cake?! Sometime last year I asked L if I could make this cake for one of her two girls for a birthday. She answered me saying, "Forget them, what about for ME?!" So, L, SURPRISE! Who says that thirty-year-olds have to be stuffy? Life is still vibrant and flowing vivaciously in your veins! What better way to celebrate joy for life than through a Googley-Eyed Monster Cake? 
       For this cake I piped on frosting-hair with a grass tip (Wilton #233). For the mouth I used a standard round tip. To make the orange/yellow effect, I filled orange frosting vertically in half of my piping bag and filled the other half with yellow. The frosting then comes out naturally swirly. Cool huh? Oh, and just for the record, I used AmeriColor Food Coloring. Love that stuff. Finally, for the eyes I made cakepops! For a tutorial on how to make them, head over to Bakerella's blog. She is considered the queen of cakepops, afterall.
      Finally, I would like to end this post with thirty reasons why my sister is great.

30 Reasons Why My Sister is Great
(In no specific order)

1. She's witty.
2. She has a great smile.
3. She's a great cook.
4. She's a great baker.
5. She's creative.
6. She's loving.
7. She's an awesome wife.
8. She's given me the two greatest neices in the world.
9. She's beautiful.
10. She's healthy.
11. She's organized.
12. She's influencial.
13. She's a soldier defending our freedom.
14. She has me for a sister. ;)
15. She's fashionable.
16. She has good advice.
17. She's a good leader.
18. She loves life.
19. She's understanding.
20. She's smart.
21. She's athletic.
22. She's an awesome mom. (I should have mentioned that by #8, hehe.)
23. She's faithful.
24. She's encouraging.
25. She's strong, mentally and physically.
26. She's compasionate.
27. She's curious.
28. She's adventurous.
29. She's brave.
30. She's my sister.

Love you lots L! Hope your 30th year of life is amazing.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

      Two Christmases ago I tasted my first sample of eggnog. It was unique, creamy, and tasty. I can only drink it in small doses, though, because of its acute flavor and natural thickness. (I have only tasted it out of a carton, so I don't know if that makes a difference or not.) Today, eggnog is in one of my favorite holiday recipes: eggnog cheesecake bars. Since I was new to the eggnog world, I wanted to be certain to make something awesome with it. In my book, cheesecake is awesome by default. Plus, I have never made a cheesecake before this recipe and was dying to try it. So, naturally, I Googled recipes. Several came up, but because I'm a typical consumer who is influenced by popular and brand name products, I instantly click on the Martha Stewart website recipe. I felt badly for instantly going to something expected, so I clicked on a few other recipes to compare, just in case. My effort only left me feeling better in that I gave the lesser-known sites a chance--I still ended up with the Martha recipe. It just looked the tastiest. I actually made these bars twice. The first time they didn't set right because I didn't bake it long enough. Learning from my mistake I made them again--and they were awesome! LOVE LOVE LOVE. Even my Grandma (my dad's mom) loved them--and she hates eggnog! Needless to say, these bars are permanently in my Christmas recipe binder--forever.
       Due to the fact I made these twice in two weeks, I learned a few things. The first time I used pre-packaged graham cracker crumbs because I had some on hand. Those work great, but I like the texture of the crumbled-by-hand crackers. The crust's texture is more interesting this way and is also easier to cut since it doesn't pack as densely. Also, the recipe calls for a 3/4 cup of eggnog and a tablespoon plus a teaspoon of brandy. I did that the first time and it tasted fine. For me though, simply using a single cup of the "Holiday Nog" (eggnog with the brandy already in it (you can find it in the liquor store)) was much easier and more convenient. Finally, to check if the cheesecake is done, I learned to jiggle the pan it's in a little bit. If it jiggles a lot, then it's not done. If it moves stiffly like jello, then it's done. I've also been told that when the top of a cheesecake is cracked all over, then it is done. However, my second pan of bars didn't crack. The first batch did, though. Maybe it has to do with the Holiday Nog. I don't know. Ultimately, it doesn't matter which way you decide to make these bars (Holiday Nog or not), it just matters that you do!

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars
Barely adapted from

  •  12 graham crackers, finely ground (1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup Holiday Nog (eggnog that already has brandy in it)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for dusting top of bars
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


--Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

--Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. (I used an 8x8 inch glass pan.)

For the crust

--Combine graham crackers, 3 tablespoons sugar, and the melted butter.

--Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan.

--Bake in the preheated oven until the crust is just brown around the edges, about 12-15 minutes. (This can be hard to see since graham crackers are already brown. As long as you don't burn the crust, you'll be okay.)

--Let the crust cool.

For the filling

--With the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer on medium speed until it is nice and fluffy. Approximately 2 minutes.

--Then add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, yolk, eggnog, flour, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. Beat until the mixture is smooth.

--Pour the filling over the cooled crust.

--Set the pan in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the baking pan. (I didn't have a roasting pan handy, so I just used an aluminum 9x13 inch cake pan. However, combined with my glass 8x8 pan, the cake pan turned black where the water was, after baking. This doesn't affect the cake pan other than cosmetically, but be warned. The black goes away after time, but it takes a long time.)

--Bake until just set. (If you jiggle the pan, it should seem stiff like jello.) Approximately 40-45 minutes.

--Once set, remove the baking pan from the water in the larger pan and set it on a wire rack.

--Let cool for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate the bars for at least 3 hours.

--Cut into equally sized bars.

--Lightly dust with freshly grated nutmeg. (Optional.)

--Enjoy!! (Not optional.)

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Rolo Pretzel Bites

     Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! I realize both of these sentiments are late in coming, but I still mean them both sincerely. Unfortunately, I didn't get up all the posts I wanted to in December, but that doesn't mean I wasn't putting together tasty goodies! So, although the official "Holiday Season" is over, I will be posting a couple of things that I made as ideas for next year. (Or whenever you have a craving. Who says you can only make this stuff during the holidays?) First on the list are these Rolo Pretzel Bites. I actually called them "Christmas Buttons" because it was cuter, but most people don't know these by that name. What's great about these are that they are extremely versatile. By choosing any color of M&M's you want, you can coordinate colors to a holiday or event. Therefore, they're an all-year-round treat. If you don't like M&M's or are in the mood for something a bit more interesting, replacing the M&M with a pecan is fabulous--it tastes just like a turtle! The candy, not the animal. As pecans are expensive and I don't live near a Sam's Club or Costco, I used M&M's for these "Christmas Buttons" since I wanted to give a nice (but not super-expensive) gift to my coworkers.

Rolo Pretzel Bites

1 bag of Holiday Wreath Pretzels (they're the circles) or the pretzels that look like a checkerboard
100 Rolo pieces (or as many bites as you want to make)
100 M&M's  (or you can put up to three on each bite if you want)

--Preheat oven to 300 degrees F

--Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper

--Lay out the circle pretzels on the pan

--Put a Rolo inside of each circle. It's okay if they don't fit perfectly, they'll melt inside the pretzel.

--Place Rolo/Pretzel combo in the oven for 3-5 minutes. (It was always 4 minutes for me.) You don't want the Rolo to be completely melted, just enough where you can squish an M&M or pecan easily on top.

--Put an M&M (or pecan) on each bite, working quickly so the Rolo doesn't reharden.

--If you have a freezer large enough, place the pan of finished bites into it so they set more quickly. If you live in a climate with freezing temperature weather (and there's no wind) place the pan outside of your doorstep. If you have neither of these, you'll just have to wait quite a bit longer for the bites to set.

--Once the Rolo on the bites are firm once again, peel the bites off of the parchment paper and enjoy!

Happy Baking!