Sweet Thursday: January 2009 Edition

Sweet Thursday time! I tried to pick some desserts that were kind of wintery. We have some cute Almond Snow Cookies, and then we have some wonderful fruity desserts that are perfect comfort food on a cold winter’s day.

But my favorite thing in this post is the groundhog cookie. It is so adorable! I’m not sure if the little guy on the cookie can see his shadow or not, but either way, what a cute, CUTE idea!

Cherry Cobbler from Southern Living

Almond Snow Cookies from Christmas-cookies.com

Groundhog Cookies from Gourmet Mom on-the-Go

Pear Tart from Martha Stewart

Fried Pies from Epicurious

If you’d like to submit a dessert and be featured in the Valentine’s Day Edition of Sweet Thursday, send your stuff to me at simplysweethome@hotmail.com.
The deadline to send in your submission is Wednesday, February 4, 2009.
For the rules and guidelines, check out the following post: Sweet Thursday Info.


Sweet Thursday Revamped/New Format

sweet Thursday

I was working on the Sweet Thursday post for January when I came up with a new idea. For those of you who are not familiar with the Sweet Thursday Posts, you can read about the feature here: First Sweet Thursday Post. In a nutshell the feature is devoted to desserts. Usually I feature photographs of different desserts from around the net, and I include a link to the page where that dessert can be found. I’ve also left it open to feature resturant food and product reviews if need be, but the bottom line is that it has to be desserts.

And usually I go around and find between 5 and 10 different items to feature. I love doing the “research” and it’s fun to see all the great sweets out there, but as I was putting it together last night, I had a thought: What if I allowed fellow bloggers to submit their own desserts for the Sweet Thursday post? (just as I did with the Christmas stuff) So I’ve decided I would try it. I figure it can’t hurt anything. At the very least, I’ll get no submissions, and I’ll just go about my business as I normally would…..and at the most I’ll get some great ideas to feature.

So if any of you foodie/baking bloggers would like to see your desserts featured here in the feature, please read the following.

Here are the rules and guidelines:

1. Each month I’ll be doing a different Sweet Thursday Post. Upon publishing the post, I’ll announce when the deadline will be for the next Sweet Thursday post submission, and I’ll tell you if there is a theme for the month.

2. Your submission has to be a dessert or at least something kinda sweet. (Fruit is okay.) There’s no recipe requirement; I’ve featured a lot of recipe links in the past, but I’ve also featured plenty of links to photo blogs and flickr pages. As long as it’s something sweet, it should be okay. (So for example, if you’ve created a cake, cookies, or cupcakes that you want to share photos of, it’s okay to send that in regardless of whether you have a recipe posted for the item.) And you don’t have to have a blog!

3. Also, if you have a blog where you only feature recipes and do not feature pictures, you can still send me a link and the name of your recipe, and I’ll put that up here as well.

4. Try to pick a dessert that goes along with that month’s theme (if there is one). I wouldn’t be very strict with this rule actually….if it seems like it kind of goes with the theme, I’m sure it will be acceptable.

5. Submit your dessert by sending an email to simplysweethome@hotmail.com.

6. In the email, include your name, the name of your dessert, your blog’s name, a link to your post, and photo of your dessert. (Or if you’d like, send me your info, and I’ll grab the photo off your site.)

7. In my hopes of getting others involved, I would appreciate it, if you would mention somewhere in the post that you are (it is) being featured on Simply Sweet Home and link back to http://www.simplysweethome.com/. (You do not have to use the banner or even title your post Sweet Thursday, but you can if you want to. It’s optional, but I would appreciate a link.)

8. Also, it’s okay to send in something from an older post or something that you’ve submitted to other events.


Sweet Thursday: 4th of July Edition

I haven’t done a Sweet Thursday post in quite a while, so I thought this would be a great time for it, particularly since the 4th of July is next Friday. So I found a handful of recipes that looked good to me. Here I’ve included the pictures along with links to the recipes.

If you’re having a 4th of July party, or you’re going to a party and need to bring a dish, you should check these out. These recipes are all very easy to make, and they’d all look great on your buffet.

Very cute presentation to replace your average “fruit tray.”

Lady Liberty Cupcakes
Something a little different, a cute & creative treat that the kids will love.

Poundcake, fruity pie filling, and little whipped topping adds up to a light & yummy treat.

Frozen Uncle Sams

Another cute (& easy) treat that you can make for the kids. Very festive!

Red, White, & Blue Mold

Another light & sweet treat that’s easy to make.

Patriotic Cookie Pizza
Presentation is everything with this cookie & fruit pizza. Very pretty!

Red, White, & Blue Dessert

This trifle made from cream cheese, whipped cream, and fruit will not only taste delicious, but it will look fabulous on the dessert table at your 4th of July party. And you can have it ready in 20 minutes!

Sweet Thursday: The Great Powdered Donut Experiment

I realize that the posts on spring cleaning, taxes, and other stuff have caused me to neglect my Sweet Thursday posts, so I decided to do one for this week. And I honestly couldn’t decide what to post on for the longest, and then I got inspired this morning and decided to have some fun and do a little “taste testing.”

My husband loves powdered donuts and bought a bag at the store the other day, and as I struggled to think of what I would post on today, I saw the bag of donuts on the counter and decided to be a little wacky and put some toppings on the donuts to try out. The toppings included chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, peanut butter, pancake syrup, and strawberry syrup. (yes, I just happened to have all of that on hand, and no, I don’t weigh 500 pounds. But I do love ice cream and sweets, as you can probably tell! Luckily I have a high metabolism.) Well, anyway here are the “highly scientific” results of this experiment.

Chocolate Syrup Donut – This was quite good. It reminded me of a chocolate turnover in a lot of ways, and it reminded me of a lot of the chocolate desserts w/ powdered sugar that you get in resturants. I actually think you could make a plate of these, and it would be a really cute (and easy) dessert for the kids.

Caramel Syrup Donut – This was not bad, but somehow the powdered sugar just seemed to overpower the taste of the caramel. Maybe if I had some of that extra thick caramel like the kind they use at some resturants and fast food joints, it would have been better. But in this case, I wasn’t very satisfied.

Peanut Butter Donut – I actually used some peanut “syrup” that they sale in a bottle for ice cream. It basically tastes just like regular peanut butter, only maybe a little sweeter. I really did this one just for fun, but it was actually a lot better than I expected. It had an “interesting” taste that I’m not sure how to explain, and it was actually one of my favorites over all.

Pancake Syrup Donut – On this one, my results are inconclusive. I didn’t really care for this combination. However, this was the last thing that I tasted, and I think by that time I was getting a little “donut-ed out.” Also, it may not have been the combination but the kind of syrup I used. I had a different brand of syrup from what I usually get, and incidentally I tasted the syrup by itself and didn’t care much for it. So perhaps with my usual brand (log cabin) I would have liked the combination better.

Strawberry Syrup Donut – This was made with Hershey’s Strawberry Syrup, which I highly recommend to you, if you’ve never tried it. (by the way, add it to vanilla ice cream and milk for an awesome strawberry shake!) But back to the donuts, I figured that the strawberry syrup would taste good. I mean, if donuts, strawberry, and powdered sugar can’t go together, what can? I’m usually more of a chocolate person myself, but I actually liked this better than the chocolate. It reminded me of strawberry shortcake. In fact, I imagine you could top these donuts with a little bit of strawberry syrup, a handful of strawberries, and a little whipped cream, and it would be excellent. So….yeah, I think this was probably the best overall. And again, you could make a tray of these, and it would look like a bunch of little gourmet desserts.

All in all, this was a fun little activity, and the food wasn’t too bad either. If you like powdered donuts, you might want to give it a try. Hope you guys enjoyed the post!

Sweet Thursday: Why eat Chocolate Cake when you can have Chocolate Chocolate Cake?

This post is two-fold. It is an opportunity to tell you about one of my favorite desserts, but it’s also a chance for me to tell you about a couple of great organizations.

I couple of weeks ago, I told you guys that I was attending the The Arc of Morgan County’s “Kids on the Block” Chocolate & Dessert Festival. The Arc is an advocacy organization that works with people who have diabilities & provides counseling and assitance to their families. The Kids on the Block is an organization that began in the late 70s, and one of the things it does it that it travels around and does puppet shows at schools and other locations. The shows are aimed at promoting tolerance and understanding to those who have disabilities. And they promote positive behavior, with an anti-gang, & anti-drug & alcohol message. I remember being a kid in elementary school and seeing the show at a few school assemblies. It was entertaining & it was also a learning experience. Little did I know of how big the organization would be and just how much they were doing, even beyond the puppet show.

The festival I attended takes place each year just before Valentine’s Day. Local businesses participate and bring desserts to be sampled, which gives them promotion, and visitors purchase a ticket to come in and sample all the great food, and all the money goes to charity. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Now just so you know I am not affiliated with O’Charley’s. My mother is employed at O’Charley’s, however, she does not even know I’m writing this post. Anyway, this year the O’Charley’s booth featured Key Lime Pie & O’Charley’s Chocolate Chocolate Cake. By the way, the Key Lime Pie is outstanding. It tastes like something your mom or grandmother would make, and I highly recommend it.

As for the Chocolate Chocolate Cake…yum! I love this cake. It is one of my favorite desserts to get a resturant and overall one of my favorite desserts period. It almost has sort of a dark & decadant taste to it, but it is also sweet & rich. I sometimes tell my husband, “I have to get a bite of icing to tone down the richness is of the cake.” And the great thing about this cake is that you can get it to go, and it’s good just out of the refrigerator, & it’s also a great dessert to heat up in the microwave. (I prefer it cold personally) And as far as resturant desserts go, this is a way better value than most. One slice is big enough to share between at least two people if not three or four. In fact I went out to lunch with 3 ladies that I worked with, and we all split a piece of the cake and still had a little left over. I will say, the cake may be a little rich for some, but if have a sweet tooth and you’re a chocolate lover, you’ll like this cake.
If you’re interested, check out O’Charley’s menu & current specials:
O’Charley’s Desserts – (I recommend the Cinnamon Sugar Donuts & the Caramel Pie as well)

Sweet Thursday: Beautiful Valentine Cookies

Here’s a last minute Valentine cookie recipe from Martha Stewart. I’ve seen that a lot of bloggers out there don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day or don’t spend a lot of money on gifts. Well, in lew of gifts you can also make your family or significant other an extra special treat. Arrange these in a gift basket or platter, add sticks to make a cookie bouquet like the ones I posted on yesterday, or simply have your family eat them straight off the baking sheet. Either way this recipe is a good choice for Valentine’s Day. This recipe can be used to make plain shortbread cookies or jam cookies, and after Valentines is over, just get out some other cookie cutters to make these cookies for any and all occasions.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
4 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pale-pink or white sanding sugar (optional)
Petal dust in pink, orange, and violet tones (optional)
2/3 cup apricot or strawberry jam, slightly warmed (optional)

In bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. On low speed, gradually add flour mixture to mixer bowl, alternating with buttermilk, until combined. Wrap dough in plastic; chill until firm, 1 hour or overnight.
To color white sanding sugar, if using: Place a few tablespoons in a small bowl. Mix in petal dust with a toothpick, a bit at a time, until desired shade is reached. Colored sanding sugar will last indefinitely.
Heat oven with two racks centered to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On lightly floured surface, roll chilled dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut out hearts using any 1- to 3 1/2-inch heart cookie cutters. If desired, cut centers out of some hearts. Transfer with spatula to baking sheets. Chill for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, if using. Bake until just golden but not too brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack. Continue with dough; reroll scraps.
To make sandwich hearts: Brush bottom heart lightly with jam; cover with a second heart with center cut out; jam will adhere hearts. Fill cut-out area with more jam. Cookies will keep, in an airtight container, at room temperature for 1 week.

Sweet Thursday: Valentine Treats That Say, "I Love You!"

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I wanted to throw in an extra Sweet Thursday Post. I meant to post this hours ago, but I got busy with some paper work & housework, and the time just totally got away from me, but at least I got a lot of important things done. Well, for this post I’ve chosen 2 very sweet Valentine treats: cupcakes and cookies. I truly love both of these desserts. These would be great to take to a school party or give to friends and coworkers or to that special someone in your life. And you could use these ideas for other occasions as well. With desserts like these, who needs those little candy hearts?
1 package (18-1/4 ounces) white cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon butter flavoring, optional
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 to 2 drops red food coloring, optional
1 to 2 drops yellow food coloring, optional
1 to 2 drops blue food coloring, optional
Directions: Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Place paper or foil liners in a heart-shaped or standard muffin tin. Fill cups half full of batter. Bake according to package directions for cupcakes. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
For frosting, cream butter and shortening in a small mixing bowl. Add vanilla and butter flavoring if desired. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in milk until light and fluffy. Divide frosting into fourths; place in flour separate bowls. Leave one bowl untinted. Add food coloring to the other three bowls; stir until well blended. Frost cupcakes. Pipe untinted frosting around edges and decorate tops with Valentine phrases. Yield: 28 cupcakes.

Valentine Cookies

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Dash salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 drops oil of cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup hard cinnamon candies, finely crushed

1. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl beat sugar and shortening with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and oil of cinnamon, if desired; beat well. Add flour mixture; beat well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator about 2 hours or until firm.
2. Cut a 10×8-inch heart pattern from paper. Halve dough. Line 2 cookie sheets with foil. Place half of the dough on each cookie sheet; roll into 10×8-inch rectangles. With pattern, cut dough into heart shapes. Reserve scraps. (If dough seems too soft, freeze 30 minutes or until firm.) Use alphabet- and heart-shaped cutters to cut out a message from each cookie. Remove dough from cutters.
3. Spoon candy into cutouts to fill holes to level of the dough. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until candy is melted and cookies are done. Cool on cookie sheets. Peel foil from cookies. Reroll dough scraps; cut with 3-inch cookie cutters. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in the 375 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until done. Cool on pan. Makes 2 large and 6 small cookies (18 servings).

Sweet Thursday: Super Bowl Sunday Treats

As promised, here are some sweet snacks for Super Bowl Sunday. Personally, I’ve been in a baking mood lately. Last week I made some brownies, and a few days ago I baked a cake, and for Super Bowl Sunday, this weekend I’ll probably make some football cookies. I have some frozen cookie dough that we ordered from a school kid, and several weeks ago I bought a huge set of cookie cutters, and I haven’t yet found the time to try them out, so it seems like a good time to do so. (although I wouldn’t mind having a pie or a cheesecake this weekend either….hmm. Well, I’ll let you know how it goes.)
Anyway as usual, links to the original source are underneath the picture. And I’ve also included the recipe for Chocolately Football Bites from Kraft. This recipe reminds me of Cocoa Pebbles/Rice Krispie treats, except it’s made with corn syrup instead of marshmallows. And this is another good recipe that you could easily change, using a different cereal or simply molding the snacks into a different shape or using different decoration. Enjoy!

flickr – mysimplysweet

6 squares BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups POST Cocoa PEBBLES Cereal
White decorating gel
MICROWAVE chocolate, corn syrup and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2-1/2 min., stirring after 1-1/2 min. Blend in vanilla.
ADD cereal; mix well. Cool 10 min. Shape into 18 (3-inch-long) football shapes with lightly moistened hands. Place on large sheet of wax paper; cool completely.
USE decorating gel to add “lacings” to “footballs.” Let stand until gel is firm.

Sweet Thursday: Mini Almond Bundt Cakes

Thi is a recipe I found the other day on the Martha Stewart site. Mini bundt cakes are so cute, and the icing and almond slices really add a lot to the look (and taste) of this snack. In fact it doesn’t get any easier than this to decorate a cake. I also think this would make a beautiful dessert as one large bundt cake, and it would definitely be great to serve to guests or take to a party.
Makes 6
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
6 tablespoons sliced almonds
1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds
5 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream, or plain yogur
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter six mini Bundt pans; set aside. Spread sliced almonds out on a baking pan, and toast until golden brown. Transfer nuts to a bowl to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine chopped almonds, light-brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside. In another medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 6 tablespoons butter and granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg; beat until combined. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, and beat until smooth. Add 1/3 of reserved flour mixture and half of sour cream; beat to combine. Repeat. Add final third of flour mixture, and beat to combine.
Fill each Bundt pan with 3 tablespoons batter, and spread evenly with a small offset spatula or spoon. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons of reserved almond-spice mixture. Top with additional 3 tablespoons batter; the batter should come to within 1/2 inch of the rims of the pans.
Bake until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely. Unmold cakes. Place cakes, flat sides down, on a wire rack placed over a baking pan.
Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat until color turns nut brown, about 5 minutes. Pour butter into a medium bowl, leaving behind any dark sediment. Stir in confectioners’ sugar, remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 3 tablespoons milk until smooth; add an additional tablespoon milk, if necessary, so glaze is pourable. Drizzle glaze over cakes, and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serve.
Tip – For one large bundt, use a 10 inch bundt pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes

Sweet Thursday: Snowman Cupcakes

Introducing Sweet Thursday! I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on recipes and other food related posts. For this reason, some of the new features I’m planning on trying are about food. Sweet Thursday would/will specifically feature desserts and sweets. Why Sweet Thursday? When thinking about the new features, I wanted to come up with catchy titles, perhaps using words from the title of the blog. When thinking of desserts, what better word to use than Sweet? Then the phrase “Sweet Thursday” entered my head, as in the book by John Steinbeck. Since I’m a big fan of Steinbeck’s writing, I fell in love with the idea of borrowing his title for my blog feature.

The feature will include anything from pictures of baked items from the web(as in this first example), a featured recipe, featured links, featured websites, featured desserts from resturants, product reviews, and basically anything having to do with desserts & sweets.

For this first installment of Sweet Thursday, I decided to feature some snowman cupcake photos. All of the pictured cupcakes were found on flickr, and the link beside each pic will take you to the profile of the person who created the cupcake. If you’re a cupcake fan, you’ll love these! Enjoy!




queen of tartes