Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall means...

There are many things we think of when we think of fall. Leaves changing colors (and falling), apple cider, pumpkin painting, football (my favorite!) and of course the start of holiday decorating. Not just for Christmas but people go overboard for Thanksgiving and especially for Halloween.

But for me, fall signifies the start of baking season. Not just cookies and bars but pies, breads, cakes, muffins and more. 

Personally, I love baking. I hate cleaning up after baking though. I find baking relaxing. The reason I find it relaxing is because you have to follow the recipes. If it calls for a specific amount of baking soda, you can't just add more or less. I don't fully understand it all, but that is how it is. It is like a science. This helps me relax because I have to focus on the recipe at hand and my mind isn't able to wander. It isn't able to wander and worry and stress about anything and everything going on in life. Because it can't wander, I am at peace. It is a wonderful thing. 

I also have a rule to help my baking. Only bake when you are happy. If you are in a foul mood, what you bake is going to taste like crap. If I'm not overly happy but at least not down in the dumps, I'll still bake. And within five minutes, I'm happy as can be. 

If you remember, I shared about my hoard of cookbooks and my goal to try to cook at least once from each one I own. I've been slacking on my challenge. And blogging. Seriously, life has been busy and kind of stressful. I apologize. Over the past few weeks though, I tried out another cookbook I have. I picked KitchenAid Baking Basic. I've had several recipes bookmarked to attempt. And finally, I decided to make two of them. 

The two items I made were the soft beer pretzels and oatmeal s'mores cookies. Both turned out to be delicious. 
Yes, I made a Husker "N" pretzel!
The pretzels were incredibly easy to make and not too time consuming. The hardest part of making them was dipping them in warm water with baking soda for 30 seconds and trying to flip them in the water. Some of my pretzels started to come apart in the water. I'm sure my skills and assembling them aren't the greatest. Give me time. I enjoyed them while watching football games and as bedtime snacks. Still trying to determine if I can freeze them after baking because I wasn't able to consume them all before they started to go bad. They taste great with the Old El Paso beer cheese dip (in the Mexican aisle of your grocery store). Also the nacho cheese that comes in a tin can. I made these again when my parents visited with my mom. This time we made them as pretzel sticks. That would be perfect for a football watch party. 


The oatmeal s'mores cookies were not as simple. You had to cut and freeze the marshmallows. Lesson from this was to always make sure you read the entire recipe before starting it. My cookies turned out nothing like the picture in the cookbook but wow, they were delicious. 


If you were wondering about carb counting, the pretzels turned out to be 25g per pretzel and the cookies were 16g per cookie. Of course it varies based on how many you get out of each batch. 

This weekend, my Huskers do not have a football game. I'm not quite sure what to do with all of the free time. I know I want to bake though, especially since I have my CAB meeting the following weekend. Has anyone baked from Hello, Cupcake! or What's New, Cupcake? because I'm thinking of finally trying to make something from one of those. Suggestions?  


And because I'm in a super nice mood, here is the recipe for the oatmeal s'mores cookies:


Ingredients: 
  • 2/3 cup mini-marshmallows
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanillas
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup coarse chocolate graham cracker crumbs
 Steps:  
  1. Cut marshmallows in half. Spread on baking sheet; freeze 1 hour. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Beat brown sugar, butter and granulated sugar in bowl of electric stand mixer at medium speed until well blended. Beat at high speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, honey and vanilla; beat at medium speed until well blended. Gradually add flour mixture; beat just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and marshmallows. 
  4. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets; sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheets. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. 
Note from Kristin: Um, I didn't use the chocolate graham cracker crumbs they specified. I actually used traditional graham cracker crumbs.