Homemade Cheez-Its

This post is dedicated to my dear friend @Harmonyjoyyy. A friend in real life and in the twitterverse, she is one of those people I love following because she gets you through the “each minute feels like an hour” days. One of the things I’ve come to know about @Harmonyjoyyy is the girl. loves. cheez-its. =) Since giving up all snacks involving cheese, I had kinda forgot about them until I watched her pledge her allegiance and undying love. Maybe I was missing something here.

As I do each time I feel my allergy is making me miss out on awesomeness, I started googling homemade recipes until I found one with a decent picture. Success!

These crackers were everything I thought I was missing and more. They were salty and cheesy with just the right amount of crunch. Since this past weekend was @Harmonyjoyyy’s birthday and she was the inspiration, I made her some too! (with real cheese and butter =) H and L got a stash for being my taste testers, and all the crackers were gone within a day. Talk about addicting.
Yields about 7 dozen crackers.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. bag Dayia Cheddar Style Shreds
  • 3 TB Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, softened
  • 1 TB shortening, softened
  • 1/4 tsp celtic sea salt, plus some for sprinkling ( I cut the salt in half from the original recipe because Earth Balance is salted… I think)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 TB cold water

The first thing I noticed about the recipe was that it called for grated cheese. I’ve yet to find Dayia in block form in my area so I put a whole bag of shreds in a food processor and pulsed until the cheese was very fine.
Next combine the cheese, softened butter and shortening, and salt in a standing mixer until completely integrated. Mix in the flour, and then slowly add the water. The dough will be dry so you want to add enough water for it to come together, but you don’t want it to be too wet. Separate the dough into 2 discs, cover and refrigerate for roughly 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 375. Roll out dough on a silicone mat (or parchment paper) to 1/8 inch thick. Using a pastry wheel or whatever you have really, cut the dough into uniform squares. I tried to make mine about an inch like you would get out of the box. Size isn’t as important as much as the uniform part is! Otherwise some crackers will cook faster than others (learned the hard way!) In the center of each square poke a small hole using a toothpick. Sprinkle any additional salt.

Transfer the squares to a greased baking sheet and bake 15 minutes or until the edges are the slightest brown. I poked the center of a few crackers to make sure they weren’t too puffy. Some of the puff will harden as the crackers cool.
Yum!
Here’s a swiss-gruyere version.
And a sharp cheddar!

Fall Almond Cookies

Annnd I’m back after unannounced summer break. Have you ever just wanted to cut out all distractions and soak up the last bits of summer, and then your computer dies, and then your camera dies, and then your computer dies again? That happens to people right =).

These cookies remind me of running cross country in the fall and sitting in the back of the bus going to away meets. See, H and I would always make cookies for the team when we were traveling. We’d meet at her house the afternoon before the big day, after an easy or no practice and bake up a storm. One time while gathering all of the ingredients she took out the almond extract instead of vanilla. I was shocked and a little taken back.
me: “Almond instead of vanilla?”
H: “Yup, my mom and I do this sometimes for a different flavor. It’s nice trust me.”
me: “But that’s not what the directions say.”
H: “Haha, you don’t always have to follow the directions word for word Jo.”
A wise one that H.
Adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TB almond milk
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 TB almond milk

In a large bowl or standing mixer beat butter, sugar, and baking powder until fluffy. Add in the egg, almond milk, and almond extract and beat until well combined. Beat in as much flour as you can. (At this point I started a raise an eyebrow… as much as I could? What about the rest?) The original recipe said after you couldn’t beat anymore, to just stir the rest in. The dough was looking a little dry so I added a little more milk and continued to use my mixer haha. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375. Divide the dough in half so you can work in batches. Sprinkle a large cutting board with a little bit of flour. Take the first half of the dough leaving the second in the fridge, roll out the dough until it’s about 1/8 in thick. Using your favorite fall cookie cutters cut the dough in shapes! Carefully place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 7-8 minutes. Place the unused dough back in the fridge and repeat with the second half.

When cookies are done transfer to a wire sheet and let cool. Perfect time for the icing. In a bowl whisk together powdered sugar, almond extract, and the almond milk. Once the cookies have cooled completely, brush with icing and sprinkle festively!

Zucchini SoCo Cream Pies

Last night, August 8th, was “Sneak some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night!” Strangest national holiday ever. I know you all participated. Much to L’s disappointment our neighbor’s did not haha. Must not be an abundance in the city. But that didn’t stop me from sharing the wealth! I whipped up these babies for my friends at work and they were D·E·L·I·C·I·O·U·S. Like an oatmeal cream pie crossed with zucchini bread and dipped in a little Southern Comfort =)
Adapted from marthastewart.com.

Ingredients:
Cookie:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp celtic sea salt
  • 1 1/2 Earth Balance buttery sticks, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light-brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup zucchini, finely grated
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Frosting: 

  • 8 ounces Better Than Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp Southern Comfort or other liqueur

In a medium bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate large bowl (or standing mixer) cream together 1 stick of butter and both of the sugars until fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla mixing well to combine. Stir in zucchini, oats, and walnuts. Refrigerate dough for about 1 hr.

Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a large cookie scoop (about 2 TB) spoon out dough 2 inches apart. Bake cookies until the edges turn a crisp golden brown, about 17 minutes. Let cool completely.

For the frosting beat the cream cheese, confectioners sugar, and liqueur together until fluffy. Martha only used 1 cup of sugar, but I wanted my frosting a bit thicker so I added some more. After that it still wasn’t thick enough so I refrigerated it over night.

When the cookies are cool, and the frosting is thick and ready spread heaping amounts onto the flat side of a cookies. Sandwich together with another cookie. Eat and repeat!

Lobster Rolls with Lemon Oil and Garlic Butter

To say that I love lobster would be an understatement. I am a New England girl after all ;-). I once stayed in a relationship that was very much over a couple weeks too long because my boyfriend at the time bought me a lobster dinner for my birthday. Part of me felt guilty, but part of me was like “Maybe he’s not that bad… because… you know… LOBSTER!”. Sad, but true. Are lobster goggles a thing yet? If not, I’m coining it.

When the dairy allergy hit (yup I’m discussing it like a natural disaster) my options to eat lobster in a restaurant became very limited. In my opinion, the best way to enjoy it is definitely steamed with a big vat of melted butter. However my chances of finding a place that substitutes with Earth Balance are not very high haha.

Also, I’m not sure if you’ve ever cooked lobster at home, but it’s a little intense and tends to stink up your whole house. Whenever we did growing up, we’d steam them outside… big pot on the grill… at my grandparents house.
(me and d$… so happy… I couldn’t wait)(look at that pout haha… I just want my lobster Uncle Brian!)

I wasn’t looking for a big production, and since L’s slightly afraid of my favorite crustacean, I decided to buy some cooked meat and go the lobster roll route. No muss, no fuss, and no lobster feelers staring down L when she opens the refrigerator :-).

I found this really cool mom and pop type store Alive & Kicking Lobsters down the street from me. I ended up buying by the pound, and while it was pricier than my normal meals I got a decent size tail + claws for about $7.50. Not bad at all. Actually it could be terrible and I have no idea since this was my first time buying lobster meat, but I already had those lobster goggles on!

I knew right away I wanted to go butter style and not mayo since that’s what I am really missing!
Modified from Gourmet.com
Serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. fresh lobster meat
  • 1/3 cup fresh chives, snipped
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 TB lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Earth Balance buttery stick
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 whole wheat hot dog buns

Lay out all of your lobster on a cutting board and revel in all it’s beauty. Took a LOT of will power to not just eat it right there.
Chop lobster up into bite-size pieces, and place in a medium size bowl. Add in chives, celery, and parsley.

In a small bowl whisk together olive oil and lemon juice. Add in 1 TB  at a time to the lobster mixture and stir until evenly coated. I say that because I’ve been making these one day at a time and using 1 TB per serving. You could just dump it all in. Seemed like a lot of oil to me though.

Toast hot dog buns in toaster oven for 1-2 minutes. I placed mine upside down using the lines of the grill to hold the inside open. In a separate small microwavable bowl, place the butter with the garlic and melt for 45 seconds. Brush the inside of the bun with the butter mixture.

Stuff the hot dog buns with lobster mixture. They should hopefully be over-flowing. Maybe serve with some Summer Ale Fries. Try to fight off the effects from the lobster goggles, but I totally understand if you can’t :-).

Funfetti Cupcakes from Scratch

Mmmm Funfetti. The most universally loved cake there is. If you look at the ingredients, it’s just vanilla cake with sprinkles. But we all know it’s so much more than that.

It’s all I ever wanted as a kid.

From ’91… there’s sprinkles underneath I promise you…

To ’06… Mom was angling to “order” me a graduation cake… that wasn’t happening… funfetti… please and thank you.
(don’t know if you noticed, but the picture of the baby has now changed… that’s D$… c’mon Mom 😉

To now. My close friend C and I joked that it would be our wedding cake when the time came for each of us. She went with something else. I’m holding out hope for me =)

Adapted from How Sweet It Is.
Yields 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Earth Balance Buttery Stick
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TB vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup colored sprinkles

Frosting:

  • 1 Earth Balance Buttery Stick
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 1/2 cups confectionary sugar
  • 1 TB vanilla extract
  • 1 TB – 1/4 cup of almond milk, depending
  • 3 TB colored sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Alternate adding in the dry ingredients and milk then beat until completely mixed. Stir in the colored sprinkles.

Fill the cups about 2/3 and bake 20-25 minutes. The time will vary depending on oven temperatures.

Now for the good stuff! Beat butter and shortening together until fluffy. Add in the sugar, vanilla, and a little bit of the milk continuing to beat until well combined.

Add in additional milk to taste. I ended up adding the whole 1/4 then regretted it a little bit because the frosting was a tad too liquidy. It ended up hardening and was fine, but I still wish I put in a little less. Stir in the remaining sprinkles.

Double StarMallow Rice Crispy Treats

I found the cutest marshmallows at the grocery store! I thought… “these would make great 4th of July rice crispy treats!” Until I realized that the recipe calls for the butter and marshmallows to completely melt together and they’d really make a nice shade of purple. Then it came to me… DOUBLE MARSHMALLOW rice crispy treats. Now that’s a reason to celebrate!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Earth Balance Buttery Stick (the recipe from the Rice Krispies site says not to use substitute butter… I live to break the rules =)
  • 1 bag white mini marshmallows
  • 9 cups Crispy Rice (I bought generic) cereal
  • 1 bag red, white, and blue star marshmallows
  • red, white, and blue sprinkles

Line a 13 x 9 pan with wax paper. In a large saucepan melt the butter and white mini marshmallows. In the normal crispy treats recipe, there would only be half the amount of butter, but I figured I’d throw a little extra in since I was doubling the marshmallows. In a large mixing bowl stir together the colorful star marshmallows and the crispy rice cereal. (I added in a little more cereal than usual here too).  Add the buttery mix to the rice mix and stir until all of the rice is coated. Press mixture evenly into the pan and let cool.

The treats were wonderfully sweet, sticky, and crunchy. You definitely couldn’t tell “real butter” wasn’t used and they were 10 times better than store bought.

Carrot Ginger Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting And Candied Carrot Sprinkles

My co-worker/friend/honorary big brother T’s birthday was the other day. Perfect opportunity to try out a new cupcake recipe! T is a person who is super supportive and always in my corner no matter what. While we were out at the bar (fact: I have no shame bringing the cupcake hotel out to bars) a randomer offered to pay me for one of my cupcakes! It was my first sale as a baker, and T was more excited about it than me I think haha. He exclaimed “Now you’re a professional! Woohoo!!”  Gotta have people like that in your life =)
Adapted from: Cupcake Bakeshop
Yields: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 lb carrots, grated
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 TB lemon juice
    (the almond milk+lemon juice is a non-dairy substitution for buttermilk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 TB finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger (purchased at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s only has it seasonally)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Frosting:

  • 1/8 cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
  • 1/8 cup shorting
  • 1 container Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese Plain
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • splash of almond milk

Candied Carrots:

  • 2 peeled carrots
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2-4 TB sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine carrots, eggs, almond milk, lemon juice, vanilla, sugar, vegetable oil, fresh ginger, and candied ginger. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Fold flour mixture and pecans into the wet mixture. Fill cups 2/3’s full and bake 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

While the cupcakes are cooling you can make the frosting! Cream together butter, shortening, and cream cheese until fluffy. Add in vanilla, sugar, and milk and beat until well combined. Add additional milk as needed or until desired consistency is reached.

To candy the carrots, bring water and sugar to a boil in a small sauce pan. Reduce heat to low, add in carrots and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Pour carrots into a fine strainer and let completely cool. I ended up leaving mine out overnight. The end result wasn’t sweet enough for me so I started sprinkling on sugar until I thought they looked coated.

Pipe the frosting in a swirl pattern using a medium circular tip. Then sprinkle on candied carrots!