joyeux cuisine

a blog about good food, family, friends, and life.

chocolate chip pecan pie.

Happy Easter! He is risen indeed!

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I know you’re all probably still full from your delicious meals that happened this afternoon (I know I am!) but I have to share this pie with you. Have to. It’s delicious and easy. Literally dump, stir, bake. So dang good.

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This recipe comes from my dear Aunt Karen. I love her. She’s my dad’s sister and she’s one of the strongest women I know. She’s a crafty person like I am, quilts like a boss, and also loves her cats. Love her.

I’ve been meaning to make this pie for awhile, and I finally got a reason: Easter dinner with some dear friends that haven’t been together in a long time! Em, Ang, B, RaeMa, and I got to spend a weekend together and it was glorious. Ang flew in from North Carolina, RaeMa took a bus from Kansas City, and Em drove from Chi-town. The only one of us missing was Muff-Muff. We hung out at B’s apartment for the weekend an ate food, knitted, watched movies, and swapped stories. (Sidenote: these aren’t their real names, just nice ones we have for ourselves.)

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(Ang, Em, RaeMa, Joy, and B)
I love these women. They are encouraging and real. They build me up and make me a better person. We laugh together and cry together. I hope everyone has friends like these.

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(Em and I rocking our Easter dresses)
Make some pie, watch Pitch Perfect too many times, hug your friends. Be happy.

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Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie
makes 1 9-inch pie
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, melted and cooled
1-6 ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup shredded or flaked coconut
1-9 inch frozen pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Spoon into unbanked pie shell. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the center of the pie is set. Cool slightly and serve warm with ice cream.
You can also make this a day ahead an warm up in the oven at a low temperature for a few minutes before serving.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

(P.S. I wrote this blog post on my phone. So that happened.)

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red velvet cake truffles.

A few things about my life right now:
I got contacts and am still getting used to them (aka I sometimes still try to adjust my glasses even though they aren’t there…normal).
I graduate in under 100 days.
I miss my cat.
I don’t have a Valentine. (that’s pretty normal.)
I introduced two of my friends to Downton Abbey and we can’t stop watching it.
(SPOILER) I finished Season 3 of Downton Abbey and cried a lot.
I love Downton Abbey. (if you hadn’t guessed that)

Downton Valentine

So, it’s Valentine’s Day, right? I hate Valentine’s Day. I’ve been single a lot more often than not. Here’s the two stories of my two awkward Valentine’s Day experiences:
1. My senior year of high school my boyfriend planned a huge surprise for me. So we went to this fancy Italian restaurant at around 3 in the afternoon because that was the only time he could get a reservation. The food was delicious and we spent awhile walking around the town where the restaurant was. Then we went to the most romantic movie we could; Paul Blart Mall Cop. What a romantic choice, right? Oh well. Life goes on.
2. Sophomore year of college my boyfriend (different boyfriend) planned this huge surprise for Valentine’s Day weekend and didn’t tell me about it until the day it was planned for. Turns out he got tickets for an Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith concert in Chicago. Talk about the most Christian date ever. It was a really fun evening and way better than Paul Blart Mall Cop so I guess that’s a bonus right?

So there’s that. My life…I just don’t even know sometimes.

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Anyway, I made truffles. Red velvet truffles. Because it’s Valentine’s and it’s all about love and who doesn’t love cake? These are a lot like cake batter truffles but altered a little bit. These are very rich and super delicious. They’re really easy to throw together and they make people really happy. They’re also a really good Downton Abbey watching snack.

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Make some truffles, give someone a hug, eat some candy, watch Downton Abbey, smile some more.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Red Velvet Truffles
adapted from Cake Batter Truffles

makes about 30 truffles

for the truffles:

1 and 1/2 cups flour

1 cup red velvet cake mix

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

6-7 Tablespoons milk

for the coating:

16 oz almond bark or vanilla flavored melting chocolate

sprinkles for topping

To make the truffles: Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside. In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add in the vanilla, salt, flour, and cake mix. Mix together with a spatula or the electric mixer on low. This will look really not mixed. Add in the milk a couple tablespoons at a time and continue to mix until everything gets incorporated. The mixture should be dense and stick together really well. If you add to much milk it gets sticky, so be careful. Roll the truffles into 1 inch to 1 and 1/2 inch balls and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Continue doing this until all the dough is used. Chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes or until firm. When firm dip in the topping.
To make the topping: melt the almond bark according to the directions. Usually 30 seconds in the microwave (in a microwave safe bowl!) at a time, stirring in between each time interval. Dip each truffle in the chocolate with a fork and tap on the side of the bowl to remove the excess. Place the truffle back on the cookie sheet and top with sprinkles before the chocolate hardens. Repeat for all the truffles.

Store these in the fridge on the cookie sheet until they’re all set and then store in an airtight container or plastic sandwich bag for 2-3 days.

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peppermint crinkle cookies.

Right now there’s a blizzard outside my house. Well, not quite a blizzard but there’s snow flying everywhere and it’s super windy. I think it counts. What’s the best way to ride out a blizzard? Let me give you my three top choices: knitting, baking, and watching Christmas movies. We’ve already watched Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Little Drummer Boy, and we just started Elf. My favorite Christmas movies are the old-school ones. Like White Christmas. Love it. My absolute favorite is The Year Without A Santa Claus. I don’t know why but it is.

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We’ve been doing a lot of baking these last few days because my mom always gives out cookie trays at Christmas but I found this recipe and wanted to give it a try. Peppermint is one of my favorite things especially during the winter. It just makes sense. Crushing peppermint is even better because you get to take out all your aggression on something and it makes everything better.

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There are so many good Christmas cookie recipes and we have a ton in our family, but it’s always okay to add a few more. There can never be too many cookie recipes. At least that’s how I feel. These are great because the powdered sugar on the outside gives them an extra kick of sweetness. Plus when they come out of the oven the peppermint is a little melty and delicious. These are soft and chewy which makes the best kind of cookie.

DSCN0438So I encourage you to make some cookies, have a cup of tea, watch your favorite Christmas movie, and enjoy a snowy day. Make the most of today.

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Peppermint Crinkle Cookies

recipe from Lauren’s Latest

makes 2 and 1/2 dozen cookies

3 candy canes, crushed

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 and 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Cream butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients slowly until just combined. Stir in the crushed up peppermint. Put the powdered sugar on a plate. Roll the dough into balls using a cookie scoop to make sure they’re mostly the same size. Roll the balls in the powdered sugar and place on the cookie sheets. Repeat until all the dough is used. Bake for 9-11 minutes. You want the cookies to be barely browned on the bottom. They shouldn’t be shiny, just have a matte finish look to them. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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getting back in the kitchen.

Well, hey there everyone. I’ve been absent for a little while (and by little while I mean about 3 weeks…). Once we got back to school from Thanksgiving Break everything got super crazy. Every year we do a performance of Handel’s Messiah and rehearsals for that started right away. The next week we had rehearsals for our annual Sounds of the Season concert. And then the next week we had finals. So…there was no time for anything except studying and practicing and rehearsing. But that’s a normal week, so I guess there’s more reasons than that for not writing or baking in a while.

It’s so weird to think that I only have one semester of college left. Not only weird but terrifying. I don’t know how to be an adult or live in the ‘real world.’ I guess that’s kind of a learn-on-the-go type thing huh. That’s what cookies are for.

Thankfully being at home and not having homework to worry about (just practicing for a recital coming up pretty quickly…) gives me more time to bake things. Also thankfully, my mom has a whole list of things to bake for cookie trays and family gatherings. Most of which are family recipes that have been around forever. We’ve already made a ton of pretzel chocolate treats, candied nuts, pecan tassies, and this morning I whipped up the dough for candy cane cookies. That, my friends, are a sacred recipe. And my favorite Christmas cookie. I am terrible at making them look like candy canes, but my mom is the master. I’m the master at eating them. Not even kidding.

So, the real reason for this post is to tell you that I’m baking soon. Promise. Until then; don’t forget to love the people around you. And play in the snow if you have some.

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cinnamon roll muffins.

After a day of eating and watching football it’s nice to just relax. Or if you’re crazy and went Black Friday shopping it’s nice to eat something delicious in the morning before you sleep all day. I don’t understand those people. Props to you for staying up all night though. Can’t even try it. The bros and I usually go out after all the crazy people are done and are asleep.

Anyway, back on track. My mom had to work a 3-11pm shift last night at the hospital she works at. Only my dad had to get up early this morning so everyone got to sleep in, which was especially good for Mom. I got up before she did and decided to make something for her because she always makes stuff for us when we’re home. There’s nothing better than cinnamon rolls in the morning, but there was no time. Muffins also sounded delicious, but my go-to are blueberry and we don’t have any. So why not combine the two and make cinnamon roll muffins? Praise God for whoever thought of that.

The recipe looks really complicated but it really isn’t. They’re really easy to through together, which is perfect for early morning baking. These are yeasty and dense, the perfect cinnamon roll, but not super messy. And who doesn’t love the smell of cinnamon rolls in the morning? That’s what I thought.

Enjoy your morning. Make some muffins. Go yarn shopping. Keep being thankful.

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

recipe slightly adapted from Sunny Side Up

makes 12 muffins

for the roll:

1 and 1/2 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons instant yeast

2/3 cup warm milk (I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds)

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

for the topping:

2 Tablespoons butter, room temperature

2/3 cup brown sugar

3/4 teaspoons cinnamon

for the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

3-4 Tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Grease a 12 cup muffin tin and set aside. Keep the milk in a measuring cup and add the yeast to the warm milk to dissolve it. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the milk, oil, vanilla, and egg to the flour mixture and stir well to combine. Divide among the 12 cups in the muffin tin and allow to rest for about 15 minutes.
While the dough is resting combine the ingredients for the filling in a small bowl and mix with a fork until crumbly. Divide this among the 12 rolls and either press into the surface or swirl with a fork.
Place the muffin tin in a cold oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Bake for 17-20 minutes until the rolls have risen and the cinnamon sugar mixture is melty. Insert a toothpick into the muffins and it should come out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
While the muffins are cooling make the glaze. Place powdered sugar in a bowl and beat with a whisk while adding the milk. Add the almond extract at the very end. You can adjust the milk to sugar ratio based on your desired consistency. Move the slightly cooled muffins to a plate and drizzle the glaze on top.
Serve immediately.

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things to be thankful for.

I hope you are having a wonderful day today. Enjoy your family. Eat too much food (pie).

I made a list. I love lists.

Things I’m thankful for:
Family
Faith
Friends
Home
My cat
My dog
Food
Talents
Music
Yarn
Cookies
Professors
School
Chocolate
Clean laundry
Comfy recliners
Love

[Pictures: Top – Em, Me, B. Arkansas 2011. Right – Martha, Me, B, Em. Chicago this fall. Best friends. Love them.]

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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pre-Christmas goodies.

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching which means lots of things. I get to go home on Tuesday. The yearly eye doctor appointment is coming up. I get to go to the yarn store. Green bean casserole. Mashed potatoes. Chocolate chip pecan pie. And, at work, we decorate for Christmas. We always decorate the music building the Sunday before we leave for Thanksgiving break. (I know you aren’t supposed to decorate for Christmas until after Thanksgiving is over, but it’s the best time to do it.) I’m in charge of snackage. Always.

Last year I went way overboard with food and we had way too much. I toned it down this year and made a few things. Somehow I still managed to spend all day on Saturday baking. Oh well. I (not so) secretly love it.

This year I made:
Red Velvet Cookies with White Chocolate Chips
Sugar Cut-Out Cookies with Homemade Frosting
Pretzel Kiss Thing
Peppermint Bark
Oreos Dipped in White Chocolate and Crushed Peppermint

Some of these things are not so complicated to make. Example: dip oreos in melted almond bark and dip in crushed candy canes. Put on wax paper and let harden in fridge. Easy as pie. Heck, easier than pie. Peppermint bark is also super easy. Melt almond bark and stir in crushed up candy canes. Spread on wax paper and harden in fridge. You can jazz it up a bit by doing a layer of dark chocolate first, but it’s good either way. If you add more chocolate that means we can be friends.

I wish I had a picture of the pretzel things I want you to make. But…they all got eaten. They’re really popular. They’re also super easy though. And the perfect balance of sweet and salty. Like trail mix but waaaaaaay better.

Make some goodies. Watch an entire season of Downton Abbey in one night. Decorate a tree. Be thankful.

Chocolate Pretzel Bites

makes as many as you want

Preztels

Chocolate kisses

Regular M&Ms (or peanut butter ones, I won’t be picky)

Preheat the oven to 150-200 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread pretzels out on the cookie sheet. Unwrap the chocolate kisses and put one kiss on each pretzel. (This is best done while watching a movie.) Put the sheet in the oven for about 2-3 minutes or until the kisses are melty. Test this by pressing one M&M into the kiss; if it sinks down all the way they’re ready. If not, leave them in the oven for a couple more seconds. It doesn’t take long. When the kisses are melty, remove from the oven and smush one M&M into each kiss. (Also, best done while watching a movie.) Chill in the fridge until firm. Eat by the handful.

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happy halloween!

So today is Halloween. In my family that never really meant very much because we never went Trick-or-Treating or dressed up for anything cool. But that’s okay. My family is pretty conservative so Halloween was never ‘celebrated’. Oh well, I survived. Sure we went to church for the ‘Harvest Festival’ (honestly…I’m still not sure what that means), but it wasn’t the Halloween that everyone else knew.

Here’s the thing: I like Halloween. I mean, I hate scary horror movies and couldn’t even watch Psycho all the way through because it scared the crap outta me. But I think Halloween is fun. You can make it fun without doing weird crazy stuff like dressing super crazy or ‘evil’. I do hate the fact that girls think it’s an excuse to look scantily clad and be okay with it. That’s a little weird. And crazy. (Seriously: don’t do that.)

There are so many great things about fall. Halloween just comes with the territory. Fall is all about scarves, apple cider, candy corn, corn mazes, boots, mittens, baking, soup for dinner, and so many other things. Use this year to do something for other people. Bless them with your talents and gifts that you’ve been given. Make today a great day for someone else.

Speaking of fall; check out these sweet outfits.

Happy Halloween! :)

(P.S. I’m totally making Snickerdoodles tonight.)

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Father’s Day. And Blueberry Crisp.

(this is the post where I brag about my dad because he is really great and because it’s Father’s Day)

My dad is awesome. Don’t get me wrong, both my parents are really great, but in honor of Father’s Day, he gets this one. He’s the reason I’m studying music because he’s a pretty boss trombone player and band director, which really inspired me. He’s also a pretty decent golfer (I didn’t inherit that trait, but both my brothers did so that’s something). My dad loves the Michigan Wolverines, Detroit Tigers, and (sometimes) the Chicago Cubs. He’s also got some pretty good kitchen skills. He makes a mean coffee cake and some pretty good blueberry crisp (hence, this post).

My dad grew up in Michigan and that side of the family still lives there, so for as long as I can remember we go pick blueberries in Michigan during the summers. Almost every summer. I used to hate it. But really, it’s pretty cool. My family believes that all Michigan fruits are superior to fruits from other states. Traverse City cherries and Michigan blueberries are both pretty delicious. I guarantee that we still have bags of blueberries in our freezer from last year. They’re just that good.

This year I can’t be home for Father’s Day. So instead I’m making a blueberry crisp in honor of my dad and that fact that he loves his blueberry crisp. Unfortunately, I don’t think Michigan blueberries are in season right now so I had to make due with regular blueberries (don’t tell my parents) and it still turned out wonderfully! I promise.

This recipe is actually really simple. It isn’t the same one my dad always uses because I don’t have that one yet. I’ll get it sometime. But really, you can whip this up really quick and have enough for 5-6 people depending on how much you like to share.

The outside topping part of this is stinkin’ delicious. It’s not too heavy and doesn’t over power the berries. Perfect. (Make sure you mix this in a large-ish bowl or you may end up getting flour all over your roommate’s kitchen chair…hypothetically speaking of course…)

See all the butter chunks? Delicious.

The berries in this get paired with sugar to bring out the juices and all the good flavor. This also helps to break down the berries a little bit before going in the crisp.

These delicious groups get layered on top of each other with the berries sandwiched in between two helpings of topping. The spices in the topping bring out all sorts of delicious flavors. So good. And when this is in the oven, the smells are ridiculous. For real. Ridiculous. And you have to eat this with a large helping of French Vanilla Ice Cream that’s sitting in your freezer for no apparent reason. It’s just life. Enjoy it. Happy Father’s Day!!

Blueberry Crisp

Recipe from Amanda Wright at whitandwhistle.com

Makes 1 8×8 pan

2 cups blueberries

2 Tablespoons white sugar

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup flour

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup butter (that’s 1 and 1/2 sticks) cold and cut into smaller pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the upper-middle portion of the oven. In a small bowl combine white sugar and blueberries. Set aside. In a medium-large bowl stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly. Press half the flour mixture into an 8×8 pan, pour the blueberries on top and spread evenly, then sprinkle the rest of the flour mixture on top of the blueberries. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the berries are bubbly. Serve warm with ice cream.

This crisp will last at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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