Cranberry Bliss Bars Recipe

A few days after Halloween ended, we started seeing Starbucks advertising their holiday drinks already and the infamous Red Cups started popping up everywhere. Yup, it’s officially the holiday season and I am super PUMPED because I love the holidays 🙂

One of the treats I’ve always wanted to try but too frugal to buy are the Cranberry Bliss Bars at Starbucks. They look soooo goood but I typically don’t buy sweets from Starbucks due to their price point. When I stumbled across this recipe to make a replica version, I had to give it a go. Mind you, since I’ve never had the original Cranberry Bliss Bars at Starbucks, I can’t tell you if this is an exact replica but I can tell you it tastes delicious nonetheless!! I’ll be sure to add an update once I’ve tried it for comparison.

This delicious Cranberry Bar is kinda like a cookie bar – topped with a cream cheese frosting and garnished with chopped cranberries. The original recipe I followed asked for orange extract which I did not have and will probably not buy since I would rarely use it in baking. Instead, I opted for orange juice and some orange zest and it tasted awesome!

Once baked, I just cut them up into triangles though I could have just left them as squares… Recipe below!

Cranberry Bliss Bars Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 22 minutes

Total Time: 37 minutes

Category: Cookies

Cranberry Bliss Bars Recipe

Ingredients

    Cranberry Bars
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • zest of 1 orange
    Frosting and toppings:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup dried craisins, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9 inch baking tray lined with parchment paper
  2. Beat together melted butter and brown sugar over medium speed with an electric/stand mixer until it comes together into a brownish slush. Add in the eggs, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add in ground ginger, baking powder, salt, and flour and mix until there are no dry lumps. Avoid overmixing.
  3. Stir in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries by hand using a wooden spoon.
  4. Spread the batter evenly onto the bottom of the lined baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes until set and golden brown at the edges. Do not overbake or your bars will become too hard. Allow bars to fully cool before frosting to avoid the frosting from melting.
  5. To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add orange juice and vanilla extract and mix well. Top cooled bars with frosting. Sprinkle with chopped dried cranberries.
  6. Refrigerate the bars for about an hour to allow everything including the frosting to set, and then cut them up into desired shapes and sizes.
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http://cookingwithteamj.com/2019/11/10/cranberry-bliss-bars-recipe/

Momofuku Confetti Cookies

Aside from Birthday Cake, these cookies are the only other cookies that make me feel celebratory whenever I see them. I think it’s truly because the rainbow sprinkles reminds me of the confetti that is popped during any celebratory event and this past weekend is no exception. After studying for several months, I finally passed the PMP (Project Management Professional) exam!

To celebrate, I decided to make these Confetti Cookies which I recall seeing in Momofuku’s cookbook.

It did require a few additional steps such as making the birthday cake crumble first but that wasn’t difficult at all! In fact, the birthday cake crumble can also be used as nice garnish or topping for tiered cakes.

Birthday Cake Crumble

When baking the cookies, it is important to leave about 3-4 inches between each cookie to allow room for them to spread. The top of each cookie should also be slightly flattened to help with the spreading.

The cookie should turn out fairly pale so that you can still see the confetti show through. I made the mistake of baking the first batch too long so on my subsequent batch, I underbaked it a little and the color turned out just right. To find out how to make this, see recipe below.

Momofuku Confetti Cookies

Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Category: Cookies

Yield: ~24 cookies

Momofuku Confetti Cookies

Ingredients

    Birthday Cake Crumble
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
    Confetti Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup milk powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

Instructions

  1. First, make the birthday cake crumble. Preheat oven to 300F. Combine birthday cake crumble dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Then, slowly add the oil and vanilla extract and whisk until it forms a loose crumble and all ingredients are hydrated.
  2. Pour the loose crumbles across a baking tray lined with silpat or parchment paper and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up any large clumps. When done, set aside and allow to cool.
  3. Turn off the oven for now.
  4. In a stand mixer mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, cream softened butter, sugar, and glucose for 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure everything is well incorporated.
  5. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time until it is well incorporated. Then, increase to high speed and mix for approximately 7 minutes. The end result should be a light fluffy white mixture.
  6. Reduce the speed to low again and slowly add the dry ingredients (flour, milk powder, baking soda, salt, and sprinkles). Mix for 20 seconds or until ingredients are just combined (do not overmix!). Scrape down bowl occasionally as required.
  7. Then, add the birthday cake crumble and mix for 20 seconds or until fully incorporated. Scoop the cookie batter onto a baking tray lined with silpat or parchment paper, leaving about 3-4 inches between each cookie. Press the top of cookies to flatten then a bit. Then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight. These cookies will not bake well in room temperature.
  8. Just before you’re ready to start baking these cookies, preheat the oven to 350F. Once preheated, bake the cookies for approximately 15 minutes or until the edges start to brown a bit and the cookies turn a pale yellow color. Cooking time may vary depending on your oven so keep your eyes on it so they don’t turn too brown.
  9. Allow to chill for 15 minutes before digging in! Store in an airtight container.
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http://cookingwithteamj.com/2019/07/30/momofuku-confetti-cookies/

Strawberry Lemonade

Have a quart of freshly picked strawberries lying around in the summer time? Consider making a pitcher of fresh Strawberry Lemonade. You only need a few ingredients and you can keep it in a pitcher in your fridge to sip on throughout the week! This would also be a great drink to have when guests are coming over – you can serve it up on your balcony or patio like we did!

Strawberry Lemonade

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Category: Drinks

Strawberry Lemonade

Ingredients

  • 1 quart (4 cups) of fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 cup water

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the sugar in 1 cup of water by heating it up in the microwave for about 45 seconds.
  2. Put the strawberries and the above sugar-water mixture into a blender and blend until thoroughly combined. Pour into your pitcher.
  3. Then, blend the quartered lemon (entire lemon with skin) with the remaining water in the same blender. Strain this mixture through a fine sieve into your pitcher. Stir to combine. If you prefer this recipe to be more sweet, you can add another 1/4 cup of sugar. If you prefer it more sour, add another lemon.
  4. Stir to combine and serve over ice!
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http://cookingwithteamj.com/2019/07/28/strawberry-lemonade/

No Knead Sourdough Bread Recipe

My journey to making my own Sourdough Bread from scratch was a painful one. It took me 7 days just to prepare my Sourdough starter and another 2 days just to make the bread but it was all worth it to see the end result 🙂 (be prepared to dedicate a whole day to making this…)

The first time I attempted this, my dough didn’t rise at all during the proofing period and the result was a super dense bread with barely any air pockets. I think the problem was that I over hydrated the dough (against my instinct) and the levain wasn’t fully ready yet.

Here’s what I did differently this time round. First, I made sure to feed my starter at least twice a day for 2 days prior to baking to make sure my starter was nice and strong. Then, I prepared my Levain (another term used for sourdough starter):

8am – Prepare the Levain:

  • 45g starter
  • 45g unbleached all purpose flour
  • 45g bread flour
  • 90g warm water (90F)

I followed Joshua Weissman‘s recipe on Youtube for this recipe. Mix everything together in a jar with a loosely fitted lid and allow to ferment for 3-4 hours or until doubled in size. I kept my Levain in my oven with the light turned on which simulated an ideal proofing environment of ~75F. Meanwhile, prepare your Autolyse. This is a stage in bread making where where you hydrate the flour with water and allow to rest to help with gluten development which will ultimately lend to a better rise in the bread.

11am – Autolyse

  • 273g bread flour
  • 500g unbleached all purpose flour
  • 175g whole wheat bread flour
  • 660g warm water (90F)

Once my Levain doubled in size or has tons of bubbles (see photo below), this indicates that it is ready because my starter culture is producing lots of gas.

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Bacon Parmesan Gougere (Cheese Puffs) Recipe

As a continuation from our Valentine’s Day dinner post, one of the dishes I made for our appetizers was Bacon Parmesan Gougere. The easiest way to describe a Gougere is a cheese puff. The more technical way of explaining a Gougere is a choux pastry (used to make eclairs, cream puffs etc) made with cheese. They’re typically served as an hors d’oeuvres or it can be served along side soup like a biscuit or a bread.

While I was looking at different French cookbooks to come up with other dishes to accompany our French meal, this recipe came up a few time and it’s hard to turn down a recipe with bacon in it.

This recipe was fairly easy to make. First, I had to make the choux pastry dough by heating up the milk and butter in a small sauce pan over medium high heat and bringing it to a simmer. Then, I added the flour and pinch of salt to the mixture and mixed vigourously until it formed a smooth dough and the mixture no longer sticks to the side of the pan. When done, transfer the dough into a mixing bowl and press it out to the sides of the bowl to help the dough cool down faster. Allow to chill for a few minutes until it is warm to the touch (approximately 5 mins).

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Beef Bourguignon – Inspired by Julia Child’s Recipe

This year for Valentine’s Day, I decided to cook the hubby a French inspired meal. To read more about the French meal that I whipped up that night, check out the post here.

For the main dish, I decided to make the infamous Beef Bourguignon, inspired by none other than Julia Child.

I decided to make this dish the day before as I read online that the flavours develop a lot more overnight. It also alleviated the amount of stress work that went into preparing the rest of the dishes the day of the dinner.

First, I preheated the oven to 400F. Then, I paper towel dried my beef to remove all excess moisture (forgot the cut of the meat – we got it from Costco) and cut them into ~2 inch cubes. Season generously with salt and pepper.

In a large stainless steel skillet, add some olive oil and cook the cut up bacon over medium high heat until nice and brown. This will help render out the bacon fat for more flavour. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside for later use.

Now, add in the beef cubes in the pan with all that bacon fat and sear them on all sides until nicely browned. You will likely have to do this in batches as you do not want to overcrowd the pan. Take the beef out and set aside.

Add the onions and carrots and cook them down until onions start to turn brown. In the last minute, add the chopped garlic. Remove everything and set aside.

You’ll notice that a nice fond has developed on the bottom of your pan. It is now time to deglaze it with red wine. I used about 2/3 of a bottle (750ml) of red wine (pinot noir specifically). Scrape all the fond off the bottom of your pan and set aside.

In a dutch oven over medium high heat, add the seared beef, cooked vegetables, bacon, and wine sauce. Then, add in enough beef broth to just cover the beef (for me, approximately 2 cups). Add in thyme, bay leaf, and tomato paste and bring the dish up to a simmer. Quickly do a quick taste test to see if additional seasoning is required. Once satisfied, place in the oven at 325F to braise for approximately 3 hours.

Beef Bourguignon – Inspired by Julia Child's Recipe

Yield: 6 people

Beef Bourguignon - Inspired by Julia Child's Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 strips of thick cut Bacon, cut into small slices
  • 2 lbs Beef, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 3-4 Carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1.5 Yellow Onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp Chopped Garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2/3 of a 750 ml bottle of Red Wine (we used Pinot Noir)
  • ~2 cups of Beef Broth
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp fresh Thyme leaves
  • 1 Bay leaf

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large stainless steel pan and add the bacon. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned (approximately 8-10mins). Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to set aside for later use. Keep the rendered bacon fat in the pan.
  3. Dry the beef with paper towel and cut into 2 inch cubes. Generously sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In the same pan over medium high heat, sear the beef cubes on all sides until nicely browned. Do this in batches as to not overcrowd the pan. Once browned, remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Add the carrots and onions to the pan and season generously with salt and pepper. Stick occasionally until onion is lightly browned. In the last minute of cooking, add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Remove everything from the pan and set aside.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and scrape the fond off the bottom of the pan. Save this for later and turn off the heat.
  6. In a large dutch oven (ours was 5.5 qt) over medium high heat, add the seared beef, cooked vegetables and red wine sauce. Top it up with beef broth until it just covers the beef. Add thyme, bay leaf, and tomato paste. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  7. Cover the pot with the lid and place it in the oven to braise for 3 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
  8. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with toasted bread.
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http://cookingwithteamj.com/2019/02/17/beef-bourguignon/

An Evening in Paris – Valentine’s Day Dinner

This is our first year celebrating Valentine’s Day as a married couple. Not that we do anything special on Valentine’s Day to begin with but this year, I felt like going the extra mile. I decided to make the hubby a full course French meal with the theme of the evening being “An Evening in Paris”.

I found this Valentine’s Day menu template from a blogger and customized it slightly to accommodate the Paris theme. It took me several days of research consisting of looking up various cookbooks to come up with a full course menu. In the end, I settled on the following dishes:

Appetizers

  • Bacon Parmesan Gougère
  • Charcuterie Plate consisting of Tapenade Noire, Pork & Chicken Liver Pâté, Homemade French Bread, and Grapes
  • House Salad

Entrée

Dessert

Chocolate Soufflé with Espresso Crème Anglaise

We started the night with some French music playing in the background to set the mood. We listened to the “French Cafe Lounge” playlist on Spotify which was pretty good! Then we started the evening with the appetizers and a bottle of red wine of course 🙂

Yes, I even busted out napkins – we usually use paper towels but decided to be classy tonight 😉

The Tapenade Noire turned out really good! It only consisted of black olives, anchovies, capers, and olive oil. I should’ve used a food processor but was lazy and ended up using the Vitamix instead with mediocre results. Luckily, it still tasted great. To see the full recipe, click here.

Next was the Bacon and Parmesan Gougère. A gougère is essentially a French cheese puff made with choux pastry mixed with cheese. I added in the bacon to make it extra savoury 🙂 For the full recipe, click here.

For the Main, we had the Beef Bourguignon with Cauliflower Gratin on the side. This Beef Bourguignon recipe was inspired by Julia Child and ended up tasting super delicious! It’s very rich though so it won’t take much to fill you up. For the full recipe, click here.

Lastly, we ended the evening with Chocolate Soufflé. Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to capture this… 🙁 If you’re looking for other ideas for sweets, check out our Chocolate Dipped Pretzel recipe!

And that was it! As expected, this French meal was super rich… lots of cheese and butter haha. We wouldn’t mind having this type of meal once in a while but definitely can’t handle it on a regular basis. Hope you guys give these recipes a try and Bon Appétit!

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels – Valentine’s Day Treat

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Whether you’re celebrating with a special someone today, having a Galentine’s day, or just want to treat yourself, we have the perfect easy treat for you 🙂

This is a great last minute treat to make if you’re scrambling for ideas on what sweet treat to make for your Valentine today. You can either enjoy them yourself or package them up in a nice little treat box or cellophane baggies and give them out as gifts! Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Here are all the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Pretzels
  • White chocolate wafers (any white chocolate will do)
  • Pink chocolate wafers (optional)
  • Pink, red, and white sprinkles

First, melt your white chocolate and pink chocolate wafers in separate bowls. We microwaved ours in a microwave safe bowl in intervals of 30 minutes as to not risk burning the chocolate. After each interval, stir vigorously until the chocolate is fully melted.

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Blueberry Crisp Recipe

Several years ago, I stumbled upon and mastered the Apple Crisp recipe which has been my go to dessert. Most people I’ve made this for actually prefer this over Apple Pie and best of all, I feel that there’s less prep work with Apple Crisp as I don’t need to make the pie crust ahead of time.

I’ve since adapted that recipe with other fillings. We bought a bunch of blueberries the other week and since we couldn’t finish them all in time, we decided to make a Blueberry Crisp before they go bad.

To start, combine your pint of blueberries with 1 tbsp of sugar and 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice. Add the zest of half a lemon and 1 tbsp of flour. Toss to coat the blueberries evenly.

Meanwhile – make the crumble topping. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, rolled oats, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the cold butter and with a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the dry mixture until the mixture looks like cornmeal and the butter is cut into really fine pieces and fully integrated with the dry mixture.

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Apple Tart Recipe

Almost 3 hours later.. I finally finished making this Apple Tart recipe from Cedric Grolet.

About a year ago, the hubs got me a cookbook from Cedric Grolet. I’ve never heard of him until I got his cookbook but upon looking at some of his recipes, it appears he is a French pastry chef specializing in fruits.

Sadly, this was he easiest recipe I could find in the book that I dared attempt and the preparation process still took forever 🙁 Luckily I cleared my schedule today to do this!

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