Saturday, March 27, 2010

Italian Sour Cream Cookies ~ Great for Easter

These Sour Cream Cookies were a favorite to many I shared them with.
These would be great for Easter!
Next week is Easter. So, if you are in need of a great cookie, give this one a try.
They are light and airy…and lemony.

Oh, by the way, this recipe was found in a recipe book created by church members. The instructions were very sparce. I literally had to tweek this recipe to where it is today. But, it was worth the effort.


1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbp lemon extract
2 Tbp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 1/4 cup AP flour
8 ounces sour cream
AP flour – for molding cookies

1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon extract
Mix all ingredients. (add more sugar for thicker consistency)

Colored Sprinkles ~

Mix dry ingredients together. (sugar, baking powder, baking soda, flour)
Mix in softened butter.
Add beaten eggs.
Add lemon and vanilla extracts.
Mix to a dough consistency.
GENTLY FOLD (by hand) sour cream into dough. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Cover bowl of dough with plastic wrap. (wrap must touch the dough to avoid developing a skin on it)
Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Prep pans: Line sheet pans with parchment paper.
Line up wire racks with trays underneath.
Prep cookie molding process: Have ice cream scooper and AP Flour on plate ready.
Remove dough from fridge.
Remove plastic wrap.
Lightly sprinkle AP flour on dough.
Using small ice cream scooper, flour the scooper, dip into dough scooping up a walnut sized portion.
Roll the dough into a ball. (Use flour lightly on dough and/or your hands to avoid sticking)
Place cookie dough ball on baking sheet. (keep about an inch apart). Repeat until done.

Bake cookies 11-14 minutes.
Cool on wire racks lined with trays underneath.

Prepare the glaze.

Glaze Process:
Dip the top of the cooled cookie in the glaze.
Let excess drain off in bowl.
Place cookie on wire rack. (the tray on bottom will catch drips)
Sprinkle a few Colored Sprinkles on the cookie.
Continue this process until all cookies are glazed.
Allow the cookies to dry.
Cookies are ready to eat.

To Store:
Place cookies in airtight container. (I separate cookies with waxed paper)

To enjoy:
Allow cookies to come to room temperature. (or microwave for a few seconds)

~ Lent…Palm Sunday…Holy Week…Easter ~

Let’s start from the beginning…

First there is Lent,

then Palm Sunday,

then Holy Week

which ends with

Easter Sunday.

To learn more… read on…

What is Lent?
Lent is the Christian season of preparation before Easter.

What is Palm Sunday?
On Palm Sunday Christians celebrate the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection.

What is Easter?
On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the ressurection of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Enjoy Your Easter!

Peace in Baking!


Baking is my Zensweet nibbles for the soul

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Double-Crusted Caramel Apple Pie Pops (sms)

Today’s recipe is a yummy one! Apple pie is such a comforting dessert. For many, it brings back memories of when mom used to bake for the family.

Susan of Baking with Susan is hosting today’s recipe. Please stop by Susan’s wonderful blog to see the recipe.

This recipe originates from the book The Sweet Melissa Baking Book listed on page 156-157.

There is a choice of two types of dough recipes to use: I used the Flaky Pie Dough.
Flaky Pie Dough - Page 137
All-Butter Pie Dough - Page 140

I thought I’d try something a little different. I came across a blog which showed how to make Pie Pops.

Luxirare shows her idea of making Pie Pops. It’s a great read.

Bakerella also shows how to make Pie Pops and it's really great too! Check it out!

So, I’m off to the kitchen to were some of my variations:

-Lollipop shapes instead of a pie.
-Diced and cooked the apples till tender which was used as filling.

Note: When making the caramel, it is important not to overcook it. My caramel did not burn, but the cook time should have been less. The cooking process continued even after I took it off the stove. I think it would have been useful if the recipe indicated a temperature limit for the caramel.

What’s Going On?

Do you post your food photography on any of these websites?


It’s fun to see when your own photos make it to the website. Right?
The only hiccup I see with these sites is that it takes some time for photos to get on the site at times. Oh well, such is life.

What’s one of YOUR favorite baking tools?
I love my wisk…especially the mini wisk.
How about you?

Check out the other Sweet Melissa Sunday Bakers blogs to see their version of the Double-Crusted Caramel Apple Pie.

Peace in baking,


Baking is my Zen…sweet nibbles for the soul

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Carrot Cake with Fresh Orange Cream Cheese Frosting (sms)

My third recipe baked from the book THE SWEET MELISSA BAKING BOOK

Carrot Cake with Fresh Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Stop by Julie’s blog A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING for the recipe.

I really enjoyed the taste of the cake. I was surprised how good it was...especially since it was missing the traditional components to a Carrot Cake...namely, the pineapple and coconut.

The frosting (for me) was a disappointment. I did not warm up to the orange zest in the frosting...I wish I had left it's just what I prefer. For others it's a wonderful addition.

Differences...that's what makes the world go round!

Instead of making a layer cake, I decided to make mini-cakes and a mini carrot shaped cake. Here are FOUR VARIATIONS I created.

Mini Trifle Carrot Cake
Whip Cream and Cream Cheese Frosting is layered between pieces of Carrot Cake.

Mini Two-Layer Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake layered with Cream Cheese Frosting

Mini Two-Layered Frosted Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting covered with Walnuts

Mini Carrot Cake Stick
Carrot Cake Shape with Cream Cheese Frosting covered with Walnuts

It was very delicious and moist!

What’s Up Lately?

This past week I went to New York City and visited

The French Culinary Institute.

I was given a tour of this wonderful school. I’m tossing around the idea of attending FCI.
Gosh, if the price tag wasn’t so darn high, I would have enrolled already! Anyway, enjoy the photos…

As I waited for my tour, I took a few shots of the street from the's one.

Check out this industrial stove! Love it!

I'm in love..I want that convection oven!

Kitchen Aid mixers...I've got one of these!
I also have the pasta attachement to make fresh pasta.

L’Ecole Restaurant
L’Ecole is where students of The French Culinary Institute’s Classic Culinary Arts Career Program impress guests with their cooking on a daily basis.

Don’t forget to visit the other Sweet Melissa Sundays Bakers’ creations on this recipe.

Peace in Baking,


Baking is my Zen…sweet nibbles for the soul

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Crème Brulee

Egg yolks, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla beans, pinch of salt and turbinado sugar…

combine them and what do you get?

Crème Brulee
It’s a sweet spoonful of Heaven On Earth!

When I have egg yolks left over from baking a cake that requires only egg whites, I am stoked because that is a great reason to make Crème Brulee.

I joined a blog group called SWEET MELISSA SUNDAYS.

On March 7, 2010, a Roasted Pecan Cake recipe was made that required fifteen egg whites. I didn’t want to toss out the egg yolks. So, I gathered ingredients for Crème Brulee and baked it after I made the cake.

There are two recipes & links provided below.

The first Crème Brulee recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated. It uses twelve egg yolks. This recipe was posted by a blogger Brown Eyed Baker. Check out her blog for the recipe.

The second Crème Brulee recipe is from Alton Brown of The Food Network. He uses six egg yolks. See Alton Brown's Creme Brulee recipe below.


1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 cup vanilla sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color.
Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually.
Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins.
Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan.
Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top.
Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top.
Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top.
Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

My cooking time is longer than indicated in the recipe. (depends on the ramekin size)
I broil the crème brulee using my oven broiler. I don’t own a torch.
I use vanilla bean paste, not pods. I use about 1 - 2 tablespoons. You can even see the vanilla beans through the jar (if you look closely).
Today, I went down to the Canal in the Princeton area to take photos. I am now owner of a Digital EOS Canon Rebel T1i SLR camera and am learning to use it. The best way to learn is to take photos.

It was beautiful out today…very unusual for March. I came upon a very nice man who was fishing. His name is Alan. He likes to fish for sport. He doesn’t eat what he catches. As we were talking, he caught a fish! And here it is!

Also met a very nice family…it turns out, the father knew a lot about photography. So, of course, we chatted about that for awhile.

So…enjoy your baking time in the kitchen friends. Till the next post.

Peace in baking,

Baking is my Zen
…sweet nibbles for the soul

Roasted Pecan Cake with Caramel Peach Marmalade and Burnt Peach Buttercream (sms)

This is my second recipe that I’ve baked with the Sweet Melissa Sundays Group. (sms)

I’ve been busy this week, so I’m burning the midnight oil (as they say) to get this post up on my blog.
But, It was so beautiful out today, I had to get some rays.
I went to the canal to take some photos and enjoy the weather…
especially since it’s been snowing often lately.
I’ve made a note of the constructive tips from some of the bakers in the comments regarding this cake.
It’s great to see other enthusiastic bakers’ different approach to a recipe.

Well...I usually bake a recipe on the first try as written.
But, I must say, I like oranges, but I really don’t care for orange marmalade.
So, I decided to use peach marmalade and peach nectar
in place of the orange marmalade and the orange juice.
The Burnt Peach Buttercream came out amazingly delicious.
The aroma of this cake, and the taste is what I would call “Classy”.
It’s definitely a ‘fine’ cake…it’s 'pinky in the air' fine.
I think this cake will actually taste even better the following day.

Since the weather was warmer today, I decided to take a few photos along the canal.
I need to learn how to use my new Canon Rebel T1i…which means, I need to take lots of photos.
Thanks to my tripod, I can be the photographer & model all at once.
Being near the water is so soothing…
connecting with nature is so uplifting.
Baking has the same effect for me…its soothing and uplifting.

Check out the original recipe,
Roasted Pecan Cake with Orange Marmalade
and Burnt Orange Buttercream
(page 107), on

Don’t Forget to stop by the other SMS Bakers’ blogs and see their delicious interpretations of this recipe.
Note: To use the leftover egg yolks ~ See Creme Brulee Recipe on my blog.

So, till next Sunday…enjoy your week!
Peace in baking,

Baking is my Zen
…sweet nibbles for the soul

Monday, March 1, 2010

National Food Bloggers Bake Sale ~4/17/10 Share Our Strength


The National Food Bloggers Bake Sale-New Jersey
which took place on April 17, 2010 WAS A SUCCESS!
Click here to find out more.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Do you love to bake and live in New Jersey?

Love to hear from you! READ ON...

Hi, I'm Carmen Ortiz, and will be heading the

National Food Bloggers Bake Sale in New Jersey

benefiting Share Our Strength.

Why focus on childhood hunger?

Hunger impairs a child’s health in significant and long-lasting ways, including physical and mental development.

The good news: You have the strength to make a difference in a child’s life.

Share Our Strength (SOS) is working to end this INVISIBLE HUNGER.
They can only do it with YOUR HELP.

There are MANY ways to help. See how you can make a difference.
What am I doing to make a difference?
I’ve joined the first National Food Bloggers Bake Sale which will take place nationwide on April 17, 2010.

I am a Food Blogger. My blog is called

This bake sale kicks off the Share Our Strength fundraising season with proceeds going to them to help feed hungry children all over America!


The bake sale is organized by Gaby Dalkin of

Food bloggers from across the country will contribute by holding bake sales in their states. I will be leader of the bake sale for the state of New Jersey.

I, Carmen, NEED YOUR SUPPORT in making New Jersey’s bake sale a success!

What is needed for the Bake Sale on April 17, 2010 - Saturday?

  • Baked goods from home bakers or bakeries or restaurants

  • Sales help to help sell the baked goods

  • Set Up Crew on day of event

  • Distribution of Flyers & Getting the word out before the event

  • Are you a musician (instrumentalist)? Why not play for 20 minutes or so? Call me!

Send me an e-mail at if you are interested in helping out with the NATIONAL FOOD BLOGGERS - NEW JERSEY bake sale.

All proceeds go to SHARE OUR STRENGTH. It will benefit New Jersey grant programs.
Their mission >>> To END CHILDHOOD HUNGER.

The LOCATION for the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale - New Jersey

will be Shop Rite of North Brunswick.

Shop Rite of North Brunswick
400 Renaissance Boulevard East
North Brunswick, NJ 08902-5100
Tel: 732 940-3112

Date: April 17, 2010 ~ Saturday
Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Took a drive to the municipal building to obtain permits.

Shown in picture above: Milvi Weiner, Deputy Clerk.

She helped me with the necessary documents needed for the bake sale.

Jim Longo, of the Health Department, also assisted me in what I needed for the bake sale.

~ ~ ~
Preeti Desai of Preetalina Photography,

will be photographing the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale on 4/17/10.

I met Preeti on flickr and she kindly volunteered to take photos of the bake sale.
We met at Dunkin Donuts for a quick meeting. She is such a nice person! We had a great time discussing photography and the bake sale over coffee and muffins.

A little about Preeti:

Preeti is a self taught photographer. She has been involved with Photography for five years.

She loves photography, reading, travel, & animals. She has also volunteered at an animal shelter.

Her favorite cuisine is Mexican. She is a chocoholic. Her favorite dessert is dark chocolate truffles with raspberry filling.

Preeti owns a photography business (and website), an etsy shop and blog. You can also see her photography on flickr.

Check out Preeti’s links below.

Preetalina Photography


~ ~ ~

Below is the Press Release that will be in newspapers in April:

Contact: Carmen Ortiz
Telephone: 888 600-1936

Americans Rally Around Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale® to End Childhood Hunger

North Brunswick, New Jersey – With spring right around the corner, it’s time to join Share Our Strength® and bake a difference! Share Our Strength, a national organization working to end childhood hunger in the United States, reports that thousands of Americans are signing up to help make sure no kid in America grows up hungry by participating in Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale, presented by Domino Sugar and C&H Sugar. Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale is a national effort that encourages individuals to help end childhood hunger by holding bake sales in their communities.

In these tough times, neighbors, co-workers, businesses and families nationwide are making a difference. Share Our Strength is challenging volunteers all across the country to come together and help answer an important question. How many bake sales can volunteers hold in three days to help end childhood hunger? 500, 1000 or maybe 2,000! Teams are forming now for the Bake Sale National Challenge, April 16-18th. Sign up, select a day, choose a location and be counted.

As part of the effort, the first annual National Food Bloggers Bake Sale will be held on April 17, 2010, Organized by Gaby Dalkin of, food bloggers from across the country will unite to support the cause by holding bake sales in their states. Readers will have the opportunity to taste the baked goods from their favorite food blogs at each state’s bake sale location. For more information on participating in the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale, or to find a National Food Bloggers Bake Sale location near you, visit

Funds raised through Great American Bake Sale support Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger in America by helping fund afterschool and summer feeding program. “Today, more families in America are facing hunger due to the economy and rising unemployment,” said Bill Shore, Share Our Strength Founder and Executive Director. “Summer is an especially difficult time because nearly 17 million children facing hunger in America no longer have access to the school meals they rely on,” added Shore.

Great American Bake Sale empowers individuals, including children, to make a difference in their own communities and become part of the solution. Since 2003, more than 1.7 million people have participated in the Great American Bake Sale, raising nearly $6 million.

Great American Bake Sale is also supported by Family Circle, Food Network, and Ultragrain. To register or learn more visit

About Share Our Strength
Share Our Strength® is the leading national organization working to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry. We weave together a net of community groups, activists and food programs to catch children at risk of hunger and ensure they have nutritious food where they live, learn and play. We work with the culinary industry to create engaging, pioneering programs like Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation; Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale®; Share Our Strength’s A Tasteful Pursuit; Share Our Strength’s Great American Dine Out; and Share Our Strength’s Operation Frontline. Visit

Share Our Strength – 1730 M Street, NW - Ste 700 – Washington DC 20036 – Tel 800 969-4767

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here is a v i d e o from Share Our Strength.
Listen to what they have to say about ending childhood hunger.

As of April 13, 2010, these are the bloggers who will be leading bake sales in their state. Information obtained from Gaby Dalkin’s blog:

Alaska Laura from What’s for Dinner Mom
Fireside Books (720 Alaska Street. Palmer Alaska) 10:00am – 2:00pm

Arizona – Janet from La Due Crew
Scottsdale 5th and Wine (7051 E. 5th Avenue Scottsdale, AZ 85251) 11am – 3pm

Los Angeles

Gaby from Whats Gaby Cooking
Morel’s French Steakhouse and Bistro at The Grove (189 The Grove Dr) 10:30am – 1:30pm

San Francisco
Anita from Dessert First
Omnivore Books (3885a Cesar Chavez Street San Francisco, CA 94131 ) 12pm – 3pm

Colorado – Kate from Treat
Boulder Public Library (1001 Arapahoe Avenue Boulder, CO 80302) 10 am until we run out!

DC – Colleen from Foodie Tots
Historic Eastern Market (7th and C Streets, NE, Washington DC) 9am – 12pm

Florida – Natasha from That’s So Yummy and Renee from Flamingo Musings
Orlando Central Winds Park (1000 E Sr-434, Winter Springs, FL 32708)

Miami Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL 33156) 9:30 till we run out!

Georgia – Tami from Running with Tweezers
Cabbagetown Market (198 Carroll Street) 9am – 1pm

Illinois – Maris from In Good Taste
Cake Smash (2961 N Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL 60657) 12pm – 3pm

Kansas – Kristen from Dine and Dish

Kentucky – Melissa from My McDonald Meal
Georgetown Kite and Culture Festival (Georgetown, KY) 10am – 2pm

Massachusetts – Kathyann from Mother May Have
Savoring East Somerville Celebration (125 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144) 1:00am – 3:00 pm

Michigan – Megan from What’s Megan Making
Kava House in Grand Rapids. (6333 Kalamazoo Avenue Southeast) 10:00am – 2:00pm

New Jersey Carmen from Baking is my Zen
Shop Rite of North Brunswick (400 Renaissance Boulevard East North Brunswick, NJ) 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

New York – Jacquie from The JLH Life
Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene (176 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn) 10:00am – 5:00pm

North Carolina – Shari from Tickled Red
Penny from In Mimi’s Kitchen (Central NC)

Oklahoma – Ashley from Vanilla-Cinnamon
Canadian County Historical Museum (300 S. Grand El Reno, OK 73036) 10:00am – 1:00pm

Oregon – Gina from Change Becomes Change
Virtual Bake Sale – Check it out here

Pennsylvania – Jen from My Kitchen Addiction
Central Pennsylvania – Outlets at Hershey, PA (46 Outlet Square, Hershey, PA 17036) 10am – 3pm

Philadelphia – A Full Plate on Liberties Walk (1009 N. Bodine St Philadelphia, PA 19123) 10am – 2pm
Pittsburgh Giant Eagle in Harrison City, Pa. (2000 Penny Lane Dr, Jeannette, Pa 15644) 10am – 2pm

Rhode Island – Jennifer from Savor the Thyme
Westerly – The Pizza Place Restaurant (43 Broad Street, Westerly, RI 02891) 11 am – 3 pm

Utah – Maria from Two Peas and their Pod
Salt Lake City -at Dan’s Market (1360 S Foothill Blvd) 10:00am – 2:00pm
Orem - at Shirley J’s (15 East 400 South) 10:00am – 2:00pm

Virginia – Susan from She is Becoming Doughmesstic
C&P Discount, 323 North Main Street. Pearisburg, VA (10 am – 2pm)

Washington – Keren from Frantic Foodie
Metropolitan Market (100 Mercer Street. Seattle, WA 98109) 10am – 12pm

Ways to donate to Share Our Strength

By donating to Share Our Strength, you share in the mission and strengthen the efforts to end childhood hunger in America.

How Far Will Your Donation Go?
Every donation helps those in need. For example:
$25 will help feed a child three meals a day for more than a month.
$50 can connect two children with nutritious meals for the entire summer when school is out.
$100 will help provide 25 grocery bags of healthy foods for families at food banks.

Other Ways to Give
Make a Donation in Someone's Name Birthdays, weddings, Mother's Day and other holidays are great ways to honor them in meaningful ways.

Make a Monthly Donation For the cost of eating out each month, you can help Share Our Strength end childhood hunger in America.

Donate via Paypal

Make a text donation Wireless phone users can donate $5 to Share Our Strength by simply texting the word "SHARE" to 20222 on their mobile device*. Donations from the text program will help provide food for the 12.4 million children at risk of hunger in America and will help address the recent increase in demand for food aid across the nation.

Share Our Strength

ACT NOW. Children need you now.

Peace & Love,

My contact information ~
Name: Carmen Ortiz


Telephone number: (888) 600-1936

Bake Sale Blog Post: National Food Bloggers Bake Sale - 4/17/10 Share Our Strength

General Blog:

Baking is my Zen…sweet nibbles for the soul




Thank You.

~ Carmen Ortiz - blogger (Baking is my Zen)