Cape Cod Baby Shower Cookies

This weekend I made cookies for a Cape Cod themed Baby Shower.  I love summers on the Cape and Baby Showers, so these cookies were a lot of fun!   Keeping with the Cape Cod and beach theme I made lobsters, starfish, sand dollars and shells.  For those readers who are not from the New England area, lobsters are synonymous with summers on the Cape.  And locals call Cape Cod, "The Cape."   That's how can easily a tourist from a local. 
I have made lobster cookies before and they are some my all-time favorites. I was thrilled to be able to make them again.  I love the red with the two little eyes.  (Tip, if you want to try making these, you will need a lot of red coloring to get the red that bright.) 

To contrast with plain red lobsters, I gave the star fish and sand dollars some sparkles, and I kept the shells simples in just pink and white. 

Since these were favors all the cookies were bagged.  The lobsters, starfish, and sand dollars were each bagged individually with a shell cookie.   
Sugar Cookies
6 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
2 cups unsalted butter 
2 cups granulated sugar 
2 large eggs 
2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Cream sugar and butter until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to butter mixture. Mix well. Put a handful of the freshly made dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to desired thickness. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Put the rolled dough, including the parchment paper, on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes or longer. Your dough will be chilled and ready to cut and bake with now wait and no added flour! Repeat with scraps after cutting cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 -10 minutes. Let cool.

Source: Fancys Flours

Royal Icing
3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
4 cups confectioners' sugar sifted 
6 tablespoons warm water
Beat all ingredients until icing forms a peak (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer). 

Source: Wilton


Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle

I am usually not the biggest fan of trifles, but when I saw this recipe, I knew it would be perfect for Father's Day.   My dad loves peanut butter cups and brownies, so making a desert that incorporates both of these things was a no brainer.  I loved the creamy peanut butter and brownie combination.  The peanut butter flavor wasn't too overwhelming, and the candies mixed in add a nice crunch.

The whole Pink Apron family loved this desert and if you're a fan of chocolate and peanut butter you are going to love it too. 

You can use whatever brownie recipe is your favorite.  I used my super secret brownie recipe.  Its so secret that I haven't posted it yet. Only a few people know it, and those people are sworn to secrecy!  

I made the brownies the night before, allowing them to cool over night, so the trifle required very little prep time yesterday.  You could easily make the whole trifle the night before if you wanted too.  I love dishes I can prep ahead of time, it makes my life so much easier!

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle
1 9x13 pan of your favorite brownies
1 cup peanut butter chips
5 ounce package of instant pudding mix
3 cups of milk
2 cups of peanut butter, creamy
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
36 mini peanut butter cups, halved (reserve a few for garnish)

Make brownies according to directions.  Let cool, then refrigerate for one hour.  Remove brownies from refrigerator, and cut into 3/4 inch pieces.  (I like to use a pizza cutter, make it much easier.) TIP: refrigerating the brownies isn't necessary, but it makes cutting much easier, and you end up nice clean chucks of brownie.  If you are short on time you can omit this.

While brownies are refrigerating, whip the whipping cream and sugar in a bowl.  Until stiff peaks form.  Divide the whipping cream in half.  

Combine the pudding mix and milk in a large bowl.  Beat on low speed for two minutes, then refrigerate for 5 minutes or until thickened.  Add peanut butter and vanilla; beat until smooth.  Fold in half of whipping cream.

Place half of brownies in bottom of trifle bowl; top with half of peanut butter chips, half of peanut butter cups; and half of pudding.  Repeat with one more layer.  Top with remaining whipped cream, and garnish with served peanut butter cups.  Refrigerate until 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from: Mel's Kitchen Cafe


Rigatoni with Sausage, Peppers, and Onions


I did not discover sausage and peppers until I finally tried a Sausage Guy sausage at a Red Sox game in college.  I had no idea that I was missing out until then.   (And if you ever make a to a Sox game at Fenway Park, the Sausage Guy is a must try).   Once I finally had sausage and peppers, I became an immediate fan and was thrilled to find this recipe. It is a lighter version of the greasy sandwich and is served with pasta. Instead of pork sausage, it uses turkey (you can also try chicken sausage) and very little oil.   I love the use of marsala wine it adds so much flavor. Marsala wine has become a staple in my kitchen.   This dish is great the next day too. In fact Mr. Apron thinks it tastes better the day after. 



This is one of Mr. Apron's favorite meals and is very easy to make. In fact it so easy, that one night when I knew that he would be home before me, I asked Mr. Apron to make this and left instructions.   He was still making it when I got home, and I helped him finish.   One another occasion, I asked him if he wanted this for dinner and said that he didn't want me to do that much work. I asked another time if wanted me to make sausage and peppers with rigatoni, and again, he said, no it takes too long.    This happened several more times.  I thought it was strange since it is one of his favorites.   I finally asked him how long it took him to make it, on the night I ask him to cook.  Mr. Apron informed me that he came home extra early that night to start dinner, and it took him 3 HOURS to make!  I love Mr. Apron, but clearly there is a reason why I do most of the cooking.  Don't worry, I usually can make Rigatoni with Sausage, Peppers, and Onions in well under one hour!   


Rigatoni with Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage
2 red bell peppers, sliced
2 yellow onions, sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Marsala wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on both sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain. (I sliced the sausages before cooking them to reduce cooking time)

Keeping the pan over medium heat, add the peppers, onions, salt, and pepper and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, basil, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.



Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the Marsala wine, tomatoes, and chili flakes, if using. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits. Bring to a simmer.

Cut the sausages into 4 to 6 pieces each, about 1-inch cubes. Add the sausage back to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the thickened sauce; toss to combine. Spoon into individual bowl and sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese.

Source: Everyday Pasta, Giada De Laurentiis

Blogiversary!

Tomorrow is my blogiversary.   I know that posts have been slow over the past month, but unfortunately the move took over my life and most of my free time.  My new kitchen is up and running, so lots of new posts are coming.

In honor of The Pink Apron's One Year Blogiversary, I thought it would be a great opportunity to highlight my favorite posts over the past year.

The Gemini Cake:  One of my first posts.  The photos are terrible, I was still trying to find my voice, but this cake rocked.  It was one of the best cakes I ever made.  The fresh berries, with the white chocolate buttercream was amazing.   It looked so much better in person, than the photos showed.



Lobstah Sugar Cookies: I loved these cookies.  They were so simple, but the lobster shape was so much fun.  Lobster is a quintesial with summer in New England, and of course the Boston accent on the title "Lobstah" gives it the extra local flair.  I definitely want to make another batch of these this summer.


Thanksgiving Cookies:  I love making holiday cookies and the ones I made for Thanksgiving this year were some of the best I ever made.  I still get comments on how well the corn on the cob turned out.



Bacon Mac and Cheese: Mr. Apron's absolute favorite!   He is still asking for more.   If you haven't tried this, you are missing out.  



How to Make Any Chocolate Chip Cookie Better: Put the dough in the refrigerator for 36 hours.  Makes all the differnce.  If you haven't tried this trick you are missing out. Thank you NY Times!


French Toast Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream: I love these cupcakes, but I especially love how well the post looks and read.  And compared to the Gemini Cake I made much earlier in the year, the photos and writing I think so much I've improved as a foodie blogger!


I can't wait to see what I come up with this year! Happy Baking!

Cookie Flower Pots

After a slight hiatus I am back!   If you follow me on twitter or facebook you know that Mr. Apron and I recently purchased a house.  I spent the month of May packing and painting the new house, which left little time for baking. 

Before I packed up all my pots and pans, I made cookie flower pots for Mother's Day.  (That's how busy I was, that I am only posting this now).  I've wanted to make cookie pops for a while and I thought since Mother's Day is usually a flower giving holiday, this would be a unique take on giving flowers.

I love how these came out!  The bright colors are so cheery and flowers that you can eat are so much more fun than flower that I will wilt or die after a few days.  And these flowers will last much longer! 

I will definitely be making more cookie pops in the future.  I will do a step by step of how I made them next time I make some.   I was in such a rush with all the packing, I didn't stop to take photos during the assembly stage.

I promise not to go so long between posts again.  But I am still unpacking, so for the next week or so they will not be as frequent as they were pre-move.  

Happy Baking!