Monday, October 27, 2008

Simple Pancakes

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast and I love to try new recipes to enhance my morning repertoire. These pancakes from King Arthur's are light and fluffy and straightforward to make. Feeling lazy, I didn't even use my mixer for these and they turned out great. I like the flavor of butter better than oil for pancakes, but either are fine. To play around with these, King Arthur recommends adding ground oats for part of the flour for a whole-grain version. I'll have to try this out next time! Continue for recipe.

Simply Perfect Pancakes

King Arthur Flour

2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar OR 1/4 cup malted milk powder

1. Beat the eggs and milk until light and foamy, about 3 minutes at high speed of a stand or hand mixer (also worked fine without the mixer for lazy days!). Stir in the butter or vegetable oil.

2. Whisk the dry ingredients together to evenly distribute the salt, baking powder and sweetener.

3. Gently and quickly mix into the egg and milk mixture. Let the batter rest for at least 15 minutes, while the griddle is heating; it"ll thicken slightly.

4. Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat, or set an electric griddle to 350°F. Lightly grease frying pan or griddle. The pan or griddle is ready if a drop of water will skitter across the surface, evaporating immediately.

5. Drop 1/3 cupfuls of batter onto the lightly greased griddle. Bake on one side until bubbles begin to form and break, then turn the pancakes and cook the other side till brown. Turn over only once. Serve immediately.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Cake

I was really excited about this delicious looking coffeecake that I saw on the Smitten Kitten blog--a very yummy site. Sour cream cake with a layer of cinnamon and sugar in the middle and chocolate chips. I'm definitely a sucker for breakfast cakes! Although this was a very moist cake, I have to admit, probably not my favorite. It was ok though and it makes a large amount. I think I just prefer fruit coffee cakes instead of the chocolate. But I love the blog! Continue for recipe.

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Cake

1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces sour cream
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

12 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar, then mix in the egg yolks and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together into a separate bowl. Alternately add sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture. Beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold into batter. Mix last 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a separate, small dish.

In a greased 9″x13″ pan, pour in half of the cake batter. Sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and half of the chocolate chips. Pour remaining batter on top, sprinkling the top with the remaining cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pizza Night

Just a basic, simple crust! Nice texture and sturdy enough to support toppings. It's hard to go wrong with homemade pizza! Continue for recipe.

Easy Pizza Dough

2 1/4 cup bread flour
1 1/2 t salt
1 T sugar
2 T olive oil
2 t yeast
1 cup warm water

Mix sugar, oil, yeast, and water together and let sit for 5 min.
Add flour and salt and kneed for several minutes.
Let dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Divide dough into 2 portions, shape into a loose ball, and let rest, covered, for 3o min.
Roll dough out on floured surface and bake!


Fabulous Banana Cookies

These are the BEST cookies!! I absolutely love them!! They are banana bread cookies--yum!! The banana really comes through in these cakey, moist treats that have a hint of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Make them with nuts, chocolate chips, or both (I like chips myself). I'm always looking for great ways to use my browning bananas. Thanks Simply Recipes for posting these cookies from Garrett McCord of Vanilla and Garlic!! Continue for recipe.

Banana Cookies Recipe

1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup of mashed bananas (about 2 ½ large bananas)
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups of flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 cup of pecans (walnuts and chocolate chips are fine alternatives)

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

2 In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.

3 Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.

4 Fold into the batter the pecans or chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 30 cookies.


Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Plum Almond Yogurt Cake

Ok, another yogurt cake. I could not help myself. Yum! The plums have been so nice this month and this is a perfect and lovely way to enjoy them. Great for breakfast, snacks, or dessert. I like this variation of yogurt cake to serve to guests--the overlapping plums on the top are so beautiful and look fancy, although it still is so simple to put together. Be sure to really pack in the plums on the top. Umm--I want a latte and slice right now! Continue for recipe.

Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
3 large eggs
1/2 t vanilla (optional)
1/2 cup canola oil


Plum Almond:
1/2 t almond extract + sliced plums--overlap on top (pack them in)
can sub ground almonds for part of the flour if wanted; sprinkle with a little brown sugar

Lemon/Orange Blueberry:
2 tsp. grated lemon/orange zest (from 1-2 lemons/oranges) + 2 cups blueberries tossed in a T of flour

For the glaze:
Juice from 2 lemons/oranges
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 9x2 round cake pan (or use a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan).
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, rub the zest(if using) into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla to the sugar and mix until well blended.
Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Add the oil, and stir until smooth.
Add fruit, if using.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool cake on a rack for about 20 minutes; then turn it out of the pan to cool completely.
When the cake is cooled, combine the lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and spoon it gently over the cake. The glaze will be thin and will soak in like a syrup.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Orange Blueberry Yogurt Cake

Umm..yogurt cakes are so easy to put together that I keep going to back to this basic recipe. No mixer needed! And very moist and tasty. Today I opted for an orange flavored cake with blueberries. Yum! Continue for recipe.

Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
3 large eggs
1/2 t vanilla (optional)
1/2 cup canola oil


Plum Almond:
1/2 t almond extract + sliced plums--overlap on top (pack them in)
can sub ground almonds for part of the flour if wanted; sprinkle top with brown sugar

Lemon/Orange Blueberry:
2 tsp. grated lemon/orange zest (from 1-2 lemons/oranges)rubbed into the sugar + 2 cups blueberries tossed in a T of flour

For the glaze:
Juice from 2 lemons/oranges
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 9x2 round cake pan (or use a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan).
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, rub the zest(if using) into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla to the sugar and mix until well blended.
Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Add the oil, and stir until smooth.
Add fruit, if using.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the cake is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool cake on a rack for about 20 minutes; then turn it out of the pan to cool completely.
When the cake is cooled, combine the lemon juice and powdered sugar in a small bowl and spoon it gently over the cake. The glaze will be thin and will soak in like a syrup.




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I really love cornbread! I'm a Northern fan--I like a sweet cornbread, slathered in butter and then drizzled with honey. So good with soups and chilis, but equally satisfying for breakfast. This is just a basic recipe--but good! Recipe coming soon!

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Oatmeal Raisin Carrot Cookies

Ok, I know I just made carrot raisin muffins, but I really wanted a chewy raisin spice cookie today and I noticed this recipe on Baking Bites that sounded good. I made several modifications--used oil instead of butter and added applesauce for some of the fat. I also cut out the mixer, combining the ingredients by hand like a quick bread. I also used old-fashioned oats, pulsed briefly in my mini-chopper, as opposed to the quick variety.

The cookies are lovely looking and I really like the cakey consistency. Like many spice cakes, they are definitely better the second and third days. So plan ahead, and make these the day before--giving the spices time to develop. They are only slightly sweet and have a nice texture from the oatmeal. Great breakfast cookies. When I make them again, I will up the spices a bit and add a touch more sugar (if I'm wanting a "cookie" not a breakfast treat). Half brown sugar might be nice as well. These grew on me each day that I ate them and by the time they were gone, I was ready to make another batch! Continue for recipe.

Oatmeal Raisin Carrot Cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce (generous)
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup oats
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, mix together oil, applesauce, sugar, egg, vanilla and spices.
Stir in flour mixture. Once no streaks of flour remain, stir in carrots, oats and raisins.
Drop tablespoonfuls of batter onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 11-13 minutes, until cookies are set and lightly browned on the edges. Cool for 3 or 4 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.


Basic Muffin Recipe: Blueberry Lemon and Carrot Raisin

I'm always searching for good muffin recipes. It's so nice to have a delicious muffin ready and waiting to grab for a breakfast-on-the-go. I got this basic recipe from Pam Anderson's The Perfect Recipe, a great little cookbook that gives simple instructions and lots of variations for each recipe. As the former editor of Cook's Illustrated, Anderson really is a wonderful resource.

These muffins are good! I love the slight tang that the yogurt gives to them and the moistness. The carrot-raisin muffins are really good but plain--not carrot-cake like, as they only have a little cinnamon in them and not other spices. I think the raspberry-almond or the cranberry-orange would be great too. Continue for the recipe.

Basic Muffins
from The Perfect Recipe by Pam Anderson

3 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
10 T butter, at room temp.
1 cup minus 1 T sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 375.
Line 18 muffin tins or coat with cooking spray.
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 min.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
Beat in 1/2 dry ingredients.
Beat in 1/3 of yogurt.
Beat in half of remaining dry ingredients, alternating with 1/3 of remaining yogurt, and repeat into fully incorporated.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes.
Cool slightly on wire rack, about 5 min. then remove and serve.

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping (optional):

1/2 cup sugar
2 t cinnamon
4 T melted butter

Mix sugar and cinn in small bowl. Dip each warm muffin in melted butter, then in cinnamon sugar and serve.


Lemon Blueberry: Add 1 t lemon zest to sugar and rub between fingers until fragrant. Combine 1 T flour with 1 1/2 cups blueberries and fold into finished batter.

Carrot-Cinnamon Raisin: Add 1 t cinnamon to dry ingredients and fold in 1 1/2 cups grated carrots and 3/4 cups raisins into the finished batter.

Cranberry-Walnut-Orange: Add 1 t orange zest to sugar. Fold in 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cranberries (or 3/4 cup dried) and 3/4 cup walnuts into finished batter.

Lemon Poppy Seed: Add 3 T poppy seeds to dry ingredients and 1 t lemon zest to sugar.

Raspberry Almond: Cream 1oz almond paste with the butter and sugar. When batter is finished, spoon half portion of batter into each muffin cup. Spoon 1 1/2 t raspberry jam into each cup and fill with remaining batter.

Mocha chip: Dissolve 3 T instant coffee granules in yogurt and fold 1 cup chocolate chips (or miniatures) into finished batter. Yum!!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mixed Berry Cobbler: Tuesday's with Dorie

Today's recipe from Baking: From My Home to Your's, was a simple fruit cobbler--nothing fancy, just nice berries topped with a homey biscuit crust. Very comforting and easy. The lemon zest gave the berry filling a nice freshness and the plain topping was perfect to sop up all of the juices and let the fruit be the star. Not too sweet, this will be good for my breakfast tomorrow!

I did change this recipe just a bit. I cut it down by 1/3 and added 2 cups of mixed berries and peaches (more than the recipe called for but I definitely wouldn't want less). I also added a dash of cinnamon to the fruit and used buttermilk instead of the heavy cream in the topping. Instead of rolling out the dough, after mixing it with my hands, I globbed it on top of the fruit and spread it out to cover, giving it a more rustic feel. I was also scant with the sugar in the filling. Nice recipe! It would be just perfect with Blue Bell's new summer flavor, Blackberry Cobbler ice cream--yum!


Monday, June 23, 2008

Blueberry Boy Bait

Fresh blueberry time!! We have a local farm where we pick gorgeous, pesticide-free blueberries for only $1.50/lb--amazing! I picked close to 10 pounds and so now have a wonderful stock of berries begging to be used. I did freeze a lot so I'll be able to enjoy them throughout the year as well.

I made a coffeecake today which is really nice from America's Test Kitchen. It is very tender and buttery, studded with sweet blueberries. It is topped with cinnamon and sugar which I really like--not as rich as a crumb topping, but just enough to give it sweetness and crunch on the top. Yum! Continue for blueberry recipe.Blueberry Boy Bait

The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2008

16 T unsalted butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cups whole milk
3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen,
tossed with 1 t flour

3/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.
Whisk flour, powder, and salt in medium bowl.
With a mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 min., scraping the sides when needed.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated.
Reduce speed to medium and beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture until incorporated; beat in 1/2 of the milk.
Beat in 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining milk, finally the rest of the flour.
Gently fold blueberries into the batter.
Pour the batter into the pan and smooth with a spatula.
For the topping, scatter the berries over the top of the batter.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the batter.
Bake about 45 min.
cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes.
Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tamale Pie

Comfort food--ummm. Today I wanted something filling and easy that would make enough for leftovers and decided on this Tamale Pie. It's been awhile since we've had this and it was nice to revisit an old favorite.

This "pie" is made with ground beef, tomatoes, green pepper, spices, salsa, and whatever else you want to throw in. Today I felt like corn but sometimes I add beans too. This mixture is topped with a thick layer of cornbread that is great to sop up the juices of the filling. I like to break up my cornbread and mix it all together on my plate. The sweetness of the cornbread is really nice with the spiciness of the filling. Of course, you can use a cornbread box mix to top this as well, but I find it just as easy to make up my own and it's tastier. You can also add spices or chiles to the cornbread, (really good with cilantro), but it's great without any additions. Serve with a salad, and you have a complete meal! Continue for Tamale Pie recipe.

Tamale Pie

1/2 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 lb. ground beef
1 t coriander
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1/2-1 cup salsa
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 14oz can corn
1 T Mexican hot sauce or several dashes of Tabasco
salt to taste

1 cup flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 generous T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2/3 c milk
1 1/2 T butter, melted
1 egg
cilantro (optional)

Heat large skillet to medium high. Add onions, green peppers, and beef. Cook, breaking up the beef with spoon, until meat is fully cooked and vegetables are soft.
Stir in spices.
Add salsa, tomatoes, corn, and hot sauce.
Taste and salt, adjusting hot sauce if needed.
Preheat oven to 350.
Pour beef mixture into a 3 quart baking dish.

For cornbread topping:
Mix flour through salt in medium bowl.
In measuring cup, mix milk, egg, and butter.
Add milk mixture to flour and stir until just barely combined.
Add cilantro, if using.
Drop spoonfuls of batter onto beef mixture.

Bake for about 35 min, or until cornbread is done.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Tuesday's with Dorie Rewind: Bill's Big Carrot Cake

It's Tuesday again and that means another recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours! This week, the selection was a delicious looking peppermint puff ring. As you can tell by my photo, I was side-tracked by a previous recipe. And I noticed that it is acceptable to make past recipe trials, so I decided I just had to make a carrot cake for Father's Day. I'll have to get back to the yummy looking puff another time soon!

This is a big, beautiful looking carrot cake, filled with nuts, coconut, and raisins. The three layers are very moist and bake nicely and it certainly makes for an impressive presentation. It was good, but definitely not my favorite carrot cake. I guess I was wanting something spicier. As this cake only contains cinnamon, it didn't quite taste like a spice cake. And I'm not a fan of all of the coconut. If I were it make it again, I would add spices, omit the coconut, and increase the amount of raisins. That being said, it was still a very good cake.

But I absolutely LOVE the icing!! In fact, the icing took over the cake--yum! I could eat a bowl of this stuff! It's just a simple mixture of cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and lemon extract--but it is terrific! I will definitely be featuring this lemon icing on many sweets to come! It would be wonderful on cinnamon rolls, or chocolate cake, or.....Yum!
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Well, calzones sounded really great today. I had leftover ricotta that needed to be used and so I whipped these up for lunch. But I decided to make a semolina dough that ended up being way too bready for the amount of filling that I used. Oh well, they smelled wonderful!! I definitely prefer thin, light crusts for more traditional calzones. Next time!

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Fast and Easy Chicken Two Ways: Salsa and Sesame

I'm always on the look-out for quick dishes that can be thrown together when I walk in from work and am starving. It's nice to have these in mind so I don't go straight for the dessert. :) And these are made with ingredients that I usually have on hand in the pantry. Both are served over rice, and so I usually start that simmering immediately. Salsa Chicken is spicy and Sesame Chicken is sweet--two great choices that both always sound good! Continue for Chicken recipes.

Salsa Chicken

1- 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, but into 1-inch pieces
Several teaspoons of taco seasoning
1 cup prepared salsa (I like medium)
1 small can diced green chiles
1 8oz can tomato sauce
sharp cheddar cheese

Heat a little oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Generously sprinkle chicken on one side with taco seasoning.
Place chicken in single layer in skillet.
Sprinkle top-side of chicken with salt and pepper.
Cook chicken several minutes, until browned.
Flip chicken pieces over, and cook several more minutes, until browned.
Add salsa, chiles, and tomato sauce.
Cover the skillet and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 more minutes.
Sprinkle the top with cheese.
Cover skillet until cheese melts.
Serve over rice.

Easy Sesame Chicken

adapted from Culinary in the Country

3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2"chunks
salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into large florets

In a small bowl, whisk together honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper and toss well to coat.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Place half of the chicken into the skillet - cook, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and chicken. Place all of the chicken back into the skillet and pour in the honey sauce - toss well to coat and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, steam broccoli until crisp-tender.

Serve sesame chicken over the rice and broccoli.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Granola Bars

One of my essential daily snacks is a granola bar. I love them and eat them all the time--breakfast, snack, dessert. I especially enjoy the trail mix bars, loaded with nuts and dried fruit. And for ages now, I've been meaning to make my own. They are so easy to put together, taste wonderful, smell terrific in the oven, and you can add exactly what you want to fit your fancy. Not to mention they don't contain all of the junk that store bought bars have--preservatives, added fats, refined sweeteners, a plethora of corn products...Why haven't I made these months ago?

So today, I've finally made my own. Exciting!! I was inspired by this recipe from a nice looking blog, The Kitchen Sink, and adapted it for the ingredients that I had on hand. I really love pumpkin seeds but didn't have any today. I enjoyed the mix of brown sugar and honey and liked the sesame seeds. Unfortunately, my coconut flakes were rather old, and didn't really add anything special, but I'm sure fresher coconut would be tasty. I'm a fan of whole nuts and seeds and so I liked the whole almonds.

Next time, I'll cut back on the oats to 2 1/2 cups and add another nut/seed and/or puffed rice cereal for lightness. But wonderful bars for my first go at it! Yummy!! Wrap them individually in parchment, and they're ready to go for lunches or treats in the car! I'll definitely play around with this recipe and make other combinations:

peanut butter for the oil
pumpkin seeds
sunflower seeds
wheat germ
Rice Krispies in place of some of the oats
flax seeds
chocolate chips
maple syrup for some of the sugar/honey

So many possible add-ins! Fun!!
Continue for Granola Bar recipe.

Granola Bars

3 cups old-fashioned oats (next time, cut back a little to 2 1/2 cups and add seeds/wheat germ/puffed rice)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 t sea salt
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup whole almonds, unsalted

1/2 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil

1 generous cup mixed dried fruit: cranberries, dates, apricots

Preheat oven to 325.
Line a 9x9 pan with 2 pieces or parchment or foil so that there are overhangs on each side of the pan. (This will make it easy to get the bars out of the pan.)
Spread the first set of ingredients on a large, rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 min., stirring once half way through.
A few minutes before oats mixture is finished baking, combine next set of ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until brown sugar is dissolved.
In large bowl, combine oats mixture and sugar mixture; stir to combine.
Add dried fruit and mix.
Spread granola in prepared pan and press down firmly to pack it in.
Bake for 30 min.
Remove from oven and allow to cool COMPLETELY.
Lift out of pan and cut into bars with a very sharp knife.
**Do not try to cut when still warm!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

French Chocolate Brownies: Tuesdays with Dorie

My first recipe with the group Tuesdays with Dorie! Wonderful! This group is going through Dorie Greenspan's fabulous book, Baking From My Home to Yours, one recipe at a time, posting each Tuesday. I was so excited to join up, as I really enjoy this cookbook--Yummy!!

These brownies are really tasty. But I'm not sure if I would necessarily call them brownies--they're so smooth and soft--velvety, yet not a cake either. Wonderful!! They are made with bittersweet chocolate and have an intense flavor. They aren't fudgy or cake-like, maybe somewhere in between. They have a very tender, soft texture. The top crusts over while baking and then cracks, making them rather delicate and crumbly, adding to their charm. The secret ingredient is raisins (supposed to be rum-soaked, but I left this out) and they're very subtle--great with the chocolate. They really add a great dimension. Very nice! I love these!!

Continue for brownie recipe.

French Chocolate Brownies

adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum (I left this out)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F.
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon.
Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium hea,t and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. (I carefully melted mine in the microwave and it worked fine--medium power).
Set the chocolate aside for the moment.
Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes.
Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter.
Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine.
Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.
Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.
Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Dorie's Serving Suggestions: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!

Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Blackout Cake

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Big Blueberry Muffins

Yum!! What a great way to start off a holiday weekend--a treat for breakfast! I saw a post for these fabulous muffins on Baking Bites, a neat blog that has scrumptious recipes. I modified the original recipe a bit, using part brown sugar and all butter and added a struesel topping. They are delicious! This might be my favorite blueberry muffin recipe yet! Nice and big and moist with lots of blueberries. Great muffins. Continue for muffin recipe.

Big Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 T unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup (fresh or frozen) blueberries

1-2 T melted butter
brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375F. Line 8-9 muffin tin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light.
Beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla extract.
Alternate buttermilk and flour into butter mixture, ending with an addition of flour and working in 2 or three additions.
Stir in blueberries.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
Mix melted butter, brown sugar (to desired consistency), and cinnamon and sprinkle on top of muffin batter for the topping.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and a tester comes out clean.Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 8-9 big muffins.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Party Time!!

I'm back with a new post--finally!! I can't believe it's been so long! Right after finding out that I was pregnant, I started to have an aversion to my kitchen and all of the foods that normally I would be crazy about. So weird--all I wanted were breads, sandwiches, cereals, or eggs. Definitely nothing spicy or that contained vegetables or whole-grains. So I completely stopped cooking for a while. Well, my taste buds haven't completely recovered, but I now feel great and am ready for the kitchen again. Yeah!!!

Last night, my sisters and I threw a surprise party for my parents' 60th birthdays. It was a lovely evening: wonderful friends--new and old, sisters, neighbors, great conversations, laughter, and good food. A LOT of many leftovers!!

Type rest of the post here