Sunday, June 16, 2013

dessert explosion!

this is quite possibly the most i've ever baked in one's a little over the top when i'm just hit with the inspiration to bake this much. but enough chit chat, happy dad's day (most of these were for him). and on to the yummy stuff!

Blueberry Yogurt Loaf 
(adapted from smitten kitchen)
makes 1 loaf

1 1/2 c + 1 T all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 c plain yogurt
1 c plus 1 T sugar
3 extra large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c olive oil
1 1/2 c frozen blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
* Comes out very wet/dense. Not sure how I feel about that. Would be great with the lemon flavor but didn't have lemons on hand. Or spread with lemon curd. 

Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chip cookies
(from Ocean Spray)

1/2 c + 2 T (1 stick and 2 T) butter, softened
2/3 c brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 5-oz Ocean Spray Craisins
2/3 c semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs mixing well. In another bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Stir in craisins and chocolate chips. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool.

* Would taste better without chocolate chips and nuts in their place

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Cookies
(from SugarHero)

1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 c chocolate hazelnut spread (like Nutella)
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c chopped toasted hazelnuts
2/3 c semi sweet chocolate chips

To toast hazelnuts:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Coarsely chop 1/2 c filberts and place on baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10-15 min, lightly tossing throughout. Let cool.

For cookies:
Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a larger bowl cream the butter, chocolate hazelnut spread, sugar, and brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Slowly mix in flour until just combined and then add hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

Scoop small spoonfuls onto cookie sheet, bake until lightly golden about 10 minutes. They will smoosh and spread but if tiny not too bad.

Makes  about 3 dozen cookies.

*These are sweet cookies and are very thin on the crunchier side.  

Olive Oil-Basil Cornmeal Cake with Strawberry sauce
(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 + 1/3 c yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4  c granulated sugar
1/2 c skim milk
1/2 c olive oil
1 T dried basil
1/2 T sparkling sugar

Strawberry Sauce recipe
2 c frozen strawberries, thawed
1 T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease and flour a 9" cake pan, set aside. In a medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, milk and olive oil. Mix dry ingredients and basil into wet mix and pour into prepared cake pan, spread evenly. Sprinkle with sparking sugar. Bake about 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes and then remove cake from pan. Cool cake completely and when serving top w/ Strawberry sauce.

For the sauce, combine strawberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar until smooth. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours.  
*This one comes out very cornbready, might be b/c i put in too much cornmeal. but w/o the sugar would make great cornbread for thanksgiving.

still with me??? sugar rush hasn't gotten to you yet? just one more and it's my favorite of the bunch!

Soft and Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c shortening
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 T water
1/4 c molasses

Icing (optional)
1 c powdered sugar
1-2  T water
splash vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets w/ parchment paper or silpat. In a medium bowl mix all dry ingredients (flour through cloves). Set aside. In a large bowl cream butter, shortening, white sugar, and light brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, water, and molasses until combined. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until combined. Cover and chill for at least one hour. Roll dough into desired size (I went with about a 1/2 T size) and flatten hand (will stick completely to the bottom of a glass cup) and place about 1/4" apart on cookie sheet. Bake for about 7 minutes. Remove and cool. Prepare frosting if desired by mixing powdered sugar, water and vanilla and frost.

*She's not lying when she says you have to make these cookies ASAP. If you are a ginger cookie fan these are amazing. Soft and chewy, gingery and molassy. By far my favorite gingerbread cookie yet.

Friday, June 14, 2013

easy cooking: mac 'n cheese

i'll tell you a secret, I absolutely love the boxed macaroni and cheese mix. the day before I flew out for india I made myself a box. it'd been years since I had it as a child and it still tasted as good as I remember. maybe it's a childhood thing, but I much prefer the box mix over homemade. the inner processed child in me :)

this recipe is as easy as it gets and as great way to throw in vegetable produce in the fridge or freezer that's been hanging around too long. plus, if you make extras, perfect for lunch the next day at work! this can be modified to your taste so if you love sausage or ham or peas and squash feel free to cook it up and toss it in. if you want cheesey goodness throw in shredded cheese while the macaroni is still hot and melt it in all nice and oozy.

Everything in the kitchen mac 'n cheese
Serves 4

1 box macaroni and cheese mix
2 c broccoli, chopped
2 handfuls kale, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
handful grape tomatoes (throw these in last to sauté briefly)
1/4 c fat free milk
1/2 c ricotta cheese
1 can tuna, drained
some cannellini beans
1 tsp red pepper flakes
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
any other spices you might like (I added sriracha to my bowl)

This is very much an add what you have/what you like recipe. Bring a pot of water to boil and toss in macaroni noodles and cook as directed on the box (usually around 7-10 minutes). While the noodles cook, sauté the veggies with garlic and olive oil. When the noodles are cooked, drain, toss back into the pot you boiled them in, pour in milk, cheese powder pouch (if processed powdered cheese makes you squeamish feel free to make a rue and cheese sauce) and at this point I threw in the ricotta. If you put in any other shredded cheeses you can also keep the pot on low heat to get it all to melty goodness. Mix in red chili pepper flakes, the tuna and the veggies. Spice as you wish and serve!
other great add ins: onions, frozen peas, zucchini, ham, more beans, pureed cauliflower, spinach, etc.



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

roll with the punches

if you haven't noticed yet, my baking can be spontaneous and usually in those moments of me really feeling antsy and having the need to bake it comes down to finding what's in the house to use. M mentioned the apricots were getting too ripe and that they were rather tasteless (i don't know about anyone else, but i only ever usually like the dried apricots to begin w/ b/c the fresh ones never taste like much to me). 

i also don't know what anyone did w/o the internet to search for recipes with specific ingredients with just a few searches. i found a couple recipes, but this one seemed the most interesting and easy to play with. 

oh, and about the title, M&D spent the last month taking care of their grandson so wanted to bake them something nice to eat after they got back from the airport dropping off my sister and her baby. i had just popped the cake in to be ready for when the parents got back when i got a call that D had run out of gas and was stuck on the side of the road by the airport. so i had to shut down the oven and take the poor cake out and drive out to the airport with a gas can (this is also when tripe A or something similar seems helpful). i wasn't sure what an hour out of the oven after starting to bake would affect the cake but it tastes darn tasty to me and the consistency and rising of the cake doesn't seem to have been ruined either.
ripe ripe apricots all laid out (i actually ended up doing another layer on top b/c i sliced these suckers so thin).

Apricot Upside Down Cornmeal Cake 
makes one 9" cake
adapted from LA Times

2 T unsalted butter
3/4 c loosely packed light brown sugar
5-6 fresh apricots, cut into eighths lengthwise
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1/2 c granulated sugar
3/4 c olive oil + plain yogurt (about 2/3 c olive oil and the rest of the measuring cup with yogurt)
1/2 large orange, juiced

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In  a small bowl microwave butter until melted and stir in brown sugar until mixed. Press into the springform pan. Spread the apricot pieces in a circular design in two layers.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and white sugar until mixture is pale and golden, 3-5 minutes.

Alternately add dry ingredients and oil/yogurt into the wet ingredients starting with the dry ingredients sifted into the bowl, until just combined. Stir in the orange juice and scrape and smooth into the pan so it covers the apricots.

Bake the cake until it is golden and springy to the touch, about 40 minutes. Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes. Place a plate over the pan and flip the pan over, release the spring mold and peel back parchment. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

vt = maple syrup

among other things as well, but i will be moving there in the fall, so i should start getting to know my new home, yes? spent last week up in New England (and have the but bites to prove it) and also came back with "The Official Vermont Maple Cookbook" (2nd ed). it's got recipes for real foods as well as breakfast and desserts. so of course, i have my lovely jar of maple syrup from the vermont country store still left and so i picked a recipe that was quick and fast (trying to bake before my nephew sleeps so i don't make any noise is a very interesting dilemma, if only i was getting skinnier...haha).

i chose the maple gingerbread recipe and made just one tweak for ease and to decrease calories and boost the nutritional value of it.

Maple Gingerbread (makes 1 large loaf)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup maple syrup (i used B grade)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (the recipe originally called for 1 cup sour cream, if that's what you have on hand, feel free to use)

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix maple syrup with beaten eggs and add yogurt. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and pour into greased bread pan (or 8" x 8" cake pan) and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and pulling from edges. You can serve with whipped cream or ice cream (it tastes really good as a bread too by itself). Eat it when it's warm, it's amazing then!

*you can really taste the ginger in this bread, although while it was baking all i could smell was the maple syrup. the bread is really soft and moist (go yogurt!) and it would probably make great french toast bread or bread pudding but it's so good by itself that it might take away from the taste. now i'm out of maple syrup again....and still a dozen recipes to go...guess i need to make another trip to VT before i move there!

and lest you think there's no future dietitian in me, here's the low down on maple syrup- i never knew it had manganese and riboflavin (along with other minerals)!

i'm not done! if you're looking for a super quick and easy dinner idea this can be prepped the morning of (or night before and kept in the fridge until you can pop it into the oven). it's also very versatile and can be made to fit your tastebuds and what's on hand in your kitchen.

i'm calling this mexican lasagna b/c it takes the form of lasagna and i had lots of mexican ingredients on hand. i spooned salsa on the bottom of the baking dish, layered corn tortillas next, then i had frozen broccoli and kale so in that went. then followed chickpeas and black beans (rinsed and drained), chopped onions and sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. i made two layers and left it in the fridge while i was at work. when i got home i popped it into a 350 F oven and baked for about 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melty (feel free to add or take away any ingredients- avocado, olives, chicken for you meat eaters, etc would all be really good in this)