Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Change your bookmarks!!!

After reading so many wonderful things about Wordpress, I decided to make the switch! You can now find me at dessertcomesfirst.wordpress.com!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Homemade Pizza Dough

Yes, it's so easy to just pick up the phone and order a pizza and that's ok on some nights, but making your own crust is very satisfying...and cheap. This is a recipe I recently came up with after attempting (and tweaking) lots of recipes. This one ended up with a perfect crispy thin crust. We topped our pizza with sauce and fresh mozzarella. There are tons of other toppings from which to choose. Just remember if you decide to put any veggies on, make sure to pre-cook them.


Ingredients:
2 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
3 cups flour (I like to use half white and half whole wheat flour)
1 tbsp sugar (This acts as food for the yeast)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil (Plus a little more for the rising portion and also brushing of the crust)
Corn meal for dusting


Directions:
Oven: 500 degrees to start


1- Dissolve yeast in the water- let sit for 5 mins to activate
2- Mix flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl
3- After 5 mins, make a small hole in the middle of the flour and add the yeast/water, as well as the oil
4- Mix until dough starts to come together. Once it comes together, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-7 mins.
5- Put a small amount of olive oil in a small bowl, put the dough in the bowl, and coat with the oil. Cover dough with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm dry place for 1 hour.
6- After 1 hour, punch dough down to remove air pockets
7- Split dough into 2-4 pieces depending on the size pizzas you want.  I split my dough into two pizzas for two people and this was enough for 2 nights worth of dinner.
8 -Roll the dough into a circle (or rectangle or anything you want) on a lightly floured surface until about a quarter of an inch thick. Roll ends over and push them down to make a crust.
9- Place crusts on a cookie sheet or pizza stone. At this point, you can stretch the dough by hand if you want it a little thinner. Brush crust with olive oil. 
10- Bake in a 500 degree oven for about 10 mins or until slightly crispy. Pierce any air bubbles with a fork.
11- Remove pizzas from oven and at this point, put the sauce and any toppings you want on the pizza
12- Bake pizza in a 450 degree oven until cheese is melted and desired crispiness is attained

Friday, October 22, 2010

Maple Cookies

 My mom was in the city the other day and we went to my new favorite store: Fishs Eddy. They have the coolest plates, bakeware, and cookware. They also have lots of cookie cutters and I don't have any. I wanted to make maple cookies for the fall and thought it would be fun to cut them into squirrels and leaves. The leaves look a little more like Christmas trees when held upright like in the picture below, but I like to think they're leaves. 


When making this recipe I used pure Grade A maple syrup. There's some debate as to whether or not you should use Grade A or Grade B and, after making these cookies, I have to say Grade B is the way to go. Grade B is mostly used for cooking and baking because it has a very strong maple flavor and a darker color. I had Grade A on hand so the cookies have a very subtle maple flavor even though I brushed them with additional maple syrup after baking. Next time I will definitely go with Grade B and trim down the amount added to the recipe by a little bit.
This recipe is adapted from one I found on Martha Stewart's website. I'm reading this book called BakeWise right now by Shirley O. Corriher and am learning about different ingredients and what constitutes a good recipe, so I will be doing more and more adapting in the future. For right now, though, I pretty much stuck to the ingredients and amounts listed, but changed up the method a little bit. Oh and I definitely suggest cutting the recipe in half because the cookies only hold for up to 2 days.


Ingredients:


3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light-brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup maple syrup (preferably grade A)- They suggest A, but B will give a more pronounced flavor
More sugar for dusting


Directions:


1- Sift flour and salt into a medium bowl
2- Beat butter, granulated and brown sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes
3- Reduce speed to medium-low, and add yolk, then 1/2 cup maple syrup, beating well after each addition
4- Add flour mixture, and beat until just incorporated
5- Shape into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days)
6- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
7- Roll out 1 disk of dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on baking sheet. Freeze until firm (It's important to freeze because this makes the dough easier to handle)
8- Spray baking sheets with non-stick spray
9- Remove dough from freezer and cut shapes. Roll and cut scraps one time more. Any leftover scraps can be made into circular cookies
10- Bake until edges turn brown (about 10 mins). While first batch are in the oven, repeat steps 7-9 with second disk
11- Remove cookies from oven and let cool on a wire rack before brushing with maple syrup and dusting with sugar.


You can find this and other recipes at: Maple Leaf Cookies - Martha Stewart Recipes 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Delightful Sound of Popping Lids

The "pop" is the wonderful sound jars make when the jam has been properly processed and is closed to the outside world. Until this sound, your heart beats a little faster, but when it finally happens, you feel a sense of accomplishment.

I did TONS of research before I set out on my mission to make and preserve strawberry jam. I wrote everything out on a sheet of paper and followed every step carefully. There were a few mishaps, but all in all, everything went quite well. If there is one thing I learned from all the research I did is that sterile and HOT is the name of the game when canning. Anything other than completely sterile will not work since canned goods will be laying on your shelf unrefrigerated up to a year. You don't want anything gross growing in there.

When processing (which means sealing the jars at the end and killing any leftover bacteria), I used a hotwater bath. You do not need a canner or any other special equipment to make jams. But the recipe and method below is ONLY good for strawberry jam without pectin. Visit http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can7_jam_jelly.html to learn how to make other jams and jellies. For each different jam and jelly, there are different temperatures and ingredients and these need to be followed exactly.

I made (4) 4 ounce jars of strawberry jam; a nice small batch just in case things went terribly wrong. I went the all sugar route, but you can certainly use pectin instead. Pectin gels a little more and a little easier, but I think it has a funny taste. And, besides, strawberries have natural pectin. The riper the berry, the more pectin.

When canning with sugar, it's pretty much 1:1 (1 cup crushed fruit to 1 cup sugar). You have to know, though, how much will fit in your jars so you don't have leftover. Luckily, I did the math for you (and I tripled checked because my math skills aren't the greatest!)

32 oz jars (1 qt or divided into any number of jars) means you need a 4:4 ratio.

In total, I had 16 oz divided into (4) 4 oz jars, so I used a 2:2 ratio.

Once you know your ratio, you can wash and hull the berries and then get started gathering and sterilizing the rest of your equipment. As a note, these are the times and temperatures for my altitutde, which is sea level. If you live higher up, you'll have to consult the National Center for Home Preservation at the link below.

You need:
1- a pan and 2 pots (1 big, 1 medium)
2- a ladle
3- tongs
4- candy thermometer (or a very cold bowl to do a gel test)
5- jars with 2 piece lids
6- wooden spoon
7- paper towels
8- cookie sheet

To get started:
Oven: 200 degrees

1- Wash EVERYTHING in hot water-even if you think it's already clean. If using gel method for checking donemess, place a bowl in the freezer at this point.
2- Set up work station. Put a cookie sheet and ladle next to the oven. Place paper towels nearby to wipe lids.
3- Place jars in big pot and fill jars and pot with water. Water should go 1" above jars-no more
4- Place lids in small pot and fill with water. Place tongs in water as well (Only ends need to be in water)
5- Turn heat on both burners on medium and let come to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, boil for 5 - 7 minutes. Turn off stove. While jars and lids are boiling, you may start the next section.
6- Once the jars have boiled, place in oven to keep warm and to dry. Leave lids and tongs in hot water.

Method:
5- Put crushed strawberries and sugar in pan
6- Bring to a boil while rapidly and constantly stirring with wooden spoon
7- Boil until mixture thickens. The mixture should reach 220 degrees. If you do not have a candy thermometer, do a gel test after about 10 minutes of rapid boiling. To do a gel test, take the bowl out of the freezer, put some jam in the bowl and see if it gels or is runny. If it is runny, continue boiling.

To Process:
1- Once done, work quickly to fill the jars. Everything needs to be HOT.
2- Take jars out of oven. Ladle jam into jars. Leave 1/4" headroom because the jam will continue to gel and expand. This is just above where the first rim of the jar is. Do this for all of the jars.
3- Quickly wipe with paper towel
4- Use tongs to hold pieces of the lid. Wipe each piece dry and apply to jars. Screw lids on tight.
5- Do a final wipe of the jars
6- Place jars back in big pot. You may need to add more water. Water should be 1" above tops of jars.
7- Return to a rapid boil to begin processing. Once at a rapid boil, process for 7 minutes time.
8- Remove with tongs and place on cookie sheet. Leave undistrubed for 12 - 24 hours.
9- Wait for that wonderful popping sound which tells you the jam is closed to the outside world. If you do not hear the popping sound after a few hours, place in the refrigerator and enjoy now. If you have lots of jars, you can tell which ones have popped by pressing on the lid. The lid should be concave, thus you will not be able to push it down with your fingers.

Enjoy your jam. Give as gifts or use on buscuits, bagels, toast, etc.

Here are some of the sites I used when doing research:
http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_07/jam_without_pectin.html
http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_01/sterile_jars.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaPpxWlyrfw
http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_01/sterile_jars.html

http://www.intimateweddings.com/blog/how-to-make-strawberry-jam-hot-damn-this-is-good-jam/

The top three are my favorite sites. The fourth site talks a little more on the importance of sterilizing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Fudge

So after spending way too long at the dr's office, unfortunately, I don't have time to start strawberry preserves today, but I did make pumpkin fudge. It took me FOREVER to find recipes that didn't call for weird ingredients (like marshmellow cream, yuck!). I wanted an old fashioned recipe...sugar, butter, milk. I decided to make pumpkin fudge, since I had pumpkin on hand, but there are lots of options at this website (http://oldtymefudgerecipes.com/).

When making fudge, I'd suggest using a candy thermometer because that's really the only way to accurately measure the temperature and to ensure the mixture reaches soft ball stage. You could check by putting a small amount in cold water to see if it forms a ball, but this is very hard and the margin for error is quite wide. Also, when mixing the fudge at the end, mix just until the gloss disappears and the mixture thickens, then QUICKLY put into prepared pan and spread evenly with your hands.

Ingredients:
Pan: 8" square pan lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick spray

1- 3 cups white sugar
2- 1 cup milk
3- 3tbs light corn syrup
4- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
5- 1/4 tsp salt
6- 1/2 tsp cinnamin and 1/2 tsp nutmeg
7- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
8- 1/2 cup butter

Directions:
(When mixing, use a wooden spoon)
1- Combine sugar, milk, corn syrup, pumpkin, and salt in a saucepan. Mix thoroughly
2- Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly
4- Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil mixture without stirring until it reaches 238F
5- Remove from heat and stir in spice, vanilla, and butter
6- Let cool to 120F (or about 25 minutes)
7- Beat the mixture until it becomes thick and loses some of its gloss
8- Quickly pour into prepared pan and let stand
9- After totally cool and set, you may put onto a plate and cut into pieces

Have fun:)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Preserves

Tomorrow I'm going to try canning for the first time. I'm not quite sure why I have decided to take this on, but it sure does seem like a lot of fun. The only reason I can come up with for me doing this is because we have gone to so many farmers' markets this season and, as I looked at their fresh jams and jellys, I realized that I can also do that! This happens a lot. We're at the bakery or the grocery store and I see something tasty and I think to myself that I can do that too. This is where most of my inspiration comes from. So, aside from the fact that I hate grocery store preserves with their high fructose corn syrup, this, I imagine, is the reason why I am tackling homemade preserves.

The preserve making process isn't hard in and of itself, but the actual canning process is a very fussy process, but more on that tomorrow. What I don't understand is why the process is called "canning" when there are no cans involved! We use jars, so call it "jarring" or something. I don't know. Anyway, more tomorrow when this is either a huge success or total failure:)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Apple Crisp with Maple Syrup and Walnuts

The birthday dinner for Jim included buscuit topped chicken pot pie made with homemade chicken stock, salad, red wine, and for dessert, apple crisp. I won't bore you with the dinner details, I'll just get to the good part- the dessert. Apple crisp is an easy fall dessert- made even easier if you have an apple slicer, which I recently acquired. Nothing can stop me now ;) It's only a few ingredients-many of which you probably already have on hand.

I used maple syrup in the recipe, but if you don't have that, you can use plain sugar. I'll note that below. Also, the walnuts are optional.

Ingredients:
Oven: 375
Pan: 8" square baking dish

3/4 cups flour
1/2 a cup of light brown sugar
1 stick cold butter cut into pieces (make sure it's COLD- don't prep this step ahead of time)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oats (not quick cooking)
3 lbs apples (I used 5 medium ones) peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (Add some lemon juice to prevent browning- enough to coat)
1/4 cup maple syrup or 1/2 cup plain sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon (1/2 tsp if you don't like strong cinnamon flavors)
walnuts (optional)

Directions:

1- In a small bowl, mix together flour, salt, and brown sugar
2- Blend in the butter with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs
3- Add in the oats and walnuts (optional) and squeeze with hands until large clumps form- put in the freezer
4- In a medium bowl, add the apples, maple syrup or sugar, and cinnamon- stir to combine
5- Add the apples to the baking dish and spread topping over apples being sure to cover all of the apples
6- Place baking dish on a cookie sheet to prevent over browning the apples. Bake 55-60 minutes until topping is browned and apples are bubbling.
7- Let cool about 10 mins before serving

And don't forget the vanilla ice cream!

Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Glaze

I can't believe this is the first time I've baked with pumpkin this season, but I guess that's probably because we've been apple picking twice already. Yesterday I bought a huge can of pumpkin and began my pumpkin baking with scones. These scones are pretty similar to the ones ar Starbucks. They're baked at a higher temperature, so they're crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Buttermilk is also used instead of butter to make them less dense. I didn't add anything additional into the mix, but you can choose to add raisins, craisins, or nuts. After baking them, you can also choose to make a cinnamon glaze to drizzle over the cooled scones.

Ingredients:
Oven: 400 degrees
Makes 8 scones

2 cups flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 - 1/2 cup buttermilk (Start with 1/3 cup and add more liquid if the dough feels too dry)
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the egg wash: 1 egg, lightly beaten and 1 tbs milk

Directions:
Prepare baking sheet by either lining with parchment paper or spraying with non-stick spray and pouring flour over it- tap off excess.

1- Mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking poweder, baking soda, salt
2- Add the butter to the flour mixture and cut in with a pastry blender. The mixture should resemble course crumbles
3- At this point, stir in any raisins, etc.
4- In another bowl, mix together pumpkin, buttermilk, vanilla and add this to the flour mixture
5- Mix until dough comes together- don't overmix
6- Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead four to five times
7- Pat dough into a circle about 7" in diameter and 1.5" thick- Cut in half and then cut each half into 4 pieces
8- Brush with the egg wash
9- Put scones on baking sheet and put another baking sheet underneath to prevent overbrowing in the hot oven. Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean
10- Let cool on wire rack. Once cool, you can make the drizzle (recipe below).

Cinnamon Drizzle:

3/4 cup powdered sugar
milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1- Add enough milk to make a paste
2- Stir in cinnamon
3- Spoon over cooled scones

Friday, October 8, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes

I guess pancakes don't really fall under the baking category, but I'll add them anyway:)


I have cereal every single morning for breakfast. Days don't go well when I don't have my morning bowl of cereal. For some, it's coffee...for me, it's cereal. So I miss out on the plethora of other breakfast items available. Thank goodness, though, for breakfast for dinner....


We made buttermilk pancakes and turkey bacon last night. Having turkey bacon was a real treat. Usually we have fake vegetarian bacon on our veggie burgers because the thought of real bacon makes me sick. Ok, so turkey bacon isn't REAL bacon, but it's as close as I'll get. I bought blueberries to put in the pancakes, but forgot to add them, which is ok because I'll just have them in my morning cereal:)


The recipe is from http://www.thehungrymouse.com/2008/11/23/how-to-make-buttermilk-pancakes/. The original recipe called for a pinch of salt, but I omitted that. Also, instead of the olive oil, you can add melted butter. Lastly, if you want to mix in fruit, add it in before the olive oil.


Ingredients:


1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder

2 tbs olive oil 


Directions:


1- Whisk the egg until light and frothy
2- Add the buttermilk and whisk
3- Add the rest of the ingredients except the olive oil and whisk until smooth
4- Add in any optional fruit
5- Add the olive oil and whisk until smooth
6- Spray a pan with non-stick spray and heat. Heat oven to the lowest setting to keep finished pancakes warm. Ladle or spoon pancakes onto pan and leave them until the tops begin to bubble. Once the tops bubble, flip them over to finish cooking. They should be golden brown on both sides.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes and Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Both of these recipes are simple and classic. They're easy to make and always a hit. I usually don't use cupcake papers, but I found tin foil ones at the store and was able to put the batter in the papers and bake them right on a cookie sheet. I halved each recipe so that I wouldn't have a ton of each type of cupcake, but I will put the full ingredient amounts here. Also, I piped the icing on the cupcakes using a reusable Wilton piping bag fitted with a large star tip. When piping icing on cupcakes, hold the bag upright and then when you're ready to pull the tip off, don't pull straight up, rather pull to the side. This will eliminate an unwanted pointy tip. Don't overfrost because the frosting is VERY sweet.

The first recipe is a Devil's Food Cupcake. The recipe is from Chockylit (http://cupcakeblog.com/?p=10). She uses a chocolate buttercream frosting on her, but I opted for vanilla so as not to cause chocolate overload.

Ingredients:
Oven: 350 degrees

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder( I used Trader Joe's)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter (Unless you're using a Kitchenaid Mixer, I'd let it soften a bit)
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
Directions:
1- Add everything to a mixing bowl except eggs
2- Mix on low until incorporated
3- Mix on high for about 2 mins
4- Add the eggs
5- Mix on high for about another 2 mins
6- Measure out into cupcake papers or tin. Fill about halfway
7- Bake for about 15-20 mins or until knife comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack to cool

The second recipe is for Vanilla Cupcakes. The recipe is from Confessions of a Bake-a-holic (http://bradleykitchen.blogspot.com/2010/04/vanilla-cupcakes-with-vanilla.html).

Ingredients:
Oven: 375 degrees

3/4 cups butter (Again, unless you're using a Kitchenaid Mixer, I'd let it soften a bit)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups milk
Directions:
1- Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy (About 2 mins- It should come together)
2- Add eggs and vanilla and mix well
3- Add baking powder, salt, flour, and milk
4- Mix until well combined


5- Measure out into cupcake papers or tin. Fill about halfway
6- Bake for about 20 mins or until knife comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack to cool

The third recipe is for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. It's a basic recipe, so you can find it on pretty much any website. It will be enough to frost cupcakes from one recipe both recipes if you halve them.

Ingredients:
1- 4 cups powdered sugar (This is about 1 box. You can do 3.5 cups to make the icing a little less sweet)
2- 1/2 cup butter, softened
3- 1 tsp vanilla
4- 1/4 cup milk

Directions:
1- Beat butter and powdered sugar until combined
2- Add vanilla and milk
3- Beat everything until light and fluffy.

Frost when cupcakes are cooled. Should you have any additional frosting, you can freeze it.

Have fun:)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Apple Bread

I made apple bread because we had extra apples from apple picking and I had already made an apple pie. I've made pumpkin bread a bunch and thought this would be something different, but I'm still on the fence about how the loaves came out. I think the apple chunks were a little big. The bread kind of had an awkward texture. If I make this again, I will definitely cut the apples smaller even though the recipe says to coarsely chop them. Also, if you want to make lower fat bread, use applesauce instead of the oil. You can also use half white and half brown sugar. You can also use half whole wheat flour and
half white flour. Don't use all whole wheat flour as this will yield a dessert which is very dense. There are tons of variations, which will alter both the flavor and the texture of the recipe. I made the recipe as directed, but these alterations might bring welcome changes to the recipe.


You can enjoy the apple bread toasted with a little bit of cream cheese. Or you can make these into cupcakes and top them with cream cheese frosting:)


The recipe is from allrecipes.com


Ingredients:
Oven: 350 degrees


3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups apples- peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (I would suggest smaller chunks)
1 cup walnuts (smashed into small pieces)


Directions:
1- In bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. 
2- In large mixing bowl, place oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and apples. 
3- Stir into flour mixture. Add walnuts and mix. 
4- Divide mixture between two greased 8-in. x 4-in. bread pans. 
5- Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until bread test done. 
6- Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack before removing from oven. 


(picture from yogurtland.com)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apple Pie

Normally I follow recipes, or at the very least the skeleton of a recipe. I might add my own little extra into a recipe, but I never go into the kitchen without some idea of where I am headed, but yesterday I took the leap. Apple pie seemed like a good start for this- it's pretty hard to mess up and we just went apple picking on Sunday, so we have an abundance of apples!

The recipe I ended up creating is pretty similar to lots of recipes out there.

For the crust, I used, once again, Martha Stewart's recipe found here: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/our-favorite-pie-crust
Be sure to double the recipe for apple pie. But don't double the butter, use about a stick and half.

My Apple Pie Recipe:

Oven: 375 degrees
Ingredients:
2 9" pie crusts (See above link)
Peel and thinly slice apples (I used 1 pretty large and 4 smaller sized apples)
Lemon Juice
1 cup Flour
1 cup White sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar (I used dark)
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Cinnamon (plus additional for sprinkling)
a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar
Walnuts (optional)
1 tbsp Butter
Milk

Directions:
1- Once apples are cut, add a splash of lemon juice to prevent browning.
2- In the same bowl, add the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and splash of cider vinegar (enough to coat the apples). Mix everything together. The mixture should coat the apples with a little leftover on the bottom of the bowl.
3- Add in the walnuts, if you choose.
4- Put the apple mixture into the pie crust
5- Cut butter into thin slices and place around apples in crust
6- Put top crust on pie
7- Brush milk on top of crust
8- Sprinkle cinnamon on top

To bake: Put foil around the crust to prevent burning. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, take the foil off and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Crust should be a golden brown color.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I baked a LOT of cupcakes yesterday. I originally wanted to try piping a rose on each cupcake, but realized later that the cream cheese frosting does not have enough powdered sugar for the frosting to fully harden. So I did swirls on the small cupcakes and just spread the icing on with a knife for the bigger cupcakes. These cupcakes have a very smooth taste, probably due the massive amounts of butter in them (2 sticks). The recipe also calls for ground ginger and ground allspice, which I don't have, so I just added some extra cinnamon and nutmeg. This is something I do all the time. Both the cream cheese frosting and the cupcake recipe comes from Martha Stewart's website (http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/pumpkin-cupcakes)

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
(If not using all of the above spices, increase the ones you are using by a little bit. And you don't have to measure spices out, just eyeball them)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 sticks butter (1 cup) melted and cooled (Always use unsalted)
4 eggs lightly beaten
1 15 ounce can pumpkin

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line cupcake tins with papers or spray them with non-stick spray
In a bowl, whisk together first 8 ingredients (flour, soda, powder, salt, spices)
In a bowl that's a bit larger, whisk together brown sugar, sugar, butter, eggs)
Add the dry ingredients to the moist and whisk until smooth
Stir in the pumpkin puree
Fill muffin containers about halfway. Tap down to ensure even distribution.
Bake 20-25 mins or until knife inserted in center comes out clean
Cool on a wire rack. Once cooled completely, you may frost.

Frosting:

I use Martha Stewart's cream cheese frosting recipe found here: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/perfect-cream-cheese-frosting
There's nothing too special about it, so any recipe will really do. I actually add a bit of maple syrup to the frosting. The flavor goes nicely with both the cream cheese and the pumpkin.

Enjoy:)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wet Bottom Shoo Fly Pie

Who ever knows why I decided to make this pie last night. I have never had it nor did I have a craving for a molasses based dessert. I guess I just liked the name. Shoo Fly pie is of Pennsylvania Amish and Dutch origin. It is very very very sweet with the two main ingredients being molasses and (dark) brown sugar (While either light or dark brown sugar can be used, dark has more molasses in it). Since the settlers came to America by boat, they brought lots of non-perishable ingredients. These ingredients became the ingredients found in Shoo Fly pie. Nobody knows the exact origin of the name of this pie, but it is thought that the name comes from the fact that, if eaten outside, you will probably have to shoo away the flies. The term "wet bottom" comes from the fact that the filling soaks into the crust while baking, leaving it nice and gooey.

I would recommend eating the pie with ice cream. We had it with coffee ice cream.

And here's the recipe, which is derived from http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/recipes/dessert_shoofly.html:

Ingredients
1 9" unbaked pie crust- After struggling for what feels like forever making the perfect pie crust, I finally found a wonderful recipe. It's from Martha Stewart and can be found here: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/our-favorite-pie-crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
Two-thirds cup light brown sugar, packed
1 rounded tablespoon cold butter
One-fourth teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup light molasses
Three-fourths cup cold water
One-fourth cup hot water
1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:
1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pie pastry and line a 9-inch pie pan; set aside.2- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, butter, and salt. Remove one-half cup of the mixture and set aside. 
3- Leave the rest in the mixing bowl. 
4- In a small bowl, beat the egg lightly. 
5- Put the molasses and cold water together and blend, but do not beat; you don’t want bubbles in the batter. Set aside.
6- In a small bowl, mix the hot water with the baking soda and blend into the molasses mixture. 
7- Add the molasses mixture to the flour mixture and mix well. 
8- Pour into the pie shell and top with the reserved crumbs. Bake for 35 minutes. The pie will appear quivery but will firm up as it cools. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before cutting.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Souffle Waits for Nobody

Souffle is a nice, airy dessert, made primarily from egg whites whipped to soft peaks. This was my first attempt at souffle. All in all it came out well, but I will make a few adjustments next time; I'll share those changes here. Since souffle must go from oven to table in less than 90 seconds, lest you risk deflation, I made only two souffles. This dessert seems easy, but takes multiple tries to master.

The recipe I used came from realsimple.com.

Ingredients:


Directions:
  • 1- Heat oven to 375° F. Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease two 8-ounce ramekins. Coat the ramekins with the cocoa, tapping out the excess.
  • 2- In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and remaining butter. Stir occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Whisk in the yolks one at a time until smooth. Set aside.
  • 3- In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the sugar, salt, and cream of tartar until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Gently fold the egg-white mixture into the chocolate. Spoon into the ramekins. Tap mixture down to ensure there is enough in the ramekin. (The recipe can be made to this point up to 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
  • 4- Bake until puffed and set- about 14 minutes. (If baked directly from the refrigerator, add 5 to 10 minutes.) 

Have fun:)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mocha Cupcakes with Mocha Frosting

I decided to make cupcakes this past weekend, but I didn't want to make plain old chocolate cupcakes, so I made mocha chocolate cupcakes instead. The coffee intensifies the flavor of the chocolate, while adding subtle flavors making them not too sweet and kind of dangerous. 


The recipe is adapted from mybakingaddiction.com:

Cupcakes
Ingredients:
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temp
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
I also had chocolate covered espresso beans handy, which I ground up and added to the mix as well.


Steps:
1. Preheat to 350°F. Line cupcake pan with liners or spray with non-stick spray.
2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, brewed coffee and vanilla.
3. In a stand mixer at medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee mixture, ending with the flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and the ground espresso beans, if used.
4. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool before frosting cupcakes.



Frosting
Ingredients:
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa
3 tablespoons coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1/2 cup butter, softened
3-4 tbs milk
ground espresso beans


1. Mix together sugar and cocoa
2. Mix together coffee and vanilla
3. Beat butter at medium speed until creamy. Alternate adding the sugar and coffee mixture, beginning and ending with the sugar
4. Add in ground espresso beans, if used
5. Add milk, 1 tbs at a time, until desired consistency is reached


Any unused frosting can be frozen. Remember to only frost COOL cupcakes!


Have fun:)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

For dinner, we had bowtie pasta with fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes, crushed red pepper, and basil. We had a salad, a light red wine, and these yummy whole wheat dinner rolls on the side. The rolls were a last minute addition. They were so easy to throw together, only 50 minutes rising time total. You use a muffin tin instead of forming them by hand, thus making the prep process even easier. It's important to add the all purpose flour because adding only whole wheat flour will result in a product that is too dense. Here's the recipe:

RECIPE:
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp yeast- one package
1 cup warm water
2 tbs melted shortening
1 egg
1 cup flour

(Oven: 400 degrees)
1- Mix together whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, yeast
2- Add in warm water, melted shortening, egg
3- Mix until smooth- I had to add little more flour because the dough was too sticky.
4- Place a small amount of olive oil in the bowl, cover with a kitchen cloth and let rise in a warm, dry place for 30 mins. Should double in size
5- Punch down after 30 mins
6- Grease muffin tin then spoon dough in (should be exactly 12 rolls- eyeball how much dough to put in each)
7- Let rise another 20 mins
8- Bake until golden (15ish minutes)

(Recipe courtesy of cooksrecipes.com)

Have fun :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's been awhile....Flax Seed Muffins with Fresh Blueberries

It has been forever since I've baked..well that's not really true. I made a lemon meringue pie about 2 weeks ago and, while it came out just fine, I had quite the time making it. I was in a particularly bad mood so everything seemed to be a challenge. Anyway, I am back and am going to try to make some healthier baked goods. I made these flax seed muffins yesterday and they came out yummy! I ground my own flax seed, which is apparently much better than buying it already ground. The muffins took like 20 mins to put together and then 25 mins in the oven at 350 degrees. I even used my rose shaped muffin tin, so all of the muffins came out looking like pretty roses.

The cool thing about these muffins is that you can mix anything into them, for example, I used blueberries, but you can add shredded carrots, nuts. craisins, really anything that sounds good to you.

So here's the recipes...Oh and remember to never overmix muffin batter because it will make the muffins tough and icky.

Oven: 350 degrees

1.5 cups ground flax
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 egg beaten
little bit of cinnamon and a little less nutmeg...use your judgement
3/4 cups brown sugar- I use dark brown because I like the dark look it gives the finished product
1 tbsp baking powder
2 cups milk- I use 1%- try not to use skim because the water content is too high

Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl. Mix the milk in with the beaten egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. At this point, you can add in any mix ins- the choices are endless. Mix everything together, but don't overmix! Spray some muffin tins with non-stick spray, stick 'em in the oven and 20 mins later, check to see if the tops and sides are nice and brown, if not give 'em another 5 mins.

this recipe is courtesy of spiffyman.com.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

English Muffins


We've really been working on eating organic foods lately. I'm tired of putting food in my body that has been made with weird chemicals with unpronounceable names. To me, there's nothing more organic than handmaking and kneading bread at home AND what can be better than homemade English Muffins with those tasty nooks and crannies topped with some freshly churned herbed butter? Also, we're in our bread and baking curriculum at school and have been teaching the kids about yeast (what fun!), so needless to say I'm in bread making heaven! Some of the recipe I've been doing at home but just have not gotten a chance to post include: homemade dinner rolls with freshly made butter, braided challah, herbed focaccia, and I also perfected my pizza dough recipe, which I will have to post. But anyway, I digress. For the English Muffins, I found two recipes online and, of course, in true form, I didn't like either of them by themselves so I decided to combine/amend them. The recipes came from petebakes, which is a baking blog I frequent, and The Culinary Institute of America. Oh and the best thing about this recipe is that it is only 6 ingredients and most items can be readily found in the pantry already!
Ingredients:
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup water, warmed to 110F
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cornmeal, or as needed
Oil
Directions:
1- Place the yeast and warm water in the bowl of a mixer and stir to completely dissolve. Let the yeast proof until foamy, about five minutes. Add the flour, butter, sugar, and salt to the yeast mixture.
2- Mix the ingredients until the dough comes together. When it starts to come together, begin to knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 mins. (That's the proper way, but I usually knead right in the bowl to save clean up!)
3- Shape the dough into a ball and place it into a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for an hour.
4- After an hour, punch the dough down one or two times.
5- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape into balls and flatten the balls into discs.
6- Sprinkle cornmeal onto a cookie sheet and coat both sides of the discs with cornmeal.
7-Cover with saran wrap and let them rise for another hour.
8- Heat the oven to 350 F and heat up a skillet on medium heat on the stovetop. Brush the skillet with oil and gently transfer the discs to the skillet a few at a time.
9- Allow them to cook on the skillet for 5-8 minutes, until the bottoms are nicely browned. Flip and cook the other side for about 5-8 minutes more.
10- When the muffins look as if they are about to burn, remove them from the skillet with a spatula and transfer quickly to a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 5-8 minutes. Do no wait until all of the muffins have been cooked on the skillet before moving them to the oven – as the first batch is baking, move the second batch of muffins to the skillet.
11- Transfer the baked muffins to a cooling rack and cool before slicing or serving. Store them as you would muffins you buy in the store – in a sealed Ziploc bag in the fridge or freezer.
Have fun:)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Super Easy Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

If I had to pick my all time favorite confection, it would have to be Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. When I think about, I have to wonder why it took me so long to make homemade cups since they're just so easy! I wish I would have taken pictures, but they were gone before I even thought about it! Next time...

To make these delicious treats, you only need 5 simple ingredients and mini cupcake liners. This recipe adapted from Have Cake, Will Travel will make about 12 peanut butter cups. Now, I have to say that these came out perfectly fine without tempering, but if you want a nice crunch on the outer shell and also prefer not to have the chocolate melt in your fingers, I would temper. I definitely plan on doing that next time I make these.

Ingredients:
12 mini cupcake liners
3/4 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips.
1/2 cup peanut butter + an additional spoonful to add to the melted chocolate
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch sea salt or plain salt

Melt the chocolate in the microwave stopping the microwave often to stir the chocolate so it does not burn. Or melt the chocolate over a double boiler, which is my preferred method. Or you can temper the chocolate. After the chocolate is melted, let it stand to cool for a minute and then add in the extra spoonful of peanut butter. Once the PB is incorporated, take a spoon and coat the bottom and the sides of the cupcake liners. Use enough to make a thick outer shell, but not too much that you don't have enough to go on top of the peanut butter. Once all the papers are coated, stick them in the refrigerator and start to put together the peanut butter filling.

For the filling, mix the last four ingredients in a small bowl. It should look like a paste almost.

Check to see if the shells are hard. If they are, remove them from the refrigerator and put a spoonful of the peanut butter filling in each shell. After all the shells have filling, pour the rest of the chocolate over the tops of each cup, making sure there is no peanut butter showing. Put back in refrigerator to harden. You may have to re-melt the chocolate.

Have fun:)