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!

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.

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

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.


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


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 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.

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:

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 (

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.

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

(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


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.

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)


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.

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

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
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 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.


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 


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 ( She uses a chocolate buttercream frosting on her, but I opted for vanilla so as not to cause chocolate overload.

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
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 (

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
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.

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

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

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)

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