Tuesday, August 28, 2007
These muffins are more like a spice cake, think coffeecake maybe. But they were absolutely delicious. I doubled the recipe to ensure there were enough for Josh's entire office and by noon 2 dozen had been consumed. I count that as a success.
My alterations were slight. I had less than a cup of buttermilk so I substituted heavy cream for the rest. Calories, calories. I think milk in general will work because the real point of the buttermilk is to add liquid to the dense batter. If I had milk in my house I would have tried it for sure. I also used a cup of whole wheat flour, you know to offset the cream effects. I don't think using all whole wheat flour will work because it is so dense and you might end up with bricks but the half and half method worked really well and added a nutty undertone.
All in all a successful night in the kitchen. I am very pleased. By the way, Josh took the pic in his office, note the floppy discs in the background.
Blueberry Cinnamon Muffins
Yields 18 muffins
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh wild blueberries or frozen wild berries
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or line muffin tins with paper liners.
In large bowl or electric mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Scrape down sides of bowl, then beat in vanilla.
In separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Add flour mixture to batter in three additions, alternating with buttermilk in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
Gently fold in blueberries.
Spoon batter into muffin cups about two-thirds full. Bake in centre of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops are golden and spring back when lightly touched and a wooden skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Monday, August 27, 2007
This muffin recipe was highly rated on Allrecipes and I can never turn away from a popular recipe. I didn't eat one but the guys devoured them and that is usually a good sign. I also used mini chocolate chips which I think are better in muffins, they don't overwhelm the same as the big ones.
As for this posts title, and you will notice in the picture, I opened the oven door one too many times and they sunk in the middle. It makes them look terrible but didn't hurt the flavor. I think my oven needs to be tested, the temperature is constantly off by five or ten minutes of bake time, hence the opening of the oven door.
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 12 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter.
Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.
I am not sure what I do wrong exactly. They burn, they sink in the middle, they stay goo-like, they taste like a bad chocolate cake. In every way, my brownies to not make the mark. Well I cant say that entirely. My Malt Brownies are delicious and I wrote a whole post on them, but I do not think that that is a norm with me. The humidity in the air must have been just right or maybe I greased the pan properly or maybe my eggs were fresher than normal. Whatever the case, they worked and I have had at least three failed attempts since. What a big disappointment.
You will notice that my entry is from the blondie family, and for good reason. I honestly think it is the cocoa that is messing me up. I don't think I can properly see what color the batter is turning in the oven. Are they getting too dark? Are they still way too fudgy? So maybe without the chocolate base, I had the chance of being successful.
Turns out, my theory may have been correct. They turned out really nice. I know the pic isnt great, but you have to take my word for it. Even Justin, with a definite hangover, managed to eat an entire one and declared it delicious.
I didn't make many changes to the recipe except to add more baking time. The recipe can be found in various forms on Allrecipes by searching Marshmallow Brownies or Butterscotch Blondies.
Just be forwarned the mixture, before baking, looks like not even close to enough batter and way too many marshmallows. But never fear, those marshmallows turn into the gooey Blondie product in the end.
Marshmallow Butterscotch Blondies
1/2 cup butter
1 cup butterscotch chips
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan.
Using a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Pour in the butterscotch chips, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
Mix in the melted butterscotch chips, then the flour, baking powder, and salt until smooth.
Stir in the marshmallows and chocolate chips last.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan. The batter will barely cover the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven. Cool, and cut into squares.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
A night at home and piles upon piles of laundry to do. I don't think that laundry is ever a chore that you can fully say "I'm done!" and walk away. Sadly, no matter how much I wash, there is always twice as much spilling out of the basket. Now I wish I had taken bathrooms when Josh and I first divied up chores.
In amongst the sorting and folding, I felt like chocolate last night. Well I felt like baking and the chocolate craving followed. Here I thought we had bought so many groceries and yet I found myself with very little cocoa and flour and no chocolate chips to be found. That made my choice of recipes quite limited so I settled on these peanut butter chip brownie cups. These are circulating throughout the blogging world but I think they actually originated on Allrecipes. I have a few versions in my files but this one seems to be the best. I would certainly use smaller muffin papers so they look prettier but Josh's office is not picky about such things. They just want to eat. The reviews were raves and I honestly don't have any suggestions to make them better. The recipe said I would end up with 16 and I had 26, I guess it depends how big you make them. Mine were 4 bites, give or take. Actually, if baked in the mini foil papers for Christmas they would be very yummy one biters, though I think the bake time would need to be played with. Also, 25 minutes was perfect, not too gooey and not too dry.
Peanut Butter Brownie Cups Makes 24
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package Peanut Butter Baking Chips
Heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 24 muffin cups with paper or foil bake cups.
In large microwave-safe bowl, place butter. Microwave until melted.
Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; beat well. Add cocoa; beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat well. Stir in peanut butter chips.
Divide batter evenly into muffin cups; Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until surface is firm; cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Another busy weekend. Amanda had her bachelorette at a dueling piano's bar. If you haven't tried a place like that, you really should. We stayed out late and A was officially inducted into the "married ladies" club. Funny how bachelorettes always remind me of Barbara Streisand singing "I'm Sadie, Sadie, married lady, that's me!". Of course the rest of the weekend was spent with R & J or sleeping after all the partying. Suffice it to say, I did not bake.
Josh, however, was home all of Sunday. I have come to the conclusion that giving him a day to himself once a month is beneficial not only to our relationship but to the general state of our apartment. He cleaned the entire thing, from top to bottom. Everything was put away, including 3 dishwasher loads. Yes, our kitchen was that bad and no, I am not embarrassed about it. Weeks are busy, ok? And I hate cleaning dishes at the best of times, let alone when I get home at midnight.
The best part of all was his baking. Josh rarely ever bakes. He is the cook extraordinaire in our home and the baking only comes out when a massive craving hits him. Last time it was cinnamon buns, last night it was cookies. I keep a file on my computer of all the recipes I come across in my travels and want to try. This Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe can be found on Allrecipes somewhere and it shouldn't be too hard to find because it is getting rave reviews. I have to say this is now the new CC cookie recipe in our house. They are amazing. Chewy and moist and full of chips. Josh isn't the biggest CC cookie fan and he devoured these. He tweaked the recipe a bit, mainly in baking temperature and the size of the cookies. Bottom line, you have to make these. They are just too good.
Hopefully I will be the next one tempting your taste buds. We did a massive grocery shop on the weekend to build up my baking staples stock.
Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.
Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.
Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 12 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The reason for this post is to recap the brownie disaster of the other day because I have had a total brainstorm. I left the pan of brownies in the fridge to try and harden. Unfortunately the unappealing shortbread layer is now as hard as a rock and useless altogether. The gooey coconut layer, though, has been peeled from the crust and devoured by Josh and I. It reminds me of a Bounty bar in all its glory and I am totally in love. The texture is chewy yet firm and I can easily cut that part into bars. So I am going to remake that layer in a 9x13, cut it into squares and dip them in chocolate for Christmas. Brilliant.
OK, I know you can't really try this nut job recipe because I haven't posted it. And I would, except the stupid piece of paper it was printed on has mysteriously disappeared. I will find it tonight. New goal.
Update: Found the recipe under my piles of unpaid bills. Fabulous.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Last night it was getting late and I really wanted to make brownies for Josh to take to work. I pulled out a new recipe that I had found in my Grandma's cupboard when we moved her. For some reason we had never made it before which shocked me because Grandma is big on bar cookie recipes, even though many of them have not worked for her either. This one came from a Robin Hood Flour magazine insert, though, which makes me wonder why it wasn't better. Normally the recipes that come from product labels and their adverts are quite good.
OK, so this one was partly my fault and partly the recipes. I am going to post the recipe eventually so that someone else can maybe try it and see if it was actually all my fault. Chances are it was. The recipe is in two parts: a chocolate shortbread crust and then a gooey egg and coconut mixture that is supposed to ooze into the shortbread layer during the second baking. The shortbread layer tasted bad when I made it - not enough sugar maybe and too much shortening? - but I baked it and it came out really nice. The second layer I messed up. It calls for eggs and brown sugar to be beaten as if you are making a pecan tart filling. I only had white sugar and figured that there would be no harm, so much coconut and chocolate chips were being added that they would even it out. Not so. The white sugar made a coconut meringue type substance that baked crispy on the top of the brownie and stayed gooey in the middle. When I tried to cut the darn things, the crisp layer seperated from the gooey layer which seperated from the shortbread layer.
Josh and I did taste the final result and it was quite good, the shortbread layer was actually a welcome change from the intense sweetness of the coconut layer. I think if I saved it and served a heap of vanilla icecream over top, no one would notice the unattractive nature of the squares. (Josh did manage to cut 4 squares that looked presentable). It definitely would be a good brownie icecream pairing.
So try them out if you think the brown sugar mistake might have been the only problem. Like I said, Robin Hood flour has never steared me wrong before. Must have been me.
Black Bottom Coconut Dream Bars
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
Combine flour and sugar. Add shortening and chocolate, mix until blended. Press into ungreased 9" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2c. coconut
1c. chocolate chips
Beat eggs until thick and light in color. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.
Mix flour and baking powder, fold into egg mixture.
Stir in coconut, chips, nuts and vanilla. Spread over baked crust in pan.
Bake 35 minutes or until light brown. Cool and cut into bars.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Martha has given me so many wonderful cookie recipes over the years and I think my favorite is still the Torie's Chocolate Chip that I have blogged about previously. In this case, she combines the classic flavors of peanut butter and chocolate and adds the seductive twist of cinnamon. Ever had a Cinnamon Kitkat? Pure genious. There is nothing like spice with chocolate.
I kept these cookies small so that I would have alot to give away and so that they would be two-biters for while we played cards with R & J this weekend. I highly recommend making them bigger just because I think they look nicer, but if you want to set them along side a bowl of vanilla icecream, or just devour them as little muncheables, then tiny is perfect.
Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Peanut Cookies a la' Martha
Makes about 5 dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
Put butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes.
Add sugars; mix 2 minutes. Mix in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips, peanuts, and vanilla with a mixing spoon until well distributed. Refrigerate dough until it is slightly firm, 15 minutes.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Space balls 2 to 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly.
Bake until just golden, about 13 minutes.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
We were home last night, so I did cook. The tilapia unthawed in the sink and Josh made his amazing roasted potatoes and onions. We made dinner and it wasn't that bad. Definitely superior to the box of KD we devoured late the night before.
I was completely inspired by Definitely Not Martha who made fish and chips with her tilapia, and while I didn't use her recipe and it probably didn't taste as good, it sure gave me a good idea. Because tilapia that has been poached is completely flavorless and boring.
I wish I had a recipe but I really don't. The fish was coated in a mixture of cajun seasoning and breadcrumbs. I fried it up in a little oil in a pan.
The cubed potatoes and onions were coated in butter, garlic, cajun seasoning and rosemary and I roasted them at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. Easy peasy.
The one thing, though, that was yummers was the dip for the fish. I guess you could call it a tartar sauce but it had no pickle so that is sort of a lie. I also put it on my potatoes, it was that good.
2T. dijon mustard
1T. ancho chili sauce
Mix in a bowl and serve.
So dinner was dead easy, Josh ate it and raved about it plus I used up the damned tilapia. Best of all, I have lunch for today that does not consist of hard boiled eggs or salad. What a relief!
I am not computer literate by any means and this whole blogging experience has been quite a learning curve. For the most part I have been able to solve all my issues but these two I cannot seem to fix. Suggestions anyone?
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Rain always has a way of sending me in a search for a homey comforting dessert of some kind. Cookies and cake won't do it, a light fruity dessert is better for al fresco picnics of which there were none this weekend. No, I wanted something substantial that smelled like my Grandma's house. The only person that I could think of to fill this request was Martha Stewart.
As an aside, I have received many ribbings about my Martha obsession. But to them all, I gladly say that I would not be half the cook, baker and general homemaker if not for her tips and recipes. I have probably 6 years worth of back issues sitting in various piles around the apartment and nothing cheers me up more when I am searching for that "home" feeling.
While flipping through the October issues I have collected - and yes I know it is August right now - I came upon an entire article on the humble Bread Pudding. The basic recipe as well as 4 variations were included and I just knew that this was the recipe I was after. It was simple and would smell delicious and also feeds a crowd.
I made the Banana Rum version but the original is just as good. The secret ingredient I used was the Cinnamon Crunch bread from my local bakery which definitely was dense enough and flavorful enough to stand up to the rest of the ingredients. I would recommend using a denser loaf of bread and preferrably something a bit more exotic than basic challah although that is the easiest option. The recipe came out a bit too soupy and not as eggy as it should so I have tweaked it just a bit and come up with what I think is a fantastic bread pudding. A drizzle of caramel sauce and perhaps some whipped cream would also not go amiss.
Martha Stewart's Bread Pudding
Banana Rum ingredients optional
1 large loaf bread - challah or dense sweet white bread
1 T. vanilla
1/2c. brown sugar
2 large bananas, sliced
Cut the bread into one inch cubes and set aside. Butter a 9x13 casserole dish and set aside.
Heat the milk and cream over medium until just starting to simmer. Remove from heat.
Whisk together the eggs, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Slowly add the warm milk, by ladlefulls, whisking well so as not to cook the eggs. Poor the mixture over the bread and stir to combine. Place mixture in greased dish and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until the top is brown and the middle is hot and bubbling.
For the rum banana version, add the rum to the custard mixture. Saute the bananas in the butter and brown sugar until soft. Stir the banana mixture into the bread and custard.
Friday, August 3, 2007
I wanted to make something I hadn't tried before, naturally, so I pulled out "White Chocolate Brownie Cookies". Let me start off by saying that the recipe looked off from the get go. The proportions of flour and eggs were strange and the chocolate was definitely in overload. But I have made many off ingredient recipes that have totally worked and the picture looked so convincing that I blindly forged ahead.
As an aside, Josh and I have decided to curb our grocery bill spending as it has become horribly out of control. We both have grandiose plans for work week dinners that never come to fruition and I end up throwing out alot of produce. We also have a horrible habit of shopping brand name and for top of the line ingredients. All of this has caused a constant sucking on our budget and is not really necessary. So we have picked the same magic number that most couples our age seem to choose - $400 a month. I thought that was alot of money, turns out it isn't. So when I had to spend $6 on Cadbury Dream Bars and use 2 cups of chocolate chips for this recipe, I suddenly realized how much out of my budget that is and how important it was that this recipe turn out right.
Well the whole thing was quite a disaster. The recipe says to beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla for 15 minutes until it looks like plaster or has doubled in volume. It was also supposed to be thick like merengue. With the egg yolks in the mix, how is this supposed to be possible? I did beat it forever but it stayed liquid and only slightly doubled. Then you fold in the chocolate and butter gently and finally the puny 1/2cup of flour. Well the mixture was extremely thin, like cake batter, and I was very skeptical. The final step is to let it rest in the fridge for 5 minutes to let it grow air bubbles and look like mousse. It did rise, slightly but as soon as I stuck a spoon into it, the air deflated and it turned soupy again.
Enter Josh, who cannot possibly understand why a recipe will not work. He insisted I bake a batch of "cookies" to see if they would work. I compromised and spooned one tablespoon of the stuff onto the cookiesheet and it spread out immediately into a 6" pancake with a sad chunk of white chocolate sticking up from the pool. Seven minutes of baking later and I had a flat, burning pancake that was stuck to my sheet.
In utter frustration I greased a 9x13 pan and dumped the remaining batter into it. The name on the recipe is "Brownie Cookie" so why not make brownies? And sure enough, it did make brownies. Average, would never bake them again, brownies. The top of the batch formed a sticky skin that sticks to your fingers and then underneath that is a fudgy brownie type substance filled with my wonderful white chocolate. Oh well. Sometimes you have to just throw in the towel.
I will not post the recipe because I think it is inherently flawed and would not want to foist that upon you. Suffice it to say, they were yummy enough to eat but not yummy enough to make again.
Josh emailed to say that the office loved them but I think they don't want to hurt my feelings for fear I may stop sending baking altogether. Some people are so silly....
Thursday, August 2, 2007
All in all, I think this has been a very rewarding and therepeutic experience and something I will definitely continue, if only for my own pleasure.
Please, please, please feel free to try - and blog about - the recipes on my blog. What are recipes for, if not to share?
It is partly to help other foodie bloggers get their start, and partly because I want to find some more "must read" blogs, that I am adding The Leftover Queens Foodie BlogRoll list to my blog. I have found some wonderful blogs in here and I hope that all of you do as well.