Category: baking

Breakfast Cookies

It’s been too long since posting, but rather than look back, I’m looking forward.

I have a friend in Austin, the Maple Syrup Lady, who produces¬†maple syrup in Michigan, then hauls and sells it here in Texas. Part of her business is blogging about recipes. This week she tried a new ‘breakfast cookie’ recipe and I had the pleasure of sampling the results.

Let’s just say my bag of 6 cookies lasted 2 days, and that took restraint. They’re soft and fluffy, moist, tangy, and just the right amount of crunch. They’re like less refined Lara Bars, only WAY less expensive. Not to mention that they’re chock full of fruits and grains, no refined sugar, no butter, no eggs – and potentially gluten free. (If you’re into that). Who doesn’t want to eat cookies for breakfast?!

maple breakfast cookiesIngredients
1 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
2 Mashed Bananas
2 Tbsp Pure Michigan Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Raisins or Dried Cranberries
1/4 Cup Chopped Almonds
1 Cup Fresh Strawberries, Diced
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
1 1/2 Cups Rolled Oats

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the applesauce, mashed bananas, and maple syrup in a medium sized bowl. Add in the dried fruit, nuts, strawberries, cinnamon, and sea salt. Fold in the rolled oats.

3. Use an ice cream scoop to make 16 cookies. The dough will be loose so pack them together and press down on the middle to make a cookie shape. Place on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

And yes, the Maple Lady has an online store and ships!

The recipe makes 16-18 cookies per batch – 80 calories per cookie.

 

Baked Pea and Spinach Risotto

Generally I’m not a fan of Real Simple recipes; they’re bland and dull. Simple taken too far = boring. However, with the addition of my trusty cooking sidekick, Lemon Pepper seasoning, this baked risotto comes together easily. Plus, there’s a fair amount of veggies you can add to risotto to keep nutrients high. And the best part? No standing at the stove sweating for an hour, hoping the broth incorporates!

Ingredientsbaked_spinach_risotto_300

4 TBS butter
2 shallots, chopped
salt and black pepper
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups Arborio rice
1 package frozen peas
8 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago, plus more for serving

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 425¬į F. Heat the butter in a medium Dutch oven or ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, 1¬†tsp¬†salt, and 1¬†tsp pepper and cook, stirring often, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the broth and rice and bring to a rolling boil. Add 1/2 tsp lemon pepper. Stir briefly.
  3. Cover the pot and transfer to oven. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy, about 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven. Add the peas, spinach, Parmesan, 1/2 tsp lemon pepper, and ¬ľ teaspoon pepper to the pot and stir to combine.
  5. Return to oven for 5 more minutes. Remove and stir. If the risotto is too thick, add¬†up to ¬ľ cup hot water. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan before serving.

You can half ingredients, and adding protein is always an option. As is, it made 6-8 servings. Now we have leftovers for days!

Impress-Your-Guests Chocolate Bundt Cake

This easy breezy chocolate cake is a total hit. Every time. Everywhere. With everyone.

I first sampled¬†this delectable happiness when a¬†friend made it for bookclub. She, in turn, says, “I got the recipe from my Aunt. She makes it for special occasions. It is probably a¬†cake¬†doctor recipe from 10 years ago. It’s always a hit with chocolate fans!”

IngredientsImage

1-¬†Devil’s food¬†cake¬†mix (make sure it does not already have pudding in the mix)
1-¬†5.9¬†oz pkg chocolate pudding (if you can only find the 3.9 oz, that’s fine, just reduce the bake time 5 minutes)
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup regular or light sour cream
12 oz semi-sweet mini morsel chocolate chips (you can use regular chips but the minis distribute a bit more evenly)

Directions
Mix the first five ingredients together. Stir in the chips and mix another minute or so. Pour batter into a greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Cool at least 15 minutes in the pan before inverting and removing the cake from the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. Ooh and ahh. 

Saying the word “bundt” brings to mind this vignette from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”:¬†https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPvO53JHnmY¬†

Homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies (Take 1)

I’ve decided – for no particular reason – that 2014 is the year of making oatmeal creme pies. I started with this recipe from Cooking Classy, and made a few minor tweaks as a newbie to this realm of cookie sandwiches. I don’t know how they managed to make these in 25 minutes, as it took me 2 hours, but the end result is pretty impressive. And by that I mean that the creme filling made unicorns cry tears of joy. I will never make another frosting again.

In the words of the Birthday Boy & Official Taste-tester, “Seriously, it is so damn good. You nailed it, hun.”

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup quick oats
3 tsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening (unflavored)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 TBS molasses
2 large eggs (or egg product)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract

Marshmallow Buttercream Filling
1/2 cup butter, nearly at room temperature
1/4 cup shortening (unflavored)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
7 oz. marshmallow creme

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, whip together butter, shortening, sugar and molasses on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in eggs, mixing until combine after each addition. Mix in vanilla and almond extract. Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

2. Scoop dough out about 2 Tbsp at a time and drop on cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Depending on size, you can fit 6-9 per sheet. Bake in preheated oven 10 – 12 minutes. Cookies should still be soft, not fully set – don’t over bake. My oven runs hot so I pulled them out at 9 minutes, since 11 minutes made a batch of crunchy granola bars.

3. Allow to cool several minutes on baking sheet before transferring to wire rack to cool. Cool completely then spread marshmallow buttercream filling along bottom side of one cookie and sandwich to the bottom side of another cookie. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

4. To make the marshmallow buttercream filling:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer  or hand mixer (not an immersion blender, folks), whip butter and shortening on medium-high speed, until pale and fluffy, about 3 Р4 minutes. Add powdered sugar and blend on low-speed until combined, then increase speed to medium-high and whip for 1 minutes. Mix in marshmallow creme and taste. Try not to keel over in drooling bliss. 

The cookies are good, but not enough of an improvement over the¬†classic Quaker Oats recipe¬†that I’d say you have to use¬†this¬†recipe. ¬†For Take 2, I’m looking at these Oatmeal Buttercream Pies. Any other recipe suggestions?

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Kudos to the bakers over at Food52 for crafting this delicious recipe. I made these on Christmas morning, and though they take a fair amount of time to create and more than enough calories, the flavors make for a celebration. Plus, did you notice they use pumpkin? My pursuit to teach the world that pumpkin is more than a fall food continues.

I learned a couple things that will make my next batch even better:

  • Adjust the oven down 25 degrees for a glass pan.
  • Measure the icing ingredients.
  • Clementine zest and juice are not culinary equivalents to orange zest and juice.
  • Despite my insistence that it didn’t matter, sifting powdered sugar is actually important.
  • This recipe makes two pans of rolls.

INGREDIENTS

Post cutting and ready to rise for a second time!

Dough
2 TBS tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, warmed but not boiling
4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 TBS salt
4 TBS butter softened
3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup cream cheese

Filling
1 cup  brown sugar
1/2 cup  butter
2 TBS ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp orange zest

Icing
1/2 cup cream cheese
1¬†cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 TBS orange juice — measure this, trust me

DIRECTIONS
1. Combine the yeast and the warm milk and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook combine the flour, sugar, spices and salt. Add in the eggs, pumpkin puree, and yeast mixture. Mix until just combined, then add the butter. Mix the dough until well combined, then knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. The dough will stick to the bottom of the bowl, but resist the temptation to add more flour.

3. Transfer the dough to a clean, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in volume, 1-¬Ĺ hours at a warm room temperature.

4. When the dough is almost finished rising, prepare the filling by browning the butter in a skillet until it is golden and toasty. Let the butter cool slightly then combine it with the brown sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. Prepare two, 8 or 9-inch baking pans by buttering or oiling them generously.

5. After the dough has risen, transfer it to a well floured surface and pat the dough into a 12-inch square. Break up the cream cheese and gently spread it on top of the dough, being careful not to tear the dough. Fold the dough into thirds, starting from the bottom so the cream cheese is completely sealed inside of the dough. Then roll the dough into a roughly 16-inch by 20-inch rectangle with the long side facing you, dust off any excess flour with a pastry brush.

6. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the top. Starting from the bottom, gently roll the dough into a log. Use a serrated knife and use very, very gentle and even pressure to cut the log into generous 1-inch slices. Gently place the cut rolls into the prepared pans, cover and let rise until almost doubled in size, 1-1 ¬Ĺ hours. TIP: If you‚Äôd like to freeze some rolls to bake off at a later date, now is a good time to do it. Wrap the pan in 2 layers of plastic wrap and a layer of foil and freeze. To bake, let the frozen rolls come to room temperature and complete their final rise before baking.

7. Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake the rolls preheat your oven to 350¬ļ. Bake the rolls until they are cooked through and lightly golden, 20-25 minutes.¬†NOTE: If you’re using a glass pan, adjust the oven to 325¬ļ and watch carefully, as glass transfers more heat and will take longer to cool down once out of the oven.

8. While they are baking, prepare the glaze by whisking the cream cheese, powdered sugar, orange juice, and a tiny pinch of salt together until smooth. It won’t be smooth if you don’t sift the sugar. I know, it’s an extra step but worth it! Let the rolls cool for about 5 minutes before glazing and digging in. Be judicious with the glaze, a little goes a long way.

These were good, and can be even better. I’ll try out the wisdom gained on batch #2, which is chilling in the freezer until a special occasion arises.

$1.33 Holiday Brownies

I just moved to Texas four days ago, and while the natives are kind, I’m somewhat limited in baking and cooking due to ALL my furniture and 90% of my belongings remaining in a moving truck that is well, ¬†not here.

Practicing gratitude and sleeping on the floor and feeling thankful for the little things that go right is healthy and all that, but sometimes everyone needs a spirit lifter. Here’s an easy, cheap perk for a cold, drizzly night.

To make Holiday Brownies: Buy 1 candy cane for .33 cents and one package classic brownie mix for .99 cents at the Dollar General Store. Pound candy cane into smithereens using available utensils – a cast iron pan on the counter for me. Mix brownies according to directions and add candy cane chips. If you have peppermint schnapps or peppermint extract, toss a drop or two in. Bake, cool for approximately 30 seconds and then eat half the pan. I recommend washing them down with plastic cups of a $6 liter bottle of Merlot.

Happy cheap, holiday eats!