Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What's Baking? November: Cranberries

Long time, no blog!

Here's why:
These pictures are from the day before yesterday. My official due date is a week from today, but my OB thinks I probably won't last that long. So we'll see! I'd love to have Thanksgiving and *then* go into labor, but it's not like I have a lot of say in the matter!

So I'm very pleased to have been able to bake something for this month's bake-along, especially since the theme was cranberries, and I love cranberries! 

This month is hosted by Joanna of the Kosher Kitchen so go check out the other cranberry recipes!

I wanted to make something to enjoy for Thanksgiving. I usually make an apple cranberry and ginger pie, but I wanted to try something new. I thought a quick bread would be appropriate, and I narrowed it down to a few choices and let my husband make the final decision. I think he made an excellent choice!
Cranberry Cornbread
Makes 1 loaf
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup orange juice
zest from 1/2 an orange
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2t salt
1 and 1/4 cup AP flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
4t baking powder
1 cup cranberries

Whisk together the wet ingredients (buttermilk, juice, zest, eggs, oil), sugars and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal and baking powder. Gently fold in the wet ingredients until just combined, and then fold in the cranberries.

Bake at 375F for 40-50 minutes in a loaf pan, let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan, and completely before slicing.

It's incredibly easy, it took me longer to wash the 2 bowls and 1 spatula I'd used than it did to mix the batter. I love recipes like that, especially around the holidays! We're big fans of cornbread, and this has a really nice, quick bread-like texture that isn't overly dry or crumbly, and it's just sweet enough to balance out the tart cranberries. I omitted the orange zest because I needed to save my single orange for the turkey brine, and I think it would have been better with the zest, so I've included it in the recipe above.

After I made the bread and tried the first slice, I had to continue on this cranberry kick... so I started some cranberry sauce. It smells so amazing that it's really hard not to eat the entire batch right now!

12oz cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
2T orange juice
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4t cloves
1 apple, peeled and diced

Mix everything in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat and boil 15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Monday, July 29, 2013

What's Baking? July: Bake Your Favorite Cocktail

This month's theme was chosen by Angela of The Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen, and she suggested baking something inspired by a favorite cocktail. This is perfect for me! It's obvious I haven't been cooking much, and the reason will be clear soon, but to go along with that, I haven't been drinking much, either. Having an excuse to revive a favorite cocktail by baking it is absolutely perfect timing!

Of course, I have many favorite cocktails. I work at a winery, so obviously I love wine, and I would love a glass of wine right now (but alas). I have a small number of favorite cocktails, simply because I prefer wine. But my favorites list include Dark n' Stormies, St Germaine cocktails (champagne and St Germaine, the simple version) and Vermontucky Lemonade. But what to bake? Fortunately, M posted a recipe on facebook for absinthe cookies- essentially those delicious Italian anise biscuit-cookies with anise glaze, only using an absinthe glaze. Ooh! I could work with that!

Surprisingly, I'm not a huge absinthe fan. I love licorice, but I like it sweetened, and the only time I've ever had absinthe, the cocktail was definitely NOT sweetened whatsoever. I also don't think absinthe is the right alcohol for me to have right now, even in a miniscule amount.

So I took this recipe and modified it to use St Germaine. And I love. My husband says he's pretty "meh" about St Germaine, but I did notice all but one of the 8 cookies we had left after taking some to my parents were gone by the time I got home from work yesterday. "Meh" indeed. I need to bake another batch asap!
St Germaine Cookies
inspired by Absinthe Cookies from A Fine Kettle of Fish

Cookie dough
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted, softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1T St Germaine (or vanilla, or anise, or another tasty alcohol)
3T milk
1/4t vinegar
2 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1T baking powder
pinch of salt

Glaze (note: I didn't have quite enough glaze for each cookie- this is fine if you can't wait long enough to sample before the cookies cool enough to glaze)
1-1.5cup powdered sugar
1T butter
1.5T St Germaine (or other tasty alcohol, or 1t vanilla, anise, almond, etc)
1T milk (possibly up to 2T)

To make the dough:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl, and the St Germaine, vinegar and milk together in yet another separate bowl (and let that sit for a few minutes). Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat til just barely combined. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and bake in the 350F oven for 12-14 minutes (original recipe said 10-12), til the edges are just barely starting to brown. Let cool.

To make the glaze:
Melt the butter and whisk in the St Germaine and 1T. Whisk in the powdered sugar (start with 1 cup) and add either more sugar or more milk to get the desired consistency- somewhat thick, like honey consistency. Thinner is fine, but it'll run off the cookies more. Drizzle the glaze over the cookies, however much or little you like (I did not have quite enough glaze for the entire batch) Let the glaze harden overnight or for a few hours, either uncovered or very loosely covered.

(I found these got a little sticky in tupperware on a humid July day, and the glaze never really hardened. This leads to sticky fingers, but that's the only bad thing)

YUM. The cookies have a very slight St Germaine taste to them (I wish I could have tried the dough)
but after frosting it's a serious St Germaine flavor. If you want to avoid alcohol, include the St Germaine in the cookies (it's a small amount anyway, and much would bake off) and use lemon juice or vanilla to flavor the glaze.

They're also quick and easy. I can't comment on how long they'll keep, since we ate them all in less than 3 days. ;)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

April Foodie Penpal Guest Post

For April, I sent a package to Geneva. From what she told me, it sounded like she liked the same things I did, so I put together a package of some of my favorite ingredients. Here's what she thought (I'm so glad you enjoyed everything, Geneva!):

My name is Geneva Brown and I received a package from Catherine who was my April Foodie PenPal.  It was one of my favorites so far.  It contained a Lake Champlain rum caramel dark chocolate bar.  I had never tried that particular bar, but was very excited because caramel with chocolate is my favorite.  The thought of having rum flavoring added was more than I could handle.  It did not disappoint either.
Also in the box were two packs of spices from Penzey's.  One was Herbs de Provence which I use all the time.  It is the best blend for vegetables.  I love to use it on egg recipes.  In fact I made an asparagus quiche on Sunday and used both of the spice blends.  The other one was Northwoods Seasonings.  It has rosemary, paprika, etc.  I know it will be wonderful on Potatoe Salad and fish also and am looking forward to trying it out on some of my favorite recipes.
Thank you Catherine for the great package.

Monday, April 29, 2013

What's Baking? April: Mini/Bite Sized Treats

This month's What's Baking theme was chosen by Amanda of Our Italian Kitchen, and she chose mini/bite sized treats. Great idea! At first I was going to copy the yummy brownies stuffed with rolos and baked in a mini muffin tin that my boss made for our work party a couple weekends ago, but then one of my friends posted this delicious recipe on facebook.

I made mini blueberry cobblers. These have the basic baking ingredients you already have on hand (just change up the fruit to suit your taste/contents of your fridge or farmer's market) and were super quick. In the time it took for my oven to heat up to 350F, I had already mixed everything and assembled all the ingredients in the muffin tins.

Since I found this recipe on facebook, I have no idea where it came from- it included no citation. So if you can tell me its origin, I'll edit to include that! It's a great idea, someone needs credit for this.

Mini Blueberry Cobblers
recipe from...??

Makes 12 mini cobblers

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1t baking powder
pinch of salt
3oz (3/8 cup) milk
12t butter
12 dashes of cinnamon or cinnamon sugar
2/3 cup blueberries, or other fruit (peaches, raspberries, strawberries, etc. If using apples I'd consider sauteing them a bit first)

Turn the oven on to preheat to 350F.

Place 1t butter in each well of a 12-muffin tin (the recipe said 1t, I used as small a slice of butter as I could consistently cut). Pop this in the oven for a few minutes, until the butter has melted (you don't need to wait for the oven to come to temperature).

In a medium bowl, beat together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and milk. Place 2T (one cookie scoop-full) in each muffin tin well, on top of the butter. Drop a few berries (I like 8-10 of the big fat blueberries) on top of the batter.

Add a dash of cinnamon/cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes (the original said 12 minutes, this was way too little). Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, then remove.

Note: I did not spray the pan, and they were easy enough to get out. They didn't slide out, but only one fell apart. I might add more berries next time.

I can't comment on how long these will keep, because we ate them all in one day :-/ YUM. The batter is nice and sweet, so the berries don't need any extra sweetening- I used cinnamon sugar this time but next time I may just add cinnamon straight to the batter. I predict that I will make these many, many times over the next few months, especially as berry picking season starts.

Friday, March 29, 2013

What's Baking? March: Sprinkles!

Oh this was fun! Our March What's Baking? theme was sprinkles. Anything you want, as long as it has sprinkles! So I went right out and bought a giant thing of sprinkles. Actually I toyed with the idea of making my own, but that was a little overly ambitious. I forget how few empty hours I have now that I'm teaching!

Jen the Beantown Baker hosted this month, so go see what everyone else made!

I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to make, but then friend N posted an adorable cookie idea on facebook- Easter basket cookies! We have no lack of sweets at Easter, but these were too cute to pass up.
See? Ridiculous in its cuteness.

Now, the original recipe, like many Easter cupcake and cookie recipes, used coconut, to simulate Easter grass. Several members of my family do not like coconut (ranging from don't care for to despise utterly), and I thought sprinkles would be the perfect substitute. I also found, way in the back of my pastry tools drawer, a jar of Easter sprinkles I bought a few months ago. Yes!!

For the cookies, I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe (from Alton Brown), and instead of rolling them out, I took a little less than a tablespoon of dough, rolled it into a ball, and placed each ball into the well of a mini muffin tin (spray well with nonstick cooking spray!!). I pressed my thumb into each, like when you make a thumbprint cookie, and baked at the normal 357F but for a few minutes longer, 15-17min.

 Alton Brown's sugar cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1T milk
1t vanilla or other flavoring (if you want, not in the original recipe)
3-3.5 cups of flour
3/4t baking soda
1/4t salt

Beat the butter and sugar together for a until minutes until nice and fluffy. Beat in the egg and milk and flavoring. Sift together 3 cups of flour with the soda and salt, and add in 2 batches to the butter/sugar mixture. Usually you'd refrigerate this dough, but I just floured my hands well and started rolling it into balls.

I let the cookie cups cool in the pans, then pulled them out and let them cool overnight before frosting.

I used my favorite frosting recipe, from the Magnola Bakery Cookbook. I just made half a recipe and it was plenty.

1stick butter, room temperature
4-5 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1t vanilla

Combine butter, 2 cups of sugar, milk and vanilla in a bowl and beat til well-combined. Gradually add in more flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until you reach the desired consistently. Beat for at least a couple minutes between each sugar addition. Color if desired (I planned to, but then thought it might camouflage the sprinkles too much).

Assembly: pipe a little bit of frosting into the well of the cookie cup (I used a star tip but it doesn't matter. I find piping easier than spreading. More things to wash, but also more control). Sprinkle with the sprinkles a the "easter grass", press in if necessary. Add in a few jelly beans to be your Easter eggs, and then cut a licorice lace to a good length and stick into the frosting to be your basket handle.

Note: the handles are decorate, not functional. You can't pick up the cookie by the licorice lace handle!
Note #2: if you plan to bring these somewhere else to serve, unless you have a really tall tupperware, I recommend assembling everything but the licorice lace handle, pack them all in your tupperware, and then add the handle when you're arranging them on the serving plate. Seems obvious, but possibly not until you've already done a bunch and now have several licorice laces with frosting-y ends.

 here you can see my supplies: I wanted Starburst jellybeans, but the Easter candy section at the grocery store was pretty picked over. these are Sweettart jelly beans, which are pretty good. I also got Swedish Fish jellybeans, which are dangerously good. :-/

Monday, March 18, 2013


Guacamus! Humole! Fun with words*!

I went to Shaw's the other day. (like, a week and a half before I made this). Shaw's is not my grocer of choice, but they're next door to CVS and I had to go there, so when I knew I needed to pick up milk and other perishable staples, I figured I'd just run over to Shaw's, it'd be easiest. That day, Shaw's had a special on avocados: 88 cents each. Whoa! This is an incredible deal!! Half the time I go, avocados are $1.99 each. If I go to Big Y, with a gold coin I can get a bag of 4 avocados for $5.99 (I think the bags are usually $9.99 or around there). So I grabbed 2 avocados. And the next day, tried to figure out what to do with them.

Normally I just make guacamole. It's easy, it's delicious. But it's also more of a summer thing for me. One time I made avocado tempura, but deep frying would be harmful to the fit of my clothing right now, so that's out.

After browsing around, I found an avocado hummus recipe. It looked tasty, and different, and kind of healthy! Splendid.

And funny side note: I never got around to making it. First I wasn't in the mood, then the school week happened and it was all I could do to make a tuna salad sandwich for dinner. I kept checking on those avocados as they sat in the fridge: one was still firm-ish so I wasn't worried, but the other was becoming quite soft- yikes! Finally the day came where not wasting these lovely, inexpensive avocados was more important than grading labs. And guacamus occurred.

recipe based on roasted garlic avocado hummus, by This Country Girl Cooks

4 garlic cloves
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 avocado
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro
2-3T lime juice
1/2t cumin
1/8t (or more to taste) chipotle powder
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste (I used a fat pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper- I figured I'd eat with salty chips/crackers and they'd provide enough salt)

Roast the garlic: peel the cloves and place on a cookie sheet (baking dish, whatever) in a 375F-ish oven for about 15 minutes, until soft. Let cool.

In a food processor, combine: garlic, chickpeas, avocado, cilantro, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2T lime juice and the spices. Puree. Add more olive oil and lime juice if necessary (depending on the softness of your avocado, it may not be necessary. My avocado was so soft I could have mashed it when my hands. It was perfect).

Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips, cracker, carrots, cucumbers, etc.

Nutritional info:
makes approx 16oz hummus, 8 2oz servings
per serving:
170 calories
11.2g fat (1.7g sat, 1.4g polyunsat, 7.2gmonounsat)
15.5g carbs
4.5g fiber
3.5g protein
not including your dippers, of course!

And the bonus? I happened to make this just before St. Paddy's Day. Complete coincidence, but I was pretty excited when I realized my convenient timing.

*I choose to call this guacamus: I think it sounds vaguely Latin. Dictum ad tua mater**.

**I have never taken Latin, forgive my Latin grammar.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Foodie pen pals February reveal!

Oh friends, it's been so long since I posted a FPP package!! I'm so glad to be back in the group.

This month my goodies came from Tracy and she really chose well for me! She sent a big bag of granola, som delicious peanut butter sandwich cookies, honey nut chex mix, 2 luna bars and some "Ultra Spice" chai. I opened the tea immediately- I love all the Twinings Chais, but I hadn't seen the ultra spice flavor before! I'm saving the Luna bars for a Nashoba day, since sometimes I don't have a lot of time for lunch and I like to have a granola bar on my way home (since it can take me 45 min or more to get home some nights... I may or may not stop off to run some errands) and the pb cookies have been dessert a few times, along with some caramel cookie gelato- definitely hits the spot! Thank you, Tracy!!

Interested in receiving your own delicious box o' goodies?

Are you interested in joining us for Foodie Penpals next month? Here are some more details:
  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
  • Foodie Penplas is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 
If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for November, please CLICK HERE  to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What's Baking? February: Bake your own convenience food!

This month's theme was chosen by Stephanie from Brownies and Blondies. She challenged everyone to bake something they'd normally buy- example were pie crust or pie filling. I thought this was a great theme! And so I thought about what I'd make.

And I thought and thought. I don't buy a lot of baking things. I buy a lot of cooking convenience items, but not a lot of baking ones. So my husband got in on the brainstorming. He had some great ideas, but not things I'd use for baking.

Like cheese. Who makes cheese, really? Well, this girl!

And I used it on a pizza (and used the leftover whey in pizza dough). But I always make my pizza crust, I wanted something I'd never done before.

I fully intended to make puff pastry. This has been on my bucket list since I saw the Martha Bakes episode on puff pastry. It looks tedious and time consuming, but not really hard. Well, that never happened- it will, though! I promise, it will happen, and I will blog about it.

So I present to you:


This might seem like a total cop-out, but if we have swedish meatballs (which is rare), we usually buy the big bag from the freezer at Ikea and slowly work our way through them. But one night, something made me think about meatballs- we had 1lb of ground turkey in the freezer, not much else, and it was too late to start chili for dinner. So I went hunting for a meatball recipe, and let me tell you, these are amazing. I'll buy my meatballs from my own chest freezer from now on.

Spiced Apple Swedish Meatballs
adapted from A Spicy Perspective

I made half a recipe- I just had 1lb of ground turkey and no sausage of any kind.

For the meatballs:
1 small onion, chopped finely
1T butter
1lb ground turkey (or beef or lamb, etc)
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup apple butter
2T sour cream or yogurt
1 egg
dash of salt
1/2t allspice
1/4t black pepper

For the sauce:
1/4 cup broth (chicken, beef, veggie, etc)
1/4 cup apple butter
1T honey
pinch of chipotle powder

note: I think I have more homemade items that could be convenience than I thought- the apple butter and chicken broth I used are homemade

Preheat your oven to 400F. Line a *rimmed* baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.

For the meatballs: finely chop the onion and saute in butter over medium heat until the onion starts to brown. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Then put the onion and all the rest of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and work with your hands to combine everything. Form into small balls and place on the baking sheet- mine were about 1.5T each and I got 44 meatballs from this batch. The original recipe used twice the ingredients and made 45 meatballs so apparently those were quite large!

Bake for 15min at 400. Mean while, make the sauce.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk.

After 15min in the oven, take the meatballs off and spoon the sauce over each meatball.

Return to the oven and bake another 7-10 min.

And that's all! Enjoy!

I have to say, these are delicious. They smell delicious when you're making them, they smell delicious when they're baking (and normally I avoid smelling raw meat because I find the smell unpleasant). The combination of the apple butter, allspice and onion is amazing. I bought more ground turkey and also some ground lamb the other day so I can make these again tomorrow.

I served them with spaetzle and roasted brussels sprouts. I tossed the brussels sprouts in the same sauce as for the meatballs (plus 1T olive oil) and baked for 25min at 450F. We also enjoyed them with some Swedish schnapps we bought on our honeymoon, in the duty free shop in the Stockholm airport. And for dessert, we split a semla bun, for a very Swedish evening!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What's Baking? January Round-up

It's that time again, the What's Baking? round-up! This month I chose a theme of healthier version of our favorites, since in January we're always surrounded by new year's resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle. Even if you haven't made that healthier resolution, you can't escape low fat recipes and new exercise routines, they're everywhere.

So I decided to embrace it. I also needed some good recipes I would feel less guilty about.

Heather Lynne of Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks made lowfat blueberry lemon chip muffins.

Eva of Eva Bakes baked healthy fudge brownies.

Colleen of The Redhead Baker made a lightened chocolate bundt cake.

Cara from The Boys Made Me Do It made a pineapple angel food cake

Ange of the Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen made lighter carrot cake cupcakes

Steph of Brownies and Blondies made a healthier raspberry crisp. 

Jenna of Jenna's Cooking Journey made banana oatmeal cups with chocolate chip

Joanna from the Kosher Kitchen made Flu Fighter cookies.

And I made cranberry oatmeal bars.

Enjoy these healthier recipes and happy baking in 2013!

Monday, January 28, 2013

What's Baking? January: Baking Healthier

I'm hosting our What's Baking? Bakealong this month! Since come January we are always surrounded with healthy recipes and talk of exercise and the like, I thought it'd be nice to take a look at our favorite recipes and improve their nutritional value a bit. I fully intended to improve one of my own recipes, but then I had to go and get a job and suddenly be all busy.

What's that? A job? Yes, my friends, I got a job! I'm now an adjunct professor of chemistry at the local State U. No, chemistry is not exactly my subject, and no, I don't have much teaching experience. An adjunct position is a great way to get experience, though, so this is a great opportunity. I'm in my 2nd week so I'm still adjusting to my new schedule and new habits, so I'm not cooking all that much- and I wasn't able to improve on one of my own recipes.

Instead, I turned to Cooking Light, which always seems to have some good recipes, healthy but delicious.

I decided on the Cranberry Oatmeal bars partly because I had all the ingredients on hand- I also haven't had much time to go to the grocery store. They were incredibly easy- I didn't even have to get out the stand mixer! And they were quick to throw together, even if I planned poorly and ended up sauteing brussels sprouts instead of roasting them for dinner, since I'd already put the bars in. Oops. (sauteed brussels sprouts are much quicker, although I think I prefer roasted)

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars
recipe from Cooking Light

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flour
1 cup oats (I used old-fashioned)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4t salt
1/4t baking soda
1/2t cinnamon
6T butter, melted
3T orange juice

1 and 1/3 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
3/4 cup sour cream (I used low fat)
1/2 cup white (I used about 1T less than 1/2 cup)
2T flour (I used whole wheat)
1t vanilla
1t orange zest
1 egg white

Preheat over to 325F

For the crust: combine all the dry ingredients and mix. Pour in melted butter and orange juice and mix til combined, it'll still be a bit crumbly. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the mixture and press the rest into the bottom of an 11x7 baking pan (a 9x13 works too). Set aside.

For the filling: combine all the filling ingredients and stir til combined. Spread over the crust in the pan, and then sprinkle the reserved 1/2 cup crust mixture evenly over the top.

Bake at 325F for about 45 minutes. Let cool and cut into squares.

Nutritional info: (this is from CL's site, and doesn't factor in the whole wheat flour, low fat sour cream and slightly less sugar that I used)
24 servings
133 cal
4.6g fat
0.9g fiber
1.5g protein

They had some suggestions for maple date bars (omit the sugar in the filling and use 2T maple syrup and 2T brown sugar, and dates instead of cranberries), or using cherries and lemon zest instead of cranberries and orange zest. I want to try the maple date bars next time!