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Cast Sugar





Updated: 2017-12-16T06:51:37.922-06:00

 



Have I told you the one about the redbud tree?

2011-08-28T08:56:13.039-05:00

ED NOTE: If you are crazy bored and don't mind weeding through baby updates to see recipes, you are more than welcome to continue to follow us on our family blog: Scott-Nems-Doots. XOXO! (oh and PS: image courtesy of the ever-fabulous Solar Photographers :P ) *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* Not too long ago, I noticed that we have a half-dead redbud tree on our property. And by that, I mean - I was made aware by my dear Hubs that we actually have a redbud tree on our property. And it’s half dead. How is it that I’ve lived at this house for a year now, and I’ve never noticed that big ole, half-dead, half-pink-flowered tree in our backyard? Yikes. I think this is an appropriate time to give you an update on my life as a blogger. Stilton and Bacon Cheesecakes As I’ve mentioned before, blogging was something I picked up on a whim in 2007, to keep myself busy. We were just married and throwing every spare penny into savings for our home and other things. That means not a ton of disposable income, and therefore I was spending A LOT of time in our wee-tiny apartment kitchen, keeping my hands busy by making all our treats and dinners at home. I always surfed through food blogs looking for something new to make, and thought they were so darling and cute. Hey, why not give it a shot? Blogging was cheap (hell, it was free!), it was a good outlet for any writing I wanted to do, and it was a way to feel productive while spinning my wheels and waiting for our “Real Life” to start. Once I got immersed in the blogging community, I found it very addictive. This whole food blogging thing, it has a life of its own and you meet so many people and can do so many things! Suddenly I wanted to push myself to attempt more complicated recipes, to tackle new baking methods, to join a slew of baking groups and blogging events and a few contests. White Chocolate and Lime Cheesecake Bars When not working, I was always thinking about recipes to try. When home, I was baking and cleaning up and baking and cleaning up and baking and cleaning up…. Our grocery bills went up, as I was buying "butter, chocolate, sugar, flour" practically every trip to the grocery store. And then you add in the photographing/layout/composing time… My goodness I spent a lot of time with my butt at the computer, clicking and typing away. And I loved every second of it. It did take over my life a bit, though. Hubs took it like a champ and joined in the fun - he’d help me pick final recipes, would visit me in the kitchen and poke around while I baked away, and would hang out by the computer in the evenings to (*ahem* bug me) keep me company. I’d get so upset with myself if a recipe didn’t turn out exactly as I’d hoped, or if I didn’t feel quite right about what I had written. I felt a certain need to keep people happy by blogging every other day. It was a lot of pressure that I totally put on myself; I didn’t want to be one of those people who “flaked out” and quit my blog. No way, I’m not one of them. Besides, I love what I’m doing. Blackberry Jam Cake So I kept baking and writing through the big life milestones that came into my life. I made 6 new recipes in the evenings while we were going through that tangle of house hunting, signing all that paperwork, and finally owning a home of our own. I made the Daring Bakers Opera cake in between marathon painting sessions at our new home. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning for 4 nights straight so I would have a back-log of posts while people visited. Then we were trying for a family, and I pushed myself to keep baking and blogging through the fun times of pregnancy exhaustion and morning sickness and food aversions… Carrot Cake And then suddenly I'm 9 months pregnant, standing on our back deck that I never seem to find time to enjoy, having the Hubs laugh and point out to me that half-dead redbud tree that's been in our (not-very-large) backyard this entire time. For me, that was what finally made me stop and think. I love blogging and baking, this is true, but[...]



Crock Pot Cowboy Baked Beans

2009-06-13T05:33:00.785-05:00

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Hubs is the bean lover, not me. I didn't want anything unfortunate to happen to me on the Labor and Delivery table, so I kept FAR away from anything that could potentially cause... that to happen. You ladies know what I mean. Basically, I was on a diet of cheese cheese and more cheese. Anyhoo. Enough of that sort of talk on a food blog...

He really, really liked them. And they smelled really good! And they were crock pot magic, which makes it even better. If you are looking for a new bean recipe for your summer cook outs, this might be the one. Tons of flavor, tons of leftovers (for those weekday grilling evenings), and making them in the crock pot ensures that you're not heating up your kitchen. Total win!


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Crock Pot Cowboy Baked Beans
(adapted from allrecipes.com)


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Ingredients:
6 slices bacon
1 c. chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16 oz.) can pinto beans, drained
1 (16 oz.) can Great Northern beans, drained
1 (16 oz.) can baked beans
1 (16 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained
3/4 c. ketchup
1/2 c. molasses
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. liquid smoke
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly browned. Drain, reserving 2 Tbsp. of drippings. Crumble bacon and toss in crock pot. Cook the onion and garlic in the drippings until onion is tender; drain excess grease and transfer to crock pot as well.

To the crock pot, add all remaining ingredients and combine well. Heat in crock pot on High for 1 hour, or on Low for 2-4 hours.



Fresh Strawberry Bars

2009-06-10T15:19:00.592-05:00

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Hi hi! More strawberry goodness, this time on top of a lovely, soft-yet-hefty peanut butter base. From Better Homes and Gardens, of all places.


Now, some people thought it was funny that I get Better Homes and Gardens magazine, but to them I just want to say: dudes, you're missing out. Yeah, it has a faint whiff of 90s outdated dork-fest, but I seriously would not have the faintest idea how to take care of a yard/garden without it. Great magazine for beginners! It tells you what to focus on every month, what plants/flowers work well together, how to landscape, etc. etc. I have actual container gardens and cute hanging planters thanks to that magazine, and Hubs' garden is doing pretty darn good, too (although I think that's due more to his farming ancestory than my new favorite-ish magazine).


Usually the recipes in there aren't my style, but they had these strawberry bars on the cover and I couldn't resist. They were really, really good, too - I usually don't pair my strawberries with peanut butter. I'm more for strawberries and cream, or strawberries and berries, or strawberries and chocolate, or balsamic, or... well, anything but peanut butter. It is amazing, though, how well they work together! Like a really fresh-tasting PB&J sandwich :)






Fresh Strawberry Bars
(from Better Homes and Gardens, May 2009)



Ingredients:
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. peanut butter
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. AP flour
1/2 c. strawberry preserves
4 c. small whole strawberries, halved or quartered

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9X13 pan with foil, extending foil beyond edges. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter on medium to high for 30 seconds, until well blended. Beat in the sugars, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with mixer. Stir in remaining flour.

Spread dough in prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned and toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a cooling rack. Remove from the pan by lifting out by the foil edges. Spread preserves on top, then top with berries. Cut into bars. Serve at once or refrigerate up to 6 hours.



Tart Lime Bars

2009-06-07T15:24:00.717-05:00

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This one is on honor of the Hubs, whose insatiable lime addiction overtook me during this pregnancy thing. Along with key lime pie, this was one of the rare recipes that was able to tame my cravings. At least for a little while.

Originally an Ina Garten recipe, Deb upped the salt and concentrated the filling, making for a more even crust:filling ratio. Of course, on top of this I wanted a much more tart filling, so I changed the flavor to lime (yummy!) and upped the zest content even more than she did. I would say that the normal, non-hormonal person would probably appreciate a less tart lime bar, but I made these for a book club meeting and everybody seemed to dig them. So I kept my proportions in the recipe below.

Tart Lime Bars
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

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Ingredients:
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 c. flour
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 2/3 c, granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. lime zest (4-5 limes)
2/3 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
2/3 c. flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 9X13 baking sheet.

For the crust: cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the lime layer: whisk together the eggs, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (less if you are using the thinner topping), or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar.



Mango Muffins

2009-06-04T05:34:00.123-05:00

So, the Tuesdays with Dorie folks made Dorie's mango bread a few weeks ago. It looked totally good, but when I saw that Caitlin made muffins instead, I was sold. I am always up for a good muffin recipe! And mangoes were super-cheap at the market that week, a sign of fate that I needed to try these out.Now, I must say: WATCH THE TIMER WITH THESE. The bread may take 90 minutes, but these muffins are going to take probably a third of that - I say 'probably' because I set my timer for 40 minutes, and out came hard-as-rock muffins. I stuck them in a tightly-lidded container and they softened up nicely by the second day, but they were still kinda brown. Yummy nonetheless, though! The chunks of mango do a lot to moisten these guys up (you'll see for yourself if you mix up some of this batter), and the flavor is a.m.a.z.i.n.g. I am not a giant fan of deeply spiced things in the spring/summer (I want light and fresh instead!), but these were just delicious and not too heavy, which I loved. Plump raisins, juicy mango, fantastic mix of spices. Once again, Dorie's recipe is a winner...Mango Muffins(adapted from Dorie's Baking: From My Home To Yours)Ingredients:3 large eggs3/4 c. flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower oil2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour1 c. sugar1 tsp. baking powder1 tsp. baking soda1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger1 tsp. ground cinnamon1/4 tsp. salt1/2 c. (packed) light brown sugar2 c. diced mango3/4 c. golden raisinsGrated zest of 1/2 a limeCenter a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease the top of a muffin pan, line muffin cups with paper liners, and put the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other. (This extra insulation will keep the bottom of the muffins from overbaking).Whisk the eggs and oil together.In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Rub the brown sugar between your palms into the bowl, breaking up any lumps, then stir it in. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, switch to a sturdy rubber spatula or wooden spoon and mix until blended — the batter will be very VERY thick (really more like a dough than a batter) and not easily mixed, but persevere, it will soon come together.Stir in the mango, raisins, and zest. Scrape the batter into the muffin cups in pan, and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.Bake the bread for 30-40 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. (If the muffins look as if they're getting too brown as they bake, cover tops loosely with a foil tent). Transfer the muffin pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before unmolding. Invert muffins and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack. [...]



Old Fashioned Potato Salad

2009-06-01T06:30:00.242-05:00

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This is my most favorite potato salad recipe, and I've tried lots. For one, it is very simple and easy to remember (I can make it easily from memory). If you want to snazz it up and add more, though, it takes well to any addition (sometimes I add fresh dill, or pickles, or whatever fresh gardeny goodness I have lying around). I love to cut the potato in big, rustic chunks - I think a big part of it is the texture. Plus you really get the flavor of the potato, which is, rightfully, the star.

The thing that really makes this potato salad recipe FANTASTIC is tossing the hot potato chunks with the vinegar before assembling any more of the salad - the tart, sour vinegar really gets inside the potatoes, which brightens up the dish and contrasts nicely with that creamy dressing.

Old Fashioned Potato Salad
(adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook, 2004)

Ingredients:
2 lbs. boiling potatoes (I like Yukon Golds for this, they hold up well to boiling)
3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped white onion
3 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped
1 c. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Combine potatoes with well salted cold water to cover by 2 inches in a 3-qt. saucepan, and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are just tender, 15-25 minutes, depending on size. Drain and cool slightly.
Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar and salt in a large bowl until the salt is dissolved.
When potatoes are just cool enough to handle (still quite warm), cut into large 1-in. chunks, adding to vinegar mixture as you cut them, tossing gently with a large spoon or spatula. Cool to room temperature.
Add all remaining ingredients and stir gently to combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled.





Strawberry Pie

2009-05-29T05:58:00.450-05:00

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I loooove strawberry pie. Love it. And this is the time of year when you can make your own luscious sweet strawberry pie, thanks to all the low prices on those plump berries at the grocers and markets. Sooo good, and just so satisfying on a hot, humid-ish day. Which is exactly the kind of weather now creeping into our Kansas springs...

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My parents gave me a copy of Mr. Food's version of strawberry pie, and I mixed things up a bit until I had a recipe I liked best. I changed a few of the measurements for sugar/cornstarch, I like a sweeter and denser filling. I also sliced the strawberries, it just seemed to make for not-as-messy eating and also a better proportion of berries/binder :)

I can't stress enough - be sure to chill this pie for at least a good 4 hours, although 6+ would be ideal. You want a nice, ice-cold slice to top with some whipped cream and enjoy in the heat. Mmmmm.


Strawberry Pie
(adapted from Mr. Food)


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Ingredients:
1 (9-in.) deep-dish pie shell, baked and cooled
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
4 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 c. cold water
1 (3 oz.) pkg. strawberry gelatin
1 quart strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and water in a medium saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil while stirring. Boil off until mixture is clear and thick. Add gelatin and stir to dissolve. Set aside to cool about 15-20 minutes.

After cooling for a bit, add sliced strawberries to gelatin mixture. Pour into pie shell and chill in refrigerator, at least 4 hours. Serve pie with whipped cream. Yum!



Mini Lime Pavlovas

2009-05-26T11:10:14.629-05:00

Yeah, you wanna talk about where I've been? Here's the best part, the total kicker - um, I haven't had a baby. Nope, not yet. Just got a terrible case of the "Busy Bee!"s and haven't had time to type anything up and post to the beloved blog. Yeah, I know - I pretty much suck at this blogging thing these days. But! I've been able to spend a lot of quality-time with friends and family galore before this Robot of ours shows up, so I won't let the blog make me feel too terribly guilty.Anyhoo! On to the recipe, shall we? Now, I love a good Pavlova. The only problem is that it is so darn humid in Kansas, I rarely get the opportunity to make them in the summer months (and let's admit it, it's not really the type of thing you bust out in the wintertime). I was hosting my book club and wanted to make a dessert, and figured since hey, it was pretty nice, I'd make Pavlovas. I baked them off the night before and planned on serving them with strawberries and kiwi.So of course, it rained that evening. And the next day. And the next...So while they were mighty delicious, the Pavlovas were also a bit sad looking. They *poof* fell apart with the slightest touch, so what you're seeing in pictures is a nice, sadly crumbled Pavlova. No matter, though - what they lacked in presentation, they more than made up for in taste. I love Pavlovas because they have that soft, melt-on-your-tongue outer meringue with a lovely, smooshy, marshmallow-like interior. Add some light whipped cream and fruit, and it's absolute heaven.Also I should note: as far as desserts go, this one is about as healthy as it gets if you go easy on the whipping cream! A note to Kris and Alfie: you can sub the fine sugar with Splenda, just cut down about 1/4 of the amount. It'll turn out the same but will be sugar free! Mini Lime Pavlovas(adapted from sadly I can't remember where, but I swiped a mini Pav recipe and worked from there...)Ingredients:4 large egg whites, at room temperaturePinch of salt1 c. fine granulated (baker's) sugar2 tsp. cornstarch2 tsp. white wine vinegarZest of 1/2 of a lime1/2 tsp. vanilla extractWhipped creamSliced fruitPreheat oven to 180 F. Place 2 sheets of parchment paper on 2 sheet pans. Draw several small circles on the paper, using a small ramekin or similar item as a guide, then turn them over so the circles are on the reverse side (this way you won't get pencil marks on your meringue). Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about a minute. With the mixer on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2 minutes.Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar, zest, and vanilla, and carefully fold them lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue on your circle outlines, making a small indentation in the middle (for your cream and fruit later). We're not going for gorgeous and smooth here - rough edges are prettier with this dessert anyway, so just pile them on with that spatula.Bake for 90 minutes. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and leave the mini Pavlovas in the oven for about an hour. They should be crisp on the outside and soft inside.To serve: place one mini Pavlova on each plate. Top with whipped cream and fruit.[...]



Italian Love Cake

2009-04-20T06:49:00.470-05:00

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Hubs made fun of the name, but he still ate the heck out of this cake. So there. It has a rather heavy texture (the ricotta bakes into the cake portion, which is the reason for this) but that light top layer of cream and pudding evens things out nicely. It tastes a bit like tiramisu, if you're into that sort of thing. Pretty good stuff, and a heck of a lot easier than dipping all those ladyfingers in espresso and laying them out...

Italian Love Cake
(from the lovely Leslie)

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Ingredients:
1 box marble cake mix
1 large container (~2 lb.) ricotta cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 c. milk
1 container Cool Whip

Prepare marble cake mix according to directions, and pour into a (greased and floured) 9X13 pan.

Mix eggs, cheese, sugar, vanilla and pour over cake mix. Bake 1 hour at 350 F. Cool cake-completely!

Mix pudding mix with 1 cup milk. Beat 3 minutes. Add Cool Whip and spread over cake. Refrigerate cake.

Leslie's note: "I normally make this the day before so its completely set up and cold. "



Tinnie Cheesecake

2009-04-18T08:16:00.690-05:00

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I made my last trip (for awhile, anyway) down to see family this past weekend - and they were kind enough to make me a lovely lunch and shower the baby Robot with gifts :) I am spoiled and so is this child, I've decided. I'm spoiled mostly because my sister Miss Tinnie brought out the big guns, and made her awesome cheesecake.

This is The Best Cheesecake Ever. It is actually her version of one of those "kopy kat" recipes, a take on the Copeland's famous cheesecake recipe. I personally have never had the Copeland's version, but according to Miss Tinnie it is The Bomb. If it really does taste like this cheesecake, then I am a believer.


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This version is dense and creamy but light, definitely not a baked cheesecake. It's a mile high and sits on a thick, awesomely nutty crust. It's the crust that gets ya. I begged for the recipe and Tinnie was gracious enough to share her version with me. And I'm sharing it with you. Err, it's probably safe to say she won't be sharing anymore recipes with me any time soon...


Tinnie Cheesecake

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Ingredients:
1/2 c. Bisquick biscuit mix
3/4 c. flour
1 c. pecans, chopped
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
5 pkgs. (40 oz.) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 c. sugar (make sure it's a "heaping" cup)
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
16 oz. whipped topping

For crust:
Preheat oven 350 F.

Combine all dry ingredients, breaking up any large pieces of brown sugar. Add pecan pieces and melted butter and mix thoroughly. Press mixture evenly into a 10-inch springform pan. Place pan on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 13 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature.

For filling:
Cream together softened cream cheese and sugar and vanilla until smooth. Approximately 5 minutes on high speed, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Fold in whipped topping gently until mixture is smooth. Using rubber spatula scoop into pre-baked crust and smooth the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze overnight or at least 8 hours.

At least 30 minutes before serving remove from freezer and place at room temperature. Cut and serve with your favorite topping or plain.



Mmmm.

2009-04-17T10:16:31.617-05:00

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We are too busy enjoying Orangina to blog these days. Will be back this weekend, my pets.
XOXO
Miss Tinnie, Nemmie, and Mahni



(Not Really Key) Lime Pie

2009-05-25T15:19:09.127-05:00

Spring in Kansas – it’s true that you just never know what you’re going to get. Every once in awhile - in between that barometric see-saw of cold snaps, then hot and dreadfully humid thunderstorms, then gloomy chilly days- you get that gorgeous day. Sunny, not a cloud in the sky, temps in the low 70s. Just beautiful.We had one of those days recently, and believe me they are cherished when they show up. I rushed home from work and threw open all the windows. When Hubs got off work, we did our usual warm-weather ritual and went up to campus for a long walk up and down The Hill. Well, okay I should be honest it’s our second-most-common ritual - the first being walking Mass St. and having a beer on the patio at Free State, but I wasn’t quite up for that one this year…Anyhoo, nice weather just makes a person hungry for certain things, so we both agreed on salads for dinner. But I was also craving something sweet and tart, one of those cravings for dessert you get on a beautiful day. And I knew the perfect dessert. So when we stopped at the grocery store on the way home to grab salad goodies, I also picked up a can of sweetened condensed milk and a bunch of limes. Nothing celebrates the warm weather like a lime pie.Notice I didn’t say “key lime”, that’s because I rarely use key limes when making this pie. No worries. It is still delicious, I assure you. This recipe rocks because it is not only easy (I pretty much have it memorized), but it is incredibly quick. Hubs took a shower when we got home from our walk, and by the time he walked back into the kitchen to help with salads I was pulling the finished pie out of the oven to cool.It really is your classic lime pie – sweet and yet tart tart tart, creamy and cool with a nice crunchy crust. Perfect. You can, you know, ruin it by adding a meringue topping or whipped cream if you’d like, but I think it’s just right on its own.(Not Really Key) Lime Pie(from Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook, 2005)Ingredients:For crust:1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs, fine ground1 Tbsp. sugar5 Tbsp. salted butter, meltedFor filling:4 large egg yolks1 Tbsp. lime zest (I probably used more like 2 Tbsp. We love the tart)1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk1/2 c. fresh lime juice (about 4 limes’ worth)Prepare the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir in melted butter (I add this with my hands, but a wooden spoon will do fine). Press evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake off the crust for 10 minutes at 325 F. Cool completely.Prepare the filling: In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the yolks and lime zest until smooth. Beat in the milk, then slowly beat in the lime juice. Beat mixture continuously until smooth.Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge to cool until set (about 2 hours). [...]



Snickerdoodle Muffins

2009-04-09T05:34:00.699-05:00

Shamelessly stolen from Pea's blog (these were all the rage in the food blogging community a few years ago, so I patiently waited to post my version).These are something I could make all the time, and for good reason - they are EXACTLY like the cookie, only in a nice muffin form. The rolling of the batter in cinnamon sugar yields a muffin that has a sugary crackled crust, exactly like the cookie. The muffin interior is so moist and soft and yummy - oh my goodness, heaven. I'm not a gigantic fan of snickerdoodle cookies (they are just *okay*), but man. I could eat these muffins every day of my life.Just a note for first timers making these: coat your palms in the cinnamon sugar and just plop a scoop of batter on one hand, and bounce the batter quickly between the bowl of sugar and your hands before plopping in your muffin tin. You'll be a MESS, yes, but it also works like a charm. Snickerdoodle Muffins(from Peabody)Ingredients:2 sticks unsalted butter1 c. sugar2 tsp. vanilla2 eggs¾ tsp. baking soda¾ tsp. baking powder¾ tsp. cream of tarter¾ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg1 ¼ c. sour cream2 ¼ c. all purpose flour1 c. sugar + 2 Tbsp. cinnamon, mixed together for rollingCream the butter and sugar until soft about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until each is incorporated.In a separate, mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and cream of tarter.Add the flour mixture and the sour cream alternately to the egg-butter mixture in the additions. Start with the flour and end with the flour. Scrape the bowl occasionally.Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out muffin batter one at a time and drop into a shallow bowl filled with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the muffin around in the mixture until it is covered completely in cinnamon sugar. Place muffin into a greased muffin tin. Depending on the size of your tins, you should get about 12 to 14 muffins. Bake them for approx. 20-22 minutes in a 350F oven or until they are golden brown.[...]



Smoked Salmon Spread

2009-04-07T05:53:00.190-05:00

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Hubs loves this stuff, and I mean loooooves this stuff. And I can't blame him - it's the best salmon spread I've ever had (and I have tried my fair share in my lifetime). So easy to make, too!

We tend to add extra horseradish (gotta love that bite). Just few things to note: First, go easy on the salt. I season it up at the end, because depending on the type of salmon used, it may not need any salt at all. Second, be sure to make this well ahead of time. This is definitely a spread that takes a few hours for the flavors to really come together.

Smoked Salmon Spread


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Ingredients:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c. sour cream
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. minced fresh dill
1 tsp. prepared horseradish, drained
1/4 tsp. kosher salt (Easy on the salt!)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 lb.(4 oz.) smoked salmon, diced

Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth.

Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, and horseradish, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well, then season with salt and pepper. Chill and serve with crudites or crackers.



Blueberry Lime Angel Food Cake

2009-04-04T05:13:00.402-05:00

I was cleaning out the freezer the other day, and realized I had 18 egg whites sitting around waiting to be used. Which means one thing in my household - we're making angel food cake.Angel food cake is one of my favorites. History dates the origin of this cake back to the 1800s, well before rotary beaters even existed. Can you imagine the amount of arm strength it took to beat up a dozen egg whites for a measely cake?? Well, if nothing else that bit of information should the uninitiated that the making of angel food cake even by hand is, indeed, worth the effort.I, of course, did not make mine by hand (thank goodness for that KitchenAid mixer, which makes whipping up this cake mind-numbingly easy). Now usually I love this cake plain - to me, regular-old angel food cake with maybe some fruit topping is just sublime. Angel food cake is like a baked version of cotton candy - sticky and sweet and light as can be. It doesn't need a lot of decoration to be fantastic. However, I had not only a great berry sauce to use up, but also some limes and blueberries that were getting near their end. So I did dress up the cake a wee bit with the blueberries and lime, and then figured 'what the heck' and buried all of that in berry sauce. It was all very good! The blueberries didn't really weigh down the cake as I was worried they might do, and the limes gave things and extra zing that you don't get from any other flavoring (much more assertive than lemon). All in all very good! Take advantage of that lovely spring weather folks, and make this cake....Blueberry Lime Angel Food Cake(Adapted from CDKitchen)Ingredients:1 1/2 c. sugar, divided1 c. sifted cake flour12 large egg whites1 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar1/2 tsp. salt1 tsp. vanilla extract1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries2 Tbsp. sifted cake flour1 Tbsp. lime zestPreheat oven to 375 F.Sift together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup flour. In a large bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt; beat until soft peaks form.Add 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Sift flour mixture over egg white mixture, 1/4 cup at a time; fold in. Fold in vanilla and blueberries. Combine 2 tablespoons flour and lime rind; toss to coat. Sprinkle over egg white mixture; fold in.Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, spreading evenly. Break air pockets by cutting through batter with a knife.Bake at 375 F for 40 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan; cool completely. Loosen the cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula. Invert cake onto plate. [...]



Ribollita

2009-04-01T05:17:00.987-05:00

We got a late winter (well technically early spring) storm this past weekend, sleet and ice and some snow - lotsa sleet and ice, little snow. Kinda annoying, when we've had a few blissful days in the sunny 70s, but hey. I think I can celebrate nature's last homage to winter weather for awhile. Plus it means one last pot of ribollita.This is one of my favorite soups to make when it's cold out. In fact, check out those pictures - that is not bad lighting, that is steam whitening out my shots. I love love love ribollita in the wintertime - an Italian dish with a charming history, ribollita originated as a soup where all the leftovers went, including the cheese rind and stale bread. It's a great way to use leftover veggies, and at the rate Hubs and I make pasta dishes there are always extra Parmesan rinds saved up in the freezer. And stale bread? Yes, that is usually not a problem to find at our house as well (I do my best to make bread crumbs out of leftover bread when I can, but that doesn't always happen).It's hot and comforting, and nice and thick thanks to the toasted bready bottom of your bowl. So rich, it's hard to believe you didn't spend all day in the kitchen whipping this up. That is indeed one of the best things about this dish! Takes 45 minutes to an hour, and most of that is simmer time.Ribollita(from Giada De Laurentiis)Ingredients:1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling on bread1 onion, chopped1 carrot, chopped4 oz. pancetta or bacon, chopped2 cloves garlic: 1 minced and 1 whole1 tsp. salt1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper1 Tbsp. tomato paste1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes1 lb. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry1 (15-oz.) can cannelloni beans, drained1 Tbsp. herbs de Provence3 c. chicken stock1 bay leaf1 or 2 (3-in.) pieces Parmesan rind4 to 6 ciabatta rolls, halved lengthwise or 1 loaf, slicedGrated Parmesan, for serving Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, pancetta, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onion is golden brown and the pancetta is crisp, about 7 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir until dissolved. Add tomatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits. Add the spinach, beans, herbs, stock, bay leaf, and Parmesan rinds. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F. Drizzle the ciabatta halves with olive oil. Toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the top of the toasts with the whole garlic clove. Place the toasts in the serving bowls and ladle the soup over the toasts. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately. [...]



Banana Crunch Muffins

2009-03-30T06:42:00.572-05:00

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I have been on a muffin kick lately - we are usually cereal or toast eaters for breakfast, but lately I've just wanted a nice bakery good instead. And muffins are much healthier than fried and iced donuts ;)

Now, these aren't the healthiest muffins but my GOSH -they are good! The chunks of bananas in the muffin help to keep it moist and ensure you really get that banana flavor. The granola, nuts, and coconut help to give a great texture as well. And that crunchy topping is genius. I just made sure that I bought extra coconut/almonds/granola to make the recipe, and mixed them all together to top the muffins. Worked perfectly.


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Um, this recipe makes a TON of muffins too, by the way. I halved it and still got 15 muffins out of it (!). Enough for lunches and snacks for the Hubster. And believe me, these still didn't stick around for long.


Banana Crunch Muffins
(from Ina Garten)


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Ingredients:
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 c.sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp.baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 c. whole milk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1 c. medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
1 c. small-diced almonds
1 c. granola
1 c. sweetened shredded coconut
Additional granola, almonds, or shredded coconut for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Line 18 large muffin cups with paper liners. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and blend. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend well. Don't overmix.

Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each 1 to the top. Top each muffin with dried banana chips, granola, or coconut, if desired.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve.



Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream

2009-03-28T09:33:58.996-05:00

Mmmm. Cherries. Chocolate. Thank goodness, my sister Anne keeps me in the good chocolate and the Trader Joe's dried cherries :) One of her packages included a dark chocolate cherry bar, and I put it to good use in this ice cream!I went with a basic vanilla base, then added the juice from some frozen (thawed) cherries. Threw in the chopped chocolate bar and cherries at the and, and voila - cherry chocolate heaven.PS: Nobody wants to hear about my hurried days, yes? That's okay, I don't really want to complain about them. But! Today we are supposed to be snowed in, so a weekend trip has been cancelled last minute. My house is clean and we have no plans, so I'm making freezer meals and preparing posts for the blog. So look out! No more long spans with no posts, I promise! Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream(Adapted from Alice Q. Foodie)Ingredients:2 1/4 c. whole milk1 c. sugar6 egg yolks2/3 c. cherry juice or syrup from a can or jar (I used the juice from my bag of frozen cherries)2/3 c. half and half1 1/2 c. (thawed) frozen cherries, roughly chopped1 c. bittersweet chocolate, roughly choppedHeat the milk and pinch of salt in a 2 qt. saucepan over medium-high heat until scalded (bubbles will begin to form at the edge and it will smell "cooked"). In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and egg yolks together until thick and smooth.Whisk a little of the hot milk into the sugar and yolk mixture, and then very slowly add the rest, whisking continuously. Pour the egg, milk and sugar mixture back into the pan, and cook over medium- high heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon (about 6-8 minutes).Pour the custard mixture into a shallow metal bowl. Set in an ice water bath and stir to cool - or simply allow to cool at room temperature for a few minutes and place in the refrigerator (use a towel if you have glass shelves). When the custard is thoroughly chilled, stir in the half and half and the cherry juice, reserving the cherries. Refrigerate overnight.Freeze custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Add the cherries and chocolate pieces when the ice cream is frozen to a soft consistency. Transfer to a container and ripen in the freezer for 3-4 hours before serving. [...]



Homemade Oreos

2009-03-21T10:07:47.930-05:00

Sorry for all those delays! The Hubs now works from home (thank you, Hub's employer! You are saving us lots of commuting $$$ a year...). But: our home computer is kinda therefore busy when he's working, which means I can't get online at home until 7pm or so. And lately, it tends to crap out when I log on. The Internet provider is promising no more problems so: for now, the blog is back!I made these a few weeks ago, and they were a HIT - tastes just like the real thing. My cookies were a little poofier than necessary (I didn't use Dutch process cocoa, probably the culprit), but they were still great. Crunchy, slightly salty, deep-chocolate cookies with a creamy (lard-filled!) cream center. Mmmm. Thankfully I took these to a potluck, so we didn't have them hanging around the house. That could have been dangerous. For my already-expanding waistline.Homemade Oreos(from Smitten Kitchen)For the chocolate wafers:1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa1 teaspoon baking soda1/4 teaspoon baking powder1/4 teaspoon salt1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar [see recipe note]1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter1 large eggFor the filling:1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter1/4 cup vegetable shortening2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar2 teaspoons vanilla extract Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375 F. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk. [...]



Hi hi

2009-03-18T16:18:00.283-05:00

Hi there!We're currently experiencing a few... ah... "technical difficulties" on the blog, but rest assured - new posts to be up no later than the weekend time.Until then: happy week to you! Miss Sous Chef Mahni also sends her love, and a quick pictorial to tide you over.Mahni Presents: Things I Love To Do With My Second-Favorite Auntie (Miss Tinnie):We love to paint our toes while we trade celebrity gossip!We love to go to Crayola Land and play!We also love to dance in front of the mirror!And we love to read magazines in bed (while eating snacks)!We love to do The Bump dance!And order food over the phone at Fritz's Restaurant!But most of all, we love to dance with our bikini tops on over our clothing while in hotel rooms! The End![...]



Huevos Rancheros

2009-03-13T05:13:00.188-05:00

It's Lent. That means not only a time of reflection and penance, but also for some of us: it also means meatless Fridays. Now, I love a good Fish Fry as much as the next person, and my church in particular does a fantastic version that we enjoy most Fridays in Lent. But sometimes, I'm in more of a "let's just eat at home" mood. And I don't want to pull out the batter and frying pan and make cole slaw, I just want a quick dinner and some quality time snuggling on the couch with a good book or movie on the TV.Enter: Huevos Rancheros. Or more specifically: Smitten Kitchen's version of Huevos Rancheros. I looooove these things. They are mad-easy to make, are healthy, and come together in no time at all. I usually make the salsa and beans ahead of time, and they both keep in the fridge forever if you want to make these on the fly during the week. Because to be honest: these are awesome any day of the week, not just Fridays during Lent. These also rock because they are simple to do to order! Hubs likes to pile his Huevos Rancheros high with the beans, salsa, and topped with some meat (this time some leftover on top of the salsa and beans combo. So if you have picky eaters at home that expect a short-order cook, you can indulge them for an evening. Huevos Rancheros For Dinner = Total Win.Huevos Rancheros(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)Ingredients:6-inch corn tortillasShredded cheddar cheese (I used a pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend)EggsSalt and pepper to tasteBlack beans (see recipe below)Salsa fresca (see recipe below)Cilantro, sour cream, Tabasco, etc. Whatever you want to use to top them...First, make your black beans and salsa fresca. If you are not feeling up to it: Jen @ SmittenKitchen recommends Goya Black Bean Soup, and I think that a good jarred salsa works just fine instead of the salsa fresca. Prep any other toppings you want to use: shred the cheese, chop the cilantro, get out the sour cream...Now it's time to cook the egg and tortilla. NOTE: Take Jen's advice to heart: this is not going to win any "prettiest dish" awards, it's gonna be sloppy and untidy. Don't worry about that, it's gonna taste fantastic. First, heat a medium pan (I used a nonstick, that works the best) over a medium-low or low heat (whatever works best on your stovetop for regular fried/cooked eggs). Get a little spray Pam or oil in that pan, just enough for a slight coat of oil.Toss a corn tortilla in the heated pan. When it is golden brown underneath, flip it over. Sprinkle the browned side with a small amount of shredded cheese (2-3 tablespoons let's say), and let it melt a bit. Once the cheese gets melty: break a single egg over the cheese, directly on the tortilla. NOTE: the whites will ooze off the tortilla and it's going to look messy. This is perfectly fine! I tidy mine up and push the whites around the tortilla, but it's not necessary. Salt and pepper to taste.Cook the egg/tortilla until the whites around the sides are set and the middle whites just start to set. Now, flip the tortilla/egg. This is where it's going to be totally and completely messy. That's okay! Cook for a few more minutes to cook the egg through, then flip onto a plate. Yay, all done! Now you just need to top it. Pile on the black beans, the salsa, and anything else that strikes your fancy (hot sauce, jalapeno slices, sour cream, more cheese...). The Hubster loves meat, so he chopped some breakfast steak and added it to his, as you can see from the photo. I think this is filling enough without any meat substance included.[...]



Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

2009-03-05T05:49:04.414-06:00

You know how the best part of a chocolate chip cookie is the texture? That whole crisp-yet-soft combo they have going on? Well, I was totally in the mood for that kind of cookie, but didn't want it from a chocolate chip cookie. I wanted a peanut-butter cookie with that sort of texture instead.Problem is: most peanut butter cookies are either soft throughout, or crunchy. At least those I've encountered. Hmm. So I did what any girl would do - I went to see what Queen Dorie would say. Wouldn't you know it, she gives a variation of her chocolate chip to do just such a thing. Sah-weet.These cookies turned out exactly as I wanted: a nice crispy outside with a soft, gooey interior. These are best warm, just like that perfect chocolate chip cookie (a few seconds in the microwave will help for those past the out-of-the-oven point). I was smart enough to send these away as a hostess gift and office offerings, otherwise I could have easily porked out on the entire 4 dozen of them...Peanut Butter Cup Cookies(adapted from Dorie's chocolate chip cookie recipe)Ingredients:2 c. all purpose flour1 tsp. salt3/4 tsp. baking soda1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature1/2 c. peanut butter1 c. granulated sugar2/3 c. packed light brown sugar2 tsp. vanilla extract2 large eggs2 c. TJ's mini peanut butter cupsCenter a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter together on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until well blended and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. On low speed, or by hand with a rubber spatula, mix in the mini cups. Spoon out rounded tablespoons of dough and roll between your palms, to make a ball. Roll in sugar and place onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between spoonfuls. Flatten balls slightly with a fork or decorative press.Bake the cookies – one sheet at a time and rotating the sheets at the midway point – for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are brown at the edges and golden in the center; they may be still a little soft in the middle, and that’s just fine. Pull the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for 1 minute, then carefully using a wide metal spatula, transfer them to racks to cool to room temperature. [...]



Blueberry Crumb Bars

2009-03-03T05:24:00.233-06:00

I've been a bit of a late bloomer in life, it's true. It took me a little while to get into things, take fashion for example. But! When I did, I did so with a vengeance, I assure you. Hence the Prada and Jimmy Choo dust bags littering my closet along with about 70 back issues of Vogue and a catalog of models' stats in my noodly little brain.Well, there is sadly still a bit of this in me today. Like, can you believe I had never really read Smitten Kitchen until just a few weeks ago? Oh, yeah. Like, for real. I mean, I had heard of the blog and a few people spoke of the gorgeous photography on the blog, but I just never made my way over there. I even made a recipe from the site once, but I must have been in a hurry and didn't look up at all.Well, whew! That was a mistake. I was just bee-bopping around on the Internet the other day and fell into one of Jen's posts, and my goodness - sucked right in. And as per my usual personality, I gobbled up her posts with a vengeance, like sat there oogling the photos and reading posts for at least a good few hours. And I copied like a million recipes. So be forewarned, there will be lots of Smitten Kitchen goodies probably posted on here in the future. I'll try to contain myself and spread them out a bit if that helps.And on to the first of many I'm sure :) First up: Blueberry Bars. I wanted to make a bar recipe to take to my last book club meeting, but couldn't decide what to make. I didn't want anything too chocolatey, I had had my fill of peanut butter treats for awhile... And then, these screamed up at me to make them. Perfect! Especially in the winter, when you're starting to crave some fruit again. They were tart-ish but sweet, definitely buttery, and that crumbly topping is just to die for. Great recipe! These bars will be my go-to fruit bar recipe from here on out, as I can see them in a million different incarnations, with peaches or cherries or strawberries or cranberries...Blueberry Crumb Bars(from allrecipes.com, by way of Smitten Kitchen)Ingredients:1 c. white sugar1 tsp. baking powder3 c. all-purpose flour1 c. cold butter (2 sticks)1 egg1/4 tsp. saltZest and juice of one lemon4 c. fresh blueberries1/2 c. white sugar4 tsp. cornstarchPreheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough.Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares. [...]



Chocolate Valentino and Chubby Hubs Ice Cream

2009-02-28T00:01:00.923-06:00

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge. Although I didn't use either ice cream recipe, as we were allowed to make any kind we wanted...Okey dokey, the official wording is out of the way, so now I can do my real write up :)Like probably half of the Daring Baker community, I made my cake for Valentine's Day. I mean really - what could be more romantic than a dense brownie-like cake and some homemade ice cream for dessert? I ran into a bit of a snag, but I was no worse for the wear.This cake only has 3 ingredients. Now, at first reading I thought, Piece of cake! I'll have this one finished and done in no time. True, very true, but when I actually settled in to make it, I realized that if I mess up any part of this recipe, it'll be an expensive thing to re-do (especially since I was using my precious stash of Valrhona chocolate for this). But not to be easily intimidated, I forged ahead. Things were a little hairy right off the bat, when I freaked for a second thinking I had overheated my butter/chocolate (therefore burning the chocolate to worthlessness), but thankfully that was fine. Whew! I whipped my whites and carefully folded them in. No screwing around. I carefully poured my batters into my cake pan and mini Le Creuset heart pan (perfect for pictures, thanks Anne!). I bake, and watch that lovely rise and slight fall of the cake, the characteristic dimpling of the top. I pulled the cakes out and set them too cool. Ten minutes later, faithful to the recipe, I picked up the round cake pan to unmold my cake. Um. Well, here's where I had a problem: I went to gracefully (but quickly) flip it onto the cooling rack to finish cooling. Only I kinda moved too quick, and my pregnant butter-fingers started to lose grip on the pan. I fumbled with it, flipped it (very impressively, I might add) in the air, and then popped it with my palm when I went to desperately grasp it. Well, that was it. Up! it went and then Down! it landed. With a splat. Chocolate Valentino, shredded and smooshed and not looking too good:Yeah.It wasn't a total loss - I just let the darn thing cool in the state you see above, then chunked up the surviving parts to make a lovely ice cream parfait for our dinners. The Le Creuset heart, fortunately, was just fine so I used that the next morning to take pictures. So: on to the cake. If you try this, keep in mind that there is no messing around with this Valentino recipe! Use good chocolate, as the cake will taste exactly like the chocolate you use. It gets a bit expensive (as you need to use a pound of chocolate), but that won't stop me from making this again. The cake ends up very dense, reminiscent of a brownie. Oooooh, so good. We were asked to make homemade ice cream to accompany the cake. Initially I was going to make something plain, as I didn't want to overtake the glorious cake. Then at the last minute I changed my mind, when I thought about just how good Chubby Hubby is (and how much I didn't want to buy ice cream when I needed to also make ice cream...). I came up with my own version thanks in part to this recipe, and I must say: it tastes remarkably like the original. Awesome.For those not in the know: Chubby Hubby is only the BEST flavor ever made b[...]



Naan

2009-02-25T05:53:00.669-06:00

I love our local corner Indian restaurant. Every afternoon they have a fantastic buffet, chock-full of tandoori and chicken tikka masala, aloo mutter and veggie korma; as well as pakora, tikki, and samosa galore. But best of all, to scoop up every spicy bite - hot, soft-yet-crispy naan, that buttery Indian flatbread that is to die for. Well, on the buffet at India Palace, the naan is the first thing to disappear. Usually you and your fellow diners enjoy your lunch with one eye on the buffet - once the piping hot naan hits the warming plate, you lunge to get yours before it's gone again, which doesn't take but a minute or two. Good stuff, that naan.This one has a smiley face!If you are like me and eat Indian out a bit too much for your pocketbook, then you decide to just make your own Indian at home. Much more economical. And yet, you strike out again if you try to get your naan at the grocery store: for one, it's a poor substitute to the fresh stuff. Secondly, you're going to pay a ton for 2 measly pieces. Ladies and gents, let me tell you: this is the point where you realize you just have to make the naan yourself.Making your own naan is easy, cheap, and this recipe makes A TON so no worries about running out! Almost exactly what you get from the restaurants (I don't have the clay tandoor, but the grilled version here is pretty darn close). Give it a shot next time you make your own Indian at home - well worth the effort.Naan(from Allrecipes)Ingredients:1 pkg. active dry yeast1 c. warm water1/4 c. white sugar3 Tbsp. milk1 egg, beaten2 tsp. salt4 1/2 c. bread flour2 tsp. minced garlic1/4 c. butter, meltedIn a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared. [...]