Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December Daring Bakers: Christmas Stollen

ok, sorry, I'm a day late here. I am visiting family and enjoying being done with my master's! Maybe I'm not sorry at all. Ok, nope, not sorry.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

I had never heard of this before, but plenty of other daring bakers were excited about it. Apparently, it's traditionally made in the shape of a baby jesus in swaddling clothes. Anyone else a little grossed out by that one? K, just checking! I am in the middle of a card game, so just the pictures for now:


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daring Baker's Challenge November: Crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

When I saw this month's challenge, I was excited. A crostata is an Italian tart. I like tarts. I do tarts a lot. Well, when I can. And a new kind of tart sounded fun. It also sounded not-too-difficult which is great as I am desperately trying to finish everything I need for my degree by the deadline next Friday!

One of the directions of the challenge was to get creative with the tart filling. I love chocolate tarts, but that seemed just too easy. I automatically thought of the amazing black forest cake that someone made for my birthday and immediately decided that cherries would be the best way to liven up the chocolate tart.

So, tart cherries and chocolate were picked. But then what? Pastry cream or ganache? I got a little bit realistic here and realized a simple ganache would be much quicker. To make the chocolate flavor more intense, I called in my favorite secret ingredient: coffee. It would work great without the coffee, I'm sure, it just makes the chocolate more intense. Just a little in the cream really made a difference. I think it turned out great and my 3 taste-testers seem to agree.

It's not perfect, though, and the one glitch was completely avoidable. The crust recipe said to bake it for 20 minutes (with weights), then 5 without. Well, after that 25 minutes it looked a little soft and not very browned. And I left it in for about 10 more. Next time I'll take it out at 25; it tastes great, but it is just much too hard. I guess I should have realized that the different kind of crust is *similar* to what I usually make, but the person who wrote the recipe knew what she was doing.

The recipe for the crust is first, followed by my recipe for the filling. One thing to note is that I made this in a 10-inch springform pan and had a tiny bit of ganache left over - little enough that I could have added it on (instead of saving it to eat plain!) In a 9-inch tart pan, or in a pie pan, you may have more than you need.

Pasta Frolla (Crostata dough) recipe, straight from Simone:


  • 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of half a lemon
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
Making pasta frolla by hand:
  1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
  3. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
  4. Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
  5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
  6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
  7. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.
  8. [Added by Beki, based on Simone's directions] To blind-bake the shell (bake it empty), preheat oven to 350.
  9. Roll out 1/8th-1/4th inch thick on a piece of plastic wrap. Carefully move to the pan, plastic wrap side up, press into edges, and remove plastic wrap.
  10. Poke with a fork in several places and place a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper over the bottom of the crust. If you have dry beans or pie weights, put them on top (I didn't use any, it was fine. Just poke it with a fork a lot so it doesn't bubble up.)
  11. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil/parchment. Bake 5 more minutes and remove. Let cool completely.

Making pasta frolla with a food processor:

  1. Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
  2. Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
  3. Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface
  4. See step 3 above and continue as explained in the following steps (minus the lemon zest, which you have already added).
Cherry Chocolate filling

1 can tart cherries in water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 oz chopped chocolate (I used good-quality chocolate chips that are 63% cacao)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsps ground coffee (if you don't want to strain it (see step 4) you can use instant, but it may not be as good)

1. Drain cherries in a colander (I recommend over a dish, the juices are very tasty!)
2. Put chocolate into a small mixing bowl. Line a mesh sieve with 4 layers of cheesecloth and place over bowl of chocolate.
3. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium, stirring occasionally, until it boils.
4. When cream boils, add ground coffee. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Pour through sieve into chocolate to remove all the grounds.
5. Stir chocolate and cream until chocolate melts and is completely incorporated.
6. Toss cherries with the sugar (in the colander works fine.) Spread cherries out in cooled tart shell.
7. Spread ganache over sugared cherries, encouraging it down between them. Allow to set at room temperature or refrigerate for 20-30 minutes and remove from fridge. You can store it at room temperature. If you refrigerate it, let it come to room temperature for (preferably) 2 hours before serving.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daring Baker's Challenge - Pumpkin donuts!

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

We had a choice of donut kinds: pumpkin, bamboloni (which is what they call them in Tunisia, I guess it's from Italy), or raised. Apparently the raised ones bake pretty well, so I was gonna do them if I had time. Then I realized that I don't have time.

I did force myself to take a break, though, to make one kind. And pumpkin it was! I thought it sounded delicious. I prefer cake donuts for the most part, and of course these were. I was surprised at how easy they were to make. The prep didn't take too long, but frying them up definitely did. I was happy to have a reason to use the candy thermometer that my mom sent me :) Mine didn't hang around long enough to get glazed, but there is glaze in the recipe below.

And now for the beautiful pictures. Of the whole process for once. Rolled out dough, half-cut out, in the oil. Draining on paper towels. Broken open on a pile of whole ones to see the gorgeous inside and out. And then stacked up on a plate before everyone came by and gobbled them down. So lovely and wonderful. Taken on my friend's good camera, because mine is quite crappy and I still haven't replaced it. My friend who, for once, decided to delete a bunch of his pictures.... and accidentally got rid of mine at the same time. Heart broken. You have no idea.

There is one minor redeeming fact. A girl here is taking a picture of every thing she eats for a year. And happened to get one of the pumpkin donut holes. Here it is. The sole lonely surviving picture.

Pumpkin Doughnuts:

Preparation time:
Hands on pre-chill prep time - 15 minutes
Chilling time - 3 hours
After-chilling prep time - 15 minutes
Cooking time - 30+ minutes (Depends on the size of your pan)

Yield: About 24 doughnuts & 24 doughnut holes

All Purpose Flour 3.5 cup / 840 ml / 490 gm / 17 ¼ oz
Baking Powder 4 teaspoon / 20 ml / 24 gm / .85 oz
Table Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Cinnamon, ground 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Ginger, ground ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
Nutmeg, ground ¼ teaspoon / 1.25 ml / 1.5 gm / .05 oz
Cloves, ground 1/8 teaspoon / .6 ml / ¾ gm / .025 oz
White Granulated Sugar 1 cup / 240 ml / 225 gm / 8 oz
Butter, Unsalted 3 Tablespoon / 45 ml / 42 gm / 1.5 oz
Egg, Large 1
Egg Yolk, Large 2
Pure Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon / 5 ml
Buttermilk ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon / 135 ml /
Pumpkin 1 cup / 240 ml / 285 gm / 10 oz (Canned pure pumpkin or fresh cooked and pureed pumpkin – DON’T use pumpkin pie mix!)
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)

Powdered Sugar Glaze:

Powdered (Icing) Sugar 2 cup / 480 ml / 250 gm / 9 oz
Whipping Cream (About 32% butter fat) 4 Tablespoon + more if needed / 60 ml


  1. Whisk together the first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended (the mixture will be grainy and not smooth). Beat in egg, then yolks and vanilla. Gradually beat in buttermilk; beat in pumpkin. Using rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients in 4 additions, blending gently after each addition. Cover with plastic; chill 3 hours.
  2. Sprinkle 2 rimmed baking sheets lightly with flour. Press out 1/3 of dough on floured surface to 1/2- to 2/3-inch (12 mm to 15 mm) thickness. Using 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) -diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Arrange on sheets. Repeat with remaining dough in 2 more batches. Gather dough scraps. Press out dough and cut out more dough rounds until all dough is used.
  3. Using 1-inch (25 mm) diameter round cutter, cut out center of each dough round to make doughnuts and doughnut holes.
  4. Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Pour oil into large deep skillet to depth of 1 1/2 inches (40 mm). Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F (185°C to 188°C). Fry doughnut holes in 2 batches until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Fry doughnuts, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 1 minute per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Cool completely.

Glaze Directions:

  1. Whisk powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons whipping cream to blend. Whisk in additional cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, to form medium thick glaze.
  2. Can be made up to 3 hours ahead.
  3. Add doughnut holes to bowl of spiced sugar and toss to coat.
  4. Spread doughnuts on 1 side with powdered sugar glaze.
  5. Arrange doughnuts, glazed side up, on racks. Let stand until glaze sets, at least 30 minutes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Daring Bakers September: Decorated Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

While most people will think of sugar cookies as no kind of challenge, my sisters will laugh and tell you what disasters I've done with them in the past. I don't know why they were so difficult! The worst attempt is when I was going for purple and green (forget why - maybe spring?) and ended up with this grayish purple and green substance the consistency of toothpaste. Yuck. Luckily, this recipe was quite straight-forward and a few self-proclaimed sugar cookie haters enjoyed it.

The cookies were to be decorated with royal icing in ways that remind you of fall. I had never made it before, but the recipe is really simple. I mixed it up, went to get the food coloring, and -- the food coloring, where did it go??? I still don't know. So it became an EXTRA challenge: decorate cookies creatively all in white. I enlisted a few friends. Working at the table in the dining room, I found out that many people wanted to help! After I finish my finals, I think it would be a fun finals-break activity (yes, that's 10 weeks away.) You can find the full directions here.

Below is my favorite that I decorated, but there are plenty more! I thought I had taken pictures of every single one, but they're not all here!!!!!! :( I'm heart broken. I've been doodling this star on the sides of my class notes since high school. Fall = more classes = more notes = more stars.

This one is cookie monster. Someone said "we should do one that's cookie monster" T, from Vietnam, says, "Ok, I'll do it!" So I ask him, "T, do you know what cookie monster looks like?" And his response was something like "oh, it's a thing?" so he got someone with a laptop in the room to look it up for him. This was the result. I added the cookie crumbs on his face.

This is a running dog (tilt your head right). Courtesy of B, in picture below.

K, from Korea, made this one. I like it!

Made by K who ended up decorating more than anyone else! It's the name of where we live.

The portrait of B (on the cookie, B is on the left), made by R (holding the cookie.)

K's family, labeled and all.

And S's city. Even boys got in on the fun :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Saturday Splurge idea

Tonight at the house we made Take 5 candy bars. If you've never tried them, you probably shouldn't. They are horribly addictive, I'm sure. People were excited at the thought of making a good candy bar. We talked about other things, too, and one of the topics was marshmallows. If I ever sell baked goods, one of the things will be homemade s'mores. Homemade graham crackers, high quality chocolate (fair trade would be a nice touch!) and marshmallows. I love Cooking for Engineers, and he has good info on marshmallows with a nice recipe, too. Before I open a bakery, I'll have to find a good corn syrup source that doesn't add the high-fructose variety. A vegetarian (ie no gelatin) version could be worth a search, too.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Recipe suggestion: Soy-Sesame Zucchini

I may not have tons of time to tell you all about what I've been making myself, but here is something I found that will appear on my building's menu next week. The whole blog looks pretty cool, and includes nice pictures, but I really should get back to writing... ick.

Soy-Sesame Marinated Zucchini
(original found here)
4-6 servings

4 medium zucchinis (about 1 1/2 lbs), halved lengthwise and chopped to 1/2-inch thick half-moons
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine all ingredients and toss to coat evenly. Cover and chill for 3 hours or up to overnight, turning once or twice to evenly distribute the marinade.

Nutrition information (based on 4 servings): Cal - 58 Fat - 1.5g Protein - 3.2g Carbs - 7.4g

Friday, August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' August Challenge - Ice Cream Petit Fours

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

(Written while cake is baking:) First, I would like to rave about beurre noisette. Browned butter. Whatever you want to call it. I wasn't sure how this would work, and was a little cautious making it. But ohhhhh my. Noisette means hazelnut in French, and it's called that because the butter turns brown and gets a delicious nutty flavor. Like a kind of unbelievable one. And oh-so-awesome. Just the batter for the cake is wonderful, I can't wait to see how it is cooked! And with the ice cream I picked... excited!

Which ice cream, then? The amazing delicious lemon ginger one that I used last month! It was so tasty, but I only got one spoonful of it and I didn't find the time to make it again. I was so excited when I realized I could do it for this month's challenge. I *do* have the recipe for you this time, unlike last month when I totally lied and never posted it. (Sorry.) I decided to try to be a little healthier and used half and half instead of heavy cream. I'll let you know if that turns out to be an ok thing.
Ok, it has all been made (and eaten!) now. The icecream was still really good, but I think that if you decrease the fat like that you *really* need to make it in an icecream maker. It was more icey than creamy. Which made it hard to bite with the cake. The cake itself was really good, as expected. I will definitely make it again! I decided for the ganache to use a cooking light recipe that I have made before to go on a (peanut butter chocolate) cake, which was delicious. Unfortunately, it was a little thick, so while it's still pretty, it's not quite as pretty as I wanted. I'll quit talking now and let you see the prettiness:

The Ginger Lemon Ice Cream recipe is one I tinkered with, while the others are straight from their original sources. Enjoy!

Ginger Lemon Ice Cream

Yields about 1 quart

2/3 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
2 cups heavy cream (or half & half, if you like)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
Zest of 2 Lemons
5 large egg yolks

Cut the ginger into thin slices. In a saucepan, place the ginger slices and add just enough water to cover. Bring the water to boil and blanch the ginger for two minutes. Drain. Save the ginger and discard the liquid. (This is important! Ginger has the lemon-like ability to curdle milk if not blanched.)

In a separate bowl, combine the finely grated lemon zest, sugar and milk. If you have a clean processor, throw the sugar and lemon zest into it. Mix with milk thoroughly until the sugar dissolves.

Place the reserved ginger back into the saucepan. Add the milk mixture, half a cup of cream and salt. Warm the mixture. Once warm, remove from the heat. Cover and steep for at least an hour or up to a whole day. I did overnight.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.

Rewarm the ginger mixture. Remove the ginger slices with a slotted spoon. Dispose of the ginger. Slowly pour the warmed mixture in the egg yolks and continue to whisk.

Once combined, return the egg-ginger mixture to the saucepan. Over medium heat, stir the mixture constantly with a wooden spoon until it thickens and coats the spoon. Strain the mixture into a bowl and combine with the remaining cream.

Immediately chill the mixture in the freezer. Once thoroughly cooled, freeze it in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Get the other recipes by clicking below.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Making it official

Hi everyone. I have been telling myself this was unnecessary, but seeing how things are going and knowing it's still summer, I must admit it aloud. I am pausing my blog for the most part until I have more time. My thesis is due December 3, so I'm hoping to get back to normal after that. We'll see. I may post from time to time, but it won't be the 2-3 times a week that I was aiming for.

I will definitely continue with the Daring Bakers' challenge, do not worry! That means you'll at least get a splurge every month on the 27th. And if I carry a camera around more often, I should get more pictures of food that I have made for the house. We'll just have to see how it goes.

'See' you later!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Daring Bakers' July Challenge - Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

Yikes, I went through all the trouble of making this, and then forgot to post it on time! NOOO! Well, I'm only a day late, I'll have to hope that will do.

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

My freezer was having issues getting cold enough, so my cake was pretty soft. I decided to keep the chocolate cake with whipped cream inside, but added just a touch of cilantro to the cream. For my two kinds of ice cream, I went with ginger-lemon and coconut (I'll post the recipes soon for you.) The Ginger-Lemon is now officially my favorite and was AMAZING. The coconut was coconut. So, good, but not anything to drool about. I may pretend I have time to make the ginger-lemon one again this weekend. So tasty.

First, a picture of the separate parts, to get you started:

And then, the beautiful cake:

I served it outside, so while I had hoped to get a pretty pick of the layers, it was hot out and started melting really quickly (in addition to the freezer problem) so by the time I had cut a few pieces, it was no longer pretty. At all. Oh, plus it was 11pm, so the lighting was bad. See, I tried to take a pic outside before we got smart and moved it to the hallway:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tous mes excuses...

All my apologies! So, where the heck have I been??

I happen to be in charge of feeding 60 college students at the moment. I live in a co-op, and right now I have to feed people breakfast, lunch and dinner, all while keeping them happy and staying within budget. A budget that equals about $130 per person, per month. Not too bad, but not fantastic, either.

Here's how it works:
  1. I get a cool meal idea into my head.
  2. I write down said cool idea and make sure it has a meat entrée, a vegetarian entrée, a carb side and a vegetable side (plus all dinners have salads.)
  3. I go dig up recipes for said cool meal.
  4. I print out recipes and put in kitchen for cooks.
  5. I look in pantry, fridge and freezer to see what ingredients we still need.
  6. I order ingredients from various outlets and, on occasion, go to the store to pick some up myself.
Not too bad. It's the finding recipes that is the hardest part. Loads of things don't scale up well. Have you tried to cook for 60 people lately? Yeah, I didn't think so. Actually, I don't do the cooking. But I have done it before, so I know what works or not, to an extent. I have some resources for large-scale recipes, but they often aren't that cool. Try finding beef korma for 50. Or bibimbop for 60. (If you do find them, let me know, they are two of the ones I'll need to print by Sunday night!)

Luckily, once the cool recipes are found, I can scale them up with a nice program I have and then pull it out again in 3-4 weeks so people can have more of it.

I really should be taking pictures. I really should be putting my recipes, on a smaller scale, here for you. Even if I am not cooking, I can still take credit as the evil overlord, trying to trick people into eating more healthy foods.

I think I'm winning.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' June Challenge - Chocolate Pavlovas

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

I will add more, including the recipes, tomorrow, but I have to have this posted today! So here it is for now. (And oh, yeah, I finally had time to make sthg!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

S--er, Tuesday Splurge: Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger

These go together because one is the result of the other. Unless you set out to make them both intentionally, which is even better! This 'recipe' takes a decent bit of time, but not a lot of attention. I think it's a cool use for left-over ginger, though you could also peel it, wrap it up and keep it in the freezer (thanks, Karen!)

I can't remember where I got the idea, so I apologize to whichever foodblogger put this into my head :) It's less of a recipe and more of guidelines. I'm actually not quite sure what I'm going to do with it. I may try to throw the ginger in the processor and sprinkle it over gingerbread the next time I make it. The ginger syrup has only been used in a rhubarb compote I made today. (Which I ate with plain yogurt and granola - YUMM!) I'm gonna try to make ginger ale with club soda. I think it would be good with any fruit, drink, icecream, or yogurt. I used the photo from this person because it looks a decent bit like mine. Will take a photo when I remember, but I wanted to get this up.

Candied Ginger and Ginger Syrup
Serves: Depends on what you use it for! Time: An hour or so

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water

1. Peel your ginger and then slice very thinly. This will make it take less time for the pieces to give their juice to the syrup and suck up sugar themselves.

2. Put about sugar and water into a small sauce pan with the sliced ginger. Turn on to low. Stir gently until sugar dissolves and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add more sugar and water if your ginger is not covered. You will want to add more water if the bubbles while it boils look really big. That's a sign that it's a lot of sugar and will be solid when you pour it out, not syrup.

3. When you're tired of waiting for them to boil, take them out and put them on a wire rack to drain and dry.

4. After it cools for a bit, pour the syrup into a container to keep in the fridge.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I am still alive

First - FINALS ARE OVER!!!!!!!! I have officially turned in everything. I had one test. Wrote one 22 page paper. One 26 page paper. And gave a 4th semester French final and graded it. The last thing I have to do this semester is hold office hours on Monday in case anyone wants to see their grades. Why am I telling you? Because I know I've gotten woefully behind in my updates. I promise it will change. Probably tomorrow. But right now, I'm gonna tell you my favorite cereal.

Lightly Frosted Shredded Wheat. Post brand. What's the brand matter? Well, there are three ingredients: wheat, white sugar, and brown sugar. I like that. The other main brand puts in corn syrup and gelatin and some other stuff. I'd rather pass, thanks. I keep two cereals on my shelf - shredded wheat and granola. I eat them almost every morning, and always with soy milk (regular milk isn't my friend.) And a banana. Or apple. Sometimes there aren't enough hours in the day to prepare a more filling and "real" meal, but I don't want my easy food to be crap. That would be no good at all.

Ok, I do believe it's bed time :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

World's Healthiest Brownie!

Ok, I can't say for sure that they are. But they are by far the healthiest brownie I've had the pleasure to devour. Yet so moist and fudgy Let me show you a picture, to get your mouth watering.

These are another delightful product of Cara's kitchen. I made them last night and then fed bites to basically everyone who walked by. Everyone thought they were good. Many people did comment that they are not as sweet as standard brownies, and that's just fine in my book. I ruined one guy's world after telling them how wonderfully healthy they are after he had his bite. One of my friends has been experimenting with gluten-free recipes and was happy to learn that this one is, too.

In some ways, I wasn't sure if these should be considered dessert or main course. Yep, you read that right. So, why then? The main ingredient is black beans. Yep, plain ol' beans. With avocado as another key ingredient. No, I didn't lose my mind, it really is that brownie picture. And they really are good. Cara mentioned that they are better if you let them sit overnight, but I could never let them ALL sit. Actually, I was glad because I think I prefer them the first day. This way I know, though, and that is useful.

Below is the amazing recipe. I really like that it only uses one 'bowl' - the food processor (or blender.) She used egg replacer, I used real eggs. Sometime I'd like to try them with flax. She used agave nectar, I used honey. Both work, but maybe this is part of the reason I preferred them on day 1! I upped the servings to 16 (she had 12) just because I am picky and like my brownies to all be nice squares. Feel free to make 12. Or 9. Nine would be nice squares, too...

Black Bean Avocado Brownie
Servings: 16 Time: 15ish to prep, 30 to cook

1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/2 of a ripe avocado (I measured, mine was 6 Tbs)
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso

- Preheat oven to 350º F. Line an 8x8" pan with parchment paper.

- Combine black beans, eggs, honey and avocado in food processor. Blend for a few minutes, until completely smooth. Add remaining ingredients and continue blending until fully combined, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Batter will be thick.

- Spread into parchment-lined baking dish. Bake for 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the brownies comes out clean.

- Yay, so easy!

Nutrition info (for 1/16th of recipe): Calories - 150 Fat - 2.0g Carbs - 27.7g Protein - 7.4g

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Saturday (non) Splurge: Healthy No-bake Cheesecake

You know, I just realized after typing this all up that it's not actually a splurge at all! It's delicious. It's pretty darn healthy. You could easily replace the sugar with your favorite other sweetener if you'd like to decrease the carbs and calories (listed at the end) even further. This is just good food. Let me give you a little background on this wonderful treat. I don't like NY style cheesecake. I do like ricotta cheesecake, but it takes a lot of time. This one takes a little time, but not your effort. What effort, then? Let me tell you, friendly reader.

Blender. Or Food Processor. It does its thing over a little time. As long as you don't do it by hand (I used an immersion blender on the test batch last night - took too long) you will can do something else while your machine whirs away. "Umm, ok, what are we blading to death?" Cottage cheese! Yep, you read that right. Cottage cheese cheesecake, my dear friends, is at the heart of this delicious dish. I got the inspiration for this from Cara's Cravings. I think she's my new best friend, even if she doesn't know it.

She mentioned that she blends up cottage cheese with sugar and some kind of flavoring to make a cheesecake-flavored treat. Well, I figured, if it tastes like it, why not throw in a stabilizer and make it into one? Amazingly, I could find NO recipe for such a thing. Not that they don't exist, they might well could. They just did not appear in my search. Which meant I had a mission: to figure out how much gelatin to add to make it stay solid.

I think I more or less got it. I put in too much gelatin in the big batches (we have large bags of plain stuff here) but I corrected for it below. I made two kinds: peanut butter and chocolate. Mmmmmm. And are they that gross, heavy, fat-laden crap you get from the store? (see, i told you i don't like NY cheesecake) Not a chance! Even though my people agree that the texture is a little off (only b/c of the gelatin, one I did alone was right), the flavor is on for a no-bake. Hooray! I put mine into a pre-made graham cracker crust, because I found a box of them in the pantry, but do what you think works. The recipe *is* the size of one of those, though. If anyone tries this out in a regular dish, let me know how much or if you increased it and I will include that info as well.

The cottage cheese blends nicely to a thick, creamy consistency. It may look a little grainy in the end, you can sort of see it in the chocolate picture (on the right) but you can't feel it in your mouth and it tastes good.

No-bake Peanut Butter Cheesecake
Serves: 12 (could be 8) Time: 5 minutes of yours, 15-20 minutes total, plus 2+ hours to chill

2 cups 2% cottage cheese (one 16 oz container)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbs peanut butter
1 packet gelatin (about 2 1/2 teaspoons or 7 grams)

- Put 1/4 cup cold water in a microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle with gelatin. Let set while you continue.
- Put first four ingredients in your blender/processor. Let blend until you see no recognizable cottage cheese lumps. You will still see little grainy bits, though.
- Microwave gelatin 30-60 seconds (microwaves are so different!), until completely liquid
- Turn on blender/processor and slowly pour gelatin into it if you have an opening through which to do so. If not, add small amounts at a time and mix after each addition.
- Pour into pre-made shell, or to do crustless, just pour into 8" pie tin (or 6-8" spring form pan)
- Place in fridge, allow to chill for at least two hours or until set

Chocolate variation: Increase sugar to 1/2 cup, replace peanut butter with 1/4 cup cocoa powder

Nutrition info (1/12th of peanut butter cake, no crust): Calories - 80 Fat - 2.8g Carbs - 7.8g Protein - 6.2g

Nutrition info (1/12th of chocolate cake, no crust): Calories - 60 Fat - 1.0g Carbs - 7.9g Protein - 5.5g

Nutrition info (1/12th of store bought crust): Calories - 98 Fat - 5.0g Carbs - 20.7g Protein - 0.8g

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Broccoli Kale Salad with Ginger Sesame Vinaigrette

Well, the other day I realized that there was a giant box of Kale that was delivered last week and not used in its destined recipe. Sad, because a good bit of it had gone bad. Cool because it gave me an excuse to use it. There was also ginger from last week. Again, a pity that it wasn't used. But what luck for me! Today's menu for enchiladas got over-ruled because it would have been the 3rd tex-mex meal in a row. And the last two were good, so it's not like I could have pretended I was showing them how it's done. Instead, I decided fried rice was the way to go. Then what Kale thing on the side? Something cool and fresh, not all cooked up.

I searched a bit and found that if you massage lemon or lime juice into raw kale, it sort of cooks it in a way and makes it easier to chew. I approve. This meant lemon or lime was a must. Lime, ginger.... with sesame and rice vinegar! Hooray!

I woke up pathetically late (I have no idea why my alarm clock crapped out on me) but the three of us still managed to finish in time. Thanks to my helpers! The recipe here is a bit of a guess, as mine was a much bigger portion and not measured. When I make it again, I'll pay more attention to that. I'm labeling this as a make-ahead, because you really need to let the kale sit in order for the citrus to work its magic. Oh, and all the haters of my kale chips? Loved this. Gobbled it all up. I was happy that I got a big bunch on the first pass because there was none left for seconds. I did make sure to just say "Broccoli Salad" on the menu board, in order to not scare them off.

Broccoli Kale Salad
Serves: 4-8 Time: 30 minutes (then it sits for at least an hour)

1 bunch kale
1/4 cup lime (or lemon) juice
1 small head of broccoli (about 2 cups-ish chopped)
1 clove garlic
1 piece ginger, about the size of your garlic clove
3 Tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs sesame seeds
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup pecans (optional)

- Wash kale and broccoli
- Cut or rip up bits of kale (whichever you prefer - cutting won't bruise it like lettuce) to 1-2 inch pieces
- Put kale into bowl, sprinkle with lime juice and then 'massage' the juice into the leaves. Basically, mash the leaves around in the juice for a couple of minutes.
- Cut broccoli into small pieces, like 1/8 the size of a regular dipping broccoli and toss into bowl
- Mince the garlic and ginger together and sprinkle over bowl
- Add your sesame oil (if you're lucky enough to have it, it does give a nice flavor), sesame seeds and olive oil, toss to coat kale and broccoli
- Add craisins now, or just before serving
- Add pecans (toast them, if you want) just before serving (or else they'll be soggy gross)

Nutrition info (for 1/6th of recipe, no pecans): Cal - 102 Fat - 4.2g Carbs - 15.4g Protein - 2g (And LOADS of nutrients, like vitamins A&C)
Pecans add (per 1/6th of recipe): Cal - 62 Fat - 6.5g Carbs - 1.2g Protein - 0.8g

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Baked Kale Chips

Ok, not a lot other than the recipe tonight. 7 Class days left! 17 days til my last final (25 pg paper) due! But, I cannot forget my public. Especially when my little sister (who tasted these over Easter) asked where the recipe is. Here you go.

It's from everyone and no-one, basically every food blogger has done them. They're pretty good, but the flavor is concentrated. If you don't like cooked dark leafy greens, you may not like this. One suggestion: Use less salt than you think. Mine came out too salty. Kale is supposed to be all kinds of healthy, and I tried it in something else that I really enjoyed. This was good, I just don't think I could eat more than a handful or two before feeling like I had the flavor stuck in my mouth. Does that make sense? Probably not. Sorry. Moving on, then....

The drying is important here, since you want them crispy in the end. And you can salt before or after cooking. I think it sticks better if before b/c of the olive oil. But maybe that's why mine were a bit too salty for my taste.

Oh, and why make them in the first place?? It's good for you. I'll let her explain.

Baked Kale Chips
Serves: 6-8 Prep time: 10-15 minutes Bake time: 15-20 minutes


One bunch of kale, green or purple washed and dried well
1 T Olive oil

- Preheat oven to 375ºF
- Fold each kale leaf in half along the stem and use a knife to trim the stem off.
- Tear into pieces a little bigger than what you'd want to find in your hand (they'll shrink in the oven) maybe 3-4 inches.
- Put into a bowl, toss with olive oil to coat. I had a really big looking bunch, but 1 T was actually just fine.
- Spread on a baking sheet (Whole Foods says it's ok to be more than one layer, my sheet was big enough that I can't say for sure) and bake at 375ºF for 15 min.
- Test the pieces for doneness at 10 minutes by waving one in the air a bit until it's room temperature and biting. It should crisp. If it's chewy at all, put them back in the oven. You can stir if you want to, but I didn't and it was fine.

Nutrition info (I'm using info for 1/2 cup boiled with 1/8 Tbs oil, I can't find facts for baked kale): Calories: 32 Fat: 1.8g Carbs: 3.4g Protein: 1.1g

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Splurge: Lime Ricotta Muffins

First, a big apology. My only post this whole week. I had a big presentation on Wednesday for my statistics class (ugh) and I have a 20-25 page paper due on Monday at 3:30. Not. fun. But, that's what they pay me to be here for and all, so I'll do it. You just can't make me smile about it. At least not during the last 3 weeks of the semester.

ON TO THE TASTINESS! Well, then. Today I went to an HP quiz (if you have to ask what HP stands for, I'm not telling you) and then came back and had a huge allergy attack, probably from sitting outside for 3 hours at said quiz, and barely advanced on above-mentioned paper. Then I figured out what to make for dinner and realized I hadn't done my Saturday labor: making treats. Having spotted Ricotta in the fridge the other day, I already had one in mind.

I made these before, about six months ago, actually, and the original recipe is from Rosa's Yummy Yums. I've posted it below with my changes. We don't have real lemons (or limes), which means I went with juice. Lime juice, instead of the original lemon. Still SUPER good. And they didn't take too long. Probably stuck to my one hour that I'm supposed to do for once. These should be even faster for a smaller batch. Quadrupling recipes really does make a difference. That much more flour to measure. And sugar. And baking powder. That much more butter to melt. And then mixing it all together has to be more careful. Then, no cooking spray. So have to grease 48 muffin holes by hand. Don't worry, I'm giving you the single batch recipe :)

I'm fairly certain that these could be made more health-fully without sacrificing much (if any!) of the flavor and texture, but the house gets whole milk ricotta so I'd need to go buy the other stuff to find out. A summer project, I suppose. I hope that didn't scare you, they're really not bad as-is (203 calories), which is why I think it'd be no problem to make them even better!

Lime Ricotta Muffins
Serves: 12 Time: about 30-40 minutes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar (+2 Tablespoons if you want to make them pretty)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup lime juice

1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F).
2. Grease twelve 2 ½” by 1 ¼” muffin-pan cups or line with paper baking liners.
3. In large bowl, stir together flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and salt.
4. In medium bowl, with wire whisk or fork, mix together ricotta, milk, melted butter, eggs and lime juice.
5. Make well in center of flour mixture and pour in ricotta mixture; stir until just moistened.
6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin-pan cups.
7. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over muffins.
8. Bake 20 to 22 minutes, until muffins are golden brown, tops spring back when lightly touched or a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.
9. Immediately remove from pan; serve warm. Or cool on wire rack to serve later.

Tested variations:
- Whole wheat flour, using flaxseed as egg replacement
- White whole wheat flour, using 1 packet stevia, 1 1/2 Tbs agave and 2 Tbs frozen apple juice concentrate instead of sugar
- Half cottage cheese (I had less ricotta than I thought one day!)

Nutrition info for one muffin: Calories - 203;    Fat - 8.4g;    Carbs - 26.5g;    Protein - 5.7g

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday Splurge: Birthday Cupcakes with Boiled Icing

Ok, this one is on the healthy side for a good scratch cake, especially one that's iced, but the boiled icing can be a MAJOR pain, which means it's going into the Saturday section for that reason alone. One of my friend here turned 22, and she often makes things for other peoples' special events, so I thought it was fitting to make *her* something cool. I wanted to do a cake, but then realized that we really don't have proper pans, but we DO have cupcake tins. I figured that if I was going to do that, I may as well make it look purposeful. Check the pictures to decide if I succeeded on that front.

If you make cupcakes out of this, the recipe should give you 20. After drawing out what I wanted to write with little circles, I decided I needed 4 dozen, multiplied the recipe by 2.5, and ended up with 52. Some were a little small, so 20 is a better estimate. Your time will be different than my convection oven, but I think it was 15-20 minutes. Not bad at all! That's about how long it took me to do the silly icing. The first batch, anyway. As luck would have it, I was just short and got to have the pleasure of making it a second time.

This icing, though is like a dream. A marshmallow-ish, light, fluffy, can't-stop-eating-it dream. I may get a candy thermometer for this icing alone. Because, let me tell you, boiling sugar and water to the soft ball stage, checking for ball-ness in a container of ice water, is not actually my idea of fun. The cake is pretty good, but I would probably go for a strawberry box cake and just put this icing on top the next time.

Yes, I know, I left the bowl of extra icing in the 22. I moved it and took another pic, but you couldn't see the details as well!

Birthday Cake with Boiled Icing (AKA Italian Meringue Icing)
Serves: 16-20 Prep time: 20-40 minutes, depending on your icing luck

Cake directions:
Cooking spray
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups cake flour (or 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk (or skim milk + 1Tbs lemon juice)

- Preheat oven to 350°F
- To prepare cake, coat 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; set aside.(Or line cupcake pan with papers, or grease & flour)
- Place 2 cups sugar and unsalted butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed for 5 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract.
- Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and mix after each addition.
- Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles.
- Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pans for 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove cake from pans. Carefully peel off wax paper, and cool completely on wire rack.

Icing directions:
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

To prepare icing
- Place cream of tartar and egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form.
- Combine 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves, stirring mixture frequently, and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, for 2 minutes or until a candy thermometer registers 238°F.
- Pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, beating at high speed until stiff peaks form. Be careful to AVOID beaters!
- Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Spread icing over tops of cupcakes.

Nutrition info (for 1 cupcake, or 1/20th of recipe): Calories - 264 Fat - 8g Carbs - 45g Protein - 3.8g

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spaghetti Carbonara

Well, I have made this twice now, and still no picture. I think that it does not want to be photographed. The first time I just forgot. The second time, I almost forgot. Then I ran upstairs for the camera, brought it down, switched to macro, clicked the button and.... the battery died. Fine. Good news is that it worked well twice. I did a bit of searching, and found one that looks a good bit like mine to post for you, but it's originally from here. It should because he used the same recipe! I didn't find mine from him, though the only real difference is that I didn't sprinkle mind with pepper at the end. Oh, and I always use whole grain pasta because I prefer the taste.

I actually made this last Saturday, before I ran my first 10K. I seriously under did my training, so I will give this pasta, as well as the tasty bread and salad I had, credit for being able to run the full 6.2 miles; I didn't stop to walk once! (Well, the water areas don't count, I wanted to get the water IN me, not just ON me.)

I wouldn't have thought of this as easy or fast, but it totally is. It will take about 3 minutes longer than it takes to cook pasta. It does take some attention to the timing, but that's it. Think you can handle that? I hope so! The recipe calls for bacon, but the first time I just used olive oil because there was no bacon to be had. You will want to use real parmesan. The first time I made it was with dried fake stuff and it was way salty. Not recommended.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Serves: 2-3 Cook time: 20 minutes, if your water is slow to boil

1/3 lb spaghetti
1 1/2 tsp olive oil (or 2-3 strips bacon)
1 clove garlic
2 eggs
1/3-1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

- Put pot of water on to boil as you get out your ingredients. If your frying pan is slow to heat, start heating it up, too. You could also mince the garlic now if you want to, or just crush it with the flat side of your knife.
- When water is boiling, add pasta. Beat eggs in a small bowl with parmesan.
- Wait about 5 minutes for the next step. Go set the table. Pour yourself some water. Make a salad. Something like that.
- In hot frying pan, add oil (or bacon - if using bacon, cook til crisp, then remove from pan) and garlic. If it is minced, leave the garlic in the pan, if not, remove from pan.
- AS SOON AS pasta is barely al dente, drain, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking water (I just set a mug in the sink for that) and put into frying pan, tossing to coat with oil/bacon grease and garlic goodness
- When coated, REMOVE FROM HEAT and pour egg mixture onto noodles (still in the pan!) Your pan is hot, your noodles are hot, so the egg will cook just fine and the parmesan will melt just fine. Add some of the pasta water if you want a thinner sauce.
- Serve, you're done!

Nutrition info (for 1/3 of recipe, made with oil): Calories: 280 Fat - 11.1g Carbs - 29g Protein - 16g

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Beer Bread

WAIT!! Before I lose some of you with the name, you can make it with any carbonated beverage. And it really is easy! Takes no kneading! No rising! 5 ingredients! Actually, you might need to wait longer just so your oven will preheat. *sigh of relief* Ok, now that I've got you staying here...

I made this last night. I wanted to make something savory but quick and really good. One of my wonderful kitchen helpers suggested beer bread. I've seen the mixes in the stores, but thought it sounded.... well, white trashy. I have learned that, in fact, it is not. At all. It is very good. The recipe I used is originally from here. You can find her whole wheat bread recipe here.
I actually made four kinds: plain white, garlic & herb white, plain wheat, cheddar & dill wheat. My favorite by far was the cheddar & dill wheat (pictured.) The bread has a really nice texture and a crisp crust that really surprised me. All in all, I highly recommend that you go buy a 12 oz carbonated beverage and make this today. You know, next time I'm at the store, I should get some sparkling cider. Add a little extra sugar, some cinnamon and nutmeg... mmm.....

**Update: I did end up making this with a bottle of cider and it did indeed taste apple-y and work! I threw in about 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1 cup plumped raisins. Another time I forgot the baking powder, and it was still good, just a lot denser. Hooray!**

Beer (or soda) Bread
Serves: 8-12 Prep time: 5 minutes (yes, seriously) Cook time: 45 minutes

3 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 cups whole wheat and 1 cup all-purpose)
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder (to make it rise)
1 (12 oz) bottle beer (or other carbonated beverage - club soda if you don't want it sweet.)
[add 2 oz (1/4 cup) water if using whole wheat]

- Preheat oven to 375º and grease an 8-inch loaf pan
- Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl, stir
- Slowly stir in beer and mix JUST until combined. Batter will be quite thick.
- Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 375º for 45 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack as long as you can stand. If you cut into it before 10 minutes, it will be really soft, a bit crumbly and not keep its shape (trust me!)

Storing: You should be able to keep this in an air-tight container for 3-5 days, depending on your climate (if you don't just eat it all.)

Nutrition info (for 1/8th of recipe): Calories - 197 Fat - o.5g Carbs - 39.7g Protein - 5g

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saturday Splurge: Almond Poppyseed Cookies

This is another great slice & bake recipe. I have been busier with classes (like running around crazy, not getting enough sleep and HOPING that I am keeping my work straight) and so treats that take less time have definitely been needed. Last week I made these. I was worried that they might be a little bit too unusual and not sweet enough for some, but they got a great response!

If you are looking for the original recipe, and her suggested additions, go here. I will certainly be trying more of them later, but here is the version I made, and my picture to go with. I was really excited to make these because there is a large container of poppy seeds in the kitchen that had just been begging me to find a use for it. I had to oblige, of course!

Almond Poppy seed Cookies
Makes: 50-60 cookies

2 sticks (8 ounces; 230 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup poppyseeds

1. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat again until the mixture is smooth and silky. Beat in the egg yolks, followed by the salt and any dried fruits, zest, nuts or seeds. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, beating just until it disappears. It is better to underbeat than overbeat at this point; if the flour isn’t fully incorporated, that’s okay just blend in whatever remaining flour needs blending with a rubber spatula.

2. Tear off a piece of plastic wrap about 18 inches long. Turn half the dough out onto the plastic wrap and (with clean hands!) shape it carefully into a log. Once shaped, roll up in wrap, repeat with other half, and refrigerate for 2 hours to 3 days. If you want to make sure they're perfectly round, re-roll after 30 minutes.

3. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper [or not - I didn't and only one out of 150 broke!]

4. While the oven is preheating, using a sharp slender knife, slice each log into cookies about 1/4 inch (10 mm) thick. (You can make the cookies thicker if you’d like; just bake them longer.) Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) space between them.

5. Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are set but not browned. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.

Do ahead: Packed airtight, the cookies will keep for about 5 days at room temperature, or in the freezer for a month. Unbaked logs can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Oven-steamed veggies

Life is over-running me this week, which means that this post is (gulp!) untested by me! I think that it looks really good, though, and should work just fine.

Clearly for most people this will be an idea when you already have something going in the oven. No reason to turn the oven on *just* for vegetables. But if there's already chicken, a casserole, or something else in there, why not?

I actually got the idea here when I was looking for a better way to steam veggies. You see, in my building we do not have a giant steamer. Instead, we boil veggies. This almost always leads to mush on the bottom and half-cooked on the top. Not ideal at all. Instead, we can flip on the oven, stick 3-4 baking sheets in, and let it do its thing.

Small-scale steamed veggies
Serves: as many as you like! Time: 20 minutes

- Cut vegetables into large bites and put on large piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkle with salt or spices if you want, fold the foil over, and seal the edges.
- Bake at whatever temperature you already need for about 10 minutes. 10-15 should do it at 375º, but I would check them at 8 minutes for any temperature. You'll lose steam and heat this way, but I think better safe than soggy.

Large-scale steamed veggies
Serves: as many as you like! Time: 30 minutes (because cutting more takes more time)

- Cut vegetables into large bites and put on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt or spices if you want, cover with foil and seal the edges.
- Bake at whatever temperature you already need for about 10 minutes if the over is already on.
- If this is the only thing you're baking, bake at 375º for 10-15 minutes. Check one tray at 8 minutes. You'll lose steam and heat this way, but I think better safe than soggy.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saturday (time) splurge: Apple chips!

When I made kale chips a couple of weeks ago, there were some fans and some... disgusted faces. Dark, leafy greens aren't for everybody. One girl asked, "I wonder if you could do that with apples?" I didn't think it would work in a regular oven, and told her so. Then I went upstairs to my room to find out. Turns out that you can!

A quick search tells me I've only used the word here once, but I should confess: I am terribly impatient when it comes to food. That was a good bit of my motivation starting this blog - find food that doesn't take so long and then write it down somewhere so I wouldn't forget. For this reason, many of the apple chip recipes looked like they took WAY too long for me. When I say many, I mean all that looked viable. It was sad.

So I said, too bad, I'll try it my way anyway! Please note that a key element in this is that my building has a convection oven, which is great at drying things out. Terrible when you're baking chicken or salmon, but great for the chip adventure. I set the oven to 300, thinly sliced my apple, tossed it in cinnamon and sugar, put it in the oven and set it for 20 minutes, expecting to turn the pan then. I went back to my reading.

Was I ever surprised when, at 20 minutes, they all looked close to done. I took one out, shook it like a polaroid til it cooled, and bit into a nice, crispy chip! I was thrilled and pulled the whole sheet out! So, the convection oven gets a major thumbs-up from me on that point. I think they were too dark, though none of my testers thought they tasted burnt, so next time I'll try 275. I *really* wish I had a mandoline or disk for a food processor that slices super thin, because then these would take 5 minutes before the oven, and that would be amazing in my book. For a regular oven recipe, I am copying one (originally from here) for your convenience.

Baked Apple Chips
Serves: 2-3 Time: 1:45 to 2:15

2 apples
approx. 2 tbsp cinnamon
optional: 1 Tbs brown or white sugar
parchment paper (or silpat)
baking/cookie sheet

- Pre heat your oven to 200 degrees F. (LOW SETTING!)
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- To prepare the apples:
- Holding the apple steady skin side on the cutting board, with a steady hand and a sharp knife, slice the apples into thin uniform slices. This will be easier if you cut the apple in half first. You want them to be thin, but not TOO thin. You also want them to be as even as possible so that they dry out evenly. Baking the core makes it edible, so remove only if you want to.
- Place the slices in one layer on the prepared baking sheet.
- Sprinkle with a layer of cinnamon, and if using sugar this is when you sprinkle it on too.
- Place on the middle rack in the oven, and keep the door slightly open by placing a wooden spoon in the top corner of the door. This needs to be done so that a vent is provided for the moisture from the apples, otherwise the apples won’t dry out properly and you will be left with a mushy and somewhat mouldy mess of apple slices.
- The total baking time will be between 1 1/2 hours and 2 hours, depending on the thickness of the apple slices. Check the apple slices at 1 hour to ensure they are not burnt. Check the apple slices again at 1 1/2 hours. (To do this, remove one slice from the oven, and place on a plate. Allow to sit for about 3 minutes, then eat it. If it is crispy, then you’re good to remove them! If it’s still a bit soft, keep the apples in for another ten minutes.) With the slices I baked, at 1 hour and 20 minutes they were almost done. I checked again every 5 minutes, and at 1 hour and 40 minutes they were completely finished.

Note: even when they are finished baking, when immediately removed from the oven, they will still be slightly soft. This is why to test them, you need to allow one slice to cool at room temperature for 3 minutes before testing it.

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for about 3 minutes on the parchment paper. Then, remove them from the paper and place on a plate to serve.

For storage, simply place them in an airtight container and store at room temperature until ready to eat.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

White Chicken Chili

I finally remembered to take a picture when making this! Originally I didn't give much info on this because I was really busy with school - but not so busy that I couldn't post it!

Here are my comments the first time: The short version: one of the girls I cook with had this over spring break and then got the recipe. It's super good. I didn't know what to expect, but I was loving it. In the past I couldn't get white beans (the place we ordered our food from didn't have them) so we used regular kidney beans. Still good!

Since moving into my own place I have made it several times. I love how each time it can be a little different, and the freshness the toppings add. The last several times I've made it with just half a pound of chicken and that has been plenty for us. If you use a non-stick pan, you can also decrease the oil if you don't want the onion and garlic browned or cut it out completely.

You can let it simmer for as long as you like, but the time listed should be fine, that's all ours simmered for the 100ish servings we made. I think the toppings really are nice, too, because then it can be personalized.

White Chicken Chili
Serves: 6 Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes

1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
2 Tbs fresh chopped cilantro
2 Tbs lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/4 tsp red pepper sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups frozen corn (or one can)
1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, drained (1 1/2 cups)
1 (15 oz) can white kidney beans, drained (1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 lbs chicken breast
2 Tbs olive oil
Toppings: tortilla chips, green onions, diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese and sliced avocado

Two-pan method:
1. Cut chicken into cubes. Mince garlic. Chop onion.
2. At the same time as #2, heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic in oil, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender.
3. **At the same time**, cook chicken with oil.
4. Add all ingredients into large pot (where the garlic & onion were cooked - you can add the stock if the garlic & oil finish before the chicken.) Heat to boiling, then reduce to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until heated through.

One-pan method:
1. Cut chicken into cubes. Mince garlic. Chop onion.
2. Heat a large pot over medium high. Toss in oil, onions and garlic, stirring for just a moment, and then add chicken.
3. Add all ingredients into large pot (where the garlic & onion were cooked - you can add the stock if the garlic & oil finish before the chicken.) Heat to boiling, then reduce to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until heated through.

Nutrition info (1/6th of recipe, no toppings): Cal - 429   Fat - 9=12.6g   Carbs - 30.9g    Protein - 48.5g

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hot cocoa taste test (& recipe)

A few weeks ago, I made a 'decadent' purchase - $0.55 worth (2 1/2 Tbs?) of Valrhona cocoa powder. If you don't know what the brand is, google it. Basically, it's supposed to be one of the best you can get and super-crazy good. For a couple of months I've been wanting to try to make some good hot cocoa mix. I am ok with the instant stuff for the most part, but all of the fake things in it started to make me wonder what real stuff tastes like. I know I already shared one, but that takes real chocolate and fat-free evaporated milk: two things I don't always have on hand.

Not that I am a complete stranger to homemade cocoa. My mom used to make it on the stove top for us fairly often. Probably because it was cheaper than mix. Actually, maybe it was because me and my little sister used to steal the canisters and keep them in our room and eat the mix dry. That and fruity drink mix. I wonder if my parents ever knew it was us... Plain cocoa cannot be stolen and eaten in the same way, though it does make a tasty hot chocolate.

Back to the point! A few years ago, my mom also told me about something she and my little brother called "cocoa tea" - plain cocoa in hot water. She said it satisfied her chocolate craving. Her chocolate tooth must be different than mine, though, because that stuff never really mixed and didn't taste like much to me. I wanted something fast, easy and that could give control over the sugar added. After some searching of food blogs (in vain), I found it on the Hershey's site, of all places. Their directions and proportions are a little funny, so I've redone them below.

Now, the taste-test bit. With my recipe in hand, I compared 3 kinds: Swiss Miss (instant!), recipe with Hershey's, recipe with Valrhona. Both recipes were made with whole milk, the instant with skim (since it already contains milk.) We had some interesting results. Hershey's definitely tasted most "classic" which I suppose isn't surprising coming from Americans! We thought that the instant just tasted off. The Valrhona had a darker color and flavor, which I really liked. A Korean girl that tasted the three preferred the instant - she said because of the vanilla and other flavors.

I tried this recipe with soymilk, and it mostly worked. Just watch it carefully or else it will boil over and get everywhere. Trust me. I also tried it with one of my favorite uses for instant: thrifty girl's mocha (pictured.) Recipe variation included below.

Hot cocoa
Serves: 1 Prep time: A beautiful 3-5 minutes

1 Tbs cocoa
2 Tbs granulated sugar (or less! or substitute!)
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla (optional)

- Put the cocoa and sugar in an empty cup
- Add about 2 tablespoons of the milk, and mix until the cocoa and sugar are incorporated. Add a tiny bit more at a time if yours does not turn into a smooth, thick liquid.
- Add remaining milk, give a quick stir, pop in microwave for 90 seconds (stir every 30 seconds if you want, but do watch it to make sure you don't make a mess.)
- Stir, add vanilla if you like or other flavor and drink!

Nutrition facts (using whole milk): Calories - 256 Fat - 8.6g Carbs - 39.2g Protein - 8.8g

Nutrition facts (using 1% milk): Calories - 212 Fat - 3.1g Carbs - 40.3g Protein - 9.2g

Thrifty girl's mocha
Serves: 1 Prep time: A beautiful 3-5 minutes

1 Tbs cocoa
2 Tbs granulated sugar (or less! - I made mine with just 1 Tbs)
3 Tbs half & half (or cream or whole milk)
1 cup freshly brewed coffee
1/4 tsp vanilla (optional)

- Put the cocoa and sugar in an empty cup
- Add the half & half, and mix until the cocoa and sugar are incorporated. Add a tiny bit more if yours does not turn into a smooth, thick liquid.
- Pour in your coffee and stir - mine got that gorgeous foam you see on top.
- Stir, add vanilla or other flavor if you like and drink!

Nutrition facts (using half & half, 1 Tbs sugar): Calories - 122 Fat - 5.9g Carbs - 17.5g Protein - 2.6g

Nutrition facts (using whole milk, 1 Tbs sugar): Calories - 90 Fat - 2.2g Carbs - 17.6g Protein - 2.7g

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday Splurge: Daring Bakers' Challenge: Orange Tian

For a while I have been thinking about joining an online cooking or baking group. However, many of them have weekly things to make, and I just can't commit to that right now. And then I found the Daring Kitchen. Their challenges are just one per month. And it's not just any old thing, it's a challenge. After the first one, I'll agree that it is at least making me do new things! Here it is:

The 2010 March Daring Baker's challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse's Cooking School in Paris.

None of the recipe is *tooo* complicated. It just has a lot of steps. Did you know you can caramelize sugar without adding any liquid? I didn't! Or that you marmalade contains the whole orange? Not me, clearly. Or what segmenting an orange means? All new, fun things. Lucky you - I figured out how to do a jump in my blog! So the full recipe, the four pages of it!, is posted if you'd like. Just click the link after the picture.

Keep reading if you want the full recipe

Friday, March 26, 2010

DRAT it all! (But a new look!)

Last week I made some Kale chips. I was apparently ahead of some other food bloggers for once! Even though people have been posting about them for years! But, I kept forgetting to take a picture and being too busy to write the post. So what happens? Somebody else I read often (with a large following) posted hers today. Darn it! And yesterday I even failed to post. *sigh* I could have been before her. I guess that's what I get. I'll post them later. Or next week if I don't have anything else. I might not. Moving on, then...

I found a fantastic thing! How to make Blogger look...... DIFFERENT! I know people can do it. I know normal people do it. So it couldn't be that hard, right? Right?? Well, today I found a blog with tutorials on how to do some of the stuff and started playing with it. Yay! More fun changes to come, do not worry :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grilled figs

Back when figs were in season (September??) I made these from a recipe in CL, although it isn't available through their site (I wonder if they're changing their policies?) Anyway, it was nicely simple for something that, for me at least, is out of the ordinary. When they're in season, figs can be affordable for a special treat. Otherwise... well, they can be pretty expensive. Instead of tossing them on the grill, I did mine under the broiler. It was quicker because I didn't have a grill heated up, but these would be a fun and 'fancy' barbecue dessert for those of us in climates where fig season is still barbecue season.

The recipe uses plain yogurt. I prefer low fat or full-fat because the texture of non-fat is so... weird. It's runny and almost grainy when compared to the others. No good. Greek yogurt would be really nice, too. Or crème fraiche, mmmmm... if we ignore what it's made of. You could add a sprinkling of seeds or toasted wheat germ or cereal if you want a crunch on top.

Grilled figs
Serves: 2-4 people (1-2 figs per person) Time: 15 minutes

4 fresh figs
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon honey (or double it if you want)

- Mix yogurt and honey, place in fridge if you are doing ahead of time, freezer if directly before cooking the figs
- Wash figs and cut in half, then put cut-side up in a baking dish
- Turn on broiler (or if you have the grill going, brush it off and oil it)
- Place figs under broiler for 3-5 minutes, or until they get a bit more plump and it looks like the juices are trying to run away (on the grill, this may be harder to tell, so be careful not to burn them!)
- Place a dollop of the honey yogurt on top of each half and serve while warm

Nutrition info (for two figs with low fat yogurt mixture): Cal - 146 Fat - 0.8g Protein - 2.9g Carbs - 35g

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Break slacking

Well, as you might have noticed, I did not post a single thing last week. I meant to, I really did. But it was spring break and for part of it, I went camping. Then when I got back, I meant to post, but then I realized how much homework and grading I needed to get done before today. And it still didn't happen. And I had to make something for the Daring Bakers' Challenge (more on the 27th!)

I'll be back on track in the morning, don't you worry. I may even post some camping foods, though I wasn't prescient enough to take pictures. Ah well, can't win at everything.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

(Almost) failed experiment and brownie cutting tip

I guess the first part of this is what NOT to do. There was a ton of fresh mint left over from last Saturday, so I thought, why not try to use it? And what does mint go with? Chocolate, of course! I thought I would be clever and chop up some fresh mint and put it in those amazing cocoa brownies.

I rinsed a large bunch, pulled off each leaf, carefully chopped them into little bits and stirred it in. No flavor. Rinsed, pulled, and chopped a slightly large bunch. Fingers starting to get annoyed at the action. Stirred it in. Not really a flavor. Gave to two others to test. Nope, really just no flavor. Hmmm.... getting discouraged, but will not be beaten to easily! Extra large bunch, rinsed, pulled, chopped! Stirred! Refused to taste in case there was no change. Flavors should blend more in oven, yes? Put in oven, set timer.

As I pulled it out, I could finally smell some mint. Thank goodness. Not nearly done, so put back in for 15 more minutes. When I pulled it out, I was much too impatient to wait for them to cool, so I used an old trick: Cut hot brownies with plastic. A plastic knife would be perfect, but any piece of straight plastic works. In the kitchen there is a (slightly melted) cheap plastic spatula that is really thin, and I used that. Put brownie in mouth: mmmmmm, a nice touch of mint.

Moral of the story: Use mint extract to make mint brownies. And then cut them with a plastic knife while hot. Fingers hurt from chopping, so I'm done now.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pumpkin Raisin Bites

The recipe I used called these cookies, but nobody who tasted them agrees. The words "fluffs" and "puffs" were suggested, but one person pointed out that fluffs sounds like lint and I think puffs is too much like cream puffs or puff pastry - both things with a lot of air and these certainly leave no room for that. They are light and fluffy, but solid.

Don't tell the house, but I snuck something healthy into their diets for my Saturday treat-making duties. The other day I saw that there was a giant thing of pumpkin. And raisins. And many cans of evaporated milk. And whole wheat flour. I thought about pumpkin pie, but it's so much nicer to be able to grab something as you walk past instead of getting a plate. (And I ended up making crustless pumpkin pie a few days later so the pumpkin wouldn't go bad.) As I started looking for pumpkin raisin cookies, I came across one low-fat vegan recipe on many different sites. It looked good, but I doubted its ability to fly in a rather non-vegan environment. After the addition of fat and animal products, and replacing some of the wheat flour with white since I didn't have pastry flour, I thought I had a great recipe.

I mixed everything up and when it came out, they were super tasty. Not at all cookie-like. And not that sweet. Being a person who doesn't need super sweet, I was ok with that. I think they'd be a great treat just the way they are. I also know my audience, though, so I mixed up some glaze that I used on about 3/4 of them. Perfection! I think that the recipe should be really easy to play with - if you want to omit the butter, just use 1/2 cup skim milk. If you want to use soy milk, like the original, go for it. Prefer splenda? That's ok, too. Like any low-fat recipe, these are best eaten the same day or frozen.

Pumpkin Raisin Bites
Makes: 24 3-inch cookies Time: 35 minutes

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup butter (unsalted preferred)
1 cup raisins (or use 1/2 and replace other 1/2 with nuts)
Spray oil

- Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease a baking sheet
- Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with HOT water to plump
- Mix dry ingredients (first 8) in a large bowl
- Add remaining ingredients, including raisins, and mix completely
- Drop by tablespoons onto greased baking sheet. They can be close together since the low butter content means they will hardly spread, if at all.
- Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned
- Remove from sheet and let cool on a rack
- Eat like that, or add the glaze

For the glaze (optional):
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk (whole milk gives the thickest glaze, skim the thinnest)

- Mix powdered sugar and milk in a medium bowl
- Dip each bite, upside down, into the glaze. Dip only the top as the glaze will run down the sides on its own. The glaze will harden if you don't eat them all first.
- NOW you can eat it! :)

Nutrition info (1 bite, no glaze): Fat - 2.1g Calories - 94 Carbs - 18g Protein - 1.5g