October 31, 2006

Apple Cranberry Crisp


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup cranberries
4 large tart apples, sliced
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish. In a large bowl toss the apples and cranberries with sugar. Arrange evenly in baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together nutmeg, cinnamon, flour oats and melted butter. Sprinkle over apple/cranberry mixture. Bake 35 minutes or until the apples soften. Allow to cool slightly and serve.
My thoughts:
This is a slightly tart crisp that would be good for dessert or even breakfast. Or at Thanksgiving, but I don't think cranberries should be relegated to just one day. Cranberries are so cheap this time of year I always stock up. You can freeze them and they keep for years! They also keep for weeks in the fridge. You can use them in pretty much any recipe that calls for blueberries if you add a little extra sugar and I think they are perfect paired with apples.

October 30, 2006

Peanut Butter Sandies



Ingredients:
1 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup flour
1 cup light brown sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and peanut butter. Slowly add flour and mix until thoroughly combined. Using your hands, roll about a tablespoons of dough together into a ball. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and press slightly to flatten. Bake 8 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly golden. Allow to cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes then carefully remove to wire racks to continue to cool. It is best to allow them to cool completely before eating, they "set" while they cool.
My thoughts:
These are super easy (and vegan) cookies. They have a crumbly, some what sandy texture. I don't generally eat much peanut butter but these cookies are tasty!

October 29, 2006

Chocolate Cut Out Cookies



Ingredients:
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
10 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

colored sugar for sprinkling

Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cocoa and baking powder. In a larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, mix to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until well combined. The batter will be quite thick. Refrigerate for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on a clean tabletop or a tabletop covered in waxed paper. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick and cut out using cookie cutters. Repeat, incorporating scraps, until there is no more remaining dough. If the dough gets soft, refrigerate it for a few minutes. Arrange on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake about 8 minutes or until they look "set" then cool on a wire rack.
My thoughts:
I've been wanting to make a chocolate roll out cookie for a long time, but thought it best to wait until Halloween so I could make spooky, dark cookies. They came out well, very chocolate-y, but they can burn quickly. Try and place cookies of similar size on the same cookie sheet so they will have have similar baking times. The smaller the cookie, the faster it bakes so adjust the baking time as needed.

October 28, 2006

Butternut Squash Muffins


Ingredients:
4 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups cooked butternut squash*, drained and cooled
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 3 loaf pans or line 3 dozen muffin wells**. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, allspice, cloves, salt,baking powder and nutmeg. In a large bowl, beat together oil, sugar and brown sugar. Add eggs and mix thoroughly. Stir in squash, apple cider and ginger. Incorporate the flour mixture one cup at a time until thoroughly combined and lump-free. Pour into prepared tins and bake 15-20 minutes for muffins and up to 1 hour for bread. A toothpick insert in the center muffin or bread should come out clean.


*cut in half, brush lightly with oil and roast on a pan for about 1 hour or until soft, remove from skin.
**we made 2 dozen muffins and one loaf of bread.

My thoughts:
These are an excellent alternative to the more ubiquitous pumpkin breads and muffins. Not that they aren't good on their own merits but butternut squash has its own subtle flavor that is exceptional in muffins and quick breads and often over looked.

October 24, 2006

Chocolate Cream Cheese Truffles


Ingredients:
1 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
4 oz cream cheese*, slightly softened
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted

cocoa to roll

Directions:
In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar. Add chocolate. Beat until well combined. Using your fingers, roll the chocolate/cream cheese mixture to the size of a large marble or superball. Sprinkle about 1/3 cup of cocoa on a plate and gently roll the candy to coat. Place on a clean plate and serve. You can also wait a couple of hours and they will have a more solid texture.



*the kind you get in a brick, not "spreadable" or "whipped"

My thoughts:
I like to make sweet things on Tuesdays and since today is Slashfood's candy day, I thought I'd make candy. I normally don't make candy so it was a nice change. At first I was going to make cream cheese fudge but then had the brainstorm of rolling them in unsweetened cocoa powder and making truffles. I am glad I did, they are so dark chocolate-y and tangy from the cream cheese. Also: you can't tell from the picture, but the bowl they are sitting in is teeny-tiny, it fits in the center of my hand, only about 2 inches across!

October 23, 2006

Popovers




Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs


Directions:
Preheat oven to 450. Grease and flour a popover or muffin tin. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In the measuring cup you melted* the butter in, whisk together eggs, milk, and the butter. Pour over flour mixture, and gently fold to blend. Fill the popover/muffins wells cups about three-quarters full. The amount you will yield depends on the type of pan used. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350, and bake for an additional 20 minutes. They will be very puffy and brown. Remove from pan. You may want to pierce before serving to avoid steam burns.

*in the microwave, less than a minute.

My thoughts:
Popovers are sort of a miracle of baking science. No baking soda, no baking powder, no fluffy eggs whites and yet they puff up to incredible heights. We served these with a green salad with homemade vinaigrette and sliced steak.

October 21, 2006

Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies



Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips*
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar until thoroughly mixed. Add vanilla and eggs, stir to combine. Add the flour and baking power, mix thoroughly. Use a spatula to evenly distribute the dough into the prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing. I found it was easier to slice when the whole thing was removed from the pan.
* Mini chips work well here, sometimes the regular chips are difficult to slice.
My thoughts:
Bar cookies are even easier than drop cookies and just as good. These are a little chewy and very chocolate-y. I like how the mini chips distribute so evenly and you get some chocolate in every bite. I tried to cut them using a large pumpkin cookie cutter and it worked but it would have only yielded a few cookies, by stitching to slicing, I ended up with over 18 good sized cookies.

October 19, 2006

Chunky Vegetable Chili

Ingredients:
1 habenero pepper, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Japanese eggplants, chopped
3 zucchini, chopped
32 oz canned whole tomatoes, cut up
15 oz canned pinto beans, drained
15 oz canned dark red kidney beans, drained
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne

Directions:
In a large pot, heat the oil. When hot, add the red pepper flakes, garlic, onions, shallots, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until things begin to soften. Add the eggplant and half of the zucchini. Continue to cook, about 10 minutes or until the eggplant begins to soften. Add the tomatoes, cumin, paprika, chili powder, habenaro, and cayenne and continue to cook. After about 5 minutes, add the remaining zucchini and then continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 more minutes. Add the kidney and pinto beans, stir and return to heat, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want a thinner, soupier texture leave the lid on, if you want it thicker, leave the lid off. Serve hot.
My thoughts:
I have had a craving for a good vegetable chili for a while now. I used to get a good bowl at a restaurant that has since closed but had never made it myself before. Anyway, I think this recipe is a pretty good alternative, I made the decision to add half of the zucchini later to give it more of a texture contrast but you could add it all in the beginning and it would be fine. We served with corn muffins and when I eat some leftovers tomorrow, I think I might ladle it over rice.

October 18, 2006

Yellow Cupcakes




Ingredients:
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Directions:
Preheat oven 350. Line or grease one 12 cupcake cupcake pan. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add baking powder. Beat briefly, then add milk and flour alternately beginning and ending with flour. Mix until thoroughly combined. Divide evenly among 12 cupcake wells. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center cupcake comes out clean. Remove to wire rack, cool then ice.

My thoughts:

Yellow cupcakes are your basic, plain vanilla cake in cupcake form. Yummy and the perfect base for chocolate or vanilla icing. They dome nicely and look extra cute with seasonal cupcake picks!

Vanilla to Chocolate Icing


Ingredients:
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 to 1/2 cup cocoa
Directions:
In a large bowl, cream together the vanilla, butter and sugar. Add milk, beat until spreading constancy. Frost as many cupcakes as you want to be vanilla. Add the cocoa to the icing (adjust the amount to how many cupcakes you have iced, if you have iced a lot, use less cocoa) and beat until throughly mixed. Ice remaining cupcakes.
frosts 12-8 cupcakes
My thoughts:
I made these cupcakes for my friend Shayne who not only created my online shop, but came over today to show me how to update it myself and fixed my sewing machine. She knew she wanted yellow cake but the hitch was that she liked chocolate icing and her husband likes vanilla. So I created this icing that can please everyone. Make it vanilla, frost some cupcakes then add the cocoa and frost the rest. It tastes fabulous in either incarnation.

October 17, 2006

Pink Peppermint Popcorn Bars



Ingredients:
7 cups plain, popped popcorn*
3 cups mini marsmallows**
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract**
red food coloring
cooking spray
Directions:
Spray a small saucepan with cooking spray. Melt mini marshmallows, few drops of food coloring and peppermint extract over low heat, stirring occasionally with a greased spatula. Pour all of the popcorn in a very large bowl. Once the marshmallows are melted, pour over the popcorn and stir (using the greased spatula) until throughly mixed. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan and flatten as needed. Allow to cool and cut into bars.



*pick through for the unpopped "old maids" or you may lose a tooth.
** or you could use peppermint marshmallows
My thoughts:
I had heard about pink popcorn bars on a nostalgic candy website and was intrigued. I couldn't find too many details about what they were other than pink and made of popcorn. I think they are basically pink candy coated popcorn bars but I could be wrong. Anyway, tonight is Gilmore Girls night and you know how I like to make a treat. So I thought about what I would want in a pink popcorn bar and knew it would be marshmallow. And what goes better with pink marshmallow than peppermint? I can't imagine. Did I mention that they are fat free?

October 16, 2006

Yeast Rolls




Ingredients:
5 1/2 cups flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 oz package active dry yeast
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Dissolve yeast and honey in the warm water and allow to sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, scald the milk. Stir in the sugar, butter, and salt. Allow to come to room temperature. Pour into a large bowl. Add yeast. Add the flour, slowly, mixing until a soft dough forms. Remove form bowl and knead by hand or in a stand mixer with a dough hook, about 10 minutes or until smooth. Shape into a ball and place in a buttered bowl. Cover with a cloth or plate and place some place warm and draft free, like a "cold" oven for about an hour. The dough should have doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down with your fist and knead for a few minutes. Cut into about 20-25 2 inch square pieces and arrange on a cookie sheet, spacing about 2-3 inches apart. Allow to rise an additional 45 minutes or until they have doubled in size again. Preheat oven to 425. Bake for fifteen minutes, then pull apart and eat.

Spring this recipe!



My thoughts:
They are the best yeast rolls out there. Fluffy yet dense and perfect for slathering with butter. Which you don't even have to feel guilty about doing-this is a very low fat roll. If you make them slightly bigger, they are great for small sandwiches.

Oh yeah, today is World Bread Day!

October 14, 2006

Fried Fillet of Flounder



Ingredients:
1 to 1 1/2 lb flounder fillets
1 lime
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt
pepper

oil for frying

Directions:
Place fish in a large bow. Squeeze the lime over the fish. Place in the refrigerator for ten minutes, while you mix together all of the dry ingredients and sprinkle them on a plate. Remove the fish from the bowl, dredge in the cornmeal mixture. Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Repeat for all of the fillets, then place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat enough oil to pan fry the fillets (about an inch) in a shallow saucepan. This will take about 15-20 minutes, you want the oil to be very hot. When it is hot enough, you can sort of smell it. Remove the fish from the refrigerator, 2 or 3 at a time, and fry. Cook about 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. You want to make sure that the side is brown before you flip it, you don't want to flip twice. Flounder is very thin and will break apart if man(fish)handled. Repeat for all of the fillets Drain on paper towel lined plates and serve hot. Also good on sandwiches, and we even like it the next day.




My thoughts:
After the deliciousness of the fried catfish a while back, when flounder was on sale, we couldn't contain ourselves. We had to change the recipe a bit, as flounder is a much more delicate, very flat fish and came up with this one. It was very tasty! Just remember-cold fish, hot oil is the key to crispy, not greasy fish.

October 12, 2006

Quick Thai Curry




Ingredients:
1 pound sliced london broil or flank steak
1 pound string beans, ends cut, halved
2 chinese eggplants, halved and in 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup coconut milk
3-4 tablespoons of Thai Red Curry Paste
1 onion sliced
3 tablespoons oil
Asian hot sauce such as Sriracha
fresh basil

Directions:
Brown onion slices in Oil. add curry paste and stir briskly 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add meat and cook until no longer pink. Stir in coconut milk, cook 5 minutes longer, then add vegetables and basil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook for 20-30 minutes (stirring occasionally) until vegetables are tender. Add hot sauce to taste.
My thoughts:
This recipe is what my sweet husband came up with for dinner last night. He even typed it up for me, so if there are complaints, take it up with him. It was very good: quick, easy and spicy. Just like we like it!

October 10, 2006

Cobblestone Blondies




Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cup mini* semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup toffee chips
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar, sugar and butter. Add the eggs and vanilla, beat until fluffy. Add the flour, 2/3 of the chocolate chips**, 1/2 of the marshmallows, all of the toffee bits and the baking powder until thoroughly combined. Pour into a prepared pan and bake 20 minutes or until just set. Sprinkle evenly with remaining marshmallows and chips, return to oven for an additional 5-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted (not through a marshmallow!) comes out clean.



*Mini chips melt faster, but regular chips would work too.
**If you are using regular sized chips, you might want to add the chips after the flour so they don't get broken up.


My thoughts:
Following in the great tradition of sweets on Gilmore night, I made these blondies. I called them "cobblestone" blondies because if they were chocolate and had nuts, they'd be "rocky road" brownies. Get it? Cobblestones, rocky road? Okay, maybe it isn't that great of a name but I couldn't think of a better, more descriptive name and I wanted to get them done before the show. They came out really yummy and don't taste as over the top sweet as you might think from the ingredients list. They also have a really unique fluffy yet chewy texture.

October 09, 2006

Apple Cider Cupcakes



Ingredients:
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 2/3 cup flour
1 cup pasturized apple cider
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line 12 cupcake wells. In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, beat well. Add the baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir. Add the flour alternatly with the apple cider until throughly combined. Pour into prepared cupcake pan, filling each cup 3/4 way full. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center cupcake comes out clean.

Great with caramel frosting.

My thoughts:
It's apple cider time again. We bought a jug yesterday and I thought it would be fun to do something with it besides just drinking it. I had heard of (but never have had the good fortune to taste) apple cider doughnuts and felt the next logical evolution of apple cider baked goods should be cupcakes. They are suprisingly light and fluffy. I was worried that you wouldn't be able to taste the apple cider but you really can and tell that it is apple cider (which I like) and not apple juice (which I don't).

Caramel Frosting

Ingredients:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter then add the milk and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and whisk in 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar. Cool slightly, then very vigorously* whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar. Frost cakes while the frosting is still slightly warm.


*if you have problems doing this by hand, use an electric mixer, it is very important to whisk very quickly or it will not be smooth.
My thoughts:
This is not a fluffy icing, but it is a thick and tasty one. It's hard to get a good carmel flavor in an icing, but I think I did it.

October 08, 2006

Roadhouse Chili




Ingredients:
2 lbs top round beef, cubed
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 dried chipotle peppers
2 dried Anaheim chiles
2 stalks celery, diced
1 habanero pepper, minced
1 onion, sliced
1 cup good quality dark ale
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup orange juice
30 oz canned pinto beans
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano



Directions:
In a small bowl, soak the dried chipotle and Anaheim chiles in hot water for 20-30 minutes to rehydrate. Meanwhile, sprinkle flour on a plate, dredge beef in flour. In a large, deep saucepan, heat oil. Add beef and brown. Add onions, garlic, habanero and celery, cook about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Drain and puree the rehydrated chiles. Add the beer, stock, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, oregano, orange juice and chile puree. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pinto beans and cook an additional 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

My thoughts:
An easy, hearty chili that's good served over corn bread, tortilla chips or saltines.

October 07, 2006

Orange Carrot Muffins




Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice, at room temperature
1/2 cup carrot, grated
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. Grease or line 15 wells in a cupcake pan. In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar. Add orange juice, butter, egg, carrot and lemon zest. Stir until combined, then add the salt, flour, and baking powder and stir until just combined. Spoon batter into prepared wells, filling each 2/3 of the way.
Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for a few minutes, then invert on a wire rack. Eat warm or at room temperature.

My thoughts:
My husband made these muffins for breakfast this morning. They were quick and had a great orange flavor. The carrots add a texture contrast and a bit of sweetness. They are especially good when served warm so we were able to ward off scurvy and a chill at the same time.

October 02, 2006

Apple Waffles



Ingredients:
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
2/3 cup Granny Smith apples, grated
1 egg
1 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:
In a large bowl, beat together egg, apple, milk, vanilla, butter, and nutmeg until throughly combined. Add in baking powder and flour, stir to combine. Prepare as per your waffle iron's instructions.

Yield: 4 waffles
My thoughts:
Autumn is the perfect time to cook with apples. I came up with this apple waffle recipe to have for dinner tonight. It has good apple flavor and since they are unsweetened, they taste great with butter and syrup. I left the skin on the apples so they have a slight greenish hue where the skin is peeking out. If this bothers you, peel the apples before grating.