Archive for the ‘Adventures in Baking’ Category

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 13, 2007

This is an older post but it reminds me of my mom so I decided to re-post it for Mother’s Day. We lost my mom in 1998 but I think of her every day, especially when I’m in the kitchen!

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I’ve been baking bread since I was small. My mom baked bread a lot when we were kids and my sister and I used to have fun helping (dressed in our matching chef’s hats and aprons, of course). Read the rest of this entry »

Nando’s Chicken Pizza

April 20, 2007

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How it is that I’ve gone this long without tasting any of Nando’s Peri-Peri sauces, I will never know. But now that this wrong has been righted, I’m definitely a Nando’s convert. I like spicy foods and I like hot sauces but I wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur. I always have a supply of a couple different Tabasco sauces on hand (I’ve also tried Texas Pete’s and Louisiana brands but I’ve always been a Tabasco girl), but my pantry hot sauce collection doesn’t usually get much bigger than that other than maybe some Cholula and a mild tomatillo-based green sauce. And of course, there’s the occasional Asian chili paste and I am now always fully stocked with Italian chili paste (crema di peperoncino). But really, considering the variety of hot sauces available in this world, my tiny collection doesn’t even scratch the surface. Read the rest of this entry »

What Makes These Dark Chocolate Muffins Special? Beets Me.

October 28, 2006

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Double Dark Chocolate Beet Muffins. Yes, you read that right. Beet. Sound good? Probably not. But you can’t say they don’t look good! And so far, nobody has been disappointed with the taste either. What prompted me to create such a bizarre flavor combination in this muffin? Well it’s kind of a long story…

To tell you the truth, I’ve never liked beets. I was forced to eat them as a kid, I thought they tasted like dirt, end of story. Fast forward 25 years and I decided it was time to give the strange-looking red root another chance. My aunt and uncle recently took me to the local farmer’s market and one of the many things we bought were beets.

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My aunt boiled the beets, cut them in chunks, doused them with a healthy amount of vinegar, salt, and pepper and one of my least favorite vegetables was transformed into my favorite new Read the rest of this entry »

Back to Sourdough

August 28, 2006

It seems like I’ve been doing more baking than cooking lately so rather than post a recipe this time, I’d like to show off one of my latest baking successes.

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I purchased a sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour quite a while ago and I’ve been maintaining it despite the fact that I took quite a long a break from baking with it. Sourdough is finicky sometimes (especially when you’re new to baking with it) and I became a little disheartened after my last attempt. Everything had been going well and I had turned out quite a few great loaves of sourdough so it was frustrating when I saw two days of work collapse into an unmanageable pile of goo after I accidentally let it proof too long after shaping. That was actually my second sourdough disaster. So, I decided I needed a little break from it. Fortunately, the break didn’t last too long because I started craving the stuff!

I brought my little sourdough starter crock out from the fridge, fed it a few times over the course of a couple days to make sure it was nice and happy, then made my dough. Usually I start by making a sponge, which increases the flavor of the bread and makes it “extra-sour” the way I like it. But this time, I followed a new recipe that uses twice as much starter and no sponge. I thought I’d try it and see how I liked a lighter-tasting bread. Read the rest of this entry »

Baking with Whole Grains: Best Banana Muffins

August 24, 2006

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If you are new to baking and cooking with whole grains, I think one of the best places to start is with quick breads and muffins. I have already posted a recipe for whole-wheat banana bread and well, I guess I’m not very creative because here I go again with another whole-wheat banana recipe!

I have been working this last week on creating a muffin recipe that tastes great but has fewer calories and more fiber than the muffins I’ve made in the past. Since I love banana bread and I always have some extra-ripe bananas stored in the freezer, I have mostly been working on a banana muffin recipe.

My first couple of attempts were banana-coconut muffins. I was frustrated because I was having problems creating a recipe I liked and then I realized that the reason I wasn’t happy with them had nothing to do with the recipe. I simply didn’t like the texture of coconut in the muffin. I also kept trying to add cinnamon or nutmeg and was disappointed with the flavor. Then I remembered that I prefer my banana bread without any extra spices. So finally, I went back to basics and came up with a banana muffin that tastes like bananas. Read the rest of this entry »

Zucchini and Chocolate?

August 16, 2006

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A friend gave us these muffins a while back and I took the photo before we polished them off because I knew I wanted to share the recipe. She gave me the cookbook last week and now I’ve finally managed to get the recipe typed up for Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread.

The combination of chocolate and zucchini might seem a little unusual but it actually works really well. The cinnamon really seems to bring it all together. This recipe is from Cooking Light so unlike a lot of the recipes I’ve been posting lately, they can be enjoyed with a little less guilt!

The recipe below uses a loaf pan but it worked well with a mini muffin pan too. Just make sure that you really cut the baking time if you decide to do muffins. Read the rest of this entry »

More Ways with Blueberries

August 15, 2006

 

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I guess I went a little crazy the last time I bought frozen berries because when I looked in the freezer yesterday, I still had half a bag of blueberries. And this is after making the Blueberry Pancakes and the Blueberry Breakfast Bars! Not only that, I have 2 bags of frozen raspberries! I guess I’d better start looking for some good raspberry recipes.

Since the bag of blueberries was already open I decided I’d better find a way to use those up first. My other freezer discovery yesterday was some pie pastry that I had cut into small circles a while back for some apple pocket pies. So, I had 5 little pastry circles, some blueberries, and some granny smith apples that I found in the fridge. I decided to put them all together and see what happened. Read the rest of this entry »

Blueberries, Blueberries, Blueberries!

August 7, 2006

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As you might have guessed from the pancakes I made, I love blueberries! One of my favorite ways to eat fresh blueberries is with cottage cheese but I also love them in yogurt or on cereal. And of course in desserts…especially blueberry pie! I don’t find a lot of fresh blueberries here but I have found that frozen ones work just as well in most recipes.

I found this recipe on a great blog called Farmgirl Fare. It combines two of my favorite things…oatmeal cookies and blueberries! These are called breakfast bars but if you don’t like sweets for breakfast, these make a great dessert…especially served with some vanilla ice cream!

As farmgirl points out at the end of her recipe, blueberries are really good for you! So if you’re gonna splurge and eat dessert, why not make it one that at least offers some health benefits? In fact, this dessert is twice as good for you because it’s also filled with oats, another one of the world’s healthiest foods! I know, I know, the blueberries and oats don’t make all the calories from the butter and sugar disappear. But wouldn’t you feel better eating a homemade blueberry bar rather than some preservative-filled, prepackaged junk food?

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Just Peachy

August 3, 2006

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What’s better than eating fresh, sweet, peaches over the kitchen sink with juice dribbling down your chin? Maybe nothing. Or maybe, some peach cobbler fresh out of the oven served warm on top of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

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A couple of years ago, I discovered something simple that changed the way I cooked. Fresh grated nutmeg. Maybe I’m one of the few who hadn’t caught on to this simple trick but I’m putting the word out, just in case there are others who haven’t been converted! Not only does fresh grated nutmeg make a world of difference in your desserts (i.e. Peach Cobbler), it will turn your ordinary béchamel sauce into something unforgettable. Try it with spinach, egg dishes, French toast; you’ll see what I mean.

With all the special gadgets dedicated to grating nutmeg, one might think that it was a difficult task! I’ve seen everything from “professional quality” microplane graters to cute, miniature graters to store in your spice cabinet. You can even find antique silver nutmeg graters. But I’ve found that I get by just fine by grating it on the side of my cheapo, very untrendy box grater (you know, the side that will rip the skin right off your knuckles, if you’re not careful!). It works just fine and you really don’t have to apply much pressure.

Well all this talk about nutmeg really is leading us back to peach cobbler, I promise! I discovered that fresh grated nutmeg tastes wonderful with fresh peaches in my favorite dessert. You can use this recipe or you can stick with your old standby cobbler recipe but just try it once with a few dashes of fresh nutmeg and see if you’ll ever want it any other way!

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Fresh Peach Cobbler

Filling:
4 C. sliced fresh peaches
1/3 C. brown sugar
fresh grated nutmeg
1 T. flour
Pinch of salt (optional)

Topping*:
1 C. all-purpose flour
1/4 C. sugar
1 t. baking powder
Pinch of salt (optional)
3 T. cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 beaten egg
3 T. milk

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together peaches, sugar, flour, a couple dashes of fresh grated nutmeg, and salt (if using); set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add butter and cut in with pastry blender or rub butter into flour with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and milk together.
  6. Add the egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture.
  7. Stir just until combined–don’t overmix!
  8. Pour peach mixture into a small baking dish (8”x8”x2”). Drop topping mixture by large spoonfuls over the top of the peaches.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven. Topping is done when golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. Serve warm with ice cream and then eat the rest cold for breakfast!

* The topping part of the above recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.

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Cracked Wheat Bread

July 27, 2006

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Back to the bread! I have had a couple of (undocumented) unfortunate breadmaking experiences lately so today I decided to go back to basics and make some good sandwich bread. I started a sponge for some sourdough tomorrow and hopefully it will work out. Last week I had my first really bad experience with sourdough and had to throw the dough out but I’m determined to keep trying until I can reproduce the last good loaves I baked.