Monday, August 30, 2010

Peach Crumb

Every Sunday my mom, dad, sister, and I wake up and drive over to the little church in town. It's a great church, but when I say that it's little I mean just that: it is little. After service, the people gather in the back and eat packaged cookies and jumbo wheat thins with their coffee. Even though I'm a big fan of the wheat thin cracker, I couldn't help but feel a little bad about the refreshment selection. So I set my alarm a little early yesterday and starting peeling and slicing juicy peaches to make this magnificent peach crumb. The original recipe was for Peach Crumb Bars but I sort of winged it and layed the dough in a quiche dish. It wasn't so much of a bar as it was a crumbly pie with peach filling. Call it what you will because either way it was incredibly flavorful and delightful. I only had a small piece because I figured that there would be some left over and I could pig out in the privacy of my own house. Boy was I wrong. The plate was returned to me wiped clean, literally. I took this as a compliment and figured that next time I better bake two :)

Peach Crumb Bars
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

For the Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Filling:
5 cups diced peaches (7 peaches, peeled)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
2. For the Dough: In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter, and then the egg. The dough will be crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan. Place the pan and the remainder of the dough in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
3. For the Filling: Place the diced  peaches in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over the peaches and mix gently.
4. Spread the peach mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the peach layer.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Frisco and Nutella

I just got back from San Francisco last week where all I did was eat, eat, EAT. I had the best time on my trip and not just because of the food.. although that was a big part of it (lets not lie). It's good to be back home though and on the computer catching up on all the wonderful recipes from the blogs I follow. I feel very out of the loop if I don't check my Reading List, so I'm glad to be back "in" :)! Now lets get to what I had a hankering for all week: Nutella! Actually it started out as a little craving for Ferrero Rocher candies and then this led to a just plain chocolate craving and then that led back to a Nutella kick. At first I decided to take the easy "eat it from the jar with a spoon" way out, but concluded that I should take advantage of the extra jar that I bought and use it as an ingredient. The result? Self Frosting Nutella Cupcakes. You would think that this would be enough. I mean its cupcakes that frost themselves with Nutella! I took it a little further though and add some Nutella frosting. I had also wanted to add a Ferrero Rocher on each cupcake but I didn't remember this until I was walking out of the grocery store. So please image a beautiful fine hazelnut chocolate candy sitting on top of that Nutella frosting in all of it's glory. After eating Nutella out of the jar, baking with it, frosting with it AND eating these cupcakes I learned a very valuable lesson: there is such a thing as too much Nutella. I mean this in a "I have to lay down and rub my tummy" sort of way. I was FULL of it. I'm surprised I didn't sprout hazelnuts overnight! The cupcakes were pretty good but they were lacking something. If I make them again, I would add more Nutella and maybe a little buttermilk to the batter because the plain cupcake had almost no flavor and was a little dry. They weren't bad though by any means and I'm glad that I had frosting to put them over the tasty edge.This recipe makes 12 and there are only 6 left. So .. take that how you will :)
Self Frosting Nutella Cupcakes
10 tbsp butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
Nutella, approx. 1/3 cup

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Cream together butter and sugar until light, 2 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Don’t worry if the batter doesn’t look smooth. Add vanilla. Stir in flour, salt and baking powder until batter is uniform and no flour remains.
3. Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin liner with batter. They should be 3/4 full, if you’re not using a scoop. Top each cake with 1 1/2 tsp Nutella. Swirl Nutella in with a toothpick, making sure to fold a bit of batter up over the nutella. Bake for 20 minutes. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Nutella Frosting
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup nutella
2 - 4 tablespoons milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. In a medium bowl combine butter, nutella, sugar, and vanilla until mixed together. Add milk to meet desired spreading consistency. Frost, frost, frost! :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I've had the this almost aching culinary urge to bake a pineapple upside down cake. I'm not quite sure what triggered it or when this desire started brewing but it was just something that needed to be done. The past couple of weeks I've been searching for a recipe that I liked and slowly building up the ingredients with every trip to the market. It just so happens that everything fell into place tonight and I just had to bake this! The recipe originally says to bake in a 9x2 inch round pan but I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to use my cast iron skillet and who doesn't love bringing one of those out, right? Since the skillet is larger, the cake came out a little flat. Other than that though (and thats no big deal!), I was super pleased with it. It easily transferred from the skillet to the plate which was great since I was really worried that the fruit or cherry pieces would be askew. I've had some troublesome experiences with cakes in the past! But it came off so neat that I didn't even want to cut into it. I resisted as long as I possibly could (honest), but after sitting on the couch fiddiling my fingers trying to ignore the smell of heaven coming from the kitchen.. I gave in! I cut myself a slice as neat as I possibly could and ate it up. This particular recipe uses buttermilk which really gave this cake an extremley moist textrure. Which I'm a fan of. I'm also a big fan of the sinful butter and brown sugar combination. And I love getting a fork full of delicious pineapple on top of all of that!

If you get that "where-is-this-coming-from?" pineapple upside down cake desire, keep this one in mind.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake

(20 oz can) 7 slices canned unsweetened pineapple, drained. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the juice.
19 maraschino cherries
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a 9x2 inch round cake pan (or cast iron skillet). Drain pineapple (reserving 3 tablespoons juice) and place on paper towels to absorb excess juice.
2. Place the 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in the pan/skillet. Place in the oven until teh butter is melted. Tilt to coat all sides with butter. The extra butter will settle in the pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan.
3. Place one pineapple ring in the center of the pan and arrange six more around it. Place the cherries in the center of each ring anf in the spaces inbetween them. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2 tablespoons of buttermilk and vanilla with a fork. Add reserved pineapple juice. Set aside.
4. In a mixer bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the 6 tablespoons of buttermilk and 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Beat on low speed just until the flour is moistened, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. The batter will be stuff. Add one third of the egg mixture at a time, beating for 20 seconds inbetween.
5. Scrape the batter over the fruit in the pan and spread evenly.
6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 35 - 40 minutes (took me 35). Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before unmolding.
7. Invert a serving platter on top of the pan/skillet. Cover your hands with oven mitts and turn the cake onto the platter, lift off the plan. If any of the fruit or cherry pieces are askew, use a fork and push them back into place.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Three Chese Pasta Bake

As you can probably tell by now, I prefer baking to cooking. It isn't that I'm a horrible chef or that I hate to cook, I just don't get the same kind of pleasure out of cooking dinner that I do from baking a splendid dessert. My mom on the other hand is a queen of all trades. She will whip up the appetizer, main course, and dessert, all the while sipping a martini and not only exceed our expectations, but enjoy the process (compliments of the martini perhaps?). I must have not inherited that gene from her. Or maybe I did and it just hasn't risen to the surface yet. Am I not living up to my full hostess potential? Will I just wake up one morning and insist upon cooking three course meals every night? Only time will tell. For now though, I thought it would be nice to cook a quick and easy dinner over the weekend. I've had this recipe stashed away on my computer for a while now and always wanted to cook/eat it. My brother is not a big pasta eater and the only way he will touch the stuff is if it hasn't been in direct contact with red sauce of any kind. He even orders his pizza without any sauce. I can't be the only one who thinks that is crazy, right? I love love love pasta and I love it even more covered (smothered) in red sauce. To each his own though I suppose. Since he is so complicated, this dish worked out perfectly for him! Not a drop of red in sight. Just creamy alfredo, ricotta, and sour cream. Not to mention cheese! I added significantly more cheese than the original recipe called for because that's pretty much my motto for any recipe with cheese. More is always better. You can't go wrong!

Three Cheese Pasta Bake
Based on this recipe 
1  (16-ounce) package ziti
2  (10-ounce) containers refrigerated Alfredo sauce
8-ounce container sour cream
15-ounce container ricotta cheese
2  large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup  grated Parmesan cheese
1/4  cup chopped fresh parsley
2  cups  mozzarella cheese

1. Prepare ziti according to package directions; drain and return to pot.
2. Stir together Alfredo sauce and sour cream; toss with ziti until evenly coated. Spoon half of mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
3. Stir together ricotta cheese, eggs,  1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, and parsley; spread evenly over pasta mixture in baking dish. Spoon remaining pasta mixture evenly over ricotta cheese layer; sprinkle evenly with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
4. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Carefully pull out the baking dish and sprinkle on remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and 1 cup mozzarella cheese (especially in the corners). Place baking dish back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Triple Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie

Today was the kind of day that needed a cookie. The kind of day that begged me for a chewy, chocolatey, straight out of the oven little piece of heaven. As I sit here updating my blog, watching 17 Again (judge me later), and taking little bites of this delicious morsel of flavor.. I realize that this is the highlight of my day. This single cookie has made my day. Keeping in mind that today is a Friday aka the gateway to the weekend and that I got paid today, well, that says a lot about this cookie- don't you think?

Triple Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla extract.
4. Gradually beat in the flour mixture, mixing only until the dough comes together. Do not overmix.
5. With a large wooden spoon or spatula stir in the rolled oats followed by the chocolate chips.
6. Spoon the cookies on the prepared cookie sheet about two inches apart and bake for about 14 minutes or until the cookies are slightly browned aorund the edges but still soft and puffy in the middle. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through the baking time.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

blondie bomb

Take a good look at these deformed blondie eye sores. You see that? That is what happens when you don't measure your ingredients correctly. And when I say ingredients, I mean ingredient. Anyone care to take a guess at which important ingredient was messed with here? If you said brown sugar you would be wrong. But if you said baking powder...congratulations, you got it :). Yes, somewhere along the road 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder became 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder. And baking powder -being the important rising ingredient that it is-.. well, you can guess the rest! I couldn't have messed things up too badly though because, despite the appearance, these still tasted pretty darn good and had that distinctive molasses flavor from the dark brown sugar. They were rich, chewy, and the butterscotch chips were a delicious add in. So in the end, even though the blondies weren't perfect or very aesthetically pleasing, there was no real loss. Besides, if there's one thing I've learned from my baking (mis)adventures its that sometimes you have to make mistakes, learn from them, and hope for the very best when you pop the finished product into your mouth.

1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of butterscotch chips (chopped walnuts and chocolate chips are equally tasty)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
2. Lightly butter and flour an 8x8 pan. 
3. Whisk together the melted butter and sugar in a bowl.
4. Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk.
5. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, mix it all together. Add the butterscotch chips or other mix-ins.
6. Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Whopper Cookies

Recently I have been having a love affair with Whoppers malted milk balls. I'm not sure why it's a love affair, but the way that I feel when I eat them is close to what I think a love affair would feel like. I don't feel that way when I munch on my usual chocolate go-to M&Ms. Therefore it is a love affair. I hope that made sense to someone other than myself. I actually have a box right here next to me that I'm slowly munching on, dreading the moment when I reach my hand in and there is no more malty crunchy goodness. After I had purchased a few boxes at the market yesterday, I decided that instead of just eating them straight up, I would look for a simple whopper recipe online. Google led me to an incredibly simple and quick cookie baked with whoppers. The cookies themselves tasted really good. They were soft and chewy with a crunchy edge. Next time I would add more whoppers. It seemed like more of a sugar cookie with the occasional whopper as opposed to a whopper overload with a little cookie to back it up (like I was hoping). I can't really complain though. I got a genuinly good cookie out of it and was able to snack on whoppers while I was baking up the cookie and while I was enjoying the finished product. Maybe I should have made that whopper milkshake on the back of the box to go along with it. How freaking delicious does that sound?

Whopper Cookies
Recipe from Cast Sugar

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup roughly chopped Whoppers
1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in milk and vanilla, then gradually blend in the flour mixture. Do not overmix; stir only until no streaks of flour remain.
4. Stir in the chopped Whoppers
5. Drop into 1-inch balls (tbsp.-sized balls) on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, until lighty browned.
6. Cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.