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Monday, January 21, 2013

Banana Orange Bread w/ Honey Glaze

--- 2012 ---
A huge year.

Moved three times.
Started a new amazing relationship.
Found love.
Cuddled my puppies at least a million times.
Lost friends.
Gained new friends.
Had many tears.
Laughed a million times.
2012 was a year of change.
A year of extreme sadness and extreme happiness.
My best friend Rachel is home from Florida. Her little girls are the cutest kids in the whole world. Rachel is there for me no matter what and I am here for her.
I don't think another friend like her exists in this world, and I'm perfectly okay with that.
I have two adorable and sweet dogs. They are my babies and my friends.
They are so full of unconditional cuteness and love and kisses.
I am so ridiculously happy and fortunate to have met such a wonderful, loving man.

My relationship is so full of laughter, honesty and understanding.

I love Dan for exactly who he is. He is supportive and kind, brave, and endearing.
He makes me smile every single day.

I couldn't ask for a better person to love or to love me back.
And luckily, I don't have to.
I haven't posted on here in forever. People keep asking me about my baking and my blog and I don't really know what to say. I almost feel like this blog died.

I'm realizing now that it doesn't have to. This blog was a big part of my life. My baking was a big part of my life. I get sad every time I think about this blog and what it used to mean to me. 
I'm thinking of starting it back up again.
Banana Orange Bread w/ Honey Glaze
Adapted from: Paula Deen

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 bananas
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup peach flavored greek yogurt
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon orange zest
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Honey for glaze 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-by-5 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter and flour.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking soda and salt. In another large bowl, combine the bananas, butter, yogurt, vanilla extract and eggs whisking until smooth. Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture until well incorporated. Stir in the orange zest and ground cinnamon.

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Poke holes using a thin knife or toothpick all over the bread. Spread honey over the top and allow break to soak in honey.

Friday, March 30, 2012

White Chocolate Chip Nutella Cookies

 Let me start off by saying:

I'm sorry.
 You probably didn't even notice, which is totally fine, but if you did, I've been missing in action.
 I am living in a new place, with a tiny little kitchen. I'm making it work. I like it. There is literally only one drawer in the entire kitchen. One.
And it's okay because drawers are over-rated. 
Wait, what?
Actually drawers are quite fantastic, but if you have my wit and charm, you can make yourself actually believe that having one drawer is great.
 In all seriousness though, it's fine. I actually have more than enough cabinet space and shelves to put all my snazzy appliances and gadgets!

I'm a little embarrassed by these cookies, and a tad disappointed. You see, I looked up so many recipes involving Nutella. Most of them had comments where people were actually excited. Something like "It was so cool, you couldn't even tell there was Nutella in them".
I was a bit panicked by that thought. I mean, why wouldn't you want to know you're eating Nutella? It's just about the best thing on earth, and so I made this recipe hoping so much that they would be bursting with Nutella flavor. But, no, not so much.

They are still absolutely delicious. A bit of crunch around the edges, and chewy on the inside. Absolutely delicious, but not very Nutella-y.
White chocolate Chip Nutella Cookies
Makes 18 cookies

1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup Nutella
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white chocolate chips or semi sweet chocolate chips or chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat liner.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and sugar until combined, about 1-2 minutes. Add in Nutella, vanilla.  Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating well after each egg.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Turn mixer off and stir in white chocolate chips by hand.
Drop 1 tablespoon of dough for each cookie onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes. Cool on wire rack before serving.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Surprise Cookies

It's that time of year. The time when resolutioners are at full-swing at the gym. The time of year when people think "I'm really gonna do it this year".
 And they might. They really might!
 But, I wish they would just go home and come back another day. You see, I don't have a problem with people getting in shape, but I have a problem with "a new year, a new you".
 I say you should change your body and your lifestyle because it's a Tuesday, not because it's a new year. I mean, come on. New years resolutions are so last season. Can I get an amen?
 On that note, these cookies are fantastic. I recommend making them as soon as possible. I also recommend shortening the baking time by a minute, as these cookies were a tad dry.
 Not dry enough however that they didn't get devoured in my house.
There is butter, there is whole milk, there is sugar, there is white flour, there is an egg.
 That's how I do it. I stuff my face with a cookie (or two) and head the the gym. And I try really hard during the week to eat healthy things. I think it's all about balance and trying to slowly achieve what you want.
Things that are achieved slowly in life tend to last the longest, and they tend to be the best. I'm a bit late, but happy new year to you! Now eat a cookie.
Surprise Cookies
adapted from: Martha Stewart Cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 large marshmallows, cut in half horizontally
Chocolate Frosting for Surprise Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add reserved flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined.
Using a tablespoon or 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies begin to spread and become firm, 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove baking sheets from oven, and place a marshmallow, cut-side down, in the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Return to oven, and continue baking until marshmallows begin to melt, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting over each marshmallow, starting in the center and continuing outward until marshmallow is covered.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Brown Butter Citrus Pancakes

This is going to sound really pathetic, but I'm not sure I have too much to say today.
 It's not because I don't like you, it's because I'm kind of in a lazy-mode. Please don't be offended.
Citrus makes me feel warm and cozy. There is just something about the smell and flavors that make me want to sit by a warm fireplace.
 A week ago we and I went "skiing" in West Virginia on the first day that the resort opened for the year. We've never done such a silly thing before. Let me start off by saying that there was no snow. Zero snow provided by mother nature.
 There were only five slopes open, one of which was considered a "diamond", and it was way too easy. The man-made snow was crappy, it was 50 degrees. Oh, please. Waste-of-time. Getting away for a couple of days was really nice though.
 The best part was eating at Cracker Barrel on our way there. They have the best pancakes, ever. I can't even explain how good they are. The edges are crispy, they are so buttery.
  I am happy to say that I made these citrus brown butter pancakes today and they taste just about as yummy. They are comforting and delicious and they make you feel good.
 I've been off work for five days now. It feels good to sleep 9 hours, which is what my body naturally wants to do. I feel like I could sleep all day if I didn't tell myself "it's time to get up now".
 I think people need a weeks vacation once a year to just bake and sleep and watch trashy movies like The Beautician and the Beast. Who doesn't love a good Fran Drescher movie?
Brown Butter Citrus Pancakes
makes enough pancakes for two people, double the recipe for a larger group
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon citrus zest
2 tangerines peeled by hand and separated
1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented
1 blood orange, peeled and segmented

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  The butter will foam and froth then begin to brown.  When the butter solids begin to brown, keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.  The butter will smell rich and nutty.  Cook until butter  bits are brown then remove from the hot pan and place in a small bowl.
Whisk together egg, buttermilk, vanilla extract and citrus zest.  Whisk in the browned butter.  Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir together with a fork until well incorporated.  If the batter is a little lumpy… well that’s just fine.
Let batter rest while you heat up the skillet or griddle pan over medium heat.  Great skillet with a teaspoon or two of oil or butter.  Spoon pancake batter by the 2 tablespoonfuls into the hot pan.  Let cook until browned on one side, flip and brown on the other side.  Place cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate in an oven heated to 150 degrees F.  This will keep the pancakes warm while you cook the rest.
Arrange the pancakes on a plate, top with segmented citrus and pure maple syrup.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Lemon Scones

Here is what is on my plate (not literally). Jon is coming home in three days! He's been gone for three months training for an air traffic controller position and the end is finally in sight. I can't wait for him to get home. Our puppies miss him and I miss him like crazy as well. Very exciting!
 Two days ago I purchased our little dog Mac a jacket that also went over his legs. He became very dramatic and refused to walk in it, but it happened to be the cutest thing ever. Too bad I have to take it back now. Tomorrow I'm taking our dog Nala to get her teeth cleaned. She has stinky breath. It's probably due to eating things like scones and baked goods that mommy sneaks her. 
 Yesterday I staged a tea party for a photographer to come get some photos for a magazine. Isn't that exciting? I know!
The evening before my staged tea party I met a childhood friend of mine (Matthew) and his friend for wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, where we watched a UFC fight (I must admit, I didn't really know what was going on). Fun, nonetheless.
 I was telling this guy Charles how I made doughnuts earlier that day and ended up inviting them over my house to eat a doughnut after dinner.
 It turned into a very fun night of me making Fresh Cranberry Lemon Scones and them drinking my Grandad's old whiskey (they must have sampled about 6 kinds) from the bar he used to have. Charles (who is really into eating good food, and talks about food in a way that makes you want to eat the most delicious things) pretended to be Alton Brown and became the commentator as if I was on Iron Chef.
 It was all way too amusing. I didn't finish baking the scones until around 1:30am, and sad but true, they were a bit burned on the bottom.
 I couldn't believe they stayed until the scones were done in order to try one. Even a tiny bit burned, they still looked pretty and tasted pretty damn good! I remade them today because I'm not the kind of girl who is okay with scones that are a little burned on the bottom.
 Huge success the second time around. If you make these, do not make my mistake and cut them into triangles. Use a 2" glass dipped into flour, and cut out as many circles as possible.
 You won't be disappointed! 
Fresh Cranberry Lemon Scones

Adapted from Gourmet

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons; preferably Meyer)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons additional if using fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped coarse
1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
With a vegetable peeler remove the zest from lemons and chop fine, reserving lemons for another use.
In a food processor pulse flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal and transfer to a large bowl.
In a small bowl toss together fresh cranberries and 3 tablespoons sugar and stir into flour mixture. If using dried fruit, add to flour mixture.
In another small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
On a well-floured surface with floured hands pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter) and with a 2-inch round cutter or rim of a glass dipped in flour cut out as many rounds as possible, re-patting scraps as necessary. Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Buttermilk Ice Cream

I went through most of the year looking forward to my yearly stop at a book store near where I live to buy girl scout cookies. There were phone calls made to find out the date that they would be there selling the cookies. I put that date in my calendar, and totally like me, I completely forgot about it.
 When I realized it, I was distraught. I mean, come on. No Samoas? No Thin Mint cookies? 
Totally ridiculous, right?
 Today, I was on my way home from Big Lots, which I must say, is mostly junk. I was really disappointed, when out of the blue, I saw Girl Scouts, and that totally made my day!
 This got me thinking about ice cream, because I love frozen Thin Mint cookies with ice cream and hot chocolate more than anything in the world. 
I decided to make this buttermilk ice cream. It's really not that sweet. I'm one of those people who likes the taste of buttermilk on its own. But even if you don't, this ice cream won't disappoint. It has a custard base and is really creamy and delicious. We ate it right away very soft, but will have more tomorrow once fully hard.
Buttermilk Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream

1 1/4 cup sugar

12 large egg yolks
2 cups buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla or half a vanilla bean, scraped and simmered with the cream

Pinch of salt

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream and one cup of sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
Remove the cream mixture from the heat and drizzle a small amount into the yolks, slowly, and whisking constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. Do this a few more times to warm up the yolks before pouring the yolk mixture back into the cream, whisking constantly.
Cook over low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture and whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and salt. Cool completely and freeze according manufacturer’s directions.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate Pecan Tart

Really quick I’ll just tell you that I’m sorry I kind of dropped off the face of the earth the last month. I’ve been really sick. Really, really sick. 
On to better things…Join me.
So I’ve become sort of obsessed with this European magazine called Easy Bakes. I’m also now in love with the European section at Wegman’s (which I used to pass by without hesitation. Mostly because I was really confused by what a lot of it was for).Do you know what castor sugar is? What about Muscovado or Demerara? What about shortcrust pastry? Do you know how many different types of sugar this magazine has in it? Do you know how cool I think it is to have 6 types of sugar? I have to get to Europe, pronto. These people know what life is.
 There is only one problem. Everything is in measurements that Katie (I) cannot comprehend. I’m looking online, and things just don’t translate well. Things are in grams and degrees celsius, and I am confused, big time,

It took me a really long time to figure out how much chocolate to use.

Did I mention my food scale just flipped out on me a few days ago? Uh oh.
Don’t worry. I’m kind of a genius. 
I kind of figured out how much of everything to use. 
And I loved this tart/pie so much that I think I’ll make it again for Thanksgiving.
 What can be bad about pecans, chocolate, and shortbread crust?
Chocolate and Pecan Tart
Adapted from Good Housekeeping Easy Bakes and Puds

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter, cubed
3 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
5 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/3 cup caster (or superfine) sugar*
8oz Lyle's golden syrup*
1tsp vanilla extract
4oz pecans, finely chopped
4 oz pecan halves, to decorate
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4tbsp powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit, put a baking sheet in the oven to heat it up.
Pulse flour, powdered sugar, and 3/4 cup butter in a food processor 8-10 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pat mixture evenly on bottom and up sides of a lightly greased 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven, then allow to cool.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Cool slightly.
In a large bowl beat together the eggs, sugar, golden syrup, vanilla, and cooled chocolate mixture. Fold in the chopped pecans, then pour into the pastry crust. Decorate the top with pecan halves. Put the tart on the hot baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes until just set. 
Whip whipping cream in large bowl until medium peaks form, mix in 4tbsp powdered sugar. 

Serve tart warm or at room temperature with a large dollop of whipped cream.

*You can make superfine sugar by placing granulated sugar in a food processor. But I think using regular granulated sugar would work alright as well.
* You can substitute corn syrup for actual golden syrup. You can get golden syrup at Wegmans or any british food store.