butter top bar

butter top bar

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mom's Berry Birthday Cake

 Berries take this cake from a 9 to a 10. And add a bit of flare to this scrumptious cake.

 Fact: Birthdays are awesome. Why? Because on birthdays, you get cake. And I am more than willing to work my butt off for hours in the kitchen to create a cake for someone I love, especially if I get to eat a piece at the end of the night, and especially if it's my mother.
 Embarrassingly, I'll admit I've never used a vanilla bean before. Not only have I never used one, I've also never purchased one. 
I went to the store, asked someone who worked there to show me the vanilla beans, and he did. It would have cost me ten dollars for one vanilla bean. Yes, I said one bean. I said to the guy "uh screw that, I'll just use vanilla extract".
Turns out, my father had vanilla beans. They were hard, not sure how old they were, but sure enough, I cut into it length wise, scraped out seeds, and voila! It worked!
I must admit it was fun to scrape the seeds out.

 Why blueberries you ask? Why not. They are delicious. And blue. And pretty.
 This is the best icing I've ever tasted. I mean it! The cane sugar really tastes so good, and it almost tastes like you're eating fluffy, creamy, sweet, butter. And who can argue with that?
So, I made these candle holders out of forks and candles. It took a good amount of time, and involved some profanity on my end, but was worth it in the end. 
How unique!
My mother loved the candles. Loved the cake. I'm so happy that I made her so happy. I love my mommy. 
Also, this cake makes enough for twelve people. And, ya know what? Only four of us ate it, meaning we have leftovers, and I happen to have a piece of this right in front of me, waiting to be eaten (not that I'm bragging).
Mom's Berry Birthday Cake  
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour two 8-inch round baking pans and set aside.  This recipe also makes 24 cupcakes.  
In a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure that everything is well mixed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.  
In a small bowl whisk together flour baking powder and salt.  
In a separate small bowl combine the milk, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds.  
With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture in three batches.  Start and end with the flour mixture.  When the batter is just combined, shut off the mixture and thoroughly incorporate the dough with a rubber spatula.  
Divide the batter between the two pans.  
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a pale golden color, and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  For cupcakes bake 25 to 30 minutes.  
Let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool.  Frost and berry only when cakes are completely cool.

Vanilla Whipped Buttercream Frosting
3 sticks (1.5 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cup cane sugar
1.5 cup whole milk
3/8 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tablespoons vanilla extract

Cream the butter on medium speed, 3 to 5 minutes, in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer until soft, adout 30 seconds.  Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again.  
In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup mil with the flour and vanilla extract.  Whisk together until there are no lumps.  Over medium heat, slowly add the remaining 3/4 cups milk, whisking constantly and cook until the mixture comes to a low boil.  
Reduce the heat to low and continue mixing until the mixture starts to thicken slightly.  
When the mixture starts to thicken, immediately remove the pan from the heat but keep stirring.  After you have removed the pan from the heat, the mixture will continue to cook for a minute or two on its own.  
If you overheat the mixture and find that you have some lumps, try to whisk them out with a little elbow grease, or pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.  Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.  Place the mixture in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the process.  
With the mixer on low speed, slowly poor the milk mixture into the butter and sugar mixture.  Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Whole Wheat Chocolate Brown Sugar Cookies

 After eating these, and these, I figured I'd make something as sort of a post-Valentine's day peace offering to myself. A healthier version of sugar cookies. 
 Do I love whole wheat? No. Taste tested by a baby, and they passed the test. 
She loved them. I however, wasn't whole heartedly a fan of these 
cute whole wheat cookies. 
My husband said they taste like teddy grahams. I don't know if I agree. It certainly made me feel much better munching on one of these than munching on some of my Illegal Garlic Cheese Bread, however, the cheese bread was quite amazing.
These days, kids are healthy, they eat good things, all the time. 
All whole wheat, no sugar, and no corn syrup. Not that it's a bad thing.
But, I'm not from that generation. 
I'm from the generation of if it looks yummy, you can eat it. 
Sugar is good, butter is good. A little bit of unhealthy is okay. 
I loved the way I grew up. I was never glutenous, and I never shoved my face with food, but I was allowed to eat things other than bran flakes, and cherios.

On the other hand, I've learned to appreciate whole wheat. And these cookies are this generation mother-approved.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Brown Sugar Cookies
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder.  Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugars.  Beat until well incorporated.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.  Add the egg.  Beat on medium speed until mixture is glossy and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Stop mixer and add the dry ingredients all at once.  Mix on low speed until all of the flour is incorporated  Stop mixer and finish incorporating ingredients with a spatula.  Spoon batter out onto a sheet of waxed paper, and form loosely into a log.  Roll and seal cookie dough and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, divide dough in half and place one half on a lightly floured counter surface.  Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out dough to a 1/4-inch thickness.  Use a heart shaped (or whatever) cookie cutter to cut out cookies and place dough on prepared baking sheet.  Very lightly brush cookies with water and sprinkle with granulated or turbinado sugar.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven, allow to rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Roll and cut cookies, re-rolling the dough once or twice, until all cookies are cut and baked.
Cookies will last, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to five days.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Coconut Lemon Bars

Two adorable eggs. Only appropriate for this joyus holiday. Valentine's Day. 
 Happy Valentine's day!
 I love Valentine's day. I really do. I love love, I love saying love. I love the colors red and pink, and seeing balloons in all stores saying "I love you". Valentine's day makes me happy. And it's probably due to the fact that my husband is amazing, and I am so lucky.
He on the other hand, is not only lucky to have me, but is also lucky to have eaten these delicious lemon bars. The coconut adds a delicious twist, and crunch. 

Coconut Lemon Bars
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted, cooled
6 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

lemon filling:
2 large eggs , beaten lightly
1/2 cup + 2 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp grated lemon zest from 1 large lemon
1/3 cup lemon juice from 2 large lemons, strained
2 1/2 tbsp evaporated milk
pinch of table salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving overhang. Butter foil, being careful not to rip the foil. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add coconut and butter; process until mixture resembles fine meal and begins to clump together. Gather dough and press evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust until golden at edges, about 20-25 minutes.

for lemon filling:
Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar, and flour in medium bowl, then stir in lemon zest, juice, milk, and salt to blend well.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Remove crust from oven.  Stir filling mixture to reblend; pour into warm crust. Bake until filling feels firm when touched lightly, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to near room temperature, at least 30 minutes.
Using foil as aid, transfer lemon coconut bars to work surface. Flatten foil edges. Cut into as many bars or squares as your little heart desires.  Top with sifted powdered sugar.  Any leftover bars can be sealed in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to two days – though I recommend eating them the same day, at room temperature.  They’re never the same after they’ve been refrigerated – the crust becomes too hard and the filling too stiff.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Illegal Garlic Cheese Bread


Mmmmmm....Cheesy buttery bread. This obviously isn't really illegal, but it certainly should be. 
It's the most delicious, gooey, cheesy, bread in the entire world. 
My family agrees. Seriously, you'll love this. And you'll also feel the need to jump on a treadmill afterwards. 
But it is so worth it.

Illegal Garlic Cheese Bread
3-½ cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
¾ cups Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
½ cups Grated Parmesan Cheese
½ cups (Real) Mayonnaise
4 whole Green Onions, White And Light Green Parts Minced
1 dash Salt
1 loaf Crusty French Bread
1 stick Butter
4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced

Mix cheeses with the mayonnaise and the green onions.  Add dash of salt to 
taste and set aside or keep in fridge until you need it. Cut loaf of bread in half, 
then each half into half again.
Working 1/4 loaf at a time, 
melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet and add 1/4 of the minced garlic. 
Place 1 of the 1/4 loaves face down in the skillet, swirling 
it to soak up the butter and garlic. Allow bread to toast in the 
skillet, removing garlic if it starts to get too brown. Repeat 
with remaining butter, garlic, and bread. Spread cheese mixture 
on warm loaves and bake in a 425 degree oven until cheese 
is hot and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Slice and serve.
Then get on the Stairmaster. Pronto.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Almond Poppy Butter Cookies

 Seriously. Butter. Cream cheese, poppy seeds. Enough said.
 Oh, you want me to say more? Ok, I will. These cookies are in my top 10. I won't say top 5, because my raspberry almond shortbread thumbprints are way too good, and are a similar sort of "almond butter cookie" in texture. But I will say that they are pretty darn delicious, and pretty darn addicting. Which isn't fun if you're trying to lose a few pounds.
Oh well, eat a ton of these cookies, and be happy because they are so delicious.
(treadmill to follow).

Almond Poppy Butter Cookies

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 cup butter softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 egg
1 cup powdered sugar
3 to 4 teaspoons milk


Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, flour, poppy seeds, butter, cream cheese, 1 teaspoon of the almond extract and egg until soft dough forms.
Roll dough into 1 1/4-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press balls slightly to flatten.

Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 3 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

In small bowl, mix powdered sugar, remaining 1 teaspoon almond extract and enough water to give the glaze a nice spreading consistency. Spread glaze over warm cookies. Store tightly covered in a single layer at room temperature.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Whole Wheat Pistachio Muffins

 Easy and delicious, these muffins hit the spot, and the aroma coming from your 
oven is intoxicating! 
 A trick I like to use: Use a standard ice-cream scooper for muffins. It makes them even and is much easier to control the batter!

Growing up there would often be green pistachio muffins in our kitchen, and they made me happy. So I decided why not make myself happy again with these homemade delicious treats.

Whole Wheat Pistachio Muffins
2 cups whole wheat flour*

1 cup all-purpose flour*

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 box instant pistachio pudding 

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/4 cups milk

1/2 tsp almond extract

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3 drops green food coloring
Crushed pistachios for sprinkling on tops of muffins (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 375
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and dry pudding mix.

Combine eggs, milk, extract, food coloring and oil
Add to dry mixture and mix until just moistened.

Fill baking cups three quarters of the way full.

Bake 15 to 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until muffins test done.

*can also use 3 cups all-purpose flour

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Where to start? Well, lemons make me happy. They do. They smell good, are pretty to look at, and create such a good flavor in baked goods.
I could literally eat lemons sprinkled with sugar, but as some of you might know, that is a no-no from the dentist! 

So these muffins will have to do. They are so delicious, I could eat all twelve of them, with extra icing, right away. I do recommend making extra icing.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins 
Adapted from Baking
For the batter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk (learn how to do this at home)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter, melted until browned and cooled
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (for topping the batter before baking)

For the icing
1 cup powdered sugar whisked together with 2 or 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  
Line a 12 mold, regular sized muffin tray with paper muffin liners, place the muffin pan on a baking sheet and set aside.  
In a large bowl, rub the granulated sugar with the lemon zest until the sugar is lightly colored and scented with lemon.  
Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  
In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract, melted butter and lemon juice.  
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together.  
When almost thoroughly mixed, add the poppy seeds.  Divide batter between muffin cups.  Sprinkle each would be muffing with granulated sugar.  

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the tops are golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.  
Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Maple Colby Jack Egg Sandwich

 I use butter to cook my eggs, not cooking spray. 
And do you know why? Because butter is good.
You might be thinking, big deal, right? Well, using butter makes the eggs taste better, which is important, and the eggs totally don't stick in the slightest to the pan. I only used one egg for this sandwich, but I made an extra to eat for extra protein, since I'm pretty sore from skiing three days in a row in Vermont.
 Things I like: Maple syrup, butter, brown sugar, marshmallows, lemons, and poppy seeds. Not that most of those things are related to this sandwich, but who cares?
 This syrup is from Canada. Yes, how strange. I just got back from a ski trip to Vermont, and I'm using Canadian syrup? I actually made this at work, and this what they had, so it is what I used. It was pretty tasty!
Maple Colby Jack Egg Sandwich
2 slices of potato bread, or bread of your choice
1 egg
1 slice of colby jack cheese
2 tbsp maple syrup (the real stuff)
butter for frying egg

Melt butter in the pan, fry egg over-hard, with yolk broken. 
Toast two pieces of your favorite bread (I used potato). Spread maple syrup evenly on one side of each piece of toast. 
Place cheese on bread, place egg on top of cheese. Cut in half, prepare to say "yum".