Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Hello and pardon my long hiatus. Reasons? Busy at work, rebalancing dinner responsibilities now that hubby is back to work, adding gym workouts to my life, gardening, etc. Nothing serious. Getting out of the habit of blogging just happened so easily, and I’ve had a hard time finding the motivation to start again.

My love of cooking and baking, though, haven’t waned. So let’s see if I can get back into the habit of sharing the kitchen delights, starting with these Lemon Poppyseed Muffins. Bursting with refreshing citrus flavor and the crunch of poppyseeds, these sweet treats disappear in a flash (and reappear on the thighs!), so beware. I fool myself by making them in mini form, thinking I’m not eating as many. Yah, right. I end up popping mini muffins all day until the entire batch disappears, which has occurred numerous times.

I’ve made these bunches of times in the past few months, but I cannot stop myself from eating them, so they’ve vanished before I could ever take a photo. It took a lot of willpower to save these last few for photos, but I finally did it. And now I can finally share a stellar muffin recipe with you. Enjoy!

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

 

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

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Yield: 12

INGREDIENTS

Muffins

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 cups (8.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp. poppyseeds

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tbsp. lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Adjust oven rack to center position, and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Fill muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest, rubbing with fingers to distribute lemon zest.
  3. Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, blend yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter. Add to dry ingredients, stirring gently to blend but not overmixing.
  5. Stir in poppyseeds.
  6. Divide batter evenly amongst muffin tins.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18-20 minutes (about 15 if using mini muffin pan), until thin knife or toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.Transfer muffin pan to cooling rack, and after 5 minutes, remove muffins from pan and continue to cool.
  8. When muffins cool completely, drizzle icing over tops (using spouted container or just drizzling with spoon or fork). To make icing, combine powdered sugar with lemon juice. Begin with 1 1/2 tbsp. and add more until desired consistency is reached.

SOURCE: adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod via Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

 

Chocolate Babka

Back in December 2009, I clipped a recipe from Cooking Light magazine for a chocolate-laced bread called babka. Since then, I have attempted that particular recipe on several occasions, only to face undercooked bread, issues with the dough not rising, and bread with HUGE air pockets.

Babka

Chocolate Babka: bread laced with chocolate filling

I have persevered, though, because the swirls of chocolate filling enticed me. I finally tried another sweet bread recipe from Lindsey at Pinch of Yum and combined it with the filling method from Cook’s Illustrated cinnamon swirl bread. Finally, success!

Babka

Aren’t those swirls of chocolate and cinnamon filling gorgeous!

Wondering about the origins of the name babka, I googled it to learn that babka is a Ukrainian sweet bread made for Easter. In my Croatian heritage, my mom and aunt always make Easter bread, which is a tad sweet and dry. Theirs bakes up lighter than this one, but the breads share the same level of mild sweetness. I prefer this one due to the chocolate spirals inside, though. I took it to work (to prevent myself from devouring it all), and my coworkers loved it.

So, I present to you a version of babka that took me five years to perfect.

Babka

Utterly delicious sweet bread

Chocolate Babka

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INGREDIENTS

Dough

  • 1 package (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 8-9 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • optional: zest of one orange

Filling

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or 4 ounces finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate (or dark chocolate, if you prefer)
  • 3 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tsp. milk (or you can use orange juice to enhance the orange flavor if you used orange zest in the dough)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

DIRECTIONS

  1. To make dough: In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, allow the yeast to dissolve in the warm water until it reaches a frothy state.
  2. Add the milk, sugar, salt, eggs, orange zest (if using) and 2 cups of flour; using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer, mix on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Switch to dough hook and add 3 more cups of flour; mix at a slightly higher speed. The dough should appear smooth and glossy.
  4. Add the melted butter; mix until dough appears glossy again.
  5. Stir in remaining 3-4 cups of flour a little at a time until a stiff dough forms. You will probably use closer to 3 cups of flour rather than 4.
  6. Transfer dough to a generously flour-coated surface, gently rolling dough around to coat it with flour. Place the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Using mixer, knead dough at low speed until smooth and satiny, about 4 minutes. Place dough into a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and allow it to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size (my dough took almost 2 hours to rise).
  8. To make filling: Whisk together powdered sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and salt until well combined.
  9. Grease two loaf pans (I used shortening).
  10. Rolling dough and adding filling: After dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half (at this point, you can wrap one half in plastic wrap, place in resealable bag, and freeze for another time; to use, allow to thaw overnight in refrigerator and to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or so). Working with one half at a time, roll dough into a large rectangle, roughly 14×16 inches and about 1/4-inch thick.
  11. Using a spray bottle, lightly spray the dough with water. Sprinkle half of the filling mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border on sides. Spray filling lightly with water (FYI: the powdered sugar absorbs water, forming a sticky paste that helps to hold the layers together, eliminating pesky air pockets).
  12. Starting from the longer side of the dough, roll dough away from you into a firm cylinder. Pinch ends closed. Holding dough by ends, gently twist the cylinder 4 times, as if wringing out a towel (this creates a spiral effect with the filling). Place the dough into the prepared pan, squeezing it into an S-shape to fit. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  13. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  14. Brush the loaves with the beaten egg so bread will bake with a golden crust. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 200 degrees F.
  15. Remove from oven, place bread pans on cooling racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and allow bread to cool completely on wire rack before icing and slicing.
  16. To make icing: Combine icing ingredients and mix well. Drizzle over cooled bread.

SOURCES: inspired by Cooking Light; adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cinnamon Swirl Bread and Pinch of Yum

2013’s Most Popular Posts

Hubby and I prefer to stay home for a quiet and calm New Year’s Eve. We celebrate by cooking something special, usually lobster. However, two years ago I saved a recipe for Beef Wellington, and this year I’m finally going to try it. Hence, I’ve spent the entire day in the kitchen prepping. If all goes well tonight, I’ll share the recipe later this week.

Anyway, I decided to rest my weary feet a bit and catch up on some emails. Lo and behold, I received my annual report of the most popular posts for 2013 (all sweet treats, by the way), so I thought I’d quickly share them. A couple of the most-searched posts go back to 2011 and 2012!

Wishing each and every one of you a very healthy, happy, and peaceful 2014.

Most popular posts of 2013:

Kahlua Cheesecake

Kahlua Cheesecake

Kahlua Cheesecake: graham cracker crust, ganache layer, velvety Kahlua-flavored cheescake, sour-cream layer, and drizzled ganache topping. Can you say decadent?

Oreo Cheesecake Bites

Oreo Cheesecake Bites

Oreo Cheesecake Bites (2012): Still popular a year later, and rightfully so. These little babies pack a ton of chocolate-y flavor amidst tangy cheesecake. And oh-so-easy to make, too.

Ho Ho Cake

Ho Ho Cake

Ho Ho Cake: This light and airy layered cake garners a lot of oohs and aahs from its recipients. Very yummilicious cake.

Magic Custard Cake

Magic Custard Cake

Magic Custard Cake: Magic indeed as three layers appear from one batter!

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread (2011): Still going strong two years later, this pull-apart bread is simply fun with layers of dough stacked so they pull apart easily after baking. Drizzle with lots of glaze for a glorious treat.

Sugarless Lemon Curd

Once upon a time, some friends and I would partake in high tea a few times a year–a very girly thing. We chose a different spot every time just to experience lots of locales. My favorite was a place in which the owner had collected loads of fancy hats displayed on tall hat racks. Every guest got to pick a hat to wear during tea and sandwiches–such a cute idea that added a touch of whimsy to the experience. And silly photo opportunities.

Have you ever had high tea? Chubby pots of tea, teensy sandwiches, and miniature desserts. And scones. Can’t forget the scones. I think those high tea years introduced me to scones. And along with scones comes lemon curd. And another lemon recipe.

Ahhhhh…another lemon recipe?!

Yep. Sorry. I told you I had more to share last week when I posted the Lemon Love round-up (almost done with lemon recipes, I promise).

So, back to lemon curd. High tea introduced me to lemon curd. And the name–curd–just doesn’t conjure a pretty image, does it? Nor is the lemon curd itself the most attractive thing in the world: a blob of yellow gelatinous-like material. Okay, let’s look past all that.

Sugarless Lemon Curd

A dollop of lemon curd adds a light fruity touch to yogurt

The curd is a spread, like jelly, but it tastes tart and sweet. And it oh-so-complements scones, especially fruit scones, like cranberry scones.

And it’s the stuff lemon meringue pie is made of.

And it’s a quietly fruity touch when added to yogurt. With granola (or this granola recipe)

And it makes mousse very light and summery. Or springy.

But best of all, this particular lemon curd recipe is SUGARLESS! Woo hoo!!

And it tastes just as tart and sweet as the other lemon curd recipe I posted ages ago (please, please, please forgive the horrible picture; that was from my early days of blogging when I had no idea how to shoot a photo for the blog whereas now I have a just a bit more knowledge on how to make a presentable image). The recipe calls for honey as the sweetener, and I couldn’t even tell that the curd was sans sugar. Definite score!

Sugarless Lemon Curd

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon (or substitute 1 tsp. lemon extract)
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 egg and 2 egg yolks

DIRECTIONS

  1. Set up a double boiler. I do this by placing a glass bowl over a pot filled with about 1 inch of water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Heat water to a gentle simmer, but make sure it doesn’t boil.
  2. Cut butter into pieces and add to bowl. Also add lemon juice, zest, salt, and honey. Whisk until butter melts, then remove bowl from pot.
  3. In another bowl, whip egg and yolks until well blended. Slowly stir eggs into lemon juice mixture, then return bowl to top of pot with simmering water. Stir continuously until a custard forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat once custard thickens.
  4. Cool curd, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will thicken some more. The curd will last for a couple of weeks.

SOURCE: Traditional Foods via Gourmande in the Kitchen

(who has a lovely strawberry parfait recipe which uses this curd)

Beignets

Beignets1

Am I entitled to eat six beignets after a bike ride to the Farmer’s Market where I picked up bunches of healthy greens and fruits for the week? How about slathered with chocolate almond butter (a variation of the homemade Nutella I posted the other day) and sprinkled with loads of powdered sugar? Oh yeah, that version was outta this world crazy scrumptious! I only thought of the chocolate spread because the last vestiges of it was hanging out in a jar which was sitting on the counter which was right next to where I was deep frying these delectably delicious beignets.

Ever had true New Orleans beignets at Cafe du Monde in downtown Orleans? An experience, for sure. Those delights are light and airy and they literally dump buckets of powdered sugar on top rather than a heavy sprinkling. Oh-so-yummy! Best after you’ve hit the New Orleans night scene and need a snack in the wee hours. Or early in the morning before heading off to see the sights. Works either way. If ever you get the pleasure of experiencing New Orleans, though, make beignets at Cafe du Monde a must. I traveled there well over 10 years ago and still have memories of these deep-fried delights.

As for making your own, way easier than I thought, especially this particular recipe. No big mixer with a dough hook needed. No milk. No evaporated milk.  No buttermilk. (Saw those in numerous other recipes.) No overnight stint in the fridge. Just mix it up in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for an hour, then you are ready to roll, cut, and fry.

Beware, the dough is definitely of the wet variety, meaning it’s quite sticky. Nonetheless, with lots of flour sprinkled all over your rolling surface and roller and on top of the dough, it’s easily workable. A rubber spatula makes getting the sticky dough from bowl to board a breeze, and a pizza cutter makes quick and easy cutting of the dough once it’s all rolled out.

Now for frying, a thermometer is needed. That’s what held me back for so long from making these despite that I’ve had recipes bookmarked for months and months and months. Yes, I have two thermometers (a Thermaworks and a cheapo candy thermometer from the grocery store), but neither is conducive to measuring and regulating the temperature of hot oil in a pan or Dutch oven. Well, yesterday as I wandered the aisles of Frye’s, I stumbled upon the cutest little deep fryer by Cuisinart. So darn irresistible due to its miniature size. Perfect for just us two. Not so perfect if you want to fry up goodies for a large crowd, though.

I really bought it because we’ve been frying the crappie (nice name for a fish, huh?) that hubby caught ages ago on an outdoorsman trip, and he has fond memories of the deep-fried method used to cook the crappie at the ranch where he hunted and fished. So I splurged. Well, at $40 it didn’t seem like a big splurge, so I did it.

And once I did, I knew the beignets were on tap for the following morning!

Beignets are best eaten warm, so fry ‘em up right as you are ready to eat them. The recipe below makes 2 dozen, so I halved it. I think I could also fry up a few and keep the dough in the fridge for later, although for how much longer I’m not sure. I did test out microwaving one for about 20 seconds and it tasted all warm and delish again. Like I said, much better warm than at room temp.

So glad I finally got around to trying these. They are much easier than I thought, so now when I want a weekend treat, these will fit the bill very nicely!

Beignets2

Quite yummy slathered with chocolate hazelnut spread before sprinkling with powdered sugar!

Beignets

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Yield: 2 dozen

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup water, heated to 110 degrees F (I used hot tap water, which measured about 120 degrees F)
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil plus 2 quarts for frying
  • confectioner’s sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place 1 tbsp. granulated sugar and yeast in a large bowl; add water and allow to sit until it gets foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. In another bowl, medium sized, combine the flour, salt, and remaining 2 tbsp. granulated sugar. Set aside.
  3. Add eggs and 2 tbsp. oil to the yeast mixture; whisk.
  4. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients; stir vigorously with a rubber spatula until dough forms a cohesive but rough ball. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  5. Before rolling out dough, set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. This is where you will place fried beignets to keep them crisp and airy until ready to eat. Now, liberally flour the surface of your counter or rolling surface.
  6. Use a rubber spatula to help ease the half the dough from the bowl to the floured surface. Using floured hands, pat the dough into a rough rectangle; flip it to coat with flour (very sticky later if you omit this step). Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1/4-inch thick 12”x9” rectangle. Use a pizza wheel to cut the dough into twelve 3-inch squares. Repeat with remaining dough.
  7. Add the two quarts of oil to a large Dutch oven, aiming for about 1 1/2 inches of depth. Heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees F (or, heat oil in a deep fryer). Place beignets in oil so they aren’t too close together, fitting in as many as your frying unit will allow. Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes total, flipping halfway through frying. Adjust burner to maintain oil temperature between 325-350 degrees F.
  8. Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer golden brown beignets to the wire rack. Immediately and liberally sprinkle beignets with powdered sugar, then promptly eat as these are best served warm. Repeat with remaining dough.

SOURCE: Cook’s Country (from the America’s Test Kitchen folks)

Great Granola (seriously!)

GranolaIf you have yet to check out the blog thekitchn.com, please do! It’s chock full of fantastic articles, tips, and recipes. In the handful of months since I’ve discovered the site, I have found numerous tips and recipes that have made their way into my kitchen. One of my favorite recipes to grace my files from thekitchn.com is this granola recipe, from granola queen Megan Gordon, owner of Marge Granola. I’ve posted an almond granola recipe before, which I adore. However, this recipe I adore even more because it uses NO SUGAR and NO BUTTER yet still TASTES GREAT! Even better, this recipe provides a template for perfect granola every time. Use your favorite nuts, favorite dried fruits, change the spices–customize it to suit your desires. I’ve played around a lot, and my favorite combo thus far involves almonds and peanuts. The peanuts add a peanut-buttery taste which I love. As for fruits, I’ve used dried blueberries, cranberries, and tart cherries. All are fantastic.

And if you still haven’t tried making homemade granola, try it! It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s customizable. I love my granola with milk, in yogurt, and just plain ol’ by the handful when I need a quick snack. Try it. Let me know what combos you come up with.

Great Granola

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INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (the thick kind, not the quick-cooking style; I buy from bulk bins at Sprouts or Whole Foods)
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups nuts and seeds (if nuts are already roasted, add them after baking to avoid burning them) (you can use almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds…whatever you like!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/2 cup oil, such as olive oil
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. liquid sweetener, such as honey or maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cups dried fruits, chopped (add dried fruits after baking; however, if using coconut flakes, add them during the last 15 minutes of baking)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a half-sheet pan (18 inces X 13 inches) with parchment paper (definitely use the paper; otherwise, you will have a tough time removing the baked granola from the pan).
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats as well as untoasted nuts and seeds. Add salt, cinnamon, and cardamom; stir thoroughly to avoid any clumping of dry ingredients. FYI: definitely use the salt; don’t omit it. Salt enhances the flavor of the granola.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together oil, sweetener, and vanilla. (I used honey for the sweetener, and since it is so thick, I microwaved it for about 45 seconds to liquify it a bit; this made pouring and mixing it into oats far easier!) Mix liquids with oats and nuts; stir to combine and coat all oats/nuts.
  4. Spread the granola onto a half-sheet pan that is covered in parchment paper. Bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees F until granola is light brown and toasty. Stir every 15 minutes or so for an even color and to make sure the granola cooks evenly.  FOR CHUNKY GRANOLA: Instead of stirring granola every 15 minutes during baking, pat the wet mixture into the baking sheet with a spatula and don’t stir at all during baking. After it has cooled and dried, break into chunks.
  5. Remove from oven; add dried fruits and any roasted nuts at this point, stirring to combine.
  6. Allow to cool before eating. The granola will continue to cook somewhat during this cooling process. It will also firm up and dry out, so if it seems on the wet side, don’t worry.
  7. Store in an airtight container for 7-10 days (though I’ve stored it for 2-3 weeks and it tasted just fine). Alternatively, you can store granola in the refrigerator for even longer.

Yield: about 6 cups granola

SOURCE: The Kitchn

Post shared on The Praire Homestead Weekly Barn Hop

Cinnamon Buns with Maple Icing

CinnRollsMapleIcingStuffy nose. Swollen sinuses. Pulsing headache. Fever. Chills. Ugh. That’s been my life for the past 6 days and the end feels nowhere in sight. I just want to feel better!!! I haven’t had energy to do much. No cooking. No baking. Much reduced blogging. As a matter of fact, the only reason the banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies got posted the other day is because I had already written that one a couple weeks ago. And this post was already written, too–I had forgotten about it. So, enough whining about my flu woes. Let me get to the recipe and give you some goodness.

The maple icing of these cinnamon buns caught my attention when I saw Ree Drummond make this on her cooking show, The Pioneer Woman, about a year ago. However, I rarely make cinnamon buns because of the time involved. Usually when winter sets in, though, I crave the comfort of warm, gooey buns. Winter in Southern California means temperate weather, for the most part, so we don’t really get a hardcore winter here. I was on winter break from teaching, though, and awoke one day to dreary, rainy weather. Perfect cinnamon bun morning!

The recipe is easy enough but still takes time. Compared to the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Rolls I made last year, these are just okay, in my opinion. They taste fine enough, but the cream cheese dough of the other recipe creates a more flavorful and tender dough.

The icing on this recipe, I must say, ranks high in flavor. When you add both coffee and maple flavoring to the icing, the flavor factor has to skyrocket–how can it not?! And don’t be afraid to drench these babies in the icing. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

The yeast didn’t proof properly for me (tends to be hit or miss when I bake, truthfully), so I popped the pot with the dough during its rising time into an oven that I had briefly heated up. Although it didn’t appear to help a whole heckuva lot, I proceeded with rolling the dough anyway. That’s why you see a ton of rolls in the pan. Normally, you’d squeeze 7-9 buns in a round pan. I figured we’d just have mini buns if they cooked up correctly, which they did–yay!

I do like that this dough can be made then stored in the fridge for several days. I only baked up half the dough and saved the rest for a few days later.

Cinnamon Buns with Maple Icing

INGREDIENTS

Dough

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 package (2 1/2 tsp.) active dry yeast
  • 4 cups + 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tbsp. salt

Filling

  • 4 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. packed brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts), optional

Maple Icing

  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk (or buttermilk)
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 tbsp. brewed coffee (I used 1/2 tsp. instant espresso)
  • 1 tbsp. hot water
  • 1 tsp. maple flavoring
  • pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. For the dough: Heat milk, oil, and sugar in large saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil (that’s called scalding). Set aside and cool until warm, about 30-60 minutes.
  2. Once the milk/oil/sugar mixture cools to lukewarm, sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for one minute.
  3. Add 4 cups flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a relatively warm place for one hour for dough to rise.
  4. After one hour, remove the towel; add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Stir thoroughly to combine.
  5. Dough can be used right away, but it will be sticky at this point. Or, refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Dough is much easier to work with when it has been chilled for at least an hour or so.)
  6. When ready to assemble rolls, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  7. To assemble rolls: remove half the dough from the bowl. On a generously floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 10 X 15 inches.
  8. For filling, use a pastry brush to evenly spread about 2 tbsp. melted butter over the rolled out dough.
  9. Whisk together the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and cloves. Generously sprinkle 4-5 tbsp. of the dry ingredients over the butter.
  10. Then sprinkle 4-5 tbsp. of chopped nuts, if using.
  11. Beginning at the long end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, careful to keep the roll tight. Use a think spatula or baker’s blade to help lift any dough that stubbornly sticks to the rolling surface. Don’t fret if filling oozes out a bit. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so the seam is face down.
  12. Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1-inch slices. One rolled log of dough will produce 20-25 slices (or cinnamon rolls).
  13. Pour 1-2 tbsp. of melted butter into the baking pan and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, careful to not overcrowd. Each pan should hold 7-9 rolls.
  14. Cover pans with kitchen towel and set aside to rise for 20-30 minutes before baking.
  15. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until light golden brown.
  16. During baking, mix the icing. In a large bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt. Splash in the maple flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Add more wet or dry ingredients if you need to thin or thicken the icing or adjust the flavor. Icing should be thick yet pourable.
  17. Remove pans from oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top, making sure to get it all around the edges and over the top.

YIELD: about 7 pans of rolls with 7-9 rolls per pan; or 20-25 slices per log & you’ll get two logs following the recipe. IF I CUT THIS RECIPE IN HALF, I SHOULD GET ABOUT 2 DOZEN ROLLS.

SOURCE: The Pioneer Woman

Banana Bread

BananaBread3

I have a banana bread recipe that I had used for years…got it from my trusty first-ever cookbook: Betty Crocker, the 1982 edition. However, I switched over to my friend’s recipe that she got from her Home Ec cooking class back in high school, about 40 years ago.

In the summer when she and I are free from teaching, we meet weekly for marathon scrapbooking and cardmaking days, alternating between her house and mine. Often when we meet at her house, she bakes this banana bread. Hers comes out lighter than the Betty Crocker recipe I’ve used, so years ago I asked her to share it with me. I now turn to this bread recipe when I have bananas sitting on the counter growing overly ripe.

I haven’t made banana bread in ages, though. I’ve taken to freezing extra bananas and using them in smoothies instead, but with the colder weather, I felt a need to bake some comfort food, and for me, banana bread falls into the comfort category.

BananaBread

Banana Bread

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups (7.88 ounces) unbleached, all-purpose flour (I swapped 1/4 cup whole wheat this time)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 whole bananas)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chopped nuts, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. Grease a loaf pan; set aside. (I use shortening for greasing.)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Slightly beat eggs, then add eggs, oil, and bananas to flour mixture. Mix thoroughly (I use a fork to mix).
  4. Transfer batter to greased loaf pan; bake at 350 degrees F for one hour.

SOURCE: my dear friend Marion, from her high school Home Ec cooking class back in the 1970’s

Baked Oatmeal with Apples & Cranberries

BakedOatmealAppleCran2Last weekend I had one Granny Smith apple languishing in the fruit bowl, and all week long I had envisioned using it in a variation of a baked oatmeal dish I love to eat on leisurely weekends.

Along came the weekend and I began to scour the cupboards for additions to the concoction brewing in my mind. First, though, I wanted more apples but didn’t want a trip to the market. Oddly, our June-bearing apple tree has ever-so-slowly been ripening several apples which had germinated during the late fall heatwave (thank you bumble bees), so I picked a couple even though they hadn’t come to complete fruition yet (meaning they were miniscule in size and thwarted by the recent cold weather).

What pairs well with apples? Cranberries! And I happened to have some dried cranberries leftover from the holiday Macadamia Butter Cookies. Perfect.

Digging around in the freezer, I spotted a bag of forgotten flaxseed. Why not toss some into the oat mix?

Looking for nuts, I found a handful of sliced almonds that I had intended to use in a cookie recipe but never got around to making. And then I spotted a bag of turbinado sugar hiding in the pantry. Well, I decided to toss them all into the mix.

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And what a yummy mix this dish turned out to be. First of all, it makes the house smell heavenly with the aroma of apples and cinnamon. Second, baked apples with tart cranberries and crunchy nuts just feels so deliciously luscious on a weekend morning when I get to hang out in my pajamas and not rush off to work. Perfect weekend breakfast fare. And the leftovers? Heated up, they make a hearty and warm breakfast for those very early work mornings when I’m out of the house before dawn to get to work and attack a stack of student essays, made all the more bearable with a belly full and warm.

Mind you, this can be made with simply apples and whatever other fruit you want to pair with apples. Use nuts (or not)–whatever kind you have on hand. The dish is very adaptable to suit your tastes and what you have on hand. Whatever you combine, I’m sure it will taste absolutely scrumptious.

BakedOatmealAppleCran

Baked Oatmeal with Apples & Cranberries

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 small apples or 1 large, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces (I used a combo of the tart Granny Smith and a sweeter, firm apple like Fuji)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted, divided (I used 1/4 cup chopped pecans in the baked oatmeal and then used 1/4 cup sliced almonds to sprinkle on top)
  • 1/4 + 1 tbsp. cup dried cranberries, divided (or use other dried fruit, such as blueberries or tart cherries)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (the thicker kind rather than the thin instant oats; I buy mine from the bulk bins at Sprouts or Whole Foods)
  • 1 tbsp. flaxseed (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 3/4 tsp. apple spice mix (1 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 tsp nutmeg + 1/4 tsp allspice), divided
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, regular syrup, or honey (maple gives best flavor)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. turbinado sugar (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Melt butter and allow it to cool while mixing rest of ingredients.
  3. Peel, core, and slice apples. Mix with 1 tsp. of the cinnamon or apple spice. Spread evenly over the bottom of a 7 x 11 baking dish or a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
  4. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the nuts and 1/4 cup of the cranberries over the apples.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine oats, flaxseed, baking powder, remaining 3/4 tsp. apple spice mix, and salt. Sprinkle the oat mixture in an even layer over the apples/cranberries/nuts.
  6. To the melted and cooled butter, add the syrup (or honey), milk, egg, and vanilla. Stir with a fork to combine. Pour evenly over the oats.
  7. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup nuts, 1 tbsp. cranberries, and 1 tsp. turnbinado sugar (optional but it adds a heavenly light sweet and crunchy touch).
  8. Bake 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

SOURCE: adapted from Baked Oatmeal post

Cauliflower Frittata

CauliflowerFrittata

Yep, another cauliflower recipe (and more comin’!). When the garden provides, I accept the challenge of finding creative ways to eat up the harvest. Actually, I’m grateful for both the opportunity to grow our own foods and for the chance to play in the kitchen and expand my skills. And I’m grateful to live in Southern California where the climate is temperate enough to grow veggies throughout the fall and winter seasons.

As I sat in the living room early one morning pondering what to make for breakfast and thinking about the head of cauliflower waiting in the fridge, it crossed my mind that cauliflower would probably work in a frittata. We’ve loved the other frittatas I’ve made thus far (Ham, Mushroom, & Asparagus Frittata and Zucchini Frittata), so we’d probably enjoy a cauliflower version. Off to the internet to search for a recipe, then. Since this recipe called for thyme, which I had already discovered worked well in a cauliflower gratin I had made, I opted to experiment with this one.

So glad I did. Definitely a keeper. Loaded with chunks of cauliflower and flavored with garlic and thyme, this frittata lightly dances on the taste buds. Even better, the top is garnished with bread crumbs for a hearty crunch and sprinkled with Parmesan for tang; so many flavors playfully come together for a delightful breakfast fare.

In the following couple of days, I ate the leftovers and was struck by how meaty the chunks of cauliflower taste in this particular frittata. Just thought I’d toss that tidbit in for you :  )

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Cauliflower Frittata

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INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium head of cauliflower cut into 1-inch florets (how to cut cauliflower)
  • sea salt (I used Himalayan Pink Saltinstead)
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced (I finely chopped my onion)
  • 3 small cloves garlic, thinly sliced (or minced)
  • 10 large eggs, at room temperature, slightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp. dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp. dried)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a 10-inch, nonstick, oven-proof skillet (I used cast iron), melt 1 tbsp. of the butter in the olive oil. Add the cauliflower florets, season with salt, and cook over high heat without stirring until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes.
  3. Toss the florets in the pan and continue to cook until golden brown all over and just tender, about 3 minutes longer.
  4. Add the onion and 1 tbsp. of the butter; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 3 minutes.
  5. Reduce the heat to moderate, add the garlic, and cook until is softens, about 1 minute longer. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. of butter and swirl the pan to melt it.
  6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs with 3/4 tsp. of salt.
  7. Pour the eggs over the cauliflower and cook, without stirring, until the bottom of the frittata is set, about 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, lift the edges of the frittata and tilt the pan to allow the uncooked egg mixture to seep underneath. Continue cooking the frittata until the bottom is golden and the top is just slightly runny, about 3 minutes. (I had to lift the edges a few times to allow uncooked eggs to seep underneath.)
  8. Sprinkle the bread crumbs and thyme over the frittata and bake in the oven until is it just set, about 3 minutes longer.
  9. Remove from oven and sprinkle the frittata with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Slide it onto a work surface or platter and cut the frittata into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

SOURCE: adapted from Food and Wine