Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rye and Raisin Bread


If anyone's household is like mine, then your weeknights go something like this:

- clock out of work as soon as possible, even though you feel like you could stay forever and still not get everything done
- hurriedly drive home, since husband is picking up toddler
- frantically start making dinner, because it's not almost 6 pm, daddy and toddler are home, and said toddler is hungry
- if you're lucky, you get the adult dinner done and adults and toddler can eat together
- toddler asks for bbq sauce.  You give him bbq sauce and then he cries because it's not ketchup
- unsuccessful dinner with tears and whining
- clean up/load up dishes
- upstairs for bath, story time, and bedtime
- adults are now free!  It's already almost 9 pm
- adults go to bed
- repeat the next day

Seriously, I feel like between Monday and Friday, there is simply no way I can do anything except the steps listed above.  It makes me (sometimes) longingly wish for those pre-kid days where after work, I had the whole, vast, gloriously empty evening to myself.  Luxurious trip to Target?  Sure!  Pick up something fun for dinner on the way home?  Yes! Eat dinner at 8 pm with a lazy glass of wine?  Yes, please!  Or maybe let's go see a movie?  I mean, really.  What did I do with all that time?

Ok, so back on track.  My husband actually bookmarked this recipe after he watched an episode of that British bake-off show that aired sometime late last year.  It was a cool show in that they did really neat baking exercises, their commentary was wickedly smart and funny, and the end results were sometimes glorious, sometimes not (which is life, right?).  Somehow he found this link and sent it to me.

If you're still reading and nodding your head to my above bullet points, then you can make this bread.  Seriously.  Assuming you can find rye flour (thanks, Amazon!  See above for reasons why I have no time to browse through Whole Foods), this bread will cater to your schedule.  I soaked the raisins (for only 2-3 hours in hot water) and then mixed the dough that night.  I put it in the fridge for almost a full 24 hours, then the next night I took the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temp.  While toddler whined about dinner, I preheated the oven, and then after bedtime I shaped the dough and let it rise for about 30 minutes.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, and before you know it could too can be in your kitchen, alone, eating a slice of slightly warm bread that has been slathered in salted butter.  See?  Who needs fun trips to Target?  I HAVE BREAD.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal Bites


Do you need something sweet yet healthy for breakfast?  I did a few weekends ago.  We typically do some type of egg dish (with a bit of sausage or bacon, although we are slowly cutting back on that!) and then a bunch of fruit (grapefruits lately) and then maybe a sweet carb.  I don't know if it's the fact that I was basically raised on carbs (hello anything made by General Mills or Little Debbie!) but I always, ALWAYS crave some carb at breakfast but I cannot justify eating pancakes and muffins all the time.  I found this recipe on a lovely blog and gave it a shot.  Here are the modifications I made (ok so I made them less healthy with these additions but oh well, momma needed something sweetish to go with her morning coffee).

- added 1 tbsp brown sugar
- added a streusel topping - 1-1/2 tblsp butter mixed with a bit of flour and sugar, then sprinkled on top
- also added a splash more milk than she called for

It made (12) muffins and my toddler LOVED them.  Like, ate three and then wanted more.  AMAZING.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Bowl Chex Mix



I'm sure lots of people fall in this camp, but I couldn't care less about sports, and even more so the Super Bowl.  Sure, the half time show may reel me in for a few minutes, but honestly I'd rather spend my night doing anything else.  We actually ended up eating dinner at a (very empty) Mexican restaurant where we luckily got to catch the shark show at halftime (I also loved the mechanical lion (?) she rode in on at some point but those sharks won the Super Bowl for me - and apparently the Internet today).

But as someone who loves to cook I always get sucked into the Super Bowl eating/cooking/party frenzy.  Everyone else is eating junk on Super Bowl Sunday, and so should we! It just gives me an excuse to make something I normally don't make during the weekend (read: something that is not healthy and in no way contributes to an actual meal).  So, here's some Chex Mix for you.  I think I stood in the kitchen and snacked on this for a full 10 minutes before I realized how much I had eaten. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Almond Butter Banana Bread

baking cinnamon ornaments with my buddy at christmas

Now that the holidays are over and my workload at my job has slowed down a bit (although not much - this weekend was the first full weekend I had off work!), I've been hit with the ORGANIZE and CLEAN EVERYTHING IN SITE bug and suddenly nothing is safe.  I cleaned out all of my old and unused cookbooks and then organized all of my cooking magazines by month (!) so I can refer to them seasonally.  I wiped down the top of the fridge and cleaned out the inside of my trash cans.  I tossed all the old stuff lurking in the freezer.  I haven't tackled the pantry yet, but that is next on my list. 

All of that to say that I really really wanted to bake something on Saturday afternoon and as I much as I wanted to make cookies, we actually still have Christmas cookies in the freezer that we are slowly nibbling on.  Plus I really wanted to use up ingredients that I already had on hand so I could keep up my purging/cleaning kick.  I have millions of  several bananas in the freezer as well as almond butter and almond flour so I went searching for a different type of banana quick bread.  I usually use a Dorie Greenspan recipe but this time I wanted something less sweet, with a bit more substance/heft to it.  I settled on a recipe that uses almond butter in the batter and it turned out great!  The tweaks I made:

- used 3/8 cup oil, 3/8 cup applesauce
- used 1 cup AP flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, 1/4 cup almond flour - the cornmeal gave the bread a subtle crunch which I loved.

This bread keeps well in the freezer, and toasts up beautifully.

Link to original recipe here.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Holiday Recap


How were your holidays?  I haven't posted in awhile but I always try to recap what I made during the mad rush of this season, if only so I can go back next year and remember what I made this year.  You'd think I could just write this stuff down, but meh, I'd rather share it here!

Anyway, so what was on your menus?  We ended up having (6) adults and (3) children to feed for Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, and Christmas dinner.  Here's a breakdown of what we did.  I've included links where I can, in case you want to see the recipe we used.

Christmas Eve Dinner
                - Baked Shrimp Scampi
                - Caesar Salad
                - Rosemary Bread

Christmas Day Breakfast
                - Christmas Stollen (I posted about that previously here)
                - Bacon/Eggs/ Fruit

Christmas Day Snacking/Apps
                - Assorted cold cuts/cheeses (from Fino's)
                - Spiced nuts
                - Herbed oyster crackers
                - Pine nut/feta cheese ball
                - Pimento cheese
                - Crackers/ cheese straws

Christmas Dinner
                - Prime Rib
                - Roasted Garlic Potatoes
                - Stuffed Mushrooms
                - Glazed Carrots
                - Holiday Raisin Bread (family recipe, but here is a similar one)
                - Crème Brulee

Assorted Christmas Cookies
                - Chocolate Pistachio Sables       
                - Candy Cane Cookies (recipe second one down here)
                - Pecan Tassies (similar recipe here)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chocolate Pecan and Walnut Meringues


This weekend was my husband's birthday and instead of a cake, he requested creme brulee.  No cake?  I asked.  No, creme brulee it was.  Okay.  Yes, I've created a dessert snob, but that's ok.  I happily obliged, but of course that meant I had egg whites leftover.  And here is where I crazily searched for a recipe that uses up egg whites, despite the fact that I still had to make dinner that night for the birthday boy, not to mention also feed our two year old and get him in bed!  Priorities, right?

I found this recipe and in all of my baking years, I have yet to try a meringue, so I figured why not now, on a Saturday night at 5:00 pm, with dinnertime looming?  I ended up using half chopped pecans, half chopped walnuts, and mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.  I even left them in the oven from 6:30 pm until the next morning and they did fine.  I approached this recipe with half excitement, half indifference because A) I wasn't even sure I'd like them...no butter or fat? Eh, and B) I figured meringues were super hard and that they weren't going to turn out but hey, at least I tried to be resourceful, right?

Well I was wrong on both points A and B because (is this getting annoying yet?) A) we all LOVED them, even my two year old! and B) these were so easy!  I of course tried one about halfway through the total baking and drying time and they were a bit tacky but I tell you, they dried up perfectly overnight and then when you bake them again in the morning it makes them perfectly crispy/shattery/melt in your mouth.  Try them!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cheese Souffle


Guys.  I made this.  A souffle!  I'm super excited for myself.  Isn't a souffle the epitome of baking?  Like, if you master a souffle then you can master anything?  That's what I'm going to tell myself.

I won't say that I planned the night well, however.  After we put baby to bed, I still had a huge amount of work ahead of me - I had mixed up the dry ingredients beforehand but that was it.  So this equaled me angrily and tiredly putting this souffle together (as I sipped on wine, which helped) and then not eating until 10 pm.  Good thing my husband had a drink in his hand and I had made these grapes last week so we had something to tide us over.

Recipe and technique = 10/10
Planning = 4/10

This was amazing, plain and simple.  It was airy, cheesy and went so well with the chicken and thyme carrots that I kept thinking, I have to blog this.  Well, I think that a lot and then I never get to it so this should indicate how incredibly good this tasted.  Because I took the time to tell you about it.

Ok, a few more comments.  I have realized now that I could have made the base ahead of time because I kept thinking, how does anyone serve this for a dinner party?  You'd be in the kitchen the whole time and be a terrible hostess.  But if you make the base ahead of time, keep your egg whites in the fridge, and then whip and fold them into the base at the last minute, you CAN be the hostess with the mostess.  But for Saturday, it was a great dish to eat with my husband, and THEN we ate the leftovers for breakfast with bacon (from this local farm).

So what should I try to make next?  This list?  Or this?  Looks like Baked Alaska or croissants are up next!  Who's with me?