Morning Raspberry Muffins

August 26, 2009

uncookedmuffin

Along with baking, I really like to make breakfast.  However, once school starts, Sunday mornings are the only time I can ever do that, and usually even that doesn’t work because I’m too busy catching up on sleep!  So, in the last days before school starts, I’m trying to fit in my breakfast making. =]

We had 1 pint of raspberries from our farm share, and I knew if I wanted to make anything with them, it had better be made fast!  In my house, any fruit left out on the counter is gone in a couple of hours unless specifically claimed.  Actually the worst is grapes.  A whole bunch of grapes can be eaten in an hour.  My mom takes to hiding them in her room if she wants to save some…

Anyways, I wanted to use the raspberries, and what sounds better for a summery breakfast than raspberry lemon muffins?  These were delicious.  Because they weren’t sickeningly sweet, they were perfect for breakfast, and light enough to have two or three!  The only thing I would change would be to add more lemon if you really love a citrusy flavor.  They’re also relatively healthy, so you can start the day off well.  I strongly recommend trying these muffins.

cookedmuffin

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup strawberry fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 heaping tablespoons raspberry jam (homemade by my dad!)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup egg-beaters
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries

For garnish:

  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 10 raspberries
  • powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin tin, or line with paper liners.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the yogurt, oil, jam, lemon juice, egg-substitute, and lemon extract. In a separate large bowl, stir together the flours, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just blended. Batter will be thick.  Gently stir in the raspberries. Spoon batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool muffins in the tin on a wire rack.
  4. Top muffins with powdered sugar and lemon zest, and garnish with raspberries.

Makes 12 muffins

Homemade Ice Cream

August 23, 2009

What better to do on a summer night than make your own ice cream?  My friend Meg and I decided to have an adventure, and attempt it.  However, we ran into a few obstacles along the way…

First, we had to crush the ice to use in the ice cream maker:

Method #1 – Stomping/Jumping

Ice StompingMethod #2 – Dropping

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Method #3 – Smashing w. Meat Mallet

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Method #4 – Crushing with Blender

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Yeah… next time, we’re buying a bag of crushed ice instead!  Ice flew everywhere, and melted all over.  There was a nice pool of freezing water covering the counters and the ground.  But we cleaned up, really!

As for the actual ice cream, everything went pretty well.  We chopped our chocolate, made our delicious sauce, and prepped our dish.

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And here it is, our wonderful creation!  Double chocolate cheesecake ice cream with raspberry chocolate sauce.  Well worth the work.  Mmmmm.

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Grandma’s Biscotti

August 16, 2009

biscotticlose

Every once in a while, my mom buys Nonni’s biscotti from BJ’s.  Any self-respecting baker will frown at what I’m about to say, but I love them.  I know they’re uber-processed and all, but they’re just so delicious.  The perfect cookie, that is too crunchy to eat without a cup of tea, but perfectly soft when dunked. I’ve been searching for a recipe that tastes like Nonni’s for a while now.

I have a pretty dependable one for almond biscotti from Allrecipes that I make a lot, but I was looking to use up some pumpkin, so I googled pumpkin biscotti instead.  Plus, I’ve been promising to send my grandma baked goods for a while, and not only does she love biscotti, but she also loves pumpkin.  She’ll eat it plain out of the can!

Package to be sent to Gram!

All ready to be sent to Gram!

These biscotti are really good (yeah, we snitched a few before sending them off to Gram).  I wish I had chocolate chips in the house to drizzle over them, but other than that, I have no regrets!  (Can you believe we had no chocolate chips?!  That’s a sad, sad thing…)  I finally figured out how to make biscotti as crunchy as I like them.  If you like a soft chewy cookie, just bake them for the time specified in the recipe.  But if you like them rock-hard, like my Grandma and I, turn off the oven after the specified cooking time and leave them in there as it cools and as you wash dishes.  This will dehydrate the cookies.  Just check them occasionally until they are as hard as you want them to be.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Walnut Biscotti

Adapted from CookingInanApron

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or combine 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (you could try any other type of nut as well)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350*F.  Preheat toaster oven to 350*F. Toast nuts in preheated toaster oven.  Stir occasionally and toast until browned.  In my oven this took 10-15 minutes, but it will probably vary.  You can also brown nuts in a saucepan with a little butter, or you can just throw them in untoasted.  Remove from toaster and let cool.
Combine flours, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl; stir well. In another bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, and maple syrup, stirring well with a wire whisk.  Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Mixture will be very crumbly; it will gradually become moist after a lot of stirring.)
Knead or gently stir cooled nuts into dough. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 portions. Lightly flour hands and shape each portion into a 2 x 10″ long log. Place logs 3″ apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes; cool logs 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.
After cooling, cut logs diagonally into 1/2″ thick pieces. I find this easiest to do with a serrated knife. The interior of each biscotto will probably still be just a little moist (while the exterior should be hard and crunchy). Place the biscotti with a cut side facing up on a half sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan and flip all the biscotti over so the other cut side is now facing up. Bake for another 8 minutes. Set all the pieces on a wire rack to cool making sure that none of the biscotti are touching each other. If the biscotti are placed too close together, they could get a little soft or soggy as they cool.  Alternatively, turn off oven and leave biscotti in the oven to get them extra-crunchy.
Once the biscotti have fully cooled, you can eat them right away (I don’t think I even waited for them to cool!) or dip or drizzle them with semi-sweet, dark, or white chocolate.  About 1/4 pound of chocolate is recommended for dipping a whole batch. The biscotti tastes best during the first few days, but will keep for up to a month in a sealed air-tight container.  During a humid summer, store in the fridge.
Makes 30-40
biscottitower

cinnamonoverview

Sometimes on a rainy, dreary day, all you want to do is bake.  Okay, maybe that’s just me.  I had a yoga class today, and all I could think of was cinnamon buns.  Clearly, I’m not that great at yoga.  You’re supposed to clear your mind and not plan, think, or worry for an hour.  I try, really, but the thought of cinnamon buns was just so appealing!

I saw the recipe for these from maplencornbread.  It was so enticing because the dough has no yeast (which equals fast) and there isn’t too much butter.  Plus, if you look at the original post you’ll notice how beautiful that cinnamon bun looks.  Really, it’s perfect!  I did not have the same experience.  Not even remotely.

First of all, I only made half of the batch.  (I experimented with the other half, trying to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls.  They were decent, but need some tweaking before sharing.)  Anyways, halving the recipe really shouldn’t have made the dough transform into a sticky mess!  Everything went well, until I read that I was supposed to roll the dough.  At that point it looked more like a muffin batter than a dough.  I bravely decided to forge ahead regardless.  I dumped 1/4 cup of flour onto the counter, plopped the dough on top, and then covered it in another 1/4 cup of flour to made it handleable.  I patted it out and spread the filling on top.  And then I tried to roll it.

Attempting to roll up the rolls was not successful in the slightest.  The dough tore and wouldn’t hold a shape because it was so sticky and soft.  I ended up forming a giant ball of floury dough with some cinnamon filling dispersed throughout.  But I couldn’t give up!  I pulled off pieces of the dough, rolled them into balls, and threw them into the baking pan.

cinnamon closeup

When they came out of the oven they were nothing close to the picturesque cinnamon bun I had aspired to.  I had to cut them like bar cookies.  But all the mess was completely worth it! These were still delicious.  My brother ate them, which always means it’s worth keeping the recipe around.  If you’re in for an adventure, try it for yourself!

Not Really Cinnamon Buns

Adapted from maplencornbread.

Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 large egg at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp

Filling:
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a nonstick 9×9 inch square or round baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients. Whisk together the milk, egg, vanilla extract, maple syrup and butter. Fold into the flour mixture until moistened.

In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon filling ingredients until crumbly.

Turn dough onto a very well floured counter (I would use about 1/4 cup). Pat into a square (not too large) and cover with the cinnamon filling.  Attempt to roll, and then smoosh into a ball.  Tear off golfball sized pieces, roll, and place in baking dish.  Your hands will have to stay pretty well-floured throughout this.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.  This makes a 9×9 pan full, and you can cut them into however many pieces you like, although they’ll pull apart into the balls you rolled them into.

I didn’t ice them this time, but if I make them again, I definitely will.  While these on their own cheered up my rainy day, these + icing could negate a whole thunderstorm!

Icing:

1 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled.
1 cup powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients together and drizzle over pan while still warm.

Very Organic Peaches

August 8, 2009

mmm

Out in our front yard we have two peach trees.  One is old and slowly falling apart.  Actually, last year a bear ripped off one of its branches!  The other one is a tiny little thing, but this year it’s really been impressive.  We’ve gotten a bunch of peaches from it. They’re not perfect, since we don’t spray the trees with anything.  After picking, all the little ants have to get washed off, and then I have to scour out which ones are ripe enough to use.  The green ones get to ripen on our counter for a few more days. Without pesticides these homegrown peaches aren’t beautiful or extremely photogenic, but they still taste delicious, and are ideal for baking (which, after all, is the most important thing, right?).

I found this recipe on passionateaboutbaking.com.  It seemed a perfect use of our peaches, and I also threw in a few of the wild blueberries from our yard.  Another great thing about this recipe is its low fat content.  The only added fat is what’s used to grease the pan.  Since my family eats more of what I make if it’s on the slightly healthier side, this is a plus!  If I’m going to make something like triple chocolate brownies I have to make sure my friends are willing to help me devour them.

I unfortunately didn’t have any candied ginger, so I subbed in freshly ground ginger.  This gave it a kick of spiciness that was delicious, but strong!  I would love to try the recipe with candied ginger sometime as well.  The dish itself is difficult to place. It’s not a cobbler, although it’s close to one.  The edges are cake-like, while the middle is juicy and fruity.  My makeshift name for it, since I baked it in a pie plate, is cobblerpie, but if you can come up with something better, I’m not offended!

I would recommend this recipe for anybody looking for a light summery dessert to use up their fruit.  Even my brother, who’s a picky eater, had two helpings.  Although we were running low on ice cream, I bet vanilla bean ice cream would only make this better!  This dish was also extremely quick and easy to make.  I’m sure it could also be adapted for any season; Apples instead of peaches, with some cinnamon added into the cake batter would make a delicious fall dish.


overview

Ginger Peach Blueberry Cobblerpie
Adapted from passionateaboutbaking.
Ingredients:
2-3 cups of peaches, halved, pits removed
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp shredded or finely chopped fresh ginger
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk, plus 1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Garnish:
Whipped cream
Slivered almonds (optional)

Directions:

Generously grease a 10½-inch diameter ceramic pie plate with a 5-6 cup capacity, or 6-8 small shallow individual tart pans.  Any pan with a similar capacity will also work.

Halve the peaches, pit, & roughly chop for small tart pans, or quarter (bigger pieces for 1 large dish.) Put these in a big bowl with the blueberries, brown sugar, ginger, vanilla extract and lime juice. Gently combine the peaches with the other ingredients. Reserve.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the 1/2 cup white sugar, and the baking powder. With a wooden spoon or whisk, beat in the milk & vanilla and almond extracts to produce a smooth batter. Don’t over beat. However, the batter should not have too many lumps either. Pour the batter into the center of the buttered dish. It will spread out on its own.

Place a spoonful of peaches, and some of their remaining liquid evenly over the batter, leaving a 1/4–inch open border of batter around the outside edges. For a single large gratin dish, place all the fruit on top of the batter, & leave a 3/4″ border. (this will allow the batter to rise dramatically at the edges).

Place on rack in upper third of preheated oven.  Set an edged baking sheet on the rack below to catch any overflow.

Bake for 40-45 minutes (a little less for smaller cakes), or until the sides are fully puffed, the center is slightly puffed, and the top is golden brown.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cook for 15 minutes before cutting / serving. To serve, sprinkle with almond slices and cut into wedges for 1 large pie, or as is for smaller cakes.  Top with whipped cream (or ice cream – yum!).

Serves 4-6