Showing posts with label nuts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nuts. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Best Carrot Cake



     Carrots are good for you, right? And pineapple, coconut and walnuts? The stuff dreams are made of. This cake is full of 'em. Topped right out of the oven with a dreamy hot buttermilk glaze (that's really more of a butterscotch caramel glaze) and then with a layer of cream cheese frosting, this is a cake I look forward to making again.

     I made this for Easter dinner at my Mom's house. It was good the first day, and even better the next. I recommend making this when there are people to help you eat it. Trust me, no one will complain.  Next time I'll make layers- I needed this one to travel so I opted for a sheet cake. More layers = more frosting per bite. That can't be a bad thing, can it? I followed the recipe as written, and wouldn't change a thing. You can find the recipe- from Southern Living here.
   
Happy Earth Day!


Friday, June 28, 2013

Jeweled Golden Rice with Cherries


    
     Cherry season is an anxiously awaited event in my household.  Even though the price is dear, I can't resist stocking my refrigerator with the luscious ruby-red orbs, and keep a bowl on the counter for popping in my mouth every time I pass by. In addition to being delicious, they're a nutrition powerhouse, fiber rich and full of antioxidants. Way better than bon-bons for you, but with the same "curb appeal."

     This summer rice salad showcases both sweet (fresh) and tart (dried) cherries. I don't even know where to start describing it. Saffron and curry scented rice, tangy and sweet cherries, crunchy pistachios and cashews, bursts of celery and chives, citrus and ginger dressing- it all comes together perfectly to make a mouthwatering bite. It pairs perfectly with grilled chicken or pork, but will easily stand alone as a delightful vegan (and gluten free!) main dish.

Jeweled Golden Rice with Cherries
from Eating Well, June/July 2006

Ingredients
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 can (14 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken (or vegetable)broth
1/3 cup water
1 Tablespoon curry powder (your favorite)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 generous pinch crumbled saffron threads
3 Tablespoons canola oil (I used walnut oil)
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon freshly grated orange zest (I used dried)
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger (I grated the ginger)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped celery
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries
1/2 cup chopped scallions or chives, divided
1 cup fresh dark sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
3/4 cup unsalted nuts, chopped -pistachios, almonds and cashews recommended- divided

Instructions
1. Combine rice, broth, water, curry powder, turmeric and saffron in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil,stir once, cover with a lid. Reduce heat to low (simmer) and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.

2. Combine oil, lemon juice, honey, orange zest, ginger and salt in a large non-reactive bowl. Stir in the cooked rice, celery, dried cherries and 1/4 cup chives or scallions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (up to 2 days)

3. To serve, fold fresh cherries and 1/2 cup nuts into the rice mixture. Serve at room temperature, garnished with the remaining 1/4 cup scallions/chives and nuts.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

 
     Do you know how hard it is to push the "publish" button when you've been away for a while? Whew! I didn't mean to be away for so long, but one thing led to another, life happened, and time slipped away from me.

     So I'm easing back in with these peanutty granola bars. My friend Lisa shared this recipe-from The Marathon Mom- with me. Her family goes through a batch of them every week, and I can see why! They mixed up in a jiffy (no oven needed) with ingredients I had on hand, and turned out crunchy and delicious.

     At my house, granola bars are just as good for hurried mornings as they are for hungry afternoons. These are a great alternative to the preservative laden bars you get from the grocery store that are made with ingredients you can't pronounce. Oats, wheat germ, honey, coconut oil, peanut butter and peanuts- that's it! You will need to keep them in the refrigerator though- they get gooey if they sit out.


     It's good to be back. It felt good to dust off my camera. I even enjoyed my little hamperer helper. (I don't know if Merlin was after the birds or the bars.)  And I plan to be back sooner than I was the last time. :)

You can find the recipe for these Peanut Butter Granola Bars at The Marathon Mom. 


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Honey Apricot Bran Muffins


     These muffins? They're the bee's knees. Seriously, I can't think of a more perfect way to describe them.  Sweetened with honey, crunchy with walnuts, moist with homemade applesauce and filled with bran (just in case you didn't think they were healthful enough already) they were a breakfast delight.

   
      Some time ago I found a recipe for bran muffins that I really wanted to make, but couldn't find any bran in the local grocery store. By the time I got to town to a real grocery store that carried it (You wouldn't think that bran was so exotic, would you?) I had lost the recipe. Thankfully there was another recipe on the side of the Bob's Red Mill bag. Though it wasn't what I originally set out to make, with just a few changes it ended up being just what I wanted.

    
      So do you think it's probably a good thing that these are now in my back yard?  I have a feeling I'm going to be needing some of the fruits of these hive denizens' labors. Think they'll share? (more on these new additions later...)

Honey Apricot Bran Muffins
adapted from a recipe for Moist Molasses Bran Muffins from Bob's Red Mill
Ingredients
1 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots (I used a generous 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup milk
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup applesauce
2 Tblsp. oil
2 eggs, beaten

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 400F 
  • Combine wheat bran, flour, baking soda and baking powder.
  • Stir in fruit and nuts. (Make sure you coat the apricots well with the flour mixture to keep the pieces from sticking together.)
  • In a small bowl, blend together applesauce, milk, honey, oil and the eggs.
  • Pour wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just moistened.
  • Spoon into greased muffin tins (or paper baking cups) and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  • Yields 12 muffins

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cherry Almond Coconut Breakfast Loaf- Gluten Free


  
     It’s a "misty, moisty morning" and the dogwoods seem to have appeared overnight, mingling with the redbud trees to make a glorious spring pageant. After Saturday’s rain I can smell the earth just begging for the tiny little tomato plants growing in the windowsill. Spring has sprung.

     The warm weather and longer daylight hours have rekindled my enthusiasm for bringing my camera back into my kitchen, so I'm going to try to be more consistent with posting on my little blog. There are lots of things waking up around here that I can't wait to share!
   
  
     Sunday morning I woke up early, before the rest of the household stirred, and prepared these little loaves for breakfast. The original recipe for this lovely gluten-free-no-added-sugar-breakfast/snack came from Anja's Food 4 Thought. I changed it up just a bit to accommodate what I had on hand, and these loaves were the serendipitous results. As tasty as they were wholesome, they were a delightful addition to our morning. They disappeared so quickly that next time I'll be sure to double the recipe. Hmmm... Pineapple and macadamia nuts maybe?
     

Cherry Almond Coconut Breakfast Loaf
adapted from Anja's Carrot Coconut Breakfast Loaf
Ingredients
3/4 cup almond meal (I used almonds ground in my food processor.)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup mashed banana (about 2 medium bananas)
1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped (If your dates stick together while chopping, sprinkle with some almond meal.)
1/2 cup carrots, grated
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup cherries (sweet or sour) pitted and chopped

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 375° F (180° C). Line three small loaf pans (or one standard size loaf pan) with lightly greased parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, mix together almond meal, baking soda and cinnamon.
  • In another bowl, mix together eggs, extracts, coconut oil and mashed banana. ( I had trouble with my coconut oil not mixing well with the other ingredients, so I whirled the mixture around a few times in the food processor.)
  • Add almond meal mixture to wet ingredients; stir.
  • Gently stir in the remaining ingredients. Mix well to ensure that the chunky bits are evenly distributed.
  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan(s) and bake for 40 minutes (35 for smaller loaf pans) or until a cake tester in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Brown Sugar Maple Walnut Cut-Outs


     Call me a sentimentalist. I love getting letters. The real ones, I mean, written on paper with a pencil or pen. Some of my favorite notes of recent have been painstakingly drawn with crayons on scraps of crumpled notebook paper. In these days of email and texts, a handwritten note carries with it an air of warmth and care.

     Handwritten recipes are like that too. I have a box full of recipes that my friends and family have shared with me, most of them handwritten on recipe cards, notebook paper, index cards- whatever was handy at the time. Going through my recipe box is like a trip down memory lane, recalling special people and special times.

     When this handwritten recipe card fluttered to the floor out of a book I was shelving at the thrift store where I volunteer, I knew at once that it had also been special to someone. Lovingly handwritten (by a Grandma, no less),worn and stained, it had all of the earmarks of a well loved  recipe- one that would feel right at home in my recipe box.



     I changed very little of the recipe, adding some maple flavoring and topping it off with a walnut half and a divine maple glaze. (I had to resist the temptation to eat it by the spoonful.) These brown sugar beauties were perfectly chewy with crisp edges and a rich, buttery maple flavor.  I'm pretty sure Stephanie's Grandma would approve.


Brown Sugar Maple Walnut Cut-Outs
"Receipt" adapted from Stephanie's Grandma
Cookies
2 2/3 cups brown sugar, lightly packed (sift to prevent lumps)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb. soft butter or oleo
2 eggs, not too small
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Walnut halves or pieces (Toasting the walnuts slightly brings out their flavor.)

Maple Frosting ingredients
1/2 stick butter
2 cups confectioners sugar (sifted, to prevent lumps)
1/2 tsp. maple flavoring
1-2 Tblsp. brewed coffee, hot

Directions for making cookies:
  • Cream together sugar, salt and butter. 
  • Beat eggs, maple flavor and vanilla extract together. Add to sugar and butter mixture.
  • Sift dry ingredients together and gradually blend into above mixture.
  • Chill well. Roll out on floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness.
  • Cut with cookie cutters (I used leaf shapes, but a circle would be just as nice) and bake on parchment for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are brown around edges. (Actual baking time will depend on the thickness and diameter of your cookies.)
  • Cool on wire rack. Yield depends on thickness of dough and size of your cookie cutters.
  • Use frosting (recipe follows) to attach a walnut half to each cookie. Drizzle frosting over cookie and walnut. (Or frost cookies and scatter chopped walnuts on top.)
Maple frosting:
  • Melt butter in skillet. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk in flavoring and confectioners sugar.
  • Thin with hot coffee. Whisk until smooth and of drizzling consistency. (Thin with more coffee if needed.)


This post is linked to:





Sunday, October 16, 2011

Apple-Almond Streusel Pie


     Sweet almond paste sandwiched snugly between layers of flaky crust... Tender apples spiced with warm cinnamon ... Crunchy bits of toasted almond streusel ... So many reasons to love this pie!

     The quintessential fall fruit teams up with almonds here to create a treat worthy of any occasion. It's delicious warm or cold, and I say this with authority having made it twice already in the past week. I first saw this pie in the new Pampered Chef catalog, and it sweetly called my name. Hope it calls yours too!


Apple-Almond Streusel Pie
Recipe from Pampered Chef  featured in Simply Sweet with my changes noted
You'll need:
For the crust:
two pie crusts (enough for a double crust pie) your favorite homemade or refrigerated
1  8oz. can of almond paste (or 7oz. tube)
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 egg whites, divided (One of these is just for moistening the edges of the pie crusts to keep them together, so I used the white of an extra large egg and saved back a teaspoon of it to brush on the crusts.)
For the filling:
3 to 3 1/2 lbs Granny Smith Apples, peeled (8 cups sliced)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (I used 2 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used a bit less than this)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon Spice Blend (Pampered Chef has its own blend. I didn't have any so I used my own spice blend, recipe here.)
2 Tablespoons butter
For the Streusel topping:
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup sliced almonds (I used more than this)

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 370F or 190C.
  • Place almond paste, one egg white and cornstarch in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth.
  • Roll each of the pie crusts into a 12 inch circle. Spread almond paste onto one pie crust to within 1/2 inch of edge. Lightly beat the reserved egg white and brush over the edge of the crust not covered by the almond paste.
  • Carefully place the second pie crust on top of the first. Pat together gently and press edges together with fingertips. Using a pastry cutter, trim 1/8 inch edge off of the crust to create a decorative border.
  • Place crust into a deep dish pie pan, pressing dough into bottom and up sides. Prick bottom and sides. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until edges are light golden brown. (I had to cover the edges to keep them from browning too quickly.) While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.
  • Filling: Pour lemon juice into a large bowl. Peel, core and slice apples into the lemon juice. Add brown sugar and spices; toss to coat.
  • Melt butter in a skillet. Pour apple mixture into the skillet and cook, covered, over medium high heat until apples are tender. (6-8 minutes)
  • Strain cooked apples over a bowl, reserving the liquid. Return the liquid to to the skillet and cook 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat until thickened and amber in color. Toss with apples and pour into crust.
  • Combine flour, sugar and melted butter; stir until crumbly. Add almonds; toss to combine. Sprinkle topping over pie. Bake 20-25 minutes or until topping is light golden brown.
  • Serve warm

This post is linked to:






Monday, September 12, 2011

Johnny Appleseed Squares


"Oh, The Lord's been good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need,
The sun and the rain and the apple seed,
The Lord's been good to me."
(Johnny Appleseed Hymn)

      Most school-age children in the United States have heard of Johnny Appleseed, the legendary American frontiersman who planted apple trees over large parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois from seeds recovered from cider mills. From all accounts he was quite an individual! So, while browsing through a copy of Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts, the recipe for these Johnny Appleseed Squares caught my eye. An apple for the teacher? Works for me.

     These bars were sweet, spicy, chewy and chunky and tasted like fall, if that's possible, and the thinly sliced apples sandwiched between the layers of spicy, chewy, chunky oatmeal made them wonderfully moist. The cake-like squares were delicious all by themselves, but I can just imagine how they'd taste topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and gooey caramel drizzled over the top.

     Maida says that she first tasted these bar type cookies at a "gift shop somewhere along the spectacular Skyline Drive in Virginia" and immediately requested the recipe. Skyline Drive, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, has been a fall destination for our family ever since I can remember. The colorful panoramas are breathtaking, and apples are plentiful. Jugs of sweet cider and jars of rich apple butter abound at orchard stands along the route. We haven't made our annual apple pilgrimage yet - we usually time it to coincide with the "peak" leaf color- but cool nights and crisp mornings tell me that I won't have too much longer to wait!


Johnny Appleseed Squares
from Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or mace
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
2/3 cup dark or light brown sugar, firmly packed (I used dark.)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 firm cooking apples (I used 2 large apples.)
1/2 cup toasted pecans, cut or broken into small/medium size pieces (optional)

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 inch square baking pan with foil, making sure the edges extend over the edges of the pan for easy removal. Butter foil then place the prepared pan in the freezer. (This makes it easier to spread a thin layer of dough in the pan.)
  • Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg or mace. Stir in the oats and sugar. In a small bowl, stir together the butter, egg, and vanilla and mix into the oat mixture.
  • Press half of the dough (1 cup) into the prepared pan. Set aside.
  • Place the remaining dough between two 12 inch lengths of wax paper and roll out into a 9-inch square. (It will be very thin.) Slide a flat cookie sheet under the dough and wax paper and transfer it to the freezer for a few minutes.
  • Meanwhile, peel, quarter and core the apples and cut each quarter lengthwise into 5 or 6 slices. (Not too thick.) Place the apple slices in rows, each slice slightly overlapping another, to cover the bottom layer of dough. Sprinkle with the nuts.
  • Remove the rolled-out square of dough from the freezer, peel off the top piece of paper, turn the dough over the apples. Remove the remaining paper and press down on the edges of the dough. 
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. About 10 minutes before the cake is done, if the top has not started to brown, raise the rack to a higher position.
  • Cool in the pan.  Lift cake out using the edges of the foil, and cut into squares or bars. (Maida says that chilling the cake makes it easier to cut neatly. She also adds that they freeze well.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bavarian Peach Torte


     Sigh. Bandwidth issues have been my nemesis for the last couple of weeks. It seems that we exceeded our maximum bandwidth allowance and our internet connection speed got slowed down to a c.r.a.w.l. until the bandwidth police decided we had been without it for a sufficient amount of time.

     As I was wondering whether or not I should make a trip into town to find some free WiFi so I could share this luscious torte with you,  I got the best birthday surprise ever! My son, daughter in law and grandson drove all the way from Texas to surprise me for my birthday! (Insert tears and an extremely happy Mimi here.) And since they've been here, I have to admit that I haven't missed my computer a bit. We've been spending time together and having loads of fun. I mean, who could miss their internet when they've got Sherlock Jones to hang out with? Seriously.




      My little baking assistant and I have been spending time in the kitchen though. We made this luscious torte not once, but twice. Why? Cinnamon and sugar coated peaches nestled in a dreamy cream cheese filling, all wrapped up in a nut filled crust, that's why!  This recipe comes from my friend/neighbor/colleague Kathy, who got it from her Aunt Betty, and it's been a birthday favorite in her family for years. It's good the first day, and even better the second. I can't attest to how it is after that, because it never lasted any longer!

      My bandwidth has finally been restored so I'll be cautiously catching up with everybody soon. I'm anxious to find out what everyone has been up to!


Bavarian Peach Torte
recipe from Kathy (and her Aunt Betty)

Ingredients for crust:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped very finely (I bet almonds would be good too!) 

Ingredients for filling:
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp. cinnamon
20 oz. can of sliced peaches, drained


Instructions for crust:
In large bowl, beat butter, 1/3 c. sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla until well blended. Gradually add flour until well mixed. Stir in nuts. With lightly floured hands, press mixture into bottom and 1" up sides of 10" springform pan.


Instructions for filling:
  • In small bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. 
  • Beat in egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until just blended. Pour into crust. 
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  • In large bowl, combine 1 tsp sugar and cinnamon. Add peach slices and toss gently. 
  • Arrange peach slices on top of cream cheese mixture. 
  • Bake 35 minutes, or until cream cheese mixture is set. 
  • Cool torte in pan 20 min, then carefully remove sides. Serve warm or refrigerate to serve cold. 
I'm linking this post to Sweets for a Saturday at Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies


     True confession: I'm a thrift store junkie- one thrift store in particular actually. Our community has a wonderful opportunity shop that is sponsored by a local church. All of the merchandise is donated and all of the workers are volunteers. Everything is very reasonably priced, and all of the profits go to charities. It's a winning situation for everyone! I volunteer twice a week to sort and shelve book donations. It feeds my passion for helping to making sure that everyone who needs a book is able to have one (or a dozen.) It does my heart good to see a child poring over a book while his or her parents shop. 

     As I was dropping an old copy of  Everyday Food into the "free magazine" box on Saturday, I saw these cookies on the cover. That magazine came home with me and I had those cookies in the oven within the hour! Verdict? They were delightful! These buttery shortbread cookies would be perfect for the little sweet that you need with your tea or coffee, crunchy with pecans and melt-in-your-mouth tender. They'd also be the perfect choice to make for drop in guests, as the recipe is quick, easy, and only makes a dozen nice sized cookies. (Not so many hanging around for late night kitchen raids.) Me? I had one with a nice cup of Earl Gray tea while I curled up with a good book and watched what was hopefully the last snowfall of the season!

Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies
From Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, May 2004
Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar plus more for coating
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
3/4 cup pecan halves
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Spread pecans out onto a cookie sheet. Toast until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Cool, then finely chop. (When I make this again I'll chop mine a little finer- the size of the pecans made them hard to mold into shape.)
  • Cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until light with electric mixer. (about 1 minute)
  • Beat in vanilla, salt and flour just until dough comes together.
  • Gently fold in pecans.
  • Separate dough into 12 pieces and shape into balls. Roll in granulated sugar.
  • Place sugar coated balls of dough 3 inches apart on a parchment covered baking sheet.
  • Gently flatten with the bottom of a glass. Reshape sides if necessary. Sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes or just until cookies start to slightly brown. (Don't over-bake!) Rotate cookie sheet halfway through baking time for even baking.
  • After cookies come out of the oven sprinkle with more granulated sugar and cool on wire rack.
This post is linked to Sweets for a Saturday!


    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Fresh Apple Cake


     I've been a bad blogger. AWOL. These last two weeks have been a bit crazy and something had to go. So blogging got shoved to the back burner until I got all of my school stuff under control. And all the other "stuff" too. Well maybe not all of it, but enough of it to be able to sit down and maybe think  about what's been going on in my kitchen. And to dust off my poor neglected camera.

     Thanks to my brother, I've been blessed with several baskets of "just a little bit less than perfect" honey crisp apples. With this wonderful bounty, I've been making applesauce, apple butter and this lovely little apple cake. This is another recipe from my mom, that she got many years ago from someone at church. (There are some really good cooks at our little church. Homecomings with dinner on the grounds are always an occasion to eat way too much good food!)  This cake has just the right combination of spices and will fill your kitchen with scents of apple and cinnamon goodness. The apples (and raisins if you choose to add them) make the cake incredibly moist. You could add a caramel glaze if you like, but I found that it didn't really need another thing. And if by chance you have any of this lovely cake left over, it's even better the next day.


    Fresh Apple Cake

    Ingredients:
    3 cups apples, peeled cored and chopped (I chopped mine pretty small)
    1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
    1 cup nuts, chopped
    2 eggs, beaten
    3/4 cup oil (I used canola)
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 cup granulated sugar
    2 cups all purpose flour
    1/4 tsp. ground cloves
    1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
    1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. vanilla extract

    Directions:
    • Grease and flour tube or bundt pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil. 
    • Add sugars and vanilla and mix well.
    • Sift together flour, salt, spices and baking powder. Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture. 
    • Stir in apples, nuts and raisins. 
    • Put apple mixture into prepared pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes. 
    • Cool for 5 minutes in pan and then invert onto wire rack to finish cooling.

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Back to School with Better-for-you-Brownies



     Well, it was back to school for me this week. (I apologize for being derelict in my blogging. It's just that I really can't afford to quit my day job.) Back to teacher's meetings and trainings and setting up a classroom to welcome my students next week. Contrary to all of my protests about going back to work, I do like this time of year. It's a new beginning- another New Year- another January so to speak- just without the cold weather. Like a box of crayons the first time you open them, or a newly sharpened pencil. A new class with new faces and new joys and new challenges. A brand spanking new year. 

     And every New Year should have resolutions, right? Along with my long list of professional resolutions (with which I will not bore you) I have a few personal ones which I'm going to make public just to help myself stay accountable for them. They're not unreasonable- really! They are (in no particular order of importance):

    • Eat breakfast every morning.
    • Take time to pack a healthful lunch. 
    • Take a walk every day. 


    So you're probably wondering where the brownies fit into the scheme of things. I was browsing through the new Woman's Day magazine at the checkout line in the grocery store and saw a bevy of bars that looked absolutely scrumptious. They were all made with whole-wheat flour and offered lower fat and sugar than my traditional recipes. So I bought the magazine to try some of them. Teachers get hungry, you know.

     Many of my colleagues are also trying to begin the new year with healthier choices, so I thought that instead of a calorie laden treat in the teacher's lounge I'd bring in these chocolaty bars. They definitely won't entirely replace the traditional gooey fudge brownie in my life, but right now they're an alternative that I can share without all the guilt!


    Better-for-you-Brownies
    recipe from Woman's Day, September 2010
    Ingredients:
    1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
    1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut up
    1 cup packed light brown sugar
    1 cup unsweetened applesauce
    4 large egg whites
    1 cup white whole-wheat flour
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

    Directions:
    • Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9x13 pan with nonstick foil. (Leave plenty of foil on each edge so you can lift it out later.)
    • Put the chocolate chips and the butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high, stirring every 30 seconds, until butter and chocolate are melted and smooth. (It only took mine one and one-half minutes.)
    • Whisk in brown sugar, applesauce and egg whites until mixed well. Stir in flour, cocoa and salt just until blended.
    • Spread into foil lined pan. Sprinkle walnuts on top.
    • Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
    • Carefully lift the sheet of brownies out by the edges of the foil and place onto a cutting board. Cut lengthwise into four strips, and then cut each strip into 6 pieces.
    Per bar: 118 calories, 2 g protein, 17 g car, 1 g fiber, 6 g fat, 5 mg chol, 61 mg sodium

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    Mini Brownie Bites


     Did you ever have one of those days when you just needed a little bit of chocolate?  Today was one of them for me. School is starting back up soon, and I feel like I haven't gotten anything accomplished that I wanted to. Back in June, when I looked at the weeks spreading out before me that I would have off, I made grandiose plans of cleaning my basement, baking and blogging, making jam, canning tomatoes, reading that stack of books that just keeps getting taller, ........you know how it goes. Now I'm looking at just a couple of weeks left. Will I have time for it all? I don't know, but I did have time to make these. These didn't solve my time management issues but they sure were tasty.


     Little nuggets of chocolate nutty goodness that were ready in a jiffy, these were probably the quickest and easiest cookies that I've made in a while. Six ingredients and about 10 minutes were all I needed to have these cooling in my  kitchen. I made these this afternoon, and I'm having trouble keeping myself from picking up one of these two-bite cookies every time I pass by them.

     I found this recipe scribbled on the back of an envelope stuck in my "try this" file. It was originally called Seven Minute Chocolate Cookies, but after making these I took the liberty of renaming them. They were so much like a brownie in taste and texture that I thought their new name was much more fitting. Enjoy them with a cold glass of milk and say "Thank you very much." (You're welcome.)

    Mini Brownie Bites
    Recipe found scribbled on the back of an envelope in my "Try this" file. If you happen to know where it came from originally, please let me know!
    Ingredients:
    1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
    1 pkg. (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate morsels
    1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1 cup chopped pecans ( I used about a cup and a half, because I didn't want to put such a small amount back in the freezer. I liked the extra nuts.)

    Directions:
    • Combine the butter (cut into chunks), semisweet morsels and condensed milk in a heavy bottom saucepan.
    • Gently cook and stir over low heat until butter and morsels are about 3/4 melted. Remove from heat and stir until butter and morsels are completely melted. 
    • Stir in vanilla and flour. Fold in pecans.
    • Drop by level Tablespoons onto a parchment covered baking sheet. (I used a tablespoon cookie scoop.) If you do not have parchment, lightly grease your cookie sheet.
    • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 to 10 minutes. Do not over-bake. Cookies should lose some of their shine when they are done. They will still be soft, but will have a bit of a crust. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet and remove to rack to finish cooling.
    • note: As the batter cools, subsequent batches may take longer to bake.
    • yield: about 5 doz small cookies

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Nuts About Granola!

     

    Do you have a favorite breakfast? Mine is granola. It's actually something I love to eat that is good for me! My favorite way to eat it is with Greek yogurt and fruit, or even with a little soy or almond milk over the top.  Unfortunately, some of my favorite granolas are pricey and sometimes overly sweet. Fortunately I've discovered that granola is really easy to make and I can customize it to suit my whims or to whatever is available in my cupboards.


    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Studies have shown that eating a healthful breakfast on a regular basis is an effective way to keep your weight in check, and reduce your risk for developing hypertension and type-2 diabetes. Eating oats is also a proven way of reducing bad cholesterol. Do yourself a favor and make a batch of this yummy granola. Use whatever nuts you prefer, and customize it to include your favorite add-ins. It's easy and economical!


    Nutty Granola
    adapted from Nigella Lawson's recipe, Andy's Fairfield Granola
    Ingredients:
    5 cups rolled oats (not the quick kind)
    3 cups raw nuts (whatever kind you prefer- I used pecans, walnuts and almonds) roughly chopped
    Add ins- (up to about 1-2 cups total) Use what you like- I used:
        Coconut (I used dry unsweetened)
        Sesame seeds
        Sunflower seeds (unsalted, without hulls)
        Pumpkin seeds or pepitas (unsalted, without hulls)
        Flax seeds or flax seed meal
        Chia seeds (Who knew they were good for more than pets?)
    3/4 cup date sugar (or light brown sugar)
    1 Tablespoon Baking Spice Mix (recipe here) or cinnamon
    1 tsp. salt
    3/4 cup applesauce
    1/3 cup agave nectar or brown rice syrup (can substitute honey)
    1/4 cup honey
    2 Tablespoons Canola or light flavored olive oil

    Optional (to be added after granola completely cools)
    Raisins, dried apricots, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried blueberries or other dried fruit to taste.

    Directions:
    • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Set oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven. You'll need both of them.
    • In a small bowl, mix together the applesauce, agave nectar, honey and oil. (You can substitute honey for the agave nectar if you don't have any. It's still delicious!) Set aside.
    • In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, add-ins, sugar, spices and salt.
    • Pour the applesauce/honey mixture over the oat/nut mixture and stir together until all of the oat mixture is coated with the applesauce mixture.
    • Divide the mixture between two large baking sheets. (jelly roll pans) Spread the mixture evenly.
    • Put the pans on the oven racks and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Rotate the pans (top rack to bottom rack, etc.) every 10 minutes or so and stir the granola each time to keep it from clumping together. Stir again when you remove it from the oven. The granola should be golden brown- please don't overbake!
    • Cool completely. Mix in dried fruit if desired, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

    Monday, May 31, 2010

    Aunt Eva's Mud Hen Bars


    I made these Mud Hen Bars today in honor of my little hen Prissy, who is currently setting a clutch of fifteen eggs under the azalea bush by the front porch. Fifteen? You have to admire that kind of ambition. She's been hiding her eggs for the last couple of weeks, and then the other evening she didn't come to roost. We hunted her down yesterday and found her in a cozy, well hidden nest. And even though she's not a Mud Hen, (the poultry kind or otherwise) the fact that the recipe had the word hen in it was close enough for me.


    I found this recipe for bars last fall on Food O' del Mundo, and immediately knew that someday I would have occasion to make them. And today, in Prissy's honor, here they are. And even though I initially chose them only for their name, they have earned a permanent place in my recipe box. They have a bottom layer like a thick chewy sugar cookie, a middle layer full of chocolate, nuts and marshmallows, and a delicate crunchy meringue layer on top. I chose to use pecans in mine because that's what I had the most of, but I think that others would be equally delicious.


    So by my calculations, we should have some chicks running around in about 18 days or so- check back for chick updates. :) In the mean time, you should try these bars even if you don't have a setting hen in your yard. They'd be great to take to summer picnics or potlucks, as they're extremely quick and easy to whip up on short notice. Enjoy!


    Aunt Eva's Mud Hen Bars
    slightly adapted from Food O' del Mundo

    Ingredients:
    1/2 cup butter
    1 cup granulated sugar
    3 eggs (2 of the eggs should be separated)
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 cup chopped nuts
    3/4 cup chocolate chips
    1 cup mini marshmallows
    1 cup brown sugar

    Directions:
    • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. 
    • Cream together butter and white sugar until completely blended. 
    • Beat in one whole egg and 2 egg yolks. Reserve whites for meringue topping.
    • Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix until blended.
    • Spread into  a foil covered 9x13 pan. (Tip: I like to cover my pan with foil, leaving plenty hanging over the ends. When the bars cool I can lift the entire pan of bars out- this makes them so much easier to cut.)
    • Sprinkle the nuts, chocolate chips and nuts evenly over the batter.
    • Beat reserved egg whites until stiff. Fold in brown sugar. (Tip: To prevent lumps, sift your brown sugar before adding it to the whites.)
    • Spread the egg white meringue mixture evenly over nuts, chips and marshmallows.
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until batter is set and meringue is lightly browned and crunchy on top.
    • Cool completely. Using the foil hanging over the edges of the pan, gently lift the baked bars out of the pan. Peel the foil away and cut into bars. Enjoy!
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