Saturday, October 31, 2009
My advice is to be liberal with the food coloring. Make sure the batter is bright because the color tones down after baking. I thought the batter was too yellow and a perfect orange but after baking, the yellow was perfect and the orange was too light. I bought a ton of candy so I'm hoping a lot of little ones stop by the house. I'm dying to see little kids in costumes. This is something I missed when I lived in Boston. I also can't believe that this time next year I'll have a little one of my own to dress up :)
Friday, October 30, 2009
Cracked Pepper Cheddar Muffins
Source: Taste of Home
Makes 12 muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1-1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and pepper. In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in cheese.
Fill muffins cups coated with cooking spray two-thirds full. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
There are so many things I want to teach her. So many things I want her to know about the world. I've decided that the main thing I want to teach her (or give her?) is a strong and confident sense of self. I think it’s so important for you to feel comfortable in who you are because there are going to be so many situations in life that will test what you think of yourself. From shattered relationships to the media to interactions with random strangers, there are all kinds of situations that will make you look at yourself and how you are perceived by others. I am completely confident and happy in the person I have become. I know I may be perceived in many different ways but I am ok with that because I know who I am and I am ok with that person. I hope this is something that shows when the little one starts developing her sense of self and that this is something that will provide her with the tools necessary when she starts to question who she is and who she wants to be.
So now my question is...What's one thing you think is important to teach the little ones?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Never having been to Garcia's I didn't know what to expect of the restaurant. They have a reputation for having the freshest seafood around so I half expected it to be a fancy restaurant. Wrong. This is the type of restaurant that was made for locals and for people who enjoy hassle-free meals. There is nothing extravagant on the menu. There are no pretenses. It really is all about the food.
We both ordered the dolphin sandwiches and wow. The fish sandwiches were incredible and they had such a clean, unfiltered taste. They didn't taste fishy or like the ocean. All you tasted was the crispness of the white fish and the kick of the spices. The fish tasted like it was the child of a blackened and cajun union.
The sandwich came with a side of fries. The fries were your good ol' standard seasoned fries.
Garcia's is located at 398 NW North River Drive in Miami. They are open every day from 11am to 9pm and are definitely worth checking out.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The title of the post that contained this month's Daring Bakers challenge said "Practice Your French Kissing." I don't think any amount of practicing my French kissing would have helped me conquer the difficulty that is making macaroons. I went into making the dessert confident and came out feeling defeated. I expected defeat. This is after all a dessert that I had been terrified of making because of it's reputation. It's a deliciously fickle cookie. Everything has to be absolutely perfect, from the temperature of the eggs to the temperature of the oven. My cookies came out flat and chewy. I filled the cookies with a chocolate ganache and they honestly tasted more like chocolate chip cookies than anything else.
Make sure to check out the Daring Bakers blogroll. Not everyone had as much trouble as I did and, in fact, some bakers created the most gorgeous macaroons.
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Chicken with a Red Wine Sauce
Source: All Recipes (here)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 Tbsp flour
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook garlic in oil until tender. Place chicken in the skillet, and cook about 10 minutes on each side, until no longer pink and juices run clear. (I browned the chicken. Since you are simmering the chicken for another 20 minutes there's no point in cooking it all the way at this point. It will continue to cook as it simmers.)
Drain oil from skillet. Sprinkle chicken with paprika and 1 cup brown sugar. Pour red wine around chicken. Cover, and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes; lightly baste chicken with wine sauce while cooking. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove the chicken from the pan. Add the flour to the wine sauce and whisk until the sauce thickens. Serve on the chicken or on the side.
Friday, October 23, 2009
When Edgar came down for my wedding over 2 years ago he stayed at the DoubleTree Hotel. He raved on and on about their cookies and how great they were and how insane I was for not trying the cookies. In my defense, the last thing I wanted to eat the day before my wedding was a cookie. I'm sure a cookie would calm the nerves and excitement of getting married but I was afraid that if I opened my mouth to eat a cookie I'd throw it up and never eat another cookie again in my life. I couldn't bear the thought of a life without cookies so I passed on the DoubleTree cookie. So as a thank you to Edgar for being a great friend, I made these cookies with him in mind and am virtually sending them to him with a big hug.
Never having had the DoubleTree cookies I didn't know what to expect. I have no point of reference and no clue how these stack up against the ones given at the hotel. I will tell you this though (as I stuff my face with another cookie) these are some good cookies. I generally don't like any kind of nut in my cookie, but with this cookie, the walnuts work and give it such a great flavor and texture. Because of the discrepancy between the granulated and brown sugars this cookie doesn't have that same butterscotch-y flavor as other chocolate chip cookies. To me, the cookie had more of a vanilla flavor.
Doubletree Hotel Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Lick the Spatula (here)
1 1/2 C. butter — softened
1 1/2 C. granulated sugar
3/4 C. firmly packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. lemon juice
3 C. all-purpose flour
3/4 C. old-fashioned oatmeal — uncooked
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
3 C. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips — Ghirardelli!
1 1/2 C. chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the butter in a large bowl and cream lightly with an electric mixer. Add the sugars and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and lemon juice and mix well. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, oatmeal, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to the creamed butter mixture and stir well to blend. Add chocolate chips and walnuts and stir to combine.
Using a 1/4 cup measure or a 2-oz ice cream scoop, drop the batter on the parchment-lined pans, leaving 2 -3 inches between each cookie. Bake for 13 - 15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from parchment and cool on wire racks.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Source: Beantown Baker (here)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups M&M’s, divided
1 cup chopped pecans (I omitted)
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended. Add eggs; beat well.
Gradually add flour mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in 3/4 cup M&Ms and all the nuts.
Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet. Press 5-6 of remaining M&Ms on each cookie before baking. Bake 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
To kick off a new book and a new type of cake, this month's selection was the Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake. This cake is the perfect morning cake and it is just oozing with cinnamon-brown sugar goodness. Putting the cake together is easy and enjoying the aroma of it baking is something that makes you want to bake this cake every day of the year. My favorite part of the cake was the pecans in the middle. You know the pecans are there, but it's still a nice surprise when you bite into one and its flavor mixes with the cinnamon and the cake.
Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake
Source: Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott
Makes a 13 x 9 inch sheet cake
For the Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
For the Cinnamon Raisin Filling
1½ cups light brown sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp cinnamon
1½ cups raisins (I omitted)
1½ cups coarsely chopped pecans
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, melted
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 9 inch pan.
To make the filling, combine the light brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl and stir with a fork to mix everything well. Combine the raisins and pecans in another bowl and toss to mix them. Place the cinnamon mixture, nut mixture and melted butter by the baking pan to use later.
To make the cake batter, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir the vanilla into the milk. In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar and beat with a mixer on high speed until pale yellow and evenly mixed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl to ensure a good mix. Add the eggs and beat for another 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl now and then, until the mixture is smooth and light.
Use a large spoon or spatula to add about a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir only until the flour disappears. Add a third of the milk and mix in. Repeat twice more until all the flour and milk mixtures have been incorporated. Stir just enough to keep the batter smooth.
Spread half the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half the cinnamon mixture over the batter followed by half the melted butter. Scatter half the raisins and nuts over the top. Spread the remaining batter carefully over the filling, using a spatula to smooth the batter all the way to the edges of the pan. Top with the leftover cinnamon, butter and nut mixture, covering the cake evenly.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown, fragrant and beginning to pull away from the edges of the pan. Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before serving in squares right from the pan. The cake is delicious hot, warm or at room temperature.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Thanks to Erin for this week's pick. Make sure to head over to her blog for the recipe and to the TWD site to read about everyone else's reactions to the Sweet Potato Biscuits.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I have seen a ton of recipes that include beer as one of the ingredients and I have always been curious about the taste. My biggest concern was whether there would be an overwhelming bitter taste. I decided on this recipe and decided to make cupcakes because the last time I made cupcakes was back in April (!!!!!!). I topped mine with a Kahlua topping. The recipe is for a ganache but if you whip it enough you'll get a thicker consistency. The end product was delicious! The cupcake is light and chocolaty and it has an interesting taste. Not interesting in a bad way, but interesting in the way that lets you know there is something special about the cake. And the topping?? Holy cow is it sinful. The Kahlua topping goes amazingly well with the cupcake.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup Guinness Beer
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.
In another bowl, combine the sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla, and beer.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry.
Pour the batter into the cupcake cavities between 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.
Frost and enjoy!
For Kahlua topping recipe, go here.
And now, the lifespan of a cupcake in 4 words:
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
A huge thank you to Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table for making this week's selection. Make sure to head over to her blog for the recipe and to head over to the TWD site to read about others experiences with this sweet treat.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Annie's Eats (here)
Makes approx. 30 cookies
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 cup of mashed bananas (about 2 ½ large bananas)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cloves
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until well incorporated.
In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which will in turn give the cookies their lift and rise.
Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture until just combined.
Fold chocolate chips into the batter. Drop into dollops on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.
These cookies were more puffy and fluffy than chewy or crispy.