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Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola Clusters

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July 2014 112School starts tomorrow here – I can’t believe it!  Boy does time fly.  I’ve had lots of requests (from my kids) about snacks and breakfast treats that are on their list of must haves.

This recipe was one that made the cut for breakfast on the first day of school.  It’s like delicious edible potpourri – my house smells amazing while it’s baking.  To make this egg-free, you can omit the egg white, you’ll just need to stir the granola mixture every 10 minutes while it’s baking for even browning – and it’ll look more like the granola cereal at the supermarket – small little clusters and loose bits of oaty goodness.

Either way it’s delicious!  Serve it alone, stir it into yogurt, or pour some milk over it.  Yum!

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Granola Clusters Adapted from Food, Faith, and Fun

3 cups old fashioned oatmeal

1 cup slivered almonds

3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup honey

2 Tablespoons canola oil

1 egg white

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the oatmeal, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir until mixed well.

In a small saucepan on the stove, heat the canola oil and honey until they have thinned – gently whisking.  Pour the honey mixture into the oatmeal mix and stir quickly to coat evenly.

Add the egg white and chocolate chips into the oatmeal mix and coat evenly.  Pour the mixture into a 15 x 10 inch baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray or lined with parchment.

Place the pan in the oven for 40 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before breaking the granola into clusters.

Store in a covered container for 4-5 days.

 

Super Soft Glazed Banana Muffins

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Banana Muffins 012It’s no secret that my son loves banana bread.  Anytime we have bananas and they get a spot or two he’s already pushing me to make him some banana bread.

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Oddly enough, all summer I’ve run out of bananas two days after purchasing them.  So in order to fulfill his request for banana bread, I bought four of the biggest bunches the store had and varied the color from yellow to green.

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As luck would have it, the kids got sick of bananas, before the last batch had fully ripened, so I had some left for banana bread and these amazing banana muffins that I had been dying to try!  Hooray!

This recipe is a one bowl wonder and the muffins are super soft topped with an irresistible glaze.  Make these – you won’t be sorry!

Super Soft Glazed Banana Muffins Adapted from Yammie’s Noshery

1 cup overripe banana, mashed (approx. 2 large)

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.

Add the banana, eggs, oil, and vanilla to the dry mixture and whisk just until combined.

Pour batter into the muffin liners until each cavity is 3/4 full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.

Tap the pan on the counter to release air.

Let muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Then carefully remove muffins from the pan and place them on a wire rack to finish cooling.

Spoon the glaze over completely cooled muffins.

Glaze: 1/2 cup powdered sugar + 1 Tablespoon milk – whisk together until smooth.  Add more milk/sugar as necessary for a thick, but pourable consistency.

Fresh Homemade Pizza Dough

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June 2014 139

I can’t say enough great things about this pizza dough – it’s reliable, can be frozen prior to baking, and frozen after baking, fashioned into muffins, mini pizzas, or full sized.  It’s just the bee’s knees.

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And since it’s summer, I’ve been making it a lot.  So I’m finally posting it here for you lovely people to make for your pizza lovers.  The mini muffin pizzas are perfect to serve as appetizers or a simple snack for kids’ parties.

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My friend Janna was out here visiting with her husband and I made them come over for dinner and make their own pizzas.  Which I thought was a lot of fun.  I made 3 double batches of pizza dough, and suffice it to say – we had plenty.  What can I say, I have issues.

If you really want to gild the lily, you can heat up this spread and dip your pizza in it.  Oh my gosh, it’s so good!

Fresh Homemade Pizza Dough Adapted from The Family Kitchen (double recipe)

2 2/3 cups warm water

3 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

5 Tablespoons olive oil

2 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

7 1/2 cups bread flour (approx.)

In a large mixing bowl stir together the water, sugar, and yeast and let sit for 6 minutes.  Add the olive oil and the salt and stir.  Stir in 4 cups of flour.  Add an additional cup of flour as needed.  Continue to add flour until the dough starts to firm up.  Then pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes.  Adding more flour as necessary until the kneaded dough is smooth like playdough – you may not need to use all the flour.

Place the dough into a large bowl to rise – cover with plastic wrap and lay a clean (dry) dishtowel over the plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

I’ve also had great luck making the dough the same day and allowing it to rise at room temperature until doubled (about 1-2 hours).

When you are ready to use it, punch the dough down and on a lightly floured surface knead it a couple of times.  Divide into 6 – 8 pieces (or more depending on the size of pizza you’re making), and let the dough sit at room temperature covered (if the dough was chilled) for 20 minutes; otherwise, roll out the pizza dough and place on a parchment-lined baking dish sprinkled with cornmeal (or use a well greased cast iron pan), and top with sauce and any other toppings (except cheese).

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  Then take the pizza out and top with freshly shredded mozzarella.*  Then return the pizza to the oven for another 5-10 minutes to finish cooking and melt the cheese.

Serve hot or cold!

*If you buy cheese that has been already shredded it will contain an ingredient that prevents the cheese strands from sticking to each other, which in turn prevents the shredded cheese from fully melting together.  For this reason, I prefer to shred my own fresh cheese.

To make meatball mini muffin pizzas:

Simply make small rounds of dough and fill a muffin pan with the dough overhanging, add sauce to the bottom of the dough, and a cooked meatball and bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.  Top with cheese and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted.

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To make frozen pizzas:

Simply make the dough, roll the dough out and top with sauce and toppings (except the cheese) and bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes to parbake.  Let the pizzas cool, then top with cheese and freeze.  Once frozen, about 30 minutes, cover each pizza with plastic wrap and store in a large plastic storage bag.  To heat, remove the plastic wrap and place the pizza on a baking sheet, lined with parchment, and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is heated through and the cheese is melted.

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Fresh Peach Crisp with Cinnamon Maple Cream

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Peaches are still in season – yay!  So I brought this dessert over to my mother-in-law’s house this past weekend to celebrate her birthday and just so you know – do not reheat it with the foil on.  It was a mess.  As in the crumble became a little soupy.  Not good.

And then there was the issue of the maple sauce completely solidifying – which was even worse than the soupy mess.  But no worries, there’s light at the end of the tunnel – I’ve fixed all of those problems so that when you make it – it’s sure to be a success!  Well, unless you leave it unattended overnight or something.

And since there aren’t any eggs in this recipe, this is fabulous dessert for those who have egg allergies.  Just sayin’ because there’s a few of you out there that do.  Oh, and if you’re like my friend Janna that doesn’t really dig maple flavor – don’t worry, it doesn’t slap you in the face, it’s more of just a hint of maple.  Enjoy!

Fresh Peach Crisp with Cinnamon Maple Cream Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Cinnamon Maple Cream Sauce

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

5 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

3 Tablespoons light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

Combine all of the ingredients together in a large pot on the stove.  Cook for 10-11 minutes on medium heat (6 on my gas burner).  Stir constantly to prevent burning.  Pour into a glass container and let cool slightly before covering and refrigerating.  Serve cold over warm crisp.

The sauce will thicken slightly as it cools, and should still be pourable when completely chilled.

*Feel free to omit the vanilla and cinnamon for a sweet maple cream sauce instead.  Both are equally delish!

Fresh Peach Crisp

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1 stick of cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

6-7 peeled and sliced peaches*

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, add the first 5 ingredients and pulse until combined.  Add in the chunks of butter and mix until coarse crumbs appear – pour into a large bowl and set aside.

Mix the sliced peaches with the maple syrup and pour into a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray.

Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the peaches and cover the pan with foil.  Bake for 15 minutes covered.

Then bake for another 40-50 minutes uncovered, until the crisp is lightly browned and bubbly.

*To quickly peel fresh peaches, make an “x” on the base of each peach and submerge (I usually place two at a time) in boiling water for 40 seconds.  Then immediately place the peaches in an ice water bath for another 40 seconds.  Then peel.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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July 2014 076

Well, I just can’t believe that school is almost here – it’s August!  Yikes.  If you’ve been reading for awhile, you are probably aware that my kids expect a newly baked treat daily – especially during the school year.  I can’t blame them, it’s how they’ve grown up!  But sometimes school schedules are so chaotic that only a simple one bowl treat is doable.  I love making these cookies because they’re delicious, easy (I always have the ingredients in my pantry), and you get to roll cookie dough balls (Yay!  My inner child rejoices!).

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I usually don’t do this (add the extra photos) because honestly, it’s a personal pet peeve of mine.  You know, where a blogger will show you no less than 10 shots of the same cookie, but from different angles.  I made the exception here, because these shots are technically of many cookies – not just one.  Just kidding, I just wanted you to get a full view of just how darn cute these cookies are!July 2014 146

While these are super easy to throw together, and tasty to boot, do make sure to plan ahead for 1 hour of chilling.  I know, they were almost sounding too easy, right!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed*

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

scant 2 cups flour

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla, then add the cornstarch, baking soda, and salt – beating until combined.  Add the flour and stir – it will be a stiff, almost dry looking, dough.

Stir in the chocolate chips.  Place dough in a covered container and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Scoop out about a Tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball between your hands.  Place on the cookie sheet.  Continue with the remaining dough.  Sprinkle all of the cookies with a few grains of coarse kosher salt.

Bake each sheet of cookie dough for about 7-9 minutes.  Then slide the parchment sheet off of the baking sheet and let cool (the cookies will look really puffy at first and deflate as they cool) for about 30 minutes before serving.

Makes approximately 25 cookies.

*Light brown sugar may be substituted, but expect a slightly lighter colored cookie – like below!

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One Bowl Chocolate Fudge Brownies

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July 2014 074Ever since I saw this recipe in Rachel Ray Magazine (May 2014), I’ve been baking these brownies.  It certainly can’t hurt that I always have the ingredients on hand & I only have to dirty one mixing bowl!

It’s perfect for those nights when dessert is a must, but I’m short on time.

One Bowl Chocolate Fudge Brownies Adapted from Rachel Ray Magazine (May 2014)

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

3 eggs

1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8 inch baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl – about 1 minute, or until completely melted.  Be sure to cover your bowl loosely with a paper towel to prevent a mess in your microwave.

Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt to the melted butter and whisk until the mixture is creamy.  Then add the cocoa powder and whisk until incorporated.  Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition.  Whisk in the flour, just until combined.  Pour batter prepared baking pan.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

Let cool at least an hour before cutting (for nicer looking squares) – if you can wait that long!

Store in a covered container for 2-3 days.

Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake with Cake Crust

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June 2014 191In my family, the best dessert is a chocolate dessert.  An amazing dessert is a chocolate cheesecake with cake crust.  And this my friends, is that dessert.  I never ever. ever. ever. have leftovers of this cheesecake.  ever.

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With that said, I try not to talk too much about the cheesecake while it’s baking, because it requires 4 hours of refrigeration (at least – I prefer overnight) so there’s no instant gratification here.

Which is good, right?  I mean this new techy generation needs to learn that some things are worth waiting for.  Important things.  Like cheesecake.

And in the spirit of full disclosure, I seldom make the same cake base for this cheesecake twice.  I should, but I don’t.  There are just too many chocolate cake recipes out there for me to try.  This particular cake is noted below, but I’ve also used this cake.

Chocolate Cake Adapted from Sweetapolita.com

2 1/4 cups flour

2 1/3 cups sugar

3/4 cup dark Dutch process cocoa powder (Cacao Barry Brute Cocoa Powder)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

3/4 cup brewed coffee, hot

2/3 cup canola oil

3 eggs, room temperature

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place parchment (cut to size) in a the bottom of a 10 inch springform pan without disassembling it.  Spray the pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and beat until combined.  In a measuring cup, add the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.  In a separate measuring cup – add the hot coffee and cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.  Set aside.

Add the egg mixture to the flour – beating for 1 minute, then add the cocoa mixture and beat again just until combined.  Pour about 2 cups of batter into the base of the springform pan.

Bake the rest of the batter as cupcakes or cake layers.

Bake the cake layer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center has moist crumbs.  Then take the pan out of the oven and let it cool while you make the cheesecake batter.

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Adapted from Junior’s Cheesecake Cookbook

10 ounces semisweet chocolate, I used Baker’s

Four 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 2/3 cups sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

1 egg yolk

¾ cup heaving whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in a heat-proof bowl for 30 second intervals, then when almost completely melted, take it out and stir it until smooth and it set aside to cool.

Place 1 package of cream cheese in a large bowl and beat with 1/3 cup sugar and the cornstarch.  The mixture will turn from crumbly into creamy while you bead.  When that happens, add in the remaining cream cheese.

Beat the remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar and add the vanilla.  Beat in the eggs (on low speed), one at a time until completely blended.

Pour in the cooled melted chocolate and beat on low.  Then add the heavy cream and beat on low just until incorporated.

Cover the bottom of the springform pan well with foil going up the sides of the pan to keep the water from the water bath from seeping into your cake.

Pour the batter into the partially cooled crust.  Then carefully place the cheesecake into a large roasting pan – place the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to go up about  inch high on the cheesecake pan (careful not to splash the cheesecake) and bake for about 1 ¼ hours.

When the cheesecake is done – the top should be smooth and raised.  Transfer the cheesecake to a wire rack (removing it from the hot water bath carefully!) and let it cool for 2 hours unmoved.

After two hours, remove the foil from the outside of the pan – leave the cake in the pan and refrigerate with a paper towel loosely placed on top of the pan until completely cold – overnight if possible.

After the cheesecake is completely chilled, unlatch the side of the pan, then carefully pick up the springform pan – holding the bottom of the pan with one hand and the ring with the other and push the cake bottom up so the ring releases and ends up around your arm.

Cut and serve!  Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 4 days.

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