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Low-Fat Cinnamon Raisin Scones

8 Dec

So I’m personally not really into scones – especially for breakfast. I need some major protein to kick off my day and usually opt for an egg white sammie with some veggies on top. Mike on the other hand is digging them, so I’ve been experimenting with flavors and lightened-up recipes.

Gina over at Skinnytaste created this recipe that I tweaked slightly – it was incredibly easy! Enjoy.

Scones

Scones

Low-Fat Cinnamon Raisin Scones

Adapted from Skinnytaste.com. 

Ingredients:

Scones

  • 3/4 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp chilled butter (must be cold) cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup raisins

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • Cinnamon to taste

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine the first four ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in chilled butter with a pastry blender, or you could use two knives, until the mixture in crumbly. Gently fold in raisins. Add milk mixture, stirring just until moist.

Place dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly four times with floured hands. Form dough into an 9-inch circle onto baking sheet, about 3/4″ thick. Using a knife,cut dough into 12 wedges all the way through.

Bake until golden, about 18-20 minutes, depending on your oven.

While the scones bake, mix together the milk, cinnamon and powdered sugar to make the glaze.

Cool completely. Frost with cinnamon glaze.

Sonnenbrau Spent Grain Bread

15 Oct

Since Mike began making beer two or so years ago I feel like I have gotten a pretty good handle on how to incorporate it into recipes, especially desserts.

Recently, he purchased the necessary equipment to brew beer using the “all-grain” method which involves steeping the grains instead of purchasing liquid extract. Since we don’t have any cattle in the backyard to feed it to, this posed a fun new challenge of finding ways to use the spent grain (the bi-product of steeping the grains and removing the sugars) in recipes. After some botched experiments (grain chocolate chip cookies anyone?) I found a great spent grain bread recipe. It uses three whole cups of spent grain and produces a hearty, dense loaf. Smear a slice with homemade apple butter or dunk it in your favorite chili.

Homemade bread

Homemade bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. commercial yeast
  • 3 cups spent grain (Make sure to run the grains through a food processor. This is key to break down the husks and create a smoother texture.)
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 cup of milk

Instructions:

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in. Incorporate the wet into the dry and knead the dough by hand for five to ten minutes.

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Shape the dough into ball and let rise in oiled, covered bowl until doubled–about 90 min. Punch down and divide. This makes three medium-sized loaves or two large loaves.  Score tops with a knife.

Pre-heat oven. Bake at 350F for 40 min, until deep golden brown. You can also sprinkle water on them towards the end of the baking process to create a crunchy top crust.

Baked Apple Fritters

12 Oct

After being gone for two weeks and eating out every day, I was ready to get back to making my own meals again.

For dinner I made a pumpkin, sausage and quinoa dish that was ok, but dessert, dessert more than made up for the mediocrity of the main course.

Baked and not fried, these “healthy” apple fritters from Health.com were labor intensive, but well worth it.

Two modifications I would make next time:

1. Double the amount of filling

2. Double the recipe to produce more tasty treats for the the amount of effort these require

Baked Apple Fritters 

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk, warmed
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus up to 1/4 cup more
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg

Filling (I suggest this be doubled):

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 teaspoons apple juice
  • Pinch ground cinnamon

Preparation:

1. To make dough: Dissolve yeast in warm milk in a large bowl. Let stand 5 minutes or until foamy. Add 1 1/3 cups flour, sugar, honey, melted butter, salt, and egg to yeast mixture, stirring until smooth. Add additional 1 cup flour; stir until a soft dough forms.

2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (10 minutes), or transfer to an electric mixer with a dough hook and mix 10 minutes on medium speed; add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.

3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

4. To make filling: Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apple; sauté 3 minutes. Add apple juice and cinnamon. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 3 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed. Remove from heat; set aside to cool completely.

5. To assemble: Punch dough down. Cover; let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each into a 3-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Divide filling among dough rounds; gather dough over filling to form a ball, pinching seam to seal. Place fritter, seam side down, in a 12-cup muffin pan coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and filling. Cover and let rise 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 400°.

6. Uncover dough; bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack. Whisk all glaze ingredients together in a small bowl; drizzle over fritters and serve.

Fritters that are baked and not fried

2nd Annual Genoa Place Block Party

24 Jun

Kick-the-can, bonfires, hotdish potlucks…growing up in a traditional small town in Minnesota summertime block parties were a regular occurrence – an opportunity to bond with our small community of neighbors. 379723_591754784189716_947300167_n

Living in San Francisco, although a very friendly place, we never got to know, and actually hardly ever saw, other residents of the weird little alley we all call home.

Last year, Mike had the brilliant idea to host a get together and so the Genoa Place block party was born.

After a successful first year, we held 2nd annual event two Saturdays ago.

I am never sure what people are going to bring (we should probably encourage sign-ups on the FB event page next year!) so I made sure to have some hot dogs, a side dish, appetizer and of course dessert. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. Our friends and neighbors pulled out all the stops.

In addition to providing the delicious brews for the event, Mike is also the expert on the grill.

In addition to providing the delicious brews for the event, Mike is also the expert on the grill.

Look at that spread!

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Block Party Feast!

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Highlights included stuffed strawberries, goat cheese and pecan salad, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and a berry trifle.

Expectations are high whenever I make dessert, so the heat was on. I had originally planned to test run a cupcake recipe I wanted to make for my sister’s graduation AND I was also obsessing over a cherry hand pie recipe from one of my favorite blogs. But after the local jam I had purchased during my work trip to Portland earlier that week was confiscated by airport security (dude, jam is totally a solid and regardless it’s use in cherry hand pies should make it exempt) I abandoned ship and came up with two new ideas (cherry hand  pies: you are dead to me).

#1: Lemon cookies: featuring lemons from my HR manager’s tree. These were just ok. If you are interested, here is the recipe.

#2: Incorporating the nostalgia of Midwest block parties I selected a banana, peanut butter and honey whoopie pie recipe from a Wisconsin based-blog I follow. Extending the theme even further, I used honey made in Wisconsin by the father of my good friend Emily.

With all that midwest love, the recipe was sure to be a winner. And that it was.

Peanut Butter, Banana & Wisconsin Honey Whoopie Pies

Secret ingredient: homemade Wisconsin honey

Secret ingredient: homemade Wisconsin honey

Banana Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1/4 C shortening
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In a glass measuring cup, measure milk and add lemon juice. Mixture will curdle slightly. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, shortening and sugars until fluffy. Beat in bananas and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Next, alternately beat in dry mixture and milk until well combined.

Scoop 1 inch balls of dough onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Peanut Butter-Honey Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp half & half or milk

Instructions:

In a large bowl, beat together butter and powdered sugar until creamy. Beat in peanut butter until smooth and well combined. Beat in honey. Pipe or spread frosting onto bottom of one banana pie and top with second pie.

Block-party goodness

Block-party goodness

Great Blogger Cookie Swap 2012!

11 Dec

fbcookieswap_whiteHooray! It’s that time again. After having a fantastic experience participating last year I eagerly awaited information on this year’s Great Blogger Cookie Swap.

Although I have literally had cookies on the brain for the past three months and have anxiously awaited the time for when it is socially acceptable to begin holiday baking, I struggled with what I wanted to make for this. I am certain I agonized more over my cookie recipe options than I did my wedding dress.

Anyhoo, I ended up settling on Lemon Coconut Snowballs because 1. I couldn’t get the recipe out of my head after I saw it and 2. They are the closest thing I’ll see to real snowballs in San Francisco any time soon.

Lemon Coconut Snowballs

Lemon Coconut Snowballs – Powdering in Progress!

Lemon Coconut Snowballs

From MyRecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preparation:

  1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and extracts, beating well. Add flour, lemon rind, and salt, beating until combined. Stir in coconut. Cover and chill dough 30 minutes.
  2. Shape dough into generous 1″ balls; place 1″ apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden on bottom, but pale on top. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool 5 minutes.
  3. Place 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a bowl, and roll warm cookies in powdered sugar, coating well. Cool cookies completely on wire racks. Roll cooled cookies in powdered sugar again, coating well.

The Send Off

After finishing work on these pretty labor-intensive cookies, I packaged them up to mail to my matches! I once again typed the cookie recipes up on my vintage typewriter. I’d like to report that I had fewer botched drafts than last year, but no dice.

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Step 1: Seal in plastic bags for freshness

Step 2: Type recipe cards and package up all purdy

Step 2: Type recipe cards and package up all purdy

Step 3: Pad with bubble wrap, seal in a shipping box and send!

Step 3: Pad with bubble wrap, seal in a shipping box and send!

My matches who received my cookies were:

What Did I Receive?

Of course a cookie swap isn’t only one-sided. I received some fun cookies which were:

Happy Holidays!

Our First Christmas Tree

1 Dec

Believe it or not 2012 was the first year that Mike and I had our own Christmas tree. This wasn’t due to lack of interest, cost or logistics. It was due to Collina. Our sweet-faced kitty’s devilish ways would surely result in her grabbing a branch with her teeth and pulling the entire thing over or worse yet, chomping through the light string and getting electrocuted. So I put the possibility of housing our own piney, sparkling, natural tradition out of my mind and just set my sights on enjoying the tree at my parents’ home.

As of early November, Collina became a Wisconsin resident bunking with Mike’s parents and their two other cats. I can’t thank them enough for taking her and know she’ll be happy and well cared for. Although I miss her greatly, I’m making sure to do all the things we couldn’t when she was around.

We passed handful of tree farms on our trip back from Santa Barbara last weekend, and fully intended to stop, until an idea came to me. Mike’s parents had bought us a beautiful little redwood seedling during their last visit.  We kept it out on the balcony and it had now grown to a respectable 2.5 feet. We should use that. And after Christmas, we’ll return it to the deck.

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Lights!

So we had our tree. Hurdle number two was ornaments. Anything we had received as gifts to date were left back in MN and WI.

I weaved a few Swedish paper hearts and also remembered my mom making cinnamon ornaments when I was a kid, so I decided to create a few of my own.

As I was mixing the ingredients together I told Mike the story of why I remembered my mom making these ornaments so vividly.

As they were cooling on a wire rack my dad passed by, picked one up and took a HUGE bite.

“Shari,” he said, “these cookies don’t taste right.”

My mom replied, laughing, “That’s because they’re made with cinnamon and glue.”

Cinnamon ornaments.

Cinnamon ornaments.

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Cinnamon Ornament Recipe – Non-Edible

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons glue

Preparation:

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Mix in the applesauce and glue. Work the mixture with your hands 2 to 3 minutes to form a ball. If mixture is too wet, add more cinnamon. If mixture is too dry, add more applesauce.
  2. Lightly dust a clean surface with cinnamon. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and use a toothpick to make a hole at the top for hanging with a ribbon.
  3. Dry in a slow oven 200 degrees F (100 degrees C) for several hours, or air dry in a sunny spot for 4 or 5 days

Minnie-Apple Bourbon Pie – Edible 😉

We were also lucky enough to catch the last weekend of U-Pick Granny Smith Apples at a farm south of Solvang. I had picked up a bourbon apple pie recipe at the Minnesota State Fair this past Labor Day Weekend and knew that was exactly what I wanted to make.

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite crust recipe (makes two crusts – 1 for bottom crust and 1 for the top). I used a shortening based one that I wasn’t crazy about. 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 TBS flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 6 cups cored apples, slides (I always leave the skin on for the extra nutrients)
  • 2 Tbs bourbon
  • 1/2 cups raisins plumped in additional bourbon for several hours
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans or walnuts (I used walnuts)
  • Additional 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon for sprinkling

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl.

3. In a large bowl mix apples and bourbon. Add dry ingredients, nuts and raisins. Mix.

4. Place mixture in your prepared pie crust, cover with second crust and sprinkle with additional cinnamon and sugar. I would also cut slits in the top crust to release some of the steam. My apples were over baked.

5. Bake 15 minutes then lower temperature to 375 degrees for an additional 35 – 40 m minutes. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

Minnie-apple bourbon pie

Minnie-apple bourbon pie

Making pie with the last apples of the season and decorating our first Christmas tree – I’d say it was the perfect transition of the seasons.

Raspberry Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

2 Oct

Despite having the itch to bake exclusively with pumpkin and cinnamon, I wanted to try this cake recipe at least once before diving head first into fall-themed goodies. With warm weather and a movie in the park on the weekend agenda, this was the perfect opportunity to make this fresh, summery treat.

The recipe from Sunset Magazine calls for store-bought lemon curd (which Trader Joes has), but I figured I’d try making my own – which turned out to be incredibly easy!

Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon curd (see below for recipe)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 3/4 cups raspberries (about 18 oz.)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, salt, vanilla, yogurt, milk, and lemon curd until mostly blended.
  2. Add flour, baking soda, and baking powder to bowl and beat until smooth. Spread half of batter in pan and scatter half of raspberries on top. Gently spread remaining batter over berries. Scatter remaining berries on top.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cake cool about 1 hour, then dust lightly with powdered sugar.

Lemon Curd

Ingredients:

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled

Preparation:

Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1-inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure citrus juice and if needed, add enough cold water to reach 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth. Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit on top of saucepan without touching the water.) Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon. Remove promptly from heat and stir in butter a piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Remove to a clean container and cover by laying a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.