Monday, July 27, 2009

Banana Bread... uh muffins... uh cupcakes...

The M-ster was helping me grocery shop a while back and, oops, dropped the bag of bananas. I couldnt exactly put them back and get new ones... so I thought, perfect! Banana bread! I love Banana Bread. Every time I make it I wonder I why I dont make it more often. The recipe I use is from my mom. I think she actually cut it out of a magazine years ago. Its the absolute best recipe ever. I promise, you will never even want to try another recipe after you try this one! Ooh, thats a big claim...
This time around I thought I would switch things up a bit and try making muffins out of this batter. But then when I piped a huge dollop of cream cheese frosting on top, Im pretty sure these went from breakfast food to dessert! They were definitely more like cupcakes than a quick bread.
Heres the M-ster mashing her bruised bananas (look at that furrowed brow, she is working so hard):
If you dont feel like this more decadent version of banana bread, try it the classic way in a loaf pan, you won't be disappointed!

Bay Street Inn Banana Bread

2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 medium bananas, mashed
1/2 c. milk

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan, or place paper liners in a muffin pan.
*Combine the flour, baking powder and soda and the salt in a small mixing bowl and set aside
*Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl
*Beat in the eggs one at a time. And then stir in the vanilla
*Stir in the flour mixture, alternately with the banana and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture
*Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 10-12 min. for mini muffins, 18-20 min. for standard muffins, or 1 hr and 10 min. for a loaf. Cool the bread for 10 min. before removing from the pan.
-You can loosely cover the bread with foil if you feel it is browning too quickly


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First Birthday Cupcakes

It was little T-ster's first birthday yesterday. I had a lot of fun decorating cupcakes for her. I thought about going the fun, colorful little kid route, but attempting these chocolate butterflies was just too alluring. I was happy with the results of my "flowers". I used the recipe for the buttercream frosting that I posted earlier. I am still looking for some great by scratch cake recipes, but have not yet found one that I love, so for these I just used a box yellow cake mix.
I piped chocalte candy melts into butterfly shaped wings. After they dried I carefully peeled them up (I lost a few of them- I should have made them thicker) Then I piped a thick line for the body of the butterfly and propped the wings up into the body and let it dry.
The yellow cupcakes were made by piping with the star tip (wilton #32) all over and then placing mini chocolate chips in the middle.
The purple ones were done with the grass tip (wilton #233). And then dotted with pink.
The green ones were also done with the grass tip. Then I placed flowers on them. The yellow flowers were made by rotating the star tip as I pressed to give it a swirled look. The purple flowers were made by piping "layers" of the grass tip on top of each other. I piped them both onto a tray and put them in the freezer so they were simple to move around. And then I placed a butterfly on some of the green ones.
Happy Birthday little T!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yogurt Cake


Here's the intriguing cake I promised you in my last post. Okay, so the ingredients are more intriguing than the taste of the cake itself. Yes, I was slightly dissapointed. The cake is a lot like a pound cake, just maybe "spongier"- almost wetter, if that makes sense. If you like pound cake, but arent too crazy about using so much butter, this may just be the cake for you.
People seem to fall into two categories when it comes to cakes. Those that like them made with butter and those that like them made with oil. I should have known that this one wouldnt be a favorite with me since I am definitely a butter girl! I am my dad's daughter afterall! :) Hi Dad!
I may not make this cake again because of the oil/butter preference, I think I will stick with my lemon pound cake. But it was fun to try with some different ingredients. And hey, if Im ever craving pound cake, but dont have those ingredients, this one would sure do the trick of satisfying me. And Deb, over at smittenkitchen, where I got this recipe, had some great variaton ideas. Like the simple idea of putting blueberries or other fruit in it or more interestingly, using lime instead of lemon and coconut oil instead of the olive oil. Hmm... I may have to try some of her ideas with my pound cake recipe.
Yogurt Cake (adapted from smittenkitchen)
1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. plain yogurt
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. olive oil
1/3 c. lemon juice
*Combine the dry ingredients. Set aside.
*In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, zest, vanilla and oil.
*Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, being careful not to over mix.
*Place in a 9x5 loaf pan that has a piece of wax paper on the bottom and then greased and floured.
*Bake at 35o degrees for 50-60 min.
*Meanwhile in a saucepan, cook the lemon juice along with 1 T. of sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
*Cool in the pan for 10 min.
*Take the cake out of the pan and poke the top all over with a toothpick and then drizzle the lemon syrup all over the top and allow to soak in.
*Dust the top with powdered sugar or follow it up with a lemon glaze made of lemon juice and powdered sugar.
**So if anyone has an idea on why my blog posts hardly ever let me double space I'd love to hear your idea since I realize its probably annoying to read this as one whole paragraph!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Meringue Bites

I was all geared up to bake tonight. I even had my recipe picked out and everything. But you know, its 8:00pm, I just got the girls in bed, and Im just plain tired! But here's a teaser to keep you coming back- it was a cake that included lemon, olive oil and plain yogurt. Intrigued? Stop by later, Im bound to get to it eventually as I need to use up this yogurt sitting in my fridge. Tommorrow maybe?
But until then, I will share with you a recipe that I tried about 2 months ago. Occasionally I make a recipe that uses egg yolks, leaving me with leftover whites. What to do with them? Sadly, after saving them in the fridge for several days with high anticipation of using them in some wonderful way, I usually end up throwing them away. What a waste! I know! But look, I used them this time!
Hard Meringue is little more than egg whites and sugar. How can I not make them with such a simple ingredient list? I know, its a little intimidating- that's why it took me so long to attempt them myself. And then thinking about piping them made it even more daunting. But it ended up being a surprisingly simple task. And super cute and impressive-looking, right?
I must say that at my first taste of them, I was really unimpressed. And the hub-ster flat out didnt like them. But not wanting to waste them, I continued to eat them, because although not my favorite, there was something about their airy, crunchy, chewy unusual texture that kept me coming back from more. And before I knew it, I was actually enjoying them! Their chocolate-dipped bottoms added a nice flavor and look too.
For some helpful tips on making meringue, check out this site:
Meringue Bites
3 egg whites
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla (or other flavoring- almond, rum, peppermint, etc.)
pinch of cream of tartar

*Start with very clean and very dry mixing bowl and beaters.
*Bring your egg whites to room temp. (if you need to seperate your eggs, do that while they are still cold, then let the whites sit for about 1/2 hr to warm up)
*Place egg whites in the mixer bowl and slowly bring your speed up to high and beat until soft peaks form.
*Turn down the speed a little, but NOT off and add the cream of tartar and gradually add the sugar. Give it a second and then add the vanilla.
*Return to high speed and beat until stiff peaks form (the meringue should hold its shape when you pull the beaters out)
*Pipe the meringue onto baking sheets (or just plop them using spoons- looks cute and rustic too)
*Bake at 200 degrees, on parchment paper or aluminum foil, for about 1 hr (or until they dry out) you can test them by poking a toothpick into the side of one of them. Turn off the oven, but leave them in for about an hour more to insure they are dried out.
*Serve them as is, or dress them up a bit by dipping them in chocolate. Or really make them fancy and dip them in coconut, nuts or sprinkles after dipping them in the chocolate.
In a Nutshell: Im glad I made them since Ive always wanted to try, and realize that I can in fact do it. Since they werent our favorite I may not be too quick to make them again, unless I make them for some one who does like them, or a party, although they did grow on me. They are good in other desserts- e.g. shaping them into a "cup" and filling with lemon curd. But give them a try, even if for nothing more than practicing a technique and using up whites. You may discover that eventually you like them too.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Grilled Pizza

In my opinion, Friday night and pizza belong together. I dont know about you, but I still get that same feeling I did as a kid when Friday rolls around- that butterfly of excitement and anticipation of a whole weekend of having fun. What better way to start off the weekend than with a childhood favorite, and hey, an adult favorite for that matter. Through the winter months I make my pizza the traditional way, in the oven, but once the weather warms up, we start grilling it. Have you tried it? You should. Its a lot of fun!

I've included the pizza dough recipe I use, but feel free to use your favorite, or easier yet buy some from your favorite pizza joint already made.

Mixing up the pizza dough:
When the dough starts to cling and form a ball and clean the sides, I like to take it out of the mixing bowl and finish kneading it by hand on a lightly floured surface.
Keep kneading it until it becomes a smooth elastic ball. Then let it rest.
The finished product- Yum! It tastes more like gourmet pizza than your local pizza joint kind of pizza. Grill marks taste delicious, but be careful because burnt pizza doesnt taste so delicious- yes, it happened!
Next time I make grilled pizza I will try to get more pictures (and hopefully better ones!) of the grilling and assembling process and we can revisit this.
Grilled Pizza
Dough (from the pampered chef pizza stone)
1 1/2 c. flour
1 pkg. of yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c. very warm water
1 T. veg. oil
*Mix together the dry ingredients in your mixer bowl.
*Then add the water and oil. Mix until the dough clings to itself and forms a ball.
*Then take it out of the bowl and knead it by hand a few minutes on a lightly floured surface until it becomes smooth and elastic.
*Let it rest at least 10 min (or if you like, until it doubles in size)
*Divide the dough in two and roll each half out on a baking sheet (for easy transportation from inside to outside) sprinkled with cornmeal. Let it rest while you get all your other ingredients outside.
Pizza sauce (homemade or store bought)
Your favorite toppings (precooked if needed- such as mushrooms, onions and sausage)
*Prepare the pizza dough and while it is resting you can prepare all your other ingredients.
*Turn half of your grill on high and let it heat for for 5-10 min. to insure it is good and hot. The other half of your grill should be on low.
*Gather all your ingredients and all your tools you will need before you head outside to get started- you wont have much time to run in and out of the house for ingredients and such once you put the dough on the grill.
*Right before you put the dough on the grill, turn the hot side down to low. Carefully place the dough on the grill and close the lid. Let it sit for about 2 min. If you move it too soon, it will rip, but watch it to make sure it doesnt burn.
*When you have grill marks and it starts to brown, remove it with a large spatula and put them on the baking sheet, cooked side down.
*Fill your pizzas up with your favorite toppings, but be careful not to overload it, otherwise it wont cook right and will remain soggy. My pizza, the pepperoni (in the front) had a little too much cheese, I just cant hold back! And the hub-ster ALWAYS overloads his! :)
*Put your pizzas back on the grill, this time on the cooler side, close the lid. Let it cook for about 10 min., until the dough is cooked through and the cheese is melted- adjusting the temp if its not cooking fast enough or turn it off and just leave the other side of the grill on if the dough is cooking too fast.
*Put them back on the baking sheet,
*Bring to your outdoor table and enjoy with a fresh garden salad and a bottle of wine!
If you have questions, as Im sure I was unclear on some points, leave a comment and I will answer back in the comments. Or just head over here and we can make it together!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake

I've never been one to deviate from a recipe. I would follow it to the T- being as precise as I could about my measurements. Well over the past few years I have learned to relax a little bit and am even willing to "change up" a recipe! And, hey, usually it works out just fine!

The hub-ster had the day off today so I thought it would be nice to make something special for breakfast. I kind of wanted to make cinnamon rolls, but I had just made them a couple weeks ago and really didnt have the energy to make them yesterday. So I thought maybe I could take my go-to coffee cake recipe (one from my mom's aunt) and use my cinnamon roll filling instead of the usual topping. I also made a few other tweaks to the recipe. I think it turned out pretty good.
Ready to go in the oven:
Look at those crevices!:
Frosted:
Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. shortening
1 egg
2 T. sour cream
1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
topping:
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 T. softened butter
*Mix together the sugar, shortening and egg. Stir in the sourcream and milk. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and then stir into the wet mixture.
*Mix together the topping ingredients.
*Grease and flour a tart pan, pie pan or 9x9. Spread 3/4 of the batter into the bottom of pan. Sprinkle 1/2 the topping mixture over the batter.
*Place the rest of the batter in dollops on top of the topping mixture. Top with the rest of the topping.
*Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 min. or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
*Let cool and drizzle with icing.
In a nutshell: Easy, quick and a never fail recipe. It tasted a lot like cinnamon rolls and is a nice alternative when you have the craving but not the time. I look forward to experimenting with other fillings and toppings. Let me know if you try any good variations.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Buttercream Frosting

We made cupcakes this weekend. I wanted to try out a new decorating tip. Its a multi opening one that is usually used for grass and hair- Wilton #233.
But the M-ster wanted to do pink frosting. So we made 'carnations' instead. They make me smile every time I look at them and the M-ster calls them "silly cupcakes".
It looks like a field of flowers:
I really like this buttercream frosting. Its not too sweet and pipes well. It can be stored in the fridge until ready to be used, just bring it back to room temp before using.
Buttercream Frosting (adapted from my kitchen aid recipe booklet)
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
3 1/4 c. powdered sugar, divided
Place the butter in your mixer and beat until creamy. Add the whipping cream, vanilla, salt and 1 c. of the powdered sugar. Mix on low until combined. Scrape sides of bowl. Gradually add remaining powdered sugar until combined. Then turn your mixer to med-high for about a minute until blended, creamy and thick.
*Milk can be substituted for the whipping cream if you are in a pinch, but I prefer the consistency and stability that the whipping cream offers. Mess around with the amounts of butter and sugar until you find the consistency and flavor you like.
In a Nutshell: I like this recipe. I make it A LOT!! But I look forward to experimenting with other recipes.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Patriotic Marshmallows

I found the idea for these cute little guys here: http://themomblog.freedomblogging.com/2009/06/30/win-cupcakes-from-guest-blogger-the-meringue-bake-shop/25837/
She did hers with big marshmallows and used them on her cupcake kabobs. So clever. I had grand ideas on how to use these as a garnish for our 4th of July dessert, but unfortunately I had none of the ingredients for any of my ideas and living 30 min. from the grocery store- you learn to either improvise or wait! I opted to wait since the lake and boat were calling my name. Oh well- I left them out on a plate and eventually they disappeared. Maybe you will have a good idea on how to use these little cuties for your independence day celebration. Let me know what you came up with.

The how to:
Dip one end of the marshmallow in a dish of water then pat dry on a napkin before dipping into red sprinkles. Repeat with other side, dipping in blue sprinkles.

In a nutshell: Very cute and very easy. I will make these again, maybe for other occasions using different color sprinkles.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

We might as well start this adventure off with one of my favorite cookie recipes- Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies. They are soft , chewy and oh so yummy! The hub-ster doesnt like these as much because, get this- "they taste like bakery cookies"! Come on what kind of complaint is that?! In my opinion thats what makes them so good. He really only has one cookie that he truly loves. I will post that some day. This recipe is, so far, the most requested of mine. Hope y'all enjoy it.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter
chocolate chips

*Cream the butter, sugars, peanut butter and salt.
*Add the egg, flour and soda and mix until just combined.
*Stir in some chocolate chips.
*Drop by tablespoonfuls on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 min. at 350 degrees.

Tip: Make a double batch and freeze dough balls for later so you always have fresh cookies on hand.

In a Nutshell: Easy recipe. Definitely will continue to make again and again!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Welcome to our baking blog!

I am happily addicted to food blogs and I have several that I follow on a regular basis. The creativity and skill that many of these people have astounds me. Their creations are so fun to look at and inspire me to give their recipes a try. I love to bake and I think that making special treats for people is one way I show my love for them. Thats where this blog comes in. As I do a little creating of my own, I will share my successes, tips and yeah, even my failures (Im sure there will be plenty of those as I am a rather novice baker.) I love reading food blogs so much that I thought I might enjoy writing one of my own. My girls dont know it yet, but they are going to love helping me bake up yummy masterpieces! The M-ster already does a little dabbling in the kitchen with me, and it wont be long before the T-ster starts to get her hands in the batter. So lets get baking...