Thursday, November 29, 2012

Classic Gingerbread

How much more Christmas can you get?

It's no lie that anything with the word gingerbread screams Christmas and I always enjoy the little gingermen and gingerlady cutouts this time of year, but I was itching to make some of the classic stuff...just good 'ol fashioned gingerbread.  It pairs nicely with a hot cup of apple cider on a cold winter's night (which we've finally seen a couple cold nights this week, however hello 80's!...again...yes, I'm talking about the weather...again).

But just because it feels like summer doesn't mean I'm not thinking 100 percent Christmas.  Driving back from Oklahoma to Texas last weekend began my kick-off to officially tuning into the Christmas songs 24/7 radio stations.  You see there's this little stretch when you're close to the borders where there is literally nothing to listen to except spanish channels and country music.  PASS.  I usually end up sliding in an incredibly out-dated, dusty CD that skips every twelve seconds (I always forget my ipod dang it!), but this trip I got lucky.  I found some carols to sing the privacy of my car.

So in keeping with the holiday spirit, the next afternoon I made a pan of gingerbread, dusted it with powdered sugar, and brought it to work to spread some holiday cheer :)

Classic Gingerbread

Makes one 9x9-inch pan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cloves, and sugar in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

In separate, small bowl (I used a 2-cup glass pyrex) combine buttermilk, molasses, oil, and eggs; stir well with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Pour batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Adapted from Cooking Light.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

We have a winner.

So Thanksgiving was a few days ago and I made a little contribution to the big meal:  Apple Pie.  But not just an ordinary apple pie.  Salted Caramel Apple Pie.  Now why I chose to make a pie after baking a couple hundred in the days leading up to the holiday is beyond me, but a few weeks ago when I spotted this recipe I knew I had to make it for our Turkey Day dessert.

It must be noted, however, that I did welcome help that afternoon in my parents kitchen.  My mom was employed to press the bottom crust into the pie plate while my dad dutifully peeled a few apples over the kitchen sink.  As we stood there pressing and peeling and mixing, I asked my dad about his mother, my Grandma Min.  Growing up I looooved her apple pie, so much in fact that I made it my own personal mission to create one as equally delightful (she will forever be linked to the fruit-filled dessert, in addition to frozen lasagna, special k cereal, and the smell of wheat bread browning in the toaster).

Last Thursday night my mission was accomplished.  And while this may not be her exact version (my dad informed me that she probably used the tried and true Good Housekeeping recipe) my creation was as juicy and delicious as I remember hers to be.  Oh and I accidentally burnt a few spots of the lattice crust (hence the semi-hidden picture) but he also reassured me that it was in true Grandma Min fashion.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

1 double pie crust (homemade or store bought)
7 tart apples, peeled and sliced (I used Granny Smith)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

4 tablespoons heavy cream

1 egg white
1 tablespoon sugar

Press bottom layer pie crust into 9-inch pie plate.  Sprinkle apples with lemon juice. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and add apples. Toss to mix.  Melt butter in heavy skillet. Add vanilla and cream.  Add apple mixture and cook approximately 8-10 minutes, until apples are soft and the liquid has turned golden. Turn into pie shell.

Cover with a lattice top or just drape the whole second crust over the filling and crimp the edges. (Check out this lattice crust tutorial as a guide).  Use a fork or your finger to decorate the edge.
Brush the top of the crust with egg white and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.  (Word of caution:  filling WILL bubble over, therefore place a foil-lined baking sheet on the oven rack directly underneath the pie during baking to prevent a huge mess!)

Adapted from The Baker Chick.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sweet Potato Casserole Crumb Cake

This is gonna be quick for two reasons.

#1: I'm busy.

#2: You're busy.

But you know, once Thursday is over and things calm down and you've done all your turkey basting and football watching and Black Friday shopping (oh who are we kidding, we all know it's turning into Black Thursday now), you might want to make this crumb cake with those leftover yams (or you could just grab some more at the store seeing as they're about 10 cents a pound right now). 

Ok, I said this would be quick so let me wrap things up.  This cake = good.  The crumb topping = makes the cake.  Buttery, sugary goodness loaded on top of a moist, fall-flavored cake.  Make it.  Eat it.  Heck, call it a coffee cake and eat it for breakfast. 

p.s. Happy Turkey Day to ya!  Hope your day is filled with fabulous friends, family, and food!

Sweet Potato Casserole Crumb Cake

Makes one 9-inch springform pan

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup apple cider (I actually used steeped Pumpkin Chai Tea)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda

Crumb Topping
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, sweet potatoes, and eggs. Beat until smooth.  Mix in the oil, applesauce and apple cider (or tea).  Add the flour, cinnamon and baking soda and mix until fully incorporated.  Pour into greased 9-inch springform pan.

In a mini-food processor pulse the crumb topping ingredients (butter, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon) until blended but crumbly (you can also do this using your hands).  Sprinkle over top of cake.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Adapted from Cupcake Project.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Double Butterscotch Cake

I've been on the mend...

It started last Thursday and it's involved a lot of kleenex, coughing, and kissless goodbyes.  Boo :(

Needless to say, I'm a wee bit tired of this constant tickle in my throat.  And my voice being zapped.  And my nose converting itself into dribbly faucet (that's an understatement but I'll spare you the details).  And this time of year...well, rest is not really in the cards.  I do work at a bakery afterall and this just so happens to be a rather busy time of year, wouldn't ya know...

But I've endured and even made a little bitty cake.  A little bitty cake with a double whammy of butterscotch.  It just sounded good.  And it was.  Super moist from the pudding and studded with butterscotch chips that caramelized into crispy on the outside, melty on the inside bits.  And yes, it involved a cake mix ( apologies), but I wanted something sweet that was quick to whip together.  (I'm baking 60 pumpkin pies in the morning people, sometimes a cake mix is in order).
Double Butterscotch Cake

1 box yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) box instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 cup butterscotch chips

Empty cake mix and pudding mix into mixing bowl.  Stir until blended.  Add in sour cream, oil, and eggs, mixing until combined for about 4 minutes.  Stir in butterscotch chips.  Pour into prepared cake or cupcake pans (I did both). 

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (6-inch cake- shown above) or 18 minutes (cupcakes) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. 

Adapted from Just A Pinch.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sea-Salted French Bread

Do not be afraid.

I won't lie to you, this does, in fact, involve yeast. 

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love yeast and those who..well..don't.  I happen to fall into the former category and yeast and I have always been bff's.  I don't even measure the temp of the water (gasp!) (ps it's supposed to be between 100 and 115 degrees if you're curious and/or OCD).  Instead, I was taught a little trick a few years back while working for a catering company and officially being handed over the role of making all the cinnamon buns.  Here's my secret: simply stick your finger in the warm water before adding the yeast and make sure the water doesn't have a "bite" to it.  Easy peasy. 

Ok, so if you can get over that fear of yeast and get over the fact that yes, you can stop at the grocery store on the way home and pick up a loaf of french bread for approximately 99 cents, then please make a loaf of this bread.  It is super simple (involving only six ingredients) and smells amazing.  Really, who doesn't love the smell of bread baking in the oven?  I think that's gotta be in the top 10 favorite smells of everyone in America.  Oh yea, and it tastes amazing too- don't think I mentioned that :)

Sea-Salted French Bread

1 cup warm water (between 100 and 115 degrees)
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 - 2 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 egg white
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Combine water, yeast, and sugar in mixer fitted with dough hook and allow yeast to proof for 10 minutes.

Add in flour, starting with 2 cups and adding more if necessary, until tacky, yet pliable dough forms.  Knead in mixer for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt over dough and knead until well-incorporated.

Remove dough hook and let dough rise in mixing bowl covered with a loose towel until doubled in size (about 1 hour). 

Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a small rectangle. Roll up dough tightly, beginning on the long side. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaf every 2 inches.  Cover again with loose towel, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brush egg white over top of loaf and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Adapted from AllRecipes.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Leftover Halloween Candy Cakey Brownies

Whatchya gonna do with all that junk...

Yes, I'm joining in on the plethora of halloween candy recipes flooding cooking blogs everywhere.  Please don't hate me.  If it's any consolation, I had the idea of these brownies before checking my e-mail on Thursday and seeing my inbox full of leftover halloween this and leftover halloween that.  Really, I did.  But after sinking my teeth into one of these bad boys there was no denying it- I had to share, regardless of the blogosphere overload. 

Now I'll be honest, we actually didn't buy any halloween candy for the little ones this year.  I learned my lesson last year after I anxiously prepared and ran off to the store, bought four big bags of candy, and we had no more than ten kids ring our doorbell that night.  Big. Fat. Bummer.  Apparently all the kids choose to go to the "good" neighborhoods.  Whatever.  More candy for me.  So this year we were the grumpy house.  The party poopers.  The house with the lights turned out and no one home :(

But that doesn't mean we don't already keep a stash of sweet stuff on hand at all times- thus allowing me to whip up a batch of my go-to brownie recipe studded with some candy of choice (this round I used chopped up peanut butter snickers, reese's, cookies and cream hershey's, and 100 grand).  For some crazy reason you can't really see all the little chunks of candy studded throughout as a lot of it sort of just melted its way into the bar during baking but let me tell can definitely taste it- a touch of pb here, a hint of caramel there...a very sweet brownie. 

Leftover Halloween Candy Cakey Brownies

Makes one 8x8-inch pan

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Candy of choice, chopped (as much or as little as you'd like)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter and chocolate chips in small glass bowl (I used a liquid 2-cup glass pyrex) in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring with a wisk, until melted and well-blended.

In medium size bowl, using the same wisk, stir together eggs, vanilla, and brown sugar until mixed.  Stir in chocolate mixture.  Wisk in flour, baking powder, and salt until just combined.  Fold in candy pieces.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. 

Chelsea Original :) 
(not sure of the origin of the brownie recipe- I have it scratched down on a little piece of paper)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Buffalo Turkey Chili

Let's talk turkey.

Afterall, it is officially November.  The month that just so happens to center around a big, fat turkey.  The month where the hustle and bustle begin.  The month where maybe, just mayyyybe, the cold weather will finally set in (yea, it's 90 here today).  The month where Christmas trees will go up, pies will be made, and holiday travel plans will be arranged.'s gonna be a busy month.

So in the midst of all that craziness, tuck this recipe away in your arsenal to pull out for a quick, easy, and delicious meal on a cold and busy night.  Ok that last sentence didn't do this chili justice.  Let me tell you just how good this chili is.  It is sooo good, that while eating it for dinner, Nathan actually stopped mid-bite to say "wow, this is good".  This NEVER happens people.  The majority of the time while eating dinner I will eventually prompt "how is it?" for fear that he is simply avoiding commenting on what he deems to be a disgusting meal and secretly forcing it down his throat.  So to get a non-prompted, mid-bite compliment is earth shattering.  (p.s. he also text me the next day at work asking if we had any leftover.  Big. Fat. No.  We polished that sucker off.)

Buffalo Turkey Chili

Serves 2 (easily doubled)

1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 tablespoon oil
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, sliced
1/4 cup carrots, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup beer or chicken broth
1/2 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon oregano
Pinch cayenne
1/4 cup hot sauce (or to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Crumbled blue cheese. cheddar cheese, and cilantro, for topping

Cook the turkey in a large pan over medium heat and set aside.  Heat the oil in the pan, add the onions, celery and carrots and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Add the garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, about a minute.  Add the beer or broth and deglaze the pan.  Add turkey, tomatoes, paprika, oregano, cayenne and hot sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve topped with crumbled blue cheese, cheddar, and cilantro to taste.

Adapted from Closet Cooking.