Monday, December 15, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Macaroons



Do you know that today I found an almost empty quart of milk and a plate of half eaten cookies in the fort my kiddos built?  Yes, that's right my girls do not fool around when it's play time to play "house" or hide and seek.  Cookies and milk are invited into their precious little world of make believe.  Fortunately for them my little kitchen has been buzzing with all kinds of baked sweets and treats for this season of holiday festivities.  As a baker and lover of all things holiday my kitchen workshop has been laden with all things chocolate, parchment paper and vanilla extract as I try to keep up with the sweet needs of my girls and wanting to fill tins and baggies up with treats for others.


Today I was able to try my hand at making macaroons for the very first time.  Chocolate Dipped Macaroons at that! Simple, delicious and beautiful macaroon cookies. I have Melissa of Fried Rice and Donut Holes to thank for the recipe. I was honored to have her blog assigned to me as part of the Cookie Carnival 2014 event via the Secret Recipe Club.  This month the Secret Recipe Club is show casing COOKIES because let's face it, December should really be called Cookieber instead as in many, many parts of the world this month is all about cookies along with all things holiday and magical. 





Melissa of Fried Rice and Donut Holes has a wonderful collection of cookie recipes.  I was very tempted to make her Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies but then decided to take the road leading to coconut happiness topped off with milk chocolate and decided to make these cookies instead.  Can you blame me!? I didn't think so.  I loved this recipe! All you need is a  short list of simple ingredients along with NO fancy moves to make these cookies.  Just a large bowl, a good mixing hand and a nice hot oven.

Chocolate Dipped Macaroons
(recipe from Fried Rice and Donut Holes)

Ingredients:
14 oz. of sweetened coconut
4 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate morsels (I used milk chocolate but semi-sweet or dark is fine too

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well all together.
3. Using 2 spoons or a cookie scoop, drop cookie mixture onto prepared sheets.  Leave about 1" in between each cookie. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.  Cool cookies on wire racks while you melt your chocolate in a double boiler.
4. Once cookies have cooled completely dip into melted chocolate.  Lay cookies upside down to allow chocolate to cool and harden before placing on platter or into treat baggies to give away. 

  Happy Chocolate Dipped Macaroons Baking! 


Monday, November 24, 2014

Peanut Butter Fudge


 Today I am patting myself on the back as I am feeling quite accomplished.  Not only did I order my Christmas cards from Shutterfly but I also made my first batch of holiday fudge - both before Thanksgiving has even arrived. Now I just need to shop for all my gifts, wrap the gifts, address and send out my Christmas card, bake up a storm, decorate the house inside and out and pray that everything goes smoothly.  After all that I will REALLY feel accomplished! 


Speaking of accomplishments I have to say that April Turell is quite an accomplishment in many, many facets of her life.  Not only is she the owner and creator of the wonderful food blog named, Angels Homestead (my Secret Recipe Club assignment for this past month of November), she is also a lovely wife, a mother to 5 children and mamaw (grandmother) to 2 grandchildren along with one of the original owners of the Secret Recipe Club! I was honored and delighted to have been assigned to April's blog.  I discovered delicious recipes along with fantastic household hints (who knew you can actually make your very own disinfecting wipes).  Most importantly I came upon a recipe for Peanut Butter Fudge



 Creamy, simple, rich and yes, delicious Peanut Butter Fudge.  So good!  I whipped up a batch and made everyone in my household test taste it.  Umm they all kinda LOVED it!  But before it disappeared completely I wrapped some up to hand out as a homemade, made from the heart gift.  I plan on giving fudge to those that I adore.  You should too! - and I have just the right recipe for you to use....just follow the directions below. :-)


Peanut Butter Fudge 
(recipe found on Angels Homestead)

Ingredients - 
2 sticks salted butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar 

Directions - 

1. Place butter and peanut butter in a large microwave proof bowl.  Heat for 1 minute microwave and then stir.  Continue to microwave in 30 second intervals - stirring after each 30 seconds until completely melted. 

2. Add in vanilla extract and powdered sugar - one cup at a time, stirring well in between each cup of sugar.  

3. Once the mixture is completely smooth pour into an 8x8 square pan that has been lined with buttered tin foil or parchment paper.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and then cut into bit size squares.  Enjoy! 

Happy Peanut Butter Fudge Making!



Monday, October 27, 2014

Cinnamon Cauliflower Coffee Cake



I have used cauliflower in many dishes.  I have made cauliflower au gratin, I have made quite a few stir fries with cauliflower tossed into it.  I have also made MANY a salad with cauliflower and even soups.  I have NEVER made a coffee cake (or anything sweet for that matter)  with cauliflower.  That is until just this month.  This month I made a lovely puree of steamed cauliflower, mixed in some eggs, melted coconut oil along with some maple syrup and honey and stirred it all into a dry mix of flour and other regular components of a coffee cake batter.


Magically the pureed cauliflower made a beautiful and delicious coffee cake!  Imagine that.  Once again, my world as been enlightened by my participation in the Secret Recipe Club.  I was assigned, 84th&3rd this month.  I owe my new insight and experience of baking with cauliflower to the lovely and EXTREMELY talented, JJ of 84th&3rd. JJ's world on her blog of 84th&3rd is full of exquisitely gorgeous food.  Although JJ was born and raised in the United States she now lives, works and plays in Australia.  Her writing is witty and well spoken.  Her recipes are full of vibrant flavor, beautiful presentation and amazing creativity.  Even though JJ eats eggs, dairy and fish (no meat though) many, if not most, are gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan.  I have honestly never seen so many beautiful and decadent CHOCOLATE recipes that are actually good for you as I have on JJ's blog.  So yes, I am completely smitten with amazement over all JJ's talents in the kitchen.  She truly creates a beautiful world around eating well and eating healthy (delicious and beautiful) food. 


 I did alter JJ's recipe for this fantastic one-of-a-kind coffee cake in a few areas as I didn't have all the special gluten-free or vegan ingredients available in my pantry.  For the cake batter instead of using spelt flour and arrowroot or tapioca flour I used all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour.  For a sweetener I replaced rice syrup with maple syrup.  And then in the filling ingredients instead of using coconut sugar I used brown sugar. All of these substitutions worked out fine as the taste and appearance of the cake both came out wonderfully and I was given rave reviews from those that shared the cake with me. 



Please take the time to make this cake.  It may sound a little out of the norm at first glance but it really is a wonderfully creative treat.  Your friends and family will be impressed and maybe even in a little bit of shock once they discover that cauliflower has been baked into such a delicious cake.  But seriously, no matter what they will continue to eat the cake with a smile on their face along with happy taste buds to encourage them to continue on eating.


Cinnamon Cauliflower Coffee Cake 
(recipe adapted moderately from 84th&3rd )

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup raisins
1 Tbsp rum or fruit juice
1 Tbsp warm water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp brown sugar (JJ used 1 Tbsp coconut sugar)
2 Tbsp flour (my addition to the recipe as it helps keep the raisins and chopped nuts from falling down into the batter)

Cake Ingredients:
1 1/2 -2 cups fresh cauliflower
2 Tbsp lemon juice 
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup (JJ used 1/4 cup rice syrup)
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (my addition)
1 cup all purpose flour (JJ used 2 cups spelt flour)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (JJ used 1/4 cup arrowroot or tapioca flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour bundt pan and set aside. 

2. In a medium bowl combine raisins, water and rum (or fruit juice).  Toss all together and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes. Then add in chopped nuts, cinnamon, brown sugar and flour.  Mix well and set aside.

3. Steam fresh cauliflower until very soft and then place into a food processor along with lemon juice.  Mix in food processor until cauliflower is smooth and silky. Add in 1/2 of melted coconut oil and pulse to combine.  Add in remaining coconut oil, eggs, maple syrup and honey - mix well all together.

5. Sift all dry ingredients together into a large bowl and whisk to combine well.  

6. Add cauliflower mixture into dry ingredients.  Mix well all together.   

7.  Pour 1/2 of batter into prepared bundt pan.  Spoon filling mixture evenly over batter and then pour on remaining batter over the filling layer.

8.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and cake is golden brown.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto serving plate. * Serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!


 Happy Cinnamon Cauliflower Coffee Cake Baking! 

*JJ made a delicious caramel sauce to be poured over this cake.  I choose not to make the sauce but instead to sprinkle confectioner's sugar over the cake. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Maple Almond Granola


I have discovered and perfected a recipe for granola that I am completely smitten with. Head over heals, in-love I say.   The simplicity of how to make it, the ingredients are fantastic (um yeah - oats, dried fruit and chopped nuts, coconut oil, maple syrup, honey and spices all make my heart happy) and the taste are all just divine. 



I like to have my granola is all different ways.  I sprinkle it over fruit and yogurt.  Sometimes (well, most of the time I should say) I eat it by the handful.  I have also been known to bake with it, tossing into cookie batter or over fruit to make a crisp.  BUT I think my all time favorite, favorite way to eat granola is fresh out of the oven with milk, a spoon and a bowl.  How about you?  How do you like to eat your granola? 


Jolie - my dear oldest daughter - likes her granola any way she can get it.  Especially straight off of my camera shot! I do have to point out that granola is also a wonderful gift to give to others.  Make up a big batch and package it up in pretty bags with a ribbon and such.  Your friends, family, neighbors and long lost friends will adore you even more once being handed such a gift. 


Maple Almond Granola  
(slightly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients -

3 cups rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt  
1 cup whole almonds - divided
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
6 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract 
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, chopped apricots, chopped dates etc.) 

Directions -

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.


2. In a large bowl combine oats, cinnamon and salt.  Roughly chop 1/2 cup of almonds and add to oat mixture.  Mix well all together.  Set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan melt coconut oil.  Add in maple syrup and honey once coconut oil has melted.  Cook and stir until all are combined.  Remove pan from heat and add in vanilla and almond extract.  Stir to combine.  

4. Pour warm liquid over oat mixture. Gently stir all together.  Pour carefully onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes - tossing granola half way through baking time. Continue baking for remaining baking time.

5. Once granola is finished baking add in remaining 1/2 cup whole almonds and dried fruit to granola.  Toss gently together and enjoy! 




Happy Maple Almond Granola Making!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Vermont Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting


Have you ever walked into some one's home for the first time and felt immediately welcome and comfortable right away?  This is exactly how I felt this past month with my Secret Recipe Club assignment.  I was completely delighted to be in the "home" of Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of RecipesHonestly, I didn't want to leave! And I truly feel that the title of her blog is beyond perfect as EVERY. SINGLE. recipe that she shares is fantastically delicious!


 My list for recipes to make from Sarah's blog started with her Coffee Cake Pancakes - what a brilliant pairing! I then went onto marking her recipe for a Blueberry Breakfast Braid - blueberries are always wonderful to bake with!  But then I found a recipes for Chicken Parm Meatballs along with Soft Raisin Cookies - both delicious comfort foods in my book.  My world stood still when I discovered Sarah's recipe for Vermont Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.  Not only did this recipe call for pumpkin but also for maple syrup.  TWO ingredients that are near and dear to my heart.  I love them.  I really do! 



 This cake is the perfect cake to make for this time of year.  Pumpkin seems to be the theme of all things good and yummy right now and then add in a fluffy sweet frosting with hints of maple syrup and cinnamon you truly can't go wrong! 

Vermont Spice Cake with 
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting 

Cake Ingredients:

3 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder  
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin spice 
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1/2 cup evaporated milk (I used 2% milk as I didn't have any evaporated milk...worked fine!) 
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup water 
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting Ingredients:
11 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tsp maple flavoring (I used 1 tsp maple flavoring and 1 TBSP real maple syrup)
a squeeze of lemon juice


1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9x13 pan or two 9" round pans and set aside.  

2. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin spice and salt. Set aside.

3.  Cream together butter and sugar until nice and fluffy.  Add in eggs, one at a time beating well for each egg.   Add in pumpkin puree, milk, water and vanilla extract and mix well all together.

4. Gradually add in flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix just until all is combined.  Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Cool completely before frosting.

5. Make frosting by creaming together cream cheese and butter.  Gradually add in powdered sugar and then maple flavoring (and maple syrup if you wish) and squeeze of lemon juice. Beat all together until light and fluffy.  Frost cake and enjoy!  





Happy Vermont Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Baking!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Oatmeal Molasses Bread


Today I made bread.  TWO loaves of delicious beautiful bread in fact.  The bread feed my family which in turn feed my heart.  Sappy I know but the honest truth.  For the past two weeks I have been blessed with the presence of three family members that live in France. I am lucky if I see my French every couple of years.  Every minute of our time together has been filled with adventures, laughs, amazing food, lots of wonderful chats and beautiful memories to cherish of one another.  In an effort to comfort myself with their impending departure and to provide a delicious addition to our time together I decided to make bread.  Oatmeal Molasses Bread at that! A soft in the inside, crunchy crust on the outside,  full flavored bread.  A magical bread in fact and I have Renee from Kudos Kitchen by Renee
to thank for the recipe.



Kudos Kitchen By Renee has been my August assignment for the Secret Recipe Club.  I just love Renee!  I have been following her blog for quite some time now.  Not only does she create delicious recipes full of beautiful food but she is in amazing artist.  I have had my eye on her custom made mugs.  I may need to drop a hint to Santa for a special Christmas gift (wink, wink). 



I will leave you today with the gift of this recipe.  It is a generous recipe that makes 2 BIG beautiful and fragrant loaves.  Molasses, oats, whole wheat and unbleached all purpose flour and yeast are the simple ingredients that make up this treasure of a bread. It provides happiness to the tummy and comfort to the heart.  Merci Beaucoup Renee for sharing this recipe with me. You are a gem! In turn I pass on this recipe to all of you! Enjoy!

Oatmeal Molasses Bread  
(recipe from slightly adapted from Kudos Kitchen by Renee)

Ingredients:

2 packages of active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
3/4 cup warm milk (I used almond milk as that was all I had on hand)
1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
2 cups oats (regular or quick is fine)
2 1/4 cup boiling water
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup molasses
1 TBSP salt

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, gently mix the yeast, room temperature milk and sugar all together.  Let this mixture set for a good 10 minutes to allow the yeast to proof (it will get nice and foamy).
2. In a large bowl pour boiling water over the oats and mix well.  Let sit for a bit as the water absorbs into the oats.  Then add in molasses, melted butter and salt.  Mix well all together.

3. In another large bowl (Renee suggests using the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook or a regular bowl with a wooden spoon) combine flours.

4. Add in oats/molasses mixture to the flour.  Stir by hand or with dough hook to combine slightly.  Add in yeast mixture.  This will call for a little extra time as you knead all of the ingredients together.  The dough will be heavy and dense but well worth all the work.  Make sure it is well combined. 

5. Transfer dough into a oiled bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm location without any drafts.  Allow dough to double - this will take about 1 hour. Once dough has doubled, punch down and then divide in half.  Shape gently in loaves and place into greased loaf pans.  Again, allow breads to rise in a warm location without any drafts - about 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

6. Bake breads in an oven of 350 for 45-55 minutes.  Breads will be done when they sound hallow when tapped. Cool breads for 15 minutes before taking out of pans.  Cool completely before slicing to enjoy. 




Happy Oatmeal Molasses Bread Baking!



Monday, July 28, 2014

Peach and Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa


I have always loved to travel.  It's exciting to discover new places in the world and learn how so many others live and move about in their every day  lives.  This month for my Secret Recipe Club assignment I was given the opportunity to travel (virtually) to New Zealand!  What fun!  I got to visit a lovely lady named, Sue who blogs at Couscous and Consciousness. 
Sue has created and put vast amounts of care into an abundance of healthy, delicious and beautiful dishes.  She offers recipes ranging from decadent desserts such as, Lemony Peach Cake and  Double Chocolate Raspberry Brownies. Or if you are looking for a savory dish how about a recipe for Italian Sausage with Gnocchi and Red Peppers or even better an appetizer of Fig & Blue Cheese Wontons

As much as I wanted to make the Espresso Caramel Bars I chose to stay on the healthy side of my taste buds and make a lovely dish of Peach & Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa. A fantastic, nutritious and oh-so-delicious warm cereal - it can be served cold too if you wish.




I was fascinated to discover a recipe that called for fruit along side the grain of quinoa. It was a dish of simplicity and fantastic flavor. Ground cinnamon, a splash of real maple syrup, some vanilla almond milk,  fresh fruit and cooked quinoa all come together to make a delicious warm cereal. Move over oatmeal there is a new warm cereal in town that starts with a Q and ends with an A.  Yum!





Peach & Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa
             (recipe from Couscous and Consciousness)
                      2 small servings or 1 large serving

Ingredients:

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed thoroughly (original recipe calls for red quinoa, I used white quinoa)
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 peaches, sliced
1/4 cup chopped nuts, optional 
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp maple syrup (honey or agave nectar can also be used)


Directions:

1. Cook quinoa - place water, almond milk and quinoa in medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook for 15- 20 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to stand with cover remaining on for 5-10 minutes.

2. Stir in cinnamon and fruit.  Pour into serving bowls and drizzle sweetener and sprinkle chopped nuts over cereal.  Enjoy! 


 Happy Peach & Blueberry Break Quinoa Making!




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