Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Giant Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

I made this for dessert on Christmas Eve and it was a huge hit...I think the thing that really set it off were the 60% cocoa Ghirardelli chips, but I'm sure it would still be good with other varieties.

Serves 8

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
* 1 large egg
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 cups (1 bag) 60% cocoa large Ghirardelli chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; mix until they are fully incorporated. Add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

2. Transfer dough to a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, and press to flatten, covering bottom of pan. Bake until edges are brown and top is golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Don't overbake; it will continue to cook a few minutes out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges. Serve warm; top each wedge with a scoop of ice cream and some caramel sauce if desired.

Fig and Blue Cheese Savouries

Got this recipe from the Food52 blog.
I hate cheese, and especially hate blue cheese, but loved this recipe. The amount of blue cheese in the dough is just enough to add a strong flavor, but no one was sure what it was...just that they liked it.
Turns out my whole family hates blue cheese too, yet these things disappeared when I made them Christmas Eve.
Makes about 2 - 3 dozen
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • Ground black pepper
  • Fig preserves, about 3 Tablespoons
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the flour, butter, blue cheese and a few grinds of black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the dough just comes together and starts to form a ball.
  3. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to pull the dough together. Roll out to 1/8 inch thick with a floured rolling pin. Cut rounds out of the dough with a floured 1-inch cutter and transfer the rounds to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Using the back or a round half-teaspoon measure or your knuckle, make an indention in the top of each dough round. Spoon about ¼ teaspoon of fig preserves into each indention, using your finger to push the preserves as best as possible into the indentions.
  5. Bake the savories for 10 – 14 minutes, until the preserves are bubbling and the pastry is light golden on the bottom.
  6. Let cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes, the remove to a wire rack to cool.
  7. You’ll find fig preserves at the grocery – it may be shelved with the “fancy” jams and jellies. You can make these a day ahead and keep them in two layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

From my mom's Christmas cookie collection this year:

2 egg whites
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. almond extract
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. shredded coconut

Start slow oven 300 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with waxed paper. Beat egg whites, salt and tartar together until soft peaks form. Beat in almond extract and sugar until peaks are very stiff. Fold in coconut. Drop by teaspoon, 1-inch apart on waxed paper sheets. Bake for 25 minutes (light golden brown). Let cool slightly before removing from paper. Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Squash, Onion and Pine Nut Pizza

I got this recipe from the NYT Thanksgiving coverage this week -- really simple and really tasty!

Winter Squash, Onion and Pine Nut Pizza (Adapted from “Pizza: Grill It, Bake It, Love It!”)

This flavorful autumnal pie uses winter squash purée as the pizza topping; the purée is spread like a sauce on the crust. You can find puréed winter squash (sometimes labeled as “puréed acorn squash” or “puréed butternut squash”) in the freezer section of most markets — thaw according to the package instructions before using.

Yellow cornmeal to dust the pizza stone (or nonstick spray to grease the baking sheet)
1 pound fresh dough (from a pizza shop) or a frozen dough, thawed; or prebaked pizza crust
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, halved through the stem, then thinly sliced
3/4 cup frozen winter squash purée, thawed
2 teaspoons minced sage leaves or 1 teaspoon rubbed sage (I was out and so used other spices instead)
1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I also added in more pepper, garlic salt, cumin, and red pepper flakes...the sauce should really just be seasoned to your taste!)

1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano or pecorino or other hard cheese, finely grated
1-2 Tbsp pine nuts

1. Preheat pizza stone or oven. If using a pizza stone, preheat it in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 45 minutes; if using a pizza tray or a large baking sheet, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Prepare the crust. If you’re using fresh dough on a pizza stone, dust a pizza peel lightly with cornmeal. Add the dough and form it into a large circle by dimpling it with your fingertips. Pick it up and shape it by slowly turning it by its edge, stretching that edge all the while, until the circle is about 14 inches in diameter. Set it cornmeal side down on the peel.

To use fresh dough on a pizza tray or a large baking sheet, grease the tray or baking sheet lightly with nonstick spray. Lay the dough on the baking sheet and dimple it with your fingertips — then pull and press it until it forms a circle about 14 inches in diameter on the pizza tray or a 12-by-7-inch, somewhat irregular rectangle on the baking sheet. If you’re using a prebaked crust, place it on a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel or on a greased pizza tray or a large baking sheet.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then swirl in the oil. Add the onion slices, reduce the heat to very low, and cook, stirring often, until soft, golden and very sweet, 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, stir the squash purée, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until uniform. Spread this mixture evenly over the prepared crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border at its edge.

5. Top with the caramelized onions, then sprinkle the finely grated cheese and pine nuts over the pie. Slide the pizza from the peel to the very hot stone, or place the pie on its tray or baking sheet with the pie either in the oven or on the section of the grill grate that’s not right over the heat source.

6. Bake or grill with the lid closed until the crust is golden and somewhat firm to the touch, perhaps even a little darkened on its bottom, 16 to 18 minutes. Check fresh dough occasionally to prick any air bubbles that may arise so you’ll have an even crust on the pie. Slip the peel back under the pie to get it off the stone, or set the pie on its tray or baking sheet with its pie on a wire rack. Cool for 5 minutes before slicing. If you want to make sure the crust stays crunchy, consider transferring the pie directly to the wire rack after a minute or so.

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Pie with Walnut Topping

This is an adaptation/combination of a couple recipes, with the bulk of it from Baking Bites. It's a little gooey-er than a normal pumpkin pie, but it is delicious!

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Pie
dough for 9-inch pie crust, recipe below
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (1 15-oz. can)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8-oz salted caramel sauce*
1/4 cup milk

Walnut topping:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, chilled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 425F.
Roll out pie dough until it is slightly larger than a 9-inch pie plate. Transfer crust to plate and gently press into place. Trim excess dough off of the edges and crimp crust, if desired. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree and all remaining ingredients until mixture is very smooth. Pour into prepared pie crust.

While the pie is baking, prepare the streusel topping: In a small bowl,

combine the flour, brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Blend in the cold butter with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly. Mix in the chopped nuts.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425F, then sprinkle with walnut topping. Lower oven temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes, until pie is set and a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool completely before serving.

Pie can be refrigerated or served at room temperature.
Garnish with whipped cream and additional caramel sauce.

Serves 8-10.

Note: If you cannot find salted caramel sauce, use regular caramel sauce (homemade or store bought) and add in a very generous pinch of salt

Single Crust All-Butter Pie Dough
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into chunks
6-8 tbsp cold water

Whisk together flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Rub in butte

r with your fingertips until mixture is very coarse, but no pieces bigger than a large pea remain. Using a fork, gradually stir in cold water until dough almost comes together into a ball (you might not need to use all the water, so add it in as you go). This process may be done in the food processor, as well.Gather the dough together, press into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30-60 minutes before using.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

This recipe is loosely based on a classic by Martha Stewart, with quite a few adaptations and one big change to make this version very easy!
While I nearly always prefer from-scratch recipes, I am not sure that Ghirardelli's Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix can be beat for rich, chocolately, delicious brownies. So, instead of making the chocolate part of these from scratch, that's what I used instead.
The only thing I'd change about these next time would be to add mini-chocolate chips to the pumpkin batter (this was Scott's request, and I think it's a good idea).
Otherwise, these turned out well and I'll probably make them again before fall is over.
Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Brownies
Makes about 24 brownies


1 box Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie mix, made according to directions (high-altitude, if applicable)

For the pumpkin batter (make usual altitude corrections if needed, i.e., 1-2 Tbsp more flour, a bit less baking powder):
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
(optional: chocolate chips)

1. Preheat oven to 325˚F. Spray a 9″ x 11″ baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Prepare brownie mix according to directions; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the pumpkin batter (flour, baking powder and salt)

4. Beat together the 2 eggs and 3/4 cup of sugar. Mix them for 3-5 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Add the melted butter and spices and blend well. (If desired, add some chocolate chips here!)

5. Pour the dry pumpkin batter ingredients into the wet and use the stand up mixer to combine thoroughly, again without overmixing.

6. Pour 2/3 of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Spread pumpkin batter on top of the chocolate (this will require being gentle and patient to try and get the batter to stretch evenly across the brownie mix). Using a ziploc bag with a hole cut in the corner, or else working carefully with a spoon and your hand, spread the remaining brownie batter into 3 lines parallel to the long-side of the brown pan. Using a knife, swirl the pattern by slicing through the batter in alternating directions parallel to the short side of the pan.

7. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan.

Halloween Oreo Cheesecakes

I made this recipe from Baking Bites for Scott's office Halloween party, where everything had to be themed.They turned out ok...I think they taste alright, but weren't quite as pretty as I'd hoped -- the black and orange got sort of smeared into a mess.
Anyway, I'd make them again, but maybe with a few tweaks, like more attention to decorating the tops to look cooler.
Halloween Oreo Cheesecakes
1/2 cup sugar
2 8-oz packages plain cream cheese, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped Oreo cookies (Halloween colors)
20-24 whole Oreo cookies (Halloween colors)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 muffin pans with paper cup liners.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar, cream cheese, eggs, milk and vanilla extract until very smooth. Blend in flour. Stir in chopped Oreo cookies.
Place 1 Oreo in the bottom of each muffin cup. Top with approx. 1/4 cup cheesecake batter. (Make sure cheesecake batter settles in completely around Oreo at the bottom!)
Bake for 16-19 minutes, until cheesecakes are set. Cool in pan.
Chill cheesecakes before serving for at least 2 hours.

Makes ~20-24

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin Toffee Crunch Muffins

I adapted this recipe slightly from Baking Bites. I doubled it when I made it, and it turned out great, yielding about 30 sizable muffins (the single batch recipe below will likely still give you a few more than a dozen though).
These have a really nice texture -- not too heavy and overly moist, but not too light and cakey/crumbly either. They'd probably also be good with a vanilla/cinnamon glaze drizzled on top too if you wanted to go the sweet route. As they are, they're nice for breakfast or dessert.

Pumpkin Muffins with Toffee and Pecans
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (+ ~1/8 cup for altitude)
2 tsp baking powder (I used 1 1/2 tsp for altitude)
1/2 tsp salt1 tsp ground cinnamon (also added 1/2 tsp of additional pumpkin pie spice)
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree (I added just a touch (maybe 1/8 cup?) more)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped chocolate-covered toffee bars (such as Skor or Heath)
1 cup toasted, salted pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or lightly grease and flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low or working by hand, gradually add in the flour mixture, stirring just until everything is combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Fold in toffee bits and chopped pecans.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling each about to the top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
Turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Broccoli Panzanella with Walnut Sauce and Basil

I adapted this recipe from the NYT -- my main changes were to reduce the olive oil and exhange about 2/3 of it with water...which I probably shouldn't have done, as it turned out a bit dry. I'll post it below with the original amounts, as that's what I'll follow next time.
Turned out tasty still though, and the roasted broccoli had an awesome nutty, roasted kick to it.

    For the broccoli:
  • 12 ounces broccoli, florets cut into pieces 1 inch in length and stem peeled and cut into pieces 1 inch in length and 1/2 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (I used more)
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (I used more)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the walnut sauce:
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (I used 2-3x this amount)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch finely grated lemon zest (I used a tsp of lemon juice)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For assembly:
  • One-day-old baguette, crust discarded and remaining cut into 3/4 inch to 1-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup julienned basil leaves (I used more, about 1/2 cup)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings, optional.
  • 1. For the broccoli: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the broccoli, olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread across a baking sheet or shallow roasting pan, and roast until the broccoli is crisp-tender, and is beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare walnut sauce.
  • 2. For the walnut sauce: In a dry skillet or toaster oven, toast the walnut pieces until fragrant and lightly browned. Place in a blender with garlic, olive oil and lemon zest. Blend until smooth, adding just enough water to make a thick yet pourable sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • 3. For assembly: Spread the diced bread on a baking sheet (I sprayed the bread pieces w/ Pam butter spray and sprinkled them garlic salt) and bake until crisp and golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add broccoli (there should be equal parts broccoli to bread), and mix lightly.
  • 4. On a serving platter or in a shallow bowl, spread the walnut sauce and pile the broccoli and panzanella on top. Garnish with julienned basil and, if desired, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Toasted Walnut Carrot Bread

This bread is SO right up my fall-baking alley -- it is delicious and fairly nutritious, filled with carrots, applesauce, and toasted walnuts! I got the recipe from the Boulder Weekly's Dessert Diva's column, but I skipped the cream cheese frosting. While I'm sure that would also be great, I wasn't in the mood for super-sweet (that doesn't happen often...), and this bread really works well as a breakfast bread, or a not overly-sweet dessert (especially with a little butter and a glass of ice-cold almond milk...yum!)

Toasted Walnut Carrot Bread

1 3/4 cup flour (I used 1/2 AP and 1/2 spelt)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in bowl. Set aside.

In large bowl, mix eggs and brown sugar, add in apple sauce and vanilla, stir until well combined. Fold in carrots that have been peeled and grated.

Combine flour mix with carrot mixture and stir well. Fold in walnuts, reserving a tablespoon to put on top.

Spread mixture into prepared pan and sprinkle on reserved walnuts. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Take out and let cool.

Slow-Cooker Mayan Harvest Bake

This recipe is adapted somewhat liberally from Hungry Girl's take on the Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake frozen meal. Even though I added some ingredients back to this, it's still a very healthy dish, and definitely perfectly suited for the cooler fall and winter months ahead. Plus, it makes a ton, so you'll have lots of leftovers as a reward for all of your veggie-chopping efforts.

2 cups cubed butternut squash (about half a squash)
1 medium sweet potato, cubed
1 large eggplant, stem removed, and cubed
1/2 head of cabbage, cored and cut in chunks
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 15-oz can of black beans
One 15-oz. can pure pumpkin
One 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. ground ginger, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. ground cumin, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. chili powder, or more to taste
1/2 cup plantain chips
1/4 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds

10-12 1/2-inch thick slices of polenta

Place all cut veggies in an extra-large bowl and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine all other ingredients and thoroughly mix. Spoon this mixture over the veggies and stir to coat.

Transfer mixture to a crock pot with a capacity of four quarts or more. If needed, pack it in tightly. (It will cook down*)

Cover and cook on high for 3 - 4 hours or on low for 7 - 8 hours, until veggies are very tender.

With about 1 hour left before serving, layer polenta slices on top of veggies and sprinkle with salt and pepper (could also eat this without polenta, or perhaps on top of some cornbread instead)

*While the veggie juices will squeeze out while cooking, if after a few hours, you feel like there is not enough liquid or that things are drying out, try adding a little more water, more pumpkin, or even a little unsweetened applesauce to keep things juicy.

Stir well and serve, topping with additional pumpkin seeds if desired.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin-topped white chocolate blondies

This was another delicious idea from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. It was easier than I thought it would be (for some reason the initial read-through made it sounds like more steps than it is), and the only complaint I have is that the base is more liquid-y than the pumpkin topping, so most of it oozed to the sides of the pan, meaning the edge pieces had far more blondie than the middle pieces did. That being said, they were all really tasty and my stomach hurts from sampling bars from all over the pan.
If I make them again, I might place the bottom layer in the fridge for a few minutes to let it firm up some...and I also might use some strong cassia cinnamon in the blondie base...and maybe a bit more pumpkin pie spice still in the topping.
But all of that is not to say that there are any real weaknesses here -- the recipe below is a great way to kick off the autumn baking season.

White Chocolate Blondie Base:
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup white chocolate, chopped finely
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 heaping cup all-purpose flour (+1-2Tbsp extra if at altitude)
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
Pumpkin Top:
6 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (1 1/3 heaping cups if at alt)
½ tsp. baking powder (a tad less if at alt)
Pinch of salt
1 heaping tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Grease a 9-x-9-inch pan with baking spray.
Preheat oven to 350F.

Blondie Bottom:
Melt white chocolate and butter together in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. White chocolate does not melt as smooth and pretty as dark or milk chocolate. Don’t worry. Set aside to cool.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl with beaters) beat together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla together until smooth on medium high speed. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and continue beaten until well combined.
Add flour and salt to batter, and mix on low speed until combined, with no trace of the dry ingredients in sight.
Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan. Sprinkle white chocolate chunks/chips evenly over the top of the blondie batter. Set aside.

For Pumpkin Top:
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat together the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating until well combined.
Add the pumpkin and beat until thoroughly combined.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and spice to the pumpkin mixture. Mix until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.
Pour pumpkin top evenly (do the best you can) over the blondie layer in prepared pan. Bake for 30-34 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only crumbs, not batter, on it.
Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 1 hour.
Top with more white chocolate and maybe a little caramel if you would like.

Adpated from Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding with Bryna Levin
(Taken here from CCbP)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Peanut Butter Swirl Banana Bread

I adapted this recipe from Baking Bites to be a bit healthier. I think it's a good balance between fairly healthful but still indulgent-tasting. And it's especially good served warm with a glass of cold milk, or with frozen yogurt on top.

Peanut Butter Swirl Banana Bread

Peanut Butter Filling

4-oz greek yogurt

1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy, or creamy with some chopped nuts thrown in - I used pecans)

1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Banana Bread

1 cup all purpose flour (reduce by 1/4 cup for sea-level)

1 cup spelt flour

1 3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1 cup mashed banana (about 2 large or 3 small)

3/4 cup sugar

4 oz apple sauce

2 oz greek yogurt

1 large egg + 1 egg white (leftover from filling)

Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Make the PB/yogurt filling. In a medium bowl, beat together yogurt, peanut butter, egg yolk and sugar until smooth and fluffy.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and ground spices.

In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed banana, sugar, applesauce, yogurt, and eggs. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Do not over mix.

Pour half of banana batter into prepared loaf pan. Spoon peanut butter mixture on top, spreading it into as even a layer as possible. Pour remaining banana batter on top, again spreading it into an even layer.

Bake for 40min, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs) and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Turn loaf out of the pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Bake

This is a super-easy recipe that I made up on the fly for breakfast this weekend.
Not exactly healthy, but very tasty (especially reheated with vanilla ice cream on top for dessert!)
1 can Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, cut into quarters
1 can apple pie filling

brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a 8 or 9 inch cake pan.Lay 1/2 of apple pie filling down in pan.
Top with cinnamon roll quarters.
Layer with rest of apple pie filling.
Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste, and add butter and brown sugar on top as desired.
Bake until rolls are cooked through, about 30min or so.
Invert onto plate and serve.

Mint Pesto Brownies

An explosion of mint in the garden sent me searching for ways to use a lot of mint in a little time.
These are delicious, even for someone like me that doesn't generally like a lot of mint in my dessert.A shortcut I'd definitely recommend is using Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownie mix -- absolutely delicious and cuts prep time down drastically.
I've made 3 batches of these so far and they've all disappeared in moments.


This is terrific with chocolate. Try it as a filling for (ice cream!) sandwich cookies or mix some into chocolate sauce for ice cream or cake.

1/2 cup macadamia nuts

2 cups packed fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup honey

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, briefly chop the nuts before adding the remaining ingredients. Puree until reduced to a paste. If not using right away, transfer to a glass container, lay plastic wrap over the top so it is touching thus keeping air from penetrating the pesto. Store in refrigerator for up to a month.

Yield: about 1 cup


To swirl the pesto into the brownies, try placing the pesto into a small plastic bag with a corner snipped off. (Hint: it might help to microwave the bag for 10-20 sec to soften the honey and let the pesto squeeze out more easily)

Pipe lines of pesto going one direction and then run a knife through the lines in the opposite direction to swirl.

Favorite brownie recipe or mix, prepared as instructed

1/4 cup mint pesto

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Light butter or coat with non-stick spray the bottom only of an 8-inch square baking pan.

Prepare brownie batter and turn batter into prepared pan. Swirl the mint pesto into the batter by drizzling it on in parallel lines and then running a knife through the lines from the other direction.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. For best results, allow to cool completely before cutting.

Southwestern Potatoes

This was another recipe from The Minimalist in the NYT.
I omitted all of the oil (and also skipped the cheese on my serving) to lighten things up a bit.
Pan-roasting the potatoes without burning them was a little tricky in the absence of all that oil (I ended up sticking them in the oven to bake for about 30min so that they cooked all the way through) but all in all this still turned out really well -- the fresh jalapenos and hefty dose of chili powder definitely jazzed up an otherwise fairly ordinary recipe.

Pam or olive oil, as desired/needed

2 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeño, or to taste

1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen

Salt and black pepper

2 pounds new potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste

1 14-ounce can black beans, well drained

3/4 to 1 cup grated Cheddar, jack (or black pepper white cheddar!) cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish.

1. Oil a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add jalapeño and corn, and sprinkle with salt and pepper; let sit for a moment. When corn begins to brown, shake pan to distribute for even browning. Remove corn.

2. Re-oil pan. When hot, add potatoes. Cook, undisturbed, until they begin to brown around edges and release from pan, about 10 minutes. Continue, at least 15 more minutes, turning potatoes to brown all sides without stirring too often. Add oil if needed to prevent sticking, and lower heat if needed to prevent scorching. When potatoes are tender and golden, add chili powder, corn and beans.

3. Turn on broiler. Place rack about 4 inches below. Transfer potatoes to a baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and run under broiler until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tomato Basil Pie

This is a blend of various tomato pie recipes found online -- it turned out really well (Scott and I each ate a half for much for leftovers!), and was a good way to use up a lot of the Roma tomatoes that keep exploding out of the garden.

1 9-inch pie crust

10 Roma tomatoes + 2-3 other types as desired (I mixed in various heirlooms), sliced1 small onion, sliced as thinly as possible
15 basil leaves, torn/chopped
1/2 cup mayo (I used SmartBalance's olive oil mayo)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (for my healthier/less lactose version I replaced this with fat free cottage cheese)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
salt, pepper, garlic salt, and red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the tomatoes in a colander in the sink in 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes.

Layer the tomato slices, basil, and onion in pie shell. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the cheeses and mayonnaise together; add in more salt/pepper/garlic salt/red pepper flakes. Spread mixture on top of the tomatoes (it won't cover everything) and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

To serve, cut into slices and serve warm. (Also good cold the next day!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Layered Veggie Torte

More of a method than an actual recipe, this was inspired by this write-up in The Minimalist.
The veggies below are what we had on hand from the garden (see below!), but I can think of dozens of other additions that would be great as well.
I decreased some of the butter/oil that would have been good and instead slathered on some of the creamy pesto from last week.It turned out really well, and since we had grilled all the veggies the night before, it was easy to pop in the oven for 30min tonight.

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch slices
4 medium zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5-10 small/medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
garlic salt, to taste
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 cup baby spinach1/4 cup (or less) freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

1. Brush eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes lightly with oil (or cooking spray) and sprinkle with salt, garlic salt, and pepper; if roasting, grease 2 baking sheets with oil. Roast or grill vegetables on both sides until soft.

2. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat bottom and sides of 8-inch springform pan with oil/cooking spray. Layer a third of the eggplant slices into bottom of the pan, then layer in half the zucchini, tomato, spinach and basil, sprinkling each layer with a bit of salt and pepper. Repeat layers until all vegetable are used. Press the top with a spatula or spoon to make the torte as compact as possible. Sprinkle top with Parmesan and bread crumbs, and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon oil or melted butter if desired.

3. Bake torte in oven until hot throughout and browned on top, about 30 minutes (may need to set oven to broil at the very end). Let sit for 5 minutes before removing outer ring of pan, then let cool for another 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings (ha, or 2 if you're Scott and I)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blueberry Crumb Bars

This recipe comes from GimmeSomeOven -- it's still cooling now, so I can't say how it turned out yet, but wanted to post it while I was thinking about it...
Hopefully I can sample it soon -- the smell is amazing!
[Update...they're good, but this particular batch was labeled only "so-so" by Scott...the blueberries (I used a blend of fresh and frozen) just weren't that if you have bland berries, I'd suggest increasing the amount of sugar and lemon zest perhaps, to give them more of distinct flavor]

1 cup sugar (plus extra 1/3 cup for blueberries)
1 tsp. baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract (I actually just used some extra vanilla bean sugar in place of this)
1 tsp. salt
zest of one lemon (I only used about 1/4 of it)
4 cups fresh blueberries
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, salt, lemon zest, and baking powder. Use a food processor or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. (Or if you don’t have these appliances, you can use an old fashioned fork or even giving it a whirl with a beater will do the trick!) Dough should be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown (mine only took 30 min). Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Creamy, Cheesy, Healthy Pesto

Saw this today in the NY Times Recipes for Health column, and after just a few modifications, oh wow is it good!
We have tons of basil in the garden that needs to be harvested so this was perfect timing.
Our basil is spicy, and with the addition of a healthy load of black pepper, so is this creamy pesto.
Because all the creamy agents are fat-free, this stays pretty healthy, and as we learned tonight, is amazing smeared on top of some pan fried tomatoes (which are also exploding from the garden) or really any type of veggie or pasta (shown above with a layered veggie torte) -- highly recommend this one!

4 plump garlic cloves, halved, green shoots removed
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup nonfat cottage cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I used a good amount of both)
1 tablespoon plain nonfat yogurt (I used Fage 0%)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic. When the garlic is chopped and adhering to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add the basil, and process until finely chopped. Stop the machine, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and process until smooth and creamy. Serve with pasta, or as a dip or spread.

Yield: Makes 1 heaped cup (about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons).
Advance preparation: This will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator. It will become more pungent, however, and the green will fade.

Nutritional information per 2-tablespoon serving (using fat-free cottage cheese): 43 calories; 2 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 3 milligrams cholesterol; 2 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 131 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 4 grams protein

Monday, August 9, 2010

Graham Cracker Chewy Bars

Graham Cracker Chewy Bars
Adapted from Culinary in the Desert

For the crust
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
12 tablespoons (3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the topping
2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
confectioners' sugar, if desired

To prepare the crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, flour and salt until thoroughly combined.
Scoop mixture into a 9" x 13" baking pan coated with nonstick spray - evenly press down to form a level crust over the bottom.
Place pan into the oven and bake until the crust is lightly golden, about 10 to 15 minutes.

To prepare the topping
In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and eggs until combined.
Whisk in graham cracker crumbs, vanilla, salt and baking powder.
Stir in pecans.
Scoop mixture over the crust and spread to cover completely.
Place pan back into the oven and bake until the filling is very golden on top and jiggles very slightly when tapped, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into bars. Serve with a dusting of confectioners' sugar on top, if desired.
Makes about 24 bars.

Note: You'll need about 4 sleeves of graham crackers to get the desired amount of crumbs, or just more than one box. Or if you're short on crumbs after one box (like I was), I mixed equal parts spelt flour and brown sugar to make up the difference. Still tasted pretty good!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Prosciutto-and-Basil-Wrapped Grilled Peaches

Yum, the title almost says it all! These were really delicious -- a great savory/sweet combo.
This recipe was inspired by a few different recipes, but ultimately heavily adapted from Bobby Flay's version. Another great easy and grill-able summer dish!

* 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
* 1 tablespoon honey
* Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 peaches, halved and pitted
* Canola oil
* 8 thin slices proscuitto
* 8 basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons


Put the vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Cook until thick and syrupy, stir in the honey and season with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly.

Brush the peach halves with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on the grill, cut side down and grill until golden brown. Turn over and grill for 1 minute longer. Remove the peaches from the grill, layer basil slices on top, then and drizzle lightly with some of the balsamic. Wrap each half with 2 slices of the prosciutto, adhere everything with a toothpick. Throw back onto the grill just until everything is warm. Drizzle with the rest of the balsamic before serving.

Serves 2/4 (makes 4 peach halves)

Grilled Bruschetta

A super-simple yet delicious summer recipe for the grill. Great for using up loads of greens and tomatoes from the garden!

4 thick (1 inch or more) slices of a hearty, crusty bread (I used rosemary loaf from SuperTarget's bakery)
1 med-large tomato, sliced
1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves, torn if leaves are large
1/2 cup baby spinach
olive oil
sea salt
fresh black pepper

Brush/spray olive oil on both sides of bread, sprinkle both sides with sea salt and pepper.
Layer spinach leaves and basil leaves on top of bread.
Lightly grill tomato slices until soft.
Layer tomato slices evenly on top of slices.
Sprinkle with garlic salt, more salt and pepper.
Place bread directly on grill, heat until greens wilt and bottom of bread is toasted.
Drizzle with a balsamic/honey reduction if desired.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Salted Dulce de Leche* Cheesecake Bars

I decided I was going to make these for a 4th of July cookout before realizing that dulce de leche wasn't as easy to find as I would have thought. After looking in 6 stores, I gave up and bought caramel (Marzetti's caramel dip to be exact) and used that in place of the dulce de leche below.

The original recipe came from here, and other than the caramel sub, the only other change was to add about 1-2 Tbsp more cream to the topping, as the caramel was thicker than dulce de leche would have been.

These still turned out pretty well, and I'd definitely make them again -- hopefully actually using dulce de leche next time.

2 1/4 cups graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 tablespoons melted butter

3 packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Dulce De Leche (or caramel)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup Dulce De Leche (or caramel)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
sea salt or fleur de sel

Combine the crust ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Press into lightly greased (spray Pam is fine) 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let cool.

In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese and sugar until fully blended. Add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add Dulce De Leche and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. Pour and scrape over crust and spread evenly all the way to the edges of the pan. Bake at 350 for 38 to 42 minutes until filling is puffed, browning, and starting to crack. Remove and let cool.

Heat glaze, combine and spread over baked cream cheese and sprinkle with sea salt (start moderately) and refrigerate for an hour. Taste, and sprinkle with more salt if necessary before serving.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Big Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these based on a Baking Bites recipe, and overall, I think they turned out pretty well!
Scott says the verdict is still out on the cornflake crumb addition though, so I'm thinking for next time I would keep all else the same, but substitute food-processed oatmeal instead, to still give the cookies some heft but less corn-grain-y crunch.
Anyway, I thought they turned out pretty well, not going flat or spreading too much. I added about a 1/4 cup extra of AP flour and reduced the baking soda a little for altitude (prob used ~3/4tsp), so if making this at sea level, back off the flour by about a 1/4 cup. You can also use all AP flour, though I mixed mine up a little to play with the cookie texture (and a little added nutrition never hurts!)

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour (1 3/4 if at sea level)
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda (3/4tsp at alt)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups crushed corn flake crumbs/rice krispies/puffed rice cereal (or oatmeal "flour"?)
2 cups chocolate chips (I used the large ghirardelli 60% cocoa ones...SO good)

Preheat oven to 350F and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugars and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, followed by cereal crumbs and chocolate chips.

Using a 1/4 cup measure as a spoon, drop 1/4 cup scoops of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave at least 4 inches between cookies to allow for spread (I put 5 or 6 on a sheet). Cookie dough should be shaped in the 1/4 cup measure, not in a round ball (as this results in the most even baking). Refrigerate dough mounds for about 30min to reduce spreading.

Bake for 13-16 minutes, until cookies are golden at the edge. Remove from oven and let cookies set on cookie sheet for 6-10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Makes 18-20 large cookies...but then again, I ate a lot of dough :-)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Apple Rhubarb Crisp

For another tart and fruit-filled rhubarb dessert, repeat Strawberry Rhubarb crisp recipe, but substitute apple for the strawberries and perhaps add more sugar to the filling (especially if the apples are tart).

Best served very warm, and topped with vanilla ice cream!

Blueberry Almond Baked French Toast Casserole

This recipe was adapted from Ellie Krieger's Food Network version, but with a few significant changes.
It turned out wonderfully -- we devoured it for breakfast and finished off the little that remained after dinner, reheated with vanilla ice cream topped with more cinnamon sugar.
If you hate the consistency of bread pudding and super-moist casserole-like things, you might find this too soft for your taste (though you can always play with liquid amount and bake time too to let the top get a little more crispy).

Cooking spray
1 whole-wheat baguette/french loaf (about 18 inches long, 12-16 ounces), cut into 1-inch cubes or thick slices
2 large eggs
6 large egg whites
1/2 cups vanilla almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen, rinsed and drained)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar, +2-3Tbsp for right before baking

Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange the bread in the baking pan. Whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup. Pour the egg mixture over the bread in the pan, spreading it around so the liquid saturates the bread. Scatter the blueberries evenly on top and sprinkle with the almonds and brown sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover the baking pan, sprinkle with additional sugar and perhaps more almonds, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.