November 18, 2010

Nuts about Nutty Granola

I've been making this granola for quite awhile now.  It is super simple to make and oh, so yummy!  :)  All you have to do is throw a few ingredients in a bowl, stir, bake, and enjoy.  It has a wonderful, sweet maple flavor with a touch of salt.  A great slightly-sweet, slightly-salty combo.  The granola isn't overly sweet, and it is great that it is made with a natural sweetener like maple syrup.

My favorite way to eat this granola is on top of honey or blueberry Noosa yoghurt, a local Colorado yoghurt.  (It is really yummy, too, look for it in your area.) 

The recipe calls for chopped almonds, but I like the texture of sliced almonds, so I use those instead.  The recipe has the option to add raisins.  I tried it once, but didn't really like it.  I didn't like it because the raisins go in to bake with the rest of the granola and come out hard and dry.  If you would like to add raisins, I recommend adding them once the granola is baked.

Nutty Granola

Cooking spray
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients, mixing well to coat everything with the maple syrup.  Spread on the baking sheet and bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let cool completely.  Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about 2 weeks.

Hat Tip - The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger

November 7, 2010

Cranberry and Apple Crumble

I love a good apple crumble/crisp!  I don't feel as guilty about eating dessert when it contains fruit.  Don't you just love that logic?  :)

I came across this recipe in one of my many checked out library cookbooks.  I couldn't wait to try it.  I picked up fresh Braeburn apples at the farmer's market and grabbed fresh cranberries at the grocery store.  This recipe came together pretty easily.  I did make an adjustment to the topping, I added about 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats.  I thought the texture would be a good addition, and I was correct.

Sweetie and I ate the crumble while it was still warm.  We topped it with vanilla ice cream.  It was delicious!  One of us went back for seconds, but I'll let you guess which one of us it was.  :)

Cranberry and Apple Crumble

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
(I added about 1/4 cup oatmeal to the flour mixture)
6 cups sliced peeled Braeburn apples
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, level with a knife.  Place flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter into a food processor; pulse 10 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal.  (At this time, I added oatmeal to the flour mixture.)  

Combine apples and cranberries in a large bowl.  Combine juice, 2 tablespoons sugar, and cornstarch; pour over apple mixture.  Toss well.  Spoon apple mixture into a 2-quart baking dish.  Sprinkle with flour mixture.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.  Serve warm.

Yield - 8 servings

November 2, 2010

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake . . . hmmm!

This pound cake is delicious!  It is so smooth, moist, and chocolate-y.  I think the cake tastes better the day after it's made.  Sweetie and I ate the whole loaf!  :)  I like that it makes a loaf instead of a larger size cake.  It is very manageable for two to eat.

I've been a fan of red velvet cake for years (I grew up in the South), but the red food coloring grosses me out a bit.  Although it doesn't stop me from eating it!  I was excited to make this pound cake with a velvet texture, but no red food coloring.

I made a few adjustments to the recipe because of the high altitude.  Instead of one cup all-purpose flour, I used 3/4 cup all-purpose and 1/4 cake flour.  I also decreased the baking powder by half.  It turned out beautifully!

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon water, at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsifted unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position an oven rack in the center.  Lightly coat the 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch pan with melted butter, oil, or high-heat canola-oil spray, and fit it with parchment paper to extend up both long sides to the top of the pan.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium-high until light - almost white - in color, 4 to 5 minutes.  You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results.  Scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

In a small bowl, stir together the water and espresso powder until smooth.  Crack the eggs into the bowl and beat to blend.  With the mixer running on medium, add the eggs to the butter mixture about 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to completely blend in before adding the next.  About halfway through, turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl, then continue adding the eggs.  Scrape down the bowl again.

With a fine-mesh strainer, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into the medium bowl and whisk to blend.  With the mixer running on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, beginning with one-third of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk; repeat, then finish with the flour mixture.  Scrape down the bowl and finish blending the batter by hand, if necessary. 

Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.  When cool, remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and serve.

Storing - The cake can be made several days ahead and kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap.  Or double-wrap it, put in a resealable plastic freezer bag, and freeze for up to 8 weeks.

Hat Tip - The Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet

October 30, 2010

Pecan-Crusted Pumpkin Squares

Halloween is upon us, so I thought a pumpkin recipe would be appropriate.  When I read the name of this recipe in the The Weekend Baker cookbook, I thought it was going to be a type of bar, but it is actually a quick bread.  It came together quickly and the wet and dry ingredients can be mixed up to one day in advance. 

I really liked having the pecans on the outside of the pumpkin squares, it was almost like a crust (thus the name "Pecan-Crusted").  :)  The squares were moist and delicious.  They definitely put the feeling of Fall and Halloween in the air. 

Happy Halloween!

Pecan-Crusted Pumpkin Squares

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose and 1/4 cake flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used 1/2 dark brown and 1/2 light brown)
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (not seasoned pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup canola or corn oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Position an oven rack on the middle rung.  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter - be generous or the nuts won't stick - the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish.  Add the nuts and tilt the pan to coat the bottom and sides evenly.  Carefully spill out and save the excess nuts for the top.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves.  Whisk until well blended.  In a large bowl, combine the sugar, pumpkin, oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.  (You can prepare the dry ingredients and wet ingredients up to 1 day ahead.  Cover the dry ingredients and keep at room temperature, and cover the wet ingredients and keep in the fridge.)  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and gently stir just until blended.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Scatter the reserved nuts evenly over the batter.  Bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, about 30 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for about 15 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into 2-inch squares.

Wrap the uncut, cooled square in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes 9 2-inch squares

Hat Tip - The Weekend Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge

October 18, 2010

Taco Soup

I've decided that I like to hoard library cookbooks.  It's sad, I know, but I just can't help myself.  There are so many cookbooks at the library and so little time to look at them all.  I usually check out about 5 books at a time, then I have books on hold that come available.  Right now I have 15 library books!  It's crazy!  I guess I have another obsession brewing . . .

One of the cookbooks I currently have is Make it Fast, Cook it Slow by Stephanie O'DeaWith Fall upon us, I thought it was time to bring out the crock pot, so I checked this cookbook out.  I came across this taco soup recipe.  It is super simple, so I had to make it!  The most time consuming part is opening 8 different cans.  I did the can opening while browning the meat.  I used 3/4 pound of ground beef instead of a pound.  Not a big difference, but a slight cut back.  This soup could be made vegetarian by omitting the beef or by replacing it with ground crumbles.

Sweetie and I loved this soup!  We ate our soup with tortilla chips.  The soup wasn't spicy and it had a great flavor.  The soup makes 12 servings, so needless to say with only Sweetie and I eating it, we had A LOT leftover.  :)  That's okay with me, we will get several meals out of it.  I put some of the leftovers in the freezer.

Taco Soup

1 pound ground turkey or beef, browned and drained
1 medium onion, chopped
2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans
2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans
2 (15 oz) cans corn with their juices
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with their juices
1 (14 oz) can tomatoes with chilies, with their juices
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch dressing mix
Sour cream and cheddar cheese, for garnish

Use at least a 6-quart slow cooker.

Put the meat and onion into the slow cooker.  Drain and rinse beans, and add to the cooker.  Add the corn and tomatoes.  Stir in contents of the seasoning packets.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.  Ladle into bowls.

Add a handful of cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream to each bowl before eating.

Serves 12

Hat Tip - Make it Fast, Cook it Slow by Stephanie O'Dea

October 13, 2010

Beef Stew aka A Hug in a Bowl

I look forward to cooler/colder months, so I can make comfort food.  I love comfort food!  It is so yummy and gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.  This recipe does both of those things.  This is the second time I've made this recipe.  Both times it has been a wonderful success.  I come back to this (ok, sometimes, I dream about it) because the meat gets so tender, it almost melts in your mouth!

The stew is made in the slow cooker, with some prep work before dumping everything in.  The meat has to be browned.  It can be a little messy, but definitely worth it!  Once the stew starts cooking in the slow cooker, the smell is so tempting.  It is hard to wait 7 1/2 hours to eat.  If you can't wait 7 1/2 hours, you can cook it on high for 4 hours.  :)

Slow-Cooker Classic Beef Stew

4 pounds bottom round, well trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup olive oil (plus more if needed)
2 large onions, diced (2 cups)
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 pound potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
1/2 pound baby carrots (about 2 cups)
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Coat the beef in the flour.  Heat a few tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Brown the meat, a few pieces at a time, adding more oil as necessary.  Transfer to a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker.

Add the onions to the skillet and cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and coat the onions; transfer to the cooker.

Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits; add to the cooker.  Stir in the potatoes, carrots, broth, salt, thyme, and bay leaf.

Cover and cook on low heat for 7 1/2 hours, or on high for 4 hours.  Add the peas and heat through.

Serves 8 to 10

Hat Tip - Real Simple

October 10, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

Fall is finally upon us.  Yay!  To me, fall means crunchy leaves, cool nights, sweaters, pumpkins, apples, and only a short time until winter.  Most of my favorite things are lumped into one beautiful season.

I thought pumpkin bread was a good way to start the season.  A couple of weeks ago, I went to Sur la Table and purchased my own copy of The Art & Soul of Baking.  It was a very exciting day!  I couldn't wait to make something from it, so I went with pumpkin bread.  The bread was delicious!  Warm spices, nuts, and pumpkin all in one.  It was simple to make, using the muffin method.  I did have to cook my bread longer than the instructions stated, but it wasn't a big deal. 

Pumpkin Walnut Bread

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup neutral-flavor vegetable oil (such as canola)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position an oven rack in the center.  Lightly coat a loaf pan with melted butter or high-heat canola-oil spray and line it with a piece of parchment paper that extends 1 inch beyond the edge of both sides of the pan.  In the large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt until thoroughly blended.  Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and blend well.

Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended and smooth.  Add the walnuts and stir until they are evenly distributed.  Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and level the top.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until the bread is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.  To serve, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife.  Any leftovers should be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Makes 1 loaf

Hat Tip - The Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet

September 16, 2010

Yummy Peach Cookies

I was looking through Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook, and came across these peach cookies.  I read through the ingredient list and I actually had everything on hand to make these cookies.  I had just bought peaches at the farmers market and I use peach jam on my PB & J sandwiches, so I was all set!  And very excited at the thought of making cookies with peaches. 

These cookies are yummy!  In the cookbook, it says they are best the day they are made, but I (and my sweetie) actually thought they were better on the second day.  I'm not a huge fan of soft cookies, but these had a cake like consistency, so it was different.  I would definitely make these cookies again.  They were a good way to say goodbye to cooking summer treats.  

Fresh-Peach Drop Cookies

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large ripe peaches (about 8 ounces each) peeled, pitted, and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (1 3/4 cups)
1/3 cup peach jam or preserves
2 tablespoons fine sanding sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.

Put butter and granulated sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Reduce speed to low.  Add egg and vanilla; mix until well blended, about 1 minute.  Add flour mixture and mix until combined.  Add diced peaches and peach jam; mix until just combined.

Using a 1 1/2 -inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart.  (Chill remaining dough between batches.)

Combine sanding sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Sprinkle each cookie with 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Bake cookies until golden brown and just set, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.  Cookies are best eaten the day they are made, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.

Makes about 4 dozen

September 11, 2010

Summer Vegetable Gratin, oh my!

Hello, my name is Heather and I'm obsessed with America's Test Kitchen.  I have my DVR set to record the show whenever it comes on, I have the 10 year cookbook, I got a subscription to Cook's Illustrated, I also got a membership, and check out lots of different ATK cookbooks from the library.  Doesn't that sound like someone obsessed?  I enjoy the science and explanation behind the testing they do.  I have learned a lot from Christopher, Julia, and Bridget.  Yes, we are on a first name basis (at least in my mind).  :)

After admitting my obsession, I'm actually surprised that this is the first post I've done from ATK.  I am pretty confident that it won't be the last though.  :)  I watched the episode for the Summer Vegetable Gratin a couple of weeks ago.  It looked delicious!  Especially this time of year with the fresh veggies at the Farmer's Market, I had to try it out.

I'm not going to lie, it was time consuming to make, but then again I'm a bit slow in the kitchen.  Thus the blog name - Taking my Sweet Time.  :)  I thought the gratin was a good combination of veggies.  I used two large zucchini and one squash.  The tomatoes on top with the crunchy topping were super yummy!

Summer Vegetable Gratin

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 zucchini (about 1 pound), ends trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 yellow summer squash (about 1 pound), ends trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 3 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin, pole to pole (about 3 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 slice high-quality white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
1 large shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Adjust oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of oil; set aside.

Toss the zucchini and summer squash slices with 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; transfer to a colander set over a bowl.  Let stand until the zucchini and squash release at least 3 tablespoons of liquid, about 45 minutes.  Arrange the slices on a triple layer of paper towels; cover with another triple layer of paper towels.  Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible.

Place the tomato slices in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand for 30 minutes.  Place a second double layer of paper towels on top and press firmly to dry the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon more oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and dark golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  Set the onions aside.

Combine the garlic, 3 tablespoons more oil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the thyme in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, toss the zucchini and summer squash in half of the oil mixture, then arrange the slices, slightly overlapping them, in the greased baking dish.  Arrange the caramelized onions in an even layer over the squash.  Slightly overlap the tomato slices in a single layer on top of the onions.  Spoon the remaining oil mixture evenly over the tomatoes.  Bake until the vegetables are tender and the tomatoes are starting to brown on the edges, 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, process the bread in a food processor until finely ground, about 10 seconds.  (You should have about 1 cup of crumbs.)  Combine the bread crumbs, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, Parmesan, and shallot in a medium bowl.  Remove the baking dish from the oven and increase the heat to 450 degrees.  Sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture evenly on top of the tomatoes.  Bake the gratin until bubbling and the cheese is lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with the basil and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 to 8

Hat Tip - The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2010 Special Issue

August 29, 2010

My First Loaf of White Bread

When we lived in Boston, I tried many times to work with yeast (in pizza dough). I didn't have any luck. I decided that yeast was going to be my arch nemesis. I gave up using it. When we moved to Colorado, I read about baking at a higher altitude. I thought to myself that if I couldn't work with yeast at sea level, then I really wouldn't have any luck with it at 5,000 feet above sea level.

I checked out some cookbooks from our local library. One of them was The Art & Soul of Baking. The first chapter was on "Yeast Bread and Rolls". The cookbook went into a lot of detail about making bread with yeast. I found it very helpful and educational. I had some leftover yeast, so I decided to give it a try again, just to see if I had any luck.

For my first high altitude yeast attempt, I went with the recipe for Old-Fashioned White Bread. The recipe seemed pretty basic and easy. I thought if it didn't work out then, I wouldn't have wasted much time and energy on it. 

To my surprise, I was actually successful with yeast!! I have been so proud of myself for making a loaf of bread. I didn't let the yeast defeat me. :) I'm not sure what I was doing wrong in Boston, but it worked for me in Colorado. Maybe I wasn't using the right recipe, but now I have found one that works. I have since made pizza dough again, it was a success too. (I will share the pizza dough in a later post, so hold on to your seat for that one.) ;)

The bread smelled delicious while it was baking in the oven. I couldn't wait to eat it, but I did let it cool for a bit before slicing it. I topped it with butter, while it was still a little warm. Oh, so yummy! It was a great feeling to eat the bread, knowing that I made it from scratch.

Sadly, I got sick the day after I made the bread (but not from the bread), so I didn't get a chance to take a picture of it sliced. That's why I only have one picture.

The cookbook also lists a variation on the recipe, it can be made into Monkey Bread! I want to try that soon.

Old-Fashioned White Loaf

1/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast, or 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup warm whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

Place the water, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Allow mixture to sit for 10 minutes, or until yeast is activated and foamy or bubbling. In a medium bowl, whisk together the warm milk and melted butter.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix for 1 minute on medium speed to blend. Add the yeast mixture and milk mixture and mix on medium speed just until the dough comes together, 2 to 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes to allow it to fully hydrate before further kneading. Turn the speed to medium-low and continue to knead until the dough is firm, elastic, and smooth, 3 to 6 minutes.

Lightly oil a tub or bowl, scrape the dough into the tub, and lightly coat the surface of the dough with a little oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let the dough rest until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes (longer if the room is cold). If you are using a tub, be sure to mark the starting level of the dough with a pencil or piece of tape so it's easy to tell when the dough has doubled.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press down on the dough firmly to expel some of the air bubbles, but don't knead the dough again or it will be too springy and difficult to shape. Press the dough into a flattened rectangle whose long sides are a couple of inches shorter than the long sides of the bread pan. Arrange the dough so a long side is parallel to the edge of your work surface. Fold the long side opposite you up into the center of the rectangle. Fold the long side nearest you into the center. Use the heel of your hand to press the two edges together. Turn the dough 90 degrees. Roll the short side opposite you toward the center, and with each roll press your thumbs into the crease to seal it and to create tension on the outside of the dough. When you reach the bottom edge closest to you, use your fingers to pinch the final seam closed. The dough should be the same length as your baking pan. If it is short, gently roll it back and forth on your work surface, pressing slightly to elongate the dough. If it is too long, squeeze the dough together slightly to shorten it, and tuck the ends under if necessary. Place the dough, seam side down, in the pan.

Lightly oil the top of the dough to keep it moist. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and allow the dough to rise again until its top is 1/2 to 1 inch above the rim of the pan, 45 to 60 minutes. (My loaf did not rise above the edge of the pan, but it still turned out well).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and position an oven rack in the center. Brush the top of the loaf with a thin film of the beaten egg. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. until the bread is golden and the internal temperature registers 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Slice with a serrated knife.

Hat Tip - The Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet

August 7, 2010


Sadly, it has been a few weeks since my last post. I've been in the kitchen but between getting strep throat and starting a new job, I haven't had much time to post my creations. My goal is to post more consistently. 

I've always wanted to make scones. I didn't get in a hurry to make them, because I thought they were a lot of trouble. That is until I read the recipe for Apricot and Pecan Scones in my Ski Country Cookbook. They were very simple to make! They came together pretty quickly in one bowl, which is great for clean-up. :) In the directions, it says to turn the dough onto a well floured surface. I floured my work surface and my rolling pin, but sadly forgot to flour the top of the dough. It stuck a bit and I quickly got more flour for the top. Another lesson learned. The scones were yummy and a great size. Not too big like a lot of scones sold in bakeries. Next time I want to try a different fruit and nut combination. I think dried cranberries with walnuts would be yummy. 

Apricot & Pecan Scones 

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
pinch of salt 
1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped 
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans 
1 cup heavy cream 
1/4 cup milk 
1 large egg white, lightly beaten 
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable-oil spray or line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the apricots and pecans. Slowly stir in the cream and milk to form a sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll into a 9 inch circle about 3/4 inch thick. Stamp out the scones using a 2 or 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter or an overturned glass. Put the scones on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Brush the tops of the scones with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Makes about 8 to 10 scones. 

Hat Tip - The Ski Country Cookbook by Barbara Scott-Goodman

July 15, 2010

My First Post and First Granita

This is my first blog post! I'm pretty excited to get started. I hope you enjoy my blog adventure. :) 

We purchased a watermelon for the 4th of July. We can't celebrate the 4th without watermelon. It was very good, so we purchased another one. It was much larger than the first one. Needless to say we had oodles of watermelon in the fridge. I thought it would be fun to make something with all the watermelon. Granita came to mind. After reading several recipes, I decided on Paula Deen's. 

I pureed the watermelon in the food processor. It worked pretty well, until I put too much watermelon in the bowl. I didn't think it was too much until I started pulsing it and watermelon juice started coming out of the lid! Oops! I guess the fill line is there for a reason. Live and learn. The next batch wasn't as messy. Other than my food processor mistake, the granita came together very easily. I couldn't wait 6 hours for the granita to fully freeze, so I ate some while it was still a slushy consistency. It was delicious and refreshing! The first bite tasted so much like watermelon (for obvious reasons) that I kept waiting for the watermelon texture but it wasn't there. 
We ate quite a bit of the granita before I took the picture above. My first experience with granita was a success! I plan to try another flavor soon. I will keep you posted on that (no pun intended).  

Watermelon Granita 

8 cups chopped fresh watermelon 
1/2 cup water 
1/2 cup sugar 
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I used bottled 100% lime juice)

In the work bowl of a food processor, process watermelon until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve, reserving 4 cups of juice. Discard solids. In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, boil 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Let cool completely. Pour watermelon juice, simple syrup and lime juice into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, stir well, and place in freezer. Freeze for 6 hours or until no liquid remains, scraping with a fork every 2 hours. 

Hat Tip - Paula Deen via Rachael Ray Show