State Fair

State Fair
State Fair Ribbons

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tiramisu, kugel recipe, and hello from Fort Myers!

I've been away from the kitchen for a while, but please don't leave me!  I will be back!  First, I want to say thank you for reading my posts even though I've been away.  I also want to post the Kugel recipe (Jewish creamy noodle pudding) I never posted..Sorry about that Cotton Floozy!!!
Also, I've taken a picture of a Tiramisu cake I found at Fleamasters Flea Market in Fort Myers.  They were not forthcoming with the recipe. I need to study the cake and try to make it at home...I bought the whole cake because they were all out of slices.   BAD IDEA because it is the best tiramisu I have tasted.  I've been eating it for breakfast AND dessert.  Since it has coffee and cream in it, it is breakfast food, right?

Tiramisu layer cake

The top layer is an espresso cream of some sort, then there is a layer of yellow cake, then a layer of mascarpone whipped up with something, then a layer of the espresso cream, then a layer of cake.  It looks like the bottom cake layer is soaked with Kahlua or espresso or something...not sure.  If you have any ideas, let me know.
Next, I went to a Fort Myers River District restaurant called  The French Connection.  I had the most delcious hot fudge crepe ever!  It had a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream inside.

Hot fudge crepe


On to the kugel recipe which can be easily altered for diabetics.  I took a recipe from allrecipes.com  and altered it. It is Jewish comfort food, but you don't need to be Jewish to love it!!!   This is not a low calorie health food dish. 
I'd rather have a small piece of something fabulous than a large piece of blah! 
That being said, you can easily use lower fat ingredients and use sugar alternatives.

Noodle Kugel (pudding)

Recipe:

Noodle mixture:


  • 1 (8 ounce) package medium or fine egg noodles (medium or fine is the noodle size)

  • 8 tablespoons SALTED butter, sliced

  • 6 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup white sugar (or use 1/4 cup splenda and 1/4 cup agave syrup)

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

  • 4 tablespoons sour cream

  • 1 (16 ounce) container of cottage cheese, creamed (in a food processor or blender)

  • 3/4 cup golden or regular raisins

  •  Orange liquor and apple juice or just apple juice for soaking raisins (or any sweet unsweetened fruit juice)

    Topping ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons SALTED butter (1 stick), melted

  • 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar

  • 1.5 cups crushed cornflakes or 1.5 cups rice crispies, not crushed

  • Optional:
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1/8 cup white sugar.


  • Directions:
    First, take the enough apple juice and orange liquor to cover the raisins and put it in a microwaveable bowl.  Heat on high for about 2 minutes or just until hot, but not boiling.  Add raisins and leave on counter soaking for about 15 minutes.   I usually use just apple juice unless I have orange liquor handy.  Then I go half and half.
    While raisins soak,
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch glass baking dish.
    2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and stir in 8 tablespoons sliced butter.
    3. In a medium bowl beat sugar and cream cheese until smooth, then beat in eggs; stir into noodles and add sour cream, creamed cottage cheese, and salt.  Drain raisins and stir them in.  Transfer mixture to prepared dish.
    4. In a small bowl combine melted butter, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, and corn flakes.  Sprinkle over noodle mixture.  Combine cinnamon and 1/8 cup of white sugar and sprinkle on top of corn flakes.
    5. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.    Tastes good warm or cold.  Store in refrigerator.

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Pumpkin Mousse Double-Layer No Bake Pie!

    But first, if you like photography and voting, please visit this site and vote for my pictures if you find any you like.  This picture in particular Maple leaf veins is only 3 votes away from 100 and will win a special "award" when it hits 100!
    To vote you need to register (simple on the site above) and click DIG IT or NIX IT. 

    Ok, on to the pie!!!
    My favorite non-traditional pumpkin pie is silky and creamy with a nutty, buttery graham cracker crust..if you have not tried it, you should!  People are usually impressed with the flavors and especially the crust...
    The recipe is adapted from an old Cool Whip recipe and Honey Maid Graham cracker crumbs.   I apologize for the less than spectacular pictures....I was in a hurry!!!




    Here is the recipe!
    Crust:
    1 1/4 cups finely-crushed graham crackers
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
    5 Tablespoons melted butter
    Or you can use a store-bought graham cracker crust if you don't want to turn your oven on!

    Bottom layer:
    4 oz cream cheese, softened (I use whole fat, but lower fat would probably be ok)
    1 Tablespoon 1/2 and 1/2
    1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
    1 1/2 cups Cool Whip  or sweetened whipped heavy cream

    Pumpkin mousse layer
    3/4 cup half and half (you can use milk or heavy cream also)
    2 (3.4 ounce) packages of vanilla flavored instant pudding.
    2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
    1  Libby's canned pumpkin 15 ounces (I find other brands too watery)

    Directions
    In a medium-size bowl mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, nuts, and then stir in the melted butter to combine. Press mixture into a 9 inch pie plate and bake in a 350° preheated oven for about 8-10 minutes.   Remove crust from oven and cool to room temperature.  

    While crust is cooling soften the cream cheese in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl on 50% power for about 30 seconds .  In a medium-size bowl mix the cream cheese, 1 tablespoon half-and-half, and 1 tablespoon sugar with a wire whisk until well combined. Carefully fold in the 1 1/2 cups of Cool Whip.  Spread this layer on top of the pie crust and refrigerate while preparing the pumpkin topping.

    In a large bowl mix the dry pudding mix and pumpkin pie spice to combine.  Then add the 3/4 cups half and half  and mix thoroughly and quickly-the pudding will start to set up so you want to add your pumpkin quickly.  Then whisk in the pumpkin and make sure there are no pudding lumps.. whisk until smooth-it will be thick.
    Remove the cooling pie from the refrigerator and top with pumpkin mousse mixture.  Refrigerate for approximately 4 hours or until set.   Enjoy!!

    *  you can substitute the following spices for pumpkin pie spice to make approximately 2 teaspoons:
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Cinnamon rice crispy treats

    I have not been posting lately because I've been taking and entering photos in a photo contest called  Capture Minnesota (see some photos at the end of this post).   However, I still look for baking bargains when I'm out shopping for staples.. I perused the baking aisle at Target the other day looking for nut sales and these caught my eye:


    Yup, not nuts.  Cinnamon Bun marshmallows-I had no idea they existed!  I ate a dozen before thinking they would be better for me mixed with vitamin-enriched cereal!!   I substituted them for regular marshmallows and they were a hit! 
    They came out a bit more golden than regular rice crispy bars, but they tasted great!  The cinnamon was not too strong...


    I just followed the recipe on the rice crispy box, but I did add 5 T butter rather than 4.
    If you try them, let me know what you think!  They also have pina colada marshmallows..wonder what they would taste like in a rice crispy bar??????
    Photos-all were taken at my house and in my yard...

    Noodle pudding-kugel

    Monarch "straw"

    Lantana berries

    Fall leaves abstract

    Dying aster

    Sugar maple on fire

    Sunflower center

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Sugar free biscotti (vegan too!)

    They say necessity is the mother of invention. A family member of mine has type II diabetes so I'm constantly trying to figure out how to make sugar-free desserts from the desserts I like which are never sugar-free! So I made my vegan cupcakes processed-sugar free by substituting two thirds of a cup of Splenda and a quarter cup of Agave syrup for the 1 cup of white sugar.  The recipe makes enough for 18 cupcakes, but I only have one cupcake pan which serves 12 so I always have leftover batter.   Hmm ... what to do with the left over batter?  Usually I just pour what's left into an 8 x 8 pan and bake it and eat it.   I had biscotti on the brain because I was reading Cookie Madness post Red Velvet Biscotti not too long ago. I figured if Anna could use a cake mix type batter and make biscotti, then I should at least try to do the same. They were excellent and I could not tell they were sugar-free!  Because of the oil they have a crispier texture, not hard and crunchy.  They won't crack your crowns! Also, because no eggs are involved they are just plain easy to make, cholesterol free, and it doesn't matter if the cake is under-done!!!!  
    Here is what they looked like, but please don't judge their looks too harshly. They were an afterthought after all!  


    Ingredients:
    1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (I used lemon juice)
    1 1/4 cups cashew milk or other nut milk (or regular milk if you are not vegan)
    2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup AP and one cup whole wheat pastry-next time I'd use all ap or add some regular whole wheat..they didn't stay together well enough with the pastry flour)
    2/3 cup granulated splenda

    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 cup agave light syrup
    1/2 cup canola oil
    1 teaspoon orange extract 

    1 cup raisins
    3/4 cup sliced almonds optional


    Directions:
    Preheat oven to 350°
    Coat a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick spray or line with nonstick foil.  Set-aside.


    Put the one tablespoon of lemon juice into a 2 cup measuring cup. Fill with milk to make 1 and 1/4 cups. Let stand until curdled or about 10 minutes. 

    Soak raisins in a hot liquid of your choice for about 10 minutes-then drain.  I use a combination of Capt. Morgan's rum and Triple Sec!   (You may want to drain into a mug to enjoy later!)
    In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  In a separate bowl whisk together the nut milk lemon mixture, oil, and extract.
    Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just blended.  Mix in the sliced almonds and raisins. 

    Pour batter into your 9 x 13 pan. (*Note:  For the cookies pictures here I poured the batter into the pan, did not spread it out, refrigerated it for 15 minutes, and then baked it.  It stayed higher in the middle and thinner towards the edges.)  Here's the tricky part: Bake for 15 minutes and check. When using Splenda baked items seem to get done quicker.  When a toothpick comes out clean they are done. Let the cake cool about an hour. This is a delicate cake so it will crumble if not cool.
    Turn oven down to 300°
    Slice the cake into biscotti size pieces, lay them on a cookie sheet so the cut edges are facing up and bake for 15 minutes. Remove them from the oven, turn them over, and bake for another 15 minutes. I ended up baking mine a little bit longer, but every oven is different.   Your diabetic friends will thank you for this!

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Poppyseed Onion salad dressing

    Just a quick post about my FAVORITE salad dressing!  I had a strawberry chicken salad at a local restaurant called Crossroads Deli.  It came with their house poppy seed dressing.  It was love at first bite! When I arrived home I went on a quest to duplicate the dressing.  I succeeded.  I found a recipe in Portal to Good Cooking which tasted exactly like the Deli salad dressing on my first try!
    As usual I did modify it just a little to suit my tastes.  It is sweet and savory at the same time.  Who would have thought onions and sugar would go well together?
    This dressing goes well with a savory salad such as chicken over greens or with mandarin oranges and toasted pecans over greens.   It goes well with sliced strawberries in a garden salad also.   You must try it!


    Recipe:
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup vinegar-I use cider vinegar or regular vinegar
    1/2 of a medium onion quartered
    1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    1 1/4 teaspoons dry mustard
    1 cup salad oil
    1 tablespoon poppy seeds

    Directions:
    In a blender blend  the sugar, vinegar, onion, salt, and dry mustard until mixture is smooth.  At this point you can taste it to see if you need more onion.
    Add salad oil. Only blend for 10 or 15 seconds-if you blend it much longer it will get too thick.   Add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds and blend another 5 seconds or so. Refrigerate for an hour before using, but if you run out of time it will be fine to use this dressing right after blending is complete.
    Enjoy!

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Simple vegan cupcakes-you can lick the bowl!

    When I first wanted to bake for someone who was on the low iodine diet, I searched the net for vegan recipes knowing I could use non iodized salt in anything out there.
    Immature female Eastern Bluebird at my "vegan restaurant"
    I came across this Allrecipes Vegan Cupcake.  I adapted the recipe to suit my tastes, what lived in my pantry, and my temporary diet restriction.   Packaged nut "milks" include sea salt.  So I made my own cashew nut "milk" adapted from here.
    One of the good things about vegan batter is you can lick the bowl and utensils with no worries.  If your cupcakes are under done, they are still okay to eat! This recipe makes a moist, delicious cupcake. The flavor reminds me of a breakfast food for some reason.  You can frost them or eat them plain.  I usually drizzle them with a delicious lemon glaze recipe I found on Cookie Madness.  Anna used it on her pumpkin molasses loaves.   This time because I'm on a low iodine diet and I can't have dairy (and I was lazy!), they remained naked.  
     The "flashy" picture

    Here is my adapted recipe:
    1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (I used lemon juice)
    1 1/2 cups cashew milk or other nut milk
    2 cups all-purpose flour (I use 1 cup AP and one cup whole wheat pastry)
    3/4 cup white sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup canola oil
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon orange extract (I've only used one half so far, but I think they could use more)

    Preheat oven to 350°.  This recipe makes approximately 18 cupcakes so you will need two greased 12 cup muffin pans or you can use 18 liners.

    Female Ruby Throat Hummingbird at my "vegan restaurant"
    Put the one tablespoon of lemon juice into a 2 cup measuring cup. Fill with nut milk to make one and a half cups. Let stand until curdled or about 10 minutes. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  In a separate bowl whisk together the nut milk lemon mixture, oil, and extract.
    Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups filling at least two thirds of the cup.

    Bake in the preheated oven until the top springs back when lightly pressed-15 to 20 minutes. (I baked mine for 17 minutes in an oven set at 345° because my oven runs a little hot)  Cool in the pan on wire rack.
    Frost with your favorite frosting or icing-I like the lemon icing because it complements the orange extract in the cupcakes.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Croutons, or what you make when life gives you bad bread brain.

    I am temporarily on a low iodine diet. That means I can't have any dairy products, soy products, fish or sea salt products, or anything packaged with red dye or added salt.  I should be losing lots of weight since that list includes just about everything! The problem is  peanut butter, olive oil, unsalted nuts, Jennies Coconut Macaroons, and other vegan goodies!   I haven't attempted making bread in about eight or nine years, but if I want to eat bread, I need to make bread. I went out to the trusty Internet to look for no-knead (I have bad arms) vegan bread recipes.   I was hit in the face with hundreds of no knead recipes!  I settled on an excellent recipe from Baking Bites.  It was a flavorful, easy recipe that I didn't follow correctly :(
    I thought whole wheat pastry flour could easily be substituted for whole wheat flour.  (You bread makers are probably laughing and shaking your fingers at me right now!)  I made a tasty bread, but it crumbled a bit when cut... not enough gluten in pastry flour to hold the bread together.
    Lesson learned. But I made lemonade out of my lemon! I made the best croutons I've ever had (other than those fabulous homemade croutons at Ruby Tuesday's)!
    Did you know they taste fantastic floating in tomato or chicken soup??...just throw them in right before you eat it.

    Vegan whole wheat croutons

    Here is the recipe as loosely as possible adapted from the Food Network:
    Preheat oven to 400°
    Line a cookie sheet with foil

    You will need:
    1 loaf whole wheat bread cubed (I like using fresher bread...then you get crispy on the outside and still a little chewy on the inside)
    1/3-1/2 cup olive oil (I used 1/2 cup extra-virgin because I was out of  regular olive oil)
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    Pour the bread cubes into a large bowl. Set-aside. Blend the next four ingredients until incorporated, approximately 10 or 15 seconds. (Or if you want an aerobic workout you can shake it up in a watertight container for a few minutes.)  You might want to taste the oil to make sure it has enough seasonings before you drizzle.
    Drizzle the mixture over the bread cubes and then gently stir to make sure they are coated.  Pour them onto a foil lined pan, spread them out, and bake for approximately 15-18 minutes or until they begin to brown.
    Most importantly: Resist the urge to eat them all right out of the oven!

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Chocolate sauce and one more State Fair pic

    I made a chocolate sauce last week that I thought came out pretty tasty!  The basic recipe came from Allrecipes-you might want to try this recipe first to decide whether or not you think it is too bitter.  I had to add to it because the final product was too bitter for me.   I LOVED the sauce with my modifications. (One including cheap milk chocolate flavored melting wafers. Somehow my mom found these wafers for $.99 at the grocery store or at Walgreens. I reluctantly took them from her-she was so excited at the bargain. I looked at them and said to myself: cheap chocolate flavored cr-p.  However, when I tasted them, I fell in love.... and I am not a milk chocolate fan!)
    When barely warmed, this sauce is delicious on ice cream and did not seize up.   Here is what the sauce looks like (YUM).


    My brother posing with the MN legendary State Fair Food:


    Here is the modified recipe for 1/2 the amount of chocolate sauce (it goes a long way):
    • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup baking cocoa (I used Hershey's unsweetened)
    • 1.5 teaspoons cornstarch
    • 1/3 cup reduced fat milk
    • 1.5 tablespoons strong brewed coffee (I use decaffeinated)
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3 tablespoons salted butter
    **1/8 cup milk chocolate fondue candy wafers ( these cut down on the bitterness)

    Directions:
    In a small saucepan combine brown sugar, cocoa, and cornstarch. Whisk together until well combined.   Stir milk and coffee together and then stir into dry ingredients until well combined.  Cook on medium heat stirring constantly until mixture boils and then continue to stir for 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.   Add butter, vanilla, and milk chocolate candy wafers.  Stir until smooth.  Refrigerate leftovers if you have any!  This was so easy even I could do it!    

    **  You can purchase the cheap, chocolate flavored, NOT crappy melting wafers online here: Make n Mold melting wafers.

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    State Fair Ribbon Winner's Pictures

    I just couldn't help myself so I went back to the Minnesota State fair today in order to take pictures of the winners in the baking categories I entered. I wanted to see what blue ribbon winners (or even fifth-place winners) looked like.   Were they perfectly round, perfectly square, tall, short, fat, skinny, big, little, etc.  This first picture is the chocolate brownies with frosting, nuts and or chips category.  A funny thing happened to my brownies. You will see my lonely brownie with a capital M on it. All other ribbon winners had three of their brownies displayed.  Last Friday when I went to take pictures of my fourth place winner there were three brownies lined up behind my pink ribbon that didn't belong to me.  Since mine were decorated, it was easy to tell.  I was disappointed. I thought maybe I didn't really win the ribbon and someone else's brownies did, but they gave me credit. After checking with the state fair competition office they confirmed my brownies really won.  I told them only one of my brownies was being displayed in the area where the non-winners went. Apparently the other three were thrown out. So that is the story of how I ended up with one lonely brownie to represent me!
    Lonely pink ribbon winner :(

    Plain brownies-I took no ribbons.


    Ghirardelli competition-I entered, but no ribbon.
    This fantastic-looking dessert came with four champagne glasses filled with an orange sauce to go over the slices the judges tasted. I saw this dessert sitting on the entry table when I was standing in line to enter my brownie tart. I knew right then that everyone's chances were slim!  I was hoping it would taste terrible (it is a competition you know!)
    What more can I say?

    I won fourth place for strawberry bread-it looks so tiny and alone!  I forgot to take a picture of the first and second place winner.  I think maybe I need a larger pan?
    So tiny
    Banana bread...ribbons still elude me.
    No ribbons for me
    Bars with fruit, nuts, or chips.  I entered apricot almond shortbread bars. I didn't win any ribbons.  I thought these would be my sleeper-it turns out they must've been sleeping when the ribbons were handed out!   (Sleeper: : someone or something unpromising or unnoticed that suddenly attains prominence or value)
    No ribbon for me
    And last but not least, chocolate chip cookies. The winners looked good, but not that good!   I suppose those people didn't change their recipe at the last minute and then bake the cookies too long.
    I am craving one of these now

    I was going to enter cookies into the ethnic category, but I ran out of energy.
    I took a picture of the winners anyways just in case next year I want to enter.

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    State Fair Results

    The anticipation is over! I won two fourth-place ribbons this year.  Thousands of people enter these  baked goods competitions and few get ribbons so I am pleased. I was a little surprised the apricot almond shortbread bars didn't get anything because I had people calling me on the phone telling me how wonderful they were.  Judging at the state fair starts out a bit shallow-they pick the top 25 attractive entries in each category.  Even though you can't judge a book by its cover, with hundreds of entries in one category they can't taste them all.   I am hoping my apricot almond shortbread bars wound up in the top 25 so at least I will get a score card mailed to me from the judges showing me where I can improve next time.  One thing I have vowed to do this year: Practice baking during the winter so my recipes are nailed down before it hits 90°!!!
    Here are the pictures of my fourth-place winners:
    Strawberry Pecan bread
    Banana Pecan brownies-need to brush up on my decorating!

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    State Fair Anticipation

    I stood in a block-long line Sunday morning waiting to enter my tasty treats (tasty to me anyways!) into the Minnesota State Fair baking competition.  Part of the fun for me is talking to other competitors to find out what they are entering and look at their fantastic entries. Oh how I wish I could sample a little bit of every ribbon-winner's goodies! That would be about as close to heaven as anything for me!  I won't know the ribbon-fate of my entries until Thursday when they are posted online.  I don't want to wait for the results before I "post" this post because my blog is getting dusty!  I entered Strawberry Pecan Bread, Banana Bread, Brownies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Apricot Almond Shortbread Bars.   I didn't take pictures of everything because I was just too tired after baking. My kitchen looked like a flour, nut, and chocolate studded bomb had been set off in it.   I have rejects in the freezer whose photo opportunity time may come later after the flour dust has settled!  New food at the state fair this year I want to try: Sweetcorn ice cream with caramel bacon topping, deep-fried apple pie with vanilla ice cream, pretzel dogs, Yankee apple pie with chocolate on grilled brioche, and crab fritters.     
    Okay, back to some "normal" food.   Here are pictures of some of the items  I entered.

    Apricot-almond shortbread bars (Epicurious by way of Sue at Basically Baked)

    Cut and ready to go to "the show"

    Trunk full of goodies

    Banana pecan brownie decorated rejects

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Non-human food post today

    Monarch drinking swamp milkweed nectar in my back yard
    I am currently experimenting with chocolate chip cookies for my state fair entries so I am not going to bore anyone with my not perfect experiments. Since I don't have any good food items to post, I thought I would post some pictures of my other hobbies which are butterfly and Hummingbird gardening and saving and raising monarch butterflies.  I find the eggs on the leaves of my swamp milkweeds and take a few-especially from the leaves     attached to broken stems or plants that have fallen over. The survival rate of eggs is low-the survival rate of the caterpillars is lower because they are eaten by birds and they are hosts to other bug's eggs-I found out that yucky fact this year firsthand and all I can say is ish!!  I hope you enjoy the nature pics below.
    Tiger swallowtail drinking Joe Pye weed nectar.

    Chocolate scented cosmos-who knew there was a chocolate flower?

     Tree frog teasing my cat from the other side of the window.

    My cat Margo taking the bait 

    Monarch caterpillar eating Swamp milkweed

    Bumblebee in mid flight above swamp milkweed flower
    No, you don't need new glasses-my autofocus was out of focus!

    Enjoy the day!

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    Another Macaron post...though the first for me!

    Being Macaron-inspired by Sue at Basically Baked , I found my way to Chez Arnaud's in Maple Grove, MN.  It was one of my first daytime work week adventures after being retired. It is a whole new world to me being able to go shopping when it is not busy! Anyways, it is a small French bakery.  Many of the desserts were expensive, but fortunately for me I was macaron hunting and those were not so expensive.  They had Lavender lemon and salted caramel macarons. I liked both of them, but I think the salted caramel was my favorite flavor. I also purchased pain du chocolat (chocolate bread).  It is basically a chocolate filled croissant.  As Sue said in her post, it was fabulous!  I will not attempt to make macarons because they are simple to buy and they are not my favorite cookie. They are worth purchasing once in a while just to taste something different.

    Salted Caramel and Lavender Lemon


    The gooey, delicious middle

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Musings about Browned Butter

    I'm in MN State Fair baking frenzy mode now.  Anna from Cookie Madness turned me on to her browned butter pecan pie a couple of years ago.  I have to say it is the best pecan pie I have ever tasted. Not just me, but everyone who tried it said it was the best pecan pie they ever tasted.  For those of you who don't know what Browned Butter is and how to make it, see this excellent Allrecipes site:  Browned Butter  It adds a nutty, toffee-like flavor to the dough.  I got to thinking about browned butter when thinking about what could be a State Fair chocolate chip cookie ribbon-winning recipe. There are a few browned butter recipes out there that are similar. Seeing as I  just could not help myself, I tinkered around with a few regular and browned butter chocolate chip cookie recipes and came up with what I am going to enter into the state fair this year. For the regular contests the recipe does not need to be your own, but it does need to be made from scratch. I will show you pictures, but I am not going to give out my secret recipe yet! I will tell you it is a combination of white and brown sugar, all-purpose and bread flour, and you guessed it: Browned Butter.    I still can't figure out how to make my cookies come out round each time.  Dana has a good idea on her blog Dana Treat.  I will have to try rolling the dough into logs, refrigerating it, and then slicing it next time.   I do not have a cookie scoop, but I am considering investing in one. If anyone has opinions about good scoops, please, please let me know!
    Here is a picture of the browned butter cookies with the dough only refrigerated for 1 hour--2 hours didn't make a difference.  refrigerating overnight produced thicker cookies.

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Flag Cake

    Just a prepared yellow cake mix (I added a 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract), cool whip, and fruit.  So easy! You can use any type of fruit for a summer dessert.  Pears, nectarines, peaches, raspberries, even grapes and plums would be good!  If you have not tried a yellow cake mix,  you should.   It is my favorite cake to use for whipped cream and fruit. I'm not fond of other boxed mixes, but yellow cake mix is special.  I used Duncan Hines for this cake, but I've used other brands as well.

    Sunday, July 3, 2011

    Blueberry Sour Cream Pound Cake and Happy almost 4th of July

    I know there is a cake doctor out there, but I also enjoy doctoring.  I  doctored Blueberry Sour Cream Pound Cake,  a recipe found on Allrecipes.com .  It is excellent for the 4th of July desserts lineup.

    For the red, white, and blue theme, the only time consuming part of this recipe is drying the raspberries, but they are easy to use because you don't need to cut them or core them like strawberries.   I line a cookie sheet with paper towels  and set them on it.   I used an 8x8 pan for 1/2 the recipe, but I think 9x9 would have been better-the cake was too thick for the 8x8 so the edges were done long before the high center.   

    Drying raspberries.




    I used an 8x8 pan for this, but I think a 9x9 would have been better.


    Finished product (I sampled a corner-can you find it?)
    
    Recipe for 9x13 or 10 inch tube pan:

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened

  • 2 3/4 cups sugar

  • 6 large eggs

  • 1 cup sour cream (I don't skimp on this..I use full fat...it is a pound cake!)

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups AP flour and 1 cup Whole Wheat PASTRY flour)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries-you could probably use 2.5 cups also

  • Optional:  Extra sugar or cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top before baking


  • Topping:

    2 regular 8 oz size containers of cool whip or one large container
    1 pint fresh blueberries washed and dried
    1 pint fresh raspberries washed and dried

    Directions
    1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy; gradually add sugar and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in extracts.  
    2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add alternately with the sour cream to  wet ingredients.  Gently fold berries into batter.
    3. Spoon into a greased 10-in. tube or 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-70 minutes or until cake tests done. (In my 9x13 pan this took about 52 minutes.)
    4. Cool cake completely.  Frost with cool whip.  Add fruit in whatever design you like. Refrigerate.
    Footnote:  If using frozen blueberries, don't thaw them.  A few minutes before the batter is ready for them, put them in a bowl and sprinkle with flour to coat them.  Mix them gently so all have a flour coating.