Category Archives: Breads/Muffins

My Sincere Apologies

Ok, first I want to apologize for the extreme lack of posts in the past few weeks! It is certainly not because I haven’t been busy in the kitchen, just not sure what happened…did not seem to have any free time for myself any time recently! So this post is going to be a compilation of some of the better things I’ve made over the past few weeks! I apologize for the lack of pictures as well and will get back on track and start posting again, I promise!

Pumpkin Granola:

  • 3 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or regular flour is fine)
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • 1/2 T cinnamon
  • Dash of cloves, ginger and nutmeg (I used less cloves and ginger because that is what I prefer, but completely up to you)…could also sub pumpkin pie spice and get everything in one shot!
  • 1/2 can of pumpkin (don’t worry, plenty of uses for the rest of that can)!
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 T honey

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the pumpkin, applesauce and honey. Add to dry ingredients, mixing well to coat everything. Pour into an 8X8 baking pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, turning every 15 minutes or so.

Pumpkin Cheesecake:

adapted from Paula Deen

Crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick melted butter

Filling:

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces whole milk ricotta (Paula uses 3 packages of cream cheese, I have made it that way as well and it is fabulous)!
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (Paula uses sour cream)!
  • 1  cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (Paula uses all white sugar)!
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • dash of cloves and dash of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan very well.

For crust: In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into prepared pan.

For filling: Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 50-55 minutes. Center will still be wobbly (2-3 inches out from center is ok, it will set up as it cools and refrigerates)! Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. You may have heard/read other recipes where a water bath is necessary to bake a cheesecake but since this one has flour added in, it isn’t necessary. However, I have made this recipe in the past and used a water bath and it turned out just as good, just not necessary!

Pumpkin Spice ‘Donut Holes’:

For the Holes:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • dash of  ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used vanilla silk)

For the coating:

  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a mini-muffin tin with cooking spray. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and spices, whisking to combine. In large bowl, beat oil with sugar until dissolved. Add in pumpkin, egg, milk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to wet, mixing until just combined. Fill mini-muffin tins until almost full, bake 8-9 minutes. While baking, melt butter in small bowl. In another bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar together. When donuts are done, let cool until able to touch and remove from pan. Coat hole with butter (can either paint them with butter or just roll them around in the butter) then roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture. Set on cooling rack to finish cooling and eat as many as you can warm because these babies are delicious!

Pumpkin Beer Bread:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ginger
  • dash of nutmeg and allspice
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 10 ounces pumpkin ale
  • cinnamon sugar mix

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9X5 loaf pan. Combine flours, powder, soda, salt and spices in medium bowl. In small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Remove pan from heat, mix in pumpkin and brown sugar until sugar dissolves. Add in the eggs, one at a time, whisking the entire time. Finally, stir in the pumpkin ale. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, mix until just combined. Transfer to prepared pan and top with cinnamon sugar. Bake 45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake:

Syrup:

  • 4 T butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 T apple cider or juice
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup

Cake:

  • 2 apples, sliced (reserve top of 1 apple with stem intact)
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 T cider or apple juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ginger
  • dash of cloves and salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 apple, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan thoroughly. Place top of apple with stem in center of pan, stem-side down, then line bottom of pan  with apple slices overlapping in a circle around  apple top. 

 Next, make the syrup. In a saucepan over low heat, combine all of the syrup ingredients and heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and pour a little over half the syrup over the apple slices and set aside rest of syrup. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugar, cider, and eggs. Mix until combined and sugar is dissolved. In separate bowl, whisk flour, spices and soda. Add dry into wet, mixing to combine. Fold in chopped apples. Pour batter over apple slices and bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven and scrape around edges of cake with a spatula, let cool on wire rack 5 minutes then turn out onto a serving plate, bottom side up. Scrape any remaining sauce out of the pan onto the cake. Pour remaining syrup over cake when serving.

Strawberry Bread:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, halved
  • 3 T milk (I used vanilla silk)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9×5 loaf pan with spray. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl, whisk to combine. Put strawberries and milk into a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Add oil and applesauce, blend until combined well. Add strawberry mixture to dry ingredients. Stir until justl incorporated. (Overmixing will produce a tough bread). Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes.

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Busy Busy!

I have a slight obsession with soup, any time of year, any time of day, all day, every day I can and would eat soup! Just ask my husband, whenever he asks what I want or where I want to go to eat, he always has to say ‘besides soup!’ I frequently make my own so I have them for dinner a few nights a week while Josh is away at hockey…with a big hunk of crusty bread, it’s the perfect meal! So the other night I decided to make some cheesy broccoli cheddar soup with my cheesy beer bread to accompany it! And since I had quite a few bananas that were going bad, I decided to follow that up with some coconut rum banana bread! (Side note, I have noticed that the past few things I have baked recently have all contained booze in some form or another…not quite sure why, but they’ve all turned out deliciously)?!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup:

  • 5 T butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups whole milk or cream
  • 2 cups chicken broth, room temperature (just not cold)!
  • 2 heads broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bag sharp cheddar cheese

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. In separate saucepan, heat milk over medium-low heat, keep warm. Add onion, saute until soft. Whisk in flour, cook for one minute. Slowly add in warm milk. Slowly add in chicken broth, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, then simmer, whisking occasionally until thickened (about 20 minutes). Once thickened a little, add broccoli, carrots, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 20-25 more minutes. If desired, transfer 3/4 of the mixture to blender or food processor (or do as I did and use an immersion blender) to puree mixture. Pour back into saucepan and add cheese.

Cheesy Beer Bread:

  • 2 cups flour

    Moist, buttery, cheesy!!

  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt, divided
  • 10 ounces or 1 1/4 cups beer (guess you’ll just have to drink those last two ounces)!
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 t garlic powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t onion powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t mustard powder, plus more for top
  • 2 T butter, melted

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and mustard powder. Slowly mix in beer with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Do not over-mix. Add in cheese, until just combined. Pour (I use this word lightly as the batter is very thick and will not ‘pour’) into a 9X5 loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for 30 minutes. The dough will puff lightly and grow a little in the pan. Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle more seasonings over top. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

View from the top of the buttery, salty, crust!

Coconut Rum Banana Bread:

  • 2 cups flour

    Look at all that coconutty goodness!

  • 1 t baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla
  • 4 T Captain Morgan (or other rum you like/have on hand)!
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease 9X5 loaf pan. Combine flour, soda, salt and cinnamon in bowl, whisk together and set aside. Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add in eggs one at a time, blending after each addition. Add in vanilla, then rum. Fold in bananas and coconut then gently fold in flour mixture until just incorporated. Pour batter into loaf pan, top with cinnamon sugar mixture (or crumb topping, etc). Bake about 45 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Times of Sorrow…

Being from an Italian family, everything somehow involves or relates to food in some way. Food is a to celebrate, to mourn, to bring people together. This means that during times of wakes and funerals, food is in abundance…and maybe it’s just the way I was raised, but it always does make me feel at least a little better! Unfortunately, my best friend lost her grandfather last week and services were held over the weekend. I was unable to attend the funeral Saturday morning so decided to bake up a few things to bring them Sunday morning, just to say I love you and was thinking about you. Her dad is not a big sweets guy, so I baked up another loaf of the same beer bread I made a few weeks ago. Also, her sister Amy lives in Oregon and last time she was in, I had baked a banana bread but was already in bed when they called me to see if they can come and have some so for her, I made a banana bread with crumb topping and lastly, just for the extra sweet tooth in all of us, my own version of a homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I hope they enjoyed the goodies, but most importantly, I hope they know I was thinking about them and am very sorry for their loss.

Banana Bread with Crumb Topping:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • For crumb topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 – 3/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350, grease a 9X13 loaf pan. Sift or whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, beat oil and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, then mashed bananas. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk to wet ingredients, ending with dry. For crumb topping: mix flour, oats, cinnamon and brown sugar together until incorporated well. Using a pastry blender, fork or two knives, cut in butter until moist crumbs form. Pour into greased loaf pan and top with crumb topping. Bake 45-50 minutes.

Homemade Reese’s

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, room temp/softened
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 3 T peanut butter

Grease an 8X8 baking pan or line with foil and spray foil. Combine butter, peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar. Mix well. Press into bottom of pan. Melt chocolate and peanut butter together in a double boiler or in microwave. Once melted and smooth, pour over graham cracker crust. Let cool to room temperature, then put in fridge for at least an hour before cutting to allow bars to set.

Beer Bread with Cheddar and Garlic:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt, divided
  • 10 ounces or 1 1/4 cups beer (guess you’ll just have to drink those last two ounces)!
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 t garlic powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t onion powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t mustard powder, plus more for top
  • 1 T butter, melted

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and mustard powder. Slowly mix in beer with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Do not over-mix. Add in cheese, until just combined. Pour (I use this word lightly as the batter is very thick and will not ‘pour’) into a 9X5 loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for 30 minutes. The dough will puff lightly and grow a little in the pan. Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle seasonings over top. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

A Little Too Excited for Fall!

I am over summer already, which is a very sad thing to say! But I am ready for fall and everything about it, including cool, perfect weather, the beginning of hockey season, hoodies and most importantly PUMPKIN!! I managed to injure myself somehow over the weekend and am unable to sit down for extended periods of time…not such a problem for a busy-body like myself! I can easily find projects in the kitchen to keep me entertained and standing! I knew I wanted to make some sort of pastry for breakfast for the week and did not have bananas or apples or any other fruit for that matter, but I did have a can of pumpkin! So pumpkin bread it was! I decided to get really daring and try out an entirely  new recipe too, one that included a cream cheese swirl in the middle. Here is what I came up with:

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bread:

  • 1 can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin butter (or you can use oil, butter or applesauce depending on what you have)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup oat flour (ground up oats or any other flour you have, even 1 2/3 white flour works just fine)!
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • Cream filling:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 2 t flour
  • 1 egg white
  • Cinnamon sugar mix for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a loaf pan. Sift together flours, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. In separate bowl, beat together pumpkin puree and pumpkin butter until combined. Add in brown sugar, mixing until smooth. Then add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add in dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Beat in sugar until incorporated and smooth. Beat in egg white and vanilla, then flour, mixing until incorporated and smooth. Layer half the batter in the loaf pan, top with the cream filling, then rest of batter. Top with cinnamon sugar, and bake for 40 minutes. Enjoy plain or toasted with butter, apple butter or even peanut butter!

Beer, Broccoli and Cheese!

Long overdue, a few of us girls finally got together last night to catch up and eat some grub! One of my friends, Nicole, is doing the triathlon this coming Sunday in Chicago (amazing I know) and since I was in charge of cooking dinner, I wanted to come up with a balanced, healthier meal that would help keep her fueled…one chock full of healthy fats, protein, carbs and loaded with vitamins and nutrients. I saw a recipe on Pinterest for a broccoli cheese casserole sans any ‘cream of anything soup’ which intrigued me, so I decided to go that route, but adding in some chicken for more protein! I also made a beer bread to go along with it for fun! Add in some baked polenta appetizers and an amazing salted caramel pie baked by my friend Em and we had one complete dinner!

Chicken, Broccoli, Cheese Casserole:

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or sliced thing
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 3/4 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • few squirts of lemon, to taste
  • dash of mustard powder
  • 1 t spicy mustard (I used a Habanero mustard, but Dijon or any similar would work as well)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, plus another cup for topping
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 3 cups cooked broccoli
  • 3 cups cooked rice (I used black rice, more antioxidants than blueberries and more fiber than brown rice, a little healthier alternative)!
  • 3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

Cook rice, broccoli and chicken and set aside. I steamed the broccoli, threw the rice in a rice maker and grilled chicken breasts with garlic salt and lemon pepper. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and heat oil and butter in saucepan until butter is melted.  Saute onions until soft, 5-7 minutes, add garlic, cook another minute or two. Whisk in flour, cooking only for a minute, not browning it. Slowly add in milk, broth, lemon juice and mustard whisking constantly until smooth. Once smooth, let cook and thicken for 5 or so minutes, whisking only occasionally. Once thickened, add in the cheeses and remove from heat. Once cheese is melted, add in cooked broccoli, rice and chicken. Stir to coat everything, pour into a casserole dish or 9X13 pan. Top with cheddar and more parmesan, bake for 45 minutes.

Beer Bread with Cheddar and Garlic:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt, divided
  • 10 ounces or 1 1/4 cups beer (guess you’ll just have to drink those last two ounces)!
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 t garlic powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t onion powder, plus more for top
  • 1 t mustard powder, plus more for top
  • 1 T butter, melted

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and mustard powder. Slowly mix in beer with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Do not over-mix. Add in cheese, until just combined. Pour (I use this word lightly as the batter is very thick and will not ‘pour’) into a 9X5 loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for 30 minutes. The dough will puff lightly and grow a little in the pan. Brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle seasonings over top. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Polenta Appetizers:

  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 large leek, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or sliced thin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh mozzarella
  • parmesan cheese
  • seasonings of choice (I used rosemary and thyme)
  • more olive oil for drizzling (this has to be really good olive oil, I used a garlic olive oil I infused myself with excellent quality oil from Italy)
  • log of polenta (I got mine from Trader Joe’s but I have seen them at Jewel, etc)

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil. Add in mushrooms and leeks, saute until softened 5-7 minutes. Add in garlic and cook a few minutes more. In the meantime, slice the polenta into slices. Cover with mozzarella cheese then mushroom leek mixture, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese, seasonings and drizzle with a smidge of olive oil. Transfer to greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and polenta is browned a little on the bottom.

Em’s Salted Caramel Pie:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 T butter, melted
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • salt

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix graham cracker crumbs and melted butter, press into a 9-inch pie plate. Top with sweetened condensed milk, sprinkle with salt. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, covered with foil! This is very important, as I burned the crap out of mine when I baked it uncovered!

I, I, Love, Love Apples and Bananas!

So last night we got home pretty early from Michigan because Josh had a hockey game to play in! I needed something to pass some time while waiting for the laundry to finish and watching the olympics (yes, I am a true multi-tasker at heart…well that or I have severe ADD and can never sit still)! As mentioned in previous posts, I am a sucker for sweet dessert type breakfasts and would choose a pastry over an egg any day (as was evidenced by my choice of 2 cinnamon rolls, 2 muffins and a peanut butter brownie for breakfast Sunday morning)….so I decided to bake up a sweet treat for the next few days morning meal! Last time we went to visit Josh’s Aunt and Uncle’s apple orchard, I bought some apple butter that I had yet to open up and decided to use it in a banana bread! What a tasty decision that ended up being…the sweet and tangy apple butter paired perfectly with the traditional banana bread flavor, adding a  little something special!

Apple Butter Banana Bread

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 3/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 bananas mashed
  • cinnamon, sugar, butter, flour for crumb topping if desired

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pan or muffin pan. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl. Beat together oil, apple butter and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add in eggs one at a time, then vanilla and mashed banana. Beat in dry ingredients just until incorporated. Pour into loaf pan and top with crumb topping or cinnamon sugar, bake  45 minutes.

This was delicious toasted with Nutella or plain by itself!

Times are Blue (not really but the title is fitting)!

Living downtown Chicago during the NATO Summit has been nothing but a pain in my ass! So in an effort to avoid as much of the ruckus as possible, I ditched out on the city and spent the weekend at my parents’ house! What a great weekend it was, shopping with my mom, going out to eat, spending time with my brother, sister-in-law and two nieces, going to the taste of Glen Ellyn (something I haven’t been to in over 5 years now), and the list goes on! Aside from 4 of 8 of us getting a 24-hour flu bug, the weekend was fantastic…but always seems too short! Before I left, the fam barbecued a buffet of food in a last effort to enjoy the beautiful weather! I made some pan-fried potatoes to go with the rib-eyes, burgers and shish-kabobs!
Pan-Fried Potatoes:
  • 5 potatoes, cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • dash of onion and garlic powder
Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add potatoes, toss to coat with oil, add seasonings and cover pan, let cook/steam for 5 or so minutes without touching. Lift lid, stir potatoes around, cover again and let sit another 5 minutes. Repeat once more, remove lid for good, toss around and cook until desired browness. Super easy,  very tasty and healthier than french-fries!
When I finally made it home last night, I was unpacking all of the groceries I bought and stumbled across a fruit tray in the fridge that a patient generously brought us last week. Neither Josh nor I are big fans of berries (except I love strawberries, but that’s it) so those were all that were left in the tray. I absolutely hate wasting food and didn’t have the heart to throw them out…so instead, I whipped up a blueberry quick bread and saved the raspberries and blackberries for smoothies or possibly another bread!
Blueberry  Bread
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Silk Vanilla
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • Blueberry Greek Yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
photo.JPG
Heat oven to 350. Coat 8 1/2X4 1/2 loaf pan with spray. Sift flour into a bowl, remove 1 Tbsp flour and toss with blueberries in a separate bowl. Add cornmeal, baking powder and salt to flour and mix well. In another bowl, whisk sugars with eggs, milk, yogurt, vanilla and lemon juice. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just blended; fold in blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 40 minutes. You can add a crumb topping to this or make these as muffins as well!

Nuts for Coconut!

So the other day Josh and I got to talking about old banana bread recipes we used to eat as kids and they always had either chocolate chips, coconut or both in them. We then discussed how we love Almond Joy candies and coconut macaroons, leading to the critical realization that we both love coconut! It was kind of one of those things we knew we liked sometimes or with some things but didn’t really think too much about, turns out we pretty much like it in anything sweet! Due to my resistance towards anything non-chocolate, I didn’t even realize I liked macaroons until Christmas last year when I accidentally ate one out of the oven that had broken apart before realizing what I was doing…ended up being a very happy surprise! We kind of had a rough day at work yesterday so I decided to bake up a chocolate chip banana bread with our new favorite, coconut! I used the same basic banana bread recipe I have posted about before, and added in mini chocolate chips and a ton of coconut! (Banana Bread)

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Chocolatey, coconutty, moist deliciousness!

Recipe:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil (or applesauce for a healthier version, texture will be a little different…more gummier and dense)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2-3 mashed bananas
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • bag of mini chocolate chips (amount desired)
  • bag of coconut (amount desired)

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. In small bowl, combine flour, soda, cinnamon and salt. Combine oil (or applesauce) and sugar, mix until sugar dissolves. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add in vanilla and mashed bananas. Add dry ingredients to wet, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with flour. Fold in chocolate chips and coconut. Bake for 45-50 minutes. (Use as little or as much as you’d like, I went with an entire bag of each and to be honest, that’s probably not necessary)!

Mia Rose!

I would like to announce the birth of my beautiful niece Mia Rose! She was born on April Fool’s Day (no joke) at 11:54 pm, weighing in at 7 lb 7 oz and she is just adorable, and with a full head of dark brown hair! We now have two beautiful, healthy, precious little girls in our family!

Here's proof!

I knew my brother and sister-in-law would be absolutely exhausted upon getting home and could use all of the rest they can get with a newborn so I decided to help them out and cook them a few dinners and save them some time/money! I even had my other niece, Arianna, ‘help me out’ in the kitchen! What a great little helper she is too!

I wanted to think of things that would be super easy for them that they could just throw in the oven or heat up so I settled on homemade mac & cheese with prosciutto and a chicken broccoli cheese casserole. The casserole is so amazingly simple yet delicious, it is a must have on our menu rotation! And of course, I baked them something as well, a zucchini bread.

Macaroni & Cheese with Prosciutto

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • Prosciutto, ham, bacon cooked and chopped
  • 3 T butter
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 3 T flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 t mustard powder or 1 – 1 1/2 t mustard
  • 8 ounces american cheese, chopped up
  • 4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
  • parmesan cheese
  • bread crumbs or panko

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a casserole dish or 9X13 pan. Cook macaroni  in boiling salted water until al dente, drain. Meanwhile, melt butter in saucepan, add onion and saute until soft, 5-7 minutes. Once soft, add flour, whisk and let cook 1-2 minutes. Add milk slowly, whisking to incorporate flour. Add salt & pepper to taste and let come to a boil and begins to thicken. Lower heat and add in american cheese and 2 cups of cheddar, stir until melted. Combine sauce with macaroni and pour into baking dish. Top with other 2 cups of shredded cheddar. Mix bread crumbs or panko with parmesan cheese, sprinkle over top and bake 30 minutes. (I fried up some prosciutto in a little olive oil beforehand to get it somewhat crispy and mixed it in with the cheese sauce and macaroni before baking).  You can add any type of meat you like, or leave it out completely, whatever suits your fancy!

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Casserole

  • 1 package broccoli (I use eat smart veggie bags)
  • 1 bag cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 2-3 T lemon juice

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the cream of mushroom soups, the lemon juice and half of the cheddar cheese. Add cooked chicken and broccoli. Pour into prepared pan and top with remaining half of cheddar cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until heated through. See, I told you it was easy! We like to serve ours over white rice, but you can use whatever you like or just eat it plain! Also, you can add in any other veggies you like, we always add mushrooms with ours but since my brother is ‘allergic,’ I omitted them! I say ‘allergic’ because he really is not, he just doesn’t care for them so he tells restaurants that he is allergic so they don’t make the mistake of putting them in any of his food! Cracks me up! But I did get him to branch out a little and try, and even like, a blue cheese mushroom marsala sauce for steaks (http://wp.me/s1InCv-saucy)!

Last but not least:

Zucchini Bread

  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 t vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 3 t cinnamon
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 cups grated zucchini

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 9X13 pan. Dissolve sugar in oil, add in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, soda, powder, salt and cinnamon. Add wet to dry, mixing until just incorporated. Fold in zucchini. Pour into prepared pan, fill 2/3 of the way full (if there is extra batter, use for muffins or whatever you’d like…but I fit it all into one pan and it just made one very large super loaf)!

Baking Bliss!

I want to apologize for the lack of posting the past week or so, life has been a bit hectic…in a good way! Josh and I ended up finding an apartment to rent/live on Friday and moved in the next day, Saturday and then had 6 visitors come to stay with us for St. Patrick’s Day that following Friday! Not to mention I had a ton of baking to get done for my best friend’s wedding shower the Sunday following St. Patty’s! Needless to say, we were quite busy! We did manage to move (with the help of 4 beloved friends, soooo appreciative….since this all happened essentially overnight, we were unable to hire movers…NEVER again), unpack, go to a fabulous dinner and night out with our new neighbors (my best friend and her fiance live a floor above us, cue the Friends jokes), bake over 125 cake balls, a red velvet cake, a banana bread and chocolate chip cookies! Anyways, life is good, we love the new apartment (even after debating renting it, not liking it when we viewed it, etc) and thoroughly enjoying living a floor below our best friends !

I took the day off of work Thursday so that I could run a whole bunch of errands and do some serious baking! I always tell Josh that I’d love, more than anything, a true day off…one where I have absolutely nothing planned, can sleep in and do whatever I want for the whole day! He just laughs and tells me, why, you’d end up baking and running errands anyways since you can’t sit still and easily bored! I guess the man has a point, because I really enjoyed my Thursday home!

So here’s the list of what was made: chocolate peanut butter cake balls (same recipe posted previously, with the crazy addictive peanut butter frosting: https://valuptuousvittles.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/pops-for-peanut-butter/), oreo cake balls, peanut butter banana bread, red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate chip cookies for that leftover peanut butter frosting!

The banana bread was not intended to have peanut butter in it, but the first batch of peanut butter frosting that I made didn’t come out quite as smooth as I like so I ended up making another batch and having a whole bunch leftover! So I decided to use it as the butter/oil in the banana bread recipe!

Oreo Cake Balls:

Homemade Chocolate Cake:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 4 T butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 T coffee
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Oreos, crushed
Filling & Coating:
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • White baking chocolate
  • 1 T shortening
Make chocolate cake, bake and let cool.  Once cooled, remove rough edges and crumble/put in food processor until fine crumbs. Mix with crushed oreos and cream cheese. Roll into balls and freeze 1 hour or put in fridge 2-3 hours to harden. Remove from fridge/freezer and roll in melted white chocolate and shortening. Decorate while wet with crushed oreos, sprinkles, etc. I used a fork and drizzled milk chocolate over top. Put back in fridge for a few hours to fully set.
Chocolate peanut butter cake balls:

Banana Bread:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup peanut butter frosting
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour loaf pan. Sift/mix together flour and baking soda, set aside. Beat together, peanut butter frosting and sugar, add in eggs one at a time, add in vanilla. Mix in mashed banana. Alternate adding flour and buttermilk, ending with flour. Do not over mix, pour into prepared pan, bake 1 hour 10 minutes (I covered it with foil half way through since it was browning rapidly).

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting:

Cake:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 T cocoa powder (heaping)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1-2 ounces red food coloring
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 t vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 8-inch cake pans. Beat butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add in vanilla and red food coloring. Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt. Mix together baking soda and vinegar. Alternately add buttermilk and flour, ending with flour. Beat in vinegar mixture. Pour into prepared pans and bake 25 minutes.

Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 8 ounces butter
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 t vanilla

Cream butter and cream cheese together. Add in vanilla and powdered sugar, mix until smooth. Cut tops off of cakes to make flat. To assemble, flip one cake over and place on tray. Frost, cover with another cake, frost, cover with last cake. Frost entire cake, eat and enjoy!!

I am usually not a big fan of red velvet cake at all, but this one was delicious! It was just cocoa-ey enough to give it some flavor, but not too much…very good! I will definitely use this recipe again! The entire cake was eaten at the shower, so it must have been pretty good!!