Cream Cheese Danish Braid

Cream Cheese Danish Bread

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there!  I hope everyone had a wonderful day, and as my mother told me to do, indulge just a little.  Speaking of indulging…in going with the theme of over the top that I started last weekend, I decided to continue that trend just a bit…particularly in honor of mother’s day.

I don’t make bread very often anymore – it was something I was fascinated in when I lived in Denver – mostly because of the high altitude.  Bread would rise much faster, and it was just exciting to watch.  For the past 18 years, I can count how many times I have attempted a yeast dough on one hand – just because I don’t want to spend a day waiting for it to rise.  A couple of years ago, I noticed that my oven had a proof setting – and all of a sudden I realized that I had my own little proofing oven right in my house.  But even that added incentive was not enough.

The other month in Cooking Light they had a section on cooking and baking like the professionals.  Basically they tried to tell you that you didn’t have to be an expert to make different things.  I know better than that, and didn’t fall for it for a minute.  But here I was cutting out this delicious cream cheese Danish braid and sticking it in my recipe pile.  Note to self – if you don’t want to make something, do not put it in that pile.  Of course placing anything in that pile means that it is visible for my daughters to see – and when my older one saw that it was an option, that’s all she talked about.

So – I attempted the Danish braid.  I was not expecting much, but that dough was heavenly.  Figuring out exactly how to make the braid just by reading the instructions was a little tricky – but it turned out beautifully.  I was a hero.  My daughter was completely amazed.  The filling was a little sweet for us – but the bread was out of this world.  Just amazing, and I can’t wait to try the dough on cinnamon buns.

Here’s to all you heroes out there – but especially the moms today – even the little things you do go a long way…it is your day to celebrate.

Ingredients

Sponge:

  • 6 tablespoons very warm 1% low-fat milk (120° to 130°)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package quick-rise yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

Dough:

  • 7.9 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour, divided (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 2.25 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Dash of salt

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

Preparation

To prepare sponge, combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let stand 15 minutes.

To prepare dough, weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour and pastry flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, sour cream, butter, salt, vanilla, 1 egg, and sponge in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 1 minute or until well combined. Add flours; beat at low speed 3 minutes or until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes), adding remaining 1.15 ounces all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indention remains, dough has risen enough.)

To prepare filling, combine cream cheese and the next 4 ingredients (through dash of salt) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.

Punch dough down; roll dough into a 12 x 15-inch rectangle on lightly floured parchment paper. Spread cream cheese mixture down center of dough, leaving about a 5-inch border on each side and a 1-inch border at top and bottom of rectangle. Make 5-inch cuts about 1 inch apart on both sides of dough to meet filling using a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Remove 4 outer corner strips of dough from rectangle; discard. Fold top and bottom 1-inch portions of dough over filling. Fold strips over filling, alternating strips diagonally over filling. Press ends to seal. Transfer braid and parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine 1 teaspoon water and 1 egg; stir with a whisk. Brush braid with egg mixture. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes.

Combine powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons milk in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over braid; sprinkle with nuts.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cream Cheese Danish Braid

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Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Dahlia Lounge Coconut Cream Pie

I am definitely known for going a little too far – in pretty much every aspect of my life.  My husband has had to get used to it over the years, and now he just thinks it is funny.  His father and I have that in common – his motto in life is “If it is worth doing, it is worth over doing.”  I love it.

When we moved here, almost 18 years ago – I remember going downtown for a special dinner one night.  Tom Douglas was a Seattle icon, even back then, although he only had a couple of restaurants.  It is remarkable to me that I can still remember that dinner – particularly the dessert.  I remember seeing that Triple Coconut Cream Pie on the menu, and I had to get it.  I love coconut, and I have always had a little thing for cream pies.  This pie was over the top.  I wasn’t exactly sure why it was a triple coconut pie, but it didn’t matter – every bite had an overwhelmingly delicious coconut flavor.  That pie is now a Seattle icon – everyone knows about this famous pie, and for good reason.

Last year for my birthday, one of my very close friends surprised me with a very special gift – the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook – and of course the first recipe I turned to was this Triple Coconut Cream Pie.  I knew that I would make it eventually, but I had to wait for the right occasion.  A month of so ago another good friend asked if I would make a dessert for her daughter’s school auction.  It is our neighborhood school – that my kids also attended – so I quickly snatched up the opportunity.  She was the one that suggested this pie, and even though I looked to see if there was anything else I thought could be more special – I couldn’t come up with anything.  How could anything top this?

Well – unfortunately I didn’t get to eat it in it’s entirety – but I did take tastes along the way – just to make sure it was edible for the auction…  And yes, it was definitely edible – and again, over the top.  It is sweet as all can be, so be prepared, but it is completely worth it.  Sometimes you just have to go too far – and when it is allowed, there is no holding back.  I hope that whoever ends up with this pie enjoys it as much as I did making it!

Ingredients

Coconut pastry crust:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced thin and chilled
  • 1/3 cup ice water
Coconut pastry cream:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (I used full-fat)
  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
Whipped cream topping:
  • 2 ½ cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Garnish:
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened large-flake coconut or 2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • Chunk of good white chocolate to make 2 ounces of white chocolate curls

Preparation

Coconut pastry crust

In a food processor, combine flour, coconut, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add butter and pulse until butter and flour are combined and mixture resembles small peas.Slowly pour in ice water through the feed tube. Stop when dough is beginning to come together. Dough should hold together when you squeeze it, but should not be sticky. You may not need to use all of the water. Shape dough into a disk and chill at least 1 hour. When you’re ready to roll, roll out dough on a well-floured surface into a 12- to 13-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, being careful not to stretch the dough. Trim overhang to 1 inch, then fold onto rim and flute with fingers and thumb. Chill unbaked pie shell at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line shell with parchment paper and pie weights (beans or coins.)  Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes until rim is golden. Remove shell from oven. Remove parchment and weights, and bake an additional 10 to 12 minutes until bottom is golden-brown in spots.

Coconut pastry cream

In a heavy bottomed pot, combine milk, coconut milk, coconut shreds and vanilla bean seeds. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and flour until smooth and combined. Bring milk to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and whisk 1/3 cup of the mixture into the mixing bowl with the eggs to temper them. Pour egg mixture slowly into milk, whisking constantly. Return to a bubble and let simmer 5 minutes until very thick. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Put plastic wrap directly on surface of pastry cream and chill.

Whipped cream topping

Whip cream, sugar and vanilla until firm enough that peaks hold their shape.

Garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and gently toast coconut until edges are golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully and stir a few times. Use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate curls. When crust is cooled, fill with coconut pastry cream and smooth the top. Either pipe or decoratively spoon whipped cream topping on top, then garnish with toasted coconut flakes and white chocolate curls.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Garlicky Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Bacon

Garlicky Grilled Cheese

I feel like I should have a column on my blog called “Sunday Lunches” – maybe it would get me to do this more often.  I swear, I love having a plan for lunch on Sunday.  This is now about the 4th time I have actually decided to make something out of the ordinary for lunch, and the girls and I are having a ton of fun with it.

Grilled cheese is definitely a staple in this house.  It started out many years ago – before my husband and I were married, but we lived together.  Sometimes he needed a snack after dinner – in those days it was not uncommon for us to eat dinner, and then go do something – or he would run back to the lab for more work.  It wasn’t a mid-night snack, but he would often need something before he went to sleep – and he always turned to his toasted cheese sandwiches.  He loved cheese more than anyone I knew.  It was his 5th food group.  He would toast some bread, throw some cheese on it, stick it in the microwave for just a few seconds, just enough for the cheese to melt, then he would put it together – and there he had his perfect toasted cheese sandwich – no grilling necessary.

Over the past few years, that has stopped as he has given up dairy – but recently the girls have started having that as their Sunday lunch.  At first they balked at a toasted cheese sandwich – they claimed the bread would get soggy – but he showed them exactly the way to make it, and even they were impressed.

Well, that’s good and all, but nothing is better than a good old fashioned grilled cheese sandwich – and this recipe from Cooking Light was just about as good as it gets.  Adding in the spinach and bacon – wow.  Even my older daughter was fine with the greens, because everything else about the sandwich was so darn delicious.  So there you have it – another Sunday lunch.  This might just be the last, seriously, what could top this?

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2  large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 4 cups baby arugula leaves
  • 4  center-cut bacon slices, halved
  • 8  (1-ounce) rustic Italian bread slices
  • 2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

Preparation

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add spinach and arugula; stir until wilted. Remove spinach mixture from pan. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook until crisp. Remove bacon.

Top 4 bread slices evenly with cheeses, bacon pieces, spinach mixture, and the remaining 4 bread slices.

Heat pan over medium heat. Add sandwiches to drippings in pan; weigh down with a plate. Cook 2 minutes on each side.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Garlicky Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Bacon

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini

Returning from vacation is no fun.  Normally it is bad, but this time I literally felt like I jumped into a deep pool of cold water – I can hardly catch my breath.  I am just hoping that Friday gets here quickly – I am definitely looking forward to getting back to the kitchen – although I haven’t had a minute to think about what I will make.  That is a good problem to have.

We ate extremely well last week – so well, that when I went to the cafeteria yesterday (I actually had 10 minutes of free time to run downstairs), nothing looked appetizing.  I hate that.  I ended up with a salad – which worked out fine – but as I walked upstairs, I thought about the amazing Asparagus Souffle I had for lunch the previous Monday.  Every bite was perfect – and just melted in my mouth.  I can’t wait to go back for more.

Before we left on vacation, my husband was travelling for work – which means break out the pasta and the dairy.  This time I let the girls make all the decisions, and I must say they did quite well picking out our dinners – this one from Cooking Light.  Chicken Tetrazzini is one of those dishes that I often crave.  There is nothing quite like a big casserole of noodles, chicken and a tasty white creamy sauce.  The girls were not thrilled with the peas, but they ate most of them anyway because the rest of the dish was so delicious.  This was a little more involved than I thought it would be – but completely worth it.  The best part, this definitely serves a crowd – we invited our neighbors over at the last minute, and we still had leftovers.  Exactly what I could use this week…

Ingredients

  • 10 ounce uncooked linguine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk
  • 2.5 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1 ounce 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 ounces French bread baguette, torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add stock and milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, cream cheese, salt, and pepper.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion, garlic, and thyme; sauté 3 minutes. Add wine; cook 1 minute. Combine milk mixture, mushroom mixture, pasta, chicken, and peas; toss to combine. Spoon the pasta mixture into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place bread in a food processor; drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Process until coarse crumbs form. Combine breadcrumbs and remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano; sprinkle evenly over pasta. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Top with parsley.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chicken Tetrazzini

Meyer Lemon and Mango Sorbet

Meyer Lemon and Mango Sorbet

Sometimes you just need a little mango in your life.  It is spring, and the markets are starting to carry all the different produce that just make you want to have a picnic, or open your windows and let that spring air come through.  Of course in Seattle we get a few days here and there, but for the most part it stays cold and rainy until July.  So, we have to do other things to make us think that the sun is shining brightly outdoors.

My daughters love dessert – but what they love even more is getting dessert at a fancy restaurant.  They don’t get to go to fancy restaurants all that often, in fact, hardly ever.  I think because of that, it is even more special.  It just so happens that recently my younger daughter had the privilege of eating somewhere very unique – and for dessert she ordered mango sorbet.  Well, that in and of itself would have been exciting enough, but they brought the sorbet with a beautiful assortment of fresh fruit, and a delicious madeleine.  I swear she has never looked more excited.  She was almost squealing with delight at the thought of digging into this.  She enjoyed it immensely, and it was so much fun to watch.

The other week I was at the market and they had the most beautiful meyer lemons you have ever seen.  They were almost orange in color, and just as soft as can be.  I immediately grabbed them and then slowly walked around the produce section deciding what to do with them.  It was when I saw the pile of mangos that it hit me.  A meyer lemon and mango sorbet – yes!  It was so easy to make up this recipe, I basically just threw the ingredients in a blender then off to the ice cream maker.  It was delicious – entirely spring tasting, and just such a treat.  There is nothing like being able to whip up a batch of sunshine whenever you need to…

Ingredients

  • 2 mangos (about 2 cups of cut up mango)
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice

Preparation

To make the simple syrup, put 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan.  Heat until all the sugar has dissolved.  Cool completely.  Add mangos, simple syrup and lemon juice in a blender and puree until smooth.  Put in the refrigerator until nicely chilled.  Add the mango mixture to an ice-cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  Freeze for about 4 hours before serving.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Meyer Lemon and Mango Sorbet

Fruit-Filled Scuffins

Scuffins

I am not even sure what this are called, but I love taking two baked goods and combining them.  Not that I have done it often, but I am dying to create my own.  Ever since I posted these, I have been racking my brain for what other fusions I could make.  For some reason I have been in this complete brain lock.  I can’t think of anything!  I know when I least expect it, something will come to me. I would like to know how someone thought of the cronut — just brilliant.  Come on, who wouldn’t love a croissant that ran into a donut.

So needless to say, I was super excited when my good friend emailed me about the Scuffins that she found in the New York Times.  For some reason I keep wanting to call them Scruffins, but they are a combination of scones and muffins – so there you have it. These sounded amazing, but seriously, these were really made for me.  As I stood in the pantry trying to decide which type of jam I would use, I suddenly felt like this is what I had been waiting for.  I ended up using some Damson Plum Jam and Strawberry Vanilla Jam.  Both excellent choices.

They came out wonderfully – they were slightly heavier than muffins, though slightly lighter than scones.  My daughter was super excited about having breakfast treats, and rationed them out.  She warmed them up for a few seconds in the microwave each morning, and she said they were great.  So, there goes another one – there must be more – what about a cookcake? A cookie meets a cupcake?  Or maybe it should be called a cakie?

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 ounces), plus 2 tablespoons for buttering muffin cups
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (4 1/2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (3 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal or wheat germ (1 ounce)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown or raw sugar (2 ounces), plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup fruit jam, conserves, preserves or fruit butter (do not use jelly or marmalade)

Preparation

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave or over very gentle heat. Using a pastry brush, butter the cups of a standard-size (3 1/2-ounce-capacity) 12-cup muffin tin. Let each coat of butter cool, then apply another coat; continue until the 2 tablespoons are all used.

In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Meanwhile, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter, add to dry ingredients and mix with a fork until just combined.
In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk and cream. Add to dry ingredients and mix to combine (the dough will be quite sticky).

Reserving about a quarter of the dough for topping, scoop 2 tablespoons dough into each cup. Using the back of a spoon, press dough gently down into the cups. The dough will move up the sides, and there should be a shallow well in each dough cup. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t come all the way up to the top; there should be about 1/2 inch of space between the top of the dough and the rim of the cup.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon jam into each well. Using your fingers, pinch remaining dough into small clumps and scatter evenly over the jam in each cup, making a bumpy topping. Sprinkle sugar over the tops.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned. Let cool in the pan on a rack; run a blade around the sides of each scuffin before turning out.
Yield 12 scuffins

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Fruit-Filled Scuffins

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet potatoes are a bit of an enigma to me.  I always thought that sweet potatoes were orange, but then one day I bought some and was surprised when I peeled one that the flesh looked just a tiny bit more orange than a regular potato.  It was the skin that was different.  For some reason I thought the magic would happen when the potato cooked – but seriously, I am not sure what I was thinking.  The cooked potato looked exactly like the raw one – and it wasn’t orange.

The next time I was in the market to buy some sweet potatoes, I noticed how the yams were different – the flesh actually looked orange.  So, that’s what I bought – and sure enough, it was as orange as can be.  And absolutely beautiful.  Ok, so I know that sweet potatoes and yams are supposed to taste the same, but for some reason the orange yams taste better to me.  It is amazing what a little color can do to your taste buds.  Ok, this has got to just be in my head.

I found this recipe in Cooking Light and it was the color that attracted me.  I am not a huge sweet potato soup fan, but I knew that with a color like that, and some bacon crumbles – how could I not love it.  It was a very simple soup – one of the simplest I have made – but the recipe was all wrong.  It called for sweet potatoes, and I knew that if I really used them, it would have no color at all.  So – I used yams – and sure enough, orange like the sun.  This soup was not only delicious, but as my neighbor described it – velvety – and that was exactly the texture.  The bacon crumbles gave it a nice salty taste that was a perfect balance with the sweet soup.  The only thing left to change now, is the name…but Creamy Yam Soup just doesn’t sound as good, right?

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds yams, halved lengthwise (about 2 large)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional)

Preparation

Place potatoes, cut sides down, in an 11 x 7-inch microwave-safe baking dish. Add 1/4 cup water; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Cool slightly; discard potato skins.

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 1 minute or until translucent. Stir in cumin and red pepper. Add stock to pan; bring to a boil. Place half of sweet potato and half of stock mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters); blend until smooth. Pour pureed soup into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining sweet potato and stock mixture. Stir in salt. Divide soup evenly among 6 bowls; sprinkle cooked bacon and Parmesan cheese evenly over top. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

Johnnycake Bread

Johnnycake Bread

What exactly is an “acquired taste?”  I use the phrase when I am describing something that I didn’t like at first, and then it grew on me.  I wouldn’t say I can put my finger on too many things like that, although artichokes definitely come to mind.  I remember sort of liking them the first time I tried one, and then over the years they completely grew on me to the point that I now consider them almost a delicacy.  My daughters were exactly the same way – the first time they weren’t crazy about them, but now they beg me to buy them in the market at this time of the year.

My daughter is still on this breakfast treat kick that she has been on for quite a while.  She just thinks that it is much easier to enjoy a slice of banana bread or a muffin in the morning, than to take the time to make toast, or even eat a bowl of cereal.  When your bus comes at 7:10 in the morning, I think there is always a little bit of a panic…what if I don’t have time to eat breakfast at home, what could I throw in my backpack and eat on the way?

I found this recipe in Bon Appetit ages ago, and it has been sitting patiently in the pantry waiting for its chance.  I didn’t think it looked overly sweet, but for some reason I was intrigued.  When my daughter asked what I was going to make for breakfast for her – I showed her the recipe.  She didn’t say no, which I thought was a good sign.

I absolutely LOVED this bread.  It was the cross between a brown bread and a cornbread.  Now, there was a certain way to eat this though after the first day and it was hot out of the oven.  I actually toasted this with some butter – and it sung in my mouth.  The best part, you can enjoy this bread at any meal.  The more I ate it, the more I loved it.  My daughter on the other hand took one bite, and that was enough.  This was not her type of breakfast treat.  Cereal for her.  Oh well, I guess my acquired taste was not contagious in this case.  Hey, more Johnnycake Bread for me…!!

Ingredients

  • ¼  cup vegetable oil, plus more for pans
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cornmeal
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • 1 tablespoon maple sugar or raw sugar

Preparation

Heat oven to 325°. Lightly oil two 5×2½” loaf pans (or one 8½x4½” loaf pan). Whisk flour, cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, add eggs, milk, molasses, and ¼ cup oil, and whisk in dry ingredients. Divide between pans. Sprinkle with maple sugar.
Bake breads until golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 40–45 minutes for small loaves (50–55 minutes for large loaf). Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before turning out.

Do Ahead:  Breads can be made 1 day ahead. Store wrapped tightly at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Johnnycake Bread

Crispy Broccoli-Carrot Fritters

Crispy Broccoli-Carrot Fritters

My daughters are very adventurous eaters – compared to most kids their age.  Last night when we were driving home, I asked my younger daughter was she wanted for dinner, and would you believe she asked me to make something new?  What 8 year old asks for that?  I would have expected her to say – macaroni and cheese, pizza or a big cheese quesadilla – but no, she wanted to try something different.  I guess I dug my own grave there.

I love that they are willing to try just about anything – now, that doesn’t mean they like everything – but at least they are open to trying.  There are a few things though that each of them still won’t touch with a 10 foot poll.  The problem is that they are not obscure things – they are the basics.  Fortunately there are not that many – although they usually are in the vegetable category.  My younger daughter can’t stand cooked carrots.  She actually likes them raw – but cook them, and forget it.  She hates the taste, but more than that she complains about the texture.  Go figure.

In the fall we have a tradition of going to a German restaurant to get some delicious Schnitzel.  We used to drive all the way across town to go to this place we loved, but over the years it just went downhill.  So this year we decided to try a new place that had just opened up in our neighborhood.  It is a great neighborhood joint, and the owner is from Germany.  The food is delicious – and he plays this little game with the kids.  If you eat all of your carrots, you get a big plate of Gummy Bears topped with whipped cream.  Wow, that was quite a dilemma.  Of course my older daughter wasted no time eating her carrots.  She saw the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – but my younger daughter just couldn’t do it.  The owner came back to the table quite a few times, and told her she had to eat her carrots, and I swear she almost burst into tears.  We made her eat one, and seriously that was all I could watch.  We helped her with the rest so she could also get her treat.  There was no way we were leaving that place without the prize.

Recently I was looking through Cooking Light, and found this recipe that looked just scrumptious.  Ok, just about anything fried has me sold – but then dipping it into a yogurt dill sauce?  Come on.  So, I had to give these a try.  I knew that keeping the carrots in the recipe was risky, but I figured if she can eat them here, that is at least a start.  Would you believe she actually scarfed these down completely?  She loved every bit of them, and remarked that she couldn’t even taste the carrots – score!  It is the little victories that count – and the fact that she was willing to give them a try.  I will give her a pot of gold for that any day.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
  • 2.25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1.5 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

Preparation

Place 4 cups water, broccoli, and carrots in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 4 minutes; drain. Pat broccoli mixture dry with paper towels; finely chop. Place broccoli mixture and flour in a large bowl; stir to coat. Add cheese, salt, pepper, onions, and egg to broccoli mixture; stir to combine.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Spoon 1/4 cup broccoli mixture into a dry measuring cup. Pour mixture into pan; flatten slightly. Repeat procedure 7 times to form 8 fritters. Cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Combine yogurt and dill in a small bowl. Serve yogurt mixture with fritters.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Crispy Broccoli-Carrot Fritters

Triple Nut Energy Bars

 

Triple Nut Energy Bars

It is amazing to me how biased people can become.  Not just on food, but on anything.  You buy something – you love it, and then all of a sudden everything that company makes is amazing.  Some people would call that brand loyalty, I would actually call it something different.  That can happen just as easily with people.  You are impressed by what someone does – and maybe that happens a few times, but is that a reason to let your guard down and think that everything that person does is mind-blowing?

It is hard to describe what I have experienced over the past several days – but in some ways, it has helped me tremendously to focus on what I want to do next.  There is no reason to sit back any longer.  I thought my plan was pretty clear before last night – but as the evening wore on, things solidified even more.  Last night I experienced something truly unique.  Something that many people will never have the opportunity to be a part of.  I felt honored to be included, and both my husband and I were blown away.  It was exactly what I needed – I swear the trees parted ways in my head.  I am on a mission, and I can hardly wait to get started.

Now of course there will be bumps in the road, but in any venture, it is all about how you recover.  As I have mentioned, I have been on a KIND Bar kick lately – every weekend I make a batch for the week.  Surprisingly we have not become sick of them yet – but wouldn’t you know that last month’s Cooking Light had an article about energy bars?  They had a bunch of recipes for a similar bar, and of course I decided I had to compare.  Now remember – I never look at the ratings of recipes before I make that – that would take all the fun out of everything.

So – I whipped up a batch of these bars (adapting slightly to our tastes) and they looked wonderful.  That was until I tried to cut them.  They basically just crumbled into a mess.  There was no way I was getting nice rectangular shapes out of this batch.  So, I did what I could – I cut as many square bars as I could, then the rest of the crumbs I put in a container for on top of yogurt.  I gave the bars to my husband to bring to work – even though they were crumbly – I must say, they were delicious.  The crunchy quinoa was such a welcome treat, and the nut butter combined with coconut was just perfect.  Turns out, the people at his worked LOVED them – they were gone in a matter of hours.  So – what I thought was an absolute bust – turned out to be quite the opposite.  A lesson that can be applied anywhere…and I am sure one that will get a lot of use over the next year.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup salted, dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
  • 1/3 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal or wheat germ
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted creamy almond butter
  • 6 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spread oats and quinoa on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Place oat mixture in a large bowl, and stir in cashews, almonds, pistachios, coconut, flaxseed meal, and chocolate.

Combine almond butter, agave, oil, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour almond butter mixture over oat mixture; toss well to coat. Press mixture into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 13 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in dish. Cut evenly into (1 x 4-inch) bars – or just crumble and serve on top of yogurt or ice-cream.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Triple Nut Energy Bars