Tag Archives: baking

Fudge Brownies

Last week we had DirecTv installed. We had it before we moved to New Jersey, but decided to cancel it for a variety of reasons. However, in our area we get ZERO channels via regular or amplified antenna, so we decided to get tv service again. Alex and I went through our complimentary (but temporary) premium channels, recording new movies that we want to see again or that we didn’t get a chance to see in theaters. I knew we’d want a few movie nights, so I immediately wanted brownies to go with them.

Within the past few months I bookmarked the King Arthur Flour Fudge Brownies recipe, and I knew that was what I needed to make. I’ve been dissatisfied recently with my go-to recipe, Hershey’s Best Brownies. It’s not the recipe’s fault. I’ve changed, and it just doesn’t suit my needs any longer. I like them a little better when I add M&Ms or chocolate chips to them, but really, I just need a new go-to brownie recipe. This one is it.

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Quick Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

My intermittent weekend baking continues. While Alex took weekend nap duty with the baby, I whipped up a quick and easy chocolate chip coffee cake (adapted heavily from Taste of Home) for him for Father’s Day. If you just have one coffee cake recipe in your rotation, this should be it.

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Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

This month I made Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons with some egg whites I’d previously frozen. I’d made them once before – the day before I gave birth, in fact. They were the perfect snack for being in the hospital – rich, two-bite indulgences that were very chocolatey and yet didn’t seem too decadent thanks to lots and lots of coconut, which made them filling. These were my go-to snack – I’d grab a few in the middle of the night before heading to the NICU to feed baby. They were both comforting and practical.

The recipe is similar to the Raspberry-Coconut Macaroons I made before; both recipes were very simple to make. The chocolate macaroons were just as rich and satisfying now as they were when I first made them in February. They are like a Mounds bar, but better since the cookies are not as sweet. The macaroons provide a real fix for a serious chocolate craving. And not only are they amazingly delicious – making them only took me 30 minutes from start to finish.

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Vegan Orange Cupcakes

My friend Kate came from St. Louis to visit us in New Jersey! She was the first of our friends to visit (aside from when she and Jen drove out here with me). Alex and I were very excited to have her as a house guest. We three and baby had a great time visiting the boardwalk in Ocean City (which I think I prefer over Atlantic City’s) as well as relaxing at home.

Kate didn’t just visit us – she visited on her birthday! I don’t yet have much of an opportunity to cook and bake (although hopefully that will change soonish), but I had to make her something. Kate is vegan, so of course the Vegan Clementine Cupcake recipe from King Arthur Flour jumped out at me when I saw it this month.

The cupcakes were incredibly easy to make. The recipe calls for peeled, finely chopped clementines or tangerines, but I think any flavorful seedless orange would work. I took a hint from the reviews, and used mandarins from Trader Joe’s and left the thin skins on them. Rather than chop them by hand, I whirred them in my bullet blender for a few seconds until it was slightly chunky pulp. These cupcakes are vegan, but they don’t take any fancy ingredients other than fresh citrus. Vegan or not, they’re the best orange cake I’ve ever tasted.

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Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie

Our baby is one month old! Recently my life has been changing diapers, nursing, and napping. It’s a good thing that I stocked my freezer with meals and all the bread I made last December, because we’ve gone through just about all of it. I don’t mind emptying my freezer or taking care of Amelia at all, but it does mean that I haven’t had two hands available to do cooking or typing/blogging. As baby gets bigger, spending time in the kitchen or on the computer should become a little easier, and I can keep updating this blog!

The only thing I made before last Saturday was baked oatmeal. It was very quick and easy to make in the evenings, and I only made it to streamline my breakfast during the week. My friend Jen reminded me that last Saturday was Pi Day. Was I going to make a special pie for a super-special Pi Day, since it was actually 3/14/15, the extended digits of Pi? It was a shame not to make a pie, since Alex would be home all day and able to watch baby. I hadn’t planned to make anything elaborate, but then I saw that Smitten Kitchen had posted the recipe for a Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie, and although it was more complicated than the super-easy Key Lime Pie I made recently, I couldn’t resist it.

This pie wasn’t too difficult overall, but it was a little more involved than I probably should have tackled with a 4-week old at home. When you have the time to make it, though, it’s totally worth it. As you can see, it didn’t last long in this house.

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Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones

Alex got me the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas, and although I’ve only read a little of it, it’s a great cookbook so far. I already talked about the Maple Bacon Biscuits that I made from it. My second recipe attempted from it was Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones, which are also featured on the Smitten Kitchen website. I was excited to make these scones because I bought an incredibly excessive amount of ricotta cheese for our Christmas lasagna, and since I don’t like cheese that much, I had no idea what to do with it other than find recipes that incorporated it into baked goods. Plus, this recipe has raspberries (which I love) and whole wheat flour (which makes me feel healthy).

These are very good scones – good enough that I made 2 more batches of them later on, one of which is in the freezer, waiting to be baked once baby is here. Now if I can just figure out what to do with the other container of unopened ricotta cheese in my refrigerator.

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Vanilla Sugar Cookies

This week I really wanted cookies, but didn’t want super-easy bar cookies or brownies (which I’ve made often lately) or chocolate chip cookies (ditto). I recently bookmarked a lot of sugar cookie recipes from King Arthur Flour, and quickly chose to make Vanilla Sugar Cookies, a straightforward recipe that seemed like it would make roughly what I wanted, without rolling out and cutting the dough.

I’m glad that I made these cookies. They were exactly what I wanted this week.

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Key Lime Pie

Did you know that January 23 was National Pie Day? (Not to be mistaken with Pi Day, which is 3/14, but can be celebrated equally well with pie.) The only reason I know is because I looked up US food holidays last month when Alex told me that it was National Cookie Day (which naturally prompted me to make chocolate chip cookies).

A pie holiday, plus a recent post from Smitten Kitchen, spurred me to make Key Lime Pie on Friday. I love making Key Lime Pie; it’s always very quick and simple to bake. I’ve always from the recipe from the Joy of Baking. This time, I mainly followed the Smitten Kitchen recipe, although I found the differences between the recipes to be minimal. Alex and I were very happy with the results. The pie disappeared very quickly.

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2014 Recap + favorites

Often I ring in the New Year with a celebratory beverage or breakfast recipe. Not this year. After the past few weeks of cooking and baking, I am taking it easy to start off 2015.

Most people do reflection posts at the end of the year, not on New Year’s Day. However, I couldn’t reflect while I was in the midst of marathon baking, and besides, I can’t plan that far in advance during the month of December. This means I have to reflect in January. It was on January 1 of last year that I asserted my resolution for 2014 – to make 50 different bread recipes during the year: 1 per week, with a few weeks off for good measure. I came up with guidelines and largely stuck with them. During the first half of the year, too, I had a good schedule; I posted a bread recipe every week, mostly on Wednesdays, and then posted something not-bread on the weekends. I loved having that schedule, and felt like I was making both good bread and good progress.

During mid-year, early in my pregnancy when I was very tired (2-3 hour naps on Saturdays and Sundays = very awesome, but not great for baking) and a little stressed out from the intensity and volume of work at work, I gave myself a little time off. I’m not disappointed that I did, but I did lose the rhythm that I’d developed. I wasn’t thrilled with my progress when autumn came around, but I wasn’t behind. But once Alex got this job in New Jersey and it was clear we would move, I had to cut back. How could I keep making bread when I knew I had to pack and move an entire house, train a replacement at work, find a doctor in NJ ASAP, and deal with all the other hassles that came with moving?

I’m still very proud of myself that I made my goal of 50 bread recipes, even if I had to make it up at the end. I made 12 of the breads in December – not bad, if I say so myself?

Did I get out of it what I wanted? Yes and no. I made lots of delicious recipes, and even taught myself a few new things. However, I was not always as mindful of what I was doing as I hoped to be. Sometimes I made recipes just to make things (which I hate doing), and sometimes my breads and posts were uninspired. Sometimes it was difficult to find bread that I was super-excited about each weekend.

As I looked through The Bread Baker’s Apprentice last weekend, it was clear that there were still more bread recipes that I wanted to make. So I’m not going to give up bread-making just yet. I expect to still make a few more things in January. But my primary goal for 2015 is to survive becoming a new parent with my sanity intact – and hopefully continue to post a few new recipes even after baby makes her appearance.

Last week I was asked if I had any favorite recipes that I’d made. I wasn’t sure at the time. Looking at the year in review, I’ve listed a few of my favorites below.

*****

Hands down, my favorite was the Lazy Pizza Dough from Smitten Kitchen. Since first making that dough in July, I made pizza at least half a dozen times before we moved in October, just because I didn’t feel like doing anything else for dinner. You should make this.

This morning, we started out the day right with the Maple Bacon Biscuits that I froze earlier this week. I highly recommend that recipe, as they were easy to make and were just about everything I could want in a biscuit.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Swirl Bread is a loaf of bread that I sometimes forget about, but it’s really very good (and healthy, too). Other favorite loaves include Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread and a new favorite, Multigrain Bread Extraordinare.

For rustic bread, the Pain a l’Ancienne was both easy and very delicious.

The Monkey Bread I made was still really pretty good. I also think that the Cinnamon Rolls I made recently will be amazing with the adjustments I added to the recipe (but haven’t had the time to try out). Also talking about cinnamon – Cinnamon Bread is still one of my old favorites, and is super-simple in that it is a quick bread and contains NO YEAST.

Chocolate Chip Cookie-filled Pretzels were probably the most different thing I tried this year. Croissants were the most difficult technique-wise. I’m very glad that I tried both!

Pretzel Bites

Today, I finally made my 50th bread recipe this year! Overall, this was such a fun resolution I made. I am a little sad to have this be over, but at the same time, I am looking forward to a little more down time. Since I’ve moved, and especially during the last two weeks, the majority of what I have done is bake. With all the goodies I made at Christmas, plus catching up on my bread, I’ve put in some full-day sessions in my kitchen. I really, really like my new kitchen, but still…

The recipe for Pretzel Bites, has been on my to-make list for most of the year. It was always going to be my fall-back recipe when I needed to make bread but didn’t want something too involved, for when I didn’t need toast for a week but just needed an evening snack instead. I must have forgotten about the recipe at some point, or else surely I would have made it during the middle of the year at one of those times when nothing else inspired me. Luckily, something reminded me of it, and I decided it would be a great snack for New Year’s Eve, as well as an easy recipe to wind down my year of bread.

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