Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lovin' the Foodie Community

In the past 10 months of blogging I have had the opportunity to "meet" some amazing people.

I got an email recently from someone who was inspired by my blog to start her own (holy crap that's awesome!) and it got me thinking.

It is no secret that food brings people together- whether it's for the holidays, a celebration or simply having friends over for dinner- people love food. And there's a reason why everyone finds themselves standing around in the kitchen: it's the heart of the home.

The food blog community is like a huge virtual kitchen that allows people to come together over fabulous dishes and delectable desserts, discuss kitchen fails and revel in culinary success, share stories and offer support during difficult times. It is one of the most amazing things I've ever been a part of. I consider myself lucky to be a part of the foodie community where inspiration is just a click away and a passion for food can be shared among friends.

Just as friends in the 'real world' like play games, virtual friends do too. This past week I was "tagged" by two of my foodie friends in a large game of Foodie Tag, leaving me with 16 questions to answer about myself...having just gotten back from traveling for work though and lots more to do around the house, I'm going to cheat a little and combine lists, picking out my faves.

Some of these questions are from Jason at Ancient Fire Wine.. Jason and his wife have their own brand of wine that seem to be winning contests all over New England and I'm hoping one day I'll be lucky enough to receive a bottle in the mail -fingers crossed.

The other questions come from Lindsey at Gingerbread about delicious sweets. She gives me a run for my money :)

1. Desert Island dish. What dish will you take to survive?
Peanut butter and banana sandwiches- so simple, kinda healthy? and delicious.

2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I studied abroad in England during college.. of all the places I've traveled I could live in London forever.

3. Who is the best person to have in the kitchen with you and why?
Mountain Man is a wonder in the kitchen. I love watching him a work- he's very passionate about cooking and a we make a good team :)

4. What's the best thing about having a food blog?
I think my intro summed it up.. the people, the support, the inspiration, and getting to be creative.

5. What is your biggest food blog challenge and how are you working to overcome it?
Photography is something I'm having to learn as I go.. I've got the books and a new camera so now its just adventures and lots of trial and error!

6. What food blogger would you like to meet? And why?
Joy the Baker hands down...she inspired me to start my own blog and she never ceases to amaze me with all her delicious food and witty sense of humor!

7. What item do you consider a must have in the kitchen?
My kitchen aid mixer is my right hand man in the kitchen.. without it I would be lost and my forearms would be really sore.

8. Have you ever traveled long distance just to go eat?
We've been known to drive at least an hour or so for good food.. when it's good its good!

To keep the tag going I'm sending along a few questions to some of my faves- there are so many that have already been tagged and I so many I want to tag!

Tag your it!

Marisa at Cook's Book
Jessie at The Messie Kitchen
Evan at The Wannabe Chef
Victoria at Mission: Food
Sarah at Baking Serendipity
Sara at CaffeIna

1. What made you start your blog?
2. What is your dream job and does it involve food?
3. When did you first start cooking/baking and what made you start?
4. What is the best thing you have ever eaten?
5. If you could only keep one in your life and completely remove the other: cheese or chocolate?
6. How many hours do you spend each day looking at food?
7. One dessert you can't live without?
8. What food blogger would you like to meet? (Let's keep this one going, why not! ha)

I also want to let everyone know about Nancy's new recipe round up at Spicie Foodie : Your Best Recipes. Nancy is going to be hosting a monthly recipe roundup of your favorites and it's super easy to join! So be on the lookout for one of these lovely badges and join the fun next month!

And I also wanted to say thanks to Gina over at What's for Dinner Across State Lines for giving me this means so much to me to get recognition like this especially from someone whose own sweets are always delicious looking!

She also left me a list of questions to answer, so I included a couple in the list above because I need to get back to making this house look like a home, but I wanted to make sure I thanked Gina because she is an amazing blogger.

Phew! That was a long and wordy post, but I had to make sure I got to everything I had been missing while I was traveling last week. I promise I'll have some good looking treats for you this week!

Happy Baking!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apple Cider Doughnuts & Apple(Cider)Sauce


I've been seeing Doughnut recipes popping up everywhere lately so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that they were this month's Daring Bakers' Challenge.

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Lori allowed us to be as creative as we liked, giving us the option of the type of doughnut (cake or yeast), the toppings and the fillings. 

I was surprised when I informed MM of this month's challenge and he asked for baked doughnuts instead of fried. I didn't complain though, especially since it would be much easier, less time consuming and not to mention a little healthier. Only problem was that I didn't have a donut pan...and since you can't find those in stores I had to order one and had to use a cookie pop pan in the mean time.

The first time I saw this doughnut recipe on Squirrel Bakes I knew it was a keeper and immediately printed it out. I had to make a few minor adjustments, but boy are they good.. Thank you Debbie for a wonderful recipe!

I actually made these doughnuts after spending the first night in our new house and they turned out to be the perfect breakfast for a day full of moving. I paired them with some homemade Apple(Cider)Sauce.

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts
Original Recipe at Squirrel Bakes
Oven: 325 Bake Time: 20 minutes
Makes 12 doughnuts

2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 egg (or 1 TBS flaxseed meal and 3 TBS water)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple (1 apple) peeled, finely chopped and then pureed 
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider
1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
3 TBS veggie oil
cinnamon and sugar (for coating)

Preheat oven to 325. Spray doughnut pan and set aside (if you don't have a doughnut pan you can use a muffin pan or a muffin top pan like I did)
In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. 
In a large bowl, combine egg, brown sugar, apple puree, cider, yogurt and oil. Mix until well blended.
Add flour mixture in small amounts and mix until just incorporated.
Spoon into pan. 
Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

While doughnuts are baking prepare shallow bowl with cinnamon and sugar. Immediately after baking, place doughnuts in bowl and coat evenly on both sides. 
Serve with a heaping spoonful of the Apple(Cider)Sauce.

1 cup apple, peeled and pureed* keep chunky
1/4 cup apple cider
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar

In a sauce pan, heat apple puree and apple cider over medium heat till boiling. 
Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg.
Add sugar and stir until boiling resumes.
Allow to boil for about 5 minutes and remove from heat.
Place in refrigerator for a few minutes to thicken.

Happy Baking!

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Off with her head!" Queen of Hearts Cake

This week I'm back on the east coast (for work), basking in the cool weather that Rhode Island always promises to bring. I knew I wouldn't be able to go to RI without taking some extra time to see my loves in Newport though, so I left early Saturday morning to spend one awesome night with my friends- catching up, laughing too hard, eating way to much delicious food and dancing the night away.

One of our fave restaurants Salvation Cafe.. 
My friend Liss takes the greatest pics.

But before I could leave to enjoy this good quality friend time, I had to finish the project that I had started earlier in the week.

This cake went to the same couple that requested the Strawberry Cake.. only this time the decorations were a little more elaborate and took a little more time. The couple was hosting a Halloween/Birthday party and they wanted a cake that represented Jenny's character: The Queen of Hearts.

The cake was my Favorite White Cake filled with layers of Chocolate Ganache and Strawberry Filling

"Off with her Head!"

Happy Baking!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friends & Strawberry Cake

I've said it before and I'll keep on saying it.. I have some amazing friends.

I seriously find myself in awe of how supportive my friends are of my blog and my passion for baking/cake decorating.

Case in point, this birthday cake.

The girls at work are ridiculously supportive of my adventures, probably because they get to reap a majority of the benefits from my baking endeavors, but in any case they're awesome.

Last week I got a phone call from Fi letting me know she had been doing a little marketing for me and possibly had someone who wanted a cake for his wife's birthday.  After talking with him he wanted not only one cake, but three! A simple cake for her actual birthday, a theme cake for a Halloween/Birthday party and cupcakes.

This is the first cake of the three projects. Simple in nature, but fabulous in flavor. I realize that strawberries are a little out of season, but that's the joy of frozen fruits- plus it's what they requested so how could I say no?

Strawberry Cake
Oven: 350 Bake time: 30 minutes
Makes 2 or 3 8inch cakes

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 package strawberry jello
4 eggs, separated
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup flour, sifted
1 cup milk
1/2 cup pureed strawberries 

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease and flour two 8 inch pans and set aside.
In a large bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add jello and mix until incorporated (this lends for pretty in pink cake)
Add egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition.
In a small bowl whisk flour, baking soda and salt.
Alternate flour and milk, incorporating after each addition- beginning and ending with flour.
Using a spatula mix in pureed strawberries.
In separate bowl, whip egg whites until slightly stiff peaks form.
Fold egg whites slowly into batter.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes- check with toothpick and adjust time if necessary.
Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool in pan for at least 20 minutes before removing cake from pans to complete cooling.

Frost with this..

Whipped Buttercream Icing
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup crisco
8 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup whipped cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup whipped cream

In a large bowl beat butter and crisco until smooth and creamy.
Slowly add powdered sugar, 1/4 cup of whipped cream and vanilla. Beat on low until incorporated and then increase speed to medium/medium high until light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, beat whipped cream until stiff peaks form.
Fold whipped cream into icing until combined.
*This addition of whipped cream will lend for a lighter buttercream that is still stiff enough to decorate with.

Happy Baking!

I'll be decorating the themed cake tomorrow night.. so be on the look out!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake with Biscoff Cookie Crust

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the lovely people at Lotus Bakeries (they’re the ones responsible for the delicious little cookie we have all grown to love whenever flying Delta Airlines)

I absolutely love Biscoff cookies- whenever I fly Delta I always ask the flight attendant for extra to take home with me.. so you can imagine my excitement when I received an email followed by this package...

 Lotus Bakeries was way too generous- not only did I get a whole box of Biscoff cookies to enjoy, but now I have some little individual packages to hand out to some lucky trick or treaters! Did I mention they're low in calories and sugar? Especially compared to candy! Your welcome, parents :)

My love for these caramelized treats didn't stop there about this cheesecake?

While browsing the internet the other night I came across this Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake and mid cookie crunch, it hit me! How yum would Biscoff cookies be as a crust!? If you’re not lucky enough to get a free box of cookies like me, you can always go to your local Walgreens and pick some up or order a box online directly from Biscoff.

Now, if you’re a regular follower of this blog you’ll notice that I’ve never attempted a cheesecake before. To be honest, I can normally give or take this particular dessert, but this Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake may have changed my mind.

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake with Biscoff Cookie Crust
adapted from Right @ Home

Biscoff Cookie Crust
2 cups crushed Biscoff Cookies (about 1 ½ sleeves put through a food processer)
6 TBS butter, melted
¼ cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix crushed cookies, melted butter and sugar until blended.
Press cookie mixture into pan, pressing cookies up along sides about ½ to 1 inch.
Bake crust for 8 minutes and remove from oven.

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Filling
1 ¾ cup Pumpkin Pie Mix (not canned pumpkin)
3 packages cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar *optional if you want a sweeter cake- I opted FOR the sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 TBS cornstarch

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese on low to med-low until creamy.
Add pumpkin and sugar- beat on medium until combined.
Beat in eggs, one at a time incorporating after each addition.
Mix in vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and corn starch.
Pour pumpkin filling into prepared crust, smooth top.
Place cheesecake in oven and bake for 1 hour.
At about 50 minutes check to see if cheesecake is done*.
Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for at least an hour before refrigerating.
About 30 minutes into cooling, run knife around edge of cake to prevent cracking while cooling.
Allow cheesecake to cool for at least 3 hours in fridge (cover top with saran wrap), but for best results refrigerate over night before eating.

How to tell a Cheesecake is done:
1. The first indication of a "done" cheesecake are the sides- look for a lightly browned edge pulling away from pan.
2. Tap side of pan with knife or spoon or slightly shake cake. If cheesecake jiggles like jello (in one motion) then it is done. If you let it sit in the oven anymore it’ll become overdone.
3. Lightly press the top of the cake feeling for firmness.

For more tips on cheese-caking check out Baking911. They have everything from how to tell if a cheesecake is done and what to do if your cheesecake cracks to how to best cut a cheesecake... I found their tips extremely helpful, especially for a cheesecake newbie like myself!

 Happy Baking!

A little update on our move for those of you interested.. We got all moved in this weekend thanks to MM's family and while MM is busy hanging pictures and setting up closets, I'm staying busy in my new huge kitchen! Only down fall is we're still trying to get the internet working at our house..that means my posts might not be as frequent until we get it all figured out! I have a ton of recipes waiting for you though so don't worry :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Bright New Kitchen and a Flourless Almond Cake

We're moving!

Just to the next town over, but still!

I'm going from this kitchen... this kitchen!
Look at all those cabinets.. and all the natural light?!

I'm in heaven.

Just one more time in case you missed it...

this mess...

to two ovens!

My current mixing spot...

to a perfect little place for my Kitchen Aid!

When Mountain Man found this house on Craigslist, I wasn't impressed with the lake views, enormous backyard or two car garage. Nope, the first thing I saw were the two ovens in the corner of the kitchen, the perfect spot for my kitchen aid mixer, the ample counter space, numerous cabinets and the pantry the size of our current kitchen.

So if I'm absent from the blog world for a few days you now know why. 

No, I'm not busy moving things..

I'll be doing kitchen angels in the center of the room for at least the next week, basking in the ample space now available to me, while Mountain Man gets everything moved in.

But before I go I will leave you with some yummy little Flourless Almond Cakes (Gluten-Free) 

The first batch was an epic fail...

I was so excited to use my new mini bundt pan and then FAIL- the cakes stuck completely to the bottom... leaving me with a mess.

Then I made a second batch..

They may not fit perfectly in their cute little cupcake liners, but I promise you they still taste delicious and they're flourless! Perfect for all our gluten intolerant sufferers out there.

I would normally make this cake in an 8-inch cake pan or springform, but I was sending these to my Aunt so I wanted to make sure they would travel well.

Flourless Almond Cake
adapted from

1 1/3 cup almond meal or finely ground almonds
1/3 cup honey
3 eggs, separated
dash of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350. You have your choice of pan: Grease and flour an 8-inch cake pan, spring form pan, mini bundt pan, or line cupcakes (makes 12).
In a large bowl, mix/beat almond meal, honey, extracts and egg yolks.
In a small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
Gently fold egg whites into almond mixture until just incorporated.
Fill pan of choice with batter and transfer to oven for 15-20 minutes. Test with toothpick.
Begin to make glaze *optional
Once baked, transfer cake to cooling rack.
If using the glaze: While cake is still warm poke the top lightly with a fork. Pour glaze over cake- pressing down lightly so glaze soaks into cake.

Amaretto Glaze
1/3 cup Amaretto
1 cup powdered sugar

In a small bowl, whisk Amaretto and powdered sugar until smooth.

If you're down with using alcohol the Amaretto glaze really lends a wonderful sweet almond flavor to the cake. And despite the failure of the first batch, Mountain Man and I still enjoyed the remnants of cake soaked in the glaze.. I hope my Aunt enjoys them as much as we did!

Well folks, we've got a lot to do this week...I'll be back in a few days with some fabulous recipes for you.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes for 2


In our tiny little apartment, dessert is never a matter of if we should have it, it is more a matter of what are we having.

Between the counter top, the cupboard, the fridge and the freezer, there is always something sweet to be found. A diabetic wouldn't be able to survive a day in my kitchen.. sugar is everywhere! 

Lucky for me (and MM as well) I've discovered the art of portion control.  I'm always craving something sweet, but I can usually satisfy it in a bite or two... on most occasions. 

This is where the art of creating desserts for two is key.

I have had this recipe in my arsenal for a while now, but the original serves 8. We absolutely do NOT need 8 servings of this chocolate lava goodness, plus I don't even own 8 ramekins. So after a few scribbles of basic division, I got the recipe down to 2.  

Two perfect little portions of Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes.

Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes
adapted from recipe found on
Oven: 400 Bake time: 12 minutes
Two servings

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 TBS butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for garnish
1 egg
3 TBS AP flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBS nutella (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Spray 2 ramekins with cooking spray, place on baking sheet and set aside.
In a bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter in microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth.
Add powdered sugar and mix until incorporated.
Add egg and whisk until smooth.
Stir in flour and vanilla extract until smooth.
Pour batter into prepared ramekins and transfer baking pan to oven.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Allow to sit for 1 minute before inverting onto plate.

Optional garnish: Place a dollop of nutella on top of each cake and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Mountain Man finished his off with a scoop of ice cream as well!

Surprise your significant other..
Impress that special person..
Change up the typical bowl of ice cream..
Make date night extra yummy..
but most importantly..

Happy Baking!

ps. sorry for the quality of pics.. it was late and I wanted to eat this while it was still warm- Can ya blame me!?

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger"...Brownies

One of the best parts of Halloween?

The candy. 

Hands down.

Costumes are cool and all, but it's the abundance of candy that really makes me giddy.  Isle after isle filled with bags of candy... its like sweet tooth heaven!

We don't even get trick or treaters, but I still buy at least 2 large bags of candy "just in case."

For whatever reason, Butterfingers call to me around this time of year. I know, I know they're available all year long...but there's just something about that crisp-ity crunch-ity peanut buttery candy that just speaks to me every October.

We had a barbecue at work this week and I, of course, was tasked to bring dessert.  I wanted to make brownies and then I remembered the Butterfinger Cocoa Mix that I saved from Mountain Man's cabinets when we were moving him out here.  After a quick trip to the grocery for some extra Butterfingers I went to whipping up a batch of the best brownies I've ever made.

The brownie base is Jen's (from Beantown Baker) 'go to' brownie recipe. The texture and flavor of these brownies are fantastic.. I now know why she returns to this recipe every time.

Best Brownie Recipe
from Beantown Baker originally from King Arthur's Flour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder* optional
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips* optional

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 11x13 baking pan.
In small sauce pan, melt butter. Remove from heat and add sugar. Return to heat and stir for about 2 minutes before removing again (this is what gives the brownies their shine).
Transfer butter mixture to a large bowl. Mix in cocoa, salt, baking powder, cocoa mix* and vanilla.
Whisk in eggs one at a time until smooth.
Slowly add flour and mix until just combined.
Fold in Butterfinger bits.
Pour into greased pan and transfer to oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
Allow to cool before serving. 
If possible cool overnight. (this is something I just learned, but it actually made a big difference!)

Butterfinger variety
swap 2 cups of chocolate chips for 2 cups chopped Butterfingers (possibly 3 cups)
2 packages of Butterfinger Cocoa Mix 

I brought a majority of the brownies to the office, but I wanted to keep a few at home for a photo shoot after work. While munching on these at the end of the barbecue, I was a little disappointed with the lack of Butterfinger flavor.. the brownies were delicious, but I was really hoping for more of a peanut butter pop.

And then I read about making your own Butterfinger candy and I couldn't believe my eyes. 

Candy corn + peanut butter = Butterfinger filling

You're probably thinking the same thing I did... what?! no way!? how does that even work?

Don't worry. I'm still trying to figure this out...but trust me, it works.

So after their original photo shoot, we did a little wardrobe change. While dinner was in the oven, I tried this homemade version of Butterfinger filling with the intention of spreading a layer on top of the brownies and then covering them with a final layer of milk chocolate.

I am still trying to wrap my head around how candy corn and peanut butter make this filling, but it was a wonderful addition to an already fabulous brownie.

Seriously, four brownies just weren't time I'm going to slather the entire batch with this Butterfinger topping.

Oh and in case you were wondering...
Butterfinger Filling
equal parts candy corn and peanut butter (1:1)
Melt candy corn in microwave. Stopping to stir every 20 seconds until completely melted.
Stir in peanut butter and mix until smooth. 

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Caramel Apple Crostata

There are a handful of blogs that I check religiously.. its true, I'm Evan and I'm a blog junky.

I just love reading about everyone's adventures in the kitchen, their beautiful photos, inspiring's addicting; It's my little escape every afternoon while at work. While the rest of my office spends their extra time checking out facebook and ESPN, I'm on foodbuzz checking out blogs.

I'm often inspired by many of the bloggers I follow..I'll see a dish and think 'Oooh I could do that and change a little of this or a little of that' and voila! a recipe is created.

A couple of days ago I did just this.. I found myself drooling over Chef Dennis' Apple and Peach Crostatas at More than a Mount Full and couldn't stop thinking about them all afternoon. I had never made a crostada and he was just the inspiration I needed. I didn't want to completely copy him though, so I found my own recipe and changed the ingredients a bit.

In sticking with the Fall theme I made Caramel Apple Crostadas.

I'm a big fan of individual desserts and didn't want to worry about leftovers, so I opted to make two individual crostadas instead of a large one. This recipe is for a 9-10inch crostada, so I used half the dough to make two smaller versions and saved the other half of dough in the freezer for later.

Thank you, Chef Dennis, for your never ending inspiration in the kitchen :)

Caramel Apple Crostata
Bake time: 25 min Oven: 425
Makes 1 9-10in or 4 small crostadas

Crostata Crust
2 cups AP flour
2 TBS sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, cold and cubed
1 egg
4-6 TBS ice cold water
1/2 tsp cinnamon* optional

In a food processor, add flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt- pulse a couple of times to mix.
Add cold butter, pulsing until just combined.
Add egg and pulse to incorporate
Slowly add water, pulsing until crumbly/clumpy consistency is reached- add more water if dough doesn't start coming together.
Turn out dough on lightly floured surface and continue to knead with hands for a few minutes (the consistency will be much like pie dough).
Form dough into disc, cover with saran wrap and place in fridge for about 30 minutes.
In the mean time, start making apple filling.

Apple Filling
(Measurements for 2 individual crostatas in parentheses)
5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used 1 1/2-2 apples)
2 tsp cinnamon (1 tsp)
1/2 cup sugar (1/4 cup sugar)
1/4 cup brown sugar (2 TBS brown sugar)
8-10 pieces of caramel, cut into smaller chunks (4-5 pieces)

Place prepared apple slices in a bowl.
Add cinnamon and sugar.
Mixing with hands, evenly coat apples with cinnamon and sugar.
Fold in pieces of caramel.

Preheat oven to 425 and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove dough from fridge.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into 9-10 inch disc.
*If making individual crostatas, cut dough in half- wrap second half with saran wrap/foil and place in freezer. Cut dough again, making 2 smaller crostatas- forming two discs about 4-5 inches wide.
Place circles of dough on prepared baking pan.

Pile apple/caramel mixture in center of dough.
Fold dough over apple mixture about 1-2 inches. Pinch your folds to seal dough.
Brush exposed crust with half and half or milk.
*Remember that your crostata is not going to look perfect... it's supposed to be rustic!

Place crostatas in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until apples/caramel start oozing.
Allow to cool for a few minutes before devouring!
Serve with vanilla ice cream or frozen whipped cream.

Happy Baking!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Baked Pumpkin French Toast


Fall has finally made its way to Texas.

Every morning this weekend we woke up to a slight crisp in the air and even though it got warmer as the day went on, the evening still allowed for jeans, a light sweater and open window sleeping.

This weekend we had some friends visiting and spent the majority of weekend in Austin- complete with a Daniel Tosh show (absolutely hilarious), a burrito from Juan in a Million, a stroll down S. Congress Street and paddle boarding on Town Lake, all before heading back home to spend Saturday evening two-stepping at a local dance hall and sippin' on $2 beers.

Excited to finally indulge in the great Fall flavor that is pumpkin, as well as feed our guests something delicious before they made their way back to Dallas, I decided to try out a recipe for Baked Pumpkin French Toast.

What's great about this dish is that it can be made the night before, making for a quick throw in the oven kind of breakfast the following morning. 

Baked Pumpkin French Toast
recipe adapted from CookiePie
Oven: 350 Bake time: 35 minutes 
Serves 4-6

4 TBS unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBS maple syrup
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin pie filling
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
5 cups cubed bread, french loaf

Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray. 
In a small sauce pan mix butter and brown sugar over medium heat, whisking until smooth.
Remove from heat and add maple syrup, mixing until combined.
Pour mixture into baking dish and spread evenly along bottom.
In a large bowl, whisk together half and half, milk, pumpkin, eggs, salt and spices.
Add bread cubes to pumpkin mixture and toss lightly to coat evenly.
Pour bread mixture over top butter-sugar mixture and spread evenly.
*if you're not letting it sit over night allow the bread to sit in the pumpkin mixture for about 15 minutes before transferring to the baking dish.
*if you're storing overnight, cover dish with aluminum foil and place in the fridge. 
Transfer to oven and bake for 35 minutes- until custard sets.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Just one of the many pumpkin recipes to come!

Happy Baking!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bread Pudding Cups

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, the wonderful folks at Nature's Pride bread offered a coupon good for one free package of their delicious bread and challenged Tastemakers to come up with a unique recipe using their product.

Although this bread can easily be enjoyed via a healthy turkey sandwich, a hearty grilled cheese, or a delicious slice of cinnamon toast,  I opted to use my loaf for a twist on an American classic- the PB&J.

Gourmet sandwiches may come and go, but a good ole fashioned Peanut Butter and Jelly will get me every time... especially on 100% Whole Wheat Bread.

Another thing I love? bread pudding.

So when I got the fancy idea to combine the two, I just knew it would be good.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bread Pudding Cups
Oven: 350 Bake time: 20-25 minutes
Makes 10-12 individual cups

1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup half and half 
2 eggs
1/2 cup peanut butter, warmed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup grape or strawberry jelly
6-8 slices of Nature's Pride bread, cubed (I got about 2 muffins for every slice of bread)

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.
Cut bread into small pieces or cubes, fill each muffin cup.
In a small bowl, microwave jelly for about 20 seconds or until it becomes liquid.
Pour 1 or 2 spoonfuls of liquified jelly over each muffin cup of bread and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk whole milk, half and half, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.
In a small bowl microwave peanut butter for about 20 seconds.
Slowly add warmed peanut butter to milk mixture and whisk until well blended.
Pour about 1/4 cup of peanut butter mixture over each cup of bread. 
Gently press bread cubes down into muffin pan, making sure they soak up all the peanut butter mixture. 
Fill a large baking dish with about an inch of water to create a water bath.
Place muffin pan inside baking dish and transfer to oven.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until no liquid appears when the top of the bread pudding is gently pressed.
Remove muffin pan from water bath and allow to set/cool for about 15-20 minutes.
Remove bread puddings from pan and serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.  

Happy Baking!

 Sorry for another peanut butter recipe, but I couldn't resist!