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Tag Archives: dessert

The Apples are Here

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I was finally able to go apple picking this past weekend, and take a dear friend with me whose never yet experienced the joy of freshly picked apples, and the frustration when you cannot find one.

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Needless to say we didn’t give up, and ended up with some lovely apples. Not to mention some lovely snacks along the way. Nothing perks up the spirits like cider donuts and apple burritos.

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Instead of the traditional desserts I decided to start cooking, and working with, my apples in a savory way first. I can always make my apple butter and pies later. That being said, I introduce my apple stuffed pork chops and roasted potatoes with apples and halloumi.

Apple Stuffed Pork Chops (for one)

  • individual pork chop, approx an inch thick, and cut almost through halfways
  • half a small apple, sliced, with skin on
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup dry vermouth
  • 4 mushrooms (approx) sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp of roughly chopped fresh dill, optional (for garnish)

Start off my warming your skillet with oil and butter. You can always omit the butter, but I like the flavors of browned butter with the meat juices, it makes for a deeper flavored glaze. Stuff the pork chops with apples and place in skillet.

Make sure not to cut halfways all the way across as the top  meat piece won’t stay on well when you’re stuffing and searing the meat.

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As soon as the chops are in the pan season the top side with allspice, salt and pepper, and garlic powder. Cook for about 5-7 min a side. When flipping over for a second time, add in the mushrooms and vermouth. Cover, and let cook down for another 6 minutes.

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Uncover, and allow to sit with heat still on for 3 minutes to let some of the juices evaporate.

Serve with roasted potatoes and apples and a sprinkling of dill.

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Roasted Potatoes with Apples and Halloumi Cheese

  • Approx 4 yellow potatoes, cut into chunks
  • two apples cut into chunks with skin on (same sized chunks as the potatoes please)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • garlic cloves , crushed (as many as you like, I used about four)
  • granulated onion powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • approx 6 slices of halloumi cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix all ingredients except for Halloumi, in an oven safe container. Top with Halloumi and whatever herbs you find fit. I didn’t add any but rosemary and thyme or even some marjoram would be nice here. Please use fresh as dried wouldn’t work well in the oven and dry out too  much.

Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes unless everything is cooked through and apples are very soft and almost caramelized.

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Berry and Stone Fruit Galette

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I went blueberry picking last Saturday. It was short, and my friend and I quickly realized that we had gone too late in the season (good, ripe, berries were few and far between). I did manage to get about 3 lbs though. And although I won’t be making my blueberry jam again this year, I will be using it to make a various, and large, assortment of baked goods. I think that’s only fair.

I realized that I was in the mood for pie but not for the double crust prep, nor the extra steps to ensure the pie was cooked all the way through, and the berries would be soft, but not too juicy and fall apart. Blueberry is very hard to make. I saw my friend make one with her blueberries and it was a mess. I mean, she did great, but I don’t think I could have that sort of patience. Instead, I picked up some raspberries and nectarines and decided a galette (or crostata, as some say) would suffice.

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Berry and Stone Fruit Galette

  • 2 small nectarines, or any stone fruit of your choice such as one large peach, or 2-3 apricots
  • 8 oz of raspberries (one of those containers at the super market)
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • teaspoon of butter
  • teaspoon of vanilla
  • teaspoon of Australian Pink Salt ( just got this today, from Williams-Sonoma, use any salt you like)
  • 1 store bought pie crust
  • 1 egg (for egg wash, optional)

In a medium pot, over low heat, melt the butter. In a bowl mix the berries and brown sugar. Add berries to pot and stir in vanilla. Cook for about 15 minutes or so on low heat to allow the juices to escape. Add salt, and turn off heat. Allow to cool for about an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare your baking sheet by adding and greasing your parchment paper.

Roll out your down, either homemade or store bought.

With a slotted spoon, scoop out the berries into the center of the dough. Slice up the stone fruit and layer on top of the berries. Fold over the dough leaving an opening in the center of the pie. I like to put a round piece of stone fruit in the center, almost like an eye. Crack an egg in a bowl and quickly whisk. Brush over the crust of the pie and in the center. If you like, you can also sprinkle some raw sugar over the crust for added crispiness.

Bake for 15-17 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to sit for a good 15 minutes before transferring as the berry juices will not be stable. Some of my mine leaked out, but that wasn’t not a problem, the point of this sort of pie, is that it’s rustic, and a few small holes in the crust, where juices leaked out, are just fine.

 

Enjoy~

Chocolate Chip Cookies of a Lifetime

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Going along with this weeks earlier post on tea time and scones, morning coffee is not the same without something sweet to munch on. Sure I can go with drinking a cup of coffee after I’m done with my cereal, but a nice bit of sugar right before I leave the door sometimes gets me through the harder times of the day. These cookies are perfect for that. Chewy and gooey and made in less than an hour, I couldn’t ask for me.

Granted, I’ve made chocolate chip cookies before, however, I’m still searching for the perfect, and the best recipe possible. The one that should be my go-to recipe for birthdays and potlucks and lonely Saturday nights, and I think this might be it.

Cookies taken directly from The Little White Kitchen

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Chocolate Chip Cookies 

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (or hard margarine), room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 white sugar
  • 2 eggs , room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla (i love vanilla)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (you can also add nuts, toffee bits, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

I n a mixing bowl, cream the butter and the sugars until fluffy (making sure your butter is room temperature really helps the process go smoothly). Add both eggs and mix until incorporated. Mix in your vanilla.
In a separate bowl, use a whisk to mix together your flour, salt and baking soda. Pour your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients and mix well. Add the chocolate chips and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Spoon the cookie dough into tablespoon sized balls (about 3 inches apart) onto your cookie sheet (do not grease the cookie sheets, but feel free to use parchment paper if you don’t like to wash pans afterwards).

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes (depending on the size of the cookies and whether or not you like them well done)
on the center rack of your oven.

Remove cookie sheets from the oven and place them on cooling racks (do not try to remove the cookies at this point or you’ll end up with a gooey mess).

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Let cool for about 10 minutes on the cookie sheets and then remove the cookies and place them on a cooling rack.

Eat the cookies whenever you need a pick me up, or the world gets you down.

Walnut & Pear Jam Cookies and What I Did With My January

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Hello All!

It’s been a very, very long time. As my friend pointed out earlier today, it’s been about a month since I’ve lasted attempted at making anything delicious (well, I have, like ribs, but sadly I haven’t really attempted to chronicle the occasion).

Today was the day. I’m procrastinating pretty hard today when it comes to homework. I’ve been cleaning, baking (obviously), and working out. Doing anything I can not to think about the hours of work that’s ahead of me. I’m even going to be a perfect, model student and meet with a classmate to work together and study. That’s right, about 7 hours worth of study and ABA terminology for my Saturday. How fun.

Mostly, I’m excited to get work over with, and just sleep in past 7 am.

In the meantime, I get to enjoy these lovely cookies. They were adapted from Home Cooking Adventure and I couldn’t be happier with the way they smell, and taste.

The only thing that I changed really, was that I didn’t add walnuts on top of my cookies (and that was explained below) and I used pear jam I got from a trip to Yuciapa for apple picking. I know, funny how I got pear jam when I went apple picking. But I got enough apples that I thought I’d be making my own (secretly).

It turned out amazing, and since I’m trying to be healthier overall, I did a little calorie count for y’all: these cookies are a smooth 90 calories each! Which means I get to enjoy them as I’m typing this up AND when I’m done working out. Win win, indeed.

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Walnut and Pear Jam Cookies

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup pear jam
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • walnuts for top (I omitted this, as I prefer to have more walnuts IN my cookies than ON TOP of them)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until well mixed. Beat in the egg.

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Add apricot jam, almond extract and vanilla extract and stir well to incorporate. Stir dry ingredients together,  flour and baking powder and add into butter mixture.

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Fold in the chopped walnuts.

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Using a tablespoon or your ice cream scoop take small balls and place on prepared baking sheets with distance between them. Top with chopped walnuts and bake 15-17 minutes in the preheated oven or until golden brown. Remove from sheet to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

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Now that I’ve got you hooked on the cookies, I can discuss where the rest of my January went.

I’ve been eagerly (and frighteningly) preparing for my first ever visit to Cal ABA. For those of you that don’t know. Cal ABA is a California based conference for professions and students (and affiliates and parents and everyone) that discusses future and current research in Applied Behavior Analysis. My company will be going there, as well as my University program. Not to mention a few of my classmates will be presenting their research there– I couldn’t be more excited.

In other news… I accomplished one of my 2013 goals already! If you all remember, I wanted to purchase an item from Agent Provocateur , just for myself, not for anything special, or for a birthday (or Valentine’s Day). So basically, instead of that store, I chose another, based out of New York, Called Journelle.

As soon as I got this pretty package in the mail I knew I’d be happy.

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In my humble opinion, I think that Journelle is a lot better (price wise for the same quality) and it’s more versatile  I can wear it for a romantic night out, or under work clothing (and not feel filthy).

I purchased about 5 different styles (bras with undies to match), and they all fit perfectly, true to size and quality to boot! Absolutely wonderful! Aaaand free shipping~

I know that January is a long month, but that’s basically all I’ve been doing with it.

Banana Poppy Seed Muffins for a New Work Week

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Afternoon all!

For most people, tomorrow is not just any Monday, but it’s THE Monday. The Monday that kids go back to school, as do countless teachers, students (in college, I mean), and service members that work with children. Not to mention all the administration that work in school. I don’t know about you, but I look forward to tons of traffic and being late.

To start the work week (and school week) off right I decided to get into the kitchen, for the first time this weekend, by the way, and start cooking. I managed to make a lovely pasta (simple tomato sauce with a hint of vodka and spices) for lunch tomorrow, as well as some rice and tilapia for dinner today, and banana poppy seed muffins to make getting out of bed worthwhile tomorrow.

I adapted this recipe from Crepes of Wrath, so check that out for the original recipe. Not that I changed it much.

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Banana Muffins with Poppy Seed Bliss 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large bananas, very ripe and mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp cup honey
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • about 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • raw sugar, for sprinkling (optional)- I omitted this for calorie reasons 🙂
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line and/or grease 18-20 muffin cups and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another large bowl, beat together the mashed bananas, vegetable oil, milk, lemon juice, honey, and eggs.
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Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just moistened. Fold in the poppy seeds. Place about 1/3 cup of batter into each muffin cup (don’t overfill the cups, definitely do less than 1/3 than a heaping 1/3 cup) and sprinkle with raw sugar, if you like.
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Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and set. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan and serving.
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The Baking Frenzy

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Well the Christmas holiday is right around the corner, and I suppose you could say I’ve gone a bit mad with the baking. Christmas Eve will be celebrated at Boyfriend’s family home (his cousin’s) to be  exact. I usually bring dessert or some sort of after dinner treat, simply because it’s what I do. Growing up I was taught that the Hostess had to have something for herself, a bottle of wine, some nice cheese, a spa set, etc, and she shouldn’t ever have to worry about dessert.

Well, I have taken care of dessert, and then some!

First, I started off with  some chocolate crackle cookies with frosting and holiday sprinkles and some Ruby Thumbprint cookies, not to mention a new snickerdoodle recipe.

It’s a little difficult to imagine how many people these cookies alone will serve, however I have vanilla cake and chocolate guinness gingerbread ahead! I’m almost positive that I’ve started to crack. But in the most delicious way.

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Chocolate Christmas Cookies with Glaze

1 1/8 cups soft butter (2 1/4 sticks, 18 tbsp)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Topping:
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
candy sprinkles or sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F Line a cookie sheet with parchment or Silpat.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Sift 1/3 c cocoa powder into the mixture and beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder, and add to mixture. (Optionally, combine everything in a food processor and mix until combined.).

Form 1 tbsp sized balls. Place on cookie sheet at least 2″ apart, pressing down into fat discs. (The dough will be very sticky; gloves may be a good idea.).

Bake 15 minutes. The tops will develop a cracked appearance. Cool 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled. (Placing a sheet of newspaper under the rack will help catch drips in the next step.).

For the topping, combine 2 tbsp cocoa powder with confectioner’s sugar, boiling water and vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat and whisk until smooth. Cool 10 minutes.

Drizzle 1 tbsp of glaze on each cookie, spreading lightly with the back of the spoon, then sprinkle with sprinkles or sanding sugar. Work with 6 cookies at a time so the glaze doesn’t dry out before applying the sprinkles.

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Saveur Snickerdoodles

3 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
1 3⁄4 cups sugar
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Using a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat 1 1⁄2 cups sugar and the butter together in a medium bowl until pale and fluffy, 2 minutes.

Add 2 tsp. cinnamon and the vanilla; beat for 1 minute more. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add reserved dry ingredients; mix on low speed until just combined.

Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375°.

Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Remove dough from refrigerator and, using a 1-tbsp. measure, spoon out 48 portions, rolling each portion into a 1″ ball as you go. Roll each ball in cinnamon–sugar mixture to coat.

Arrange dough balls 2″ apart on 2 parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

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Guinness Gingerbread

1 1/4 sticks 10 (tablespoons) butter, plus some for greasing
1 cup golden syrup (such as Lyle’s)
1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Line your cake pan with aluminium foil and grease it, or grease your foil tray.

 Put the butter, syrup, dark brown sugar, stout, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves into a pan and melt gently over a low heat.

Take off the heat and whisk in the flour and baking soda. You will need to be patient and whisk thoroughly to get rid of any lumps.

Whisk the sour cream and eggs together in a measuring jug and then beat into the gingerbread mixture, whisking again to get a smooth batter.

Pour this into your cake/foil pan, and bake for about 45 minutes; when it’s ready it will be “gleamingly” risen at the center, and coming away from the pan at the sides.

Let the gingerbread cool before cutting into slices or squares.

(I garnished my gingerbread after slicing, with some powdered sugar and pine trees with deer)

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Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies with Glitter (Adapted from Curry and Comfort)

1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
almond meal as needed (about 2-3oz)
Strawberry jelly as needed ( or any jam/ jelly you prefer… strawberry, raspberry, grape, etc…)
Edible glitter (if you have any)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix everything except the glitter and almond meal,  in a large bowl, making sure it’s all well incorporated. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll again in the almond meal. I used a bowl to roll the dough in to make it easier to get the sides coated. The dough is very sticky, so this step isn’t necessary but a nice touch.

Using your thumb or index finger, indent a hole in the middle of the cookie, making sure not to go too low. Fill with your choice of jam/jelly.

Bake for 13-15 minutes. Let cool completely (about 15 minutes) before topping with glitter.

The Chewiest Cookies and Some Good Readings

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 Considering that I have this week (and the next two weeks) off, I decided to start it right, by making some lovely chocolate chip cookies on Friday. Although I’ve made plenty of chocolate chip cookies, I could never get the Chips-Ahoy chewiness. As you can imagine, it’s been a very frustrating adventure with cookies.

Until this recipe came along. I’m almost 100% positive that the reason that it’s so chewy and lovely is due to the corn starch. THE SECRET INGREDIENT!

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Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed (I use light)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup bread flour (all-purpose flour may be substituted and used exclusively in place of bread flour)

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste

12 ounces  semi-sweet chocolate chips

To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugars and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 3 minutes.

Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flours (solely using all-purpose flour will work, but the cookies will not be as chewy), corn starch, baking soda, salt, and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.

Add the chocolate chips and chunks, and either fold in by hand or beat for a few seconds on low speed. Transfer dough to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 5 days (although chilling the dough is theoretically not necessary; in reality cookies spread less with chilled dough).

Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a non-stick baking mat, parchment, or spray with cooking spray. Using a 2-ounce cookie scoop, form heaping mounds weighing 2 1/4-ounces each (weighed on a scale, which is approximately a scant 1/4-cup measure) and place them on the baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart; I bake 8 cookies per sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges, even if slightly undercooked in the center, noting the tops will not be browned and will be pale. Do not cook longer than ten minutes as cookies will darken and firm up as they cool (The cookies shown in the photos were baked for 9 minutes and have chewy edges with soft pillowy centers).

Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.

Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

Now that you’ve got some cookies to eat, you need some books to read while enjoying them.

The Night Circus  is one of those books  that everyone is telling you about. Telling you to read it, to make sure you tell them you’re reading it, when you finish it, and to have coffee to discuss it. Seriously, this how I was introduced to the book, from four different people.

In any case, I can say that they were not wrong. This novel is wonderful! The only word that I can think to say about it is CHARMING. Although, if I try to explain specifics about why I love it, it might give too much away; and yes, any detail can be a ruinous moment with this lovely treasure.

It’s more than a description of a game, or a love story. It’s sort of Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes  with Water For Elephants mixed in, along with some fantastical bedazzlement.

Enough said.

I’ve read this book twice. First, when I got to page 76, and I had to get ready for… life, and I didn’t it pick it up till recently. The second time I read it, I devoted at least two hours a day to it, either at work or before bed, until I was sure I was so hooked I’d carry it with me everywhere.

I can only say that while I love all of Neil Gaiman’s stories, this one was sort of close to the heart. Although it was about an ex-convict (and his unfortunately short-lived marriage) and gods, both old and new, the stories of the gods, how they interact, what their motivations are for moving from location to location, and the general nature of stories, myths, figures, creatures, and gods of every region was very– human.

This story was one that I enjoyed the most, simply because the action kept coming and the protagonist refused to give up (as is the usual case), and in the end he received minimal answers for his efforts, a lot of grief and pain, and a little bit of peace of mind.

Peace of mind was something that I desperately needed when reading this gem.

I recommend it tenfold.