Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Birthday Post!

I haven't posted in a while! I have been so busy with the fourth grade class and so tired when I come home that not much has gotten baked the past two weeks.  During spring break I made pretzels, those were super yummy and I might post that recipe soon.  Yesterday I made cupcakes for the class today, but I used the recipe for chocolate cake and vanilla frosting that I posted a little bit ago.  So, today I am going to share a recipe I got from the Pioneer Woman (if you have never visited her site, you should and you may just fall in love) for Lemon Squares.

Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares
from: Pioneer Woman

Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 25 Minutes Difficulty: Easy Servings: 12
  • 1-⅓ cup All-purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 stick (1/2 Cup) Butter, Slightly Softened
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar (lightly Packed)
  • 1 cup Oats
  • 1 can (14 Ounce) Sweetened Condensed Milk (you can use fat free!)
  • ½ cups Lemon Juice
  • Zest Of 1 Lemon
Preparation Instructions
  2. Mix butter and brown sugar until well combined.
  3. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.
  4. Add oats and flour to butter/sugar mixture and mix to combine.
  5. Press half of crumb mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 11 inch pan.
  6. Mix together condensed milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Spread onto the bottom layer of the crumb mixture. Top with the other half of the crumb mixture, but don’t press.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Allow pan to sit on counter for 30 minutes after baking. Cut into squares and refrigerate for a couple of hours or until cool.
  9. Serve cool. They really taste better cold, the lemon shines!

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Pumpkin Soup

    Max and I were watching Food Network the other day and on one of the competition shows someone made pumpkin soup.  Max said that he really likes squash soup, so I went online, bookmarked the recipe, and made it today.  This recipe only takes about 30 minutes and is pretty cheap, especially if you have a decent collection of spices on hand.  This was super filling too; I only had one bowl and was satisfied 2 hours later.  I didn't take a picture because I forgot! 

    On a side note, it snowed here yesterday! It was 65 on Friday, snowed on Saturday, and tomorrow its supposed to be 65 again!  It wasn't a ton of snow, but very odd for March in Oklahoma.

    Sweet and Savory Pumpkin Soup
    From: Food Network
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
    • 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
    • 1 cup half-and-half (I used fat-free)
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 3 cups chicken broth
    • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
    • 1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1. Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat, and cook, whisking frequently, until the butter starts to brown and foam, about 2 to 3 minutes. 
    2. Stir in the onion, carrot, celery, sage, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, and cook until tender, stirring frequently, until tender. 
    3. Stir in the garlic and cook an additional minute.
    4. Stir together the half-and-half and cornstarch in a liquid measuring cup, and pour it into the pot, along with the chicken broth, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, salt and pepper. 
    5. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. When the soup starts to thicken reduce the heat to low. 
    6. Using an immersion blender*, puree the soup until a smooth consistency is reached and simmer until ready to serve. Ladle the soup into serving bowls.
    * If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender.  Just remember, hot soup expands when you blend it so don't overfill the blender.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    St. Patrick's Day Cake

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!! I was going to make Irish soda bread today, but I really wanted to make something challenging so I decided on cake.  It doesn't have any Bailey's or Guinness in it, but OH MY GOODNESS is it tasty!!! I do have a recipe for Irish car bomb cupcakes...maybe I'll make those next week.

    This chocolate cake with vanilla frosting was really easy and had super simple ingredients.  I didn't even use my stand mixer for the cake part! I used it for the frosting though, because that makes life soooo much easier.  The only "odd" ingredient is buttermilk, but I think I've mentioned before that they sell powdered buttermilk that works just as well and lasts so much longer.  I had some green sprinkles left over from Christmas sugar cookies, so, ta-da!, the cake is now St. Patty's Day themed!

    Awesome Chocolate Cake
    • 2 cups Flour
    • 2 cups Sugar
    • ¼ teaspoons Salt
    • 4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
    • 2 sticks Butter
    • 1 cup Boiling Water
    • ½ cups Buttermilk
    • 2 whole Beaten Eggs
    • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
    1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.
    2. In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together.
    3. Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.
    4. In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.
     Wicked Awesome Vanilla Frosting
    from: Tasty Kitchen
    • 1 cup Milk
    • 5 Tablespoons Flour
    • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
    • 1 cup Butter
    • 1 cup Granulated Sugar (not Powdered Sugar!)
    1. In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. 
    2. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. (Make sure you let it cool all the way, you don't want to melt the butter, if you are in a rush put the pot in a pool of ice water to cool faster but make sure no water gets in the mix!) 
    3. Stir in vanilla.
    4. While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. 
    5. Then add the cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Orange Brownies

    When I get stressed, or bored, or antsy, or if I have anything else I should be doing, I usually end up baking.  One time, when I was stressed, Max looked over to me and said, "do you need to bake something?"  This week has been one of those weeks.  I'm on spring break so I'm bored and I feel stuck in the house.  So, I made chocolate orange brownies.  I really wanted to make a cake, but we were missing some ingredients.  I think I will need to try something more challenging soon because as soon as the brownies were done, I wanted to make something else.

    These Chocolate Orange Brownies were good, but a little dry.  I think I overcooked them a little because they had set all of the way when I took them out and a toothpick came out clean.  I even cooked them for five minutes less than the recipe called for, but I've mentioned my crazy oven before, right?

    Chocolate Orange Brownies
    From: Rock Recipes
    • 3/4cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
    • 1/4teaspoon salt
    • 1/2cup butter
    • 5 squares unsweetened chocolate
    • 3/4cup granulated sugar
    • ¼ cup light-brown sugar
    • 3large eggs
    • 1teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • zest of one large orange
    1. Sift together flour, cocoa and salt. Melt together butter and unsweetened chocolate over low heat (either in the microwave or a double boiler). Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Add eggs,vanilla and sugars. Stir very well until sugars are dissolved.
    2. Gently fold in dry ingredients. Then fold in: zest of one large orange, finely grated and chopped
    3. Pour batter into a 9 inch square baking pan that has been greased and lined with parchment paper (or just greased like I did). Sprinkle the top of the batter with the chocolate chips.
    4. Bake for about a half hour (I baked for 25 minutes and they were overcooked, start at 20) at 350 degrees F or until the surface of the center of the brownies appears dry and firm. Toothpick test will not work for this recipe but it will tell you if the middle is still liquid. Do not over bake these brownies or they will be dry rather than moist and chewy.
    5. Cut into squares when still slightly warm, they cut more cleanly.

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    English Muffins

    Today is Pi Day!  That means it is March 14, or 3.14.  I feel like I should probably make pie later, we'll see if that happens.

    This week was my first in the fourth grade classroom.  I was there everyday and I got to teach a few lessons.  The week went really well and re-confirmed that this is what I really want to do.  I did make a kid cry, but that was an accident...

    Last weekend I made English Muffins.  Its one of those food that people, including me, never think of making from scratch.  I think it was worth it, the flavor was really good.  There weren't the nooks and crannies that are associated with English muffins, but they had a slightly flaky texture which made up for it.  If you have a griddle or cast iron skillet, I highly recommend trying these at least once to see what you think.

    I liked this recipe because you don't need a collection of empty tuna cans or round cookie cutters to shape them and I had all of these ingredients sitting around.  I used powdered buttermilk for this.  I used to buy buttermilk, but I would only need a cup or so and the rest would sit around and spoil until I threw it out.

    English Muffins
    from: A Sweet Spoonful
    2 1/4 cups bread flour
    2 tsp. sugar
    3/4 tsp. salt
    1 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
    1 tbsp. shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature
    3/4-1 cup milk or buttermilk, at room temperature
    Cornmeal, for sprinkling
    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix in the butter (or shortening) and 3/4 cup of milk (or buttermilk). If the dry ingredients are not yet fully incorporated, add enough of the remaining milk so a dough forms. Stop mixing right when this occurs: don’t over mix! Sprinkle flour on a dry surface and turn the dough out of the mixer, and knead by hand for about 9-10 minutes. The dough should be tacky (but not sticky), and register 77 to 81 F. 
    2. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and roll the ball of dough around the bowl to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for at least an hour, or until the dough doubles in size. It helps to keep the dough (in terms of rising) in a relatively warm place–away from cold, drafty windows or open doors.
    3. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and shape into small balls. Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray lightly with oil. Sprinkle with cornmeal.
    4. Move the dough balls to the baking sheet, spacing them evenly with enough room to rise and double in size. Mist them lightly with oil and sprinkle with cornmeal then cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise another hour, or until the rolls are nearly double in size. Preheat the oven to 350 F
    5. Heat a flat griddle to medium (350 F) (you can also use a skillet on the stove top if you don’t have a griddle). Brush the griddle lightly with oil and gently transfer the dough balls to the griddle. Allow them to cook for 5-8 minutes or until the bottoms are a rich golden brown color. Be careful not to burn. Carefully flip and cook the other side for the same amount of time. They should flatten as they cook.
    6. Remove the muffins from the skillet and transfer them to a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 6-8 minutes.Transfer the baked muffins to a cooling rack and let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving.
    Makes: 6 English muffins

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    mmmm enchiladas

    Tonight I made enchiladas.  They were amazing, and vegetarian.  Not that that really matters, but I'm trying to eat healthier and these were filling.  I think the ingredients were pretty cheap, didn't really add it up.  If I had bought more cheese then I could have made almost a whole other 13x9 pan of these because there was extra filling.  Since I had extra filling, I made some quinoa and made quinoa salad.  I like to mix veggies with quinoa.  Max and I really like this and it will make a good lunch tomorrow to bring to school.

    Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas
    from: The Cooking Photographer
    10 to 12 small flour or corn tortillas (I like corn, kinda reminds me of tamales)
    10 oz package chopped spinach, thawed (I do this in the microwave)
    15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
    14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles and spices, drained
    ¾ cup scallions, chopped
    19 oz can green chile enchilada sauce
    8 oz sour cream
    3 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese
    Garlic powder and onion powder
    Salt and pepper

    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and get out a 9x13 inch Pyrex baking dish.

    2. In a colander, squeeze out as much water from the spinach as you can by pressing the spinach with the back of a spoon. Place the spinach in a large bowl. Add the rinsed beans, drained tomatoes, most of the scallions, and dash of garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

    3. Mix together the sour cream and green chile enchilada sauce. Spread about 1/3 of the sauce mixture into the 9x13 inch dish.

    4. On a plate, place a tortilla and top with some of the spinach mixture and a small amount of pepper jack cheese. Roll into cigar shape and place into the baking dish seam side down. Repeat until the dish is full.

    5. Spread the rest of the sauce on top of the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese and scallions. Bake for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Wait a few minutes and serve.

    No picture of these because, even though they are yummy, enchiladas don't photograph that well.

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Oatmeal Cookies

    This coming week I'm started what I like to call pre-student teaching.  I'll be in a fourth grade class for three weeks, every day.  Sometimes I'll teach lessons, but I'll also be observing and helping out around the class.  I'm nervous, but I'm excited.  I'm really close to being done with school, next semester is student teaching!  I'm also excited for this week because it means I'll be home every night for dinner.  I finally get to make dinner more than once a week!!
    Last week I made Oatmeal Craisin Cookies.  I don't like raisins, so I replaced them with craisins.  They have a nice tanginess.  Usually, I add white chocolate chips to this recipe, but with all the sugar I decided to leave them out.  Plus, I don't think I have any in the cabinet.  I froze half of this batch, but I already thawed it and baked the cookies.  This is the Quaker Oats recipe, but not the one you can find on the website.  I guess they have changed the recipe, this is the one I cut off the top of a can of oats a few years ago.

    Vanishing Oatmeal Craisin Cookies
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
    • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp salt (kosher is preferable)
    • 3 cups quick cook or old fashioned oats (I use old fashioned)
    • 1 cup craisins (or as many as you want)
    1. Heat oven to 350F.
    2. Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.
    3. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well.
    4. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Mix well.
    5. Stir in oats and craisins.  Mix well, probably need to do this by hand.
    6. Drop rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet (don't use parchment or silpat, they spread out too much).
    7. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.  Turn the pan halfway through if your oven has a hotspot like mine.  If you are using a non-stick cookie sheet, only preheat the oven to 325 because the bottoms might burn.
    8. Cool one minute on a cookie sheet and then cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Orange Cranberry Bread

    Sorry about the slight lull in recipes and pictures, when you are out of essentials like milk and eggs, baking becomes difficult.  I bought 2 dozen eggs this week, though we are already out of milk again!  Max drinks so much milk, I bought two gallons on Friday and we are already out.  We should probably just go ahead and buy a cow.

    Our math class had a little bit of a tiff with the teacher last week, so to make amends we decided to bring a breakfast feast to class.  Everyone pitched in and I ended up eating what probably amounted to 3 days worth of carbs.  I don't even know when the last time I ate 2 donuts was...  Anyways, I made Orange Cranberry Bread for class because I had just bought a huge bag of oranges and it is delicious.  I have made this recipe at least three times and it has become one of my favorites.  I stocked up on fresh cranberries during Thanksgiving when they were 99 cents a bag.  Max thought I was a little insane, but they are coming in useful now, especially when frozen cranberries are like $4 a bag now.

    Last year my mom got me a citrus juicer which makes getting the orange juice for this recipe really easy.  If you don't have one of these, try to get one.  They are really helpful, especially if you use a lot of lemons and limes in recipes.

    Orange Cranberry Bread
    from: Baking Bites
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3/4 tsp baking soda
    • 3/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
    • 1 tbsp orange zest
    • 2 tbsp canola oil
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen (unthawed) cranberries
    • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

    1. Preheat oven to 375F and lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
    2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add in in orange juice, orange zest, oil and egg and mix until just combined. Stir in whole and dried cranberries. Spread evenly in loaf pan.
    3. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.
    4. Makes 1 loaf.
    *And I didn't burn it this time!!!!!!!

    Also, here is a picture of the valentine brownies I made a few weeks ago.  I finally uploaded them onto my computer!