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Morning Pancakes

November 20, 2011

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Rustic Salmon Cakes with Vinaigrette

August 30, 2011

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Carrot Cake Bars

April 16, 2011
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Spring is the perfect time for carrot cake. In fact, I can’t really think of any time of year, any time of day that I would turn it down — it is by far my favorite kind of cake. One of the great things about these carrot cake bars are that they are healthy enough to eat whenever and however many you want. These beauties are made with oatmeal, whole wheat flour, and obviously lots of shredded carrots — all making these practically a health food. I changed the original recipe quite substantially to include extra spices, maple syrup, and of course a lovely cream cheese glaze on top. Delicious.

I made these on a whim while I was home over Spring Break and my family really loved them. We are no strangers to indulgence, but there’s certainly no harm in having something on the lighter side when it tastes as good as this.  These bars are super moist and have great texture from the oatmeal. I left the cream cheese glaze separate from the bars so that each could be drizzled generously right before being eaten. There’s no reason not to make these as soon as possible.  Healthy and delicious — can’t beat that!

Carrot Cake Bars

Adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons stick margarine or butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups regular oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • Cooking spray
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Beat sugar, maple syrup and margarine at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 5 minutes). Add buttermilk, vanilla, and the egg; beat well. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 8 ingredients (flour through salt); gradually add to sugar mixture, beating just until blended. Stir in carrot.
  • Pour batter into an 8 x 8-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 33 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Place powdered sugar and cream cheese in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Slowly beat in milk until you reach the desired consistency.

Black and White Cookies

March 16, 2011
by

Yesterday was dreadfully rainy and cold. Not very springy at all. As usual when I’m stuck indoors, I got the urge to bake. That’s about all I have to offer as far as how these cookies came to be. Also, I should add that they were perfect to bake on a dreary afternoon because I already had all of the ingredients at home.

 

This is Spencer… he’s always very interested in my baking endeavors.

These are giant cookies. But they are light, buttery, and not too sweet. It’s really no trouble to finish a whole one. No trouble at all. My brother, Alex (Alexander to me), told me to tell “everyone” that these cookies are great.  And I will be the first to tell you that although my brother has a pretty voracious appetite, he has a surprisingly discerning palate. I have confidence that I’ll turn him into a foodie yet. Spencer is another story.

Black and White Cookies

makes about 16 large cookies

adapted from Gourmet Cookbook/Joy the Baker

For the Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg

For Vanilla Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar

1 Teaspoon light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Chocolate Glaze

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

3 Tablespoons butter

1 Tablespoon light corn syrup

To make the cookies-

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add eggs, beating until combined well. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low speed (scraping down side of bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

Spoon 1/4 cups of batter about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and chill (to cool quickly), about 5 minutes.

To make the glazes-

In a bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon of corn syrup and 2 tablespoons hot water, until smooth. That’s your vanilla glaze.

In a separate bowl, melt the butter and the chocolate in a microwave for about 1 minute. Add the corn syrup and stir until smooth. That’s your chocolate glaze!

Once the cookies are cooled, face them all bottom side up of a clean surface. Spread half of the cookie with vanilla glaze and the other half with chocolate glaze. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to set.

Apple Pie

March 11, 2011
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I made apple pie before Wilson came to visit a couple of months ago. I had it all planned out ahead of time, and was very exited to show him the beautiful pie that I had made just for him. An apple pie for the apple of my eye. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s just the way my mind works sometimes. So in attempt to feel like I was gifting Wilson with something truly spectacular and time-consuming, I started making this pie early in the morning before he came to visit. In my mind, it was something that should take all day– it would be a real labor of love. It turns out that pie doesn’t take all day to make. Even with all of the peeling of apples, rolling of dough, decorating of crust, and baking, the whole process only takes a couple of hours.

Needless to say, apple pie makes your house smell like heaven. I mean really. It is divine. After the pie came out of the oven, I stood over it for a long time, just to take in its wonderful smell. Already, I feel as though I’m giving away the fact that this pie turned out to be as much a gift for myself as it was for Wilson. We ate it together all through his visit, always with lots of vanilla ice cream on top. And of course I made him tell me that it was the best apple pie he’d ever eaten. Naturally, I was pretty pleased with myself and with the pie. It would be impossible to pretend like this pie was a gift just for Wilson. In the end, I’m not really sure it matters who it was meant for — you simply can’t go wrong when it comes to apple pie.

 

Old-Fashioned Apple Pie

From Williams Sonoma

For the pastry:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 10 Tbs. (1 1/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter,
    cut into pieces
  • 10 Tbs. cold vegetable shortening, cut into
    pieces
  • 7 Tbs. ice water
  • 1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

For the filling:

  • 2 1/2 lb. baking apples, peeled, cored,
    quartered and cut lengthwise into slices 1/2
    inch thick
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbs. heavy cream

To make the pastry, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center, add the butter and shortening and, using your fingertips, rub them into the flour mixture until small, flat pieces form. In a cup or small bowl, combine the water and vinegar. Using a fork, gently mix just enough of the liquid into the flour mixture so it comes together in a rough ball; do not overwork. Discard the remaining liquid. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

To make the filling, in a bowl, toss together the apples, the 1/2 cup sugar (adding more to taste if the apples are tart), cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice.
Preheat an oven to 400°F.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out half of the dough (leave the other half refrigerated) into a 12-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Fold the dough in half and then into quarters and transfer it to a 9-inch pie dish. Unfold and gently press into the bottom and sides of the dish. Trim the edges even with the rim. Roll out the remaining dough into a 10-inch round about 1/8 inch thick.

Turn the apples into the pastry-lined pan, mounding them slightly in the center. Dot evenly with the butter. Brush the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough round into quarters and unfold over the apples. Press together the top and bottom crusts to seal, then trim the edges flush with the rim of the dish and crimp to form an attractive edge. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk and cream and brush over the pastry. Make a few slits near the center to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake until the apples are tender (insert a knife blade through a slit) and the top is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer the dish to a wire rack and let the pie cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Makes one 9-inch pie; serves 8.