September 27, 2019

Cranberry Orange Bread

One of my son's schools serves breakfast. Although he's usually up plenty early to eat at home, he wants to eat when all his classmates are eating the school breakfast, so we usually do a light snack at home and then school breakfast. The school breakfasts are pre-packaged combo packs that often contain either raisins or craisins, neither of which he'll eat. So we've ended up with a stockpile of individual packs of craisins in the snack bin because, let's face it, they're not the first thing grabbed when even the adults are hungry here.

I decided to convert those craisins into something much more desirable: cranberry orange bread. Although I typically use fresh/frozen cranberries for quick breads, this recipe from A Side of Sweet noted that it worked with dried cranberries. I just modified it slightly to moisten the cranberries more and use the ingredients I had on hand. Here's my tweaked version, which will be made every couple months when our stockpile gets large enough.

Cranberry Orange Bread
1/3 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
Zest of one large orange or 10 drops of food-safe orange essential oil
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine cranberries and orange juice, and let stand at least 15 minutes, preferably longer. This is to re-hydrate the cranberries slightly.

In a small bowl, stir together the orange juice, zest or oil, buttermilk, butter and egg. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Stir in the liquid ingredients (with the cranberries), mixing until just combined.

Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan. Bake 25 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350°F. Bake an additional 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely. Makes 1 loaf.

July 17, 2019

Watermelon Sherbet

This recipe from Eating Well was created rather quickly after I found it, simply because it's summer. Watermelon is reasonably priced at the grocery store, and my kids love watermelon. I thought this would be a win for them, but it turns out that neither of them loves it.

Dave and I find it refreshing. It's authentic watermelon flavor that's not cloying but just sweet enough to taste relatively healthy. It definitely needs to stand at room temperature at least 5-10 minutes before scooping because it, like custard, is best not fully frozen.

Watermelon Sherbet
6 1/2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt

Place watermelon on large baking sheet, and freeze until frozen. Puree frozen watermelon with the remaining ingredients, breaking into smaller batches if needed, until smooth. Transfer to a large container with a cover, and freeze until firm. Makes about 6 cups of sherbet.

July 8, 2019

Berry Lemonade Bars

This recipe came from the now defunct Cooking Light magazine. I made these for a treat when my family came to visit, and they were quite popular with the adults. The children opted for ice cream sandwiches, which left the last two bars as the perfect bedtime snack for Dave and me.

Berry Lemonade Bars
3 oz. all-purpose flour
1.5 oz. white whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, diced and chilled
2 Tbsp. canola oil
6 oz. fresh strawberries
1.5 oz. all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. To prepare crust, combine all ingredients except butter and oil in a food processor. Add butter and oil, and pulse until the mixture resembles sand. Pour the mixture into an 8-inch greased pan. Press down into bottom of pan, and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree berries. Strain, and discard solids. Measure out 1/2 cup of fruit puree, and use that for the filling. In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients until combined. Pour onto the hot crust, and bake 23 minutes or just until set. Cool completely on a wire rack, and then chill at least 2 hours before slicing. Sprinkle with powdered sugar immediately before serving.

Makes 9 generous servings or 16 dainty ones.

May 24, 2019

Baked Chocolate Donuts

I decided to make donuts for my birthday weekend, using this baked recipe from a Cozy Kitchen. These are decadent, full of chocolate and so rich they beg for a glass of milk to get the chocolate off the roof of your mouth. They are best eaten with a fork since they tend to crumble.

Pretty much, if it's your birthday and you want cake for breakfast, these fit the bill.

Baked Chocolate Donuts
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. flour
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 oz. chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. liquid cocoa extract or instant espresso powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a donut pan with cooking spray, and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Then add the chocolate chips, melt and mix until smooth. Turn off the heat, and add cocoa extract or espresso powder, sugar and egg yolk. Lastly, whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir just until mixed. Fill each donut hole to the top, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until firm to the touch. Cool for two minutes, and then carefully transfer to a cooling rack.

To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients, whisking until smooth. Add more milk as needed to get desired consistency. Either dip the donuts or use a spoon to pour on the glaze. Top with sprinkles, grab a fork and get messy! Makes 6 donuts. 

Restaurant-Style Salsa

Do you know how addictive the salsa at Mexican restaurants can be? That flavor combination and texture with no big chunks makes you keep dipping and dipping. We usually can salsa every year, and we make pretty darn good salsas if I say so myself. But after I made this quick salsa from Brown Eyed Baker, my husband said he wasn't sure we ever needed to can salsa again.

This comes together quickly, makes use of canned tomatoes to ensure quality flavor no matter the season and has just a few cheap fresh ingredients that make it pop. Word of warning, though, for those with sensitive (a.k.a. sissy) palates ... you might not want to add any jalapenos to the mix.

Restaurant-Style Salsa
28 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained
2 10-oz. cans Rotel
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno (thinly sliced and seeds removed)
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cumin

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until combined and desired consistency. Makes about 6 cups of salsa. Ideally let stand for an hour before serving to allow the flavors to blend, but it's still tasty right away.