September 30, 2013

Rosemary Focaccia Sheet

The only thing we've grown this year is a small planter of rosemary that my son (aka husband) gave me for Mothers' day. That's due to our cramped and *hopefully* temporary living accommodations while we figure out life. While flipping through The Bread Bible, I was reminded how delicious these breads are. I decided to try a few more recipes and started with this one.

This is a light, airy bread. My first rising was done much quicker than the recipe stated, but my second rising took the full time. We enjoyed it as is the first two days and then converted this into one of the most delicious pizza crusts.

Alas, we ate it all before I could snap a picture.

Rosemary Focaccia Sheet
2 3/4 cups flour
3/8 tsp. instant yeast
2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. water, room temperature
3/4 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Mix the dough by combining flour and yeast. With the mixer running, add water gradually until the dough comes together. It will be soupy. Increase the speed to medium, and beat until the dough is transformed into a smooth, shiny ball, about 20 minutes. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until they are well incorporated (about 3 minutes).

Scrape the dough into a well-oiled bowl. It will look like melted mozzarella. Lightly spray or oil the top of the dough, and cover with plastic wrap or a lid. Let rise until doubled, about 4 hours.

Coat a 12 x 17-inch sheet pan with a heaping Tbsp. olive oil. Pour the dough onto it, and spread the dough using oiled hands as thin as possible without tearing it. Let it relax 10 minutes, and spread to fill almost the entire sheet, trying to keep all the bubbles in the dough. Cover the pan with greased plastic wrap, and allow it to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475°F an hour before baking. Have the oven shelf at the lowest level, and place a baking stone on the rack to preheat.

Uncover the dough, and drizzle the remaining oil over it. Dimple the dough using your fingers. Sprinkle evenly with rosemary and sea salt. Bake 12 to 13 minutes or until the top is golden. Serve immediately ideally or store in a paper bag for a couple days.

Homemade Sprinkles

I had an egg white in the fridge to use up, so logically I made sprinkles. Right? I did a riff on what appears to be the most popular sprinkle recipe in the the food blogging world, Brave Tart. I'm guessing her version followed exactly is better than my version, so I'm not going to post my recipe. They are good and pass my 2-year-old taste tester's inspection, but if I were to go through the effort of piping them all over again, I'd want an outstanding version.

Maple Cinnamon Roasted Almond Butter

So I recently discovered the Edible Perspective blog and have bookmarked a half dozen of her nut butter recipes to try. This version was my first of her recipes and won't be my last. It ishard to not eat the entire jar by the spoonful.

Maple Cinnamon Roasted Almond Butter
1 cup raw almonds
2 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp. almond oil (optional)

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a pan with parchment or Silipat. Pour the almonds on the pan,  and mix with the maple syrup. Roast for 15min, stirring 3 times.  Let them cool for 5 minutes. Put in the food processor, and turn the processor on. Let it go until it’s buttery, about 15 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl as needed. If you're having a hard time getting it to smooth out, you can stream in 1/2 Tbsp. oil after 12 to 15 minutes of processing to help move things along.

Add in the salt and cinnamon, and process again until smooth and buttery.


My most recent Cooking Light magazine contained this recipe. It's not my typical breakfast, but it intrigued me. It was good enough that I made it twice in the course of a week. A filling, satisfying savory breakfast.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup (1/4-inch wide) strips red bell pepper
1 cup (1/4-inch wide) strips green bell pepper
2 cups (1/4-inch thick) vertically sliced red onion
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups marinara sauce
1 tsp. smoked paprika
4 large eggs
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese

Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add bell peppers, onion and salt. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Stir in marinara sauce and paprika. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes.

Form 4 (2-inch) indentations in sauce, using the back of a spoon. Crack eggs, 1 at a time, into a small custard cup, and gently slip into each indentation. Cover, and cook 6 minutes or until eggs are done.

Divide rice evenly among 4 shallow bowls. Spoon egg mixture evenly over rice, and sprinkle with cheese.

September 23, 2013

Everything Hummus

My picture of this hummus is slightly blurry and focuses more on my son than the hummus. I was just excited he was eating something from the vegetable family. For pretty pictures of this delicious hummus, check out How Sweet It Is. I modified her recipe only slightly, so check out my version below.

Everything Hummus
3 cups cooked cannellini/great northern beans (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
6 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil + more for drizzling
1 whole head of roasted garlic
1/4 tsp.salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Add beans and roasted garlic to a food processor, and pulse and blend until combined the beans begin to puree, about 2 to 3 minutes. With the processor still going, stream in olive oil and sesame oil, blending continuously for a few minutes (and scraping down the sides if needed) until as smooth as desired. Add salt and blend.

Add hummus to a bowl, and drizzle with extra sesame oil. Combine remaining ingredients together, and pour everything seasoning over the hummus. Serve immediately with crackers or veggies. Makes about 3 cups.

M & M Cupcakes

My little dude turned a week ago ... and he still is my little dude. He managed to hold onto the 25th percentile for weight at his 2-year checkup. Meanwhile, his baby brother at his 2-month checkup, is off the charts for both weight and height. Seriously, his dots are above the graph lines on the charts. Guess that's what happens when you weigh 16 lb. 2.5 oz. at 2 months, which is more than his older brother weighed at 6 months.

Anyways, enough about my boys, aside from the fact that my little dude loves M & Ms and Mickey. When I found these cupcakes on Cookies and Cups, I knew they'd be perfect for his birthday celebration. The kids loved the little Mickey faces I made with M & Ms. My husband loved the frosting. My sister-in-law, who doesn't like chocolate cake, loved the cupcake. This is an all-around crowd pleaser. My only complaint was my cupcakes didn't dome nicely, but that was covered by a mound of frosting.

M & M Cupcakes
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup M & M candies, blended to a coarse dust

Preheat oven to 350° F. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together in stand mixer, beating until light, 1 to 2 minutes. Add in egg and vanilla, and mix until smooth.

In microwave or over a double boiler, melt the milk chocolate. Stir the chocolate into the butter mixture.

Add the flour mixture and sour cream in alternating increments, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Stir until combined. Slowly add in hot water and stir until smooth.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full, and bake 15 to 17 minutes until tops are set and spring back to the touch. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, blend M & M candies until they are a coarse dust. In bowl of stand mixer, beat butter until smooth. Slowly add in powdered sugar, and then beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Mix in crushed M & Ms, and beat until evenly incorporated. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes. Makes 15 cupcakes.

September 17, 2013

Homemade Ricotta

My cheesemaking adventures continued this morning with homemade ricotta following the recipe from Bake the Bread and Buy the Butter. (Sidenote on the title: I still want to make my own butter at least once.)

Ricotta is incredibly easy to make and uses ingredients you already have in your kitchen. It takes about an hour total, and perhaps 5 minutes of that is hands on time. We're having lasagna tonight with homemade ricotta. Makes me sound a lot fancier and more together than I really am.

Homemade Ricotta
1 gallon milk
3/4 cup white vinegar

Combine milk and vinegar in a large pot. Slowly heat, bringing to almost a boil. The mixture should have clearly defined curd (solidish) and whey (liquid). Turn off the heat, and let the mixture stand 20 minutes.

Line a colander with cheesecloth or flour sack towel. Place colander over a large bowl. Gently ladle curd into the colander. Let stand 20 minutes or until whey is drained.

Place ricotta in a tightly sealed container, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The leftover whey (and there's a lot) can be used for baking breads in place of water or milk. I bet it could be used in cakes as well in place of buttermilk.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups of ricotta.

Salted Caramel Popcorn

I am hopelessly addicted to caramel popcorn. Hopelessly. If I were still pregnant or in the first couple weeks afterward, I am pretty sure I would eat the entire batch in a day. As it is, I'm trying to show some restraint.

I found this at Cookies and Cups right after I made a delicious salted caramel sauce from Brown Eyed Baker. That made me figure it was destiny to make this. As all, caramel popcorn, it's delicious. I would recommend the higher amount of salt for a little extra pizazz.

Ignore the craptastic picture. Just consider yourself lucky I didn't devour it all before snapping a quick shot. 

Salted Caramel Popcorn
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels (about 16 cups popped corn)
1 cup salted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 - 2 tsp. kosher or sea salt, divided

Preheat oven to 300° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside.

Pop popcorn kernels using air popper into a large bowl.

In a small saucepan melt butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and 1 tsp. salt together over medium heat. Bring to boil. Boil for 4 minutes without stirring. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn, and stir to coat evenly.

Pour popcorn into lined pan, sprinkle remaining salt on top (1/2 tsp. - 1 tsp. depending on your personal preference) and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Allow popcorn to cool on a parchment lined counter.

September 16, 2013

Raspberry Scones

Unlike many of the scone recipes on my blog and elsewhere, this is actually a fairly healthy scone. And still a tasty one. It's not nearly as sweet as some scones, which makes it the perfect accompaniment to a mug of tea (which is compleley necessary when your littlest one is up for a 2 a.m. feeding and then up again from before 4 until 4:30ish and your other little one is up for good at 5 a.m.). Enough rambling.

These are a worth repeating. And the recipe from A Farm Girl's Dabbles was forgiving enough to handle me not properly following the mixing instructions despite knowing better. (See above lack of sleep.) Here's my slight variation on the original recipe.

Raspberry Scones
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. vanilla sugar

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, salt and sugar.

With a rigid pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal with larger pea size pieces. Add raspberries, and fold gently to coat. Make a well in the center, and then add buttermilk and egg. Stir just until combined, taking care to not over mix. The dough will be very soft.

Put a bit of flour in a bowl, and coat your hands. Knead the dough 2 or 3 times, right in the bowl, coating your hands with additional flour as needed. The dough will be very loose. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop scones to prepared pan, dividing into 8 equal portions. It works best to slightly compress the dough into the scoop using the side of the bowl, so the dough is compact.

Sprinkle the tops of the scones with vanilla sugar. Bake until scones are golden brown, about 13 minutes. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 scones.

September 13, 2013

5-Seed Applesauce Bread

This recipe from Bake at 350 caught my eye because we have a plethora of applesauce, and it's a relatively healthy quick bread recipe. The juxtaposition of seeds with sweet applesauce creates an interesting texture and flavor.

Don't be intimidated by the long ingredient list. It's an easy recipe to pull together.

I pre-sliced the bread and flash froze the loaves, so we just grab a slice or two when we need it for a lunch or snack.

5-Seed Applesauce Bread
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp. flax seeds
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 eggs
1 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease two 8" loaf pans, and set aside. Roughly chop the sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds. (You can also use a coffee grinder to pulse the flax to crack the seeds.)  Place in a large bowl.

Add the chopped pecans, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves.  Stir together, and set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk the oil and applesauce together until combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each well.  Whisk in the honey and vanilla.  Finally, whisk in the buttermilk.

Stir the dry mixture into the wet, stirring just until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.  Divide evenly between the two prepared loaf pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and place on a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Makes 2 loaves.

September 12, 2013

Strawberry Vinaigrette

I found this recipe on Canning Granny and was intrigued. So, I waited until strawberries went on sale to try this. The end result is a sweet vinaigrette with a beautiful color. This is something I'd definitely make again but would probably cut down the sugar by half or so. With all the vinegar, it should still be shelf stable (but no guarantees from me on that).

Strawberry Vinaigrette
5 quarts (25 cups) fresh whole strawberries, washed and stemmed
2 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups white wine vinegar
Sugar (see recipe for details)

Slice strawberries, and place them in a bowl with the vinegar. Let them sit at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap, for about 24 hours.

Prepare your jars, lids and rings to sterilize them.

Strain the strawberry vinegar through a fine wire strainer. Let it drip, but it's also fine to push the berries to force out the liquid. You may end up with a few small particles, which is perfectly fine. Discard leftover strawberry pulp.

Place the strawberry vinegar in a saucepan, and add an equal amount of sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat, and ladle the hot vinaigrette into half-pint jars, leaving half-inch headspace. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Makes approximately 8 half-pint jars of vinaigrette.

Baked Peach Oatmeal

I've seen quite a few recipes for baked oatmeal. Since I had a few peaches/nectarines about to spoil, it was perfect timing when I came across this version from Two Peas & Their Pod.

Now I'm thinking I should revisit some of those other baked oatmeals I've seen. This is an easy, delicious and healthy breakfast. After mixing it together, my hands smelled wonderful. I wish my hands always smelled like that. And this recipe is forgiving if you want to make substitutions.

Baked Peach Oatmeal
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups almond milk
1 large egg
3 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 cups chopped peaches and/or nectarines

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 x 8 square baking dish, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk, egg, coconut oil, vanilla and almond extract.

Arrange the chopped peaches on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour the oat mixture evenly over the peaches. Pour the almond milk mixture over the oats. Gently shake the baking dish to make sure the milk covers the oats evenly.

Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden and oatmeal is set. Let cool for 5 minutes, and serve warm. Leftovers can be easily reheated in the microwave. Makes 6 servings.

Homemade Fruit Bars

We have quite the jam collection from all my canning projects. So, I was intrigued when I saw a recipe that uses jam on Two Peas & Their Pod. I make homemade granola bars for my husband's lunch (and my constant snacking while home juggling two under two), and I thought these bars would be a nice change of pace.

These will now join the granola bar rotation since they were a hit. The end result with my modifications was a slightly crunchy and tasty bar that's a bit healthier than the original recipe. (I have no issue with copious amounts of butter in my dessert recipes but couldn't stomach 12 Tbsp. in a recipe that was supposedly healthy.)

Homemade Fruit Bars
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cold, salted butter, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
3 Tbsp. cold water
1 cup fruit preserves or jam

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and salt. Pulse for 30 seconds.

Add the butter and cold water, and pulse until the dough holds together when pressed.

Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Divide the dough mixture in half, and press half into the prepared baking dish, using the back of a spatula to press down evenly.

Spread the preserves evenly on top of the dough. Sprinkle the remaining dough evenly on top of the preserves, and gently press down using the back of a spatula.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool, and cut into 16 bars. These bars keep at room temperature for 3 days or at least a week in the refrigerator. Makes 16 bars.