Just another WordPress.com site

Posts tagged ‘baking’

Chocolate Chip Trail-Mix Cookies

I went home for spring break and had a fantastic vacation, not just spending time with family, but spending time in my family’s kitchen.  After three months of not baking, I needed to get back in the swing of things. But there were so many things I wanted to make and experiment with! I had so many ideas for muffins and breads, that cookies just seemed so bland.

But I was flipping through my book of recipes for Cheryl’s Confections and remembered that over the winter break I made a chocolate chip cookie that had bittersweet chocolate in it, peanuts, and pistachios. Unfortunately this was out because I didn’t have pistachios or bittersweet chocolate. But I did have peanuts, and I had all the ingredients to make a twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie.

My additions to my classic gooey chocolate filled cookie includes dried craisins, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and raisins. The salty peanuts complements the rich chocolate, and every time you feel the additional crunch of a sunflower or pumpkin seed, or the sweet tartness of a craisin, your taste buds with thank you for the experience. If there has ever been flavor explosions in a cookie, this is it.

I am proud to also announce that this cookie is made with whole wheat flour, and organic cane sugar and organic brown sugar.

Peanut Butter Pistachio Muffins

My mother, always the wonderful genius that she is, gave me the idea to take some pistachios that we had left over from homemade pistachio pudding and turn it into pistachio  butter. We were out of peanut butter, which in itself is a living nightmare for me, and I was struggling to figure out what to eat for lunch. I had recently made sandwich bread and decided to follow the advice of my mother, make pistachio butter and put it on a piece of my toasted bread.

It was okay. The pistachio butter tasted better on its own, in all honesty.

But then I had the new issue of what to do with pistachio butter?

The following day we bought peanut butter and I immediately knew what I wanted to do. I could combine three of my favorite things: peanut butter, pistachios, and muffin recipes.

The following recipe is an adaptation of the original I made because I am operating under the assumption not everyone wants to make pistachio butter in order to make this recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup peanut butter (consistency doesn’t matter)

1/4 cup oil

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/3 cup plus 3 tbs crushed pistachios

DIRECTIONS:

1. Grease six large muffin tins.

2.In a medium bowl combine, flour, baking powder and brown sugar. Stir until combined.

3. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, vanilla, milk, oil, and peanut butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.

4. Mix in the 1/3 cup crushed pistachios. Pour the muffin batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining pistachios. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

*NOTE: I’m back at school and so no longer have access to an oven or photographs of what I make.

Milk Free Baking

A wonderful friend from Ohio stayed with me and my family this past week. She cannot have milk and so while baking with her I got the chance to experiment with soy milk and oil instead of butter.

Being milk free is not the same as lactose free. A product can be lactose free but still contain other milk proteins, the most common being caseins and whey proteins such as beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin. 

I don’t claim to be a scientist or an allergy specialist, but until I was involved in a situation where I had to understand the milk protein allergy I thought lactose free meant milk free and that was the end.

I was amazed that the store bought bread we buy (an organic bread too) had a side note on the bottom: contains milk. We even bought a margarine spread, but although there were no ingredients listed that should have contained milk, the allergen information said otherwise: contains milk. 

It’s a good think my mom’s a vegan because we always have soy milk and almond milk around the house. It wasn’t difficult at all, once we decided to use soy milk, to make blueberry pancakes, blueberry waffles (my friend shares my obsession with blueberries), and then to shake it up, apple and oat muffins. The pancakes and waffles were easy because all we had to do was use soy milk instead of cow’s milk and spray the griddle with an oil spray instead of using margarine or butter. Muffins too were surprisingly easy because most recipes already call for oil instead of butter.

I was concerned about cooking and baking when worrying about allergy information, but everything worked out fine and  this is a post for anyone who needs ideas on working around a milk allergy. For breakfast, soy milk makes perfect pancakes and waffles, and almost any muffin recipe should work.

Happy baking!

Blueberry Loaf Cake

I’ve had a bit of a blueberry obsession lately. I’ve been looking for blueberry muffin recipes to inspire me, going blueberry picking, writing about blueberry jam, and all around wanting to make the most out of the blueberry season. It shouldn’t be that surprising then that I created a recipe for a blueberry loaf cake.

Except, I was out of blueberries. But I was not out of blueberry jam! What made it even better was that this is the Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest Jam which has whole blueberries in it. Delicious, gorgeous, and a perfect substitute for fresh blueberries.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup oil

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 cups flour

2/3 cup milk

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup blueberry jam OR 1 cup fresh/frozen blueberries

 

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Grease a loaf pan and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. With an electric mixer combine oil and sugar. Beat in eggs and both extracts. Beat in milk.

3. Combine flour and baking powder. Beat into wet ingredients. Fold in blueberries/blueberry jam.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, tenting the cake with aluminum foil after 40 minutes.

This cake is moist and full of blueberry flavor. It can be eaten as breakfast, snack, or a less sweet dessert. Enjoy and let me know how you use blueberries in your summer baking.

 

Product Placement: Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest

Why does it seem that if you want to buy natural you have to buy brands that are expensive or brands no one has heard of before? It’s unfortunate that most brand name products are stuffed with ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and chemicals and dyes.

But there’s a secret to most of these big name products: they produce natural versions of their commercial products. Both Jif and Skippy have natural peanut butters and Smucker’s has Orchard’s Finest berry preserves.

  

Now, I’ve only tried the blueberry (far right of the photo) but there are whole blueberries in the jam. It’s smooth and sweet and whole blueberries are abundant. When my family ran out of blueberries from Jones Family Farm and I wanted to make blueberry loaf cake, I used a half cup of Smucker’s jam and my blueberry cake is studded with blueberries.

Here comes the hard part though, it’s not perfect. Though it pains me to admit it, Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest preserves are not in fact perfect. The ingredients (though all readable and common) are: BLUEBERRIES, SUGAR, FRUIT PECTIN, CITRIC ACID. It would be preferred if there was no sugar added, but this seems rather minor. There are 12 grams of sugar and 50 calories. For more information on the nutrition label visit: http://www.smucker.com/products/ProductDetail.aspx?groupId=1&categoryId=338&flavorId=755

As usual, unfortunately, the natural jams are more expensive than the standard ones. A twelve oz jar is $3.29 for the natural jam and a 12 oz jar is $2.99 for their commercial products. This is, thankfully, not a huge cost difference. Look for the natural Smucker’s jams next time you shop and let me know what you think!

Apparently, Smucker’s also has an organic line. I’ll be looking into this soon and I’ll keep you posted. Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Wheat Biscuits

So in my ongoing battle to produce healthy food, still be a foodie, and run a confections business I decided to spice up the basic biscuit recipe I use by chopping up some apples and making the dough half whole wheat.

The idea behind these biscuits came about from more than idea about being healthy though, as it is difficult to make biscuits healthy. After trying Yoga Bread, I wanted to experiment with using fruit in my baking and after successfully making apple oat muffins (more to come on this later) I knew I wanted to try a similar combination with a biscuit.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup shortening*

1 1/2 tbs baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

2 apples, chopped finely (I used McIntosh)

1 cup milk

*was butter in the original biscuit recipe, recipe works with either

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 6 large muffin tins.

2. Combine dry ingredients. Add shortening with two knives or with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3. Pulse apples through a food processor until chopped finely (skin them if you wish, it’s not necessary).

4. Add milk and apples to the mixture, stirring just until combined.  Spoon into muffin tins.

5. Bake for 15 minutes.

Try this variation on the biscuit recipe from Favorite Brand Name  books.

 

Berry Picking Adventures Part II

When I went berry picking with my mother last month for strawberries it was rather late in the season, we had to do a bit of digging to find strawberries that weren’t dead on the bush or in the dirt. The strawberries were still delicious, but it was difficult to find ones that would last a long time once we got them home.

So the same farm we went to for strawberries has blueberry picking July into August. Jones Family Farm is truly amazing. The blueberry bushes are farther back on the farm and so we got to take a much longer trip on the Berry Ferry and see the massive acreage that is Jones Family Farm. It’s amazing. The farm has pumpkin picking in the fall and Christmas trees in the winter and strawberries then blueberries in the summer.

  

The blueberry bushes stretched out for miles and this time we came early in the season. Not all the berries were ripe yet we were that early. When my mom and I came off the Berry Ferry to be told which bushes we could pick from I saw people coming back from picking and had to do a double take. The blueberries could not look that perfect. It just wasn’t possible.

Yet they did. The blueberries felt like they were covered in a soft fuzz of velvet. They were so beautiful and plump and delicious. I cannot recommend getting to a farm to pick your own berries enough. I have never tasted better berries and for about 3 lbs of berries my mom and I paid a little over $6. The berries have been lasting us for the past two weeks, just as delicious and just as fresh.

I’ve been making tons of whole wheat blueberry pancakes and I’m in the process of perfecting a blueberry muffin recipe. If anyone has any other ideas on what to do with fresh blueberries I would love to hear from you!