Saturday, January 29, 2011

Toffee Bars

There actually isn't any toffee in these bars, but their flavor is reminiscent of toffee - buttery and rich. They are so simple to make, yet so yummy! The more of them you eat, the more of them you'll want.

I have been making these for years, and they never hang around very long. Delicious!

Toffee Bars
Adapted from Betty Crocker
Makes 32 bars

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar (or honey sucanat)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
2 cups all-purpose flour (or 10 oz Soft White wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Preheat oven to 350º. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Mix in vanilla and egg yolk. Stir in flour and salt. Press dough in the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 pan.

Bake until very lightly browned, about 25-30 minutes. (Crust should be soft). Immediately after removing from oven, sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over crust. Allow to melt for about 5 minutes on top of hot crust. Spread chocolate out evenly and sprinkle with nuts. Allow to cool before cutting into bars. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Banana Nut Bread

I love, love, love banana nut bread, and this recipe is awesome! It is so moist, and so delicious.

This recipe is extremely quick and easy to throw together, and if your house is anything like mine, the finished product will seem to vanish rather quickly too : )

Banana Nut Bread
Adapted from this recipe
Makes 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or 7.5 oz Soft White wheat flour)
1 1/2 cups sugar (or honey sucanat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 med-large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil (or melted butter)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat your oven to 350º. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together the mashed bananas, eggs, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla until well blended. Add dry ingredients. Stir until mixture is well combined. Stir in the chopped nuts. Pour mixture into loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour 15 to 1 hour 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Happy baking, and enjoy!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rich Vanilla Ice Cream

Ice cream is one of my all-time favorite desserts. I love almost every flavor, and enjoy it unadorned, or pilled high with toppings - it really doesn't matter to me. However, I must admit that my very favorite flavor is still plain ol' vanilla. So simple and unassuming, yet so, so good!

This recipe is really easy to make. You can use half milk and half cream, or if you're feeling really indulgent, go with the original recipe and use 1 cup whole milk, and 3 cups heavy cream - oh my! Both ways are delicious though : )

Rich Vanilla Ice Cream
Adapted from this recipe
Makes 1 quart

1 cup whole milk*
3 cups heavy cream*
3/4 cup sugar (or honey sucanat)
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

*(you can use 2 cups milk and 2 cups cream instead)

Place milk, cream, and sugar in a saucepan with a heavy bottom. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and sugar is completely dissolved. In a small bowl whisk egg yolks together. Slowly add about one cup of cream mixture to yolks, continuing to whisk so as not to cook the yolks. When yolk mixture is smooth, pour into cream mixture, whisking constantly. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, and coats the back of a spoon. (Do not let the mixture boil or it will curdle). Pour through a strainer. Stir in vanilla extract. Allow to chill in the refrigerator. Freeze in an ice cream machine, according to manufacturer's directions. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Pomegranate Cookies

Wow, wow, wow! Who would have thought that pomegranate seeds (or arils) would be so delicious in chocolate cookies? Let me just tell you - they are!

The cookies are so rich and fudge-like, and the arils add a burst of flavor and freshness. Yum...

Chocolate Fudge Pomegranate Cookies
Adapted from this recipe
Makes about 30 cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar (or honey sucanat)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour (or 5 oz Soft White wheat flour)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pomegranate juice
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)

In a bowl cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until mixture is fluffy. In a small bowl mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Stir in pomegranate juice until thoroughly mixed. Fold in chocolate chips and pomegranate arils. Refrigerate dough until firm (about 2-4 hours).

Once dough is chilled preheat oven to 350º. Roll dough into 1-inch sized balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Butterscotch Bars

Not only are these bars a snap to throw together, they are also dense, rich, and delicious.

I find that I don't use vanilla chips very often in my baking, but I'm glad when I do - they can make things so yummy!

Butterscotch Bars
Adapted from this recipe
Makes 16 bars

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar (or honey sucanat)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or 4 oz Soft White wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vanilla chips

Preheat your oven to 350º. Grease an 8X8 baking pan.

Add brown sugar to melted butter and whisk. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Whisk eggs into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients. Stir until just blended. Pour batter into pan, and spread out evenly. Sprinkle chips on top. (I stirred my chips in).

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the top is shiny and edges just begin to pull away from the pan. Do not overbake or underbake these - a toothpick inserted in the middle should have moist crumbs attached, but shouldn't be gooey. Cool completely before cutting into bars. (This recipe doubles well, just bake in a 13x9 pan). Enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pizza Dough and Sauce

I love pizza! I could literally eat it just about everyday. I like it with all different types of sauces (tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, Alfredo sauce, pesto, etc), and different kinds of toppings. Some of which might sound strange to put on a pizza, but I personally like them. What? You don't put banana peppers and dried cranberries on your pizza? That's odd...

This dough is simple to make, and easy to work with. You can knead by hand, or you can use the hook attachment on your stand mixer. Whichever you fancy! I'm serious about those toppings though...use your imagination, and try out something new. You might discover a new favorite!

Pizza Dough and Sauce
Adapted from
Makes one large pizza

For the dough:

1/2 tablespoon yeast
3/4 cup warm water
Pinch of sugar (or honey sucanat)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups flour (or 10 oz Hard White wheat flour)

For the sauce:

1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (or honey sucanat)
1 tablespoon oil

In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over warm water. Add sugar. Allow to sit about 5 minutes, until it starts to foam.

Stir in the salt and oil. Gradually mix in the flour.

Knead dough until smooth and slightly elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and allow to double in size (about 30 - 60 minutes). Punch down, and allow to rise again until doubled. Shape dough on a pizza pan. (I sprinkle a little flour on the pan first).

Bake crust for about 10 minutes. Remove crust from oven and top with sauce* and toppings. Return to the oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.

*For the sauce: Stir together all sauce ingredients until well blended. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chocolate Chewies

These cookies are extremely rich and chocolatey, yet they have a light texture. They are quick to throw together, and taste delicious.

You don't want to overbake these, but you do want to make sure you bake them enough. I added about 5 minutes to my bake time, and still could have gone a few more minutes I think. These were so very yummy (I say were because we already ate them all, haha!).

Chocolate Chewies
Adapted from this recipe
Makes about 3 dozen

12 oz powdered sugar
2 oz cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites (can use yolks to make a key lime pie)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350º.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using whisk attachment, stir together the dry ingredients. On low speed add egg whites one at a time. (The batter will look dry, up until you add the final egg white). Add vanilla. Mix on high for 2 minutes, until batter is thick (it should resemble brownie batter).

Spoon batter onto a cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake until they look puffed up, and you start to smell them, about 20 minutes. Allow to fully cool before removing from the cookie sheet. Enjoy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

"Freshly Rolled" Oatmeal

One of my favorite ways to start the day is with a bowl of hot and delicious oatmeal. I like to buy oat groats, and then roll them (or "mill" them) as I need them. That way they're as fresh as possible. I just use the milling attachment on my flour grinder, its made for the job : )

If you don't currently have an oat mill, then you can use the pre-rolled, old-fashioned oats. The recipe works great for both types. This oatmeal is quick, easy, healthy, and oh so yummy. (It also reheats well!) I usually top mine with a dash of cinnamon, a splash of milk, and a drizzle of maple syrup....scrumptious!

"Freshly Rolled" Oatmeal
Serves 4-6

4 cups water
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cups freshly rolled oats (or old-fashioned)
pinch of salt

In a medium pan, bring water and milk to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add the oats and salt. Continue cooking (stirring occasionally) until desired thickness is reached (about 5 minutes or so). Spoon into bowls.

Top oatmeal with desired items such as cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, honey, molasses, sucanat, milk or cream, dried cranberries, chopped nuts, grated coconut, a splash of vanilla extract, or anything else you can dream up. Enjoy!