Sunday, August 30, 2009

SMS: Fresh Peach Muffins

Short and sweet post, running out the door for a weekend retreat in the mountains, no cell or blackberry reception, so nice. Anyhow, I made these muffins back when we made the strawberry rubarb jam, which I made again last night to take on our trip! This week's SMS recipe is Fresh Peach Muffins chosen by JoVonn of the Givens Chronicles. She's a Georgia Peach, so she choose this recipe. I made it dairy free with soy creamer and it worked great. Peach flavor is mild, but the mufins were overall very good. Check out the other SMS baker's here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

SMS: Caramel Apple Banana Bread

Another banana bundt cake. While I didn't taste this one (dairy), so can't give you a great comparison with the TWD Banana Bundt Cake, this sure smelled heavenly and got rave reviews from my Father's work. This week's recipe was chosen by Joy of Hot Oven Warm Heart. She is super sweet and says she is new to blogging, but if you look at her pictures and her posts, I am not to convinced - so beautiful. Really glad Joy was able to join SMS, she is a great addition and writes such thoughtful comments. Great pick Joy! You can get the recipe from here blog HERE. It was slightly more involved with having to chop and carmelize the apple pieces, but my dad swore it was worth it - for him! And it was a bundt because I was baking at my parent's house and they did not have a loaf pan, so there you go. Check out the other creative SMS bloggers HERE.

As an aside, I know I have mentioned serveral times this summer that things are hectic - and apologized for my derelic commenting - well hectic hit a new high last week, some good some bad. So, trying to stay above water and will make the rounds as soon as I can. Thanks so much for still commenting on my blog - you are such terrific supporters.

P.s. please excuse the I-phone photo.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

SMS: Amaretto Truffles

Taking a tiny break from my fun-filled weekend of work, work, work, to bring you this week's SMS recipe: Truffles. Actually, it was hazelnut truffles, but I didn't have any hazelnuts. But I did have tons of almonds, and Disaronno and amaretti cookies - and so, there you go, Amaretto Truffles. The Hazelnut Truffles was chosen by Annie of Living Life Foodcariously. The recipe can be found on her blog HERE.

So, to work with what I had, I substituted toasted almonds for the hazelnuts, Disaronno for the Frangelico, and rolled the truffles in crushed amaretti cookies. Instead of adding 1 1/2 cups of chopped nuts to the truffles, I opted for about 1/2 a cup instead. I wanted there to be some nuts, but I didnt want that to overpower the chocolate. Mathias thought it was just the right balance. This was my first time making truffles, and it was so easy. I am so glad I tried these - great easy party treats. And the flavor combinations are endless. Thanks for picking these Annie.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

Ohhhhh man these were DELICIOUS. This post is a little overdue, I made these amazing cinnamon rolls from The Bread Baker's Apprentice while we were on vacation in Hawaii in May. I bought this book in hopes of joining the BBA group, but I can barely keep up with TWD and SMS and Cake Slice. So, I have the book, and when I can, I will try some of those amazing recipes that I have seen all over many lovely blogs. But I just had to try these, and despite sub-optimal baking conditions in the condo (no oven thermometer!!), these turned out AMAZING. I can't wait to do them again - although they do take some coordination to time them well for morning treats. I am not going to post the recipe here since the BBA group is not doing that, but here is a LINK to a post that has an adapted recipe of these rolls (looks pretty close to me).

And, just because this blog is a little bit of an on-line journal for me, below are some fun pictures from our amazing trip. Thanks again William and Locey.

Monday, August 10, 2009

SMS: Snickerdoodles

Well, a day late. What can I say ... the truth? My father drove to SF from LA on Friday to buy this car for my mom, and they needed someone to drive the car home - since my sister who came along is only 14. So I volunteered, and by the time we got home to LA, I went straight to bed. Cookies were made, pictures taken, but no energy.

This week's SMS recipe was the well-loved snickerdoodles - my hubby's favorite. Luckily, Spike of Spike Bakes helped us all out and agreed to host last minute and chose snickerdoodles. You can get the recipe HERE. My usual go-to recipe I use is Mrs. Sigg's Snickerdoodles - which uses shortening and doesn't require a chill in the fridge like the SMS recipe. Well I'd say these came out just as good as my trusty standard, they were gobbled up by my hubby and family. My sister said they were the best cookies she ever had. So, give them a try.
Thanks Spike for hosting and thanks Dad and Pam for the feedback and the photos.

Baby Shower Treats

So, a good friend of mine from my beloved school Berkeley is having a baby in September! So excited for a new golden baby bear. Her shower was last weekend, and I volunteered - ok practically begged - to make cute baby shower treats. I was just dying to use my onsie cookie cutter.

Luckilly for me, she took me up on the offer. I decided to make decorated sugar cookies as favors and cupcakes for the shower itself. The mother-to-be doesn't like chocolate, and until my recent discovery of my love of chocolate - we bonded in our non-chocolate freakiness. So chocolate cupcakes were out. I decided on two well-loved staples - strawberry (see below) and triple lemon. Although, this time, I did a little twist to my favorite strawberry cupcake recipe.

Taking inspiration from the amazing Strawberry Ruby Grapefruit Preserves we made for SMS, I decided to make Strawberry Grapefruit cupcakes by added the zest of 1/2 a grapefruit to the batter, and about 1 tsp of grapefruit zest to the strawberries in my mini-prep food processor when making the strawberry puree for the buttercream frosting. I couldn't taste these, but they were well loved. And they smelled great.

And, then I made onsie sugar cookies in pale yellow and green because they are going the suprise gender route - which I could never do. Kudos to them. My sweet hubby helped me with filling the cookies with the flood icing. Sooo sweet. I really liked how they turned out. I really like making decorated sugar cookies, but oh, they really are a lot of work.

Strawberry Grapefruit Cupcakes

adapted from Cooking with Amy

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1 large egg
6 ounces strawberry yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
grated zest of 1/2 grapefruit

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. With an electric hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg, yogurt and vanilla, and grapefruit zest, blending until smooth.

2. Measure the dry ingredients into the bowl and blend, then fold in the strawberries.

3. Divide the mixture equally between the 12 paper-lined cupcake cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

4. Beat together butter, powdered sugar, and mashed strawberry in medium-size bowl until creamy and smooth. Chill frosting for 15 minutes or until thick. Frost cupcakes with a spatula.Yield: 12 servings

Sprinkles Strawberry Frosting

2 sticks (½ lb) unsalted butter, firm but not cold
1/8 tsp kosher salt
4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp pureed fresh strawberries
1 tsp grated zest of a grapefruit

Put strawberries and grapefruit zest in a food processor and blend until you have a puree

Beat butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffyReduce speed and gradually add confectioner's sugar and beat until incorporatedAdd vanilla and strawberry puree and mix until blended. Do not overmix, or the frosting will incorporate too much air. The consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice-cream.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Coconut Chai Blondies

I am proud of these babies. Not a recipe from one of my baking groups, not a copycat post from one of my favorite bloggers, not from a cookbook (well not entirely). Nope my rare attempt at creativity. And it worked! I have this great tea that I got from Cost Plus that is coconut chai tea. It is super yummy. After making the amazing Chai Cake with the Cake Slice Bakers, I was inspired to make more chai treats - I love chai. So, I thought I would try to make a coconut chai bar cookie/blondie. Boy am I glad I did, these are amazing.

I started, where else, with my favorite baking book - From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan, and her Chewy Chunky Blondies Recipe and then added chai spices, coconut, macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips. This is really a great combo. My co-workers gobbled these up. They were actually meant for my dear Berkeley college friends for movie night on Thursday, but I got stuck at work and didn't leave until around mid-night, so at that point I was too tired to deliver these goods, so work was in for a treat on Friday. One of my co-workers actually yelped pretty loud when he saw them, had two and raved about them. How about that for some positive work feedback? And Bartlet street - these are coming your way soon, I promise.


Coconut Chai Blondies

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter or dairy free margarine (at room temperature)
1 1/2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped macademia nuts
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven the 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and put it on a baking sheet (you can also line the pan with foil and spray the foil, this helps to remove the blondies when done)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, or until well incorporated. Add the eggs one by one, beating for one minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear into the batter. Using a rubber spatula stir in the white chocolate chips, macademia nuts and coconut. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and use the spatula to even the top as best you can.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife instered into the center fo the blondies comes out clean. The blondies should pull away from the sides of the pan a little and the top should be a nice honey brown. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for about 15 minutes before turning the blondies out onto another rack. Inver onto a rack and cool the blondies to room temperature right side up.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

TWD: Banana Bundt Cake

I'm baaaack. Ah TWD, how I missed the. What a crazy July - and so many lactose desserts. This week's Banana Bundt Cake was perfect for my return. Hubby and I love banana bread, and I can easily make this lactose free with margarine and yogurt. And, it was chosen by one of my favorite bloggers who I have a major blog crush on and wish, o, wish I could be half as talented as. None other than Mary of The Food Librarian. You can find this amazing recipe HERE.

So, I was a tad on the late side with this one - still true to my procrastinating TWD form - so we just tested this cake while it was still steaming hot. It was really good. I know it will only get better with a good night's rest (as Dorie mentions in the book) because that will give the banana flavor time to develop more. So, can't wait for breakfast. I added 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp cardamon for a little kick. Those flavors are subtle and don't over power the banana. Another great Dorie recipe. Man I love this cookbook.