Saturday, May 22, 2010

Perfect Pancakes

I don't have any pictures, mostly because I was too hungry for breakfast this morning to want to take pictures of my food before I scarfed it down.

I searched for a good pancake recipe, and fell head-over-heels in love with this one. I made a few slight changes and got the perfect sweet, fluffy pancake. Notice that these don't even need any butter. They taste like heaven without it - and let you feel less guilty for drowning them in syrup.

Buttermilk Pancakes
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg whites (or one whole egg)
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used slightly more, maybe 1 1/2 tsp)

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk egg into buttermilk in another bowl. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Add vanilla and whisk until lumps are gone.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula and cook until browned on the other side.

Mmm, pancakes. Perfect.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Summertime Biscotti

I know it's not technically summer, but it is for me! School is out! And I found these biscotti on the Cooking Light website. They were slightly different from the one in their 2010 cookbook. The ones I decided to go with had no butter. Can't you tell I'm on a health kick?

I didn't have any lemon extract on hand, which the recipe called for, so I just juiced one of the lemons that I used for the zest and threw in about a couple teaspoons of lemon juice. Turned out wonderful!

White Chocolate Lemon Biscotti
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract (I used a couple teaspoons of lemon juice)
4 large egg whites
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups white chocolate (chips or chopped bar - I used chips)

Place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to sugar mixture. beating until well blended. Stir in chocolate. Refrigerate for about an hour so the dough is easier to handle.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Turn dough out onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Shape dough into two 12-inch logs and pat to 2 1/2 inch width.

Bake for 35 minutes. Remove rolls from baking sheet. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Cut rolls diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices. I got about 11 slices from each log, but mine were also slightly thicker than 1/2-inch. Place, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Turn cookies over; bake an additional 10 minutes. Cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool. Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on wire rack.

A Healthier Brownie

I've really been craving brownies. I decided to experiment with "healthing up" a batch of them this weekend. The recipe was adapted from an recipe. I replaced most of the butter with applesauce and used 8 egg whites instead of 4 eggs.

Quick and Easy (and Healthy) Brownies
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 large egg whites
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Melt the butter and mix all ingredients in order given.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes in a 9x13 inch aluminum-foil lined pan. I cut them into 16 brownies - I figured it was totally okay to make bigger brownie pieces since they're so light!

The official taste tester, my 16-year-old brother, said they were great! That's a good sign. He's not someone who would generally enjoy a "healthified" recipe.

I ate one with some raspberry preserves, cool whip, and a few sliced strawberries. Delicious. I was so pleasantly surprised by the taste. They were very, very moist and cakey. I'm surprised that I managed to cover up and refrigerate the remaining 14.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Ultimate Man Cookie

My younger brother ran to the store today to buy some bacon to go with his eggs at brunch. I encouraged him to let me use it to make chocolate chocolate chunk bacon cookies instead.

Typical me, looking for any excuse to bake something.

These won't come anywhere near my mouth, because quite honestly, bacon repulses me. I'm sure that my dad and brother will eat the whole batch pretty quickly, though.

Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Bacon Cookies
6 slices fried bacon, chopped
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup softened butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks (I just used an entire Nestle bag)

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Fold in the bacon bits and chocolate chunks.

(And here is where I always refrigerate my dough for at least an hour. It's just habit. It would feel wrong not to refrigerate cookie dough. Plus, my angel food cake was still baking.)

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in 350 degree oven.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day Dessert

Chocolate Angel Food Cake
3/4 cup cake flour (I used the corn starch/AP flour substitute)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, grated
12 egg whites (I think I actually used about 14)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Sift together flour, cocoa, and 3/4 cup of the sugar. Set aside.

Measure 3 tablespoons of the flour mixture and toss with the grated chocolate.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer at low speed, beat egg whites until foamy.

Increase mixer speed to medium, stir in cream of tartar and salt, and continue to beat until egg whites form soft peaks.

Gradually mix in remaining 3/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Stir in the vanilla and lemon juice.

Gently fold the flour mixture into the beaten egg whites, then fold in the grated chocolate, stirring just until no white streaks remain.

Gently scrap the batter into the pan. Smooth the surface of the batter and tap the pan lightly to remove any air bubbles.

Bake in the center of oven for 60 minutes, or until the surface springs back when touched.

Note: For the grated chocolate, I used slightly less than two squares. I didn't realize how labor intensive grating chocolate is. My arms almost fell off, and I figured that the extra chocolate wouldn't be necessary if this cake were going to be eaten with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and strawberries.

I also made some chocolate sauce. Gretch was wanting to use Hershey's Syrup, and I told her that plastic-y fake chocolate just wasn't good enough to put on my beautiful cake

Chocolate Sauce
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 2/3 cups white sugar
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
1-2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cocoa, sugar, milk, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil and let boil for one minute.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Note: It's up to you how much corn syrup you throw in - it's a matter of how thick you want your syrup to be. I wanted it to be a fairly thin drizzle to pour over the cake, so I only went with about 1 tablespoon.

This cake was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. I'm a huge fan of angel food cake. I'd never eaten a homemade one before, though. I was missing out. I'm definitely going to make angel food cake again... and again... and again. Hopefully next time I make this, I can get some raspberries. They didn't have any when I bought the ingredients yesterday. I was super disappointed because raspberries are my all-time favorite fruit.

The strawberries definitely satisfied, though.

Mother's Day Breakfast - Oh, and I'm still alive!

So I haven't posted anything for quite some time. Excuse? I'm a college student! And now school is out for the summer. I made it through a finals week that threw 6 exams my way. I'm hopeful that I came out of the mess with a 4.0.

And now I'm living at home for the next three months, in my beautiful house with all its rooms and its kitchen appliances. I had a great freshman year experience, but it's nice to move out of my cramped dorm room and back into our spacious house.

So, a Mother's Day post!

Gretchen loves omelets, so I'm making her a mushroom/olive/cheese one for brunch this morning. Of course I wasn't overly excited about something that requires no baking, so I decided to whip up a batch of lemon poppy seed muffins as well.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/8 cup poppy seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup lemon flavored yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/3 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin.

Combine the flour, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl mix the eggs, yogurt, vegetable oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Blend well and pour over the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

Spoon batter evenly between prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes.

Okay, so I changed this recipe slightly. The lemon juice was intended to be combined with 3 tablespoons of white sugar and used as a glaze. I, however, was an idiot, didn't read the directions correctly, and threw it into the wet ingredients mix. When I realized my mistake, I threw in a tiny bit of extra flour. I'm sure that the muffins with the glaze were good, but I can tell you that putting the lemon juice directly into the mix didn't hurt the muffins at all.

I was afraid that my dad would think otherwise, but he gave me a great review. Phew.

The original recipe also called for 1/4 cup of poppy seeds, but that seemed like way too much. I put about 1/8 cup in and ended up throwing in a bit more. It's just kind of a preference thing.

And I think that one lemon was plenty for 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, but I juiced two lemons, so I used a bit of extra zest from the second lemons. I'm not afraid of lemon flavor.

Our house smells heavenly.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

One for the "Posse"

So my mom refers to my sixteen-year-old brother and all of his friends as the "posse." Our house tends to be the hangout for the crew.

I didn't get these beautiful things cut up in time to take to the Rainbow House, so I'm leaving them behind for the "posse."

I'm spoiling them rotten.

The original recipe was for a 13x9 dish, but I halved it. I also omitted the salted peanuts that they suggested sprinkling on top.

PB&J Strawberry Cookie Bars
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup peanut butter (mine was a heaping cup)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (12 oz) jar strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream your butter and your sugar. Add the egg, vanilla, and peanut butter. To make the peanut butter easier to work with, I always zap it in the microwave for a little bit - maybe fifteen or twenty seconds.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined.

Spread 2/3 of the dough into an aluminum foil-lined and sprayed 8x8 dish. Spread the strawberry preserves over the crust. Top the jam with dollops of the remaining dough.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes. I lost track of how long I baked these, but I'd say that 25-30 minutes is a good estimate. The doubled recipe called for 45 minutes, in case you're wanting to double it.