Oatmeal – From Boring to Fabulous

Is oatmeal one of your breakfast staples?  It is for me, too; and while I love a nice hot bowl of oatmeal, it can be quite boring and monotonous to eat it every day.  It doesn’t have to be that way (monotonous).

While many days I may just drizzle a bit of honey and add some milk to my oatmeal; I really love adding chopped fresh fruits of all sorts to my oatmeal, then topping with a bit of cinnamon.  I get one of my “fruit servings” for the day, along with the fiber from the oatmeal, and I am good to go for the morning!

Today, I chopped up an apple to add to my oatmeal.  Now, I am usually get the apples chopped and into the oatmeal/water before I put it on the stove to cook.  this not only softens the apples a tad, but also allows some of the sugars from the apple to infuse into the oatmeal.  Today the apple was a bit of an after-thought; but it was still yummy!

 
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What other fruits do you add to your morning oatmeal?  Bananas, pears, peaches, etc?

 

Walnut Pumpkin Bread

Need to put this on the holiday baking list!

CutterLight

Creamy, sweetened homemade ricotta cheese makes for a lighter, healthier delicious alternative to cream cheese in this cheesecake-like tart. In this version, slices of pears have been brushed with peach preserves prior to baking.

I was surprised how easy it was to make a ricotta-style cheese at home. My first batch of ricotta went into Jack’s moose cannelloni. A second batch was split between blintzes and a pear and ricotta tart. Infused with vanilla, the beaten egg and ricotta base was smooth, creamy and light. The sliced pears were brushed with a vanilla peach jam which added another subtle layer of flavor.

Pear and Ricotta Tart

Ingredients

  • pie crust
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 d’Anjou pears, halved, cored and sliced
  • 1 heaping tbsp of peach preserves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Press pie dough into a 9-inch springform…

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Best Sticky Buns Recipe EVER – The Search is OVER!

Many years ago, I started this search and have been through several “promising” recipes, only to end up with dry and hard cinnamon buns.

I remember one such recipe where I discovered a mis-print in the cookbook (after the fact).  The recipe was supposed to require 2 teaspoons of yeast, but the cookbook print said 2 tablespoons!  I followed the cookbook thinking, well, that must be right…

OMG – have you ever seen the old “I LOVE LUCY” show where Lucy tries to bake bread and when she opens up the oven in her small kitchen the bread starts coming out of the oven until she is back up against the cabinet on the other side of the kitchen?  Well, that is what it felt like having used 2 tablespoons of yeast for those buns!  The dough just kept rising and rising and rising!  If I recall correctly, the recipe was supposed to make about a dozen cinnamon rolls, but I ended up with about 4 times that many – PLUS the size of the cinnamon rolls would put the “CINNABUN” rolls to shame!  Unfortunately, they were also hard as a rock…

😦

And thus started my quest for the best ever sticky bun recipe.  🙂

I discovered this “Winning Recipe” in a summer edition of Bon Appetit.  It was part of the Master Sweet Dough series of recipes, where they provided the base sweet dough recipe and then 5 variations on different rolls and breads that you could make with it.

You start with the base sweet dough recipe.  when you have prepared the dough, it will look like this before placing it into a greased bowl to rise.

Smooth and silky, stretch nicely and be easily removed from the dough hook and the bowl, though it will be a bit sticky.

The Ultimate Sticky Buns (as published in Bon Appetit’)

Topping

  • 1 3/4 cups chopped pecans (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted  butter
  • 3/4 cup (packed) dark brown  sugar (if you don’t have dark brown sugar – check out the recipe I posted on how to make it at home here)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream – I didn’t have cream in the house, so I just used regular 1% milk, which worked just fine.
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest  (optional) – while this is optional, I highly suggest that you use the orange zest – it added just a hint of flavor that I think really took these sticky buns “Over the TOP”!

Buns

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room  temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown  sugar
  • 3/4t easpoon ground  cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated  nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • All-purpose flour (for  dusting)
  • 1 large egg
  • Coarse sea salt (such as  Maldon)
  • Special Equipment:

    An 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan.  (alternatively, you can use a couple of round cake pans)  I made the buns in two cake pans, putting one of the in the freezer to make later.  When ready to make the second pan of buns, remove from the freezer the night before and allow to thaw and rise (covered with plastic) on the counter over night, they should be ready to bake by the time you get up in the morning.

Preparation

Dough

  • Follow the Master Sweet Dough Recipe I posted here
  • Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in  size, 1–1 1/2 hours (or 2–2 1/2 hours if dough has been  refrigerated).
  • Chill dough for 2 hours.

Topping

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Spread out nuts on a rimmed baking  sheet. Toast until fragrant and slightly darkened, 10–12 minutes. Let cool  completely. Set 1 1/4 cups nuts aside for buns.
  • Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir  in brown sugar, cream, honey, salt, and orange zest, if using. Bring to a boil,  reduce heat to medium, and simmer until glaze is golden brown and glossy, 3–4  minutes. Pour 1 cup of glaze into baking pan, tilting to coat bottom and sides.  Set aside remaining glaze. Sprinkle 1/2 cup toasted pecans over bottom of baking  pan and let cool.

Buns

  • Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar,  cinnamon, nutmeg, and kosher salt in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, 2–3  minutes. Set filling aside.
  • Punch down dough; transfer to a floured work surface. Lightly  dust top with flour. Follow our step-by-step guide for assembling buns with filling and 3/4 cup  pecans. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill buns and  remaining glaze separately. Store remaining pecans airtight at room  temperature.
  • Loosely cover pan with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let  buns rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1  hour, or 1 1/2–2 hours if dough has been chilled overnight.
  • Arrange a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. Whisk egg  with 1/2 tsp. water in a small bowl. Brush tops of buns with egg wash.
    Bake,  rotating pan halfway through and tenting with foil if browning too quickly,  until buns are golden brown, filling is bubbling, and an instant-read  thermometer inserted into center of buns registers 185°, about 50 minutes. Let  cool for 5 minutes. Spoon remaining glaze over. Sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans over.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack.
  • Lightly sprinkle sea salt over.  (I forgot about the sea salt, so don’t worry if you don’t want to use it, they are fabulous even without it)

    Buns, right out of the oven, before topping them with the sauce and more nuts

    Finished buns, topped with sauce and nuts.

    Once the buns have cooled for about 5 minutes and you have added the sauce and nuts on top, I suggest you immediately invert them onto a plate, otherwise the bottom glaze will harden and stick to the pan, making them difficult to remove, and leave all that yummy goo and nuts in the pan.
    Serve buns warm or at room  temperature

Orange Scones for Saturday Morning Breakfast

Yesterday late afternoon I found myself in the mood to bake.  Scones came to mind as I was looking for a sticky bun recipe made from the sweet dough that I posted about recently.  While I really wanted to make the sticky buns, the sweet dough would take longer than I wanted, so when I spied a Sweet Lavendar Scones recipe I cut out of the May 2012 edition of Bon Appetit’, I knew that was what I would be baking.

The original recipe called for culinary lavendar buds, of which I did not have any, as well as lemon zestx which I was also out of.  So, starting with the basic scone recipe, I modified it just a touch and came up with some yummy Orange Scones.

These are great with your morning cup of java or tea.

Orange Scones

Makes between 16 – 24 scones, depending on how you cut them.

Preheat oven to 425*

3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for surface

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (if you don’t have butter milk, make some using 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or white wine vinegar.  For this recipe, just add 1 tablespoon more of milk to get the total amount noted.)

2 teaspoons orange zest (I eyeballed this from some orange zest I had frozen in the freezer)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons sanding or granulated sugar

Arrange racks in oven before starting to preheat oven.  If you use 2 baking sheets, place racks in upper and lower 1/3 of oven.  if using only 1 baking sheet, place rack in middle of oven.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and soda together in a large bowl. Add butter and using knives, a fork or a pastry cutter, cut butter into mixture until you have coarse mixture that resembles corn meal.

Whisk together 1 up milk and all other wet ingredients, including orange zest.  Add this to the flour mixture and mix together just until combined.  Use your hands to mix, not a mixer.  You want the dough to be tender. Mix until a shaggy ball forms.

Transfer dough to floured surface and knead about 4 – 5 times to bring the dough together.  Pat down into a 10 x 6 inch rectangle.  Cut the dough to the size of scones you want.  I cut mine into small squares, so I got 24 scones out of the recipe.

Place on baking sheets  brush with remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 425* got 13 – 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and tops are lightly browned.  Remove from oven, transfer to wire rack to cool.

I also made some orange flavored icing and topped a few of the scones with this for a more “dessert like” scone.

Feel free to add other things to the scones like dried cranberries, dried cherries, or nuts of your choice.

Independence Day Brunch

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Scrambled eggs with green pepper and banana peppers, topped with a little motzrella cheese, with lots of fresh fruit – peaches, banana, strawberries, blueberries – and a biscuit.

Happy Independence Day United States of America!!

A special thank you to all the service men and women who have helped to make this a great country, past, present, and future.  God Bless!

Zucchini Muffins

Here is the 4# zucchini…

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So, I made those chocolate chip zucchini muffins, but I still had a lot of zucchini left… so I made these muffins too.

Zucchini Muffins
adopted from William Sonoma Muffins cookbook

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 large eggs

1/2 oil (I use grapeseed oil)

1/4 cup lowquat jam (I made this jam, you can also use orange marmalade)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 # zucchini

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine all dry ingredients

Combine all wet ingredients.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together.

Add zucchini and nuts, mix to combine

Spoon into greased muffin cups (or lined cups with cupcake liners).

Preheat oven to 400*.

Bake 17 – 20 minutes until done.  Cool on rack 5 minutes, remove from muffin tin and let cool completely.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 muffins

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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

I will be out of town over the weekend, so I thought I would post a couple of muffin recipes that I made a month or so ago.

About a month ago I was the recipient of a 4# zucchini from the church garden.  Yes, 4#s!

Well, it just happened to also coinside with National Chocolate Chip Day, so I decided to give a recipe from allrecipes.com a try.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup shredded zucchini

1/4 cup minature chocolate chips

1/4 cup nuts

Combine all dry ingredients.  (except chocolate chips and nuts)

Combine all wet ingredients.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together.

Add chocolate chips and nuts and mix to combine.

Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with cupcake liners.

Preheat oven to 350*

Bake muffins 20-25 minutes, until lightly brown springy.  use toothpick to test doneness.

cool on wire rack 5 minutes, remove from muffin tin and let cool completely.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Peach Melba Muffins

I chose this recipe for yesterday’s muffins because I still had some red raspberries left in the feezer I wanted to use.

The original recipe called for two fresh peaches chopped.  I didn’t have any peaches but I did have some peach preserves in the fridgerator that I wanted to use up as well.  The recipe called for the peaches to be added to the batter, but since I was using preserves, I opted to mix that with the raspberries.  In retrospect, I think it would have been fine to put the preserves in the batter instead of with the raspberries, it would help to make the muffin a bit more moist.  These still turned out great, and because I put the preserves with the raspberries, I had some of the filling left over, so you can always spoon a bit of the raspberry/peach preserves on the muffins if you want more fruit.  🙂

Peach Melba Muffins
 adopted from the Williams-Sonoma Muffins cookbook

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (unthawed)

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon berry liquer such as Chambord or raspberry vinegar (I happen to have Chambord on hand as well – a definite plus – I really like that liquer)

2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

6 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup milk

1 cup peach preserves

1/2 cup chopped almonds (I had whole almonds on hand so I chopped them, you could use slivered almonds – that is what the original recipe called for)

Preheat oven to 375*

Grease muffin tin, or line with cupcake liners

Toss raspberries with liqueur and peach preserves and set aside.

Mix all dry ingredients together in one bowl.

In another bowl mix all wet ingredients together (except the raspberry mixture).

Mix wet and dry ingredients together, just until evenly moistened. no more than 15 – 20 strokes.  batter will be lumpy

Spoon batter into muffin tin cups about 1/2 way.  Add a bit of the raspberry mixture and top with more batter to fill the cup.  Sprinkle with almond pieces.

Bake until golden brown, dry and springy to the touch.  toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.  25 – 20 minutes.

Cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 5 minutes or so, remove and let cool completely on wire rack.  Serv warm or at room temperature with butter, or left over raspberry mixture.

Makes 12 muffins.