Monday, January 26, 2015

Nutella Hot Chocolate Plus Maple Sweetened Marshmallows

I think we can all agree that snow is what makes winter so magical. I love being at my family's home and playing in the snow with my sisters (Yes, we still do that!). On snow days, we would go sledding with my parents at the best hills in our area. My dad would pack a thermos of hot chocolate and always have treats for us in his pockets. This past Saturday, there was about a foot or so of snow when we woke up! Magic! We spent the day shoveling (aka snowball fights while my dad actually shoveled) and sledding. We tested out a new hill at a nearby park and brought Rex. He pulled Kelly around in a sled and chased us as we sped down the hill. It was perfect. Puppies + snow = happiness. After sledding, we played cranium and drank this hot chocolate.

At a local coffee shop near my apartment, you can find Nutella lattes and hot chocolate. So so dreamy but easy to make! My favorite milk to do this with is almond milk. I've tried coconut, cashew, and whole. 

Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies

Seeing as how there is a blizzard outside, baking cookies is definitely necessary. These are nice and crunchy. It's safe to say they're actually healthy. They balance out the decadent hot chocolate I'm about to blog next! The recipe is from Bob's Red Mill's site. 

3 cups Almond Meal (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup Coconut Oil
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
2 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup Dark Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (best invention ever) or silpat liner (which I gifted to myself). 
Mix dry ingredients in small mixing bowl with wire whisk.
Whisk together coconut oil and maple syrup in a medium sized mixing bowl. Then add the eggs and mix. Finally add the vanilla extract. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk until incorporated. Add the chocolate chips. 
Place rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Press the cookie down with palm of your hand if you want them a little flatter. If not, they'll retain their shape. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. 
These are best eaten right away (like all cookies) but will still be good for 2 days.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fresh Cranberry Scones

I still had some fresh cranberries in the freezer leftover from the holidays. Now they are in these scones, which are really easy, flavorful and smell like Christmas is coming all over again.

The recipe includes a rum glaze - I would go for that in a brunch scone, but it doesn't seem like the right fit for a weekday breakfast scone. I'm opting for butter and honey instead.

Fresh Cranberry Scones
Recipe from the Kitchn
Makes 12 to 18 scones, depending on size (I made pretty huge ones and I got about 9...)
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 small orange or clementine, zested
2 1/4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup milk
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling, optional

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Brown Butter Banana Bread

I've made a few dry, plain, not that tasty banana breads, so I don't really agree with what most blog entries about banana breads say - that it's so easy and foolproof. My past few attempts have been extra good, though, including this one with brown butter, so it makes me want to make banana bread a lot more often.

My all-time favorite banana bread is the Nutella-swirled one I posted way back in March 2013. Also, if you want to do the opposite of this brown butter version and not include butter at all, you could try Michelle's vegan version with homemade vegan Nutella. And Julia posted a whole wheat flour version almost exactly two years ago! 

When Joy the Baker's posted this recipe, it was made with cranberries - I have fresh cranberries in the freezer and was fully intending to put them in the batter but decided not to at the last minute. Even though I really like baking with fresh cranberries, I just wanted a more simple banana bread this time. In Joy the Baker's recipe, she adds 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries to the batter, folding it in right before turning the batter into the loaf pan. 

Brown Butter Banana Bread

Adapted from Joy the Baker

For the bread
6 ounces unsalted butter, melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 large eggs
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cup mashed banana (from about 3 medium bananas)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain yogurt

For the crumble
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oats

Monday, January 19, 2015

Apple Custard Pancake

I'm always on the lookout for brunch recipes since it's my favorite meal to host. Back in college, we would call it epic brunch. After Sunday mass, we would gather any friends that showed up and have what we called epic brunch. Brunch would last until the late afternoon and we would put off our studies to eat and spend more time together. It is a tradition that has carried on even after graduation. Even though we're all miles away, we still have brunch during our reunions. Since Sunday is a day for sleeping in and general relaxation, I like simple recipes that can be thrown together quickly. This apple pancake is one of them. I made it with the anticipation that it would be more like a German pancake. It wasn't. It was really more of a custard- at least, to me! It reminded me of Laura's apple cinnamon bread pudding minus the bread. The recipe is from the Kitchn.

Apple Custard 

3 medium Granny Smith apples
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs

Green Tea Cake

The first time I made this cake was in high school. Surprisingly, a lot of my staples come from my high school baking days. I suppose running 5+ miles a day all year round made me want to bake year round too. Anyways, when my friends and I made this cake, one of the girls accidentally baked the teaspoon into the cake. While it was baking, we looked for it to no avail. Then while slicing our dessert, my knife hit something solid. Kind of like king cake, right? Anyways, it was pretty hilarious as we all figured out where the teaspoon ended up. The cake tasted, just fine by the way! It still continues to be my mom's favorite. I made this green tea cake to celebrate her birthday right after Christmas. We also got her a spa day, chocolates, and cleaned the house since she is one amazing momma. The recipe is from All Recipes.

1 cup all-purpose flour 
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/4 cup matcha powder latte mix (I use trader joe's)
1 cup white sugar 
1 cup vegetable oil 
3 eggs 
1 cup plain yogurt 
1 vanilla bean

Monday, January 5, 2015

Gluten Free Cornmeal Waffles

These waffles are even better than the last cornmeal ones that I posted. The best part is that they are so light since they are gluten free. I tried this recipe with standard flour and it wasn't as good so I wouldn't substitute here. I also doubled the recipe which I found on the Yellow Table. The author went to Grove city for college so she lived in Pittsburgh (!!!) for a bit.

I made these for my family and once again for a New Year's brunch with my high school friends. I made Laura's maple bacon scones as an extra treat. We had mimosas, doughnuts, meats, and giant eagle brand buffalo chicken chips. The chips were a bonus on the guys' run to geagle. During brunch at Lacey's, Rex went crazy with her pups (she has 2!!) in between snatching some bacon and sausage from the table. I mean, how could you resist that face? The blur in the corner is Khaleesi, Lauren's puppy!

1 1/2 cups medium grind cornmeal
1 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar 
2 cups buttermilk
4 eggs
4 tablespoons melted butter

Cook according to waffle iron instructions. This makes enough to serve 5-6 people. 
So the version above does really well with sweet toppings. Maple syrup, honey, and butter. You could also make them like my last batch of waffles and add 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, and 1 bunch chopped green onions. These are good with salsa and eggs. 

Brown Butter Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles

At this point, I've made a couple batches of chai snickerdoodles that just didn't have enough chai spice in them. This recipe will change that! It has spices in the dough and also in the sugar coating. That makes all the difference. The recipe is from Will Cook for Friends from the great cookie exchange for bloggers. I vote we do this next year among ourselves through the mail. Also browned butter makes the cookie even better. I've made a gluten free version with gf all purpose flour mix that turned out well.

I've also been making my own chai concentrate lately! I'll be posting that soon. As you can tell, I love chai as much as I love pumpkin flavored baked goods.

When baking these you want to bake them just until they are barely set! The inside of the crackles will look bubbly and but not too gooey. Use the first tray of cookies to gauge how long you want to bake the rest of the cookies for. Remember they will continue to bake and set after taking them out of the oven. If you take these steps, your cookies will be chewy yet crispy and awesome.

By the way, happy New Year's Eve! We're on the turnpike towards Pittsburgh! I do not miss this drive but at least this year we're not all afflicted with food poisoning :)

1 cup + 4 tbsp unsalted butter 
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or gf mix
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. finely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract


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