Berry Granola Bars

Here’s a new granola bar recipe that I tried out.  Even though I doubled the original recipe, it still makes a smaller batch than any of my other granola bar recipes.  It is a nice and quick recipe though that yields a thick cookie-like bar.  I have listed the ingredients as I made it {doubled}, if you want to cut it in half, use an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan for baking and cut into 8 bars.

We ate them way too fast to warrant freezing them, but the recipe indicates that they freeze extremely well.

Berry Granola Bars

Source:  cooking for 2 magazine, Spring 2009.

Ingredients

4 Tbsp butter, soft

4 Tbsp brown sugar

2 eggs

4 tsp corn syrup

2 tsp molasses

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1-1/3 cup old-fashioned oats

6 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/3 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chopped pecan

1/2 cup dried mixed berries {blueberries, strawberries, cherries, cranberries…any combo totaling 1/2 cup is fine}

Directions

Cream butter and brown sugar.  Beat in the eggs, corn syrup, molasses, and vanilla.

Combine the oats, flour, cinnamon, and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.  Stir in pecans and dried fruit,

Spread into a lightly greased 8″ or 9″ square pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until set and edges are browned.  Cool completely and then cut into bars.

French Breakfast Puffs

I wanted to have a homemade breakfast item on hand for the week, so I did a little baking and whipped up these muffins.  Since cinnamon and sugar is one of my favorite flavors, I thought they were very good!  There’s nothing French about them necessarily, but that’s okay!

I made a few changes that include reducing the amount of salt, adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and subbing buttermilk for regular milk.  I just can’t make a baked good without a little vanilla and I just happened to have some buttermilk that needed to be used, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to use that instead.

I also reduced the amount of topping ingredients because I thought it sounded like an awful lot of butter and I didn’t want to have any leftover that would be wasted.  But it turned out that I ran out of my reduced toppings!  I could have melted up some more butter, but I was too lazy so I just left a few muffins {maybe 3?} plain.

French Breakfast Puffs

Source: Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Flour
  • 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt {I used 1/2 tsp}
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • ⅔ cups Shortening {I used butter flavored Crisco}
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Milk {I used buttermilk}

Topping

  • 1-½ cup Sugar  {I used one cup}
  • 3 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 sticks Butter {I used 1 stick, but ran out so I just didn’t coat all the muffins}

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.

In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In your mixer bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and shortening. Then add eggs & vanilla and mix again. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.

Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full {or more, mine were pretty much heaping}. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

In a bowl, melt 2 sticks butter. In a separate bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Dip baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Eat them while they’re warm!  Enjoy!

Honey Poppy Seed Dressing

As I mentioned previously, I am in love with making my own salad dressings.  This one is my current favorite.

Honey Poppy Seed Salad Dressing

Source:  adapted from Woman’s Day Magazine, September 15 2009

Ingredients

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup honey

2 Tbsp olive oil

pinch of salt

1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Whisk all of the above in a small bowl or shake up in a jar.  Enjoy over salad greens or fruit.

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken Breasts

As I mentioned in my previous post, the jalapeno popper dip can be turned  into a stuffing for chicken breasts.  You can easily adapt this to serve more than 2 if you would like.  And in place of the seasoned breadcrumbs you could use crushed tortilla chips.

Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken Breasts

{Source:  adapted from unknown source}

Ingredients:

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 to 1 cup leftover popper dip

3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray or oil the foil.

Butterfly the chicken breasts and pound to desired thickness, about 1/4″.

Spread some filling on each breast, trying not to overfill, and roll up or fold over to close.  A tight seal is not necessary, but you can secure with a toothpick or two if you like.

Coat with egg and then breadcrumbs.  Lay seam-side down on the prepared sheet.  Bake for 25-35 minutes or until meat reaches 170 degrees.  Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Sometimes I’m torn about whether or not to post certain food pictures.  I personally like to see a picture with every recipe that I want to make, but some of my pictures are so bad that I think they detract from the food itself.  This is one of those instances where you probably won’t want to make this dish based on the picture, but it’s there anyway.  You’ll just have to trust me that it tastes good.

I’ll point out that this makes a ton of dip, but the kind person who I found this recipe from also has a use for the leftover dip.  I took advantage of that recipe too and its coming up in my next post.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

{source:  adapted from a blog that I couldn’t find again????}

dip:

3-5 slices of bacon, diced

5-6 fresh jalapenos, coarsely chopped {can use more or less to taste}

two 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened {I don’t know why I bothered, but I used low-fat cream cheese.}

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 cup shredded cheese {Mexican blend was listed, but I just used cheddar}

two 4 oz. cans of chopped green chilies

1 clove of garlic, peeled

topping:

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend or cheddar cheese

1/2 stick {1/4 cup} butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 2 quart baking dish.

In a frying pan, saute bacon over medium heat until starting to brown.  Stir in the chopped jalapenos and continue to saute until bacon is fully cooked but not burnt, about 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

In a food processor, add the rest of the dip ingredients and process until smooth.  Add the cooked bacon and jalapenos and pulse until incorporated, but not smooth.  Spread into the prepared dish.

Make the topping by combining the breadcrumbs and cheese in a bowl.  Pour melted butter over the top and mix well.  Sprinkle evenly over the dip and bake for about 25 minutes or until top is browned and dip is heated through and bubbles around the edges.

Serve hot with chips.

Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes

Wow!  I now know why there has been so much hype over Swiss meringue buttercream.  It is dreamy and smooth and so, so good!  I really don’t know how I’ll be able to go back to my old buttercream!

I have to give myself a pat on the back for making this recipe.  It was a lot more labor than I’m used to putting into cupcakes, especially on one of the hottest days of the year, but it was so worth it.  So worth it!

Due to a work function at the hellhole, I had to make all 3 parts of this recipe about 48+ hours before assembling the final product.  I left the lemon curd and buttercream in the fridge and left the cupcakes in an airtight container at room temp until I could put it all together.

As my luck goes, of course there was a casualty.  Well as instructed, I brought the buttercream to room temperature {or so I thought?} and then mixed it using my stand mixer to fluff it up again.  And it totally curdled and separated into a runny mess.  I ended up starting over with a new batch which was not really how I wanted to spend my Friday night, but that’s okay.

So, I would recommend making it and using it immediately.  Also, I used unsalted butter in the first batch and salted in the second and I could definitely tell a difference.  I thought the batch using unsalted butter was much better.  I didn’t have as many strawberries as were called for to make my second batch, so that was disappointing too.

Now, even though this was a time consuming project, no step was difficult.  At times I questioned the vagueness of certain directions, but I went with my gut and everything turned out great.  Erin also made some great suggestions, so I’ve included some combined tips throughout the instructions below that may make things more clear or clear as mud…

Strawberry Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes

Source:  Milk and Honey and Martha Stewart

Makes 24 cupcakes {I got 27 cupcakes}

First, make the filling:

LEMON CURD

  • 8 large egg yolks
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
  1. Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  2. Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. {I had to move the saucepan back to very low heat to finish adding the butter, it just wasn’t melting for me off the heat.} Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Next, make the cake:

LEMON BUTTERMILK CUPCAKES

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 tablespoons), plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full (or less, I had issues with 2 or 3 being too full and running over while baking}. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. {My were still pretty light colored, but center was done so don’t just go by color.} Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Make the frosting and assemble:

STRAWBERRY SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries (8 ounces), rinsed, hulled, and coarsely chopped
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature {I recommend unsalted butter}
  1. Puree strawberries in a food processor. Combine egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a standing electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water.  {I may have messed up here, I just used a large shallow stainless steel frying pan, but realized later that it was supposed to be more of a double boiler set up.  So I guess I should have used a deeper pan for the simmering water?  My way seemed to work out though.} Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved.  The mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips.
  2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. {I don’t think I truly got to stiff peaks, but went ahead anyway because it was glossy and fluffy.} Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
  3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula and switch to the paddle attachment; continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Add strawberries and beat until combined. Stir with a flexible spatula until the frosting is smooth.*  {Taste the frosting at this point and you will think you went to heaven!!!}
  4. Using a small paring knife, cut a small cone shaped portion out of the middle of each cupcake. Reserve the cones. Spoon about a 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon filling into each cake. Top with reserved cone and press it down slightly into place.
  5. Pipe or spread the frosting on top of each filled cupcake. Garnish with a strawberry and a lemon wedge. Serve immediately. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator but bring to room temp before serving again.

*The frosting can be made ahead of time. Just transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes. {I don’t recommend this, but left in for anyone who wants to take the chance.}

Chocolate Fudge Swirl Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Is it weird that I don’t like hot fudge sauce?  Thought so.  I like cold fudge and chocolate sauce, just not hot fudge.  Anyway, I’ve been on a roll making homemade ice cream and this was one flavor I was really looking forward too.  Unfortunately, I think I did something wrong.

For one, I didn’t have nearly as much ice cream base as I expected based on my other ice cream recipes.  Therefore, I had what seemed like way too much fudge sauce and too many peanut butter patties.

And then, the chocolate flavor was way too strong.  I attribute that to my use of Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder.  The flavor was just really intense and for me to say that is odd, because I love rich desserts and dark chocolate!  I used the special dark cocoa because it is the only cocoa powder that I can find {locally} that mentions being dutch processed.

Even though it wasn’t as great as I was expecting, overall, it was decent.  But I probably won’t make it again, since it just didn’t do anything for us.  As a tip for anyone who wants to make it, or in case I do try it again – I would recommend doubling the half and half and adding more sugar to the base recipe, but keeping the cocoa powder amount the same.  That way, you will have more base and a less intense chocolate flavor.

(Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker, originally from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)

Chocolate Fudge Swirl Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Yield: 1 quart

Prep Time: 30 minutes Chill Time: 8 hours Churn Time: 20 minutes

2 cups half-and-half
¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup smooth peanut butter
Fudge Ripple (recipe follows)
Peanut Butter Patties (recipe follows)

Fudge Ripple
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
½ cup water
6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble at the edges. Continue to whisk until it just comes to a low boil. Cook for 1 minute, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool. Chill in the refrigerator before using. (Fudge Ripple can be stored for up to 2 weeks, covered, in the refrigerator.)

Peanut Butter Patties
6 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Mix together the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Line a dinner plate with plastic wrap. Pinch off small pieces of the peanut butter mixture, about ½ teaspoon each, and drop them onto the dinner plate. Once you’ve used all of the mixture, freeze the patties. (The patties can be stored in the freezer, well wrapped, for up to 1 month.)

To Make the Ice Cream:

1. Whisk together the half-and-half, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil (it will start to foam up). Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, stirring until thoroughly blended.

2. Chill mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Fold in the Peanut Butter Patties when it has finished churning. Just before you remove the ice cream from the machine, spoon some of the Fudge Ripple onto the bottom of the storage container. As you remove the ice cream from the machine, layer generous spoonfuls of the sauce between layers of ice cream. Avoid stirring the Fudge Ripple, as it will make the ice cream muddy.

*I also followed Michelle’s Note: After making the ice cream mixture, I went ahead and made the Fudge Ripple and Peanut Butter Patties and got them into the refrigerator and freezer, respectively, so all of the “dirty work” was done at once and they would all be sufficiently chilled once I was ready to churn the ice cream. I just made the Fudge Ripple in the same pan as I made the ice cream mixture.

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