Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gingerbread Waffles

Even though this recipe looks a little intense with the long ingredient list the end product is definitely worth it. Not only was it nice to have something different from the traditional waffle, but it was fun to inject a bit of holiday flavor into a routine breakfast item. Enjoy!

Gingerbread Waffles

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, separated
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
confectioner's sugar, optional

In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In a small bowl, beat the brown sugar and egg yolk until fluffy. Add the buttermilk, molasses, and butter. Stir into dry ingredients just until combined.

In another small bowl, beat the egg white and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into batter. Quickly spoon onto a preheated waffle iron. Bake according to manufacturer's directions until golden brown. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar if desired.

Makes 8 waffles

Friday, January 27, 2012

Daring Bakers - Scones (aka Biscuits)

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (aka biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

Great challenge this month! Scones (otherwise known as biscuits in my house, unless you are my 5 year old son and you call anything in this basic shape a muffin no matter how many times mom tells you it is not a muffin) are very versatile. You can pair these up with breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an afternoon snack. They can be savory or sweet. Imagine just about anything and a biscuit can accompany it. See what I mean about versatile!

I was able to make two different batches this month. For my first, I used the recipe that Audax provided and planned to have them as breakfast sandwiches. They were easy to make and you can see that they rose well and had great layering. Delicious with bacon, egg, and cheese and equally delicious slathered in raspberry jam!

For the second batch I used a different recipe. One out of a cookbook that I received as a Christmas gift. I figured that the same basic principles were used and there couldn't be that much difference between the two recipes. Boy, was I wrong. The second batch barely rose at all. I had planned to make a buttermilk variety but someone forgot to pick up buttermilk from the store so I made a cheddar version instead. While they didn't rise well they sure did taste good. Cheese makes everything taste better! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


There are so many different varieties of quiche out there. This one is full of fat and calories and is VERY tasty. We don't eat quiche very often, it's more like a special breakfast for us, so I don't mind making the full fat version. This particular quiche was consumed on Christmas Eve so it was a very special breakfast for us indeed.

Quiche is pretty easy to make, but can be a little unnerving to bake. You have to make sure that the center is set and a knife comes out clean. Even after the quiche has cooled it can seem a bit wobbly and wet, but that is the texture of quiche (at least this one). Enjoy! 

Quiche Lorraine

pastry for a 9-inch one-crust pie
8 slices crispy bacon, crumbled
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
4 eggs
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare pastry crust and place into a 9-inch quiche or pie plate. Sprinkle bacon, cheese, and onion in pastry-lined dish.

Beat eggs slightly; beat in remaining ingredients. Pour into pastry dish. Bake 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Bake about 30 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

Wow, way back at the beginning of December is when I baked these muffins and I am just getting to them in the posting schedule. I guess a bit of time has gone by with all the yummy foods that I've been baking up for the holidays. I would say these are definitely worth the wait though.

I have made a few other blueberry muffin recipes but decided to try out a new one as our breakfast the morning after my son's birthday. I wanted something that I could bake up ahead of time and take to the hotel with us. I was pleasantly surprised by how dense and moist these muffins were. My husband commented on the fact that they were heavy for a muffin, and everyone thought they tasted great. I believe I will be making these again. Enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins
Source: Brown Eyed Baker

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin (or line with paper liners) and set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Whisk the egg in a separate medium bowl until well-combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add the sugar and whisk vigorously until thick, about 30 seconds. Add the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add the sour cream in 2 additions, whisking just to combine.

Add the berries to the dry ingredients and gently toss just to combine. Add the sour cream mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the batter comes together and the berries are evenly distributed, 25 to 30 seconds. Small spots of flour may remain and the batter will be very thick. Do not overmix.

Using a large spoon or a cookie scoop sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, divide the batter amount the muffin cups. Bake until the muffins are light golden brown and a toothpick or thin knife inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time. Immediately remove muffins to a wire rack and cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chocolate Almond Upside Down Cake

Christmas Eve dessert! I have had this cake bookmarked in my recipes for a few years now so when I was searching for our Christmas dinner dessert I gave my son the choice between this and a chocolate-praline torte that I made many years ago before he ever joined our family. At first he chose the torte, but then he quickly switched over to this and wouldn't be swayed. The two recipes were very similar, one was more of a two layer cake with whipping cream in between the layers (I bet you can tell that was the other one). I was surprised by his choice because I thought he would go for the whipping cream layers, but I think he was drawn to the almonds. Granted, both cakes have almonds but he couldn't see them in the other cake under the layers of white.

What I love about this cake, and the other, is the taste and texture of the moist cake with the chewy praline topping and crunch of the almonds. It is the perfect combination of soft, chewy, and crunchy in one satisfying bite. I am definitely glad I made this and can finally get it off my bookmarked "to do" recipes. Enjoy!

Chocolate Almond Upside Down Cake
Source: Martha Stewart

Caramel Topping:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cups sliced or slivered almonds, lightly toasted

1 1/4 cups cake flour (not self rising) 1/2 cup cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Prepare the topping:
Generously butter a 10-inch round nonstick cake pan. Pour 6 tablespoons melted butter into the cake pan and swirl to coat the bottom; sprinkle in brown sugar. Drizzle honey over sugar and sprinkle evenly with almonds.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the cake:
Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together three times to make the cake extra light. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until smooth and fluffy. Add sugar and continue mixing. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer running on low speed, add a third of the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Add half the buttermilk and continue mixing. Add another third of the dry ingredients, mix, and add remaining buttermilk and vanilla. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake until set in the center and springy, 45 to 55 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and immediately invert the pan onto a serving platter. Let it sit with the pan still on top for 5 minutes so the caramel can soak into the cake a bit, before removing the pan. If the topping is sticking to the pan, warm the pan surface over a low burner to loosen the caramel and then pour it over the cake. Let cool completely. Cut into wedges with a serrated knife.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lasagna Soup

I would have to say that this doesn't hold a candle to the real thing. You just can't beat a bubbly, cheesy pan of noodles and Italian sausage. The one thing this recipe does have going for it is that it is quick. I think the next time I make this (if I do) I would add more veggies to it. It really is a soup more than a lasagna (obviously) and I think the veggies would help with that concept. Enjoy!

Lasagna Soup
Source: Joy in my Kitchen

1 lb ground beef
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 cans beef broth (with onion); or add 1/2 C onion in plain broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp. Italian seasonings
1 1/2 C pasta
1/4 C Parmesan cheese

Cook beef; drain fat (cook onions with this too, if broth is not onion flavored). Stir broth, tomatoes and Italian seasoning together in a stockpot. Heat to a boil. Add pasta, cook for 10 minutes. Stir in cheese. Serve warm, topped with additional cheese, if desired.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Seasoned Dinner Rolls

I found this recipe in a food magazine and decided to make them for Thanksgiving. I thought about passing it off and buying store bought or refrigerated rolls since there are so many other things to make, but I have this thing for fresh yeast dinner rolls for big holiday meals. When I came across the article the title caught me eye. It said "Best Dinner Rolls", so I figured that since those are some pretty big shoes to fill it might be worth the effort.

What's great about this recipe is that you make a basic dinner roll and then you add whatever toppings you want to make it fit your taste. For Thanksgiving, I made plain, Parmesan-Garlic, and Almond-Herb. I made in the traditional style where you just set the dough balls in the 9x13 pan to double. My favorite were the Parmesan-garlic, followed by the almond-herb. I would have to say that the plain dinner rolls really didn't do anything for me.

Since I wasn't happy with this original batch I decided to make them again for our Christmas dinner. This time I made about 2/3 Parmesan-Garlic and about 1/3 with coarse sea salt. I also experimented with the shapes and made three different varieties: rosettes, cloverleafs, and twists. I really liked how the rosettes turned out with the twists coming in second. The cloverleafs really really didn't work for me because it seemed like they burned easily. That was most likely because you use muffin tins instead of flat sheets, but still, I wasn't as pleased with them.

I would have to say that the Parmesan-garlic are still my favorite, but I think I like the coarse sea salt over the almond-herb. It was difficult for the almond-herb mixture to stay on the roll and once that falls off you just have a very plain roll to eat. I will definitely be making these again. Enjoy! 

Seasoned Dinner Rolls
Makes 2 dozen rolls

4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 pkg (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons butter
2 eggs
1 egg, slightly beaten
toppings (see below)

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, water, and butter to 115 degrees F. Add to dry ingredients; beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add 2 eggs; beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 24 portions. Shape into balls (or other shapes). Divide the balls between two greased 13x9 inch baking pans (or 11x17 pans if doing other shapes).

Cover with a clean, lightweight towel and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Brush with lightly beaten egg. Sprinkle rolls with toppings of your choice.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks.

Parmesan-Garlic: 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
Almond-Herb: 2 tablespoons chopped sliced almonds and 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt, dried basil and dried oregano

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pumpkin Scones

Warm pumpkin scones with a hint of ginger and cinnamon filled with plump raisins, what is not to love? Yum! These were perfect for a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. Really, they would be perfect for any relaxing winter weekend. My family devoured these for breakfast and came back again for a late morning snack. I think all 8 scones were eaten before we even hit noon. Yep, that good. I will definitely be making these again. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Scones
Source: Joy of Baking

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup toasted and chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1/3 - 1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup fresh or canned pure pumpkin (if using canned make sure there are no spices or sugar added)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
egg wash (1 large egg + 1 tablespoon milk or cream)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Stir in the raisins and pecans. In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Then add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Mix just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round and about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into 4 pie-shaped wedges (triangles). Place the scones on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash.

Place the baking sheet inside another baking sheet to prevent the bottoms of the scones from over browning. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 8 scones

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Better Than Sex Cake - Chocolate Version

My husband looked at me sideways when I told him what I was going to make for our New Year's ring in dessert. I am a pretty conservative person so I think he thought it was pretty scandalous of me that I even thought about making a cake that had the letters s-e-x in the title. Okay, I'm not that bad, but I guarantee you he won't be telling anyone what the name of this cake is if we offer it to other people.

Baking a Better Than Sex Cake has been on my top 100 list since I formed my list soon after starting my blog. I think the name was more intriguing than the actual cake. I mean really, who came up with this title and why, I would really like to know. 

While looking for the perfect recipe I actually came across quite a few. I mistakenly thought that this cake always used a chocolate base, but it turns out that it can be made with just about any flavor base. Next week I'll be taking a yellow cake version to our running club's after Christmas party and I'll let you know how it stacks up. (My husband told me I could take it as long as I didn't tell anyone what the name was.)

I typically like to bake cakes from scratch whenever possible, but for this one I stuck with a box cake mix. Too much work at this point in my holiday break to mess with finding the perfect cake recipe on top of finding the perfect recipe to put all the pieces together. You have to pick your battles and this wasn't one I wanted to fight on a New Year's Eve Saturday night. I have to say, for a box cake it sure was tasty.

And while I am not the type of girl to kiss and tell, I can tell you that the alternative is definitely better. It is just cake, after all. A yummy, gooey, crunchy cake, but still a cake. Enjoy!

Better Than Sex Cake - Chocolate Version
Source: Adapted from All Recipes

1 box Devil's Food cake mix + ingredients to make box mix
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. caramel sauce
1 fun size Heath bar per cake, crushed
whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cake pans. Bake cake according to directions on package.

Cool cake on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Poke various holes in cake with fork. While cake is cooling, heat condensed milk and caramel over low heat; stir until combined. Pour over cake and generously sprinkle with crushed candy bar.

After cake is completely cooled, garnish with a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel, and a few pieces of crushed candy bar.

Makes 8 - 10 oz. cakes