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Oh my, Cranberry Orange Bread

January 2, 2010

One of my favorite breads is Cranberry Orange – I just love it’s sunshiny, citrusy flavor. Here’s a recipe for you to try. It makes great bread using a loaf pan, or muffins using a 12-muffin pan, a bundt cake pan (finished off by sprinkling it with powdered sugar), or baby cakes if baked in a mini bundt cake tray (to serve as demi desserts garnished with fresh cranberries and pecans). This basic recipe is a great foundation for others. Get creative and make your own recipe using the ingredients that make your mouth water. I’m looking forward to trying a variation of Pumpkin Pecan Cranberry Orange mini bundt cakes inspired by Tongue N Cheeky’s recipe (stay tuned for the results). See below for more variations and a shortcut tip if you’re in a hurry.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you’d like it)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel (zest from 1 orange)
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh, canned, or frozen cranberries

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and orange peel. I use a whisk and mix by hand rather than using an electric blender.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with juice.
  3. Fold in cranberries. If you’re adding anything else, such as raisins or nuts, do so now.
  4. Pour into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

VARIATIONS

  • Add 1 cup golden raisins for added texture and color.
  • Add 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds if that suits your fancy.
  • For darker flavor, add 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1 teaspoon ground ginger.
  • Go nuts and add 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans.

SHORTCUT

If you’re short on time, I highly recommend the Krusteaz Cranberry Orange Quick Bread or Muffin Mix. They also make a fat free version of the muffin mix if you want to cut back on the sugar and calories too. The Krusteaz Quick Bread has orange peel flavor already in the mix and canned cranberries included in the box. Follow directions on the box.

Oh my, Champagne Cake

December 28, 2009

Are you ready to count down to the new year?! 2010 is just around the corner! Parties can be so fun but they are also a ton of work. I ran across this super simple recipe for Champagne Cake posted on Sweet Harvey Letterpress blog (a design studio that writes about sweet treats, design eye candy, and delicious paper too). This recipe for Champagne Cake makes 10 servings. Garnish the rim with fresh strawberries or raspberries and display on a beautiful glass cake stand. Happy baking… and Happy New Year!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-layer-size white cake mix
  • Champagne or sparkling wine
  • Few drops red food coloring
  • 16-ounce cans vanilla frosting
  • Fresh berries

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour two 8 x 1-1/2 inch round cake pans; set aside.

2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, except replace water with Champagne. Spread batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks.

3. Stir a few drops of food coloring into frosting to make a light pink color. Place one cake layer, bottom side up, on a serving platter. Spread with about 1/2 can of frosting. Top with second cake layer, top side up. Spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with strawberries.

Oh my, Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

December 15, 2009

For some reason this Christmas season I was in the mood for peanut butter! These cookies are a hit for a holiday party or for those of you who are at the office (pretending to work) during the week of Christmas. Here’s the simple recipe so you can join me in feasting on these delightful Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies (also known as Peanut Butter Blossoms). This recipe yields 2 dozen (24 cookies). And if you’re not up for baking them from scratch, grab a roll of ready-made peanut butter dough at the grocery store and skip straight to step 2. Most people make them with milk chocolate Hershey’s Kisses®, but I prefer to use dark chocolate.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 24 milk (or dark) chocolate Hershey’s Kisses®

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, cream peanut butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla; beat until blended.
  2. Roll into 1-1/4-in. balls. Place 1-2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degress for 10-12 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked.
  3. While the cookies are in the oven baking, prepare your Hershey’s Kisses®. Have them all unwrapped and ready to go when the warm cookies come out of the oven.
  4. Immediately press one chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie.
  5. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

TIP: If your kisses have some marks or gray appearance, you can spruce them up with this quick fix! After step 3, but before step 4, dip your fingertips into a teaspoon of vegetable oil. With only a dab on your fingertips, coat the surface ever so lightly with oil. Repeat this with each Hershey’s Kiss®. The vegetable oil brings back the shine to the chocolate (almost like melted chocolate), making your cookies look picture-perfect. 

Oh, My Great Pumpkin Pie

November 25, 2009

This recipe, perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday, is my husband’s favorite pie – The Great Pumpkin Pie. It’s based on the recipe from the cookbook Sweet Serendipity: Delicious Desserts & Devilish Dish. When I bake it, I prepare it with love. Which means I don’t measure to exacting standards so there may be an extra helping of sugar and spice and everything nice. The recipe as follows will yield one awe-inspiring 9-inch pie to feed 6 or more (depending on how you slice it).

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 unbaked pie crust

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place unbaked pie crust into pie dish and set aside.

2. Mix pumpkin, sugar, spices, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the molasses, milk, eggs and beat until fully incorporated.

4. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Even out mixture for a smooth appearance.

5. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until the custard is slightly firm.

6. Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before slicing.

7. Store covered at room temperature. Serve wedges with whipped cream.

WHIPPED CREAM INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup heavy cream, very cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

DIRECTIONS

Combine cream and vanilla and mix well. With an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, start whipping the cream on medium speed. Add the corn syrup slowly while beating. Whip until the cream holds soft peaks. Slather, drop, or dollop as your heart desires onto slice of pumpkin pie and serve. (Makes about 2 cups of whipped cream; up to 8 servings)

TIP: To avoid pie crust from burning while baking, cover the crust edges with strips of aluminum foil. Place the foil around the edge of the pie for the first 25 minutes of baking and then remove so the crust will brown slightly.

Oh, My Buttermilk Cornbread Acorns

October 18, 2009

Making the most of my Acorn bakeware from Williams Sonoma, I’ve whipped up some Buttermilk Cornbread. It’s appropriately seasonal for the fall to be shaped like darling little acorns. If you don’t have this acorn cakelet pan, you can use a mini-muffin tray to make your bite-sized cornbread. Since this recipe uses buttermilk, they’re creamier with a nice balance of sweet and salty. The ingredients as follows will yield 30-42 acorns or 24-36 mini-muffins.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the acorn cakelet pan or mini-muffin pan with butter or baking spray.
  2. Melt butter. Stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended. Pour batter into the prepared pan(s).
  3. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Oh, My Texas Pecan Pie

September 25, 2009

No matter how you slice it, this Texas Pecan Pie is a hit in the South. And there are several members of my family who have a sweet tooth for this delish dessert. It’s oh so simple to make from scratch, so don’t fret. It’s best if you prepare several hours before you intend to serve it, or the day before even. This nutty recipe yields a 9-inch pie to feed 6 or more – from the cookbook Sweet Serendipity: Delicious Desserts & Devilish Dish (page 61).

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups pecan halves (about 1/2 lb)
  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • 1 large egg yolk, very lightly beaten

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare unbaked pie crust in pie plate or dish and set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the 4 eggs to loosen them. Add the sugar and corn syrup and whisk until blended. Stir in about two-thirds of your pecans, reserving the best looking, whole pieces for later.

3. Pour the pecan mixture into the unbaked pie crust. Decoratively arrange the remaining pecans on the top of the pie.

4. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove from the oven. Be very careful as the pie filling will still be liquid and very hot.

5. Brush the egg yolk over the entire surface of the pie, over pecans and crust. Return to oven for 30 minutes more. Then, remove from the oven (the filling will still be liquid) and allow to cool on a rack for 1 hour.

6. Refrigerate or store at room temperature until completely set, which will require at least 4 hours. Slice into wedges. Store at room temperature.

Oh, My Summer Zucchini Bread

August 31, 2009

babycakes_zucchiniThis savory and sweet bread can be a great way to sneak veggies in your family’s diet without trying too hard. With zest from a few lemons added, these zucchini babycakes are a refreshing summer snack. Adjust the amount of sugar to suit your own taste; I find the brown sugar over white allows the flavor of the zucchini to shine. I’m a big fan of zucchini in just about any form! Perhaps if you have a garden, you may be searching for ways to use all the zucchinis your green thumb yields. Here’s one to try. This recipe, adapted from Baking Illustrated (pages 28-30), makes 2 mini-loaves and 24 mini-muffins.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound zucchini (3 to 4 medium)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 to 3 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 Tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
  • 6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour pan(s) or use or baking spray. Melt 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter and set aside to cool.

2. Cut ends and remove stems from zucchinis. Then, cut them in halves lengthwise and shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater, or using the grater attachment of a food processor. Toss with 2 Tablespoons of sugar, and allow to drain for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, and whist until well blended. Set aside.

4. Whisk together 1/2 cup white sugar, brown sugar, yogurt, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and melted (cooled) butter in a small bowl. Set aside.

5. After the zucchini has drained, squeeze in between several layers of paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Stir the zucchini and the yogurt mixture into the flour until just moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. In this case, I used a mini-muffin pan for 24 cakes and 2 mini-loaf pans.

6. If desired, sprinkle chopped walnuts or pecans over the top of batter before putting it in the oven to bake.

7. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Rotate the pan(s) halfway through. Mini-muffins will require 15 to 25 minutes, depending on how full you fill each cup. Mini-loaves will require an additional 15 to 20 minutes, for a total baking time of 30 to 45 minutes. A full-sized loaf (9 x 5) will require 45 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least an 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.

VARIATIONS

  • Make it more of a breakfast bread by adding 1 cup fresh or thawed blueberries.
  • For additional texture and fruit-y-goodness, add 1/2 cup raisins.
  • Go nuts! Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans for some crunch to each bite.
  • Lighten up! Use 1 cup Splenda® or other sugar substitute instead of white granulated sugar.
  • Boost your fiber content by swapping out white all-purpose flour for an enriched whole wheat flour.
  • Turn it into chocolate zucchini bread with 6 tablespoons cocoa powder and 3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips.
  • For a little taste of summer, add 1 tablespoon lemon zest from 2 to 4 lemons.
  • Make it extra moist by adding 1/2 cup of sour cream to the batter along with the plain yogurt.
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