Saturday, August 22, 2009

Brown Sugar and Bacon Waffles

Tim's favorite type of food in the world is breakfast food. He has actually requested that we do breakfast for dinner once a week. He LOVES breakfast! I knew ahead of time that we would be having breakfast for dinner last night, and was not in the mood for plain old pancakes or waffles. I started to think of what I could add to make the batter a little more exciting and the usual suspects of fresh fruit or chocolate chips just weren't doing much for me at that point. We had some turkey bacon in the fridge and I thought "why not put it in the batter instead of eating it on the side?" I ran this idea by Tim. He seemed a bit unsure, but up to the experiment. He is used to me getting random food combination ideas throughout the day, this is just how my brain works. This turned out to be really delicious. We have some work to do on translating our pancake batter to waffle batter, but everything else was perfect. For my pancakes I use a from-scratch mixture that you make ahead in bulk. This is easy because it is not any more work than using out-of-the-box mixtures, but tastes so so so SO much better. This is something Tim learned when he married me. He had never experience real pancakes before. He thought the boxed stuff was good and had no desire to try anything else, and then I fed him real pancakes and he knew he could never go back. If you are one of these people who normally eat pancakes that come from a pre-made mixture, please stop doing that. You are settling for sub-par pancakes. I will put the recipe that I use below in this post, I hope you will try it.

In order to transform your plain pancakes or waffles into Bacon and Brown Sugar goodness, do this:

Cook and crumble about 1/3 Cup of bacon. Turkey or Pork Bacon will work for this. Add this to your batter.

Add about 2 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar, some cinnamon, and a tablespoon of maple syrup to the batter. If you have real maple syrup, that is preferred, but you can use the fake stuff too. We did. We are cheap. Stir this up and carry on like you normally would.

Delicious. Not too sweet. Sweet enough, for sure. Add some butter, maybe some syrup if you prefer some extra sweetness, and dig in.

Basic Pancake Mix:
*Taken from: More-With-Less by Doris Janzen Longacre

for 2 lbs of pancake mix:

combine in a large bowl:
6 C flour
1 tablespoon Salt
6 tablespoons Baking Powder
6 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
2 C Powdered Milk

Mix well and store in an airtight container. When you are ready to use it, combine in large bowl:

1 egg (beaten first)
1 C Water
2 tablespoons Oil
1.5 C Pancake Mix

This will serve 3-4 people.

I replaced 1/6 of the white flour with soy flour to add some protein. Another option is to substitute 1/3 of the white flour with buckwheat flour, whole wheat flour, oatmeal, or rye flour along with cornmeal.

Almond Cream Croissants

I got the idea for this recipe from a Tasty Kitchen subscriber named Onesassy.
I did make her Nutella Croissants and those were a huge hit. I was making a large number of these though and I wanted to add some variety. I had some cream cheese in my fridge and figured I could use that as a base for my other filling. We love almond extract in this family, so that was my first thought. I added about a teaspoon and a half of almond extract, along with about 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar to 4 ounces of softened cream cheese. It turned out great. It was very simple, and the flavor of the cream cheese still came through with a perfect after taste of almond. Yum! I will continue to experiment with flavors, but the Nutella and the Almond Cream are both keepers.

For the Croissants:

Use refrigerated croissant rolls, such as Pillsbury. If you are really ambitous make your own, but what is nice about these is how quick and easy they are. Each tube has 8 croissants in it.

Unroll the croissants and separate them into individual pieces. Add a tablespoon of filling to each and roll up like you normally would do. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 13-15 minutes-until just golden brown on top.
One container of Nutella was enough for 16 rolls and the 4 ounces of cream cheese was enough for 16 rolls. I used less than a tablespoon per roll of the cream cheese filling in order to make it go as far as I did, but eyeball it. This is not an exact science, there is definitely creative freedom allowed here.

Here are some pictures to highten your interest even more:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blueberry Boy Bait

I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen's Blog. I immediately bookmarked it, and then, like I do with most recipes that I excitedly bookmark, I forgot about it for a while. This past weekend however I needed desserts for 2 separate occasions, and this fresh, unique cake popped into my mind. I was completely confident that it would be delicious, so I made two and used the same kind of cake for both events. I am glad that I made this decision because simply doubling this recipe was way less work than making two completely separate desserts, and it was delicious, so Tim and I did not mind eating it Saturday night and then again on Sunday afternoon. I used frozen blueberries because the ones at our local fruit market were not great this week. The frozen-ness did not affect the cake in any way. It was still perfect.

Blueberry Boy Bait

What you will need:

2 Cups plus 1 teaspoon all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter, Softened
3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 Cup Whole Milk-I used nonfat powdered milk (mixed with water), because that is all I had and it did not seem to make a difference. The consistency seemed perfect to me.
1 Cup Blueberries
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Grease a 13x9 cake pan.

Mix 2 Cups of flour, baking soda and salt together. Set aside. In a mixer bowl combine butter, 1/2 Cup granulated sugar and all of the brown sugar. Cream until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add one third of th flour mixture, mix, then half of the milk, mix, then another third of the flour mixture, mix, the rest of the milk, mix, and the rest of the flour mixture, mix. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 C of the blueberries with the remaining teaspoon of flour, and gently fold these, by hand, into the batter. Pour batter into your prepared pan.

For the topping scatter the remaining half cup of blueberries on top of the batter. Mix 1/4 Cup of sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle this mixture on top of the berries. Bake 40-50 minutes (smitten kitchen says 45-50, but 45 was too long in my oven and I ended up with burnt edges. If your oven runs hot, try 40 minutes, and then check with a toothpick or clean knife) until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If you desire a little extra decadence, serve with french vanilla ice cream. yum!

These are the burnt ends that I cut off of the cake. They are still tasty, they just look ugly, so I cut them off and snacked on them myself :-)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A few Developments

Vanilla Cranberry Shortbread

Last week I had a sudden urge to make some cookies. I haven't baked too much this summer because I don't like having the oven on any more than I need to when it is hot out, but Tim and I were both craving cookies, so I figured I'd better do something. Tim tried to remedy his craving a few weeks ago by making some good old fashioned chocolate chippers but he failed miserably. This only made him want good cookies even more. So, I went ahead and turned to what is probably my favorite type of cookie:shortbread. Pioneer Woman had also devoted a few posts to shortbread cookies and their versatility last week which only enhanced my cravings. She has some great ideas, so if craisins and vanilla are not your poison of choice, I bet that you can find something in her arsenal that would work for you. I whipped together a basic shortbread recipe, which consists of: 2 sticks of butter (if you use unsalted add some salt to the batter), 1 cup of granulated sugar, 2 cups of white flour, 1 cup of corn or potato starch. I added about a teaspoon of REAL (please use real, your friends will know if you don't) vanilla extract and a couple of small handfulls of Craisins. It was pure deliciousness. If you like shortbread, but have never made it you should do it once, because you will see just how easy it is, and you should have all of the ingredients that you need on-hand already. That is of course unless you don't habitually buy butter in mass quantities like I do. Then you may need to go out and get a package. But if you're like me and you feel the need to buy 4 packages of butter every time you are at the store, then you should be all set. Another great thing about shortbread: you can eat the dough raw because there are no eggs in it :-)
I have no pictures of these because I brought them along on a hiking trip and since they are so fragile, the leftovers were reduced to crumbs. Delicious, but not photographable.

Red Pepper Hummus:

This may not seem exciting to you but it was to me. I made hummus for dinner Monday night because I had some dental work done that afternoon and knew I would be needing to eat something soft for dinner. While I love hummus, it is a staple in our house, so it can become something similar to baked chicken or spaghetti. Yummy but somehow, boring. I had a revelation though-I decided to add some new flavor to our basic hummus recipe. All I did was add a little extra garlic, onion, and 1 small red pepper to the mix. It was so good that Tim has been saying how he wished there was more of it all week! Something so simple makes a mundane dinner way more exciting. We had it with the usual adornments-cucumbers, carrots, green pepper, black olives, and of course, toasted pita. In case you don't have a go-to hummus recipe, try this one:
15 oz garbanzo beans or chick peas, 2 tablespoons minced onion, a few cloves of garlic, depending on how much you like-I add 3-4. You can add the garlic to the food processor whole, no need to mice it ahead of time. 7 tablespoons of lemon juice a few teaspoons of good quality olive oil, (if you do not have good oil, just leave it out) and 2 tablespoons of tahini. Throw everything in your food processor and pulse until it is smooth. You can top it with fresh parsley if you want to. This will just add some color and a nice boost of flavor.

In other news, I saw Julie & Julia last night. It was such a fun movie, full of delicious looking food. It will make you hungry so have some popcorn handy! If you are a food-lover you will definitely enjoy the show!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers, but most of the time they are way too heavy for me-especially in the summer. This recipe is great because they are totally vegetarian, they are super healthy, and they have a very unique flavor that you don't necessarily expect from stuffed peppers. These are not your Mom's stuffed peppers, that's for sure (although my Mom has made this recipe and enjoyed it thoroughly) Vegetarians and carnivores alike will love this hearty, protein-filled meal. Like many of my other posts, this one is from Simply In Season which is one of my absolute favorite cookbooks. If you like to find unique ways to use in season produce, this book is a must-have. Sorry for the shameless plug, but I could not live without this cookbook!

What you will need:
4 green, red, orange, or yellow bell peppers (I used 2 red, 1 orange, and one yellow just for visual appeal)
1/3 Cup chopped onion
1 jalapeno pepper (minced after seeds removed)-I left this out because I have very low tolerance for spice, I am sure it adds some good flavor if you like a kick though!
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Cups chopped tomatoes
2 Tblsp chopped, fresh parsley
1 Tblsp Fresh oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
2 Cups corn
1.5 Cups cooked black beans
1/4 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (please don't try to substitute the kind from the can. I beg you, it is just not the same)

What you need to do:

I suggest that you prepare all vegetables (rinse/cut/drain/etc) at the beginning, that way they are all ready to go when you need them.

As you can see, I used canned corn and canned black beans. It's okay to use convenience foods sometimes.

Cut Peppers 1/2 inch from the top and discard stem and seeds

Steam whole peppers in 1 inch of boiling water until tender. This will take about 5 minutes. Remove peppers from water and set aside.

In a large skillet saute onion and garlic in oil. Add tomatoes, jalapeno, parsley, oregano, cumin, salt and bay leaf and cook for about five minutes, until everything is tender.

Add the corn and black beans and simmer for 10 more minutes.. Place peppers in an oven-proof baking dish so that they are standing upright. Stuff with filling and add extra filling around the side or in between the peppers. The extra filling makes a great dip for tortilla chips! Cover with grated Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

*adapted from Simply In Season Pg 130. Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert