Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blondies: I'm ready for a Throwdown? ;)

I just finished saying to my husband “Why doesn’t the Food Network ever travel to OUR city or state for that matter! I have seen several episodes of shows like: Rachel Rays’ Tasty Travels, Road Tasted with the Neelys, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, etc. none of which are shot in Ohio. So I was super excited this week when I saw Bobby take on the founders of Sugardaddy's Sumptuous Sweeties in Columbus, Ohio. This Throwdown inspired my decision to bake a delicious pan of Blondies. I adapted Bobby’s recipe to fit what I had in my pantry at home. The result was DELICIOUS. The next time I am in Columbus I plan to visit Sugardaddy’s Sweeties.

1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter melted
1 1/2 c light brown sugar
2 large eggs lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
11 ounces (one bag) semi-sweet (or milk chocolate) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish (decrease bake time for metal).
Combine flour, baking powder, salt in bowl, whisk with fork and set aside
Mix melted butter and brown sugar until combined. Crack open eggs in a small bowl and whisk. Add eggs and vanilla to butter and brown sugar mixture and mix well. Fold in dry ingredients using a fork (use spatula on sides of bowl) until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and pour into prepared pan , smoothing top with spatula.
Bake 25-30 minutes. DO NOT over-bake. Mine took 26 minutes. Top will be golden brown and edges slightly darker.
Cool to room temperature before cutting.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Carrot Applesauce Spice Muffins

After searching several sites for a muffin recipe that contained carrots, but NOT coconut (I am not a fan of shredded coconut) I was able to find a few, but these had mixed reviews. I decided to “play it safe” and go with a recipe modified from one of my favorite foodie blogs- Annie’s Eats. If you have not visited Annie’s blog you should definitely check it out. However, a word of warning—do not visit while hungry! Annie makes some amazing looking dishes that are sure to jump start your appetite. :) Annie got this recipe for Carrot Spice Muffins from Dorie Greenspan of Tuesdays with Dorie. This was my other clue that I would not go wrong with the recipe.
As I mentioned before, I changed the recipe quite a bit to suit our tastes and also increased the ingredients to yield 24 muffins. I omitted the shredded coconut and added a bit more brown and white sugar. I also decreased the amount of oil and added some chunky applesauce for flavor and texture.

Inspired by Annie’s Eats (Original Recipe Source: adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)

Carrot and Apple Muffins
Makes about 24
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 pound carrots, peeled and finely grated
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup golden raisins (I omitted due to our tastes)
3/4 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted (I omitted due to our tastes)

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix both sugars with the eggs at medium speed until well combined, 2-3 minutes. Mix in the oil and the vanilla.

Stir the carrots, applesauce and raisins (if using) into the wet ingredients until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the pecans (if using). Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them almost to the top. Bake the muffins for 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the pans and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s sugar after transferring to wire rack (when slightly cooled)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Peanut Butter Pie for one please!

The weekend is here! I enjoy a productive Saturday morning when nothing is scheduled and I can catch up on cleaning, laundry, and of course BAKING! I have been craving peanut butter lately and decided mid week I would make a peanut butter pie this weekend.
After cleaning my kitchen floors this morning, the thought of crumbly pie crust flakes that result from cutting slices in a pie really made me cringe. (Slightly OCD...I know.) But seriously...does this bother anyone else? That is my biggest complaint with pies, lasagna, or casseroles. I HATE how they look once you start cutting into them! They fall apart, blend together, and just look down right MESSY.

Anyway, this is why I am a big fan of "individual serving sizes". I had the great idea of making "individual pies" rather then one large pie to cut down on the crumbly crust mess. :) These little treats turned out great. I plan to make them again the next time we entertain to keep my food more visually appealing. :)

The crust recipe comes from my grandma's recipe index (I copied it down and several others while staying with her a few weekends ago). The filling is simply "trial and error"- combining one block of cream cheese with enough peanut butter and sugar to make it yummy. :)

Individual Pie Crusts:
4 tablespoons butter, chilled
4 tablespoon shortening (Crisco), chilled
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup ice water (or less- will not use full amount of water)

Directions for crusts:

Place butter and shortening (Crisco) in freezer for 15 minutes. When ready to use, remove and cut both into small pieces.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until texture looks mealy. Add shortening(Crisco) and pulse another 3 to 4 times. Remove lid of food processor and add 2 tablespoon of water. Replace lid and pulse 5 times. Add 2 tablespoon more water and pulse again, repeating until mixture holds together when squeezed (I used 6 tablespoons total but amount may vary). Place mixture in large zip-top bag, squeeze together until it forms a ball, and then press into a rounded disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place one 12-cup muffin tin, well greased in the refrigerator to chill.
Remove dough from refrigerator. Unwrap and sprinkle both sides of dough with flour. Cover again with plastic and roll out with a rolling pin to a 11 to 12-inch circle. Open plastic again and sprinkle top of dough with flour. Using a 3 inch round cookie cutter, create 12 circles.
***I was able to get 8 rounds out of the first roll before gathering up scraps and rolling dough again into a circle.
Gently mold one dough circle into each of the 12 greased muffin cups. Poke holes in the dough with a fork and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Bake until golden in color, approximately 10 to 15 minutes (mine took 11 minutes). Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Let cool completely before filling.

Filling Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup peanut butter + 2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 teaspoons milk
3 Reese Cups, crushed for topping (optional)

Directions for filling pies:
Whip cream with 1/4 cup sugar and set aside. Mix all other ingredients until smooth. Spoon mixture into individuals crusts (about 2 tablespoons per crust). Top with whipped cream. Microwave 2 tablespoons peanut butter for 1 minute (until melted). Drizzle melted peanut butter over individual pies and top each with crushed Reese Cups. Chill for several hours before serving. Makes 12 individual pies.