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July 30, 2009

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins

| 3 comments
I found this recipe on someone's blog and I'm so sorry for not referencing you --- I go thru so many blogs and I cant always keep track of everyone's. The recipe originally came from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and I adjusted according to what I had in my pantry.

Makes 12 muffins
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 medium)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chunky unsweetened appleasauce
1 large egg
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons instant espresso
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12 cup pan muffin with non-stick cooking spray (or line with paper cups). In a medium bowl stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, and egg. Set aside.

In another medium bowl whisk together the flour, espresso, baking soda, and salt together. Make a well in the center of the flour bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate.

Divide the batter among the muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan for 15 minutes before removing. Then finishing cooling on a wire rack. Muffins can be kept in an airtight container for 2 days.



VERDICT: Maybe its the way I changed the sugar or the way i subbed applesauce for the butter but.... uh.... the taste wasnt really there. It was just OK, but my toddler loved them -- except for the walnuts, which she spit out.
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July 28, 2009

Hershey Park 2009

| 6 comments
This weekend we took BabyM to Hershey Park, PA. The last time i was there I was probably 15. I dont remember it being so big. There's the amusement park, the water park, a ZOO and the chocolate factory! For those of you that have never seen BabyM, here are two photos of us:



BabyM was petrified of Mr. Reeses.
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July 26, 2009

Almost Famous Frozen Yogurt

| 5 comments
No SMS for me this weekend but if you have a moment, please go thru the blogroll and see what the SMS bakers created. This weeks recipe, Strawberry-Ruby Grapefruit Preserves, was chosen by Margot of Effort to Deliciousness.

We're out in Hershey, Pennsylvania for the weekend and so i dont leave you recipe-less today I'd like to leave you with a frozen yogurt recipe that I think you should try and will love!

Food Network's Copycat of Pinkberry's Recipe
Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine, Aug/Sept 2009
Printable recipe

2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
2 cups plain nonfat or reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup superfine sugar*
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
Fresh fruit or other toppings, for garnish

Whisk both yogurts, the sugar and corn syrup in a bowl until combined. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. For a soft consistency, serve right out of the ice cream maker. For a firmer texture, transfer the frozen yogurt to a covered container and freeze for up to 2 hours. Serve with assorted toppings.

I have to say -- this was really easy to do. It's light, creamy & very delicious. So? Does it taste like Pinkberry's? I think so. It has that nice tang a yogurt has. It's not too sweet (i used a lil less than half a cup of sugar and about 2 tablespoons of corn syrup). I do have a few other frozen yogurt recipes to try out and share -- i'll let you know which i like best... to be continued...

I ate mine with strawberry.


* You can make superfine sugar yourself by putting coarser sugar into the food processor and whizzing it around several times to break up larger crystals.

Slowly, but surely i'm making my way through My 100; this is #62!
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July 23, 2009

Lemon Sorbet

| 5 comments
Frozen Lemonade!

Please excuse the blurry photo.... its difficult for me to photograph
something so tantalizing at 10:30 at nite, especially if i want to eat
it before it melts.

Simple. Sweet. Easy. Refreshing. Delicious.
Need i say more?

As soon as fellow-SMS baker Tracey posted this recipe on her blog, I ran home to zest & juice lemons! From The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz:
Printable recipe

2 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar (i used 1 1/8 cups)
zest of 2 lemons (i zested 3)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons)

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the water and the sugar. Zest the lemons directly into the sauce. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining 2 cups of water, then chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Stir the lemon juice into the chilled sugar syrup, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker.
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July 20, 2009

Kreativ Blogger

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THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

A big thank you to Eliana of A Chica Bakes, who awarded me my first blogger award!

As part of accepting this award, and in lieu of an acceptance speech, here are 7 things (some of you may or may not know) about me:

1. I was born in Manhattan and raised in Brooklyn (NY).
2. I ride a motorcycle.
3. I hope to one day run in a marathon.
4. My favorite food is anything made with curry.
5. I grill every weekend during the summer.
6. I use to love horror flicks and now I'm petrified of them.
7. I purposely put my toddler to bed by 8pm so I can have 1-2 hours to veg out in front of the tv, & sometimes that turns into 3-4 hours!

And I nominate the following for the Kreativ Bloggers Award, as well:
• Betty @ eat my cupcake
• Lorelei @ mermaid sweets
• Pinky @ pinkies yummies
• Nat @ just anything
• Kate @ the clean plate club
Snooky Doodles Cakes
Sweetest Kitchen

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:
• Thank the person who has given you the award.
• Copy the logo and place it on your blog
• Link to the person who has nominated you for the award
• Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting
• Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers
• Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate
• Leave a comment on which of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated
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July 19, 2009

::SMS:: Whole Orange Poppy Seed Cake

| 15 comments
This Sunday's SMS recipe was chosen by a very multi-talented person. Not only is Melissa of Lulu the Baker a baker, she's very crafty -- making sweet things for babies & has an Etsy Store! She also recently celebrated her one year blogging anniversary by hosting a giveaway to one of her lucky readers. How cool is that?!

Melissa chose Whole Orange Poppy Seed Cake. And yes, we used the WHOLE ORANGE. The recipe can be found @ Lulu the Baker.



You can also use lemons for this recipe as well, but with all the lemony things I've been making, i went with the orange. Instead of the Kitchenaid mixer, you need a food processor. Pulse the entire orange -- rind & all --- with some sugar.



Until all big chunks are no more.





Instead of one big loaf, I made cupcakes. Baked for 25 minutes. The batter made 12 nice-sized cupcakes, filled to the top (they didnt rise much). I didnt make the glaze. I left them plain.



I REALLY, REALLY like this recipe. Its very different. I never had anything like this. As a cupcake, it was super moist (probably cause of 1.5 sticks of butter!)! You taste the orange & poppy -- a very nice combination.



The ONLY thing i didnt like (as with anything using poppy seeds): the lil seeds always get stuck in your teeth. Still --- i'd definitely make this again! GREAT CHOICE, MELISSA!
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July 15, 2009

Crème Caramel aka Flan

| 11 comments
Crème caramel, flan, or caramel custard is a rich custard dessert with a layer of sof caramel on top, as opposed to crème brûlée, which is custard with a hard caramel top.

I've NEVER had flan before. I would always see it on the dessert menu at restaurants but never ordered it because i usually go for something chocolaty or fruity. So last Friday night, I decided to make it -- JUST BECAUSE!

For the caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Ingredients:
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small sauce pan, prepare the caramel by blending the sugar and water in medium heat. Keep stirring it until it thickens and the syrup turns deep amber in color. This took me about 15-20 minutes, alternating between high-medium heat to medium-low heat because i was afraid i would burn it. Turn off heat.

Arrange 6 ramekins and add the caramel (in equal portion) into the ramekins. Tilt the ramekins and make sure that the caramel is coated evenly at the bottom of the ramekins. No one warned me how quickly caramel hardens! I had droplets on my counter, my wooden spoon, and eventually at the bottom of the pot. It took me a while to figure out how to get it all off but i did! To get it off my pot & spoon, i reheated it.



Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.

Clean the sauce pan and heat it up (use low heat). Add in the milk and 1/2 cup of sugar. As soon as the sugar dissolves, turn off the heat. In a big bowl, whisk the eggs until blended, and add in the warm milk slowly. Add the vanilla extract and do a quick whisk. Strain the custard mixture into the 6 ramekins and set aside.



Arrange the 6 ramekins in a baking pan big enough to fit them. Pour hot water in the baking pan about halfway up the ramekins.



Transfer the baking pan into the oven and bake for about 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the ramekins from the baking pan and let cool. Once they turn cool, transfer them to the fridge and chill them for a few hours. When they are ready to serve, slide a knife around the side of each ramekin to loosen the flan. Turn it out on a dessert plate and top it with extra caramel, if you want.



This was my first time making & eating this -- i thought it was ok.
Two taste tasters thought the taste was there but the texture was not. They claimed it wasn't "silky" enough? I dunno..... o well.... i'll try another recipe soon.
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July 12, 2009

::SMS:: Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake with Cornmeal Crumble Crust

| 12 comments
I'm not a huge fan of cheesecakes. My family loves them and i happily make it for them upon request. Cheesecakes are just so easy to make. I usually make them with a graham cracker crust so i was pretty intrigued when I read that this recipe uses a cornmeal crust. Instead of making a huge 9" cheesecake, I cut the recipe in half and made minis in my cupcake pan. Half of the crust recipe is good enough for 12 minis. Half of the cheesecake recipe yields a lot more than 12 -- maybe 14 or 15. I just spooned all the batter into the 12 cups. I didnt go with any fruit topping since my family likes their cheesecakes plain. Plus, i totally forgot to pick up blueberries when i was at the market. I just sprinkled some of the lemon zest on top before popping the pan into the oven.



VERDICT: No more graham cracker crusts! The cornmeal crust is nice n crunchy. I love it! The cheese part is great too, with the addition of marscapone and the nice lemony flavor. Lemon or plain -- this is a winner with my family.

This Sunday's SMS recipe was chosen by Eliana of a Chica Bakes. Thanks, Eliana for a great choice. Head over to her blog for the recipe and be sure to check out everyone else's cheesecakes!
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July 08, 2009

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

| 6 comments
BabyM's breakfast is usually a bran muffin or a bowl of cereal or eggs and/or a waffle. A few weekends ago I gave her a donut and she chomped away. My mom wasnt too pleased because of the sugar that's in a donut, but hey.... it was just ONE and its not like she ate the whole thing at one time (she had half on Saturday and half on Sunday). According to my mother, it was time for something new & healthy. I looked thru my pantry and thought --- there MUST be something I can whip up that didnt require my Kitchenaid or baking. There was a container of whole wheat flour and some leftover buttermilk in the fridge that was going to go bad if i didnt use it soon. Hopped onto the internet and did a quick search and came up with Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes on Epicurious.com



Printable recipe

3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk, divided*
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten*
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

Soak oats in 3/4 cup buttermilk 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Stir egg, butter, brown sugar, remaining buttermilk, and oat mixture into dry ingredients until just combined.

Heat a griddle over medium heat until hot and lightly brush with oil. Working in batches, pour batter onto griddle and cook until bubbles appear on surface and undersides are golden-brown, about 1 minute. Flip with a spatula and cook other side, about 1 minute more. (Lightly oil griddle between batches.)

The recipe says: yields FOUR pancakes (using 1/4 cup of batter per pancake). Uhhhh.... i dont know what kind of pan these people use but i ended up with a lot more than 4 pancakes and I know for some of them i used more than 1/4 cup of batter! Like most of the reviews on the website: "Forget Bisquick!" This is a very tasty AND healthy, wholesome pancake. Light & fluffy and BabyM eats them without syrup.

* I made half this recipe again this July 4th weekend, using milk instead of buttermilk and with NO EGG and it worked out great!
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July 06, 2009

::SMS:: Butterscotch Sauce & a Giveaway

| 1 comments
Happy Monday! I totally forgot to post the recipe for Sweet Melissa's Butterscotch Sauce yesterday. Here it is:

Butterscotch Sauce (p. 186)
Makes 3 cups

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup granuIated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, the brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, water, and corn syrup and heat the mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla until smoooth.

3. Return the pan to the stove and, over low heat, simmer for 2 minutes. Allow to warm.

Serve warm or at room temperature. This sauce can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Before serving, warm the sauce over low heat.


Giveaway:
Head over to Michelle's blog for a really cute giveaway! To enter all you have to do is:
1. Tell one other person about the giveaway
2. Tell me her you love to bake!
3. Deadline for the giveaway will be July 12.
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July 05, 2009

::SMS:: Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream with Hot Fudge Sauce

| 21 comments
FINALLY! I've been waiting for this day ever since I joined Sweet Melissa Sundays. As soon as Lorelei assigned me July 5, I immediately read thru the list of recipes and excitedly picked the one ice cream recipe in the book.

Perfect pick, if i must say...
Holiday Weekend! Ice Cream! What more can we ask for?
Maybe an ice cream maker! I apologize to those that do not have one. I didnt have the cookbook when I joined and didnt realize that this was required. And I thank those who do and made this with me.

The one obstacle i faced when prepping myself for this recipe was finding the dry skim milk powder. I've never even heard of this before! I went to a few of the local supermarkets in my area and to my surprise most carried skim milk powder but they were by the caseload! $7-$10 would buy me enough skim milk powder for a ton of milk for a very long time! I'm not a big milk drinker & my toddler only drinks whole milk... so i wasn't sure if I wanted to buy the full case when i needed only 1/4 cup. And I didnt know if I had room to store this because we're going to renovate our basement in a few weeks and we have to move everything out of the basement & my storage area into the garage -- including all my baking essentials.

Decisions, decisions. Then i was thinking, if this ice cream was THAT good then i'd be making it forever and that would justify my purchase of all that skim milk powder. And thats what I did.... i bought the box for $7!

Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream (pg. 184):
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry skim milk powder
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split & scraped, reserving the seeds & pod

(i used a bourbon vanilla bean*)



1. Fill a large pot with about 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Set a large bowl over the top, and check that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water (this is a double broiler or bain-marie setup). (Remove the bowl and use it to combine the ingredients for the ice cream.)

2. In the large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, milk, brown sugar, salt, skim milk powder, egg yolks, vanilla bean and seeds, and vanilla until completely combined.



3. Place the bowl on top of the simmering pot. Be sure the water is simmering, not boiling. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened to nappante (thick enough to coat the back of the spoon), 5 to 10 minutes or approximately 180 to 185°F on a candy thermometer.

4. Cool the custard in an ice bath. Strain the mixture into a resealable container. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. (I skipped the ice bath and after straining the mixture I just let it cool on the counter and then refrigerated it overnite.)

5. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

6. Transfer to a resealable container and freeze 4 hours or overnight before serving.



I went with the hot fudge topping.



Hot Fudge Sauce (page 185):
Makes 1 quart sauce

15 ounces best-quality bittersweet (64-68%) chocolate, coarsely chopped
l/2 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons water
1 1/2 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee or instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons cognac or brandy


1. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering, not boiling, water, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.

2. In a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, corn syrup, water, cocoa powder, and instant coffee. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. When the mixture comes to a rolling boil, cook for 1 to 2 more minutes.

3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the melted chocolate. Stir in the cognac.

The sauce can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Warm before serving in the microwave on medium high in 30-second intervals, stirring after each one.

Now that I have all the dry skim milk powder, I definitely have use for it! This ice cream is a keeper... this might become my go-to vanilla ice cream. The brown sugar gives it a unique taste and i love it! the hot fudge sauce is fantastic too! Hubs loves it and spoons it over his chocolate peanut butter ice cream for the ultimate indulgence.

Be sure to check out the blogs of my fellow-SMS Bakers who made this with me.

Sorry -- I had my heart set on making the hot fudge sauce from day one that i totally forgot that Butterscotch Sauce was also an option for this week's recipe pick. I'll post the recipe for the Butterscotch Sauce tomorrow. Thanks Jaime, for the reminder!

* Bourbon beans are long and slender, with a very rich taste and smell, have thick, oily skin, contain an abundance of tiny seeds, and have a strong vanilla aroma. Bourbon beans from Madagascar and the Comoros are described as having a creamy, haylike, and sweet, with vanillin overtones. Bourbon beans from other regions will be similar if they are picked at peak ripeness and are properly cured.
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July 01, 2009

TASTE TEST:: Entenmann's Pound Cake with Chocolate Chips

| 6 comments
The hubs is a pound cake lover or should I say loves Entenmann's Pound Cake.... he likes it cause its "light & airy" --- not dense as a pound cake is suppose to be. I mean, it's called "pound" cake for a reason --- 1 POUND of butter, sugar, flour, etc. My new-favorite is Elvis Presley's Fave.

I've always wondered if a "copycat" recipe will taste like the original, aka "store-bought" product. I found a recipe for Entenmann's Pound Cake, and of course, had to give it a try. The ingredients are simple enough:

1/2 pound Butter
2 cups Powdered sugar
3 large Eggs
1 2/3 cup All Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or lemon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325F.
Spray an 8-1/2″ Pyrex loaf dish with Pam.
Cream butter with sugar on high speed of mixer for 5 minutes.
Add 1 egg and then a little flour, continue beating for 2 minutes.
Add 2nd egg and half of remaining flour and beat 2 minutes.
Add 3rd egg, rest of flour and extract, beating 2 minutes.
* I added some chocolate chips just for the heck of it.

Spread batter evenly in prepared loaf dish. Bake 65 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in baking dish on wire rack 30 minutes.



I used my mini loaf pan for 8 lil cakes.

THE VERDICT: the chocolate chips made the cake. But the texture was not like the store-bought version at all. It was slightly dense but not as heavy as a "real" pound cake. Maybe because i made mini loaves. The taste was there but not quite. Hubs is just going to have to get use to eating Elvis' pound cake because that's my go-to recipe.
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