Gluten-free pound cake with cranberries

December 2011, pg. 70

Gluten-free pound cake with cranberries recipe

Gluten Free pound cake

I rarely make gluten free sweets, but more and more people are staying away from gluten for different reasons.  There is no time like the present to try out a new recipe that is gluten-free.

I bought Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour.  I think it was my only choice, or maybe it was the only brand I recognized (I don’t remember).  Any how I didn’t realize that the December 2011 issue did a taste test with several gluten-free flours and published their thoughts on pg. 64, until I was in the process of making the pound cake.  I read the taste test for the gluten-free flour I purchased.  “…the flavor tasted slightly off in sweets; save it for pancakes or crackers.  The texture of the items we tested was spot-on when we added xanthan gum, as the package suggests.”  After reading that I was positive my pound cake was doomed because I chose and/or bought the wrong flour for sweets and I most definitely didn’t have any xanthan gum laying around my kitchen. DARN.

I continued mixing together the ingredients and my attitude began shifting to a more positive one.  The batter smelled amazing.  The orange zest really kicked it up a notch.  The batter looked delicious with the dried cranberries and chopped pecans.  How was it going to taste?

I ended up putting foil over the pan because it was beginning to brown too quickly.  I took the pound cake out of the oven after 1 hour and 5 minutes and it was browner than I would have liked it to be.  Now I’m back to thinking the pound cake was a flop…

It was a flop.  It did taste good but the texture was all off.  My husband tried it first and he said it was dry and the texture was strange.  I decided to toast mine and add some butter.  I didn’t help, the pound cake dissolved in my mouth.  Not something I was expecting or enjoyed.  The pound cake went into the trash.

Lesson learned: Pay attention to the taste tests when using new and unfamiliar ingredients.  Who knows how it would have turned out if I added xanthan gum or used a gluten-free flour that was recommended for sweets?  It really did smell and the inside looked delicious!

Gluten free pound cake Inside

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Gingerbread cookies

December 2011, pg. 104

Gingerbread bells recipe

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies are a classic holiday cookie that I thoroughly enjoy eating!  I made the cookies the day we going to our friends’ house for dinner because P and I didn’t need 3 dozen gingerbread cookies to ourselves.  I also wasn’t going to make 3 dozen gingerbread bells.  BORING.  I used several different cookie cutters for the cookies.

I burned the first batch of cookies that I baked for 14 minutes like the recipe said.  The rest of the cookies I baked for a total of 10 minutes.   After cooling the cookies, P and I tried a plain gingerbread cookie and we both decided the same thing.  They tasted good but were very hard.  This would be a good recipe for those who want to make gingerbread houses.  I’m going to stick with my other gingerbread cookie recipe that results in a softer cookie.

I was not a fan of the frosting ingredients.  I don’t use pasteurized egg whites and didn’t want to buy them.  I did a little research on how to pasteurize eggs and decided I would try to pasteurize the eggs myself.  It seemed pretty easy, but it would take some time and quite a few eggs.  I thought I would have plenty of time to make the frosting but P and I decided to do some Christmas shopping (which always takes longer than expected), and our friends said dinner was going to be at 6 o’clock (I was expecting a 7 o’clock).  So, I didn’t have the opportunity to make the frosting in the December 2011 issue.  I went with an easy and delicious butter cream frosting.  I don’t even measure the ingredients anymore.  A little bit of vanilla, a tablespoon of butter, milk and confectioners’ sugar.  The gingerbread cookies got some frosting and sprinkles.  Nothing fancy.  Time just disappears during the holidays.

Our friends liked the cookies.  They were all gone by the end of the night.  They were still hard but they tasted good and the frosting was delicious.  This was a one-time only recipe for me.

Buttermilk-cornmeal drop biscuits with honey butter

December 2011, pg. 87

Buttermilk Cornmeal Biscuits

Buttermilk-cornmeal drop biscuits with honey butter recipe 

These biscuits were going to be a perfect addition to our leftover chicken and gravy.  No honey butter for us.  I’m sure it would have been a nice addition to the biscuits if we ate them for breakfast or brunch.  I only help out with the sweeter recipes, and we don’t get as much exercise this time of year, so I reduce sugar when possible.

The biscuits were very easy and quick to make.  It is a perfect addition to a meal if you don’t have a lot of time or don’t feel like thinking too much.  The only problem I had with making the dough was it was very thin, like a batter.  I’m going to take complete blame for the dough/batter because I did use the powdered buttermilk again.  Last month when I made the black pepper buttermilk biscuits the dough was very wet.  Next time I use powdered buttermilk to make a dough, I’m going to add the water slowly and not just use the amount of water the powdered buttermilk container calls for.  So my finished product was a thin biscuit.

Looking far from perfect, the biscuits tasted great!  I really like cornbread, my husband not as much.  However, he had very positive comments regarding the texture of the biscuits from the cornmeal and I completely agree with him.  The honey provided a perfect amount of sweetness to the biscuit.

Biscuits with chicken and Gravy

Pat and I both had the leftover biscuits for breakfast without butter, honey butter, or jam.  They are sweet enough by themselves, but I’m sure if you wanted to add a spread, the honey butter would be delicious.

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche

December 2011, pg. 45 & 46

Quiche Whole

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche Recipe

This was a great breakfast-for-dinner recipe! I love breakfast foods and I don’t eat eggs and pancakes enough, so I love the opportunity to have them for dinner.

I made the pie crust using Everyday Food’s November 2008 recipe.
Basic Pie Crust

*I used it for the Maple Nut Tart I baked last month so I knew at least the crust of the quiche would be a success.  I made the crust in the morning and threw it in the refrigerator until it was time to start dinner.

I must admit I eyeballed the broccoli and cheese measurements.  I bet there was a little more of each item than the recipe called for.  But really who can turn their nose up to more broccoli and cheese.  I baked the quiche for 45 minutes and the center appeared to be set, so I took it out and let it cool.

It was a perfect night to eat the quiche for dinner because P was on-call and I wasn’t sure what time he would be getting home but it would most likely be after 8 p.m.  I probably wouldn’t be able to wait and eat with P, since my body starts to shut down if I don’t eat dinner by 7:45.  I would eat the quiche warm and P would just eat the quiche cold (or warm it up in the microwave).  P ended up getting home just as I was finishing my salad, so we were able to eat our main course together.

The cooked quiche looked and smelled amazing before and after we cut it.  The center seemed a little underdone to me, so I cooked my portion in the microwave for 45 seconds. P, took no issues with the doneness and ate it as is.  It was delicious!  The texture of was amazingly smooth and creamy, reminding me of a quiche I had in a nice French restaurant for brunch a few years back.  The broccoli was tender and there weren’t too many onions.  The quiche was a success and I bet the other variations would be just as good!

Quiche Piece

Thanksgiving Stuffing!

Simple Stuffing with Apples, Raisins, and Walnuts

November 2007, pg. 100

I almost forgot to take a picture...Oops

I almost forgot to take a picture…Oops

Simple Stuffing Recipe

After vegetables have softened in step 2, stir in 2 apples (such as Gala or Granny Smith), cut into 1-inch pieces, ½ cup of raisins, and ½ cup of coarsely chopped walnuts. Cook until apples start to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add wine and continue.

*adapted from Everyday Food, Issue #47, pg. 101

This year, P and I went to his parents’ for Thanksgiving and his mom asked if we would bring the stuffing. I told her that would be perfect since I needed to make the apple and raisin version of the simple stuffing recipe for the blog. Before making the stuffing I showed P the recipe and he requested that I also add walnuts, so I did. We also brought homemade double-vanilla ice cream, blueberry scones, and homemade bread.

The night before Thanksgiving I just wanted to relax after a full day of baking the other items we would be contributing to the holiday weekend. I convinced myself to get up early the next morning and make the stuffing. I woke up at 7 am Thanksgiving Day giving myself 2 hours to shower, make the stuffing, eat breakfast, and pack the car. It took us 3 hours to get all of our chores done. Maybe next time I will take the advice given at the beginning of the recipe and make the stuffing the night before, so we can leave on time. But there were no worries of showing up late for dinner just missing out on playtime with our nieces.

The stuffing was very easy to make, it just took some time with all of the chopping. I must admit that I did roast the bread a few days before, eliminating that step the morning of. I chose to put two Gala apples in the stuffing and a cheap Chardonnay for the called Chard. It was definitely a cooking wine and not drinking wine. We had a glass later that night and decided the rest of the bottle would be used to cook with and not drink. I also used our own chicken stock instead of canned chicken broth. I honestly didn’t measure the amount required to saturate the bread but seemed to be less than the 29 ounces the recipe called for. I put the stuffing in a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish that was buttered and I covered it with buttered aluminum foil. NOTHING went inside our turkey.

The simple stuffing with apples, raisins, and walnuts was a hit! We had way too much food at our Thanksgiving table but everyone tried the stuffing and some even went back for seconds. The following day we had leftovers for lunch and the stuffing disappeared. Another success!

Pecan Pie with a twist…

Delicious piece of Maple-Nut Tart

Delicious piece of Maple-Nut Tart

Maple-Nut Tart*

  • 1  our favorite pie crust (recipe follows)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1.5 cups pecan pieces
  • 1.5 cups walnut pieces

Step 1. Preheat oven to 350°.  On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll chilled dough into a 12-inch circle.  Carefully fit into 9-inch tart pan, gently lowering dough into bottom and sides of pan without stretching.  Roll rolling pin over edge of tart pan to cut off excess dough.  Set tart shell aside.

Step 2. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and salt.  Then whisk in maple syrup.  Add nuts, and mix filling to combine.  Place tart pan on rimmed baking sheet, and pour in filling.  Bake tart until filling is set and crust is slightly golden, 55-60 minutes.  Cool completely in pan.  Remove tart from pan before serving.

*adapted from Everyday Food Issue #47, pg. 114, November 2007

Our Favorite Pie Crust**

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 4 tablespoons ice water

Step 1. In a large bowl mix dry ingredients. Then using a pastry blender cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

Step 2. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of ice water and continue to work dough with pastry blender, continue adding 1 tablespoon of ice water at a time until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers.

Step 3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, forming a ¾ inch thick disk.  Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. (Or wrap in plastic, place in a resealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator before rolling.)

**adapted from Everyday Food Issue #47, pg. 88, November 2007

 

Raw dough

Raw dough

I offered to bring the Maple-Nut Tart to my husband’s cousin’s house for Early Thanksgiving Dinner.  I didn’t want to mess the tart up and I only had one chance to get it right.  We were going to the Syracuse football game on Saturday leaving me with a couple hours that night to bake before we headed out the next morning.  While reading the recipe for the Maple-Nut Tart I realized it was just a Pecan Pie with a few changes.

I usually avoid baking pies because I have some difficult shoes to fill.  I can’t compete with my mom and mother-in-law, and my mother-in law was most certainly going bring a few pies to Early Thanksgiving Dinner as well.  I guess it’s time to start practicing my pie skills…

I don’t own a tart pan and have no intentions of adding such a pan to my collection until I have a larger kitchen.  Considering the crust for the tart was just a pie crust I thought it would be fine to turn the ‘Maple-Nut Tart’ into a ‘Maple-Nut Pie’.  The pie crust was very easy to make and I really liked using butter instead of shortening.  I love using simple ingredients.  I know how butter is made, but I can’t say the same about shortening.  I was pleasantly surprised how easily the dough rolled out and did not stick to the counter.  I fit the crust into my Pyrex pie pan with NO problems.

MapleNut PieCrust

The maple nut mixture was also really easy to throw together.  Again very simple ingredients: eggs, pecans, walnuts, brown sugar, and maple syrup.    It was awesome to use pure maple syrup instead of corn syrup!  I like to eat maple syrup off a spoon (I can’t say the same for corn syrup)!  Although using a cup of maple syrup almost cleaned my supply out.  Good thing we always get some pure maple syrup from Lewis County every year for Christmas!

Uncooked Maple Nut Tart

Uncooked tart/pie

I baked the maple-nut pie for 60 minutes in my little unreliable oven.  The temperature ranged from 300-400°F.  I was a little nervous that the center was either going to be under- or overdone, but the outside looked delicious.  Only time would tell if my contribution to dessert was a success.

Finished product!

Finished product!

The following day when it came time for dessert I made sure P and I had a piece of Maple-Nut pie.  It was amazing.  The crust was done to perfection the outer layer of nuts and syrup was crisp and the center was nice in gooey.  Everyone else liked it too.  SUCCESS!

In the future if I ever need or want to make a pecan pie I am going back to the Maple-Nut Tart recipe!  Maybe next time I could even add some chocolate…

Pumpkin Cookies….YUM!

Chocolate-Glazed Pumpkin Cookies

November 2007, pg. 182

http://www.marthastewart.com/338160/chocolate-glazed-pumpkin-cookies

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I hadn’t made pumpkin cookies in a few years.  They were one of my two ‘Go To Cookies’ when I lived with B in Syracuse.  I suppose baking pumpkin cookies just wasn’t the same without B there.  So I was pretty excited that pumpkin cookies were in the November 2007 issue (and B is somewhat part of the experience)!

I baked the pumpkin cookies at my parents’ house when I was visiting last week and then mailed them to my brothers.  My mom and I like to bake cookies and then mail them to people (so we don’t gorge ourselves). Both of my brothers won’t be coming home for Thanksgiving so the chocolate-glazed pumpkin cookies would be a perfect snack for the coming holiday.  Plus my baby brother, who is twenty-six, LOVES baked goods with pumpkin.

In the past I have prepared fresh pumpkin for recipes requiring pumpkin puree, and this is the perfect time of year to get a fresh pumpkin.  However, Libby’s pumpkin puree is also easy to get this time of year and personally I think it’s just as tasty as fresh pumpkin (and there are less dishes to wash).  So I went with the canned choice.

The cookies were extremely easy and didn’t take much time to bake.  It took me less than 30 minutes to mix all the ingredients together and start dropping batter on the cookie sheets.  I did use my mom’s ‘cookie dough scoop’, which was amazing.  My finger didn’t get covered in raw batter!  I found out the scoop was a little larger than a ‘heaping tablespoon’ because I only made 25 cookies, not forty-two.  The cooking time still fell within the 15-20 minute range published in the EF recipe.  I took Hank for a hike while the cookies cooled.

Later in the day I melted the chocolate for the top of the cookies.  I did use the microwave, not the stove, to melt the chocolate.  I cook it for 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between.  I find it much easier than melting it on the stove and you dirty less dishes (which is very important when your only dishwasher is your own two hands).

The final product was delicious.  Of course my mom and I tried a cookie or two before packaging the rest up for my brothers.  The cookies were moist, spongy, and you could taste the pumpkin with the perfect amount of spice.  The chocolate-glaze made the cookies look really nice and of course taste better.  I’m not sure how the glaze will travel in the mail.  My brothers might get pumpkin cookies with chocolate crumbs.  Not that they care about how their cookies look, just how they taste!  Next time, I might put chocolate chips in the batter if the final product will be travelling.

In hindsight I should have baked one of the more difficult desserts from Issue 47 while I was visiting my parents.  They have a normal sized oven, that has a nice seal and you can trust the temperature setting.  If you remember from an earlier post, my kitchen is less than average…. Oh well.  The chocolate-glazed pumpkin cookies were a success and hopefully they will return to “Go To Cookie” status.

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Next, back to my own kitchen to bake a Maple Nut Tart!

Toffee Blondies

Toffee Blondies

October 2003, pg. 106 (no link found)

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Ingredients and Directions

½ cup melted unsalted butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. salt

1 ½ cups flour

1 cup toffee bits

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°.  Line bottom and sides of pan with aluminum foil.  (I used an approximate 8”x 5”x 1.5” casserole dish.)

Step 2: Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs, vanilla, and salt.  Add flour slowly and beat until combined.  Stir in toffee bits.

Step 3: Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake 30-35 minutes. (Toothpick should come out clean when inserted in center of cake.)  Let cool completely before lifting cake out of pan by grasping sides of aluminum foil.

Step 4: Cut cake into squares or freeze for a later date.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

*adapted from Everyday Food, October 2003 issue, p. 106

I’m not sure why, but I don’t tend to bake with toffee.  My choice add-in is usually chocolate or some kind of fresh or dried fruit.  Making me a little apprehensive of the toffee blondies recipe that was up next on my list to bake.  There must be a reason I don’t use toffee: Did I have a bad cooking experience or eat a toffee desert that wasn’t delicious?  I’m very good at forgetting the bad things that happen to me in life, maybe this was one of those cases…it was not!

I had to force myself not to cut the hot toffee blondies immediately after taking them out of the oven.  The smell was intoxicating.  (Yankee Candle would most certainly benefit from a ‘toffee blondie’ scent, if they don’t already have one.)  I didn’t think I would be able to wait until they were cool, and I was right.  I had my first toffee blondie bite when they were warm.  Great decision.  They were delicious!  My husband agrees.

The toffee blondie recipe was fantastic.  Easy to make and tasted great!  Everyday Food said it perfectly when they suggested this baked-good for lunchboxes, bake sales, or to share at a friend’s house party.  We chose to bring the toffee blondies to a friend’s house and they were a hit!

Gingersnap Bowls

Gingersnap Bowls with Ice Cream

http://www.marthastewart.com/338900/gingersnap-bowls-with-ice-cream

October 2003, pg. 116

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Every Friday our local grocery store sells half-gallons of Perry’s ice cream for a $1.99, which has led to a habitual stop sometime during my Friday.  I thought the gingersnap bowls would be a nice addition to our Friday night treat.

The recipe seemed easy enough.  I thought things might get a little interesting during Step 3, due to the time sensitivity.  I didn’t want the gingersnap pancakes to harden before I could mold them into bowls…

Unfortunately, my troubles began in Step 2.  After the batter ‘cool[ed] completely’ (which the recipe calls for), I attempted to scoop a tablespoon onto a greased baking sheet, but the batter was rock solid.  I briefly warmed the batter over the stove just long enough to scoop the batter.  The first two bowls I made came out nicely.  The second bowl didn’t mold as much.  I used a glass that was too large and I was just too slow.  (Which I was expecting.)  The centers of the third and fourth bowls stopped spreading out in a thin layer at the same rate as the edges.  Leading to the edges being done and the middle not.  I took my chances with the middle being underdone, which was probably not the best choice.  I ended up with one bowl with a dense center and the fourth is now a wreath.  Lesson learned while baking Ginger Snap Bowls: Do NOT let the batter cool completely.

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I’m okay with things not looking perfect, as long as the dish tastes good.  My husband and I were not impressed with the overall taste, corn syrup.  I  would suggest putting a little more ginger in the batter, I could hardly taste the ginger over the sugar and corn syrup.  I was not impressed with the overall process and end result of the gingersnap bowls.  The bowls seemed like a creative way to spice-up a bowl of ice cream, next time I will eat my black raspberry ice cream in a ‘real’ bowl.

Pear and Granola Muffins

Pear and Granola Muffins

http://www.marthastewart.com/317980/pear-and-granola-muffins

October 2003, pg. 35

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“We, I mean YOU, have to make these again!” my husband exclaimed while chewing his second pear and granola muffin in five minutes.  After that statement, Everyday Food’s, ‘Pear and Granola Muffins’ are now in my go-to recipe collection.  I’m a big fan of bringing baked goods to friends’ and families’ houses when we spend a night or two.  Typically I bake some kind of scone or muffin, with the majority of recipes coming from the Martha Stewart collection.  So the pear and granola muffins will fit right in.

I used D’Anjou pears from the grocery store.  I had to wait several days for the pears to ripen, so plan ahead if you want to make these muffins.  I was able to make 15 muffins not a dozen.  There were more than 2 cups of cut fruit from the two pears.  The more fruit the better!  My local Weagman’s grocery store had several choices of bulk granola.  I went with the ‘plainest’ available.  It had a few nuts and was sweetened with honey.  I was very happy with the choice.  Every few bites of the muffin I would taste a cashew, which was a pleasant surprise.  The taste and texture of the muffins were spectacular!  The pears were tender and the amount of cinnamon complemented the fruit wonderfully.

Aesthetically, the muffins looked perfect!  The tops were a beautiful golden brown with chunks of pear, adding topography to the muffins.  I did leave the granola crisp topping off the muffins.  When possible, I cut the down the amount of sugar and salt a recipe calls for.  These two ingredients seem to be in all processed food, so when I have control over putting salt and sugar in food, less is sometimes better.   In this case, just omitting the topping reduced the sugar by ¼ of a cup and wouldn’t impact the overall integrity of the muffins.

Great recipe and I would highly recommend it.  If you plan on making the pear and granola muffins, make sure the fresh fruit is ripe.   I hope you enjoy the muffins as much as my husband and I did!