Monday, October 22, 2012
As you know I love a good veggie/grain type of salad. Whether it be quinoa, couscous, or barley, I just love the combination of flavors & textures. When I was asked by Freekah Foods if I wanted to sample freekeh, which is an ancient grain, but certainly new to me, I couldn’t pass it up! I accepted the sample while I was still on maternity leave. Yeah, back in JULY! Luckily the flavor I chose was perfect for fall, because it was until then that I finally got the chance to use it!
You’re probably still like, “Freekah? What the F*$k is freekah?” (Just kidding, I’m sure you don’t swear nearly as much as I do.) Well, according to Freekeh Foods.com, freekah is an ancient grain dating back nearly 2,000 years ago. Freekeh is a process which means “to rub” in Arabic. It was created by accident when a Middle Eastern village was attacked and their crop of young green wheat was set ablaze. Most folks would sulk over their misfortune, but the crafty villagers rubbed off the chaff, cooked it up and “Eureka!” Freekeh was created. It has 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and 130 calories per low-fat serving. It also has a really interesting nutty, almost crunchy texture.
I loved this “new to me” grain! And I REALLY loved the pre-seasoned packet I got. I chose the rosemary sage, but they also offer original, and tamari. We’ve been getting a lot of butternut squash in our CSA, and I thought it would be great to toss into a grain salad with the freekeh. I also combined some dried cranberries, maple syrup, apple cider reduction, and dijon syrup to round it out. This was a perfect storm of flavors. I loved the variety of textures in this as well. Check your local Whole Foods Market, or health food grocery store to find some freekah for yourself. You can also get it online. I can’t recommend it enough!
Butternut Squash Freekeh Salad with Cider Dijon Vinaigrette
1 small butternut squash (or 1/2 of a large one)
extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
1 package Freekeh Foods Rosemary Sage Freekah (or 8oz freekah, plus dried rosemary & sage to taste)
3/4 cup apple cider (reduced to 1/4 cup)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp (pure) maple syrup
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel butternut squash and chop into 1 inch cubes. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender, tossing halfway through. Let cool.
Place dried cranberries in a small bowl, cover with water, and set aside.
Meanwhile prepare freekah to package directions.
Heat 3/4 cup apple cider in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Cook 6-8 minutes until cider is reduced to 1/4 cup. Combine reduced cider, extra virgin olive oil, maple syrup, cider vinegar, dijon mustard, and salt & pepper.
Drain cranberries. Combine freekah, squash, cranberries, and dressing. Toss well, and serve warm, room temperature, or cold.
**I was NOT compensated for this post. I was merely given a sample. If I didn’t like it, I would not have blogged about it. Lawd knows I ain’t got time to write about something if I didn’t LOVE it!**
Monday, October 15, 2012
Hello readers! I’ve got another guest post today. Jen at Beantown Baker is blogging this awesome dessert recipe to help spread the word about a cause near & dear to her heart. I’m so honored she wanted to use my blog as an outlet to spread the word. So read on to learn more, and find out about these delicious treats!
Pumpkin, apples, and cranberries tend to dominate recipes at this time of year. I thoroughly enjoy each of those ingredients, but October also makes me think PINK. As many of you know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month.
If you’re anything like me, you or someone you know has been touched by this horrible disease. Within the last 9 months, my Hubby’s mother and a dear friend’s mother were both diagnosed with early stages of breast cancer. My own mother is a survivor (8 years this year!)
I have made breast cancer awareness and fundraising a personal mission of mine. I have walked three Avon Walks (I plan to walk all 9 of them), organized Bloggers Bake for Hope, and created the Power of Pink Challenge five years ago. Through this challenge, I ask that fellow bloggers make something pink to help raise breast cancer awareness (non-bloggers are welcome too). This year, each participant will be entered to win a $100 donation to a charity of their choice.
I decided it would be fun to make some pink raspberry marshmallows to participate in my own challenge. Have you ever had homemade marshmallows? If not, I highly recommend making some. They are at least a million times better than store-bought. Possibly more like a billion. And they get super gooey when mixed into hot cocoa or melted into a s’more.
I searched for raspberry marshmallow recipes online and most of them used raspberry flavoring and food coloring. I decided to take a shot at just using raspberry puree in my favorite marshmallow recipe and it worked beautifully. These marshmallows have a delicate raspberry flavor and a pretty pink color. I couldn’t be happier with them! I can’t wait to stir some into a mug of hot cocoa.
If you would like more information on the Power of Pink, including how to participate, click here.
Pink Raspberry Marshmallows
Yield: 4 dozen
1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Place raspberries and their juice in a food processor and puree until smooth. Strain to remove seeds. You should get 1/2 cup of raspberry puree.
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with raspberry puree. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
In a small saucepan combine the water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
I usually try not to post dessert recipes back to back, and I have an amazing grain salad post I’m working on, but I ended up pushing up this bundt cake to the top. I just love bundt cakes. I love the simplicity of making them, I love the fun shaped pan. They seem like a cake you need less “excuses” or specific occasions to eat. They are much more an everyday cake, but still can be perfect for special occasions.
The reason I pushed this post up ahead is, right around the time I was finishing my last slice of this Oatmeal Pumpkin Bundt Cake, I was contacted by Nashville’s Nothing Bundt Cakes.
They were celebrating their first anniversary in Nashville and wanted to know if I was interested in trying out their cakes. Umm… YES! I used to drive by their location all the time (it was near Target!), and wonder what their cakes were like. Then I read a glowing mention in Styleblueprint. I finally got to try them for the first time when I went to a friend’s son’s first birthday. Friends, let me tell you, their bundt cakes are SO tasty, and adorable! They come in different sizes, bundtini (think cupcakes), bundlet, and regular 8 or 10 inch bundt cakes. They are unbelievable moist, I think Nathan’s words were “Oh, that’s not dry at all!” They also have a wide variety of flavors. For more info, and a chance to win FREE CAKE (Nashville-area only) head on over to my friend Lesley’s blog, LesleyEats, as she’s doing a giveaway!
Ok, back to THIS bundt cake. As we know it’s currently prime pumpkin baking season. If you’ve been follow my blog for years, first of all, thank you, second, you probably know I LOVE pumpkin. Soups, chili, truffles, cookies, muffins, fudge, ice cream, and even cocktails, you name it, I’ve tried to cram pumpkin in it. In fact, I have a different pumpkin bundt cake in my blog already, Browned Butter Pumpkin Bundt Cake. You might be wondering why I wanted to try a different recipe. The answer, why not? (You may also wonder why I used the same damn plate as the last time. For that I have no answer.) This recipe is a bit different than the previous one. The previous one calls for browned butter, this one has oatmeal. Both result in delicious cake, with a wonderful pumpkin flavor, and the perfect seasonal spices. I highly recommend BOTH recipes.
Oatmeal Pumpkin Bundt Cake
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup butter, softened
4 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan (I use Pam Baking spray).
Place 1 cup oatmeal in a small bowl. Pour 1/4 cup boiling water over the oatmeal and stir together. Allow oatmeal and water to sit for 10 minutes.
Add sugar and butter to a large mixing bowl. Beat on low until light and fluffy.
Slowly add the eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing until well incorporated.
Add the pumpkin, oatmeal/water mixture and vanilla, mixing on slow speed until well blended.
While mixer is still going on slow, add the flour, one cup at a time. Next, add the pumpkin spice, baking soda and salt. Blend until well incorporated.
Pour cake batter into prepared Bundt cake. Bake for 60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clear.
Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes then invert onto a large cake plate. If desired, dust with powdered sugar.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
One thing I have managed to do in my post-baby world has been keep up with our cookie cravings. We love having homemade cookies available for dessert. Every once in a while I’ll get the chance to whip up a batch of cookie dough. Instead of baking the entire batch, I bake a sheet’s worth of cookies. Then I portion out the rest of the dough into balls, and freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen I transfer them to a ziploc bag. This way, when we get a craving for a fresh baked cookie, I just pull out a couple from the freezer & turn on the oven.
These cookies were perfect when I had a cookie craving combined with a chocolate craving. They have a perfect chewy texture. The fleur de sel is what really sets these cookies apart in flavor and makes them extra special. If you can’t locate fleur de sel in a store near you, it’s also available on Amazon. Or, just use a pinch of the good quality sea.
Chewy Chocolate Cookies with Fleur de Sel
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup (300 grams) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (80 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch-processed)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fleur de Sel, for sprinkling*
*If you don’t have Fleur de Sel, substitute with a course sea salt.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Add the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the mixer and mix until just combined. Scoop by the rounded tablespoon onto the prepared sheet pan and flatten slightly with your hand. Sprinkle the tops with fleur de sel.
Bake until edges are crisp, about 9 minutes. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
True story: on a recent Sunday I “slept in” until 8am. In my state of awakening I thought it was likely 2pm, because it felt like I had slept for ages. I know lack of sleep is such a cliche “new parent” thing to write about, but I’m doing it anyway. Everyone wants to ask you “Well, are you sleeping much?” And I’ll admit that’s a question I would often ask as well. What sucks about our current state of not sleeping is that in the last weeks before I returned to work, Elliott was sleeping GREAT. (And by great, I mean he only woke up once, around 2 or 3am.) So I had a taste of what it felt like to sleep more than a few hours at a time. Let me tell you, it was fantastic. Unfortunately, since my return to work (and Elliott’s need to eat from a bottle at daycare), he wakes to eat at least twice a night. But that’s ok, I’d rather lose a little sleep, than him go hungry!
On a different Sunday morning than the one I began this post with, Elliott woke to eat at 11pm, 2am, and 5am. And he decided 5am was a great time to STAY AWAKE! (He also did something else that included lots of Biz and a bath, by the way.) So, what else is there to do when you’re wide awake in the wee hours, and you have half a carton of buttermilk in the fridge? Make pancakes. A quick google revealed this Martha Stewart recipe, and away we went. I love that this recipe doesn’t involve any crazy shenanigans like separating and beating egg whites. I’ve done that in the past, and let me tell you, that s–t is for the birds. It also tends to dirty up way too many dishes. This recipe is a one-bowl winner. These pancakes were so fluffy, moist, and superbly satisfying. I seriously thought Nathan & I might devour this entire stack. Luckily we didn’t, and I ate leftovers for work breakfasts, slathered with peanut butter.
Now for some tips. From the recipe source: “The key to fluffy pancakes is not to overmix the batter; it should not be beaten smooth.” Always remember that one. Also, because I think it’s totally unfair if Nathan were to eat his pancakes while I was standing over the hot griddle cooking the rest of them, we waited until all the pancakes were done to eat. To keep the pancakes warm, I placed an oven proof plate in the oven set at 200 degrees. Then I just kept adding to the stack! What you see is the entire yield of my batter. I made mine a bit smaller, using a 1/3 cup scoop to ladle the batter instead of a 1/2 cup. I prefer to eat 3 medium pancakes as opposed to 2 large. As another piece of advice, I’ve since made these with lowfat buttermilk, and they were still delicious, just not quite as thick and fluffy as when I made them with regular buttermilk.
These were nothing short of fantastic, and I’m glad I managed to snap a photo & find time to share them with you. This recipe is definite keeper, and I can’t wait till Elliott is old enough to SLEEP IN and wake up to me making these for him at, oh say… 10am?
Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle
Heat griddle to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps.
Heat oven to 175 degrees. Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Using a pastry brush, brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter or reserved bacon fat onto griddle. Wipe off excess.
Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, pour pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.
Repeat with remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven. Serve warm.