So after my grand conversation with Dad this morning I had to go bake something to relax… I thought this cookie pretty much represents the Miller’s in the most wonderful way:
Grandma is represented by a nice solid oatmeal base and has the perfect sweetness.
Grandpa is represented by blueberries – packed with a punch and never a dull moment, a real American classic.
Mom- you are the lime zest in the cookie, bright as sunshine.
Aunt Linda- you are the white chocolate, too fun/cool/sweet and full of great ideas to be regular chocolate.
And for all the crazy moments our family deals with, I just had to add some nuts … well pistachios to be exact.
Mix all ingredients together and add a big spoonful of love and I think that I just created the best cookie ever!
December is a very special time for me and my family. It is also a time of year when I enjoy eating clementines. It seems like every week we would go through a box of clementines. They are so small but packed with a lot of juicy flavor and are a healthy snack. A few days before Christmas I thought it would be nice to have a palette cleanser on our holiday menu. I was looking for something very light and be consumed within a few bites.
After some careful thought, I decided to make Clementine sorbet. I juiced about 15 clementines to yield about 3 cups of juice. I heated half of the juice over low heat and dissolved 1/4c of sugar into it. After about 10 minutes I pulled it from the heat and then let it cool. Once the mixture cooled, I mixed it into the other half of the juice and then placed that into the refrigerator overnight. The next day I froze it in my ice cream mixer and it came out perfectly. The sweetness had toned down a bit and it was a nice crisp citrus treat for our holiday dinner.
This sorbet would also be good with some champagne poured over the top or even as a nice way to pack in some vitamin C when you have a winter cold.
Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
So there is some little part of me that just wants to transport into the movie Ratatouille. Maybe it’s because I would love to go to Paris and eat great food and see some beautiful places. Until then, I resorted to my beloved wall of books and grabbed Chocolate & Zucchini by Clotilde Dusouiler off the shelf. The cover of it has a great shot of a market and immediately I dream of walking down a lovely cobblestone street and shopping at a Parisian market. I thought it would be fun to try the signature recipe, Chocolate & Zucchini cake. The batter uses shredded zucchini and dutch processed cocoa giving this cake a deep chocolate flavor. If you have any zucchini to use up and are tired of typical zucchini bread you should probably give this a shot. Happy baking!
Banana Bread Brownie
I know the idea sounds weird, but think about it. Bananas, chocolate, walnuts all mixed together, sounds pretty awesome, similar to Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream. This recipe is from the fantastic Fat Witch Bakery in New York. They make some pretty damn good brownies and every recipe I have made at home is a hit. I decided to make these because I had some bananas that were perfect for baking. I mashed a few bananas and mixed them with vanilla, sugar, eggs and flour. Then, I melted some chocolate with butter and let that cool. I poured the batter into a 9×9 and marbled the chocolate into it. The brownies baked for 35 minutes at 350 and then we had to sample them. The brownies were perfect and full of flavor. So next time you have some bananas laying around, this may be a quick and yummy alternative to banana bread. Happy Baking!
Cranberry Orange Sorbet
This morning was sort of perfect. The sun was shining, a hint of spring was in the air with the birds singing songs, and the Kentucky Derby is on later tonight. I am making Hot Browns and Derby Pie for later, but since it’s hot out now, sorbet sounds fitting. I don’t know about you but I am a huge fan of ice cream and sorbet. I recently picked up the ice cream bowl attachment for my Kitchen Aid and I love it. I have had great results so far and everything just tastes better when it’s made at home with really fresh ingredients. Last weekend I made a bunch of Strawberry Creme Fraiche Ice Cream and it was heavenly. I wanted to use up some cranberries I had in the freezer so I tracked down a recipe by David Lebovitz for Cranberry Orange Sorbet. I really love the flavor combination of cranberries and oranges. The sorbet is stupid easy to make… heat some water, sugar, orange zest and cranberries for a minute and then let them steep in a covered pot. Juice a few oranges and then mix everything together, blah, blah, blah. I let the base cool in fridge for a bit and then mixed it in the ice cream bowl. Twenty minutes later, wow… this is a new item that will be stocked in my freezer. Pretty and pink, this sorbet is tart, refreshing and is a perfect way to end a warm evening (or a good treat after a long run in the heat). I also imagine this could be a really great addition to the Thanksgiving menu.
After a major change in plans for Easter, I found myself at home just being really happy that my husband and mother-in-law survived one hell of an adventure and are safe. It totally sucks that I was not able to see my family but we will be together soon enough. After picking Jason up from the airport, I was trying to determine what we should do for Easter dinner since his mother was coming to town. I had a million ideas and a few days off of work. While trying to help everyone reclaim some sanity I invented my new spring cocktail (cucumber vodka, lime, mint, tonic water, sliced cucumber) and opted not to make a huge dinner. I still wanted to make something that reminded me of spring and celebrating Easter at my grandparent’s house. I decided to whip together a Hummingbird cake for us to enjoy. The southern cake is a very light spice cake with crushed pineapple, mashed banana and pecans. As I was mixing the batter I had Jason try a bite and he said he had a feather caught in his tooth, I totally didn’t get it at first. Now, I crack up thinking about it since most people I know have not heard of this cake. I frosted it with a fluffy cream cheese frosting. The whole house smelled wonderful as it was in the oven. I split the layers into three and then frosted it. This cake is fantastic and was the perfect treat for a long day. In case you are wondering, it is not made with real hummingbirds.
In late February, I had the honor of meeting Cookie Monster… so in March I turned 30 and my parent’s got me the most adorable cookie jar for my Birthday. There is something just truly special about sneaking cookies out of a cookie jar. Growing up my mom used to keep her cookie jar on counters that were to tall for me to reach. This is when I learned how to climb up onto the counter to have a treat. I have always loved a cookie from a cookie jar- it just makes a regular cookie so much better. When Jason was traveling for work last month I made some Snickerdoodle dough and surprised him with some fresh cookies in the cookie jar. I have always used Gale Gand’s Snickerdoodle recipe and the cookies always come out perfect. These cookies take about ten minutes to put together and ten minutes to bake. They are buttery and rolled in cinnamon sugar. The outer edge is crisp to the bite offset with a nice and chewy center. I will be trying out some new cookie recipes and am going to try and have some dough on hand so if we have people over the cookie jar is stocked. Happy baking!
Pistachio Cupcake with Milk and Honey Buttercream
One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is to play in the kitchen. I have been crazy busy at work the past few weeks and decided to make a treat for the people who have helped me out. I woke up Sunday morning and the sun was shining, I was craving a tropical drink and looking forward to watching some sunny golf at Pebble Beach. Birds were chirping and a-holes were still lining the street with chairs to reserve parking spaces, go figure. We finally dug out the Volvo and it pretty much was our first trip to the grocery store since the big snow. Before we left the house I searched through a few books and decided to make Baked’s Aunt Sassy cake in the form of a cupcake. I have been staring at this cake for awhile and I wanted to make something a bit more unusual, something with some color, something new… after all spring is in the air. The cake is made with finely ground pistachios and is not too sweet. It has a very pretty light green color to it and the batter tastes so yummy. The frosting was heavenly… a buttercream with milk, vanilla and honey, what more can I say except pure f’ing genius. The frosting had a such a rich texture and was really fun to pipe. I finished them off with a dusting of crushed pistachio and a drizzle of honey. The cupcakes were such a hit at work and they are just super pretty to look at. Thank you Matt and Renato for sharing this recipe!
Maple Bacon Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
I had no time to bake a Birthday treat for my baking buddy in time for her Birthday this year so I thought I would bake something really yummy this weekend for her. I decided to make some maple bacon cupcakes frosted with maple cream cheese frosting. My goal was to make a cupcakes that tasted just like pancakes and bacon with syrup. This batter was based off the recipe from the book Baked Explorations (a Brooklyn based bakery). I skipped breakfast today and starting cooking some bacon with my lovely bacon press (if you love bacon, I suggest you pick one of these up). After it cooled, I cut up the strips into little pieces and began to work on the batter. I used grade B maple syrup in the batter and then when it was all done I tossed the bacon with some flour (this prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the cupcake) and folded them in. I filled the muffin tins with batter and placed them in the oven. Total baking time was about 22 minutes. Our kitchen smelled wicked awesome while these were baking. I sampled them warm from the oven and they were great. Then one more after it had completely cooled and it was even better. Later in the evening, after I finished cooking beef barley stew, I went ahead and made the frosting. Some maple syrup, butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and serious whipping action and I reached the perfect flavor to top them off. All of the flavors work so well together in this cupcake and I am in love with this recipe since I am a huge fan of pancakes and bacon.
Jason and I ventured back to Detroit this weekend and went on a quest to eat items that we cannot find in Chicago. The trip started out great with a classic breakfast of Better Made chips and a Heineken in the bar car. Once Jason’s mom picked us up from the train we began our quest… Almond Boneless Chicken. We have a great Chinatown in Chicago but Almond Boneless Chicken is nowhere on the menu out here. We have chicken with almonds but no deep fried strips of chicken with gravy and scallions served on top of a bed of lettuce… a side order of white rice, won ton soup, and an egg roll. We drove through Dearborn on our our way to her house and stopped at a few restaurants as Jason scoped the menu, we kept driving. We looked up the restaurant that was close to where we were staying and I called, I probably sounded like a lunatic, but it was well worth it. The food was so good, everything I had been waiting for… and I even got a take away bag for a late night snack! Forget about milk and cookies. Next stop- my parent’s house. Before we left Chicago I talked with my mom and she asked if there was anything we needed. I quickly answered, Blue Moon. For those of you that don’t know about this stuff, I am sorry. It is the most unique flavor of ice cream and I still love it. Citrus and spice and everything nice, it’s the original blue in Superman ice cream. My mom grabbed a box of it and had it in the freezer waiting. After a great time with everyone and learning once again we will never offer to cook at my parent’s, I had to have a cone…to be continued.