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Tag Archives: baking

Yogurt Banana Chocolate Bread

28 Feb

Yogurt-Banana-Chocolate-Bread.  That’s quite a mouthful.  There’s no other way to describe this wholesome, rich, moist, thick bread!   This is a densely satisfying bread for breakfast, brunch, and snack.  It’s got everything I love in it, and more.

Yogurt Banana Chocolate Bread 4

We just returned from our regular trip back to So. Cal., where we’re from.  It can be challenging to travel with kiddos, but the memory-making is important to us since our entire extended family is in CA.  Nobody wanted to relocate to the Arctic with us.

Yogurt Banana Chocolate Chip Bread 2

It wouldn’t have been a real trip without the usual visits to our favorite Cali eateries, being the silly foodies that we are.  Actually, any trip we take tends to revolve around food somehow.  Yet no amount of In ‘n Out can rival my mom and dad’s home cooking.  And they cooked up a storm.

Yogurt Banana Chocolate Chips Bread 3

I’m not sure what all that has to do with this Yogurt Banana Chocolate Bread, except that it’s obvious my parents’ love of cooking was passed down to me.  Hopefully, I’m passing it on with all the cooking/baking I do with my own family now.

Yogurt Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Back to the banana bread.   This sweetie’s loaded with super ripe bananas, protein-rich yogurt, flax, and a healthy dose of chocolate.  So rich, dense, moist, and just the right amount of sweetness!  I’d say this bread lasted about one day in our house.  We never have leftovers with this bread, but I’m guessing it would freeze beautifully.

Enjoy!

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RECIPE (1 9×5 loaf)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup softened butter (room temp)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup dry flax meal
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup over-ripe, mashed bananas
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate morsels (minis melt into the bread better)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F with rack on lower middle position.  Grease a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.

In large bowl of stand mixer, mix the softened butter and sugar until fluffy and light, several minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix to incorporate.

In separate bowl, combine flour, flax, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add butter/egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring by hand until fully incorporated.  Gently fold in the yogurt and mashed bananas with rubber spatula just until combined.  Gently fold in the mini chocolate chips, just until combined.

Spread batter evenly into greased loaf pan.  Bake about 60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out with tender crumbs attached (not totally clean.)  Cool loaf in pan 15 minutes and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.  Cool completely before slicing.

Source:  Chew Out Loud

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White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

9 Feb

There are two camps of eaters.  Those who love cheesecake seem to be in the majority camp.  Then there are the handful of people who say they don’t like cheesecake.  I obviously adore cheesecake and would eat it every day if I could.   This white chocolate raspberry version is my favorite cheesecake in the whole wide world, and it has singlehandedly converted a few of those non-cheesecake fans over to our side 🙂

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake 2

The fact that I could eat cheesecake daily is what drives me to bake this dense, rich, indulgent New York style cheesecake every opportunity I get.  Birthdays:  it is the cheesecake lover’s dream cake.  Christmas:  the red and white swirls have that holiday covered.  Valentines Day:  this thick cheesecake with chocolate crust is the perfect sweetheart dessert.   In fact, February 14th  is coming up, and your loved ones would be so impressed.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

I’m bragging on the cheesecake (not myself) when I say this, but countless people have requested this  recipe, deeming it better than Cheesecake Factory’s.   I have to agree.  Years ago, I liked Cheesecake Factory’s white chocolate raspberry cheesecake for indulging my sweet tooth… but ever since this homemade one stole my tummy, I can’t order cheesecake at any restaurants anymore.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake 4

White chocolate raspberry cheesecake is surprisingly easy to make.  The best part about this plush cheesecake is that it is made at least a day ahead of time!  Score!  If you come here often, you know I’m always looking for recipes that can be done ahead of time.  I can’t really cook well and socialize with a bunch of people at the same time.  I try to have most of my cooking done, so I can be fully in the moment with my friends.  It helps to use stabilized whipped cream so you can decorate the entire cheesecake the day before and it stays perfect in the fridge.  No runny or watery-ness!

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake 5

Next time you’re having dinner guests, try out this impressive cheesecake along with some good coffee.  Relish in the fact that it can be completely made up to 2 days beforehand.  You just might convert a non-cheesecake eater into a fan.

Bonus:  If you have leftovers and want to prevent yourself from eating it all, this cheesecake freezes beautifully.

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RECIPE (one 9 inch cheesecake)

INGREDIENTS
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter

For the raspberry sauce:
1 (10 oz) package frozen raspberries
2 TB sugar
3 tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 cup water

For the cheesecake:
1 bag (12 oz) pure white chocolate chips
1/2 cup half and half
3 (8 oz) packages good cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 TB vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Make the crust:  In a large bowl, mix fine cookie crumbs with butter until well incorporated.  Press into bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan.  Set aside.

Make raspberry sauce:  In a heavy saucepan, combine raspberries, sugar, and cornstarch/water mixture.  Mix well.  Bring to boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 215F.  Set rack to lower middle position.  Place a pan full of water in the lowest rack.    Using a small heavy saucepan, melt white chocolate chips with half and half, on low heat.  Stir often until completely melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In large bowl, mix together softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla and the melted white chocolate mixture.

Pour half of batter over the crust.  Spoon about a third of the raspberry sauce over batter in small chunks. Swirl with tip of butter knife.  Gently pour in the remaining cheesecake batter.  Spoon another third of the sauce over the top of batter.  Swirl with tip of butter knife to complete the desired marble effect.

Bake at 215F for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.  Filling will still jiggle in the center and seem undone.  Edges should feel firm upon light touch.  Turn heat off and let cheesecake cool in the oven, with door ajar.

Once cool, cover springform pan tightly with foil and cool cheesecake in fridge overnight.  Carefully remove cheesecake from springform, and garnish with whipped cream, white chocolate shavings, or fresh raspberries.  Remaining third of raspberry sauce can be used for topping as well.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by allrecipes

Note:  If you are freezing leftovers, simply wrap cheesecake well with cling wrap.  Defrost in fridge or counter.  It tastes just as yummy after being frozen!  

The slow-bake method at room temp allows you to bake a cheesecake without cracks on top.  It takes longer to cook, but will give you a smooth cake without unsightly cracks.

 

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

27 Jan

We’re in the final days of Back-to-Healthy month (aka January), and we are still quite oatmeal-happy here in our kitchen.

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies 4

My new year’s non-resolution (no official resolutions here) was to eat a lot more oatmeal, a lot more often this year.  I haven’t exactly kept up with my one-bowl-a-day ambition, but healthful oats are finding their way into my everyday baking.

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies 3

True, true… these are cookies.  Cookies with chocolate, at that.  But, hey… they are also laden with robust old-fashioned oats.  Not the quick-cooking oats, but the good ol’ old-fashioned oats.  Heartier, chewier, and bigger oat-y taste senstation is the result.

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies 2

These are unbelievably scrumptious oatmeal cookies!  For one, they taste like chocolate.  Like a rich chocolate chip cookie with texture…soft in the center and lightly crisp at the edges.  For another, the use of old-fashioned oats give these cookies a satisfying chewiness that you can sink your happy sweet tooth into.

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies boast a perfect balance of sweetness with a bit of saltiness, loads of semi-sweet chocolate, and chock-full of natural oats.  Can this combo be any better?!  Oh, yes, they can – because these fab cookies naturally bake up nice and full, without spreading too much.  You can count on a perfectly thick, dense cookie that stays soft and chewy.  Just the way you like ’em. 🙂

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RECIPE (40-50 medium sized cookies)

INGREDIENTS

1 cup regular butter, softened just to room temp (not too soft)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
1 TB vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups rolled old-fashioned oats (not quick-cooking)
1 (12oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate morsels

DIRECTIONS

In the large bowl of stand mixer, cream together room-temp butter with the white and brown sugars, until fluffy.  Several minutes on medium-high should do it.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Stir in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Mix in the oats.  Gently work in the chocolate morsels until incorporated.  Dough may be thick and heavy.

Preheat oven to 350F, adjusting rack to lower-middle.  Keep cookie dough in fridge while waiting for oven.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Drop rounded balls of cookie dough, about the size of a walnut, 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  Flatten each rounded ball to a 1/2 inch thick cookie.

Bake 8 minutes in preheated oven.  Cookies will seem underdone, but remove them from oven.  If you’re making much larger cookies, remove at 9 minutes.  The key is not to overbake.  They will set upon cooling.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet 5 minutes and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.  Enjoy!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from allrecipes

Note:  If you want less salt, reduce to 1/2 tsp salt.  Cookies stay soft and chewy for a couple of days in airtight container.  They are best on the day they’re baked, but nobody complains about leftovers!  Cookie dough can be wrapped up tightly and kept in fridge for up to a week.

Steel Cut Oatmeal ‘n Blueberry Muffins

22 Jan

January has one thing in common with September.  Both are “Back to…” months.  It’s “back to school” for September.  For January, we’re all “back to healthy.”  At least, in theory.   🙂

Steel Cut Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins 2

Though my beloved family would agree that we enjoy our share of indulgent-worthy foods, we absolutely include lots of good-for-you stuff.  You know… just to even things out a bit.  Because we all adore oatmeal, we have a stash of various types of oatmeal.  My favorite is Steel Cut.  They are whole grain and minimally processed, so they’re more nutritious than other types of oatmeal.  They are also super delish!

Steel Cut Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins

Ever make just a bit too much oatmeal?  I do that almost every time.  Oatmeal leftovers are…well, they aren’t exactly the same the next day.  No worries, because Steel Cut Oatmeal Muffins are here!

These are fantastic.  Steel Cut Oatmeal Muffins are tender, moist, and overflowing with good things!  You’ll feel great about these muffins first thing in the morning.  These are lightly sweet, chock full of blueberries, infused with warm cinnamon, and the best way to use up leftover oatmeal!

Steel Cut Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins 3

I have only made these using steel cut oatmeal, so I can’t attest to how the muffins would turn out using other kinds of oatmeal.  If you haven’t tried Steel Cut oats, it’s SO worth the try!  Steel Cut oats are heartier and chewier, with delicious nuttiness and oatiness (not a real word.)

You might never go back to the old stand by, once you’ve had Steel Cut oats.  Enjoy!

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RECIPE (12 large muffins)

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 TB dry flax meal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
1 TB ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, room temp
1/3 – 1/2 cup white sugar (depending on sweetness of berries)
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 TB vanilla extract
1 cup leftover, cooked steel cut oatmeal
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, do not defrost)
Turbinado or coarse sugar for topping

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F, positioning rack to middle or lower middle.  Oil or line 12 muffin cups.

Sift together the wheat flour, all purpose flour, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  In separate bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until well incorporated.  Add buttermilk, olive oil, maple syrup, and vanilla, and mix well.  Mix in cooked oatmeal until incorporated.  Quickly fold in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Just gently fold from bottom up, until flour is no longer visible.  Do not overmix.  Some small lumps are okay.  Lastly, very gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling all the way to the top, as full as possible.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out almost clean, with a few tender crumbs still attached.  Remove from oven and cool at least 10 minutes before removing from muffin tin.  Finish cooling on a rack.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by NY Times

Note:  These can keep a couple of days in airtight container at room temp.  They can also be frozen in airtight container for up to a month or two.

Eggs Benedict Casserole

28 Dec

Last weekend, Hubby and I took the boys out for a morning surprise.  This year, we have been all about surprising the kids with out-of-the-blue outings.  They love the unexpected discovery of a Minivan Express ticket (idea via Pinterest, my current addiction), signaling that they have 10 minutes to don their coats, shoes, and dash into our minivan for an unheralded adventure.

Hey, if I have to drive a minivan, I’m gonna make it fun.

Eggs Benedict Casserole

Our most recent adventure included a stopover with Santa and his elves.  Then, we headed out to brunch.  One of my sweet boys, knowing me so well, scanned the menu for Eggs Benedict – my all-time favorite breakfast dish.

Eggs Benedict Casserole 2

Eggs Benedict is awesome for breakfast/brunch at a restaurant, but not exactly the quickest thing to whip up at home.  Not for me, at least, because I am not a morning person.  SO not.  Which is why I jumped with excitement when I found this Eggs Benedict Casserole that can be assembled the night before and baked when you need it!

Eggs Benedict Casserole 3

This Eggs Benedict casserole is full of savory goodness.  Tasty and delish!   It won’t be exactly like classic Eggs Benedict, of course, because the eggs here are fully cooked.  This is more like an egg bake that includes the players of Eggs Benedict:  Canadian bacon, English muffins, eggs, and homemade Hollandaise sauce.  I haven’t tried packet sauces, but I’m sure that would work in a pinch also.

Enjoy your mornings!

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RECIPE (one 9×13 dish)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb Canadian bacon (ham works, too) – chopped
6 English muffins, split and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 TB onion powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
fresh chopped parsley for garnish

For the Sauce:
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 TB lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup melted butter
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Grease a 9×13 baking dish.  Place half of the Canadian bacon in bottom of dish.  Top with English muffins.  Follow with remaining Canadian bacon.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, onion powder, kosher salt, garlic powder, and black pepper.  Pour evenly over top of casserole.  Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Remove casserole from fridge at least 30 minutes prior to baking and preheat oven to 375F.   Sprinkle casserole evenly with paprika.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes on lower middle rack.  Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer or until the center is done.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley, if desired.

Meanwhile, make the sauce:  In a double broiler or metal bowl over simmering water (don’t let bowl touch water), constantly whisk together egg yolks, heavy cream, lemon juice, mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Continue whisking until sauce is thick enough to coat back of spoon.  Reduce heat to low.  Drizzle in melted butter, whisking constantly.  Add more salt/pepper if needed. Serve sauce immediately with casserole.  (If sauce stands too long and gets too thick, add a bit of hot water to thin out, 1 tsp as needed.)

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Taste of Home

Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Potato Casserole

27 Dec

Know anyone who is looking for ways to use up that holiday ham?   Our family is pretty good about eating leftovers, but after a couple of days, we’re ready to transform it into something that feels new.

This Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole is one of our favorite ways to renew a leftover ham.  It’s a hands-down phenomenal brunch dish.  In fact, it’s popular enough to bring out for dinner.  Good grub is a winner at any time of day 🙂

Cheesy Ham 'n Hash Brown Bake

This Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole is easy to throw together the night before and bake up the next morning.  If you need something easy and super tasty for brunch on New Year or an upcoming weekend, here it is.  It’s the perfect fuss-free, wake-up-late breakfast cure.   Totally my style.  Did I mention this is a fabulous way to use up leftover ham?

Cheesy Ham 'n Hash Brown Bake 5

This yummy dish is chock full of cheese, ham, frozen hash brown, and whatever add-ins your palate desires.  We like a bit of red bell pepper for texture and color, and of course sprinkled with crumbled bacon on top – because a bit of bacon makes everything better.  Even the kiddos inhale this cheesy casserole.

Cheesy Ham 'n Hash Brown Bake 3

This Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole is also one of our favorite things to bring to brunch potlucks.  You’ll want to keep this recipe in a safe place for your next potluck contribution.  It’s a popular crowd-pleaser, and you’ll love going home with an empty casserole dish.  Though a little left over could be good, too 🙂

Cheesy Ham 'n Hash Brown 4

Here’s to a carefree, delicious weekend morning.  Enjoy the rest of the holidays!

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RECIPE (one 9×13 casserole)

INGREDIENTS

32-oz package frozen plain hash brown potatoes
2 cups cooked, diced ham
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cans condensed cream of potato soup
16 oz sour cream (lowfat is ok)
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
5-6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled (real bacon bits work, too)

DIRECTIONS

In very large bowl, combine:  frozen hash browns, ham, bell pepper, cream of potato soup, sour cream, Cheddar cheese, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.  Gently mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Spread evenly into a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon.   If not baking yet, wrap tightly and place in fridge until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Bake 45 min to 1 hour on middle rack, until bubbly and golden on top.  Serve immediately, while hot.  Enjoy!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from allrecipes

Turkey or Chicken Tetrazzini

22 Dec

Whenever we’re planning on having turkey or chicken leftovers, especially after the holidays, we can count on Turkey/Chicken Tetrazzini to take poultry to a whole new level.   Now this is a way to spin a bit of magic onto leftovers.

Turkey or Chicken Tetrazzini

Tetrazzini is like comfort food on steroids.  Combine poultry and veggies with mounds of satisfying pasta.  It’s an all-in-one meal that satisfies both young and old at the dinner table.  A hunger-inducing aroma will beckon you while it cooks.  Then, one bite leads to another until there’s nothing left of your leftovers.

Turkey or Chicken Tetrazzini 3

This scrumptious pasta dish is a transformation of the ordinary into something extraordinary.  With players like bacon, mushrooms, and cheese, Tetrazzini is an popular crowd-pleaser.  We love our Turkey/Chicken Tetrazzini with linguini noodles, but use whatever pasta you’re craving.  The recipe includes a fair variety of spices, but it’s mostly stuff you probably already have.

Turkey or Chicken Tetrazzini 4

In lieu of normal breadcrumbs, this Tetrazzini is adorned with crispy Panko breadcrumbs.  Gotta love Panko!  It’s been around a long time, but Panko has more recently started gaining well-deserved popularity.  Panko is the new breadcrumb.  You know, as in 40 is the new 30 (I wish.)

If you’ve never used it, try Panko just once – you might become its next big fan.  It’s extra crisp and light, and makes everything that much better.  I use Panko with anything from casseroles to finger foods.

Enjoy the holiday meals with your beloved peeps, and create something wonderful out of what remains.

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RECIPE (about 8)

INGREDIENTS

2 slices bacon
4 TB olive oil
2 small or 1 large chopped onion
1 red bell peppers, chopped
6 cloves minced garlic
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 oz linguini noodles, broken in half
2 cups frozen broccoli florets
2-3 cups shredded cooked turkey or chicken
2 TB freshly copped parsley leaves
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
6 oz Panko breadcrumbs

DIRECTIONS

Cook bacon until crisp and browned in large, heavy pot.  Remove with slotted spoon, crumble into pieces, and set aside.

Saute 3 TB olive oil, onions, garlic, and bell pepper in same pot on high for about 4 minutes.  Add mushrooms, paprika, thyme, oregano, and garlic powder.  Cook until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with the flour and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add wine and chicken stock, stirring until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes.  Add heavy cream, milk, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer, until sauce is thick enough to coat back of spoon and very flavorful, 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of well-salted water.  Cook linguini until just al dente, about 8 minutes.  Drain and sprinkle with some olive oil.  Set aside (do not rinse pasta.)

Oil a 9×13 casserole dish with 1 TB olive oil.  In a bowl, mix Panko with 1/3 shredded Parmesan and set aside.

When sauce has thickened, add drained linguini, crumbled bacon, frozen broccoli florets, shredded poultry, and 1/3 shredded Parmesan cheese to the sauce pot.  Stir until well combined.  Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Transfer to prepared casserole dish.  Top with Panko/Parmesan mixture.  Bake uncovered until bubbly and golden, about 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by Emeril Lagasse.

Texas French Toast Bake

19 Dec

Technically, I suppose “French” toast isn’t Texan.  But this scrumptious French Toast Bake is big and hearty, and the saying goes that everything is bigger in Texas.

Texas French Toast Bake, 2

What makes this French Toast Bake superb is the use of Texas Toast, in place of regular sliced bread.  If you aren’t familiar with Texas Toast, it is typically found in the sliced bread aisle of grocery stores, and the thing about it is… well, it’s Texas-sized.  It looks like white bread, sliced extra thick and made extra dense.

Texas French Toast Bake

I usually buy whole-grain bread, so it’s something special for me to reach for the enriched stuff.  Though whole-grain sandwich bread has come a long way in texture and flavor, the white slices brought me back to my childhood.  Back when wheat bread tasted like cardboard and my mom kindly bought us white loaves.   It’s a special occasion to bite into these Texas soft slices.  It’s hard not to cheat and eat the bread straight out of the bag.  Just remember that you’ll need to use almost the entire loaf for the French Toast Bake, so try.  Just try.

Texas French Toast Bake 3

This is one of the most ideal, no-fuss offerings for brunch on Christmas, New Years, or any weekend morning.  It’s simple to assemble the night before.  Wake up late the next morning, pop it in the oven, and give your family a carefree smile.  My family loves anything French Toast-ish, and they flipped for this one.  Devoured the whole pan the same day.  I’m talking no leftovers, not even a few crumbs.

Texas French Toast Bake 4

This Texas French Toast Bake is something that will easily go on your family’s list of favorites.  The thick, dense slices of Texas Toast soak up the custard perfectly.  The brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon meld together like magic.  It’s just the right amount of sweetness.  You can serve with pure maple syrup, but you might not need it.

Oh, this is important – be sure to scrape out all the gooey yummy goodness you’ll find on the bottom of pan.  Enjoy!

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RECIPE (one 9×13 pan)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 loaf Texas Toast
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 TB vanilla extract
2 TB light brown sugar, mixed with 2 tsp cinnamon
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
Real maple syrup for serving, if desired

DIRECTIONS

Put butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 20 second increments, stirring in between, until melted.  Add 1 cup brown sugar and stir until well incorporated  Pour into bottom of a greased 9×13 pan, spreading mixture evenly.

Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla until incorporated.  Set aside.

Lay a single layer of Texas Toast in pan, cutting pieces to fit if needed.  Spoon 1 cup of egg mixture over bread.  Sprinkle with half of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Repeat with second layer, ending with a sprinkling of brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Cover tightly and chill overnight in fridge.

Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, covered for the first 30 minutes, and uncovered after that.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  If desired, serve with pure maple syrup.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Rach’s Blog

Orange Chocolate Lace Cookies

18 Dec

‘Tis the season for cookies.   Cookie exchanges, cookies on the dessert table, cookies for gift-giving… and cookies in our own cookie jar.  We’ve already been giving away many of our favorite cookies this season.  What to bake up next?

Orange Chocolate Lace Cookies

Orange Chocolate Lace Cookies!  I’ve always admired pretty lace cookies, but they look like they’d be way more work than the usual drop cookies.  In a sudden spirit of adventure, I talked my preschooler out of Word World so we could create  crunchy cookies together.

Orange Chocolate Lace Cookies 2

Surprisingly, these orange lace cookies are unbelievably easy to pull off.   So easy and deliciously tasty.  These cookies boast a fabulous crispiness and depth of flavor that reminds me of toffee.  Only better, because they’re infused with lively orange and then drizzled with chocolate.

orange chocolate lace cookies

Because these orange chocolate lace cookies are super crisp, they keep extremely well.  No worries about the cookies drying out or getting stale.  These little pretties are probably one of the easiest treats for mailing or gifting because of how well they keep.

The kiddos will enjoy watching the bubbling lace pattern develop in the oven.  Science project-slash-dessert?   Yeah, maybe just dessert.  Enjoy!

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RECIPE (about 25-30 cookies)

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup tightly packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup regular butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 TB Cointreau
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/2 cup + 2 TB all-purpose flour
1 TB orange zest, finely chopped
4-6 oz semi sweet chocolate morsels, for drizzling

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F and place rack on lower middle position.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine sugar, butter, corn syrup, Cointreau, and orange extract in a small but heavy saucepan.  Stir over low heat, until butter melts.  Remove from heat and add flour and orange zest.  Stir to combine.

Drop heaping teaspoons of batter onto parchment lined baking sheet, 2 1/2 inches apart.  Wet hands for easy dough handling.  Place baking sheet in oven and bake until cookies are spread out, bubble up, and golden brown.  About 11-13 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool several minutes before transferring to wire rack.  Finish cooling on wire rack.  Continue baking batches, stirring batter occasionally.

When cookies are completely cool, it’s drizzle time.  Melt chocolate morsels in microwave safe bowl (20 second intervals, stirring in between.)  Scrape melted chocolate into ziploc bag.  Cut a tiny hole in corner of bag, and drizzle on as much warm chocolate as you want.  Cool completely.  Enjoy!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Notes:  You can also dip the cookies halfway in melted chocolate in lieu of drizzling.  If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can make cookie-curls.  Cool cookies just 1-2 minutes, or until they are warm and pliable.  Curl around handle of wooden spoon.  When firm, slide cookie off.

Best Apple Pie with Flaky Butter Crust

16 Dec

I have a little confession.  Despite my affection for all things sweet, I don’t like cooked apples.  Wait a minute.  I do love fresh, crispy apples.  Just don’t love them cooked, is all.  That puts me in the little category of people who regularly pass up the apple pies on the dessert buffet.  But here is a glimmer of hope.  I gave this Best Apple Pie a chance, and new door has opened up.  There’s no turning back.

Perfect Apple Pie with Flaky Butter Crust

Hubby would never have imagined I’d eat, let alone bake, an apple pie.  I’m good with every kind of fruit pie, but he’s never seen me dart for the apple one.  For reasons still mysterious, I began searching high and low for apple pie recipes.  After digging through countless variations, I settled on this tried and true version.  And now I’m done digging.  This here is the only apple pie I’ve ever really liked!

Perfect Apple Pie with Flaky Butter Crust 3

What makes this apple pie extra memorable is the fabulous flaky butter crust.  We always prefer using butter rather than shortening  whenever possible.  This is our go-to recipe for a flaky butter crust; perfect for any sweet or savory pies.  Technically, one could use store bought pie dough.  But it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t say this out loud:  store-bought pie dough won’t produce the buttery deliciousness of a homemade crust.

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The pie dough needs a bit of time to chill.  If you plan ahead for that, you’re good.  Try to stick with Granny Smith apples for best texture and balance of tart vs. sweet.

You’ll love that this apple pie can be totally prepared ahead of time.  In fact, it’s best that way.  Bake it and let it set overnight or at least several hours, so the filling has time to cool and thicken.  The pie reheats beautifully, especially if you’re going for a la mode.  Vanilla bean ice cream and warm pie…mmm.

Perfect Apple Pie with Flaky Butter Crust 6

Add this to your dessert list for the holidays… or really any day.  Apple pie lovers in your life will go nuts over this one.  That non-apple-pie eater just might experience a conversion to the other side.   Enjoy!

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RECIPE (about 8 servings)

INGREDIENTS

For the filling:
1/2 cup butter
3 TB all purpose flour
3 TB  water, with 2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in it
1 TB vanilla extract
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
8 Granny Smith apples – peeled and sliced (not too thin)

For the dough (double crust):
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp table salt
1 cup butter, chilled and diced
1/2 cup very cold ice water
1 egg white, beaten
coarse sugar for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the dough (make ahead): 
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, just until there remains small pea-sized butter chunks in the dough.  Gently stir in 1 TB of ice cold water at a time, until mixture starts to hold together.  It should be pliable enough to stick together when pinched, but not sticky.  Work the dough sparingly, using either pastry cutter or cold fingers.  The key is not to overwork the dough (avoid using food processor.)  The little chunks of butter should still be visible.

Gently form 2 dough balls (1 slightly larger than the other) and wrap well in plastic.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour (up to overnight.)

To make the pie:
Preheat oven to 425F and place rack on lower middle position.

Melt butter in a saucepan.  Stir in flour to form a roux.  Add water with dissolved cornstarch, white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Bring to a boil, and immediately reduce to barely simmer.  Keep sauce warm while you roll out the crust.

Roll the larger dough ball out to fit bottom/sides of  9-inch pie pan, with bit extra for edges.  If dough is firm, you may need to roll it out twice.  Place crust in bottom of pie pan.  Press evenly into the bottom and up sides of the pan.  Press down the edges.  Roll the smaller dough ball to fit over top of 9-inch pie pan.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine apple slices with the warm sugar sauce, reserving about 1/4 cup (or enough for brushing over top crust.)  Brush bottom crust with beaten egg white.  Fill with apple mixture, mounding.  Place top crust over filling, crimping tightly at edges to ensure good seal.  Cut several slits in top crust.  Brush remaining warm sugar sauce over entire top crust.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar and light dusting of cinnamon, if desired.

Place pie on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes.  Reduce temp to 350F and bake another 35-45 minutes, until top crust is golden brown and apples are soft.  Use thin strips of foil to cover pie edges, if they start browning too quickly.

Cool before serving.  Enjoy…it is totally worth your work!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie

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