Once-A-Year Sourdough Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving Dressing

Why “once a year”?  Well, sourdough bread and cornbread doused in butter, broth and cream just can’t be an everyday side dish.  And, there is something to be said for keeping a recipe special by only serving it once a year.  This dressing is moist on the inside from the cornbread, with crispy bits on the top from the sourdough bread.  The seasonings are subtle and the whole dish is melt-in-your-mouth rich; the perfect complement to your Thanksgiving Day turkey.  You can make this a day or two in advance, refrigerate it uncooked, and just pop it in the oven on the big day.  My recipe is adapted from one published in the New York Times a few years back.

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3/4 cup butter   (plus extra for buttering baking dish)

6 cups crumbled cornbread (see note below)

6 cups crusty sourdough bread, torn into bite sized pieces

2 cups chopped onion

2 cups chopped celery

1/2 teaspoon dried ground sage (see note below)

2 teaspoons salt

black pepper

6 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 cups chicken broth

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter 9×13 inch baking dish.  Melt the 3/4 cup butter and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine corn bead, sourdough bread, onion, celery, sage, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss until well mixed.   Add melted butter, eggs, cream and 1 1/2 cups broth. Mix lightly but well.  Mixture should be moist.  Pour into prepared baking dish, do not pack it down…you want the top to have some texture.  If mixture seems dry around edges, drizzle with remaining broth.  Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour until firm and golden brown on top.  Serves 12.

For cornbread:  You don’t want to use a sweet cornbread in this recipe.  Here is an easy, quick recipe.  

Preheat oven to 475.  Put 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a small cast iron skillet and place in the hot oven to preheat.  In a medium bowl, stir together 2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix,  2 cups buttermilk , 1 beaten egg and 1/4 cup vegetable oil.  Just mix it quickly…ok if there are lumps.  Carefully pour batter into hot skillet and bake until golden brown.

Concerning dried sage:  Check the expiration date and smell for freshness.  Some of us find that our dried sage was left over from Thanksgivings past and is nothing more than a flavorless dust!

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Chocolate Fudge Pie with Salted Caramel Pecans

Chocolate Pecan Pie 1

When a friend showed me this pie on the cover of Southern Living recently, I knew that we had to try it and the results were quite spectacular.   We made a couple of minor changes (improvements, dare I say).

First of all, the name…this is actually a chocolate pie with pecans on top. The original name “Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie” leaves one expecting a more traditional pecan pie filling.

Secondly, we didn’t care for the lemon juice in the caramel of the original recipe .… gave  it a curious taste,  so we tossed it and made it again without.  (very quick process, don’t be afraid of the caramel!)

Thirdly, the recipe calls for a deep dish pie crust. But please don’t use the frozen ones in the disposable tins.  It is almost as easy to use the Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts and set it in your own pie plate and crimp the edged for a more homemade look.

One more note…if you want to make sure to have gorgeous pecans for your pie, order these  Natural Extra Fancy Mammoth Pecan Halves from Sunnyland Farms.  They are amazing!  We ordered the large economical box and split it up so we will both have fresh pecans in the freezer year round.

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Chocolate Filling

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 large eggs

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

1 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust

Salted Caramel topping

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups toasted pecan halves

flakey salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Unroll pie crust and set into a deep pie dish and crimp the edges decoratively.  In a large bowl, stir together the first 6 ingredients of the filling.  Add the eggs and stir until well blended.  Fold in the chopped pecans and pour the filling mixture into the pie shell.

Bake for 35 minutes.  The filling may still seem a bit loose just in the center but will continue to set as it cools.

For the caramel, bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over hight heat.  Do not stir.  Boil until sugar begins to change color and then swirl the pot to “stir”.  Do not walk away from the pot at this point because the sugar can go from just right to burnt very quickly.  The whole process will take about 6-8 minutes.  When it is a dark amber color, remover from heat and immediately stir in the cream and butter and salt. Set aside to cool slightly.

Arrange the toasted pecan halves on top of the cooled pie then drizzle all over with the caramel sauce.  Sprinkle with the flakey salt and let cool before serving. (serves 8)

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Banana Scones with Spiced Pecan Glaze

banana scones with pecan spice glaze_Here’s the thing about scones.  You can’t just go throwing in extra ingredients willy-nilly to create different flavors.  You’ll throw off the proportions and end up with a dry and cakey mess.  So in creating this new version of my favorite tea-time treat, I’ve carefully pureed a couple of very ripe bananas into the cream before mixing the dough, and then added extra layers of flavor by spicing up the glaze with nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.  And to top it off, the pecans have been toasted in a bit of butter, salt and brown sugar for amazing taste and texture.

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For the dough:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon sugar

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 very ripe bananas

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the pecan topping:

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioners sugar

a couple of teaspoons milk or cream

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

generous pinch of ground cloves

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a Pyrex measuring cup, thoroughly mash the bananas then add cream and vanilla and stir well.  This mixture should total 1 1/2 cups.  Set aside.  Whisk dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and sugar) together in a medium bowl.  Add the butter to the flour mixture and cut it in, either with a pastry fork, two table knives, or your fingers, until the butter is in small pieces (about the size of a pea) and the mixture is crumbly.  Make a well in the center of the flour/butter mixture and pour in the cream/bananas.  Using a fork, gradually work the wet and dry ingredients together to form a dough.  This will not be a wet dough so resist the temptation to add more cream.  As soon as the dough starts to come together, dump it out on a clean surface and begin to pat it out into a rectangle, about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Be careful not to overwork the dough.  Cut the rectangle in half width-wise, then cut each of those pieces into 4 squares, then cut each square into 2 triangles.  Transfer triangles to the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until puffed and just lightly brown around the edges.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Toast the pecans:  In a small skillet, melt the butter and add the pecan, salt and brown sugar.  Stir constantly for several minutes until pecans are warmed through and sugar is melted.  Remove from skillet and let cool.

Make the glaze:  Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl and add the milk or cream one teaspoon at a time until you get a thick glaze.  Stir in spices and set aside until scones are completely cooled.

When scones have cooled completely, use a table fork to drizzle glaze over each one and sprinkle generously with the pecans.  Let glaze dry before serving.  Makes 32 small scones.

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“Real South” Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Real South Salted Caramel Cupcakes-2

 

For years, I’ve wanted to master the perfect Southern Caramel Cake.  Betty Irving, who makes the best caramel cake in West Point, Mississippi, won’t give me her recipe.  She just tells me that the secret is the heavy cream.  And the decade that we spent in the Chicago area was virtually caramel cake-less due to the fact that it just didn’t exist in that part of the country.  What fun it was to discover, upon arrival in Winston-Salem, NC, that  I could order a delicious three-tiered caramel cake from Cherries Cafe in Lewisville any time we wanted.  So that’s what we did for birthdays and special occasions until 2006 when Cherries Cafe published a book of recipes that included Ollie’s Caramel Cake.  Hurrah!  Problem solved, right?  Not so fast… Here is what it says at the bottom of the page, “Note: This is a great old-fashioned cake but a bit difficult to make.”  My attempts were tasty enough…. but sloppy and lopsided, real “cake wrecks” if you will.

The recipe below is my solution for satisfying the caramel cake lovers in our family and it has been a huge success.  I use a tried and true yellow cupcake recipe formula from noted pastry chef Gail Gand, the caramel icing recipe from Cherries Cafe Secrets, and a healthy pinch of flakey sea salt which takes this desert to a whole new level.  Cupcakes, being infinitely easier to frost with the warm, candy-like icing, were the answer.  Now we have a family argument over how many cupcakes constitute a serving.  I say one, and I’m confident that I am correct.  Others insist that 2 cupcakes equal one slice of a traditional layered cake.  You be the judge.

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For the cupcakes:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

3 cups sifted cake flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2, 12-cup muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

In a mixer fitter with the whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Add the sugar and continue to whip.  Add the vanilla and gradually mix in the eggs, one by one, until well combined.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk and ending with the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter in to the prepared pan, filling each slot three-quarters full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cupcakes are puffed, firm in the center , and light golden brown on top.  Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack.

For the icing:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

1 (16 ounce) package brown sugar

1 (16 ounce) package confectioners sugar, sifted

flakey sea salt, such as Maldon

Bring the butter, cream and brown sugar to a boil in a heavy saucepan.  Boil for 5 minutes or until thickened and the sugar is dissolved, stirring often,  Pour carefull into a large bowl and add the sifted confectioners’ sugar immediately.  Beat until creamy and smooth.  Let the icing cool slightly.

To frost the cupcakes:

Remove the cupcakes from the pan.

The icing should still be warm but firm enough to just barely drip over the edges.  Do a test on one cupcake and when it is the right consistency, go ahead and frost all the cupcakes fairly quickly before the icing hardens. (a small off-set spatula works well here)  Sprinkle each with a healthy pinch of the flakey sea salt as you go so it will adhere to the wet icing.  Let icing set before serving.  Makes 24.

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Perfect S’mores Cookies and 3 More Great Recipes

Perfect S'more CookiesIn this post I am going to share 4 recipes that I use time and time again.  Each of them is featured on someone else’s food blog and since I make them exactly as  written, I am simply going to refer to you the source.  These are real keepers and only a click away.  Enjoy!

The aptly named, Perfect S’more Cookies by Baked By Rachel

Pay attention to her advice to press the marshmallows into the center of the dough when possible.  It’s an easy step that will help the cookies keep their shape.  These cookies are a huge hit around here.

Grilled-salmon-with-avocado-salsa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa from Laylita’s Recipes  

I haven’t photographed this dish so I have borrowed the lovely one above from Laylita’s Recipes.  Sometimes I use a whole side of salmon and serve it with the salsa on top for a beautiful dinner party presentation.

Sesame Noodles with Scallions and Cilantro

Sesame Noodles with Scallions and Cilantro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sesame Noodles with Scallions and Cilantro from Week of Menus.  

I like to add lots of veggies to these noodles.  They travel really well and sometimes we top them with grilled chicken or shrimp.

 

Caesar Salad

 

Homemade Caesar Dressing from Once Upon A Chef

No raw eggs here so no worries about that.  I like to make tiny little croutons to put on this salad…nice to get a little crunch with every bite!  In this photo, my  croutons are gluten free.  Udi’s White Bread, found in the freezer section of Whole Foods and other grocery stores, makes excellent croutons.  Just remove the crusts, cut into tiny cubes, about 1/4 inch, douse with extra virgin olive oil (enough to just soak through the bread cubes but not pool on the baking tray) Sprinkle with salt and pepper and put in an 250 degree oven and then you can just forget about them for a while…..1-1 1/2 hours…or until golden brown and crunchy throughout. (Pepperidge Farm Hearty White Bread is a good option for croutons if you don’t need/want gluten free)

Salted Caramel Shortbreads with Pecans

another caramel to post 2

A buttery, melt in your mouth shortbread base with a dollop of real caramel, a pinch of flakey sea salt and you have before you the Ultimate Caramel Cookie!  You will need a candy thermometer and several mini muffin tins for this but it’s actually a very simple recipe that yields extraordinary results.  Enjoy!

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For the shortbread:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup finely chopped pecans (see Note # 1 below)

For the caramel:

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

4 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoons evaporated milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Flakey Sea Salt

Make the shortbread:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla, flour, and salt, then add pecans and mix until just combined. Do not over mix; mixture will be crumbly.

Press a heaping teaspoon of shortbread batter into each well of a mini muffin tin to form a flat base about 1/4 inch in thickness. (see Note #2 below)  Bake for 25 minutes, until the cookies are just firm to the touch.  Cool slightly then remove cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Make the Caramel:

Combine the sugars and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over med-high heat and attach a candy thermometer to the side of your pan.  Once the mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, cream and evaporated milk…this will make the mixture bubble violently for a few seconds so be careful.  Stir in the vanilla and let cool a bit.  At this point, you are waiting for the caramel to reach a consistency that will be thin enough to spoon onto the cookies, yet thick enough so that it doesn’t  run off the sides.  This will take approximately 10 minutes.

When the caramel is ready, drop a teaspoon onto each shortbread base and let set for at least 15 minutes before you sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of sea salt.  Cookies keep 3 days covered at room temperature.  Makes about 5 dozen.

Note #1:  Here is my favorite gadget to use when I want nuts chopped finely, but not ground.( Nut Chopper)

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Note #2:  An inexpensive wooden  Tart Tamper,  will make very quick work of pressing the batter into the mini muffin tins to form the bases for these cookies.

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new coffee cup

Double Crumb Cinnamon Cupcakes

new cupcake to postCrumbs on top, crumbs on the bottom, and a tender, moist yellow cake between.   Call it a muffin so you can have it for breakfast!

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Crumbs for top and bottom

1 cup flour

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, cold  and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients for the crumb mixture and then work it with your fingers until it is thoroughly combined and forms large moist crumbs.  Cover and place in refrigerator while you prepare the cake batter.

For the cake batter

1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking power

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whole milk

Line a 12 cup muffin tin with with paper liners.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the sugar and continue to beat then gradually add the eggs one at a time.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk, and ending with the dry ingredients.

To fill the muffin tins

Spoon one heaping tablespoon of the crumb mixture into the bottom of each paper liner.  Then add enough cake batter to come almost to the top edge of the liner.  Then cover the batter with the remaining crumbs.

Bake until the tops feel firm to the touch and the edges are just beginning to turn golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes then remove from pan.  Serve or may be kept covered at room temperature for 2-3 days.

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muffins 2 to post

 

Glazed Chocolate Chip Cream Biscuits with Sprinkles

biscuits to post 2

It’s what happens when you cross a scone and a donut.  Quick and easy, light and fluffy, softly sweet, in short… a lovely treat for a cold January afternoon (or morning or night!)

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2 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cup sifted confectioners sugar

2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

chocolate sprinkles

 

Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.   Using a pastry knife (or your fingers) cut butter into the flour mixture until there are no pieces larger than a pea. Stir in the mini chocolate chips then make a well in the center.  Pour the 1 cup of heavy cream into this well and, using a table fork, gently stir the dry mixture into the cream until it is just moistened.  It will still be a crumbly mixture, but will be just moist enough to barely hold together.  Avoid the temptation to add more cream.

Gather the dough, place it on a lightly floured clean surface and gently pat it into a circle 1-inch thick.  Using a 2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut as many rounds as you can, placing each on the parchment lined baking sheet.  Gently pull the remaining dough together to create another 1-inch thick circle and continue cutting  biscuits until all of the dough has been used.  Important note here….you want to touch this dough as little as possible during the shaping.  It does not need to be kneaded at all and will be tough if you overwork it.  Just gently pull the dough together and press lightly.  There will be cracks and crevices in the tops of the biscuits that come from the second and third batch that you cut but that will just give the glaze a lovely place to seep into.

Bake the biscuits 12-14 minutes,or until they have risen and are just beginning to turn golden around the edges.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.

For the icing, simply stir together the confectioners sugar with a bit of cream, one tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency that you desire.  In the photo above, I left the icing quite thick and dipped the biscuits to just coat the tops.  You can also make a thinner glaze that can be drizzled over the tops and will drip down the sides.  Add the chocolate sprinkles and let sit until the glaze dries.

These biscuits are best the day they are made but still quite nice on day 2 if you keep them in an airtight container.

Makes 15

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Mama’s All-Bran Cloverleaf Rolls

bran roll to post 2These rolls were a fixture of our holiday meals growing up in Mississippi.  The warm, sweet smell of this bread in the oven brings back lots of wonderful memories. I reconfigured them as cloverleaf rolls, which makes a simple recipe even easier.  And who doesn’t love pulling apart cloverleaf rolls and slathering the thirds with butter! This recipe will make 20-24 rolls, depending on the size of your muffin tins.

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2 1/4 cups whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup Kellogg’s All-Bran cereal

1 package yeast

4 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (for brushing tops)

flakey salt, such as Maldon Sea Salt (for sprinkling tops)

In a medium saucepan, bring milk, sugar and shortening to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Set aside to cool a bit.  When it is no longer hot, but still warm, sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let sit a few minutes until it begins to foam.  Stir in All-Bran and 2 cups of the flour. Cover with a clean towel and let sit in a warm spot until mixture has doubled in size.  This will take 45 minutes or so.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 cups of flour with the salt, baking soda and baking powder.  And get your pans ready by lightly greasing two 12-count muffin tins.

When yeast mixture has risen, use a large wooden spoon to stir in the remaining flour mixture.  To form the cloverleafs, roll the dough into balls, about the size of whole walnuts and place three in each muffin cup.  Cover the pans lightly with a clean towel, let rise until doubled in size (about an hour). Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly and gently brush the risen rolls with melted unsalted butter (a silicone brush is best for this because you don’t want to delate the rolls) and sprinkle very lightly with flakey salt.  Bake 10-12 minutes until rolls are golden.  Serve immediately.

Make ahead option:  After you have placed the dough balls into the muffin tins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to overnight.  Before baking, remove from refrigerator, remove plastic wrap and cover lightly with a clean towel and let rise.  Brush with butter, sprinkle lightly with salt and bake as directed above.

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Peanut Butter Petal Cookies

Don’t know why I usually wait until the holidays to pull out my cookie press.  Its such a quick and easy way to fill up the cookie jar and everyone loves the tender little bite-sized treats.  So here is a version that needs no holiday sprinkles.  Delicate peanut butter flowers with chocolate centers adapted from Sweet Miniatures, The Art of Making Bite-sized Desserts, by Flo Braker.  My shortcut is the upside down chocolate chip for the center… eliminating the need for making a ganache and piping in the center with a paper cone or pastry bag.

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2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsifted all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate chips for centers (semisweet, milk, or white)

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix the flour and the salt together in a small bowl and set aside.  Beat the butter, peanut butter and both sugars in a large bowl until very creamy and well blended.  Beat in the egg yolk and the vanilla.  Gradually add in the flour mixture.

While the dough is at room temperature, follow the directions on your cookie press to insert the 5 petal design plate.  Fill the cylinder with dough, packing it firmly.  Holding the press perpendicular to a cool, un-greased baking sheet, press out the cookies, spacing them about 1 inch apart.  If you lose a petal, just gently set it back in place.  Place one upside down chocolate chip  in the center of each flower.

Bake 9-11 minutes until the edges of the cookies are just barely starting to show color.  Immediately remove cookies to a cooling rack.  If they are left to cool on the baking sheet, they tend to break when removed. Cool completely before filling up your cookie jar! (Makes about 5 dozen)

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Chocolate Chip White Buttermilk Snack Cake


Not every cake needs an inch of icing.  There’s a lot to be said for a nice little snack cake like this one.  It’s light and moist with a fine crumb and it’s just perfect for snacks, coffees, lunch boxes, picnics, bake sales, etc.  As a matter of fact, the recipe comes from The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook, by Barbara Grunes.  She presents it as a layer cake with white chocolate frosting. Nice to know that it can stand on it’s own as well.

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3 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 egg whites

2 cups sugar

3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven t 350 degrees.  Spray or grease lightly 2 loaf pans.  Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the sugar and the cream of tartar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form,  Set aside.

In another large bowl, cream the butter and the remaining sugar (1 1/2 cups) until light, about  2-3 minutes.  Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.  Beat in the vanilla,  Gently fold in the egg whites and the mini chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Baking time will depend upon the pans that you use.  Approximately 40 minutes for the pans pictured here.  Cool 15 minutes in the pans then remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Will keep wrapped tightly for 3-4 days.

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Wild Blueberry Muffins with Oats and Brown Sugar

I don’t often make Blueberry Muffins.  I tend to make my Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze or if I have time, my Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake.  But this recipe from Beat This, by Ann Hodgman, caught my eye and since I had some Wymans fresh frozen Wild Blueberries in the freezer I decided to give it a try.  Sure glad I did.  They are moist and sweet, with just a hint of a warm oatmeal cookie goodness.  Reason enough to make sure I keep those wild blueberries in the freezer all winter long.

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1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup frozen wild blueberries

2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a 12-cup muffin tim with liners.  This recipe does not work without them.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs with the sour cream until thoroughly combined.

In a medium saucepan, over medium beat, melt together  the butter and the brown sugar.  Beat this mixture into the egg mixture.  Stir in the oats.

Fold in the flour mixture and then the blueberries.  Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full.  Sprinkle each muffin with a generous pinch of sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes or until light brown around the edges and set in the middle.

Cool for 5 minutes in  pan then remove to rack to finish cooling.

Makes 1 dozen.

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Red and Golden Raspberry Sour Cream Tart

Here is just the right recipe for when you are asked to bring dessert, want to show up with something homemade and beautiful, but don’t have the time or inclination to spend hours in the kitchen.  You’ll need the 4 hours to chill the tart but the rest of it is quick and easy.  Note: I used apricot jam in the glaze (see photo below) instead of raspberry so I would discolor the gorgeous golden raspberries that I found at the market.  This recipe was published in Bon Appetit, July 2001.

Crust:
8 whole graham crackers, coarsely broken

1/4 cup packed golden sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2  half-pint basket raspberries

1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

For crust:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grind crackers and sugar in processor until coarse crumbs form.  Add butter and process until crumbs are evenly moistened.  Press crumb mixture up sides of a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.  Bake until crust is firm to touch, about 8 minutes.  Cool crust on rack.

For filling and topping:  Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in medium bowl until smooth.  Beat in sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla.  Spread fill in in cooled crust.  Chill until firm, at least 4 hours. ( Can be made to this point one day ahead, cover; keep chilled.)  Arrange berries over filling.  Warm jam slightly and whisk in a couple of teaspoons of water if necessary to get a consistency that you can drizzle or brush lightly over the berries.  Serve immediately or chill up to three hours.

Deep South Chocolate Bourbon Chess Pie


The saying “easy as pie” must surely be referring to a Chess Pie.  There are hundreds of variations but as far as I can tell, they all involve a bowl, a whisk, and ingredients that you probably have in your pantry and refrigerator right now.  This particular one comes from  Charleston Cooks!  a charming cooking shop and school on East Bay Street in Charleston, SC.

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Pie Crust

1 stick cold butter

1 1/2 cups flour

one pinch salt

whole milk, about 2/3 cup

1.  Stir together the butter, flour, and salt in a mixing bowl.  Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of peas.

2.  Add milk, one splash at a time to the flour and stir. Continue adding the milk until the mixture forms a  ball.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk shape.

3.  Chill dough about 15 minutes.

4. Roll dough, place in a pie place and trim and crimp the edges.

5.  Chill dough while you make the filling.

Filling

1/2 cup butter

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons flour

1-2 tablespoons Bourbon

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2.  Place butter and chocolate in a small glass bowl or Pyrex measuring cup and microwave for 45-60 seconds.  Stir and let sit to finish melting the chocolate and then to let it cool a bit.

3.  Place sugar, eggs, flour, bourbon, salt and vanilla in a large bowl.  Whisk well to combine.

4.  Add chocolate mixture to the sugar mixture and whisk until smooth.

5.  Pour filling into pie crust and bake in preheated oven until edges are browned and filling is puffed and set (but still wiggly in the center), about 30 minutes.

Let cool and serve alone, with whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.

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White Cheddar Cheese Straws

On top of being light, crispy, and spicy, these are also extremely quick and easy to make.  This recipe is based on one published in Southern Living in 2007.
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6 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into four pieces
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper ( I use 1/2 tsp. for spicy straws)
1 tablespoon half and half
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add red pepper flakes and half and half and process until dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.
On a well floured surface, roll into a rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick.  Using a pizza wheel or a big knife, trim the edges a bit to even them up and then cut the dough into straws about 1/4 inch wide.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet (I like to use parchment paper).
Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until ends are just slightly browned.  Cool on baking sheet on a wire rack.
Makes about 2 dozen
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Mom’s Chocolate Cake???

Must be the festive holiday spirit in the air that compelled me to make this special dessert from Laurent Tourondel.  I’m no pastry chef so many of the spectacular holiday cakes that I see in cookbooks and magazines intimidate me…. but I had a feeling that I could pull this one off.This is definitely a chef’s recipe, and by that I mean it is a recipe that was written from a professional’s prospective instead of being geared to the average home cook like me.  But it is actually very doable and I am going to try and be a bit more precise as I rewrite the directions.  I will warn you that I used a lot of mixing bowls in this process.  But you can make this dessert and run the dishwasher a good 36 hours before your guests walk in the door.

It cracks me up that this is called “Mom’s Chocolate Cake”!  No wonder this guy became a chef….growing up with a mom who whips up cakes like this!

I am so happy to finally know how to make beautiful chocolate curls.  Of course I had to do a little online research to find a technique.  See what I mean about “chef’s recipes”?  They say things like, “decorate with chocolate curls” just assuming that we all know how to do that.  But now I do know how to do that so thank you Chef Tourondel for inspiring me to figure it out.

Mom’s Chocolate Cake
 (chocolate mousse cake with creme anglaise) 

Adapted from Bistro Laurent Tourondel: New American Bistro Cooking by Laurent Tourondel and Michele Scicolone. Here is the basic idea:  you make a yummy chocolate mousse, layer it with lady fingers dipped in syrup then let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.  Then you make a vanilla creme anglaise, let it chill a couple of hours, pour it on top of the cake and chill again for a bit.  Decorate with chocolate curls and serve.  I’ve made the cake a little less boozy cause I like my liquor on the side rather than in my dessert.  In my version the liquor just heightens the flavor but it won’t come through on its own. As for the chocolate curls,  I turned to  The Pioneer Woman to get a photo demonstration to show me the way. (I used chocolate chips)  Here’s a link:  Chocolate Curls
Chocolate mousse
 
7 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoons rum
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
5 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place it in the top half of a double boiler set over simmering water. Add the espresso powder and rum and let stand uncovered until the chocolate is softened. Stir until blended. Transfer the chocolate to a large bowl to cool.
2. In a large, chilled bowl, whip the cream on high speed for 4 minutes, or until soft peaks form.  In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar until pale, about 3 minutes. In yet another bowl, beat the whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. Gradually add the remaining 4 tablespoons of the sugar and increase the speed to high. Whip until soft peaks form.

3. Add the egg mixture to the melted chocolate and stir to combine. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the whites.

Cake Assembly
 
Chocolate mousse
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons  rum
20 to 25 ladyfingers, cut in half horizontally
1. Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and ¾ cup water in a small pot and bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool completely.
2. Mix together the simple syrup (you should have ¾ cup) and the rum. Dip half of each ladyfinger in the syrup until slightly softened.
3. In a 2-quart glass serving bowl, alternate layers of 1/3 of the mousse followed by 1/3 of the ladyfingers, finishing with the mousse. Alternatively, you may make individual servings by layering the mousse and ladyfingers in large wine glasses. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.
 
Creme Anglaise
 
2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
Chocolate curls or shavings, if desired
1. Bring the milk, vanilla bean scrapings and pod, and 1/2 cup of the sugar to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and discard the vanilla bean.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until thickened slightly and well combined. Very slowly,  add about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks and whisk until well incorporated. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture, stirring constantly.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened slightly and the mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, dip a spatula in the sauce and run your finger through it. If your finger makes a trail rather than causes all of the custard to run off, the sauce is ready.
3. Remove the sauce from the heat and strain into a clean bowl. Place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Pour the creme anglaise over the chocolate mousse cake and chill until ready to serve.  Decorate with chocolate curls just before serving.

 

Banana Bars

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 Here’s a wonderfully easy and extraordinarily tasty little bar recipe that I tried this week.  I needed to use up some over-ripe bananas and was in the mood to try something different.  Since I am traveling right now and not in possession of my collection of cookbooks, I moseyed on over to Tastespotting and searched for photos with the keyword “banana”.  So… this recipe is comes courtesy of Cooking Classy and it is definitely a keeper!  Enjoy!
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For the base:
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 egg
1 cup over-ripe mashed bananas (about 2 large bananas)
For the frosting:
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients for the base in a large mixing bowl.  Mix with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.  Pour mixture in to a buttered 13×9 inch baking pan and spread evenly.  Bake about 20-25 minutes…until edges are just beginning to turn golden and center is puffed and set.  Cool completely.
Mix the 5 frosting ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Whip until fluffy.  Spread evenly over cooled banana base and sprinkle with chopped pecans.
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Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

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This is basically Tyler Florence’s recipe from his book Real Kitchen. I’ve made these so many times that I have just tweaked the mixing and shaping method a little bit and simplified the glaze. Once you get the hang of it, you can whip these up in just 15 minutes or so.

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2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
a couple of tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using 2 forks, or a pastry knife, or even your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like coarse crumbs.
Add the blueberries and toss gently distribute them. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the cream. Now gently fold everything together to incorporate. This is important: don’t overwork the dough or crush the blueberries. You are just trying to moisten the flour mixture so that it will hold together a bit. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently press dough into an 8-inch square. Don’t be concerned if the dough is barely holding together. Use a large knife to cut the square into four smaller squares. Cut each of these on the diagonal, either once or twice, depending on whether you want 8 large or 16 small scones. Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for a bit before you apply the glaze…otherwise it will just melt off.

For the glaze: sift confectioners sugar into medium bowl and whisk in lemon juice a bit at a time until you get a nice consistency that you can use to drizzle over the scones. (A fork works nicely for glazing.) Let the glaze dry for a few minutes before serving.

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Blueberry Buckle Coffecake

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This recipe is from Pure Flavor, by Kurt Beecher Dammeier. It is wonderfully moist coffee cake….perfect for breakfast, brunch or after school snack. You can store it in the fridge and warm slices in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.

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TOPPING
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
pinch of table salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

BUCKLE

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons table salt

3/4 cup milk, at room temperature

2 cups fresh blueberries, (only if in season) or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round baking pan.

Make the topping by combining the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a small bowl. Using a fork, cut the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, Set aside.
To make the buckle, use a hand held mixer or a stand mixer with the flat beater attachment. Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, scraping the bowl once or twice while mixing. Blend in the vanilla and lemon zest. Add the egg and mix on medium speed to combine, scraping the bowl once.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add the milk and the flour mixture alternately to the butter mixture, beating until smooth on medium to low speed after each addition. Pour the batter in to the prepared pan, top with the blueberries, and sprinkle with the topping.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the buckle.

The buckle will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. You can also wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it for up to 1 month.

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Banana Muffins

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I’ve made countless batches of banana muffins over the years and this one is my current favorite.  It is adapted from Sara Foster’s Banana Nut Muffin recipe in her book Fresh Every Day.  I like to put the pecans on top because they get nice and toasty and keep their crunch.  And, this also makes it easier if you want to make a batch of muffins, half with nuts and half without.
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2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 over ripe bananas
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans, broken into pieces
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners and lightly grease the top of the pan.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, nutmeg and salt.  In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, bananas, sour cream and vanilla and stir until the flour is just incorporated…do not over mix.  Fill the muffin tins until batter is just below the top of the paper liner.  Cover batter with broken pecan pieces and bake 25-30 minutes.  To test for doneness, I gently touch the top center of a muffin…it should spring back lightly.
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Apple Turnovers

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I love making these turnovers.  It is best to use a combination of apples in your filling to create the best texture and flavor.  Try a combo of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious, Rome or Jonathans.  Just make sure they are of the firm, cooking apple variety.  These are amazing fresh out of the oven so for entertaining, get them all ready and keep them in the refrigerator, ready to bake.  They are still good the day after baking but you will find the pasty to be softer and less flaky.  The recipe comes from Gourmet Magazine.
 
First, make the dough and chill:
 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch slices
4 ounces cold cream cheese, pinched into small pieces
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
3-4 tablespoons ice water
In a food processor, combine the 2 flours, sugar, and salt and process until blended.  Add the butter and cream cheese and pulse 10-12 times until the butter is coated with the flour and is the size of small peas.
Combine the egg yolk with 3 tablespoons of the ice water.  Pour this mixture through the feed tube and continue pulsing several times, until the dough just begins to clump together, but before it forms a ball on the blade.  (Use the remaining 1 tablespoon ice water if the dough seems too dry)
Using floured hands, pat the dough into a ball, then press it into a 4×6 inch rectangle, about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Dust the dough lightly with flour and wrap in wax paper.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
To make the turnovers:
 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large apples, peeled, cored and cut in 1/4 inch dice (3 cups)
1/2 cup apple cider, or unsweetened apple juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsweetened apple butter
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground allspice
cream cheese dough
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add 2 cups of the diced apples and cook, stirring frequently, until the begin to color, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the cider, sugar, lemon juice and salt. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook until the liquid is reduced and the apples appear almost dry but still retain their shape, about 5 minutes longer.  Remove the skillet from the heat and sir in the apple butter, lemon zest, cinnamon, cloves and allspice, along with the remaining cup of raw apples. Transfer the apple mixture to a medium bowl and refrigerate, uncovered, until cooled completely.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the cream cheese dough to an 18-20 inch rectangle, 1/16 inch thick.  Using a 6 inch plate or bowl as a guide, cut out eight rounds as close together as possible.  Gather and re-roll the dough then cut out 2 additional rounds.
Spoon the cooled apple filling on the lower half of each of the rounds.  Lightly moisten the edges of the rounds with water and fold the dough over the filling to form semicircular turnovers.  Press down on the edges to seal, first with your fingers and then with the times of a fork.  Using the back of a small knife, press into the sealed edges a 1/2 inch intervals to create a scalloped effect.   Transfer the turnovers to a heavy, parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Bake the turnovers in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes.  Move them to the upper rack and bake for 8-10 minutes longer, or until the pastry is a deep golden brown and he filling begins to bubble.  Let cool on a rack.
Drizzle with a confectioner’s sugar glaze if desired:
 
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanille
2 or more teaspoons water
Whisk together until glaze is a nice drizzling consistency  Transfer to a zip lock sandwich bag and snip off a tiny piece of one corner and use this to pipe the glaze onto the turnovers.
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Apple Crumb Nut Muffins

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This recipe comes from The Muffin Lady, Muffins, Cupcakes, and Quick Breads for the Happy Soul, by Linda Fisher.
Linda has an interesting story… divorced and struggling to provide for her young son, she adapted her mothers pancake recipe into a muffin batter and began baking muffins and selling them out of her red Radio Flyer wagon on the sidewalks of Westminster, Maryland.  But soon the Health Department intervened, telling her that would have to stop as she did not have a department approved commercial kitchen.  Fortunately, the local community came together to support “The Muffin Lady” and the fire department offered her the use of their government approved kitchen.
Concerning baking with apples, she says, “Apples have a flavor, but they need some seasoning when they are baked.  Cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves are key spices with apple, pumpkin, and other autumn fruits.  Summer fruits don’t need them because they tend to be pungent enough on their own.”
These muffins are a great example of this as the moist base is just softly flavored with the fresh apples and the sweet, spiced, crunchy topping provides the complimentary flavor and texture.
I think the flavor of these muffins improves with time so try to make them a bit ahead of time. They easily keep for several days.
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Streusel Topping
 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup flour
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
Mix all of the dry ingredients except the nuts.  Cut the butter into the mix using your hands to break into large chunks.  Mix by hand until small balls form,  Toss the nuts lightly into the mix.
For the muffins:
2 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored and small diced (about 3 cups)
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together the dry ingredients,  Make a well in the center.  Blend in the eggs, milk, butter, vanilla and oil.  Fold in the apples.  Spoon the batter into a wax paper lined muffin pan, filling cups almost to the top.  Top with streusel and bake until light golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.   Baking time will be 25-40 minutes depending on size of muffin tin.  Makes 12 (4-ounce muffins) or 6 (8-ounce muffins.)
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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Another wonderful recipe from Glamour’s Gourmet on the Run.  It’s a collection that never fails me.  I usually end up with 11 muffins instead of 12 because I like to fill the cups at least 3/4 full.

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1 cup boiling water
2/3 cup oatmeal (not instant)
4 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line tin with cupcake papers. In small bowl, stir together boiling water, oatmeal and butter.  Set aside and let stand for 20 minutes.  In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Add chocolate pieces and stir.  Beat eggs and vanilla into oatmeal.  Stir oatmeal mixture into dry ingredients just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy, do not over mix)  Spoon into muffin cups.  Bake 20 minutes or until tops are golden.
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Snickerdoodles

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One of my children once said, “It’s hard to be in a bad mood when there are Snickerdoodles in the house!” Like the best sugar cookie but with so much more personality.  I don’t usually like to cook with shortening but I make an exception for these cookies…it’s for the texture…crisp yet chewy.  This is a recipe from Baking Illustrated.  Hints for getting the best results: use parchment paper, try to make the cookies uniform in size, bake until just starting to brown around the edged and no more… the centers will be soft and puffy but will collapse back down and set as they are cooling. 

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2¼ cups (11¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
¼ cup vegetable shortening
1½ cups (10½ ounces) granulated sugar, plus 3 tablespoons for rolling dough
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, for rolling dough
Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions.  Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and 1½ cups sugar on medium speed until well combined, 1 to 1½ minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat again until combined, about 30 seconds.  Add in the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 20 seconds.
In a small, shallow bowl, combine the 3 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon for rolling the dough.  Stir well to combine.  Working with a heaping tablespoon of dough each time, roll the dough into 1 inch balls  Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place them on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
Bake until the edges of the cookies are beginning to set and the center are soft and puffy, 9-11 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets 2-3 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
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Cinnamon Scones

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This is probably my most requested recipe and yet I hesitate to post it.  Not because it is a closely guarded secret but rather because the cinnamon chips have recently become so darned hard to find.  I use the Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips and in the last year or two they have disappeared from the shelves.  You can order them online, of course, or there is a similar product available on the King Arthur Baking website.  Otherwise, keep yours eyes open…I found them this week at Sunset Foods in Lake Forest, IL.
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2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups cinnamon chips
1 cup heavy cream
For glaze:  whisk together 1 cup powdered sugar with a light sprinkle of cinnamon and just enough milk (it will only take a tablespoon or two) to get a consistency that you can drizzle with a fork.Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the cutter with a pastry knife until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  (alternately, you can mix the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers)  Stir in the cinnamon chips and make a well in the center.  Stir in the heavy cream just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Take care not to overwork the dough and resist the urge to add more cream…it is OK if the dough is crumbly.  On a lightly floured surface, gently pat the dough into a rectangle about 12 by 3 inches.  Cut the rectangle in half, then cut those pieces in half again, which will give you 4 squares.  Cut each square twice diagonally to get 4 triangles from each.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or so, until edges are just turning golden.  Cool on a wire rack and use a table fork to glaze with confectioners sugar glaze.  Let glaze dry and serve.
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Peach Crostata

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Now, I’ve made pies and tarts, crisps, crumbles and cobblers….but this is the first time that I have made a crostata.  No particular reason, just never got around to it.  Well, I’m here to tell you that I may never make another proper fruit pie.  This crostata, or free form tart, couldn’t be easier and I just loved the way that the kids would slice off a wedge and carry on their way, no plate, fork or napkin.  Such a casual, fun little pie.  Of course, you could always dress it up for company with a lovely scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprig of fresh mint.  This recipe is adapted from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table.
(makes 2 small crostatas that will serve 4-6 each)
For the dough:
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cup into 1/2 inch cubes and chilled
1/4 cup ice water
For the filling:
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 1/2 pounds ripe peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced into 3/4 inch thick wedges
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon heavy cream, for an egg wash
1 tablespoon coarse or granulated sugar for topping
To prepare the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend.  Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas, about 15 times.  With the processor running, add the ice water and process for about 10 seconds.  Stop the processor before the dough comes together.  Turn the dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper, divide the dough in half, and shape it into two disks.  Wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, for the filling, combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl. Add the butter and cut the mixture together with a pastry knife or two table knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roll each disk of dough into an 11 inch circle on a lightly floured surface.  Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Place the peaches in the center of the dough circles on the baking sheet and top with the butter sugar mixture.  Begin draping the edges up and over, forming about three pleats.  crimp the pleats and press down to seal.  Brush the pastries with egg wash and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
Bake the tarts for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.  let cool on a rack and serve warm or room temperature.
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