December 20th, 2010

Cooking with Munchkins, Pt. 1

Brian (The Grump)’s youngest daughter  is 2 and a half going on 5.  I’m not kidding when I say this child is the smartest toddler I’ve ever met.  Sometimes treating her like she’s two frustrates her because she’s way more advanced than that, but sometimes we have trouble remembering she’s only two.

The Munchkin posing in her Halloween apron

Taken in her bedroom where the light is best.

Well when she sees me baking or cooking she always wants to help, even if it’s to stir whatever is in the bowl.  I have no problem with this, except I wish she was a little more coordinated and could do more! So I’ve decided to get a head start on this, and start teaching her to cook now.  Grump and I are always trying to teach her about good food and give her a healthy attitude toward food.  Cooking will be a good way to help with that.

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October 7th, 2010

That little change

Pear Spice Coffee Cake

So warm and gooey...

A hurricane blew by the coast in early September and we got a cold front from it.  It crept in during the night and brought Autumn with it. We woke to a slight chill and a sort of tingle that let you know that the Summer had snuck away and Autumn had taken its place.

It was time to begin baking.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to bake this Autumn as I usually do, so the official emergence of “fall food” on our menu had to wait until September 30th, when I commemorated by making Pear Spice coffee cake for the next day’s breakfast.  I asked cajoled Brian into helping me, since we haven’t really baked or cooked together in a while.  It was nice. The trees may have already long since been changing colors, but the smell of spiced fruit filling my kitchen sealed the deal.

This recipe originally comes from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger.  It’s one of my favorite cookbooks.  From scones to bread to coffee cakes, she covers it all and does it with elegance and creativity.  If you haven’t yet, get it from your library. I modified this recipe slightly, to make it remotely healthy.

The only thing I must warn you about this yummy coffee cake is that it really should be eaten warm.  It is not as good left over, so try to make it when you’re going to have company, mmkay?

mmm...crumb topping...

Maybe a little TOO gooey...it didn't rise very much.

Pear Spice Coffee Cake

Adapted from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger.

  • 1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 lg eggs
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored, and finely diced – preferably Bartletts
  • Crumb Topping:
  • ½ c packed light brown sugar
  • ½ c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cubed
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan.
  2. To make the topping: in a medium bowl combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.
  3. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and spices. In another large bowl using an electric mixer, combine the sour cream, butter, and eggs. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and beat until smooth and creamy. Fold the pears in, mixing until evenly distributed.
  4. Spoon the batter into the pan, smooth, and sprinkle with the crumb topping. Place the pan on a rack in the center of the oven and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

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June 22nd, 2010

Bacon-Cheddar Corn Muffins

I need to explain something – something relatively minor, but has a big impact on my life and this blog.

I have had a very persistent case of tendinitis in my left wrist since mid March.  As per doctor’s orders I’ve rested it as much as possible these 3 months, but it has – not – gone – away.  Some days it’s light and I can go about my business as normal; some days, like today, it’s very painful and I can barely hold anything in that hand without dropping it.  This is why I am lucky to get one post a week churned out, when I’d rather write two or three.  Photos are harder to take on bad days, and typing is difficult.  It is why I am not posting a recipe or photo today, just a link to the recipe I used over at MyRecipes.com.

Not that I’m asking for well-wishes or anything of that sort.  The worst thing about this to me (other than not having the money to have a thorough examination and possible surgery) is that I feel helpless.  So don’t pity me, please.  I just wanted to explain why this post sucks and it won’t be the only sucky post I ever write.  But updates at all are better than nothing, eh?

So anyway…the muffins.  It is ridiculously difficult to get Brian to eat breakfast.  He isn’t usually hungry, he doesn’t have time, and he certainly can’t be bothered to wake up even earlier to make himself something.  But he works very hard as a department head at Home Depot, and it’s exhausting work.  The man needs his nourishment! So I lie awake at night (literally – I’m an insomniac) thinking of things to make that he will actually eat.

If you were to ask him his favorite food, he’d tell you, “anything edible” or “anything good.”  But really, I know what it is: bacon.  And cheese.  And cornbread ranks pretty high on the list.  Muffins are something I can make the night before and he can grab on his way out the door.  So I decided to put it all together and voila! Bacon-cheddar corn muffins.  There’s no way he can turn them down! In case you missed the link, here it is again: Bacon-Cheddar Corn Muffins on MyRecipes.com.   The only thing I did differently was to skip the milk & lemon juice and just use buttermilk.

Now if you’ll please excuse me, I’m going to bed with my wrist propped up on a stuffed rabbit, in hopes that upon waking I can do something other than laze around the house…

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March 17th, 2010

Spiced Cornbread & Subsequent Stuffing

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe; I’ve been caught up in Spring Cleaning (something I should be doing right now, actually).  My goal is to have the apartment as unpacked as possible by this Saturday.  I’m happy to report that I’m almost there! Just one room left, and I feel so good about the state of things.  I’m even getting all my old, sellable clothes up on ebay! :grin:

With all the stuff going on, I haven’t had much time to take pictures of the food I’ve been making.  But here’s one I made with the intention of photographing; Spiced Cornbread.  It’s another one of the “WoW foods” I’ve been making for my guild.  I’m really having fun challenging myself to come up with creative real versions of the interesting foods in the game.  This one is “Spice Bread,” which during the “Pilgrim’s Bounty” event is turned into Spice Bread Stuffing.

Spiced Cornbread

Spiced Cornbread

This one was a bit difficult for me.  I had to think what would work well as a spice bread, based on the in-game ingredient list of “simple spices” and “flour,” but would also translate well to stuffing later on.  At first I thought of an egg bread (like Challah), but in the end decided that I like cornbread stuffing the best, and that it’d be interesting to try spiced cornbread.  So I took a basic cornbread recipe, modified it a little, and voilà!   I used buttermilk and bread flour (which has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, so it rises more) to make it fluffier than the usual cornbread, but it’s still not as soft as Chef Wayne’s so I have more work to do.

Also, please forgive the lack of photo of the actual stuffing.  Although Brian did not like the cornbread (he’s a bit of a cornbread purist), he couldn’t stop eating the stuffing, and it was gone before I could get a picture.  :roll:   Recipes after the jump!

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January 9th, 2010

Orange-Pomegranate Scones

Orange-Pomegranate Scones

Orange-Pomegranate Scones

I love scones.  I love the versatility: the endless combinations of fruits, flavors, and fillings; and whether to use milk, juice, cream, or buttermilk as the liquid binder.  I love that you can sweeten them with honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, white sugar, or top them with an egg wash, milk, or a sprinkling of coarse sugar.  There’s just so much that you can do to scones – at their heart, a slightly sweet biscuit, but depending on how you ‘doctor them up,’ a breakfast, a dessert, or a savory side dish.

With a love this deep, it goes that I probably make scones frequently.  And I do.  Oh, I definitely do.  So frequently, that I’m perpetually afraid that Brian will roll his eyes and say, “scones again???” He might, but if he has, it has been an inward statement.  And now he’ll read this and say it next time just to tease me.  :cry:

So to avoid his getting burned out of one of my favorite breakfast foods (and I have so far only made them for breakfast – afraid that if I made savory scones for dinner he’d cry that they’re invading every meal he eats), I have to try different variations frequently.  Not that this is a problem, because as I’ve said, the options are nearly limitless.  And sometimes I end up with certain foods in my refrigerator that I can’t for the life of me figure out how to use.  Usually it’s bits and pieces left over from other meals that don’t really work well together, or fruits that need to be eaten before they rot, etc. and the perfect way to get rid of them is either an omelet (if they’re savory) or a scone (if they’re a bit sweeter).  So scones become a necessary way to clean out my fridge.

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