Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Apple Donuts with Apple Cider Glaze

Fall is my favorite time of year.  Living in the Midwest, you get to experience the best of it.  The leaves change color, and it's finally getting cooler.  It's this time of year that you start to see all the pumpkin recipes showing up on the blogs and in the cooking magazines.  I love pumpkin desserts, and after I got this pan on sale the other day, I knew I wanted to make pumpkin donuts.  I had some honeycrisp apples (another wonderful fall occurence) on hand, so when I found this recipe from Cherry Tea Cakes for Pumpkin Apple donuts, I knew I had to try them out.  

These donuts are really delicious, they are cake-like considering they are baked and not fried, and the apple cider glaze add a spicy sweet topping to the apple filled donuts.  I altered the original recipe a bit by decreasing the amount of sugar and increasing the spices in the batter.  I also swapped out some of the white sugar for brown sugar to incorporate a deeper more molasses-like flavor to the donuts.  I think the changes turned out well.  You will have some extra glaze left over after you dip the donuts, but I just spooned some over the donuts once the first glaze had dried to add an extra sweet layer.  I will definitely be making these again.  

If you didn't have a donut pan, you could always bake these in muffin tins, but you would have to increase the baking time a bit. 

Pumpkin Apple Donuts with Apple Cider Glaze
    makes 10-12 donuts

For the donuts:

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½  cup canned pumpkin puree
  • ¼  cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup peeled, cored and chopped apple

For the glaze:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup, or less of spiced apple cider or milk if you don't have cider
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease donut or muffins pans.  

In a large bowl sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. 

In a separate bowl, mix together egg, white and brown sugar, pumpkin and oil. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stirring just to moisten. Fold in apples. Spoon batter into doughnut molds filling roughly half full to three quarters full.  

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let sit in the pan for a few minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  Allow to fully cool before dipping in the glaze.  

To make the apple cinnamon glaze,  mix powdered sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Add cider or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Dip each doughnut in and allow glaze to set.  If you have any extra glaze you can always spoon it over the donuts once the first layer of glaze has fully set.  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Butterfinger Cookies

I've never been a huge fan of Butterfinger candy bars, they always seemed brittle and crumbly, and they got stuck in my teeth.  However, when I saw this recipe from Lori over at Recipe Girl, I thought it sounded intriguing.  The Butterfinger pieces actually melt in the batter and become chewy bits of toffee-like chocolate and peanut butter.  I love toffee and peanut butter, so count me in.

These cookies were pretty great.  They were chewy and sweet, with a slight peanut butter flavor, and Lori was right, the Butterfinger does turn into chewy bits of toffee.  I would definitely make these again. Thanks Lori for another great recipe!

Butterfinger Cookies
    adapted from Recipe Girl

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups Butterfinger pieces (I used a sharp knife to cut them up into chunks, you also end up with a lot of crumbly pieces too)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  In another bowl, combine the flour, salt (if using), and baking soda.  Add to the butter/egg mixture and mix until just combined.  Stir in the Butterfinger pieces.  Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 min.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and drop rounded tablespoons of dough (I used a medium cookie scoop) at least 3 inches apart on the sheets (the cookies will flatten and spread out).
Bake cookies for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CEiMB: Saffron Chicken, Lemon and Green Bean Salad

It's my week for picking a recipe for Craving Ellie in My Belly.  I chose for our group to make the Saffron Chicken, Lemon, and Green Bean Salad from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger.  I wanted to pick a recipe that would both use some summer ingredients like green beans and fresh mint, and I also wanted something healthy and light I could take to work for lunch.

However, the main reason I chose this recipe was because it had an unusual cooking technique that I had never tried before.  The recipe calls for boiling a whole lemon for 50 minutes until it breaks down, and the skin is so soft that you actually scoop out the pulp and chop up the peel and add it to salad.  It's kind of messy because the pulp disintegrates and breaks down, so scooping out the pulp is a bit difficult, and I wanted to completely get the skin clean and free of the pith, so I found that laying the lemon flat on the counter and scraping out the pulp with a spoon worked rather well.

I found this salad to be so delicious.  Chicken is marinated in fresh mint, saffron, garlic and lemon juice.  Once it is cooked, it is combined with steamed green beans and the chopped lemon peel.  You then toss the salad in a lemon-honey dressing.  The mint and lemon combination is so bright and fresh.  It really is bursting with lemon flavor, but it is soft and mellow, not tart or abrasive at all.  The saffron adds a subtle floral flavor and the sweet honey balances out the lemon flavor.  I think this recipe is a wonderful discovery, and I will make it again and again.

Saffron Chicken, Lemon, and Green Bean Salad

  • 1 lemon, preferably unwaxed
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste, divided
  • Pinch saffron
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/4 pound skinless boneless chicken breast, pounded to 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 pound green beans, washed and trimmed
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Prick the lemon in 3 or 4 places with a fork and place in a small pot with 1 teaspoon of salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 50 minutes or until the lemon is very tender.  Drain and set aside to cool.

In the meantime, mix the saffron, mint, garlic, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Pour the marinade into a sealable plastic bag, add the chicken and let it marinate while you prepare the other ingredients. 

Steam the green beans for 4 minutes and set aside to cool. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Preheat a large skillet or grill pan which has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cook the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Set aside to cool. Cut into bite-sized chunks.

Slice the ends off of the lemon and slice it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp. Slice the peel thinly and then again into 1/4-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, lemon, green beans and thyme. In a small bowl combine the rest of the lemon juice and the honey, whisk in the remainder of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Nectarine and Blueberry-Almond Cobbler

With summer in full swing, I thought it was a good time to post this recipe.  I adapted this recipe from David Lebovitz's book Ready for Dessert.  This book is full of lovely desserts and when I saw that the topping for the cobbler contained almond paste, I knew I had to try it.  David also has a really great blog with recipes and musings on his life in Paris.  The original cobbler called for cherries, which I also want to try, but this time I decided to make it with a combination of nectarines and blueberries.  They go very well together with the sweetness of the nectarines balancing out the tartness of the blueberries.  It a simple recipe.  The fruit is tossed with some sugar and lemon juice, and the cobbler topping is spread on top.  This isn't a typical cobbler with a biscuit like topping.  This is more like a fluffy almond-flavored cake.  It goes really well with a scoop of ice cream.  I had to bake mine about 10 minutes longer than the original recipe called for, so if your topping gets too brown before the cake is fully baked, cover it with foil so it won't burn.  

On another note, I know I haven't posted much lately, but I plan on unveiling some new features on the blog soon, so I hope you keep reading.  Thanks!

Nectarine and Blueberry-Almond Cobbler

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (if using frozen, thaw and drain them)
  • 3 1/2 cup nectarines, halved, pitted and sliced into 1/2 inch slices
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 7 oz. almond paste, crumbled 
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk (whole milk or 2%)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the filling, in a shallow 2-quart baking dish, toss the nectarines and blueberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar and the lemon juice

To make the topping, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the almond paste and 1/3 cup sugar on medium speed until the almond paste is broken into fine pieces.  Beat in the butter, then the egg and vanilla extract.  Add half of the flour mixture, followed by the milk, then the remaining flour mixture, mixing just until combined.

Spoon the batter evenly over the fruit in the baking dish.  Bake until the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the topping comes out clean, about 45 minutes (mine took about 55 minutes)

Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.  

Monday, May 30, 2011

Chickpea and Tuna Salad

After a long weekend hiking and backpacking at North Manitou Island (see pictures below), I wanted to prepare something healthy and light to take for lunch over the next few days.  I got home late today, so I didn't have time to go to the grocery store, so I was stuck with what I had in the fridge and the pantry.   I had some red peppers and carrots in the fridge, so I decided to combine them with a can of chickpeas and a packet of Herb and Garlic Starkist Tuna Creations. I tossed in some capers and some fresh parsley and added a dijon-lemon vinaigrette, and I ended up with something quite healthy and tasty.  The sweetness of the carrots and red peppers balances nicely with the tanginess of the capers and lemon juice.  I think this simple salad makes a great lunch when you want something healthy and filling.

Chickpea and Tuna Salad

For the salad:
  • 1-15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1-4.5 oz pouch of Herb and Garlic Starkist Tuna Creations
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced baby carrots (I used a mandoline, just be very careful because the carrots are so small)
  • 1/4 finely diced red bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained 
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

For the vinaigrette:
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 teaspoons olive oil

In a medium sized bowl combine the chickpeas, tuna, carrots, red bell pepper, parsley and capers, set aside while making the vinaigrette.  In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice and the Dijon mustard together to form a smooth mixture then slowly drizzle in the olive oil to make a complete emulsion.  Pour the vinaigrette over the chickpea and tuna salad and toss to coat the salad.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Duo of Dips: Edamame Dip and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

For a friend's party I wanted to make something that was healthy, but still tasty, and I came across a couple of Ellie Krieger (the same Ellie of Craving Ellie in My Belly fame, of which I am a member) recipes on the Fine Cooking website. One of my friends who was attending the party cannot eat much dairy, so I wanted one of the dips to be dairy free.  I found a great recipe for an Edamame Hummus that was made "creamy" with the addition of silken tofu.  The other dip I made was a Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip.  It combines red peppers that you roast yourself (you could use jarred roasted red peppers, but doing it yourself produces sweeter, smokier peppers in my opinion) with feta and dill.  Both were great, and I actually liked the combination of the two together.  If I made the edamame dip again, I would cut back on the garlic because it was a bit overpowering.  They both last for days after you make them, and I used them both as sandwich spreads in the place of mayonnaise.  A great healthy alternative.  

Edamame Dip 
  • 2 cups frozen shelled edamame, cooked according to package directions 
  • 1 cup silken tofu, drained 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste 
  • Pinch of white pepper, plus more to taste 
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin, plus more for garnish 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbs.) (I would use 2 garlic cloves)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste (I added a few additional tablespoons of lemon juice)
Set 1 Tbs. of the edamame aside for a garnish. Place the rest, along with the tofu, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, oil and lemon juice, in a food processor and process until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if desired.

Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl and garnish with the reserved edamame and a sprinkle of cumin

Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip

  • 3 medium red bell peppers 
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (about 3 oz.) 
  • 2 Tbs. plain dry breadcrumbs 
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice 
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill 
Position a rack 5 to 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler on high. Put the peppers on a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet and broil, turning every 5 minutes, until the skin is charred all around and the peppers have softened, about 20 minutes. Put the peppers in a large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit until cool enough to handle. Remove the skins, seeds, and stems. 

Put the peppers, feta, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, chopped garlic and olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the dill. Season to taste with salt and serve.

Serve the dips with mini pita breads, fresh vegetables, or crostini. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

CEiMB: Muesli Parfaits

This is my week to pick a recipe for the Craving Ellie in My Belly, and I decided to go with something a bit different than my previous picks.  My other picks included Curried Chicken Salad, Salmon Cakes with Creamy Sesame Sauce, and Sesame Shrimp Fried Rice with Cabbage.  I decided to go the complete opposite way with this pick.  I picked the Muesli Parfaits from So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger. Muesli, in case you didn't know is defined as a breakfast dish consisting of milk, uncooked oats, fruit, and nuts.  I have often seen it done with yogurt, and that is how Ellie makes it as well.  I often eat a makeshift muesli for breakfast.  I will mix some yogurt and some granola together, pack it in a container, and eat it when I get to work.  By that time, the granola has softened, and sweetened the yogurt.

I really liked this recipe, you can make it the night before, and have a healthy breakfast in the morning. I used a combination of blueberries and cherries.  They go well with the honey and vanilla that is in the yogurt.  It's not overly sweet, which is good because I used some plain granola instead of the just oats, so I didn't need a lot of added sugar.  I would recommend this dish for a quick, healthy breakfast.  Be sure to check out the Craving Ellie in My Belly blogroll to see what the other bloggers did with their recipe!

Muesli Parfaits
    serves 4

  • 1/2 cup unsalted raw almonds
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (I used some plain almond and honey granola)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups mixed berries, fresh or frozen, if using strawberries, hull and halve them

Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Chop them coarsely.

In a medium bowl, stir together the milk, yogurt, oats, honey, and vanilla.  Divide the oat mixture evenly among 4 small dishes or parfait glasses.  Top each with 1/2 cup of berries, then 2 tablespoons of chopped almonds.  Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.  The parfaits with keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cherry and Peach Snack Cake

For a Mother's Day family gathering, I wanted to make something simple and not too rich.  I saw the first cherries of the season when I was at Whole Foods earlier this week, and I knew I wanted to include them in this dessert.  Since my dad isn't a huge fan of any kind of cherry that isn't in a pie, I decided to add peaches to the cake as well.  Another one of the reasons I wanted to use cherries is because I wanted to try out my new fancy Oxo Good Grips Cherry Pitter.  And let me say, it works really well, I know I will be making some pies this summer.  

I got the recipe for this cake from the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.  I really like America's Test Kitchen.  They take a scientific approach to each recipe they create, and I like to read about the steps they took to come to best recipe possible.  This is a really easy, quick recipe, great for weeknight or anytime you want a light cake that isn't too rich or elaborate.  It's great plain or with a dollop of whipped cream on top.  I think if I make this cake again, I might substitute half of the vanilla extract for almond extract or maybe top the cake with crystallized ginger for a different flavor.  Both would work well with cherries and peaches.

On a side note: I made a different cake originally, and it came out of the oven just like a hockey puck.  And I had made that cake before, so I was worried that my baking powder had become inactive, so I thought I would test it out.  A quick tip, to make sure you baking powder works, add a small amount to about 3-4 tablespoons of water, if it reacts and starts to bubble, then it still works.  This tip is the same for baking soda, but use vinegar instead of water (you know like the old volcano science experiments) :)

Cherry and Peach Snack Cake
     makes one 8 x 8 inch cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs  and 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup whole milk, room temperature (I used non-fat plain yogurt because I didn’t have any whole milk, it worked fine)
  • 2 cups ripe fruit (any fruit would work, I used a combination of fresh, pitted cherries, and diced frozen peaches I thawed and drained thoroughly )

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with butter and dust with flour.  Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and 3/4 cup sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs and egg white, one at a time, until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated.

Reduce the mixer to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and remaining milk. beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated. Gently fold in the fruit with a rubber spatula. Note: The batter will be quick thick, so don't be alarmed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the top. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean with a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool slightly in the pan, about 30 minutes before serving.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.