Friday, July 31, 2009

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Oroweat OatNut bread (that's some serious lovin' y'all)! So when I saw this recipe a few months ago on Baking Bites I bookmarked it. I kept thinking about it and when Rachel announced that July's theme for Rach's Baking Challenge was nuts, I immediately thought of this bread. I had everything I needed, or I adapted it the way I wanted to, I just lacked the nuts.

I'm not going to link to the original post because there are some mistakes in the recipe that haven't been fixed despite me and someone else asking questions. I had to improvise and hope it turned out well since she never got back to me. Thankfully, it did. But please don't think I'm "bad mouthing" her or her blog because she has some tasty recipes and yummy pictures and I've had success with her recipes in the past, this recipe just seemed to need some editing.

Moving on, the original OatNut bread incorporates hazelnuts, so that's what I used, but you could use pecans or walnuts. My hubby doesn't like hazelnuts (or so he says) so I didn't tell him they were in the bread and guess what? He liked it! He even asked me later on when I was going to use the hazelnuts and I told him they were in the bread and he said, "nu uh!" It's not quite like the store bought variety, but it's equally as good. It's nutty and slightly sweet, soft and hearty, but with a nice crust. And it's good for you, there's no butter, oil or eggs in this bread. Just yeast, flour, oats, nuts, honey and a sprinkling of salt. That's it!

I served this warm out of the oven with a schmear of salted butter and Debby's homemade olallieberry jam She sent me a jar and it is so good! It tastes like a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry, like a boysenberry- it's tart and sweet and bright. Thanks Debby! I only thought it was appropriate to serve this homemade jam with homemade bread. It was so worth it.

OatNut Bread adapted from Baking Bites
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (100-110F)
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 2-3 cups unbleached AP flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats (not instant)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the yeast and warm water. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy.

Stir in 1 cup bread flour, the oats and honey, and mix well. Add in salt, hazelnuts and an additional 1 1/2 - 2 cups all-purpose flour. Stir, adding remaining flour gradually, until the dough comes together into a ball and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl (this can also be done in an electric mixer with the dough hook attached).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead, adding flour a tablespoon at a time as necessary to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes. You don't want the dough to be sticky, but it shouldn't be dry or tough either.

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

After dough has risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface again. Deflate dough, by gently punching down and pressing into a rectangular shape (approx. 10 1/2 x 8 1/2) Roll up the dough into a loose log, starting with the shorter end and place the seam side down into the greased pan.

Cover the bread with a piece of oiled plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes. While the bread is going through its final rise, preheat oven to 375F.

Bake loaf for 35 minutes til golden and a skewer inserted in the center is clean. Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.

NOTE: You can use All-Purpose flour for this recipe and omit the bread flour if you want.

Also, I sprinkled oats on top of the bread before baking and they all fell off when I sliced it, so don't waste your time.

Go check out Rachel's blog to see what she made!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fudge It!

This recipe was sent to me by a reader (hi Betty!) She made my rainbow cupcakes for a class of first graders and they were such a hit so she emailed me and sent me pictures. We email eachother back and forth and chat and she occasionally sends me recipes. Awesome, right?

Here are the cupcakes she and the kiddos made. They look like they're having so much fun!

While I'm at it, I wanted to show you another cupcake that Selby of Selby's Food Corner made. I love her pastel version- pretty!

Onto the fudge! This is a very simple and versatile fudge. You melt a bag of chips of your choice (chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, etc.) and a tub of store bought frosting (any flavor, but according to Betty, Betty Crocker is preferred), and add flavored oils or extracts and nuts or dried fruit. The possibilities are endless and that's what's so amazing about this fudge.

I made this for my mom's birthday. When she goes to Starbucks, she always orders a white chocolate mocha with Valencia orange flavoring. Always. So I decided to make her this fudge using white chocolate chips, cream cheese frosting, Valencia orange zest, dried cranberries and macadamia nuts. She loved it!

Betty says this keeps for several weeks in the fridge. Which is a good thing because it's so rich! I plan on making a semi-sweet chocolate version with pecans so stay tuned!

White Chocolate Cranberry Orange Fudge

  • 1 (12 oz.) package white chocolate chips
  • 1 (16 oz.) tub cream cheese frosting
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. orange extract
  • 1 T. grated Valencia orange zest
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • more zest and cranberries for garnish (optional)

1. Lightly butter an 8 x 8-inch baking pan or a 9-inch diameter pan*. Set aside.

2. Melt the baking chips in the microwave in a medium bowl.

3. Stir in the frosting, salt, extract, and nuts, cranberries and zest until well combined.

4. Scrape into the prepared pan and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour or until firm. Cut it into squares to serve.

NOTE: *I used a silicone pan, so I skipped step one and it made popping out the fudge so easy.

Easy Fudge from Nancy's Kitchen

  • 1 (12-ounce) package of baking chips
  • 1 (16-ounce) tub of prepared frosting
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon extract of your choice
  • 3/4 cup nuts of your choice

1. Lightly butter an 8 x 8-inch baking pan or a 9-inch diameter pan. Set aside.

2. Melt the baking chips in the microwave in a medium bowl.

3. Stir in the frosting, salt, extract, and nuts until well combined.

4. Scrape into the prepared pan and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour or until firm. Cut it into squares to serve.

Thanks Betty! Keep the recipes coming!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hot Weather Refresher

A couple weeks ago I was searching through back issues of Everyday Food and I spotted a recipe for watermelon salad with rum and mint. But I didn't bookmark it. I just knew I'd be able to find it again when I decided to make it. Then my mom invited us over for Sunday brunch and designated "a fruit dish" to yours truly.

I thought watermelon and cantaloupe! So I went searching for the recipe and guess what? I couldn't find it! So I went to Martha's site and did a little search and found the recipe. Then I made it and didn't like it. The lime, rum and mint sauce sounded so promising, but it was too salty and the rum was overpowering. I tried adding honey and brown sugar, even more lime and it wasn't helping, so I dumped it and started over. You win some you lose some.

I had all the ingredients spread all over the counter, so I came up with my own sauce. And it was tasty and so refreshing. I didn't pour the sauce over the melon though because I wasn't sure if everyone would like it. And I'm glad because all the men in the family disliked it and called it girl food. But my mom and I loved it!

Watermelon & Cantaloupe with Lime and Mint
  • 1/2 a large seedless watermelon, cubed or balled
  • 1 cantaloupe, cubed or balled
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • Zest of a lime, grated (about 1 tsp.)
  • 1-2 tsp. mint leaves, finely sliced

Chop melon into bite size pieces or use a melon baller. Place melon in a large bowl.

Add all over ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together. Pour over melon and serve immediately.

NOTE: If not serving right away then don't toss the melon in the sauce until ready to serve.

P.S. Thanks for all your votes in the BFF challenge. No matter who wins, I'm just thankful for your support.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Voting is open again!

Week 2 of voting for Best Foodie Foto is open again at Hey What's For Dinner Mom?

Please head over, take a look and VOTE! I entered my blueberry lemon marble cake and Oreo cheesecakes. You have until Tuesday to vote in the comment section.

Thanks, Monica

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Birthdays, Cheesecakes and Loot!

I saw these creamy babies at Bake or Break and I contemplated making them for my birthday because they looked so good. I placed a mental bookmark on them and moved on.

Then on my birthday I was talking to my 11 year old cousin and I decided to make these for him. We have the same birthday and he was asking me about my birthday cake. I told him I made myself a strawberry cheesecake tart and I asked him what kind of cake he got. He said he got a frozen Sara Lee cheesecake and I felt badly for him. He deserved more than that. Every boy on their 11th birthday deserves more than a mediocre frozen grocery store cake. Don't you agree?

So I vowed to make him these cheesecakes to celebrate his birthday as well as the 4th of July. We all met up at my mom's for a bbq, so it was the perfect occasion to make these. Coincidentally my mom's birthday and my other cousins' birthday are on July 5th, so we had a multi-birthday celebration. Only I made my mom a different cake and some fudge! I'll blog about that later.

Anyway, for my birthday the lovely Ingrid from 3 B's sent me Martha Stewart's new Cupcake book! I knew she had because she told me she bought it, but I had no idea she was going to send so many other goodies as well. Look at all this loot! Thank you Ingrid for making my birthday so special :-)

One of the things we decided to do was bake together from this book. She happened to bake these same Oreo cheesecakes so head over there to see hers!

Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes from Cupcakes via BoB
  • 42 Oreos, 30 left whole and 12 coarsely chopped
  • 2 pounds cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275°. Line standard muffin pans with liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each liner.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed using an electric mixer. Gradually sugar, beating until combined. Beat in vanilla.

Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies.

Divide batter among pans. Bake for about 22 minutes or until filling is set.

Cool completely on wire racks. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Remove from pans just before serving.

Makes 30 cheesecakes.

NOTE: Fill them up almost to the very top. They may puff in the oven, but they don't rise. I got 32 cheesecakes from this recipe.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The only problem I had with these cheesecakes is that they puffed in the oven, when I pulled them out and let them cool, they shrunk up a bit. Also when I took them out of the cupcake tin, there was condensation buildup underneath the cheesecakes. Don't know what that was all about, but it didn't affect the flavor or consistency one bit. And one last thing, I refrigerated these over night. The next morning when I went to pipe 'Happy Birthday' on them, they looked wet so I had to blot them. Has anyone else made these yet and had that happen?

These cheesecakes were SO good. They were easy to put together and since the recipe calls for a whole cookie in the bottom of the cupcake liner, there's no need to make a crust. Easy peasy and ultra creamy! My cousin loved them and he kept asking me what was in them as if he was making a mental note so he could go home and make them- so cute! I promised him I'd send his mom the recipe so she could make them again for him and that made him pretty happy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lemons. Blueberries. Summer.

It's time again for The Cake Slice Bakers to reveal their sky high creations! And this months cake is Lemon Blueberry Marble Cake--a highly delicious, moist and flavorful cake. A must make this summer.

I was skeptical about this cake, though I'm not sure why. I love lemon and blueberries. Heck, I even love cake so I'm not sure why I was so apprehensive. Maybe because when it comes to cake, I tend to veer towards chocolate because that's what my husband craves. Don't know, but I should have never questioned the integrity of this cake. It was beyond good!

This recipe comes from the very impressive Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne. As a member of The Cake Slice Bakers, we are working our way though this book and it has been a treat. I've said it once (or twice) and I'll say it again. Go get this book, or at least stop by your local bookstore or library and check it out. You'll drool, I promise.

Back to the cake. Lemons and blueberries are a perfect pairing. Both great representatives of summer. The cake was light and moist almost like a breakfast cake swirled throughout with homemade blueberry lemon jam. I didn't think the jam was exceptional on it own, but as a filling it was perfect. The frosting was equally wonderful. A lot of buttercreams I've had in the past were greasy and overly sweet. This was not--it was creamy and thick, sweet with a subtle lemon pucker. The only adaptation I made to the frosting was to add grated lemon zest for more punch of flavor. I halved the recipe to make a smaller 6-inch cake and I regret it. I should have made the whole thing and not shared. It was sublime sublemon!

Lemon Blueberry Marble Cake from Sky High Printable Version
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1½ tsp lemon extract
  • 7 egg whites
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1¼ cups milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of three 8 inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

In a mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, lemon zest and lemon extract until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg whites 2 or 3 at a time, beating well between additions and stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk gently to blend. In 2 or 3 alternating additions, beat the dry ingredients and milk into the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Beat on medium-high speed for about 1 minute to smooth out any lumps and aerate the batter.

Scoop 1 cup* of the batter into a small bowl. Divide the remaining equally among the 3 prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a spatula. This gives you a smooth surface to work with. Add 2½ tbsp of the lemon blueberry jam to the reserved batter and blend well. Drizzle heaping teaspoons of this blueberry mixture over the batter in the pans. Use a skewer to swirl the blueberry mixture in short strokes to drag it down through the lemon batter without mixing it in.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester or skewer stuck in the center comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Let the layers cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack, peeling off the paper and leaving to cool completely.

NOTE: *I used more than a cup of blueberry jam/cake batter to marble in the cakes because I wanted more of a marble effect, rather than a "drizzle".

Blueberry Lemon Jam

  • 3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1½ tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (I omitted this)

Puree the blueberries with any juices that have exuded in a blender. Pass the puree through a coarse strainer to remove the skins.

In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the blueberry puree with the sugar, lemon juice, zest and ginger. Bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat, stirring often for 20 minutes, or until the preserves have thickened and are reduced to 1 cup.

To check the proper thickness place a small amount of a saucer and put in the freezer until cold. Drag your finger through it. If a clear path is made through the preserve then it is ready. Let the preserves cool before using. (Can be made up to 5 days in advance).

NOTE: I didn't read the recipe til after I had added the blueberries, zest and sugar in a pot. So I went ahead and cooked it down halfway, then pureed and strained it. It worked out fine-Oops!

Lemon Buttercream

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest (my addition)

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil without stirring, occasionally washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from the heat.

In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs briefly. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, pouring it down the sides of the bowl; be careful to avoid hitting the beaters or the syrup may splatter. When all the syrup has been added, raise the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is very fluffy and cooled to body temperature. This can take 15-20 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually add the softened butter 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, beating well between additions. As you’re adding the last few tablespoons of butter, the frosting will appear to break, then suddenly come together like whipped butter.

Beat in the lemon juice and zest (if using), and the frosting is ready to use.

Assembly: To assemble the cake, place a layer, flat side up, on a cake stand. Spread half of the lemon blueberry jam over the top. Place a second layer on top of the first and spread the remaining jam over it. Finally place the third layer on top and frost the top and sides with the lemon buttercream. Decorate with fresh blueberries and serve.

Makes one 8 inch triple layered cake.

WAIT! ...Before you leave! Please go by and wish Debby from A Feast For The Eyes a very Happy Birthday! Deb, I hope you have a wonderful day. This slice is for you sweetie!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

PLEASE go vote for me!

Hi all,

I entered a "Best Foodie Foto" (BFF) contest over at "Hey What's For Dinner Mom?". I entered my strawberry orange popsicles and the snickerdoodle blondies.

Will you please go over there and vote for me (or another favorite)!

Click Here to vote by leaving a comment on Laura's blog! But you gotta do it quick you only have til Monday at 4pm Eastern time to vote!

Thanks y'all!


UPDATED: I won! Thanks so much for voting!

Friday, July 17, 2009


While in Fredericksburg, we went to Rather Sweet Bakery. Actually, it was a must for me and one of the reasons I wanted to go to F'burg in the first place. I've heard and read so much about Rebecca Rather's sweet shop and baked goods and I've been drooling over her cookbooks for a long time. I finally got them and I can't wait to bake something from them!

The cool thing about going to her bakery is we didn't have to pay for anything! Wha? As part of staying at the B&B, they gave us breakfast certificates to use at local restaurants--one of them was Rather Sweet Bakery. I was in Heaven. On the first day there while window shopping, we walked by the bakery to check the hours. While there I took a few pictures of the bakery and courtyard- so charming!

Once we got there (during business hours) and I saw the pastry case, my heart sped up and my eyes got big. They were filled with 4-inch high key lime tarts (not including whipped cream), 12-inch wide cakes piled high with buttercream, 5-inch square peach crumble bars, 7-layer cookie bars, lemon bars, berry bars, mini praline topped cheesecakes, 5-inch wide hefty cookies, jumbo muffins, scones and brownies. Oh so much goodness in one place and they have savory lunch items too. In case you ever get to Fredericksburg, I highly recommend you make a sugar pit stop.

Now on to something else sugary! I finally made Snickerdoodle Blondies y'all!!! I kept seeing them around the blogosphere, but it was finally Ingrid and her obsession with all things Snickerdoodle (blondies, ice cream and cake) that got me to make them. Thanks Ingrid and thanks Julia of Dozen Flours for the recipe!

I made these blondies 2 ways- half with cinnamon chips and half plain. I like the plain side better and my husband preferred the one with chips. Do I like these more than regular cookies Snickerdoodles? I don't know. It's definitely less work and these come together quickly, that's a plus, but I miss the buttery crunch from the cookies that I didn't get with the blondies. I LOVED the edges, but the centers were a little too soft and "fudgey" for me. I think these would be perfectly amazing baked in a Bakers Edge pan. I can only imagine all the cinnamon sugar crunchiness that would be mine all mine!

Snickerdoodle Blondies adapted from Dozen Flours via 3 B's
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (for topping)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (for topping)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.

Stir in the flour mixture until well blended, then mix in cinnamon chips if using. Spread evenly in prepared pan. Mixture will be thick and resemble cookie dough. (I used my hands to press it down and smooth the top).

Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool slightly. While still warm, cut into bars with a sharp knife.*

NOTE: These cut cleaner once completely cooled.

Eat me!

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