2015 & cinnamon pull-apart bread

bleated New Year’s greetings friends! I have grand plans to post more often this year, but we shall see how that pans out. The mister and I are off to Mexico on Tuesday for a much needed winter getaway, but in the meantime – warm yourself up from the inside with this cinnamon pull-apart bread recipe (I made it sans eggnog).

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lemon yellow for springtime

oh boy. here in the twin cities, we had a heck of a day yesterday. glorious sunshine and a whopping 75 degrees. the mister and i took the pup on a walk around the lake and encountered scores of other walkers, bikers and happy pups. there is nothing like the overwhelming joy that is the mood in Minneapolis when winter (hopefully) has made the final wave good-bye. and to celebrate – i made lemon bars.

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what i love about these lemon bars is how easy they are. they come together FAST. no fuss, no muss – the magic all happens in your food processor. it’s just fantastic. check out the finished product (and my husband’s snazzy socks!).

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LEMON BARS
For the crust:
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the filling
1 medium-sized lemon (i weighed the one i used, it was about 5 oz.)
1 1/2 C sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 large eggs
2 T cornstarch
¼ t salt

preheat oven to 350 and line a 9×9 metal pan with parchment, spray with baking spray or grease with melted butter.

make the crust: add the flour, sugar and salt to the bowl of your food processor. pulse until combined. add the butter and continue to pulse until the butter is fully incorporated and looks like a fine powder. empty the dough into your prepped pan and press firmly to form the crust. prick the surface with a fork and bake for about 20-22 minutes (lightly browned).

make the filling: rinse out your food processor bowl. thinly slice the lemon and pick out and discard the seeds. add the lemon and sugar to the food processor and puree. add the butter and continue to run the machine until it’s mostly smooth. next, add the eggs, cornstarch and salt and pulse until you have an even curd.

pour your filling over the crust and bake for 34-40 minutes. the filling should only be slightly jiggly and the edges and top will be lightly browned.

let the pan cool completely on a rack. then refridgerate until chilled. cut into squares and sprink with powdered sugar (if you want). these are delicious cold or room temp.

happy valentine’s friends!

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wishing you all a happy valentine’s day! while the mister and i don’t go out to eat or anything (it’s kind of amateur hour when you’re restaurant nuts like us), we do have a few fun things planned for today and this weekend. and a long weekend to boot! as you can maybe tell from the photo above, i made homemade sprinkles to celebrate this day of hearts and it’s possible i went a little overboard. but it was SO fun.

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i got cute little jars and sent them out for “Galentine’s” Day – super cute and fun! i would definitely make my own sprinkles again. it’s a bit tedious but i popped in a movie and was done before i knew it. they are made from royal icing and whenever i need to make royal icing, i look up new royal icing recipes and this time, i ultimately decided to go with a meringue powder version because i didn’t want to have to figure out what to do with the leftover egg yolks.

Royal Icing
2 T meringue powder
2-4 c powdered sugar
1/4 c water (+1-2 T depending on consistency)
1/2 t vanilla (optional, for flavor)
food coloring
*blend everything together and pipe onto parchment. let dry overnight

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and a bonus – i would never leave out holiday treats for our four-legged friends. my dog flipped out for these pumpkin peanut butter biscuits. like, really flipped out. they’re simple to make and so much more inexpensive than buying organic dog treats. check out the recipe here from My Baking Addiction.

that’s all, folks! happy heart friday!

all-occasion pecan pie

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i have only ever made this pie for thanksgiving, but this year I realized that it is way too good to not incorporate into year-round enjoyment status. the crunchy nuts, flakey crust and custard-y filling. my in-laws have seriously raved about this pie for years. it took me a bit to come around, namely because I don’t generally love pecans. but, boy, i am there. send me my fan club membership card. promise me you’ll try this pie. it’s so easy and will gain you lifelong admirers.

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PECAN PIE
1 stick butter
1 C sugar
1 C corn syrup
3 eggs, beaten
1 C chopped pecans (I got a bag of “chopped pecans” but the pieces were still huge, so I ran them through a few pulses in the food processor)
Pie dough of your choosing, enough for a 9 inch pie (I prefer an all-butter crust, but store dough will do in a pinch)

-preheat oven to 350
-prepare pie dish with the dough. make a pretty edge if you so desire!
-in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. add the sugar and corn syrup. stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
-temper the eggs by slowly dribbling in the hot sugar mixture into the egg bowl while whisking constantly. once the eggs have been warmed up enough, pour the liquid in the bowl back into the saucepan. mix well and evenly.
-stir in the pecans and pour the filling into the pie shell.
-bake for 55-60 minutes. the pie is ready when the filling only has a very slight jiggle. check the jiggle!!

enjoy plain, with ice cream or with whipped cream. i unapologetically love cool whip.

heavenly apple muffins

i am almost always disappointed when I eat a fruit muffin. there is just never enough fruit in any blueberry, raspberry, cranberry, whatever muffin i’ve ever had. it’s truly a pet peeve of mine, so i am not kidding when i say these are the best apple muffins i have ever tasted, BURSTING with apple goodness.

it’s no secret that Smitten Kitchen is one of my all-time favorite blogs. Deb just does not steer your wrong. the first time i made these I followed the recipe to the letter. and it was magic. the second time, i added a streusel topping. mind further blown.

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streusel topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (this includes the 1/4 cup brown sugar topping from the recipe)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

mix the flour, sugars and salt and add melted butter. stir with a fork until you get little pea-sized cruumbles. divide evenly among muffins before popping them into the oven.

the easiest applesauce

i love apple season. apple season in minnesota is particularly enjoyable because we have the best apple in the world – the minnesota honey crisp. i’ve heard of people baking with them, but that just seems sacrilege – they are so delicious you just have to eat them raw. however, there is nothing like a good baking apple to do with what you please. and if you’re like me, it’s gotten to the point in the season where most people have gotten their fill, so are offering up their leftover apples to those who can go the distance – ME. i’ll be sharing with you a few easy and delicious ways to use up those apples this week and ease myself back into blogging.  let’s start with something REALLY easy – applesauce!

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THE EASIEST APPLESAUCE (i’m actually not that into applesauce, but this recipe has been approved by my husband – resident apple sauce eater)

4-5 large apples (the ones i used were practically softball sized)
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t cardamom
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg (adjust the amount of any of these spices to your personal tastes!)
1/2 c water
1/2 apple cider (or apple juice) *or use all water or all cider

-peel, core and slice all the apples
-throw into a large dutch/french oven
-add spices and liquids – stir so all the slices are coated evenly
-pop the lid onto the pot, turn the heat to medium-low and let the mixture bubble away
-it’ll take about 25-20 minutes for the apples to soften – give it a couple stirs during cooking
-once they are cooked all the way through, you can mash them with a potato masher if you want a chunky applesauce or scoop it all up into a blender. i did a potato masher-immersion blender combo (so i wouldn’t have to dirty up another appliance), but beware of hot applesauce splatter if you do the same.

ENJOY!

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black raspberry & rhubarb scones

while the mister and i love fruits and vegetables, we have never been able to keep up with a weekly CSA share. it’s a lot of commitment and a lot of pressure – especially when you get a box that has a lot of produce you don’t particularly love. in comes Belle Creek Gardens – co-owned by a dear friend of ours, their box program is the perfect answer for people like us who don’t love all produce equally. the contents of each weekly box is listed by friday and if you want to order a box, it’s only $20. when you place your order, you get 3 options for box pick-up locations. we love being able to flush out our weekly grocery/co-op/farmer’s market shopping with Belle Creek Gardens.

last week’s box included rhubarb AND beautiful black raspberries. while i could have easily eaten them whole and raw, i have been wanting to make scones for awhile – so there you have it. i love the color the black raspberries added and the whole wheat flour gave my scones a gorgeous rustic look. and in true scone fashion, i love how gently sweet these treats are. perfect with your morning coffee or an afternoon pick me up.

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snowy friday

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even though it’s may  – there is currently a gentle snow falling in minneapolis today. it’s not really accumulating and we’re supposed to get back up in the 70’s next week, but dang it, if it isn’t an annoying thing to wake up to at this time of year. on the plus side, it’s the perfect excuse to comfort yourself at the Blogger Bake Sale happening TOMORROW. stop by Kitchen in the Market (in Midtown Global Market) from 12-3 and say hello! the mini blueberry corn muffins pictured above will be available at the sale and trust me, they are delightful.

eating for england’s lemon cake

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head over to Minnesota Monthy’s TC Taste Blog and check out Stephanie Meyer’s wonderful write up about this Saturday’s Blogger Bake Sale. Stephanie is the brain behind our Minnesota food blogging group, Fortify (more details in her post). The write-up features the gorgeous lemon cake (pictured above) by Eating for England’s Angharad Guy. It was her contribution to last year’s bake sale and I still sometimes dream about it – it’s just that good.

MPLS Food Blogger Bake Sale 2013

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As the adorable cupcake image states – there will be a food blogger bake sale on Saturday, May 4th. This will be the second year i am organizing the whole shebang and think we’re all in for a great time. Tracy and Molly of Kitchen in the Market have graciously donated their space in Midtown Global Market for the sale. So please, swing by on Saturday, May 4th – from 12-3pm and pick up some goodies. 100% of the proceeds benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry – the campaign to end childhood hunger in America.

Check out the blurb about the event on the City Page’s Hot Dish Blog. And please share the Facebook invite with all your sweet treat loving friends.  Stay tuned – next week I will post a list of participants. So many great bakers!