Posts tagged ‘baking’

Snow Day Fun: Homemade Bagels

My original plans for the weekend before last were to drive to NJ to see a certain little someone turn a year old. Mother nature had different plans though!
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Guess 24.9 inches of snow in 24 hours is pretty impressive… but still doesn’t help my restlessness from being snowed in! I decided to use my housebound time fruitfully: I finished my FASFA, did some paperwork for school, cleaned, and cooked… a lot. And I proved to myself that there is still a chemist left in me! I successfully made homemade bagels on my first attempt! I dutifully followed the recipe as closely as possible, but had to do a lot of converting since I don’t have a functional kitchen scale. (Anyone know where to buy weird batteries?) I found this really helpful chart that made the recipe possible. I was a little worried when the dough was really dry and tough initially, but the final result was impressive! A good-sized, fluffy bagel with a crunch to the outside and a soft fluffy interior! If I can bake bagels, I am convinced that anyone can! I had fun with the toppings – sesame seeds on 6, and chia seeds on the other 4. I can’t choose a favorite, both are so good! Nothing better after a morning of shoveling than a hot, fresh bagel sandwich waiting for you.
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If you have a kitchen scale, follow the original amounts. It will most likely have even better results, and more evenly sized bagels. If you don’t, I included my conversions below to save you some work!

Question: How did you spend your snowed-in time?

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Honey Wheat Bagels

original recipe from here, makes 10 bagels

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

3 cups + 1 tbsp bread flour

1 3/4 cups water (80F)

2 tbsp + 1 tsp granulated sugar

4 1/2 tsp honey

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp instant dry yeast

Please see original recipe for instructions. A few notes: the recipe is a little too big for most food processors. You can mix and knead by hand! I also had to add a few drops of water to get all of the dough to combine.

February 18, 2013 at 7:00 am 4 comments

It’s Fall Y’all: Oats

To me, oats scream fall. There is nothing better on a chilly, fall morning than a big bowl of hot oatmeal. Oats are also essential to great apple crisps and crumbles, or fresh oatmeal cookies. I love oats so much that I have earned the reputation amongst my friends as “Oatmeal Queen.” I will gladly wear that title. If oatmeal isn’t your thing, than maybe granola is. My goal has been to perfect the granola making process, and I think I am finally getting there! I like making granola better than buying it because you have so much more control over the amount of sugar that goes into your cereal. These two recipes really fit the bill!

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Almond Butter Granola is a great option for a fast, no-fuss weekday granola. It takes seconds to prep, minutes to bake, and is so delicious! It is not overly sweet and is a great addition to trail mix or over yogurt!

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Like I said last week, this Coconut Ginger Granola is possibly my new favorite treat! I used Smart Balance butter instead of coconut oil, omitted the Brazil nuts, and added a bit of ginger syrup, otherwise following the recipe pretty closely! This recipe makes me never want to buy granola from a store again.

In case those aren’t enough ideas, here are some links to my favorite oatmeal recipes…

Oatmeal

30 Days of Oatmeal

Caramelized Banana Baked Oatmeal

Oatmeal Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Cinnamon Oat Lace Cookies

…and some more that I have yet to try!

No-Sugar Oat Drops

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

Question: Are you an oatmeal fan?

October 28, 2012 at 7:00 am 6 comments

It’s Fall Y’all: Ginger

Ginger might not be the first thing that jumps to mind when you think of fall, but in reality is one of the unsung heroes of this culinary season. That might sound a bit extreme, but bear with me. What makes the pumpkin in pie sing? Ginger. A really great apple or pear crisp? Ginger. Breads, cookies, pies, and fruit crisps all rely on cozy spices to make them truly come to life. Ginger happens to be one of my favorite flavors, but can be a bit aggressive and divisive. If you love strong ginger flavors, then this post is for you.

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First attempt at homemade candied ginger

It all started out with the goal of making homemade candied ginger. I love the store-bought version, but it is expensive and very sugary. I set out to make my own and, thanks to Pinterest, found this great recipe and tutorial. The cashier at my grocery store looked at me funny when I walked away with a rather large ginger knob tree, but I was determined to accomplish my goal! The result – decent. Honestly, not as great as the store-bought version, but also could be cook’s error. My syrup over-boiled, dried out, and likely didn’t cook for quite long enough. The candied ginger is tasty, but not a solely edible treat like its store-bought counterpart. The resulting ginger syrup, however, is delectable. I cannot get enough!

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The resultant ginger syrup

Here are some ideas of what I have been doing with my ginger creations!

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Homemade Ginger Ale: Mix a few spoonfuls of the syrup with seltzer water for a tasty homemade soda!

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Adult Ginger Ale: Add a shot of whiskey to the above for an adult version. (Or a shot of rum and a squeeze of lime, with a little heavier hand on the ginger syrup, for my favorite– the Dark and Stormy!)

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Honey Ginger Butter: Mix 1/4 cup of ginger syrup, 1 tbsp honey, and 1 stick softened butter. Whip with an immersion blender, and then refrigerate in a small container until solid. Goes great with pancakes, waffles or this amazing Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread!

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Coconut Ginger Granola: Maybe the best granola I have ever made… seriously. I made a few changes, like using butter instead of coconut oil and adding a dash of ginger syrup and it is DELICIOUS! You should definitely try this.

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Stuffed Delicata Squash: In danger of recipe overload, I am going to tease you with these pictures and post the recipe later in the week! Definitely stop back– you don’t want to miss this one!

In case that isn’t enough for you, here are some ginger recipes I tried out last year…

Gingersnap Oatmeal

Gingerbread Oatmeal

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Gingerbread Cookies

…and some I have my eye on!

Ginger Sangria

Gingersnap Martini

Ginger Cookies

Question: Are you a ginger fan?

October 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm 6 comments

It’s Fall Y’all: Apple

Recently gone apple picking and have a sudden abundance of apples and no idea what to do with them? Or did the bargain bags at the grocery store simply look too good to pass up, but now you can’t stomach one more apple with your lunch? Yeah… me too! The hallmark of fall in New England to me is the apple craze that covers the region. Such an abundance of great, local fruit is too good to pass up! Even friends who never bake suddenly come running for ideas of what to do with their bounty. I haven’t had the chance to go apple picking this year, and am probably a bit late in the season. I gave up on the idea when a friend posted this on Instagram at the beginning of the week!

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“Apple Death Valley”

I have started getting more great local apples in my Boston Organics box, though! My most recent apple obsession is homemade apple chips. I have loved the store-bought variety for years, but they are so expensive and laden with hidden sugars if you aren’t careful. When I saw this idea, I could hardly wait for apple season! It is simple: take a mandoline to thinly slice your apples, coat them in cinnamon, and then bake them at 225F for 2-2 1/2 hours. The result is a naturally sweet, crispy fall snack that livens up your standard after lunch snack!

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Trail mix with homemade apple chips, pumpkin pie roasted almonds and almond butter granola!

In case that isn’t enough for you, here are some apple recipes I tried out last year…

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Cran-Apple Oats

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Sugar-Free Apple Crisp

…and some recipes I have my eye on!

Apple Braid

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Question: What is your favorite apple recipe?

October 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm 5 comments

It’s Fall Y’all: Pumpkin

Fall is definitely my favorite season. This was confirmed so many times this week: making fall snacks rich with cinnamon, taking a walk through Beacon Hill in the crisp chill of autumn with smells of fireplaces and fall leaves in the air, seeing all of the rich reds and oranges and yellows that fill the trees on my way to work. I love this season! This past weekend, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen making some fall treats to last me for the upcoming weeks. So look forward to some fall themed posts coming your way! Unfortunately, finding time to write about what I have been creating has been my limiting step as of late…

First up: pumpkin! It is all over the blog world right now – pumpkin in every baked good, breakfast treat, soup, and stew… wherever you can think to look, you can find pumpkin! I decided to be adventurous this year and roast my own pumpkin…from scratch! I did this once before I was blogging, and thought it was a fun process… boy, did I forget how much extra work it is! The beauty of thick-skinned pumpkins and squashes is that you can buy them, keep them as a centerpiece for a few weeks, and then roast them when you have time! Small, sugar pumpkins make the best for roasting, but the seeds of carving pumpkins are delicious too!

To roast a pumpkin, slice the top off, scoop out the seeds and strings, and then season with a bit of butter, salt and pepper. Roast it until it is soft at 350F – about an hour and a half. Then, peel the skin off and use the flesh for soups, stews, or puree to make your own un-canned pumpkin! The interesting thing about pumpkin is that the flavor is very mild. Most people associate pumpkin flavor with pumpkin pie, but the pie is made by the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Take that away and pumpkin itself is pretty mild. That also makes it very versatile if you have an open mind about what it should taste like!

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For a great pumpkin soup, try this spiced up version: Coconut Pumpkin Soup. This was my first pumpkin soup adventure and I would make it again! I am not quite sure what the equivalent of canned pumpkin would be since I used the whole pumpkin method. It has a great Thai flavor profile, thanks to the coconut milk (I used the lighter, boxed kind, 4 cups, in place of cans), coriander, and ginger. You can adjust the spice level by using less chilis. Use vegan margarine or oil instead of butter and it is vegan as well! Also, if you aren’t a soy sauce fan, I’d suggest adding a pinch or two of salt to the soup while cooking! This is a great alternative for a fall soup with great homestyle bread, or as an appetizer.

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While you have the oven going, why not roast the seeds? Rinse them and shake them in some olive oil, salt and paprika. Spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast them at 350F for 20 minutes, stirring them once. This is easier than most people thing, and make for a great fall snack!

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Another great fall snack is pumpkin pie roasted almonds. I made them this weekend and seriously cannot stop eating them. If you are an almond fan, this is a healthier (and cheaper) way to have a sweet and salty snack than most of the pre-packaged varieties!

In case that isn’t enough for you, here are some pumpkin recipes I tried out last year…

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Pumpkin Brownie Pie

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Pumpkin Almond Oatmeal

…and some recipes I have my eye on!

Pumpkin Gnocchi

Pumpkin Garlic Knots

Pumpkin Scones

Question: What is your favorite pumpkin recipe?

October 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm 1 comment

A Lonely Can of Pumpkin

Along with the rest of the blog world, I was on a huge pumpkin kick in the early fall. I was loving pumpkin oatmeal and pumpkin pancakes, and stocked up on canned pumpkin whenever my grocery store had it on sale. As I was searching for an idea for a vegan muffin to bring to my Bible study last week, I stumbled upon the last lonely can of pumpkin in my cabinet. I decided on making pumpkin muffins, knowing that pumpkin and banana based quick breads are the easiest to make vegan! After a quick Google search and a lot of recipe comparisons, I decided to try out a recipe from Post Punk Vegan Kitchen. After being the self-proclaimed best, it was a no brainer! I made some adaptations from the original recipe: using some whole wheat flour, less sugar, subbing some of the oil with applesauce. The result – a really flavorful, dense vegan muffin! I was really happy with how these turned out, so give them a try! The recipe is pretty fool-proof.

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The only problem: it doesn’t use up a full can of pumpkin! Maybe there is a pumpkin quinoa breakfast bake in my future…

Question: Where do you find most of your new recipes?

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Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

adapted from Post Punk Kitchen, makes 16 muffins

3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup pureed pumpkin

1/2 cup soy milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup apple sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

In two bowls, mix wet and dry ingredients together; then combine. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake muffins at 400 degrees for 18 minutes. Allow to cool slightly in pan, then use a knife to loosen the edges. Remove from pan to cool completely.

January 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm 8 comments

An Analysis of Failed Cookies

It is no secret that I am a poor baker. I am ashamed, since baking is essentially chemistry, and I was a biochemistry major. I should be able to make a basic batch of chocolate chip cookies, right?! Wrong. This time, I can’t even blame it on healthy substitutions. I used the recipe from the back of the chocolate chips bag, and followed it to a T. The point of this baking experiment was to satisfy a pregnant friend’s craving, not to perfect my own version of the classic cookie. So what went wrong?

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It is still up for debate, but I have my suspicions. My friend was in charge of dry ingredients, and I made the butter and sugar mixture. She swears that she added enough flour, our first theory as to why these cookies would not stay together. Accepting Avoiding the fact that I could have been the problem, I am blaming the butter as our culprit. Our cookie baking was impromptu, and the recipe called for softened butter. Nothing a microwave can’t fix… until the butter melts. Knowing better, I incorporated the melted butter into the sugar anyway. The dough looked fine, so we scooped it out onto baking sheets. We anxiously awaited our cookies, only to pull out a cookie lava mess! Don’t worry – even ugly cookies still taste good. ;) (And at least our pumpkin chocolate chip cookies were a huge success!)

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Learn from my cookie fail and don’t let melted butter ruin your Christmas cookie baking! The temperature of butter is really important in baking. Cold butter is really important for flaky crusts, room temperature butter for chocolate chippers, but melted butter is rarely a good thing unless called for. Hopefully I can redeem myself with some upcoming Christmas cookie favorites!

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Question: What is your worst baking mistake story?

December 12, 2011 at 7:41 am 10 comments

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