February 25, 2015

Oatmeal Cookie Granola

This is another recipe from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant. I like this granola, especially with my substitution of a Ghirardelli dark chocolate with toffee bar chopped up to replace the chocolate chips. (Go figure. I misspelled kindergarten every time when I was researching if I really need to send my child to school, but I can type Ghirardelli perfectly the first time. Priorities.)

This probably isn't my favorite, but it's good enough to make the mix when I want something different.

Oatmeal Cookie Granola
2 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup flaxseed, ground
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a baking sheet with a silipat or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, flaxseed, brown sugar salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook it, stirring often, until it is browned and smells nutty. Add the coconut oil and honey, and stir until they are melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Combine with dry ingredients until evenly mixed.

Spread out evenly on baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, stir and bake for 10 more minutes, stirring at least one more time. Remove from oven, and cool 5 minutes before sprinkling with chocolate. Stir gently, and then cool completely. Makes about 4 cups.

Chewy Granola Bars

I've had Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant for a couple months before I finally tried a recipe. Many of my favorite delicious desserts come from her blog How Sweet It Is, which is why I wanted her book. I made these granola bars with a few modifications from her recipe based on ingredients on hand.

These granola bars are tasty, but they cannot compete with my standard chewy granola bar. They simply aren't truly chewy. They remind me of a Cooking Light peanut butter granola recipe, which of course I can't find on my blog to link.

Short story: glad I made these, but they won't likely become part of our regular rotation.

Chewy Granola Bars
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flaxseed, ground
3 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8 x 8 pan with wax paper, and spray with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, combine oats, flaxseed, brown sugar, chia seeds, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the coconut oil, peanut butter and honey until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Combine with dry ingredients until evenly mixed.

Press mixture into prepared pan, smoothing with a spoon. Bake until bars are slightly browned on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Cut into desired shapes/sizes. Makes 9 to 12 bars.

February 12, 2015

Chocolate Cupcakes with Red Velvet Frosting

I have had this recipe from Spicy Perspective bookmarked for quite some time, over a year. I finally gave it a run this week. For whatever reason, my cupcakes failed horribly. They did that thing I hate where they don't dome nicely and instead spill over the sides, burn to the bottom of my oven and don't seem to set without being overbaked. Sometimes I just shrug it off when this happens, pry the remains out of the pans and attempt to cover the ugliness with frosting. This day I was so frustrated that I crumbled all the cupcakes into a bag and tossed it in the freezer. I was quite proud of myself for not destroying the mistake by eating it all ... it was that kind of day. So I made a second batch of cupcakes using a recipe I knew would work.

The frosting did not taste "red velvet" to me, but it was really good. Perhaps my mistake as I type this now is that I failed to add the cocoa powder. I guess I'll have to try again following the recipe more closely. I know my frosting is pink rather than red, but I apparently ran out of red gel food coloring without realizing it.

After all the hassle, I was quite happy with both the appearance and flavor profile of these cupcakes. Quite cute for the upcoming Valentine's Day. Too bad they'll all be devoured by then ...

Chocolate Cupcakes with Red Velvet Frosting
2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup hot water
2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (I used a dark variety)
3/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. buttermilk
Pinch of salt
1 cup melting chocolate wafers

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place paper baking cups in each of 24 regular-size cupcake tins.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. In a small bowl, combine water and cocoa.

In a large bowl, beat shortening on electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. On low speed, alternately add flour and cocoa, starting and ending with flour. Beat just until blended.

Divide batter evenly among cupcake tins, filling each 2/3 full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in tins 5 minutes, and then remove cupcakes to cool completely on wire racks.

To make the frosting, beat together butter and cream cheese. Gradually add cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla. Dissolve salt in buttermilk, and gradually beat in buttermilk. Beat frosting until smooth and desired consistency.

Once cooled, frost cupcakes. If you desire to garnish them, melt the chocolate wafters, and place in a squeeze bottle. Squeeze out hearts onto wax paper, making sure your lines are thick enough they won't break easily. Chill to harden, remove and place on cupcakes. Makes 24 cupcakes.

January 27, 2015

Oven-Baked Potato Wedges

I came across these wedges on Natasha's Kitchen, and I promptly made them for my family. These are quite tasty and easy, and I think they'll be a regular guest at our dinner table. The seasonings are great, and they're fairly healthy.

Of course, then I made a version of dip reminiscent of Granite City dip, which is oh so addictive. My rendition isn't a perfect match, but I think I'm moving in the right direction for an authentic recreation. The dip wasn't healthy, and the recipe isn't perfect yet, so only potatoes for now.

Oven-Baked Potato Wedges
4 russet potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Wash & cut potatoes into wedges by cutting lengthwise in half, and then slicing each half into 4 slices.

Place potatoes in a bowl of water with about 2 cups of ice cubes. Let them stand for 30 minutes, and then dry with paper towels.

Combine salt, garlic powder, paprika and pepper in a large ziplock bag. Add potatoes, and shake them to coat. Next add olive oil to the bag, and toss until potatoes are coated.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silipat. Place potatoes on the lined sheet, and bake at for 30-35 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through, browned and crispy.

If desired, combine parsley and cheese in a large mixing bowl. Toss potato wedges in the mixing bowl with parsley and cheese, and serve warm. (I skipped this since my husband deems Parmesan to be in the category of feet cheese.)

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

My husband walked into the kitchen while I was making the dulce de leche for these cupcakes, immediately noticed my pan of simmering water and questioned, "What are you doing? Is that can opened? Why are you boiling a can?" followed by, "It could explode!" He was quite dubious, but I told him I had done my research, and there should be no explosion provided I maintained the proper water level.

He remained a bit skeptical but made no further comments. After his reaction, given that he's a rather educated engineer, I was a bit more paranoid about maintaining the water level. Thankfully, my sweetened condensed milk became delicious dulce de leche without incident.

These cupcakes are pretty delicious. I'm not sold on the actual chocolate cupcake from Sweetopia because I had issues with them not rising beautifully and rather spilling over and seeming not baked quite enough but ending up a bit dry. I would repeat the concept but use another chocolate cupcake as the base. The frosting and dulce de leche filling were excellent!

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup milk
2 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup dulce de leche (homemade or storebought)
3/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup dulce de leche

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.

Sift cocoa into a medium bowl. Slowly stir in the boiling water until smooth, and then gradually whisk in milk. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl, and set aside.  In an electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar. Beat in the vanilla.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, add flour mixture and reserved cocoa mixture a little at a time in alternate batches, starting and ending with the flour. Beat until just combined.

Divide batter into the cupcake liners, about 1/4 cup for each liner. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes or longer - until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Time will vary according to your oven. Cool cupcakes in tins for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove from pans to cool completely on wire racks.

Make a small hole in each cupcake (I used a cupcake corer) or use a bismark piping tip to fill cupcakes with dulce de leche.

To make frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Gradually add in powdered sugar. Beat in dulce de leche until smooth and creamy. Frosting may be too soft to pipe without chilling for 30 minutes or so in the refrigerator. Pipe on frosting, and chill until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature for best flavor, though, immediately prior to serving. Makes 24 cupcakes.

Note: I used an entire can of dulce de leche made from sweetened condensed milk for these cupcakes, divvying up the goods between the cupcakes and the frosting.