Tag Archives: delicious things

Evading cabin fever

I had the best intentions to blog yesterday, but it didn’t work out.  It shouldn’t really be working out today, either, but I’ve bought Simon’s silence with an oatmeal cookie (we baked them this morning.  Pecans, dried cherries, cranberries and blueberries. Yum!)

So here we are.  Better make this quick!

Our weekend was pretty darn close to perfect.  On Saturday we went up to Cleveland to check out West Side Market (I had SUCH a fun time there last fall with Megan and Marin, and wanted to share it with Jeff) and play tourists for a while.

I love that place; it’s well worth the drive!  Of course, it’s completely different on a Saturday morning than it is during the middle of the week (DUH), and crowds are, err…not our favorite thing.  But Simon was snug in the Tula, so Jeff and I dodged the crowds and bought all the pastries our canvas bag would hold:

And fancy olives.  And dolmas.  YUM.

So crowded.  So neat!

Then we walked over to Great Lakes Brewing for lunch.  I had fish and chips; Jeff had a ridiculously good beer, one of their brewery exclusives (I had a few sips) and a really good brat with pierogis (he alleges.  Like hell I’m touching a flesh-stuffed intestinal tube.)  Simon made do with scraps from home, like usual. Poor baby.

We weren’t quite ready to head back to Akron after lunch, so we decided to check out Cleveland’s natural history museum.

And there we saw OMG DUCKS!

Pretty sure this was the highlight of Simon’s little life; he was absolutely captivated.  And chilling there with his sleepy eyes in his little stroller, it was more than a little reminiscent of an old man sitting at a nursing home (and would’ve been sorta sad if it hadn’t been so cute :-P).

We eventually dragged him away, though, and he quickly resumed his ornery toddler-y ways:

Little stinker. He’s my favorite.

As one might expect, he conked out on the drive home and was OK with a quiet evening with Mama Daddy.  On Sunday we just hung out around the house and did some chores; pretty quiet.

Yesterday was “challenging”.  Someone was in full-on Toddler Mode all day, and it wasn’t necessarily the person you’d expect.  By 5:00 I was ready to scream, so we escaped to the post office and the grocery store (exciting!), then picked up Jeff from work.  Jeff made the very wise decision to entertain Simon almost all evening, leaving me free to unwind (you know…do dishes and laundry. :-\)  It was actually a pretty good time for everyone.

He determined earlier today that sleep is for babies and since he is a big boy, naps are completely unnecessary.  See how well that worked out:

We worked on a nap for 2 hours, including a 20-minute intermission in which I took a nice long shower while he stood at the baby gate and talked to me.  I warned him that his days of endless pacifier boob are numbered, but to no avail.  Toddlers are not well known for their foresight or appreciation.

So, bedtime tonight should be interesting. I predict he’ll either  go down in 5 minutes, or 75.  Who wants to take bets?

I’m starting to feel guilty about parking my butt in front of the computer for so long, so I’d best be off.  Simon and I have been reading “Where Is Your Nose?” off and on as I write.  He can now consistently identify his eyes, nose, mouth, chin, ears, hair, tum, hands, knees, and feet.  Even when the book isn’t in front of him.  Big smart boy!  Tomorrow we start calculus.

Advertisements

Brrrrrrread

In another edition of my ongoing series “ways to force breakfast down my husband’s gullet”, I have for you today a perfectly hearty, perfectly fall-y breakfast bread recipe.

(My what an appealing picture.  Who wouldn’t want to devote time and energy to baking a delicious rectangular turd?)

Apple bread isn’t anything new, I know.  Everybody and their grandmother has a recipe.  This is just mine.  And it is deeeelicious!

 

This version is marginally less unhealthy than some of them out there.  It uses a whole wheat flour blend, some flax meal for fiber, and of course lots of apple-y spicy goodness.  We all love it!

 

Spiced Apple Bread

1/4 c vegetable oil

2/3 c brown sugar (can reduce this if you’re using really sweet apples)

2 eggs

1 t vanilla

1/2 c buttermilk

1 c whole wheat flour

1 c AP flour

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

2-3 T flax meal

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t ground cloves

1/4 t allspice

2 medium-large apples, peeled, cored and grated (do not drain!)

2/3 c raisins, unless you live under the thumb of an anti-raisin dictator as I do.

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease and flour a loaf pan.

In a large bowl, beat your eggs and add oil, sugar, vanilla and buttermilk and beat well to combine.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda, salt and spices, then stir in the flax meal.  Stir dry ingredients into wet, being careful not to over-mix.  Gently fold in grated apples and raisins*.

Pour into your prepared loaf pan, and top it however you choose.  Bake for about 60 minutes.  Cool slightly in pan (~10-15 minutes) then turn out onto a cooling rack.  Cool completely before slicing, if you can wait 😉

We’ve been a little over-indulgent lately so I just topped it with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a pinch of raw sugar.  But it’s way better with streusel topping (especially oatmeal).

 

Enjoy!

 

(PS> Two words:  honey. butter.  I don’t have any made up right now, which is a crying shame.  Don’t you make the same mistake!)

*Seriously. I should’e clarified this before I married the guy.

Ze bleuberry mooffins!

Monica asked for my MOOFFIN recipe.  I am happy to share this recipe, because it makes delicious MOOFFINS.  MOOFFINS FOR EVERYBODY!

M-to-the-O-to-the-O-to-the-FFIN!

Seriously though, these are frigging amazing muffins.  They’re deliciously hearty and homey, and have just the right amount of sweetness.  They’re not just a one-note treat:  vanilla and cinnamon, tangy buttermilk, and a little brown sugar make for a perfectly rich flavor without being too heavy.  Flax meal and whole wheat flour give them a “stick to your ribs” quality that make them the perfect way to start the day (or a quick, vaguely healthy snack when chasing after your resident almost-toddler).

 

And of course, there’s no law against using raspberries instead, or adding nuts (or chocolate chips!), or raisins, or chopped dried apricots, or sweet cherries, or… you get the picture.

 

So you see, you pretty much have no excuse not to add these to your repertoire.

 

Couple notes first:

1)You don’t have to use half AP and half whole wheat flour.  You can do all white, or all whole wheat, or whatever ratio floats your little boat.  Personally, I like doing 1:1 or 2:1 (favoring whole wheat), because it gives you the whole wheat heartiness without being all heavy and sad.  Just so long as you end up at 1 1/2c flour altogether, it doesn’t particularly matter how ya do it.

 

2)Buttermilk is also not necessary, but nice.  Because tangy zip! (and no Miracle Whip).  If you keep Greek yogurt around, you could always use some of that (and some regular milk) instead.

 

3)If you’re lacking in inexpensive fresh blueberries, or if you don’t always keep a bag of frozen ones on hand (blueberries soothe boo-boos much better than a bag of peas and carrots, IMHO), then you should give TJ’s frozen wild boreal berries a shot.  They’re almost as good as the ones I spent DAYS AND DAYS slaving in the hot sun to procure, many years ago in northern Ontario.  Only now I can just go 1.3 miles down the road and buy a 16-oz bag for $3.29.  WIN.

 

4)Long ago, this recipe was derived from the “sweet muffins” recipe in the 1970’s Betty Crocker cookbook.  It bears, like, no resemblance to that anymore, but I would  be remiss if I failed to mention its heritage.

 

Anyway.

 

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

(subtitle: “for you and for me.  But mostly for me.”)

 

1 egg

1/4c vegetable oil

2/3c lowfat buttermilk

1 t vanilla

3/4 c whole wheat flour

3/4 c AP flour

1/2 c packed brown sugar

2T flax meal (optional)

2 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1/2 t cinnamon

1 c blueberries (fresh or frozen – not thawed)

Coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 400*.  Prep 12 muffin cups (or 36 mini cups) in the usual fashion.  Beat egg; stir in milk, oil and vanilla.  Stir in brown sugar and flax (if using).  Sift or whisk together remaining dry ingredients; stir in only until moist (do not over-mix!).  Gently fold in blueberries.  Divvy into muffin cups; top with a pinch of coarse sugar (or homemade struesel topping, or more cinnamon, or all of the above!).  Bake about 20 minutes.

(Sign #235b that I’m not a food blogger: I forgot to take a good picture before devouring one of these mofos.  FAIL.  I also use a muffin pan procured at Dollar General circa 2005, because I’m fancy like that.)

 

~~~

PS> I need to tell you about Simon’s birthday party, and the fact that I have a – ::gasp:: – ONE YEAR OLD.  Soon, friends.  Soon.

Cranberry Orange Bread with Vanilla-Clove Glaze

Y’all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Jeff and I have discovered that pretty much the only way he’ll partake in said meal on weekdays is if I entice him with delicious home-baked goodness of some sort.

 

WELL TWIST MY ARM WHYDONTCHA.

 

My usual repertoire of cinnamon rolls and bran muffins was getting a bit stale (hurr hurr), and whole cranberries were on sale at the grocery store, so I started piddlefarting around a couple weeks ago and came up with this.  Then I tweaked a few things and made it again, because diligence.  Eet ees mee meedle nam.

Long story short, this thing is delicious.  In fact, I think it may be Jeff’s favorite non-chocolate semi-healthy baked item, which is really sayin’ something.

 

And now I share it with you, for your weekday (or weekend) breakfast (or snacktime) pleasure (or indifference).

 

Also, if I were a good and thoughtful person I would’ve taken pretty pictures without the dish drainer in the background.  But I’m not a good and thoughtful person, so there.  The fine folks at Rubbermaid can thank me for the free publicity 😛

 

Cranberry Orange Bread with Vanilla-Clove Glaze

1c whole wheat flour

1c white flour

2t baking powder

1/2t baking soda

3/4t salt

1T orange zest (if you have it.  No biggie if omitted.)

2c fresh cranberries, rinsed and roughly chopped

1/2c walnuts, chopped (if such things appeal to you.)

3T flax meal (because everybody needs more fiber.)

1/4c room-temperature butter

3/4c packed brown sugar

1 egg

1t vanilla

3/4c orange juice

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease a standard-size loaf pan and line with parchment paper.

 

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together dry ingredients; stir in orange zest, flax, walnuts and cranberries.

 

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla.  Stir in orange juice.  Stir in flour/cranberry mixture *just* until moistened (batter should be lumpy, like for muffins).  Pour into prepared pan.

 

Bake 45-60 minutes, or until loaf is springy to the touch.  Cool slightly, then turn out on a wire rack.

 

Vanilla-Clove Glaze

1c powdered sugar

1T vanilla or caviar from 1/2 vanilla bean

1/2t ground clove (nutmeg, or mace, if you’re fancy)

splash of milk or cream to achieve perfect drizzly texture

Combine and wisk together well, adjusting powdered sugar or milk as needed for texture.  Glaze while loaf is still slightly warm.

I love you.

 

 

Have a good weekend, guys.

Myra’s Coffee Cake

I’m working on a giaaaant Christmas/KC trip recap post (I’ve been writing it off and on for FOUR FREAKING DAYS now), but in the meantime, I decided to make a coffee cake.  And share the recipe with you.  Because really: you need this in your life. (The actual cake-cake went to a friend’s house where Simon and I hung out this afternoon.  We consumed hummus and craft beer and coffee cake and snorgled each other’s babies.  It was lovely.)

 

CAAAAAAAKE!

 

Myra’s Coffee Cake

(Myra was a friend of my grandma’s, and her recipe has been passed into our family’s collective repertoire.  This cake has made an appearance at just about every family function for as long as I can remember.  It’s just *simple*: simple to make, simple taste, and simply delicious.  There really is nothing better!

 

2 1/2c sifted flour

3/4c white sugar

3/4c brown sugar

3/4c vegetable oil

1c buttermilk

1 egg

1t baking powder

1t baking soda

1t vanilla

1/2t salt

cinnamon

1c pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350*F; grease and flour a 9×9 or 9×11 pan.  Mix the flour, sugars and oil – will look lumpy and crumbly.  Save out about 1c of this mixture; leave the rest in your mixing bowl.  To the rest, add the other ingredients and mix just until lumpy (like pancake batter).

Pour into your prepared pan; top with chopped pecans, that reserved 1c of flour/sugar/oil, (crumble it over the top) and a hearty sprinkle of cinnamon.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

God I love this coffee cake.  It travels well, tastes just as good the second day (if it lasts that long), and serves as a great base for other craziness: how about putting blueberries in, and topping with a vanilla glaze?  Or chocolate chips (or butterscotch)!  Fresh diced peaches?  Go crazy, y’all!

Playing with coffee cake never killed anybody.  Just sayin’.

No one ever got fat from looking at pictures

…but you CAN get very, very fat after eating the turtle cheesecake I made last week:

 

It started as the germ of an idea.  After some mostly-fruitless googling, I had to get all Dr. Frankenstein up in that thing, and set to work creating a monster:

 

THE PERFECT CHEESECAKE.

 

 

You know you want it.

 

So here’s what you do:

 

1)Make a chocolate cheesecake crust and press into your trusty (greased) 9″ springform pan.  (graham crackers or chocolate graham crackers + butter + a bit of sugar + cocoa powder).

 

2)Make caramel sauce (I use 1c butter, 2c sugar, 2t vanilla and 1c heavy cream, but you could half that since I have a LOT left over.  Which I’m using in cinnamon rolls, so you really shouldn’t pity me.).  Be sure not to make it too dark, but not too light either.  (This was actually a bit lighter than I’d have liked, ultimately).

 

3)Pour some caramel sauce over the crust; sprinkle on about 1/2c chopped pecans, stick the whole thing in the fridge.

 

4)Make Nigella’s chocolate cheesecake filling, per the recipe.  Bake it utilizing all of my SUPER SEEKRIT CRACK PREVENTION TRICKS.*

 

5)Make a chocolate ganache (whatever floats your boat. I like to use bittersweet and sometimes a bit of semisweet, cream, and more vanilla).  Let that cool, and drizzle it on top of your cooled cheesecake all willy-nilly.  Finish off with more caramel sauce, too.  And then pecans, because you must.

 

6)Take the whole shebang to work, in honor of a grad student’s birthday.  Be adored forever ‘n’ ever.

 

Kids, never settle for mediocrity.  Always strive to do better.  And you know, it’s no coincidence that “better” is just one letter off from “butter”.

 

 

Now.  Go forth and consume cheesecake.

 

~~~

*OK, since you asked…

Cheesecakes crack for three reasons:  over-mixed filling, abrupt temperature changes, and tension (but then, who DOESN’T crack under tension?).  So, there are three ways to prevent your cheesecake from cracking:

1)Don’t over-mix the filling.  If your ingredients are cold, it will take more time and energy to combine them, thus incorporating more air (air which will then want to escape from your baking cheesecake in the medium of, yes, cracks).  So be sure that your butter, cream cheese, eggs, cream, etc. are all nice and tepid. Room temperature.

 

2)Avoid abrupt temperature changes.  This is why making cheesecake is the awesomest thing ever, and also the bane of my existence:  to do it right, a cheesecake will occupy your oven and your life for at least 6 hours.  See, you can’t just bake a cheesecake and yank it out of the oven and throw it on the counter and call it good.  You have to cool it *very* gradually.  So here’s what I do:  Bake for 1 hour at 350*, in a water bath to add humidity (see below) and to slow the speed at which your cheesecake heats up – if it can’t heat at a uniform rate/distribution, it’ll crack.  When your cheesecake is done, turn the oven off; leave cheesecake set in there for another hour.  At the third hour, open the oven door partway.  At the fourth hour, open the oven door all the way.  At the fifth hour, set the cheesecake on the counter.  At the  seventh (or preferably eighth or even later) hour, stick it in the fridge to keep.  All this means that your oven is tied up and your mission in life for these many hours is to tend a freakin’ baking pan.  Congratulations.  (For what it’s worth, I have been known – in times of great hurry and duress – to speed the cooling increments (second hour onward) by half.  But it makes me twitchy and nervous to do that.  I don’t recommend it, unless you enjoy living life on the edge.

 

3)Tension.  I don’t mean the mental kind (that which leads to cheesecake consumption, not cheesecake creation).  If your cake isn’t free to expand and retract as it needs to, it’ll start sticking to the sides of the pan, and will crack.  So grease the pan.  (That’s a no-brainer). But the water bath is also handy for this:  it will create plenty of wonderful humidity in the oven, as well as helping with the dryness/baking speed thing I talked about above.

 

PS>Next time I’m gonna toast the pecans.

BULLET-Y

1)The Yarn Harlot is coming to St. Louis TOMORROW!!!  I’m going to be there – will you?  (Note: the location on that site is not current – Left Bank says it will now be at the Episcopal Church on Euclid)

 

I am toying with the idea of wearing a completed Traveling Woman shawl of Dyeabolical Strong Arm Skinny to this shindig tomorrow.

 

Difficulty: I do not own a Traveling Woman shawl of Dyeabolical Strong Arm Skinny.  However, I do own a hank of Strong Arm Skinny, and the Traveling Woman pattern.  Maybe if I knit like the wind all evening/morning…

 

(Someone should probably talk me down off that ledge.  And do it fast.  Rachel is not helping; she is – and I quote – “poking the crazy”.)

 

2)Remember how I blogged about buying a bushel of apples a couple weeks ago?  I’m happy to report that they have now nearly all (but for a few set aside for baking &c) been put up.  I made 6 half-pints of maple apple butter, 5 qt applesauce, and 7 qt apple pie filling:

I’m considering my first canning experiment a success.  An exhausting, finger-bleeding, water-boiling (but not house-exploding!) success.  YAY ME.

 

I’m going to do so much more next year, and so much different.  I can’t wait.  I’m so addicted now, y’all.

 

3)I went to Maple Leaf on Saturday.  It was awesome.  I’ll tell you more later.

 

And now, I must go.  So much to accomplish, so little time.  Someone bring me some tea?