Monday, September 26, 2011

Homemade Pumpkin Bread

There is just nothing like waking up to a clear blue sky, the feel of a cool, crisp, breeze, and the smells of leaves and orchards.  Fall really is the most wonderful time of year! The weather is perfect and the smells are so pleasing.  But the absolute best part about the fall are the flavors that accompany it! From apples to cider and the delicious butternut squash, the foods of fall are beyond satisfying.  I have been working up such a craving for fall foods that I figured I would start the season off right with homemade pumpkin bread! I absolutely adore anything with pumpkin in it so I promise to bring you vast amounts of pumpkin recipes this season. In fact, you may get sick of all the pumpkin recipes I will be bringing to the table! :)



Homemade Pumpkin Bread (One loaf with walnuts and the other without)

Ingredients:
-2/3 cup shortening
-2 1/2 cups flour
-1 2/3 cup sugar
-1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
-1 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon cloves
-1/2 teaspoon allspice
-2/3 cup milk
-2 eggs
-1 15oz can pumpkin
-Walnuts or pecans for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, soften the shortening.  Add in all of the dry ingredients and stir.  Pour in the milk.  Once the milk is mixed in, beat in the eggs.  Add in the pumpkin into all ingredients are well combined.

In a greased loaf pan, pour the batter in about 3/4 of the way.  Sprinkle the nuts on top if using (I had enough batter to make one regular sized loaf and then a little extra to make a baby sized loaf, so I sprinkled nuts on top of that one and left the other without).  Place in the oven and bake 50-60 minutes or until the center of the bread no longer jiggles when shaken and it bounces back slightly when touched.

Serve warm for breakfast, lunch, or after dinner treat! I like to eat it for breakfast with a hot cup of pumpkin spice coffee! Enjoy!



Pin It

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

School has started up again and between my two internships and classes, things are crazy! Since I do not have much time to relax, when I do find a few moments for myself I want to enjoy them... aka I stuff myself with desserts and drinks!


Since I had some time to bake this week, I knew that I had to try out this peanut butter cookie recipe from a cookie book I received one Christmas.  I absolutely love anything with peanut butter! I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert.  And I usually just eat it right off the spoon! I recently became addicted to chunky peanut butter too, so I knew that these cookies were meant for me to make!



Peanut Butter Cookies
Ingredients:
-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-1cup (2 sticks) butter, unsalted
-1 cup packed light brown sugar
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup crunchy peanut butter
-2 large eggs
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1 cup salted, dry roasted peanuts or Reese's Pieces peanut butter chips (optional - I used the chips instead of peanuts and loved it! Depending on your mood, I would try out both ;))

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter until creamy.  Add in the sugars and beat until light and fluffy (a couple of minutes).  Beat in the peanut butter until fully incorporated.  Mix in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla.  Slowly mix in the dry ingredients a little at a time until fully combined. Once the batter is well combined, stir in the peanuts or Reese's Pieces chips (if using).

Using a cookie scoop or generous spoonful, roll the dough into 2-inch balls and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment 2 inches apart from one another.  Press each cookie dough ball down with a dinner fork to create a crisscross design.  If the fork sticks to the dough you can dip it in cold water before pressing it down onto the dough.

Bake until the cookies puff up and the edges are slightly browned (9-11) minutes, and make sure to rotate the pan halfway through.  Be mindful that the cookies will not look fully baked when done, so do not overcook them.  Let them cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.  If you are like me though, you will not be able to wait and will just start pounding them down!

Serve with a glass of milk, coffee, or tea, and enjoy!


Now before I forget, I want to thank Samantha from Ferraro Kitchen for passing along the Versatile Blogger Award to me! She is new to the blogging community and a young college student so I can definitely relate to her! Samantha has a wonderful blog so if you have not checked it out, be sure to do so here. Thanks again so much Samantha!


As with many other awards, I shall not only thank Samantha over and over for passing this along to me, but I also must share 7 random facts with all of you and pass the award on to some of my favorite bloggers out there! 

So here it goes...
1.) I am a graduate student (which most of you know), but I am studying higher education and interning in the study abroad office, which I absolutely love!

2.) I have a secret crush on Elijah Wood even though he is not your typical leading man and I am pretty sure he may be shorter than me :/

3.) I have recently become obsessed with goat cheese.  In fact, I am going to be posting a goat cheese mousse recipe soon!

4.) I am a huge history buff and especially love European and British history and will read any book dealing with British history. 

5.) I have never ever had a malasada before but I crave them constantly! I saw a photo of them and have wanted them ever since!

6.) I have still not accepted that Harry Potter is over and have re-read the books several times and you should all be expecting to still see more potter related posts to come! Someone has to keep it alive, right??? ;) 

7.) I used to dream about moving to Egypt when I was younger and living life as a historian similar to Rachel Weisz's character in the first mummy.  Although I am still fascinated by Egyptian history I doubt I will be taking on a leading role and fighting mummies any time soon. 

Now to pass along the award, here is a list of food blogs that I love and food blogs that I have recently discovered and love:
1.) Kate @ Diethood
2.) Parsley @ The Deep Dish
5.) Chef Dennis @ Ask Chef Dennis
6.) Manu @ Manus Menu
9.) Kaitlin @ I Can Cook That
10.) Cassie @ Bake Your Day
11.) Tiffany @ Como Water
13.) Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen
14.) Sabrina @ Eat, Drink, and be Merry
15.) Kita @ Pass the Sushi
Pin It

Monday, September 12, 2011

Welcome to Hoboken!

This past weekend I was lucky enough to take a trip down to Hoboken, NJ to visit Carlo's Bakery... aka the home of the Cake Boss! I was so excited and could not believe I was actually there!



Thankfully, there was NO LINE! So many people on yelp warned against 2-hour waits and average pastry; however, I must disagree! I'm sure on weekend mornings there is a mad rush of customers waiting for the bakery to open, but if you just wait to go a little later on in the day, then you will have a much better experience! We went at 5pm on a Friday, walked right in, and were only joined by about 4 other groups of people.  Thank god! 

This is how "packed" it was! Love not having to wait! 

Similar to a deli, when you walk into the bakery you are given a ticket with a number, and when your number is called you are served by one person who will grab whatever you need! Since it was not crowded we were severed right away, but I can imagine on weekend mornings it might be a bit more hectic with this method.


Since we drove 4 hours to get to Carlo's, we decided to stock up! This is what I ordered:
-2 pounds assorted Italian butter cookies
-2 each of every kind of biscotti
-3 cannoli
-2 lobster tails
-2 pasticiotti
-1 scrumptious m&m cookie

The butter cookies are always a favorite of mine so I greatly enjoyed pigging out on those! The biscotti were also very delicious. In fact, I'd say that Carlo's biscotti are in my top 5! The m&m cookie my boyfriend woofed down because he is a fan of anything cookie, and I was the same way with the lobster tails! 

I apologize for the crappy photo, but I just could not get a good shot in the car ride home and I could not wait to eat it! 

The absolute best item we bought though, was the cannoli! Holy crap is all I have to say when thinking about how amazing those cannoli were! I am extremely picky when it comes to the ricotta filling and have had my share of cannoli, but I can honestly say that this was the best cannoli I have ever had! Buddy uses impastata ricotta for his filling, which is a high quality, smooth, ricotta that has been drained of almost all of its liquid.  Therefore, not only is the ricotta extremely smooth, but it also does not make the shell soggy! I highly recommend purchasing as many cannoli as possible from Carlo's!

The only item that was disappointing was the pasticiotti.  They just were not that great and did not have much filling inside of them.  Overall, for $47 total, all of the cookies and pastry we got were definitely worth the trip down. Plus, we can now say that we have been to the bakery on TV! :)



Pin It

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Heath Bar Toffee Dip with Apples


Although the summer cookout season has come to a close, the fall party and holiday dinners are just beginning! Whenever I have friends and family over I love having a multitude of various appetizers and snacks to satisfy everyone's tastes.  Of course, making several different appetizers can be quite a task in itself, and that is only the first course! This heath bar toffee dip though is very simple to make and can be prepared ahead of time.  It is always a crowd pleaser and a great way to use up apples from the fall picking season.

Heath Bar Toffee Dip with Apples
Ingredients:
-5 to 10 granny smith apples (depending on party size use more or less)
-1 can pineapple juice
-1 12 oz container of cream cheese, softened 
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup powdered sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
-3/4 cup heath bar toffee bits

Directions:
Rinse and slice apples (no need to peel them) and place in a bowl.  Pour the pineapple juice over them, cover, and refrigerate overnight.  This gives the apples a delicious flavor and prevents them from browning (do not use lemon juice because although lemon juice prevents browning, for the purpose of this recipe the flavor would be too strong and very different). 

For the dip, blend together the powdered sugar, brown sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla in a bowl.  Fold in the toffee bits.  Cover the dip and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 to 2 hours.  

When ready to serve, strain the apples and place on a plate around the dip.  Dunk the apples right in and enjoy! You may even end up taking plain spoonfuls of the dip... I sure do at least! 


Thanks to my aunt for always having this recipe at her house growing up and passing it along to me! 

Pin It

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Freshly Baked Scones and Kelapo Coconut Oil

Last week I was asked by Kelapo Coconut Oil to write a review of their product.  Since I have had coconut oil in the past and absolutely love the flavor of coconut, I accepted the request excitedly!

As soon as I received my sample in the mail, I tore open the package, cut through the plastic wrapping, popped open the lid, and spooned a tablespoon of the coconut oil right into my mouth! It was delicious! I could honestly just eat the oil straight out of the jar.  As I sat there spooning out the coconut oil, I realized I should probably stop and save some since I wanted to use it in a recipe.  So before I ate it all plain, I begrudgingly put the lid back on the oil.


I was so torn as to what to make with the coconut oil, but knew that I wanted to bake something.  Coconut cake, Madeleine's, cupcakes, cookies, and macarons, all raced through my head.  However, I remembered that on my trip to the UK when I was staying in Bed and Breakfasts, I was lucky enough to have freshly baked scones every morning.... mmmmmm! With that in mind, I set forth to bake my own homemade scones for breakfast using the Kelapo Coconut Oil, and here was the result....


An absolutely, perfectly delicious, and scrumptious scone! I was afraid that by not using all of the butter and shortening and replacing it with coconut oil that they may taste different or not rise well, but they were stunning in look, smell, and taste! And if you happen to be someone who does not like the flavor of coconut, do not worry, the coconut flavor does not overpower when using it for baking, it simply replaces less healthier ingredients!

Freshly Baked Scones
Ingredients:
-2 cups flour
-4 teaspoons baking powder
-3/4 teaspoon salt
-1/3 cup sugar
-3 tablespoons Kelapo Coconut Oil (original recipe called for shortening)
-2 tablespoons butter, diced (original recipe called for 4 tablespoons)
-3/4 cup cream
-1 egg
-Healthy handful of raisins, craisins, or dried currants (I used craisins this time around)
-1 egg beaten, plus 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
-Sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Incorporate the butter and coconut oil (you can actually use all coconut oil and no butter if you prefer, but this was the first time I used the oil in a scone recipe so I wanted to see how it would come out.  Now having done it, I would just use all coconut oil).

In a separate bowl, beat the egg and mix in the cream.  Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and combine well.  At this point, it is probably best to just use your hands to mix the dough.  Then, mix in the raisins, craisins, dried currants, or your fruit of choice.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough about 1/2 inch thick and cut into round circle with a biscuit cutter, or triangular shapes if you prefer.

Lightly brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash and sprinkle with a little sugar (optional).  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Serve warm with butter, or better yet, Kelapo Coconut Oil! I used the oil as a spread over my scones and absolutely loved it! I was actually amazed at myself for liking the oil spread more than butter.  Overall, the coconut oil turned out to be pretty fantastic and a great ingredient to bake with.  Using coconut oil is much healthier than using all butter, shortening, or other cooking oils.  Better yet, when using coconut oil as a replacement, it is not a one to one ratio.  Rather, you can use about 3/4 of what the recipe calls for when it says to use butter or shortening.


(I'm glad I just got my nails done...)

For more information on the benefits of coconut oil and its many uses, including gel capsules, skin scare, and so forth, check out the Kelapo Coconut Oil website here: http://www.kelapo.com/

Enjoy! Pin It