Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall is here! least for the moment

Well thankfully the heat has passed and the leaves are falling.  It is beautiful outside, but I'm suddenly reminded of just how much fun it wasn't raking an acre of leaves last year.  Oh well, my pumpkin bread makes up for it!  I love pumpkin recipes.  I have more than I can post on here, but I will start this week by posting my favorite pumpkin bread.  I made it last night (2 loaves) and by late morning, we were down to one.  I can't think of anything better to make my house smell wonderful.  I have had this recipe for a long time.  I can't remember if I got it in high school or college, but it's always been a hit.  And thankfully, it's ridiculously easy (anyone who knows me well, knows I have an odd aversion to yeast).

Pumpkin Bread
1 can pumpkin (16 oz)
1 2/3 C white sugar
2/3 C veg oil
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
 3 C flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt 
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t apple pie spice or ground cloves
1/2 t baking powder

Blend together the first five ingredients.  In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients to be sure there aren't any lumps.  Then stir into the wet ingredients.  Grease two loaf pans ( I use Pam with flour, it's awesome) and separate the batter.  I use a measuring cup to be sure of even distribution. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. 

To make it a bit healthier, you can substitute in some whole wheat flour.  As a general rule, you substitute a third without a big difference.  I also suggest using Whole Wheat Pastry Flour.  It's ground much finer and it's even less noticable.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No-Cook for a Hot Day

Hot day, no cooking recipes were not exactly what I had planned to post on this time of year.  I was so excited to get into my fall recipes, but then our airconditioning went out, no big deal right?...then here comes an unusual heat wave for this time of year in Ohio.  So I won't dare do anything that would heat up the house.  I'm so eager for pumpkin cookies, rich hot chocolate, and apple tarts, that I'm definately dissapointed.  But I can't just not make anything!  That's not an option.  I remembered a recipe I saw on the food network a few months ago, and decided to try it out with a couple of substitutions.  It's easy, yummy and requires no 'cooking' aside from the microwave.  Perfect for a hot day. 
It's called Cookie Candy, and is very rich (everything I make is rich).

2 sticks butter, softened
1 C crunchy peanut butter
3 C confectioners sugar
1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/2 C peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 C semisweet chocolate chips

Line 13x9 in pan with foil, then spray with pam.  In mixer combine butter, peanut butter, sugar, graham crackers crumbs, and peanuts until it starts to form a ball.  Press into foil lined pan with spatula.
Melt chocolate chips in microwave (I use 30 second intervals, stirring in between).  Spread evenly over cookie layer in the pan.  Refrigerate for a few hours.  Cut into peices.  Enjoy!

With that list of ingredients it has to be good right?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Product review for a Lazy Day

Even I, who loves to bake, wants to make something lazy sometimes.  I thought it would be fun to do something different and do a product review of a couple lazy day products I've used recently- Krusteaz cookie mix, and Papa Murphy's cookie dough.

The other day I was at the grocery store and the 'New Item' tag caught my eye.  It was for this Krusteaz brand Bakery Style Chocolate Chunk Cookie mix.  I was intrigued by the words 'Bakery Style' and the picture definately looks good, so I grabbed it.  It's easy enough, just add softened butter and one egg, mix it up and bake.  While they were baking, of course I had to sample the dough.  That alone got me kinda excited.  The dough was very yummy and that's usually a good sign.  Once baked, they had a good strong vanilla flavor, but the texture was more cakey than I usually like.  All in all, pretty good for a mix, and I'll probably try it again.

Every Friday night at our house is Family Pizza and a Movie Night.  I stopped by Papa Murphy's to grab a pizza (not Jared's favorite, but it's cheaper, so there ya go) and while I was in there I picked up a tub of their premade chocolate chip cookie dough.  I overheard the cashier saying they actually make it in the store themselves, so that was a good sign.  The dough wasn't quite as tasty to eat raw (okay, I know you're not supposed to do that, but let's just be honest, it's one of the best things about making cookies, and we all do it).  But once baked I really loved the crispy texture even though they didn't actually get hard.  And really, can you beat just scooping it straight onto the pan?  It doesn't get any easier.

So final verdict?  Papa Murphy's had the best cookies, but Krusteaz made better dough, and was a better deal for that matter.

It's funny though, because I've been thinking about writing this blog for a few days now, then yesterday I found a recipe for Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies and decided to try it out.  It took me all of 5-6 minutes to get the dough together and in the oven, which made me think- do I really need those lazy day products?  Is 5-6 minutes really that hard even when I'm tired or whatever?  And one of the things I love the most about baking is the actual process, learning new skills, or perfecting techniques.  So does this mean I'll never buy another tub of Papa Murphy's cookie dough?  I'm sure I will, because I know that I have those moments when scooping something onto the pan is the most effort I want to put into it.  And it's a pretty decent outcome for such little effort. 

Coming Soon....Fall Recipes!!  Yummm, my favorite baking time of year!