Tag Archives: Teaspoon

Strawberry Shortcakes

Want to know how we celebrate the arrival of Spring?

Ta Daaaaa!

This is how we welcomed the beautiful season of rebirth and renewal. The season that’s going to take away the winter blues and lead us on that path toward the long awaited sunshine of gorgeous summer days.

I am so excited to know that spring has finally arrived. Even if the weather outside is barely 40 degrees… I don’t care. It will get better. Soon.

The strawberries I picked up from the Farmers Market had to be used up somehow before they went bad, and the vote was between a strawberry trifle or a strawberry shortcake.

As you can see, the shortcakes won. The trifle can wait.

Besides, the strawberry trifle does not translate well on photos. I tried it once before and it was a disaster.

These shortcakes are pretty to look at and even better to eat. I wanted to keep this recipe simple and traditional thus, for the cakes, I made biscuits with a bit of flour, some neufchatel cheese and orange zest. Beautiful.

The strawberries sat in their juices with some sugar for about an hour, and the whipped cream came out perfect. I chilled it for about 30 minutes before I whipped it with my mixer. That’s the secret – chill it before you whip it.

Strawberry Shortcakes

You will need:

For the Biscuits:

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 4 ounces (1/2 of a 8 oz. package) neufchatel cheese, cut in cubes
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon milk for brushing the tops

For the Strawberries:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. of fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup sugar

For the Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

For the Biscuits:

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and orange zest in a large bowl.
  • Pour in the neufchatel cheese and mash it with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

  • Stir in 1/3 cup of milk and form a dough.
  • Flour hands and divide the dough into 8 balls.
  • Place the dough balls 3 inches apart on a greased baking sheet or silpat.

  • With a glass flatten the dough balls to 1/2 inch thickness and brush the tops with milk and sprinkle a bit of sugar on top.
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

  • Take out the biscuits and allow them to cool down to room temperature.
  • In the meantime prepare the strawberries.

For the Strawberries:

  • Once you have cleaned and sliced them, take 1/3 of the strawberries and mash them with a potato masher.

  • Add in the rest of the strawberries and pour in the sugar.
  • Set aside for at least 20 minutes.

For the Whipped Cream:

  • Meanwhile prepare the whipped cream by combining together the whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar.
  • Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • When chilled, beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.

For the Shortcakes:

  • Assemble the shortcakes by cutting the biscuits in half.
  • Place a tablespoon of the strawberry mixture on the bottom half of the biscuit and top with whipped cream.
  • Cover with the top half of the biscuit, and top it with whipped cream and a few more strawberries.
  • Serve immediately or put the cakes in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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Filed under Home, Sweets. Now. Please.

Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread

I love a good bread.

And I especially love that bread when it has been made for me by someone else.

You want to know what I don’t love?

(I’m not going to mention any names)

When I get to a dinner party and discover that everything on that table was prepared by the hands of your local grocer; petite quiches, jalapeno poppers (at a dinner party?) and other finger foods from Sam’s… a cake from Sam’s bakery… and, the one thing that infuriates me the most… sliced bread… also bought at Sam’s.

Are you kidding me?

You just invited me to a dinner party that was catered by your local Sam’s. Why on Earth didn’t you just tell us to meet you at the cafe over at Sam’s instead?

Come on, at least make the bread!

Please allow me to show you how easy it is to make a really good bread that you can wow your guests with. It tastes oh so yummy good, it takes one hour flat to make it, and your guests will love it just because it sounds foreign. 🙂

Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread

You will need:

  • 1 cup White Whole Wheat Flour (I use King Arthur)
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 package (.25 oz.) instant dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup of water, divided
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary

Directions:

  • Preheat oven at 475.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, yeast, and garlic salt; stir well to combine.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup of water, mix, then stir in the rest of the water slowly, until all of the flour is absorbed.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly for about 1 minute.
  • Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.
  • Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. I always put it on top of my warm stove and the rise is done within 20 minutes.
  • Grab the dough and knead it again, briefly, on a lightly floured surface.
  • Roll the dough into a rectangular shape, about 1/4 inch thick, and place it on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  • Dimple the bread with your index finger.

  • Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano and rosemary.
  • Bake the bread for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on desired crispness.
  • With a sharp knife, slice the focaccia into wedges and serve it with garlic sauce, or cut it into squares and make little bite-sized sandwiches.

(recipe soon… it’s a darn good samwich!)

That’s it! How hard was that?

Please, if you’re going to have friends over for dinner, bake something, anything! The bread is probably the easiest thing you can attempt to make.

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Pear Crumble Muffins

I have one more photo I would like to share with you from this past weekend:

I can’t believe she spent the entire day with the pacifier in her mouth! A flower girl with a paci…

But, this is not about her pacifier (and my aversion toward it – yuck!); this post is about the pint-sized member of this family and her love for pears.

I mentioned here that from the time that we introduced solids to her, she was hooked on pears. By the time she turned a year old, she was picking them from the tree in our backyard (the branches were crawling on the ground and so was she) and eating them with the skin on.

This particular recipe came about as she and I were picking the last of the pears this past fall. I wanted to make a pear crumble because that is my favorite dessert with pears, but I also wanted something different. And since I had made an apple pie muffin the week before, it dawned on me that I could just make a pear crumble into a muffin!

I know… Not like it’s never been done before, but I had never seen it, so for an instant there I thought I was a genius! Then Google told me that it’s been done at least 80,000 times…whatever! I still went ahead and made it all on my own without looking at any of those other recipes… take that allrecipes people!

These are amazing! No really, they are delicious. Sweet, moist, and real fluffy!

I have been playing around with this recipe for a few months now and I think I finally got it. It was the yogurt…the plain, and not the flavored yogurt, really did it this time. I had used flavored yogurt in the past and that was just too much; you couldn’t taste the pears. This worked much better.

Pear Crumble Muffins

You will need:

For the Fruit:

  • 2 large pears, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

For the Batter:

  • 2 cups of AP flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter

Directions:

  • Preheat oven at 375.

The Pears:

  • Combine the flour and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
  • Pour in the chopped pears and toss to combine. Set aside.

The Batter:

  • In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, egg, oil, milk and vanilla.
  • Stir into the dry ingredients until just moistened.

  • Stir in the pears.
  • Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full.

The Topping:

  • In a small bowl prepare the topping by combining the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Chop in the butter and mash it all together with a fork until crumbly.

  • Sprinkle the crumble over the muffin batter.
  • Bake for 25 minutes.
  • Cool for a few minutes before removing the muffins from the pan to a wire rack.

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Filed under Home, Sweets. Now. Please.

Homemade Bread & A Bowl of Soup

When I was in school and they would announce that we were going to have a snow day for the third day in a row, it was like winning the lottery! Now, the first day feels like a win, but by the third day I need to get out there and see the world!

To keep myself busy these past couple of days I of course spent most of the time in the kitchen making soups and stews since that’s all that we were in the mood for. But, by the end of the third day, I ran out of items in my kitchen pantry. Even my fridge was emptied out! Thank goodness today looks like munchkin and I are going to hit the market – finally!

This bread that I made yesterday was out of pure necessity – I’m telling you, that kitchen pantry is empty. It’s a good thing that I buy flour in large quantities – when I bring the bag of flour home, my husband says that it looks like I’m preparing for doomsday…funny guy.  It’s more like I’m preparing for him because he ends up eating most of the bread that I make. That loaf up there was gone in one sitting. I had one slice, and he and my daughter literally attacked it – they didn’t even use a knife to cut it. So is the reason why I don’t have a pretty picture with a few slices.

This bread is my take on the country type bread served at steakhouses,  only healthier.

You will need:

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • oregano

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • In a deep mixing bowl, mix your dry ingredients.

  • In a separate bowl, mix liquids and add to the dry ingredients.
  • Stir until there is no more dry flour.

  • Depending on the humidity of the air where you live you may need more or less liquid. The dough should be moist but not sticky. It is important not to overwork the dough.
  • Shape into a ball or an oval with oiled hands.
  • Rub the dough ball with EVOO and sprinkle sea salt and oregano.
  • Lightly cut an X onto the surface to prevent splitting of the crust.

  • Place on a clean baking sheet.
  • Bake for 40 minutes.

But we can’t stop at just the bread! I have to show you my yummy soup that soaked up all of that bread! This is the “clean out your pantry” soup.

If you have an hour and some to spare, get out your chopping block and start cooking.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 medium-sized onions, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced crosswise
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 fresh ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon basil, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley, chopped
  • 6 cups of water
  • 3 cubes of Vegetable buillon
  • 1/4 cup elbow macaroni
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • In a large deep pot place in the onions, carrots and celery; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, EVOO and mix with wooden spoon.

  • Allow to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened, then add in the minced garlic, tomatoes, kidney beans, garlic powder, garlic salt, paprika, parsley, and basil; stir and cook for another 10 minutes on medium heat, or until the mixture begins to bubble.

  • Pour in the water and turn up the heat to high and wait for it to boil.
  • Add the bouillon cubes, mix well, and turn down the heat to a medium-low.

*You can skip the above two steps if you have six cups of vegetable broth on hand.

  • Let it simmer for about 30 minutes then add in the elbow macaroni.
  • Allow it to cook for another 10 minutes on medium heat before removing it from the stove.
  • Serve it warm with a side of that bread! It was delicious!

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Filed under Dinner A la Diethood, Home

Fruit and Nut Bars

While the rest of you are all cookie’d out and working on a healthier menu, I haven’t even started on my sweets binge. I woke up bright and early (6 a.m.) this morning with a massive craving for something sweet. This Fast is really getting to me now (just 3 more days to go!) – I’m dreaming about cookies, steaks, cheese, etc… I bow to you, vegans!

Because I almost always have to satisfy a craving, I flipped through some of my ‘sweets for Fast’ recipes and came across these fruit and nut bars. The original bars are not Fast-compatible, but I used a banana instead of an egg and made them so. However, I did make another batch for the rest of this household by following the original recipe. If you are interested in trying them without the egg, just replace it with one whole mashed banana.

You will need:

  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg OR substitute with 1 (one) mashed banana
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Line an entire 8 x 8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • Stir in the brown sugar, walnuts, and dried fruit. Use your fingers to make sure that all the fruit and nuts have been coated with the flour mixture.

  • In a separate bowl, with a wire whisk beat the egg and vanilla until light colored and thick.
  • Add the egg mixture to the fruit and nut mixture and mix until all the fruit and nut pieces are coated with the batter.
  • If you are using the banana substitute, mash the banana with a fork real well then add in the vanilla extract. Blend it all together and mix it into the fruit and nut mixture.

  • Spread into the prepared pan, pressing to even it out.

  • Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the batter has pulled away from the sides of the pan.
  • Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
  • When cooled, lift the bars from the pan by the edges of the aluminum foil.

  • Makes 16, 2-inch squares.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy!

58 Comments

Filed under Home, Sweets. Now. Please.