Pin it, do it challenge update

I never did get around to checking in when I made the leaf silhouette, so here are the results from the first pin it challenge.

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I bought two shades of blue green for the first layer of paint and a spray paint called “Sweet Cream” to offset the silhouettes. Then I raided the boy’s neighborhood for some large leaves. The result looks a bit like giant raindrops, which wasn’t quite what I was going for, but was nice for a first try. Next time, I’ll search for non-tropical plants.

For today’s challenge, I decided to make the Healthy Pumpkin Muffins from No Sugar Sweet Life. It’s a low fat, low sugar recipe that involves lots of whole ingredients. It was very easy to prepare the mix, almost like a banana bread. I did, however, have to go a ways away to find some of the ingredients that are not readily available at my local grocery store, but I always do enjoy a trip to Whole Foods :).

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Go here for my original pin it, do it challenge post. Or go here to learn more about the Pinterest Challenge.

Recipe: Garlic Parmesan Croutons

My mom was about to throw away nearly an entire loaf of Italian bread, which I thought was quite a shame… so I decided to make a batch of croutons instead :). I looked up a basic how-to and added some of my favorite flavors to the mix. They turned out great! And made the house smell deliciously of pizza when they were in the oven.

Gricel’s Garlic Parmesan Croutons

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Ingredients

  • 4 slices stale, Italian style bread
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • 1-2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or any other light oil)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325°F.

  1. Slice the bread into even-sized cubes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oil, spices, and parmesan cheese.
  3. Toss the bread to coat with the oil mixture. Try to coat all the pieces.
  4. On an ungreased baking pan or sheet, spread the bread pieces in a single layer (don’t crowd the pieces).
  5. Bake at 325°F for 10-15 minutes (depending on how toasty you like your croutons), turning the pieces about halfway through the baking time.

I also made more Dulce de Coco because it was such a hit with the family :).

Recipes: Apple Cinnamon Banana Bread

I had a pair of over ripe bananas and decided to make some banana bread so I wouldn’t have to toss them. I used my go-to banana bread recipe, the one I have modified over time, and I added some cinnamon and apple chunks for variety. I realized that though I’ve blogged about this bread before, I’ve never actually posted the recipe… shame on me. So here it is in a handy, printable PDF with all my modifications and additions: Gricel’s go-to banana bread recipe

It’s been a hit every time I’ve made it, but I really think the apples and cinnamon made it extra special this time around. Plus, I finally got to try the mini-loaf pan my mom got me a few months ago 🙂

Apple Cinnamon Banana Bread

Recipes: Orange Brunch Muffins

My mom and grandma love orange-flavored baked goods, so I wanted to make something orangey for Mother’s Day breakfast 🙂 . I found several interesting recipes, but finally chose this one: Orange Brunch Muffins from the Very Best Baking site. This is a Nestle recipe that calls for white morsels, but my mom absolutely hates white chocolate, so I replaced them with dried cranberries to add some tartness to the mix. It also calls for baking mix as part of the dough… I’ve never used baking mix in a recipe before, so I was a bit ambivalent, but I didn’t want to try any complicated replacements. I just went with the rest of the recipe as is.

I burned my hand with some hot soup last night, so mixing was a bit of a problem and I just hoped that I wasn’t under-mixing, but despite a rough start, the muffins turned out very well. When I took them out of the oven, they looked a bit like biscuits, which I assumed was the result of using baking mix in the recipe (since biscuits are generally made with this mix). The texture is similar to that of a biscuit, slightly crusty outer layer and very soft doughy middle. The taste nice and orangey, and the cranberries and macadamias provided a nice balance of tart and crunchy. They are not overly sweet, but just right for a breakfast muffin.

muffins

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Recipe: Fresh Coconut Macaroons

Due to an abundance of fresh coconut in our house, I have been looking up recipes that call for fresh coconut in order to use up some of this wonderful bounty. My grandma makes a sweet, sticky coconut in syrup, but I wanted to try something different. I found a few recipes, but settled on macaroons for my first try at baking with fresh coconut meat. The result was a delicious, moist batch of macaroons with a very delicate flavor and texture.

I made a few modifications to the recipe to suit my taste, so here is my version.

[Gricel’s] Coconut Macaroons

Made on February 3, 2010

Based on the recipe by: Penny Ann Habeck on allrecipes.com
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 30 Minutes
Servings: 9/10

INGREDIENTS:

(my modifications in red)

  • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut (I used freshly grated coconut, made for a very moist, delicate cookie)
  • 1/3 cup turbinado raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the coconut, sugar, flour and salt. Stir in egg whites and vanilla; mix well.
  2. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets.
  3. Bake at 325 degrees F for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Cool on a wire rack.

This is what the process looked like. Overall, the easiest batch of cookies I have ever made.

Happy Christmas!

I woke up before dawn, like a proper baker, with a sudden yearning to make a surprise banana bread for my mom’s Christmas morning breakfast. Luckily, I had all the ingredients on hand (it’s wonderful when recipes are so uncomplicated), even the ripe bananas. It’s in the oven at the moment, we’ll see how this impromptu experiment turns out.

and…

Banana Bread success! My mom was so surprised to wake up and find fresh banana bread coming out of the oven 😀

Banana Bread Yummies

Christmas Cookies

I was forced to keep the baking light this Christmas. My mom’s Christmas Eve roast feast is going to take a good long time to make, so I was ordered out of the kitchen this morning. Luckily, I’ve had this batch of cookie dough waiting in the freezer since I made the mix in November, so it was only a matter of slicing, rolling, and sprinkling.

I think the time spent in the freezer actually improved the flavor of the dough, these almost taste like Royal Dansk cookies 🙂

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pumpkin bread to start the celebration

I decided that baking in batches is the way to go, so I made pumpkin bread today, will make pumpkin pie tomorrow, and the actual feast (Cornish hens, not turkey) on Thanksgiving Day. This will save a lot of time scrambling in the kitchen and will keep the house from spontaneously combusting as the heat from the oven becomes unbearable. All in all, a good plan 🙂

This is my first time making pumpkin bread and I wanted a recipe that featured oats, so I was more than pleased when I found this one on MyRecipes: Kim’s Best Pumpkin Bread Recipe (from Cooking Light).

I made a few adjustments to the original, so this is my version of the recipe:

Yield: 2 loaves, 12 servings per loaf (serving size: 1 slice)

Ingredients

  • 1/3  cup  fat-free milk
  • 2   tablespoons  vegetable oil *reduced the oil (next time I’ll try apple sauce, but I was all out)
  • 2  large eggs
  • 2  large egg whites
  • 1  (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1  cup  quick-cooking oats
  • 1  cup  brown sugar * replaced white with brown sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  baking powder
  • 2  teaspoons  ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg * the original didn’t call for it, but I like the extra spice
  • 1/2  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  cup  raisins
  • 1/4  cup  chopped pecans * no pecans, my gran can’t eat nuts
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in raisins and pecans.

Spoon batter into 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on rack.

I haven’t had a slice yet–I’m waiting for breakfast–but it was wonderfully fragrant 🙂

This is what it looks like…

On a completely unrelated note, I bought a lovely spray of roses to dress up the table (and my room) on Thanksgiving.

pretty tea roses

sugary sweet

Yesterday was my b-chan’s birthday so I made him a batch of fresh-baked lemon sugar cookies as a sweet birthday treat 🙂 . It’s been a while since I’ve baked cookies and I wanted to try something different, so I look for a recipe with a lemon twist and found this one on myrecipes.com, lemon sugar cookies from Sunset magazine.

sugarcookies

I decided to make the dough a day in advance, so that I would have plenty of time to shape, bake, and ice the cookies before having to pack them up. At first, the recipe seemed simple enough… sugar, check, butter, check, eggs, check… until I got to the part where I had to mix the dry ingredients. This recipe calls for two cups of sugar (I used turbinado instead of refined), so I assumed there would need to be a lot of butter and flour to bring it all together. What I did not anticipate was the reality of 5 cups of flour. Have you seen what five cups of flour looks like? Apparently, I had not or I would not have had a mild panic attack wherein I jumped to the conclusion that I must have printed a faulty copy. Surely, the recipe could not call for 5 cups of flour? But it did. I double checked and forged ahead, hoping that I wouldn’t have to scrap the whole thing and buy a box of sugar cookie mix (for shame, think of all that wasted butter, sugar, and flour).

Mixing all that stuff proved to be harder than I thought it would be. I’m a poor baker, no fancy kitchenaid mixer here. I have to rely on my handheld and pray that the baking fairies are on my side (and that I won’t burn out the motor again, had that happen once). Well, my mixer couldn’t take it, this required physical labor to mix. I had to press my mom into mixing service, but between the two of us we managed to get something that resembled semi-solid concrete.

Wrapping it up, I waited til the next day.

This dough is dense. It’s hard and solid when chilled. Let’s not get into how hard it was to roll out.

Suffice it to say, the cookies were more work than a cake would have been.

Regardless, they taste great, though not as lemony as I would have liked. No matter, half the dough was enough to make 18 shaped cookies and 5 sample drop cookies for taste testing. I’ve frozen the rest of the dough for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This recipe can certainly go a long way.

Next time, I’ll add more lemon… and take over auntie Em’s mixer.

a sweet ending

The b-chan’s mom is returning home from her stay in the motherland… no, not Mother England. Colombia. Anywho, he bought a box of cake mix to bake a “welcome back” cake, and I offered to help him bake it after I got home from work. After all, I might as well share the sugar.

bchan_cakesHe was very pleased with himself for having bought a box of organic cake mix: Dr. Oetker’s Organic Vanilla Cake Mix. And, as I had some apple sauce from my mom’s recent bundt cake experiment, I was able to awe him with my oil-substitution know-how.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the cakes. The flavor is light and not over sweet, which is a nice change from the usual box mix. We used half the batter to make little heart-shaped cakes (courtesy of the handy heart-shaped cupcake pan that I bought for my Valentine’s Day gift baking) and poured the rest into a round pan for a medium-sized sheet cake. Then we covered them with vanilla frosting and used decorating gel and red sugar to tart them up (yes, another Valentine leftover, but red is such a seasonal color! It works for so many occasions).

Yes, that is a cat drawn on the heart to the left. It’s my b-chan’s attempt to sweeten up his mom; we don’t know how she’ll react to Lucky Cat’s bouncy presence in her home.