Tag Archives: baking

You don’t have to hug a tree to love granola

31 Mar

I love granola. I mean what’s not to like about sweet crunchy whole grains mixed with fruit and nuts. I make granola a lot at work. I serve it to the kids to mix with yogurt and fruit. It holds up well without going stale and it can be flavored in so many ways. Since today is a very rainy day I figured it was a good day to play with the food in the house.

If your pantry is anything like mine, you have a few items in there that are partially used. I always seem to have a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips or a handful of nuts. I also seem to have an assortment of dried fruits left over from different recipes. Granola is great what to use up all those odds and ends. As with most things, granola is a technique. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can tweak the ingredients to customize your mix.

Here’s the basic formula for granola:

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until the mixture is crumbly and the syrup has been evenly incorporated. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stir the mixture every 5 minutes to prevent burning.

Below is a table of combinations to give you an idea of how you can mix and match flavors to make a personalized granola…

Basic Base Dry Goods Syrup Flavor 2nd Flavor Additives
oats no additional maple cinnamon brown sugar dried fruit
oats wheat germ agave pumpkin

pie spice

vanilla powder pecans
oats coconut honey cinnamon brown sugar dried fruit
oats shredded wheat honey nutmeg clove white chocolate chips
oats puffed rice agave espresso powder vanilla powder chocolate chips

Today I made a tropical granola… here’s the recipe:

2 cups oats
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
3/4 cup shredded coconut

Added after the base was toasted and cooled:
1/2 cup dried mango, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup banana chips
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts

I followed the above technique and viola, a yummy granola! I would also recommend using macadamia nuts instead of the peanuts or omitting the chocolate chips for a slightly healthier granola, but ce la vie… This is what you get what you’re cleaning out the pantry

Always thinking of the next meal


Strawberry and Rhubarb Galette

6 Mar

Nothing says spring to me like strawberries and rhubarb. And, now that I’m living in Florida, I have the pleasure of getting local strawberries. I’m sure I’ve bored you all before with my rants on fresh local ingredients, but the simple truth is… the shorter the distance between you and your food, the better.

I was in the grocery store this afternoon and the sale was 3 pounds of local strawberries for $5. I wasn’t really shopping for fruit. In fact, I was there getting a toothbrush, but I couldn’t resist this deal. The rhubarb was cleaned and broken down and conveniently merchandised right next to the strawberries. It was kismet. Dessert was a must for tonight.

I love making galettes. They are rustic free form pies that are less stuffy and finicky than traditional pies. The technique is simple enough. Just make a simple pie dough and roll it out on a cookie sheet. Place your fruit in the center of the rolled out dough and then fold the edges in toward the center. Brush the outside with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. In this case I used pearl sugar. (The pearl sugar doesn’t melt so it gives the effect of salt on a soft pretzel.)

Here’s the full recipe. Make this soon, as rhubarb season is short and the frozen stuff just isn’t the same.

Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

For filling:1 pound strawberries, hulled
1/2 pound rhubard, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar

For crust:
1 1/2 cup AP flour
6 T butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t vanilla
1 egg
2 T water

Start by making the crust. Combine the dry ingredients together and then cut the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles cornmeal. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients. Add the the wet to the dry and kneed to combine. Once everything is incorporated, chill the dough for approx. 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Combine the fruit with the sugar and allow to macerate.

Preheat the oven to 375 degree. When the dough is chilled, roll it out into a 14-16 inch circle. place all of the filling in the center of the dough leaving a 3 inch border around the sides. Then fold the edges in toward the center leaving a 2 inch hole. Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the dough is GBD (golden brown and delicious.) Serve at room temp with either vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Always thinking of the next meal


Some traditions should never change

3 Mar

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching. For one day the whole country will pretend they are Irish and drink Irish beer and eat Irish food. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but green beer is not Irish and just because the menu says it’s made with Guinness doesn’t mean it’s traditional.

In our house growing up there was always one constant on St. Patrick’s Day, Irish Soda Bread. I’ve come to learn that in general soda bread is a quick bread. The recipe that has been based down to us is more of a giant scone, cést la vie.

Anyway, this recipe is my Great Aunt Millie’s recipe. She brought it over with her from the Emerald Isle and it still works today. However, I have found that by making 1/2 the recipe at a time the consistency of the dough is better and more workable. Here’s 1/2 the original recipe:

Aunt Millie’s Irish Soda Bread

3 cups AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups raisins

mix all the ingredients together and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes until the center has set and the edges are golden brown.

The bread is a great side for traditional Irish dinners like corned beef and cabbage, but makes an equally great breakfast. I make it year round and have found that it’s a great addition to tea parties, tailgates and brunches. It’s slightly sweet from the raisins and has a very pleasant texture. This recipe also has a nice amount of baking soda. I’ve had soda breads in the past that have too much baking soda or baking powder. How can you tell? Well, if a baked good has too much baking soda, it can taste like a chemical saltiness. If there is too much baking powder, you will be left with a strange fizzled filling on your tongue. Almost like carbonation.

Give this recipe a try. It’s old but the best recipes stand up to the test of time

Always thinking of the next meal


Homemade croissant dough

15 Feb

I love croissants. I mean what’s not to like about buttery, flakey, warm pasteries? Nothing. That’s the answer. Nothing. The only thing that I don’t like is the price. Croissants are typically very pricey. If you want the best, and life is too short not too, you’ll order them via Williams-Sonoma. You’ll pay a pretty penny for them too. I say why go through the cost when you can make them at home for less than 2 will cost you at the bakery.
Croissant dough is actually very easy to make, it just takes patience. While the steps are simple, there is a lot of down time while you wait for rising and chilling and baking.
Here’s the recipe:
14oz AP flour
.5oz sugar
8oz milk
.5oz yeast (approx. 1 packet)
.25oz salt
1.5oz butter + 8oz for later
heat the milk and add in the sugar and yeast. let the yeast dissolve and then add it to the other ingredients. let the dough rise for 1 hour and punch down.

Spread the dough out on a flat sheet and chill for 30 minutes. Then take the remaining butter and spead it on 2/3 of the dough. fold the unbuttered side 1/2 way into the buttered area. Fold the remaining dough over the top. roll to about 1/4 inch thick and repeat the process. Chill for 30 minutes and repeat the process. Do this 3 times total chilling for 30 minutes in between each fold. Chill over night.

The next day, roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick after letting it come to room temperature. cut into trianges and roll into cresent shape. brush with egg wash and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

For the chocolate croissants just add approximately 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips in the middle of the dough before baking. For the danish, cut the dough into strips and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Twist the the strips into spirals and then form them into a circle. Press the middle down and fill with preserves or jam. Finish with a drizzle of light glaze.

This recipe is worth the effort. The pastry comes out irrisitably flaky and golden. Try not to eat them all at one sitting.
always thinking of the next meal

My name is Katie and I’m a choco-holic

1 Feb

Seriously, I love chocolate. Recently I’ve been eating a lot of dark chocolate (60% or higher). I read recently that dark chocolate is good for you. Honestly I don’t really care, I just love it! Chocolate is one of those things that when you want it, it doesn’t really matter how you get it. For me, my favorite way to get it in in brownies. I’m sure that I’ve written previously about how brownies are the ultimate in comfort food. It’s true for me. I can remember when I was growing up that my mom always had a box of brownies stashed somewhere in the pantry, just in case the chocolate craving hit. Before I went to school, I did the same. You can whip those babies up in about 45 minutes and have your craving satisfied.

Unfortunately, I’ve developed a craving for not only eating rich decadent brownies, but I love making them from scratch. I’ve found a few recipes that work great and few, well, not so much. Here are the two that I’ve been making:

Ina’s Brownies


Both are great, although the first recipe does make a lot more than the second. In my mind that’s not really a bad thing. Give them both a try and let me know what you think.

Always thinking of the next meal


Holiday Cookies

14 Dec

So here’s the update to my earlier cookie dilemma. I feel like I’ve been baking around the clock for the past week. Between cookie tray orders and prepping for the impending holiday rush, I literally feel like I’m living in a bakery. So what types of cookies made it to my list? Well here’s the list of what I’ve made so far…

Peppermint bark: first batch turned out just ok, but the second batch is great (mostly due to the fact that I used the correct chocolate the second time around)

Iced Sugar Cookies: Snowflake shaped of course

Gingerbread: not happy with the way these turned out at all, they will not be made again

Peppermint marshmallows: delicious, although next time I’ll cut them smaller

Lemon Raspberry thumbprints: very cute and tasty, although small and not very dramatic on the tray

Peppermint Brownies: yes, I cheated and used a box mix, but hey I had a hole on the tray and I needed to fill it

Chocolate Chip: my signiture, turned out great

Checkerboard Icebox cookies: a lot more involved than anticipated, but they look great

Chocolate Shortbread with green chili sugar: very interesting, I called them naughty and nice cookies

Still to come… maybe

Palmiers: one of my favorites

Pressed butter cookies: Every year I make these and every year I break my cookie press… I’m debating if I want to sacrifice my sanity, but I guess it is tradition

Rum Balls: I saw these on TV and they look really delightful, however, not one for the kiddies

Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies: Since the gingerbreads were such a colossus failure I’d love to have spicy winner

So the cookie adventure continues. I’m debating cooking more tonight, although I’ve been at it all day. It might be a good night to relax and make some decisions

Always thinking of the next meal