Saturday, May 31, 2014

Quick Quiche!

I think of myself as fearless in the kitchen, thanks to my mother, and knowing the science of baking, thanks to the CIA!  This morning I decided to change up the ordinary scramble eggs and make a quick quiche that would be more interesting to the palette.  These individual casserole/quiche will surely please your family and you don't have to wait for the weekend to make a beautiful presentation for breakfast.

Quiche is definitely French cuisine, but has become just as popular in many countries, including the United States.  It's a savory dish with eggs and cheese, but you don't have to stop there; adding veggies, seafood, or even meat makes this a complete meal.  Typically a crust consists of a pie dough rolled out and the "custard" pour over.  I didn't have time to make up pie dough this morning, so I turned to bread, which not only made for a lovely crust, but the "crusts" of the bread was turned into croutons to top this dish.  This morning, I kept it pretty simple at my first try, but next time, I will add some sauteed mushrooms, maybe spinach, and substitute Gruyere cheese for the sharp cheddar!

Quick Quiche!
(Recipe makes 2 individual quiches)
4 large eggs
3 slices of multi-grain bread
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 T Half-&-Half cream
salt & pepper to taste
8-ounce Ramekins 


Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Remove the crusts from all four sides of the bread.  Cut into small pieces and place in a skillet with 2T butter, 1T olive olive and 1/8tsp. Garlic Powder.  Toss the bread cubes and coat thoroughly.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring until toasted.  Set aside.

Use a rolling pin to flatten the bread.
Butter the bread and then, turn it butter-side-down in the ramekin.

Repeat with another slice of bread in the second ramekin.  For the third slice of bread, roll out, spread with butter, then, divide into quarters.
Use two per ramekin to place on the "lower" sides of the bread base to create an even crust bottom.
Sprinkle half of the cheese on the bottom.
In a glass measure, whisk 2 large egg with 1 T half-&-half, salt and pepper to taste, and pour over the cheese.  Top with half of the croutons.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the center is set and the crust is golden brown.  I simply added some veggie bacon and sliced oranges to complete the meal.  Quick and Easy...Enjoy!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

White Chocolate~Macadamia Blondies

May marks the month that our oldest daughter was married in Maui and this year, she celebrated 12 years on the 18th.  However, Hawaii was also a big part of my mother's life when her father was stationed at Pearl Harbor in 1927 and she often shared stories of her time there.  Our daughter, Erin reminds me a lot of my mother...not just in looks, but in her strong commitment to family. 
Erin with Kelly's son, Ari in Hilton Head last week!
Macadamia nuts are like the "Cadillac" of nuts and their expense is well worth it.  It's primarily due to the harvesting and how hard the covering is to get to meat.  In addition, white chocolate just seems the natural accompaniment with macadamia and led me to creating this Blondie that would become a special treat for the workers adding the finishing touches to our home in 90-degree weather:-)

White Chocolate~Macadamia Blondies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. instant Espresso powder
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped macadamia nuts (I cut them in quarters!)
8 oz. white chocolate, cut into chunks or a 12 oz. bag of white chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Butter a 9" x 12" baking pan.


In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar together.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the espresso powder and vanilla and mix well.

Stir in the flour, nuts and chocolate.  Spread mixture into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes (until a tester comes out cleanly from the center).  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  

I loosen the edges with a straight spatula and then, removed the sides of the pan; if you're using a regular 9" x 13" pan, you will cut the blondies in the pan.
Cut into 24 squares.

The Blondies were moist and just the perfect treat to bring back some wonderful memories. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Oatmeal Muffins

When you think it's too hot for oatmeal (it's been in the upper 80s and low 90s here)...bake Oatmeal Muffins.  And, that's just what I did today after watching an episode this weekend of America's Test Kitchen on PBS.  Great hints for making sure you have that oatsy taste without making a dry muffin is what caught my attention. 

Muffins, like scones, are one of my favorite breakfast foods to bake; not to sweet, but oh so yummy and comforting way to start the day.  They are typically a "quick bread" product, sweet or savory, and here in America, similar to a cupcake shape.  I love that they bake up quicker than a bread and just the right bite to satisfy.  I definitely didn't want the oven on for over an hour while I'm trying to keep the house cool!

Oatmeal Muffins
2 cups Old-fashioned rolled Oatmeal
2 T unsalted butter
In a sauce pan or frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the oatmeal.  Toasting the oatmeal brings out the flavor!  Cook and stir occasionally for 6 to 8 minutes.  Remove from the stove and put mixture in a food processor.  Pulse several times to get a fine "oat flour."
Add to the bowl:
1 3/4 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
and pulse once more to combine.

In a mixing bowl:
1 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 3/4 cups milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6T unsalted butter, melted
Whisk the sugar and milk together, then add the lightly beaten eggs and whisk once more to combine.  Add the unsalted butter and whisk again.

Add the half of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and use a whisk to stir lightly, then tap the whisk on the side of the bowl to release the mixture.  Don't over mix!  Repeat with the rest of the dry ingredients use the whisk to stir and tap on the side of the bowl.

The mixture will be runny, but not to worry--you need to set aside the batter for 20 minutes to thicken!
Make the "apple crisp inspired"topping while the batter is resting.

Topping:
1/2 cup Old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Pecans, finely chopped
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
4 T unsalted butter, melted

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients and toss together.
Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with a non-stick baking spray.

Using a large cookie scoop, fill the muffin wells to the top with the batter.

Sprinkle about 2-3 T of streusel mixture over the batter.
Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 25 minutes (mine took 23 minutes!)
 The kitchen smelled heavenly and I couldn't wait to bite into these moist, warm from the oven, muffins.
You get a definitely flavor of the toasted oat flour and they are far from dry.  Just what I needed this morning:-D

Tomorrow, marks the 4th Anniversary of our daughter Kelly's passing.  It doesn't seem like it's been that long since every day, my heart feels the aching of her loss.  This morning, a dear friend sent flowers and in her words, "There are lives that must be remembered and cherished."
Orange was Kelly's favorite color and these roses are just amazing.  I hear her words, "I'm Happy," and amongst the tears I can smile, knowing I have friends to lean on.  Enjoy each day to the fullest--that's definitely what Kelly did.
 
 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Celebration Cake & May's Apron Give-Away


My Mother Kept a Garden
My Mother kept a garden,
a garden of the heart,
She planted all the good things
that gave my life it's start.
She turned me to the sunshine
and encouraged me to dream,
Fostering and nuturing
the seeds of self-esteem...
And when the winds and rain came,
she protected me enough-
But not too much because she knew
I'd need to stand up strong and tough.
Her constant good example
always taught me right from wrong-
Markers for my pathway
that will last a lifetime long.
I am my Mother's garden.
I am her legacy-
And hope today she feels the love
reflected back from me.
                                                                                                    ~Author unknown
I made a quick cake today; tomorrow, I probably won't bake since I plan to go paint our new dining room!  

I'm really hooked on "Birthday Cake" flavor, especially the truffles at Godiva Chocolates.
I discovered I could actually buy the flavor that I crave...
and an idea for this Celebration Cake was created.  My mother always gave me inspiration to try anything without the fear of failing and I will always be grateful for that.  This poem reflects our relationship so beautifully and I hopefully passed that same inspiration on to my daughters.
Celebration Cake
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
8 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract
1 T Birthday Cake flavoring
2 T heavy cream
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (or your favorite combination)
3 cups Queen Guinevere Cake Flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray your favorite 12-cup Bundt or 10-cup + Mini Bundt pans with a baking spray.
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter.  Add the sugar and continue creaming until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, as needed.
Add the flavorings, sprinkles and heavy cream and mix on medium speed. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low just to combine.
Spoon the cake batter into the Bundt pan (if using the 10-cup, you will need to measure half-way up the pan and place the remaining batter into mini Bundt pans)

 I baked the minis for 23-25 minutes, then lowered the oven to 325F-degrees and baked the 10-cup Bundt for 45 minutes.
I decided to add a Fondant glaze over the cakes.
And, what's a Mother's Day cake without "pearls!"  Enjoy!

Now, it's time for May's Apron...just comment on any of the posts this month and this beautiful apron could be yours.
Seems like "pink" is this month's color:-D  Actually, it was one of my mother's favorite colors and I can remember painting her bedroom pink for her--which by the way, my Dad didn't mind since he was head-over-heels in love with her!

How do you spend Mother's Day?
   
 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Brookies

The term "Brookie" isn't found in the dictionary, but it should be.  This incredible combination of chocolate chip cookies and brownies is something that should be recognized. Pulling together eggs, cocoa, bittersweet chocolate chips and butter is a recipe for a sure success and it was what I decided to bake this weekend.
I grew up on lots of chocolate chip cookies and delicious brownies that my mother baked for us and in a way this honors her never ending love for giving us homemade goodies.  The chocolate chip dough is studded with bittersweet bits and an addition of mini peanut butter cups that I found at King Arthur Flour.
However, it's the brownie center, that is a melt-in-your-mouth surprise and makes this a very special dessert--it's one that I had to share with my egg benefactors!  Having fresh eggs has certainly elevated my baking, as well as our breakfast and dinner experiences:-D

Brookies
Chocolate Chip Dough:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup Bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup Mini Peanut Butter cups (or chop up regular cups to equal one cup)

Brownie:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with baking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, start the chocolate chip cookie dough by creaming the butter and sugars together thoroughly.  Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides as needed.  Add the eggs, one at a time and mix together.  Add the vanilla.

Whisk the dry ingredients together and add them to the batter.  Mix on low speed just to combine.  Add the chips and peanut butter bits, if using.  Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter on low heat.  Remove from the heat and add the sugar and vanilla extract and stir to combine.  Add the eggs, one at a time and whisk in to combine.  Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine thoroughly.


Use a 1/4 cup cookie scoop to measure the chocolate chip cookie dough into the muffin cup wells.  I used a small piece of plastic wrap (I didn't want to add anymore flour) and a tamper to form the dough in the wells.

**This recipe will make 24 Brookies, so if you don't have two muffin pans, you'll have to repeat this process at the first ones bake.
Now, add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of brownie batter to the center of the chocolate chip cookie cups.

Bake in preheated oven 28-30 minutes.  The brownie center will "puff" up, look shiny, and even have cracks in it.  You can test with a toothpick to check if the brownie is done.
Allow to cool 5-7 minutes before transferring the Brookies to a rack to cool completely.
To package I placed the Brookie in a cupcake paper and then into a gift bag, but honestly, these are so good it's hard to give them away!  You could also make small Brookies, in a mini muffin pan, but decrease the time for baking (you'll have to watch for the signs listed above and test them). Enjoy! 

Our home is coming along beautifully; this week the painters are tackling the interior trims, built-ins and walls.  Looks like July will be our move-in-date!
I can just imagine the beautiful gardens that will welcome our guests when approaching the front porch!
  
 

Spring Break

We are lucky enough to have our grands visiting this week; our grandson's Spring break and the granddaughters flew down to see ...