Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cranberry Coffee Cake

Besides turkey and pumpkin, cranberries are what defines Thanksgiving to me; maybe because it's indigenous to North America, but moreover I love those red, tart, bounce berries and can't wait until they appear in the grocery store.  My mother and I would make whole cranberry sauce, which we loved, but she'd also buy a can of the jellied kind for the skeptics who didn't think you should have texture!  This recipe calls for whole-berry and since fresh cranberries have been around for a few weeks, I had some already made up (I love it on grilled cheese sandwiches!)

My mother's kitchen was only 10' x 10', had hardly any counter space and no double ovens--just a stove, so coordinating a huge dinner was a feat that I watched her orchestrate year after year!  We baked cranberry nut bread, along with pumpkin loaves the day before, to have on hand for the feeding the hungry tribe and keep them out of the kitchen while we worked on dinner--which started in the wee hours of the morning.  I thought of those times and long for the camaraderie we shared to make everything just perfect while I made this delicious coffee cake from the King Arthur recipe files.

Cranberry Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray a coffee-cake ring pan or a 9" x 13" baking pan with a baking spray and set aside.

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup + 2T King Arthur all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
5 T unsalted butter
In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients, vanilla extract and cinnamon, then use a pastry cutter to incorporate the butter (I cut the butter into 1/2" pieces).
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup + 2 T firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup yogurt (I used Greek honey-flavored)
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (they also recommend whole wheat or white/wheat flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the sugar and butter together.  Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.  Mix in the vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients and the yogurt and mix on medium speed to combine.  Spoon batter into the prepared pan.  Use a spoon to add dollops of the cranberry sauce around, then use a fork to mix it slightly into the batter.

Add the streusel topping over the batter.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, testing for doneness with a wooden skewer.  

I allowed the cake to cool for 10-15 minutes before turning it out onto a cookie sheet, lined with wax paper.
 Then, place your serving platter over the cake and flip it to the right side (streusel side up).
I decided to add a glaze drizzled over it, but that is optional.
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T light Karo syrup
2-3 T very hot water
1/8 tsp. Cran-Raspberry flavoring

Mix the glaze and drizzle over the top of the cake.
If you bake the cake in the rectangle cake pan, you can serve the squares right from the pan!

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all the wonderful people in our lives and I count all of you in those blessings.  Wishing you a holiday, full of memories; I know I have many. Enjoy!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Blondies

Native Americans grew squash and pumpkins so it's very likely there was a sort of pie at the first Thanksgiving.  However, it wasn't until 1796 that the first pie (as we know it) was created by Amelia Simmons and shared in her book, American Cookery, by an American Orphan.  Her pumpkin "pudding" baked into a crust was the making of a long standing tradition; I know it was always on the dessert table when I was growing up.

Pumpkins, like squash, are native to North America.  It's rich in Beta-Carotene that generates Vitamin A in the body, but I'm pretty sure it was the taste that had everyone in our home asking for it for Thanksgiving.  I've done it completely from scratch, steaming and pureeing Sugar Pumpkins, but with so much to do over the next few weeks for work...this year it will be canned and canned is what I used to create these delectable Blondies!

Pumpkin Pie Blondies
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups toasted pecans, roughly chopped
1 cup Cinnamon Chips
1 cup White Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Butter and line a 12" x 17" baking sheet with parchment.
Toast the pecans in the oven for 7-8 minutes, then, rough chop or as I did, break them with your hands.
 In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, measure the brown sugar and break it up slightly on low speed.  Pour the melted butter over brown sugar and cream on low speed (so the warm butter doesn't splash up), then, increase to medium.  Add the pumpkin and mix again.  Next, add the eggs, one at a time, incorporated completely and scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.

Mix the dry ingredients together and add to the batter with the Cinnamon Chips and about 1/4 of the chopped pecans.  Stir to combine completely.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread to cover.
Sprinkle the top with the remaining pecans and White Chocolate Chips.
Bake for 10 minutes, then, lower the oven temperature to 325F-degrees and continue baking for 20-22 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into squares.
The best thing about blondies...they ship well and that's just what happened to these!
I wrapped each Blondie in wax paper and sealed in a cute Turkey box I found; off they go for special treats to the people I love, but won't get to see for the holiday.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Banana Egg Nog Scones

I swear, one day I'm going to write a cookbook--"A Hundred Ways to Bake with Bananas!" Yes, I had some aged bananas again staring at me in my kitchen this morning, thanks to hubby:-D  Since I am feeling in the holiday spirit; Christmas music playing on the radio, malls decked out, and the advertisements on television have begun, I used some Egg Nog I found in the supermarket to add a twist to these scones.  The weather has turned cool and a warm scone is the perfect breakfast treat.
We're settling in nicely in our surroundings, loving the warmth and friendliness of the people, and paying tribute to my Irish roots with these scones, but adding a new Southern take, makes me happy. I found last year, when I baked Cranberry~Egg Nog Scones, that the cream (rather than half & half) really does give a tender crumb to this biscuit-like treat, so I changed that recipe a bit to incorporate a banana and found a new creation to add to my pile of banana recipes:-D

Banana Egg Nog Scones
4 1/4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/3 + 1 T granulated sugar
2 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, grated
1 large egg~in a 2-cup glass measure, add Egg Nog to give 1 3/4 cups of liquid
1 banana, mashed
(optional~add 1/2 cup dried cranberries or chopped nuts)

Egg Wash:
1 egg
2 T Egg Nog

Sparkling Suga

Egg Nog Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 T Light Karo Syrup
2-3 T Egg Nog

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the first four dry ingredients together.  Add the grated butter and use a pastry cutter to incorporate into the dry ingredients.  

Add the banana and the egg/egg nog mixture and mix just until the dough comes together.  

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead, gently, until smooth.  
Roll dough to a 1-inch thickness and use your favorite cutter, dipped in flour, to cut out scones.  (You can also roll it into a rectangle and cut into squares with a knife.)  Place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
 Mix the egg wash and use a pastry brush to apply to the tops of the scones.  Sprinkle with sparkling sugar, if desired.
Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and firm to touch.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, before spreading on the glaze. I have to tell you a warm scone with butter and jam is the most perfect way to start your day. Enjoy!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Let Us All Remember...


Remembering the men and women who hear the call
to serve this Country one and all;
never allowing our flag to fall.
Sacrificing your lives to preserve our freedom,
and leaving your own loved ones until home you come.

Remembering, not just on this day
but in everything we do and say;
To honor this duty in the most respectful way.
America is so thankful for the time you give
so, in freedom we all shall live.

Today, I remember the service of my Great Grandfather, both of my Grandfather's, Father, Father-in-law, Uncles, Brothers, Brother-in-laws, Nephews and Friends who have unselfishly given their time to protect our freedom.  I also give thanks and honor all those brave men and women I don't know by name~You are all heroes, Thank you.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sticky Bun Coffee Cake

One of the things my daughters and I would get, at the mall while shopping, was a Sticky Bun to share.  These wonderful rolls of cinnamon-yeast dough with a caramel/pecan topping that sticks to your hands and teeth, but oh so good.  I was thinking of those treats when I was at the mall yesterday; Christmas shopping and checking out the new gadgets for holiday baking.  I wandered into Williams-Sonoma and saw an unique baking pan...the Cinnamon Bun Pan.
Even though WS offers a "mix" to make a Cinnamon Roll Cake, I couldn't help but challenge myself to come up with my version--easy enough to entice you too to bake from scratch for your family. (*Note, you don't have to buy the pan; this recipe will work in a 9" Springform pan or for individual buns, a muffin pan.)

The reason I made mine a Sticky Bun Cake (and not just a Cinnamon Roll) was that I came across two local products at our Farmer's Market, pecans and honey, and I love to support these growers/bee keepers.

Pecans are a species of the hickory tree and the name comes from the Algonquin word meaning a nut requiring a stone to crack.  North Carolina isn't as well known for growing pecans as Georgia, Alabama, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, and Louisiana, but these from Turkey, North Carolina sure impressed me with their size and flavor.  We love pecan pie for the holidays and Kelly's favorite recipe was Pecan Tassies that she would bake to give as gifts.  They are an excellent source of Magnesium and a good source of protein and unsaturated fat.

I'll be testing some recipes ideas and thinking how quickly the holidays seem to be coming up.  I hope to share some new and interesting ones from my memories.

Sticky Bun Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray desired baking pan with a Baking Spray and set aside.
Sticky Topping:
1/2 cup honey (you could also use maple syrup or dark Karo syrup)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 T melted butter
1 cup pecans, broken in half or rough chopped

In a small bowl, mix the honey and brown sugar together.  Add the melted butter and stir again.  Finally add the pecans.
I use a cookie scoop to measure out the sticky mixture for the pan.

Cinnamon Swirl:
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 T King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 T melted butter

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
 Coffee Cake batter:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream (don't use Light or Low Fat!)

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, oil and sugar together thoroughly.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  Add the Vanilla extract and mix once more.

Whisk together the dry ingredients and add to the bowl with the sour cream.  Mix on low until all ingredients are combined.

To assemble:
On top of the Sticky Topping, spoon a little more than half of the batter on top.
Next, sprinkle with the Cinnamon Swirl Topping over top of the batter.
Finally, spoon the remaining batter over this layer and smooth to cover.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325F-degrees and continue baking another 12-15 minutes until a wooden skewer in the center of the cake comes out cleanly.
Have your serving plate near by so you can turn the cake onto it.  Allow to be upside-down on the platter for about 7-10 minutes so all the sticky topping releases.
Lift off and allow to cool completely--even though that sticky topping is calling your name, it will burn!
The wonderful cake with a cinnamon swirl and that luscious sticky topping is worth the wait and so easy to make.  Fix a cup of tea and have a piece, then, start that Christmas list you've been putting off. Enjoy!

**Note ~ If you don't eat the entire cake in one sitting (:-D) then, simply put a piece in the microwave and nuke for 20 seconds to warm up the caramel topping.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies & November's Give-Away Apron

Well, I over bought...Halloween candy, of course.  We only had three little Treaters and now I have a BIG bowl of candy on my dining room table staring at me:-(  Time for my brain to think up some recipes to use this up before my hips spread!  I started with the Whoppers--malted milk balls.
Whoppers, by Hershey, are the original malted milk ball and basically have no nutritional value, but nonetheless are still a favorite. Instead of chopping them to put into the cookie, I ground them to a powder to add.

With the amount of packages I had left over, I was able to get 2 cups of malted "powder" by pulsing them in my food processor.  If you have less than that, adjust the flour in the recipe.

It's a beautiful fall day here; temperatures in the 70s and the color of the leaves are peaking (we're somewhat behind our New England friends!)
...so my inspiration for November's apron came from nature.  I love autumn, not only for the colors, but the aromas from the kitchen with the holidays approaching.  Thanksgiving was such a fun time to be in the kitchen with my mother and I can remember the routine as if if were yesterday.
Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 cups Whoppers, ground finely
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (balances the sweetness of the malted balls!)

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars thoroughly.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula.

Add the ground Whoppers and dry ingredients and mix again until combined.  The dough should be firm, but not stiff.  Add the bittersweet chocolate chips and mix once more.

Use a 3T-size scoop to measure the cookies and place on the baking sheet, 2-inches apart--these cookies spread, so give them room.  Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.  Allow to cool on the baking sheet about 7-10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
The recipe makes 24--3-inch cookies that have a "crispness" perfect for dunking in milk, cocoa, tea or coffee (for my Sis who likes her 3:00 p.m. treat!)

By commenting on the posts for this month, you will be entered for the apron.  Memories of fall are some of my best growing up and with my family.  What are some of your memories? Enjoy!  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

October's Give-Away Apron Winner...

I don't want to get behind again...the winner of the October's Apron is Linda Tunnel from http://grandmalindashouse.blogspot.com/.  Congratulations Linda.  Please email me your address so I can get the apron sent to you.

Now, I have sewn November's apron and will have it up tomorrow. Stay tune.