Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sweet Potato~Cranberry Streusel Bread

Benjamin Franklin may have coined the phrase, "waste not, want not," but it was my mother who took it to heart.  Nothing got thrown out; I imagine it was due to her growing up during the Great Depression or having eight children to care for on my Dad's income, but either way, she taught me a wise lesson.

So, after Thanksgiving and the refrigerator is full of leftovers, what to make to repurpose some of them...come up with a recipe that makes the family think they're getting something new!  That's what I did with a container of sweet potatoes and a half of a bag of cranberries (the other half went into a pie).

I actually had enough to create a recipe for two (2) loaves, but if you don't, it's easy to cut this recipe in half and add dried cranberries or nuts if there isn't any fresh ones left.  I also decided to make a quick streusel to add to the center for a little surprise and balance with the tartness of the cranberries.  My hubby, who is not particularly fond of mashed sweet potatoes, although he loves sweet potato fries, raved over the result...I hope you will too.

Sweet Potato~Cranberry Streusel Bread
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie spice
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

1 cup firmly light brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
3 T unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Grease and flour (or spray with a baking spray) two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.  Mix up streusel ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
In a stand mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together until thoroughly combined.  Add the melted butter, oil, and vanilla and mix again.  

Combine the dry ingredients and add to this mixture, just until incorporated--don't over mix!  Stir in the cranberries.

Spoon half of the mixture into each pan, then, divide the streusel mixture between them.  Finish with more batter to cover.
Bake in the preheated oven 55-60 minutes, but test to see if they are done by using a cake tester or wooden skewer.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning the bread out to cool completely.

There's one loaf to slice for now and one to put in the freezer for when the next few weeks become hectic from Christmas shopping.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Toasted Almond Biscotti

Biscotti, meaning "twice-baked" is one of my favorite cookies to make. The elongated treats are made crunchy by first baking in a loaf, then, slicing in 1/2-inch lengths and baked again.  For all you coffee drinkers...this is a good one for dunking!

My mother never made these cookies, but she would have loved them.  Both Mom and Dad were BIG coffee drinkers; I remember him making coffee, every morning, in a 40-cup urn and they would drink it all day long!  I inherited that 40-cup urn for catering when they toned down their habit to a Mr. Coffee in the 80s:-D  You would think I would also be a coffee drinker, but, no--I'm the only one in eight who has never drank coffee, but I still like these cookies.

The recipe comes from American Test Kitchen which I try to watch every Sunday afternoon on our local PBS station.  I had a chance to meet Christopher Kimball when he came to Seattle a few years ago and have always been impressed by their careful testing of every recipe.  I will say, I did change the method to use my Kitchen Aid, rather than a food processor that they called for.  No particular reason except I think it's easier to clean up.

Toasted Almond Biscotti
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/4 cups whole almonds, toasted lightly
1 3/4 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt*

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Place almonds on a baking sheet and toast for approximately 7 minutes.  In a food processor, coarsely chop 1 cup of almonds and set aside.  Place the 1/4 cup of almonds in the processor and grind finely. (I used my small Cuisinart to do this.)
*I also used roasted, lightly salted almonds, so I did not add the 1/2 tsp. salt.  If you use a raw almond, you will want to add the salt.

Next, in the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the two eggs until light in color, about 3 minutes.  While the mixer is running, gradually add the sugar and beat an additional 1-2 minutes after it's been all added.
The trick to good Biscotti, that I learned in pastry school, is not to over mix the flour.  So, I sifted the flour and baking powder (also salt, if your nuts were not salted) together and removed the bowl from  the stand to fold it in.  Add the chopped and ground almonds and stir to combine.

On the bottom side of parchment paper, draw two rectangles 3" x 8" and place it on a baking sheet.
Divide the dough between these rectangles and spray a rubber spatula with a baking spray, lightly, to smooth the dough. Make sure you have about 4-inches between the two rectangles to account for spreading.
Bake in the preheated oven 25 to 30 minutes.  The Biscotti will rise and the tops will "crack" slightly.
Remove from the oven and cool 20 to 30 minutes.  Transfer the cookie "loaf" including the parchment to a large cutting board.  Use a serrated knife to slice--slightly diagonal--1/2" wide.

Place the biscotti back into the oven and bake again for 25 to 30 minutes.  I rotated the two pans after 15 minutes to get an even browning.
These lovely treats are going to my family for Thanksgiving--a time for giving. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Brown Butter Pecan~Poppy Seed Loaves

Thanksgiving looms around the corner--I just put away the Halloween decorations and ate the last of the candy corn.  My mother loved this day and we'd get up very early to start the preparations...from the bird to dessert, we did it all in a kitchen that was no bigger than 8' x 10' to be served in a dining room not much larger!  It was Thanksgiving that I made my first yeast rolls at age 7; a memory that stays with me always.

Thanksgiving became a Federal holiday, proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln, in 1863 during the Civil War.  The first recorded feast was in 1621 after the first harvest by the Colonists and shared by Native Americans as well.  The "sharing" is what I remember from my school days so baking today, I decided to make a recipe with an extra loaf.  I've made lots of pumpkin and cranberry breads to share, but thinking of my mother, I came up with one that she would have loved--butter pecan.

Brown Butter Pecan~Poppy Seed Loaves

12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 T poppy seeds
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray two 9"x4" loaf pans with a baking spray and cut a piece a parchment for the bottom and spray again.

Start by browning the butter.  Place in a sauce pan and on medium heat, melt the butter.  It will take about 7-8 minutes to turn a nutty brown after "foaming."  Add the vegetable oil to the pan and set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together thoroughly.  Add the vanilla extract.
Add the poppy seeds and stir in.  Add the oil/butter mixture and mix together to combine.  Sift the dry ingredients and add to the mixture, alternately with the milk.  Stir in the pecans.
Pour (or scoop) the batter into the prepared pans and place in the preheated oven.  Bake 55-60 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out cleanly after poking it in the center of the bread.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a rack or bread board.  Glaze if desire.

Brown Butter Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 T unsalted butter, melted and browned
1 T light Karo syrup
2-3 T very hot water

Brown the butter in a small sauce pan.
Pour it over the confectioners' sugar and add the Karo syrup and 2 Tablespoons of hot water.  Whisk until smooth, adding more hot water as needed to make a thick glaze.  Spread over the warm bread.
 Once cool, cut into the loaf and wrap up another to give--that's what Thanksgiving means to me. Enjoy!
My new Woodland Leaves dies adorn this card I made to go with the bread that reads, "The measure of a home is the friends who frequent it!"

Do you make Thanksgiving dinner or go to family/friends for the holiday?


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Caramel Apple Corn & November's Give-Away Apron

The last issue of King Arthur Flour Baking Sheet arrived this week and the first thing that caught my eye was this caramel corn with subtle hints of apple.  The author (G.A.) of the recipe says, "while visiting the Tunbridge World's Fair, her snacking options were narrowed down to a caramel apple or an apple crisp."  She chose the crisp, but the craving for the caramel apple stayed with her.

I can certainly relate to this.  I've made caramel corn every holiday over the last 10 years to give as gifts, but this Autumn version may be sent earlier for Thanksgiving to my family:-D

Caramel Apple Corn
15 cups popped corn (1/2 cup kernels unpopped)
1 cup unsalted (or I used lightly salted) peanuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried diced apples (our grocery was out, so I used Apple Chips)

2 T molasses
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup

3 T boiled cider 
1/2 tsp. baking soda

I used my Cuisinart Pop Corn Maker--1/2 cup corn kernels
Place the popped corn in a large bowl and add the peanuts, cranberries, and diced dried apples or apple chips.
Preheat oven to 200F-degrees.  In a large sauce pan, over medium high heat, cook the molasses, brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and it reaches 250F-degrees on a candy thermometer.
Pour the mixture over the popped corn ingredients in the bowl and stir until the corn is well coated.  Spread the hot caramel corn onto a parchment lined baking sheet (18" x 13").
Place caramel corn into the preheated oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and break apart.  I transferred the mixture back to my large bowl to cool, but it's certainly delectable warm from the oven...I know!

These cute little pop corn boxes were a find at The Container Store and with a cellophane bag around it, tied with a beautiful ribbon or sealed with a sticker, will make a hit with my family. Enjoy!

This month's apron was inspired by the last blossoms on my Hydrangea--subtle shades of pinks as the color fades with the passing cool days. 
 If you comment on any of the posts this month, you may be the winner of this apron--absolutely one of my favorites so far! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Gingerbread~Pecan Bars & October's Apron Give-Away Winner

Halloween is barely past and Christmas decorations have popped up in the store...and it's turned chilly with snow falling in some parts of the country, so the smell of gingerbread just seemed like the perfect thing to bake.

Typically, gingerbread is made with honey or molasses and ground ginger (sometimes fresh ginger is added too.) It was introduced to Europe in 992 by an Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis who taught gingerbread baking to French Christians then, crossed over to Germany and Sweden in the 13th century because it was thought to have medicinal properties.  That makes sense, because when we were sick as children, my mother always made sure we had ginger ale around:-D

Gingerbread would evolve over the next several centuries and besides the cake version, cookies are widely baked, especially at the holidays.  I know it's one of my hubby's favorites and that's why I came up with this recipe.

Instead of honey or molasses, I tried a new ingredient--Lyle's Golden Syrup.  I have this on my shelf because we love Anzac Biscuits and this is a key ingredient.
The bars have a chewy consistency because of this ingredient and along with the pecans (which are grown in the South,) these treats will definitely be in my cookie boxes this holiday.

Gingerbread~Pecan Bars
9T (1 stick + 1T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup
1 tsp. ground Ginger
1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie spices
2 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
40 pecan halves

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Line a 10" x 15" baking sheet with parchment, allowing it to lay over the sides of the pan for easy lifting out the bars after baking.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and Golden Syrup thoroughly.  Add the spices and beat once more until fluffy.

Add the dry ingredients and beat on medium, just until the mixture comes together.  Pat dough into the prepared pan.
Use a paring knife to score--in half, then in quarters and longwise, space 5 across to give you a total of 20 bars.
Place 2 pecan halves on each bar and bake in the preheated oven 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
While still warm, cut through the score lines and allow the bars to cool in the pan.  You can lift them out using the extended parchment paper.  Serve with a glass of apple cider...which is how we had ours!  The aroma in the kitchen is wonderful--Enjoy!

Now, this month's apron winner is: Moonstruckcreations.  Please email me your address so I can get this apron out to you to enjoy. Tomorrow, November's apron will be up--I promise.

Today is the anniversary of my mother's passing; 27 years ago at age 67.  Way too young to leave us, but she taught me so much during her short time.  I feel I'm always attached to her apron strings and it's with love I honor her with this blog.  Thank you all for being a part of my memories.

Lastly,  I'm sharing a photo I captured of two of the kittens (Harper and Clara) while they slept.  It reminds me that we should let our family and friends how much they mean to us--you do.