Tuesday, July 30, 2013

King Arthur Blueberry Sour Cream Scones

If you read my blog, you know that I do a lot of baking for my coworkers.
Well, one of my coworkers visited the King Arthur Flour Factory and was nice to think of me and bring me a couple of boxes of mixes.
I usually bake most goodies from scratch, but I love the King Arthur brand and my curiosity was piqued. (I just realized that this recipe then can be included in my New Year's resolution: baking things out of my baking comfort zone. Woot!)

The batter was very easy to assemble and the scones were easy to construct. I should have used parchment paper on the cookie trays since the bottoms were burnt. Or maybe I need new cookie trays...

Either way, you would find these scones very, well, sconey! (Not too moist, not too dry, and somewhat crumbly.) The lemon glaze that I made for them was the perfect match with the blueberries.

PS Aren't my new dishes cute? A fellow runner got rid of items due to moving and I was the lucky gal who got these gems!
If you don't have access to the mix, here's a recipe to make from scratch from King Arthur's Website:
Bake well and prosper!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

I love my birthday. (Well, I USUALLY do... my 13th bday wasn't so hot. My "friends" read my diary while I was in another room with some of my real friends. I'm not bitter any more. I promise. I've had many wonderful birthdays since then.) But there are people out there who don't like their birthdays. They don't like the whole pomp and circumstance that comes with turning a year older. Are you one of these people?
My newest coworker is. She's not a big fan of the celebrations involved with her birthday. I told her that we HAD to celebrate because it's an excuse to eat dessert at work. Priorities first, right?
Little did she know that I would be making her a cake from scratch.
I showed her the cake with little ceremony and we promptly enjoyed it. It was a big hit. I even snapped a photo on my iPhone before devouring my slice. 
Did you also know that there are people in this world that don't like dessert? Well, a different coworker isn't a dessert fan and guess what! He tried a piece and *gasp* LIKED it!
Three cheers for this great summer cake! One that isn't too heavy and isn't too light. One that's just right in consistency with the lovely tart/sweetness of blackberries.
Blackberry Buttermilk Cake (adapted from One Perfect Bite)
Ingredients:4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups blackberries, plus more for serving
Directions:1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan or spring form board.
2) In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter with 2/3 cup of sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. At low speed, beat in buttermilk and dry ingredients in 3 alternating batches, ending with dry ingredients. Do not over beat. Gently fold batter just until blended, then scrape into prepared baking pan and smooth the top.
3) Place 1 1/4 cups of blackberries over batter and lightly press them in. Sprinkle remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons of sugar over cake. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
4) Transfer cake to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, then turn cake out of pan. Turn cake right side up and let cool completely. Serve the buttermilk cake with more blackberries and whipped cream if desired.
Bake well and prosper!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Almond Milk Buckwheat Pancakes

I woke up two Saturdays ago and didn't have a race, a rehearsal, a brunch, or a workout to go to. I knew exactly what to do with my rare free time: I was going to make pancakes.

But then I realized that I didn't have any milk in my fridge and only had almond milk. "Hmmm..." thought I. "Let's see what pancakes are like with almond milk."
Well, they were delicious! My almond milk was the sweetened variety and I added powdered sugar, bananas, and blueberries. It was the perfect amount of sweetness. No syrup needed! The pancakes themselves were a little less fluffy than normal ones without being too thin/stiff. They reminded me of a chubby crepe.

I highly recommend trying this recipe if you, too, have some almond milk in your fridge.
Almond Milk Buckwheat Pancakes (my own recipe)
1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C buckwheat flour
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup of almond milk
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten

Add all ingredients together in a large bowl and stir until well mixed. Heat a pan on medium heat and coat with a little bit of butter. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto pan. Once a couple of bubble appear on top of the batter, flip to the other side. Once both sides are browned, remove from heat and enjoy.
Bake well and prosper!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Gluten-free Spicy Chickpea Brownies

Oh yes...you read correctly. Chickpeas. Brownies. Spice!
My friend sent me this recipe and I recently had a chance to make it for her. They were met with rave reviews.
I enjoyed this gluten free alternative brownie. The texture was very fudgy, which makes sense since they are made with liquidy/mushy chickpeas!
I had one friend say that he could tell that the brownies weren't made from normal ingredients but he would never have guessed chickpeas.
That surprise combined with the hint of cayenne pepper make these brownies a keeper for flavor filled gluten-free dessert recipes.
Gluten-free Spicy Chickpea Brownies (adapted from The Hairpin)
2 cups chickpeas
12 ounces of dark/semi sweet organic/fair trade chocolate
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 eggs
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (dark/semi-sweet)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon ginger (ground)
½+ teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9x9 brownie pan with parchment paper and lightly spray the paper with  olive oil.
2. Dry chickpeas on a couple of layers of paper towels.
3. Once excess liquid is gone, puree the chickpeas in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Scrape down the edges and puree until all of it is completely smooth. (Erika's Extras: My puree was still a little chunky and it turned out fine.)
4. In a double boiler, melt chocolate with the olive oil. Add it to the chickpeas and blend until it’s well mixed.
5. Add eggs, vanilla, and sugar and blend. Add the cocoa and spices and blend some more.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan.
8. Bake for about 25 minutes. (Erika's Extras: I baked mine for ~40 minutes. These are hard to overcook.)
Bake well and prosper!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Potpourri: Kale Chips

I just have to share my new favorite easy recipe to make in the oven with you. And since it's not a dessert, it goes under my potpourri label.
Have you had kale? Have you had kale chips?
Some find kale in its birthday suit a little too bitter for their tastes, but most people love when it's mixed in a salad, smoothie, or made into chips.
I used to buy my kale chips and then one day I decided to make my own. I was surprised at how low a cost kale is. So inexpensive for such a super food!
Making kale chips is super easy.
Get some kale.
Wash it and tear the leafy parts into tortilla chip sized pieces. Dry in spinner or pat dry.
Turn on oven to 350 degrees F.
Put individual pieces of kale on a cookie sheet.
Brush on some olive oil on one side of the kale.
Sprinkle some salt over the kale and put in oven for 8-10 minutes. Check the kale often after 6 minutes. It can burn easily and the smaller pieces might be ready to be removed from the oven. Once they are crispy they are ready to eat.
(If you have a square meat frying pan, this works extra well for baking kale since the ridged cooking surface brings the flow of heat under the kale as well.)
 Isn't it so lovely and green? I bet you can't eat just one!
Bake well and prosper!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sugar Cookie Lemon Pies

My coworker made me aware of this recipe since she loves lemons and knows that I'll bake something lemony for her birthday. (See the creations for the last two years below.)
Extra savvy readers will notice that we are still a month+ away from my coworker's bday. Well, I figured a test run wouldn't hurt for the 4th of July where the host of the fireworks watching party I went to is a big lemon fan.
(Don't worry...I was nice and saved some for my coworker and brought them in the next day.)
I must say, these lovely lemon pie filled sugar cookies are really good! It's like a lemon meringue pie but in a sugar cookie crust and without the meringue.
If you love lemony desserts, I highly suggest making this one.
Sugar Cookie Lemon Tart Recipe (from The Lady Behind the Curtain - has great step by step photos)
Ingredients (crust)
1 package of pre made refrigerated Pillsbury cookie dough (Erika's Extras: I used the roll of dough which requires a little more slicing work than a pull apart cookie dough rounds)
Directions (crust)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place each square of dough (Erika's Extras: or cut the roll of dough into 1 inch slices and cut the slice in half) into a mini muffin cup. Bake for 15 minutes.
While the cookies are still hot, dip the end of a wooden spoon into sugar and carefully make a well in the cookie making sure a hole in the bottom of the dough is not created. (Erika's Extras: I found you can be rather tough with the dough at the top of the cup without creating a hole.)
Sprinkle cups with sugar. Put pan back in oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Cool completely in muffin pan.
When cooled pop out of cookie cups. (Erika's Extras: Make the filling while the cookie cups are cooling.)

Ingredients (filling)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (Erika's Extras: my lemon lover friends could tell I squeezed the lemons myself!)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
additional lemon zest (optional)
Directions (filling)
In a medium saucepan stir together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon peel, lemon juice, water and the butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Gradually stir about half of the hot lemon mixture into the egg yolks while whisking. Return egg yolk mixture to the saucepan along with the remaining lemon mixture that was left in the pan. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Cover surface with plastic wrap; chill until needed.  Fills ~18 cups. 
Bake well and prosper!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Grapeseed Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

Astoria does America's Independence Day a little different than the rest of the country. It celebrates with fireworks more than a week before July 4th. Which means more fireworks for me which I'm totally ok with. 
My running group got together in Astoria Park and listened to the Astoria Symphonic Orchestra and then enjoyed the fireworks from the comfort of our picnic blankets. We even had some chocolate chip cookies (provided by me, of course!)
These are a tad healthier than the normal ones I like making. Instead of butter this recipe calls for grapeseed oil. The oil made for some perfect chewy chocolate chip cookies. You can't even tell that there's no butter in them. They were a hit and people have already been requesting them for future summer parties.
Fine by me! :)
Grapeseed Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies (found at cookies & cups)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 Tblsp vanilla (Erika's Extras: I only used 1 Tblsp)
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375°
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In bowl of stand mixer combine both sugars, eggs and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium until light in color.
Turn mixer to low and add in grapeseed oil. Beat until evenly combined.
With mixer on low add in baking soda, salt and flour. Stir until evenly combined.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Drop heaping tablespoon sized portions of dough onto prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart.
Bake 9-11 minutes until edges are golden.
Allow to cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to continue cooling.
Bake well and prosper!