Saturday, December 20, 2014

Salted Mixed Nut Brittle

Best Salted Mixed Nut Brittle

I’m here!  I know I haven’t been blogging as much and it makes me sad, but one can only do what they can do, right?  Before Christmas is here (it’s almost here!), I wanted to share this perfectly crispy, but not tooth-breaking-hard mixed nut brittle.  That’s right—mixed nuts.  Why not use other nuts and not just peanuts in a brittle?  I’ll never go back to just peanuts again.  In fact, this brittle doesn’t even have peanuts.  I used a mix that is peanut-free. 

My friend, Paige (chef extraordinaire), who blogs at For Love of the Table first introduced me to this brittle (the link to her blog is the recipe!) and I’ve made it numerous times since.  I used some Planters mixed nuts that have lots of pistachios as well as the usual cashews, almonds, pecans and some Brazil nuts.  Hazelnuts would be so good, too!

This brittle is easy (the stove does all the work).  Some sugar and water, a little corn syrup and butter are dissolved, then brought to a medium boil.  The only difference for me compared to Paige’s instructions is that she says it should take about 10 minutes to come to hard crack temperature and mine took almost 20 minutes.  Just make this when you have some time to hang around the kitchen and babysit it a bit, but you can plan to easily get a few other things done while it’s cooking away.  Check out Paige’s blog post for not only the recipe, but I love that her posts are always so full of the best instructions.  I have never had a “recipe fail” when I follow the directions in her recipes. 

Best Salted Mixed Nut Brittle I love Paige’s tip to have the nuts on a baking sheet in a low temperature oven to warm them while the brittle is cooking.  Once the mixture is at the right temperature, you need to quickly add the nuts, stir and spread it on a buttered sheet.  It begins hardening quickly, so to have the nuts warm, it helps the process, rather than if you add colds/room temperature nuts, it brings the brittle to a cooler temperature faster and makes it start hardening before you can even spread it on the baking sheet!  Here’s where I forgot (waaaahhh!) to salt the brittle while it was still soft enough to keep the salt on top, but definitely add it as soon as you spread it because the salt is a great addition, even if you’re already using roasted, salted nuts.  And it looks great with those little white specks on top.  Even though mine was a bit hardened when I remembered, there is still a little finer salt on the top.  I hurried and ground my pink Himalayan sea salt over it, so it wasn’t as course as it should be.  But this brittle sure tastes great!

You know how when you break it in to pieces and smaller bits and chunks break off?  I might have tasted a few of those, but only if there was a healthy nut in them.  ;  )

Here’s the link to the recipe again on Paige’s blog.  If you like or love brittle—make this!  It’s fun and perfect to give as gifts, too.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Apple Pie with Lucky Leaf Pie Filling and Pampered Chef Pie Plate (Giveaway)


Apple Pie with Lucky Leaf

Who would like a slice of Apple Pie?  ME!  I think apple pie is my favorite kind of pie.  Too bad I didn’t make this one gluten free.  I will admit to having snitched a bite.  (Living on the edge.)  My favorite pie filling folks at Lucky Leaf sent me a fun package with some pie filling and this awesome Pampered Chef pie plate.  My family convinced me to make a cheesecake for Thanksgiving.  They love nothing more than opening cans of pie filling, especially cherry and blueberry (which Lucky Leaf also sent me) and having it with cheesecake.  But even though I can’t and didn’t eat the pie, I had to make apple pie with the apple filling. 

Lucky Leaf’s canned pie filling is full to the top with apples. 


I love that and wish I’d had two cans of it for the pie, but since I didn’t, I cooked some apples and added it to the filling to make a fuller pie.  Another thing I love about Lucky Leaf premium pie fillings—no high fructose corn syrup.  Not only that, but there are just minimal ingredients, basically the same as you’d make at home—fruit, sugar, cornstarch, and spices.  Sure comes in handy in a pinch.

I chopped up 4 apples, added a little sugar, a touch of lemon and some cinnamon and cooked them in a pot for about 10 minutes.   Then I folded the Lucky Leaf filling in with the cooked apples.  I put that in my prepared pie crust in the awesome Pampered Chef pie plate, added a crust top and baked it for 35 minutes.

Apple Pie ready for top crust

I think the pie turned out great!  I really like the already fluted edge of the pie plate. 

Apple Pie ready to bake

I have always had a hard time fluting the edge of pie and this really did make it easier for me.  And it’s a pretty plate!

Apple Pie with Lucky Leaf Premium Pie Filling, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 can Lucky Leaf Premium Apple Pie Filling

4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (use your favorite apple)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Homemade pie crust, ready for top and bottom of pie (I used Dorie Greenspan's Galette Dough recipe), chilled for at least 30 minutes

2 tablespoons cream, for brushing on the crust

Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling over the pie

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

Put the prepared apples in a saucepan, along with the lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar.  Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

While the apples are cooking, roll out the bottom crust and put it in the pie plate.  Fold the pie filling into the cooked apples and put them in the prepared pie plate.  Roll out the top crust and cover the apples with it.  Tuck the top crust around  the edges slightly over the bottom crust and flute the edges.  Vent the top of the pie making slits with a knife.  (I always make a little pie crust cutout of whatever kind of pie I’m making to put in the center of the crust.) Bake for 35-40 minutes, if the crust is browning too much during baking, cover lightly with foil.  Let cool on a wire rack.

Apple Pie (I didn’t check the browning of my crust in time and would have covered it with foil a little sooner, it was almost done when I looked.  It was still definitely not too dark though.  It sliced nicely, too.

Apple Pie slice

A couple of the boys had a slice of the pie, but Kevin wouldn’t want me to tell you he has eaten about 3/4 of it over a couple of days.  Every time he’s in the kitchen and wonders what he can eat, I keep telling him to eat the pie.  He’d want you to know he’s doing it just for me.  Besides that, it’s really good!

Did I mention a giveaway?  Yes—Lucky Leaf wants to give one of my lucky, randomly chosen readers a Pampered Chef pie plate and some of their premium pie filling, too!  I want to make it simple for you—just leave me a comment here about one of your favorite holiday family traditions.  The giveaway will be open to US residents only and will go until 12:00 p.m., Friday, December 12.  A winner will be announced on Facebook and other social media, so make sure you’re following Baking and Boys and Lucky Leaf!  Thanks and thank you Lucky Leaf!

Baking and Boys! on Facebook

My Twitter Account (@koismith)

Baking and Boys! on Pinterest

Lucky Leaf on Pinterest  Check out all their delicious pinned recipes!

Lucky Leaf on Facebook

Lucky Leaf on Twitter



Friday, November 28, 2014

Cranberry Crackle Tart—Tuesdays With Dorie—Baking Chez Moi

Cranberry Crackle Tart 11-27-14

I made our Tuesdays With Dorie recipe for Thanksgiving.  Normally we would post on Tuesdays, but since this one was so close to the holiday, we were given permission to post after the day.  The color is off on my photos as most of them were taken in a hurry while the tart was sitting at the dessert table.  I took a few at home right after it baked, too.    I should have taken more time for better photos because I loved the way the tart looked. 

Cranberry Crackle Tart in the oven

First I made the crust with Dorie’s Galette Dough (page 420 of Baking Chez Moi).  I made this dough twice over the holiday and love how it rolled out nicely and didn’t stick to the counter.  The tart was easy to make, it was just a meringue with cranberries folded in to it.  Some raspberry jam was spread on the bottom of the tart before added the meringue.  The tart is then baked low and slow for an hour and it had a great crackled top.  I admit to tasting one bite of the tart and I really liked it.  I could have easily eaten more of this tart, but didn’t for  my health’s sake.  Now for fun, I want to make cranberry meringue cookies with raw honey. 

Cranberry Crackle Tart slice

This was a perfect holiday tart and would be even better for Christmas, I think.  You are in luck, Dorie posted this recipe on her blog a couple years ago--Cranberry Crackle Tart.  I personally think if you like great baking, you should get Dorie’s book, Baking Chez Moi.  We won’t be posting recipes in the group and they won’t all be available online.  Add this book to your wish list if you don’t have it yet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Grain Free Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Grain Free Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had a hankering.  I’ve been so deprived lately.  ha  Part of my problem is I often don’t feel like making something.  I want to have something, but don’t want to go through the steps to make it.  Yesterday, I wanted chocolate chip cookies.  I could deny myself a treat no longer.  Nice thing is, I whipped these up in no time. 

Thinking of something similar to a flourless peanut butter cookie, I came up with these using almond butter.  I decided to add a little coconut flour when the dough wasn’t quite as firm as I wanted.  Easy peasy.  At first I thought I didn’t really love the flavor, but after I few hours, I think they’re great!  I added a little almond extract, which really brings out the almond flavor.

Grain Free Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 cup almond butter

3/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup raw honey

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon salt (only about 1/2 teaspoon if your almond butter has salt)

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, combine the almond butter, coconut sugar and honey.  Stir together well.  Add the egg and extracts and stir to combine.  Add the coconut flour, salt and baking powder.  Once combined, add the chocolate chips and stir until evenly mixed.   Scoop cookie dough on to baking sheet spaced about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Let sit on baking sheet for a couple minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes 12-16 cookies depending on size. 

Grain Free Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 2

These have a great soft, chewy texture and are a much healthier chocolate chip cookie!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesdays With Dorie—Baking Chez Moi—Palets de Dames, Lille Style

Palets de Dames, Lille Style  (TWD-BCM) 11-9-14 at Baking and Boys!

Palets de Dames, Lille Style from Baking Chez Moi

Guess what?!  It’s Tuesdays With Dorie back on my blog again!  I have missed it after baking my way through Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, Baking From My Home to Yours and participating in some of Baking With Julia as well as Around My French Table.  Well, now that Dorie has a new book out, Baking Chez Moi, I’ve decided to get back with the program.  Many others have still been baking and cooking their way through the other books, but I had to stop for a time.  I’m back!

The first recipe that was chosen from Baking Chez Moi was these simple little sugar cookies, Palets de Dames, Lille Style.  The recipe can be found on the link for the book on Amazon.  We won’t be posting recipes in the group.  We all think you should get Dorie’s book.

I love that these cookies were so easy and used just a few basic ingredients that are almost always in my home—butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour.  Mix up the dough, refrigerate it for an hour or more, then scoop the dough with a small cookie scoop, bake, cool and dip them in a powdered sugar lemon glaze.  You don’t have to, but you can also sprinkle a little coarse sugar on them—in any color you’d like.   Perfect cookies for a baby or bridal shower or just for easy entertaining or giving as a gift. 

Palets de Dames, Lille Style from Baking Chez Moi at Baking and Boys! 2

I made the dough on Sunday morning and wasn’t able to bake the cookies until later that evening.  My boys have happily munched on them since and they are almost gone.  I’m sure my family…..and friends will be happy to receive a lot more goodies to come as I bake with the Tuesdays With Dorie group again!  The group will be baking twice a month.  See you for the next one right before Thanksgiving with a perfect holiday dessert, Cranberry Crackle Tart.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Candied Date Crispies, Almost Like Aunt Helga’s

Aunt Helga's Candied Date Balls

It’s time for a sweet, healthy treat!  Remember in August when I posted my last Secret Recipe Club post?  And I got to cook and bake deliciousness from Shelby’s blog, The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch?

One of the things I made and posted about were her Aunt Helga's Candied Date Balls.  As much as I really did stick with the recipe, I did change it up enough that if you want her recipe, check it out, but here’s the recipe as I made it.  I swapped out the sugar and used a less amount of coconut sugar and some honey.  I also used coconut instead of butter and I used organic brown rice crispy cereal. 

These were a perfect treat for me for a good week or two when I’d just need a little something sweet.  I rolled some of them in chopped walnuts, some in unsweetened coconut and then of course, I had to add chocolate to the mix with some of them.

Candied Date Crispies at Baking and Boys!

Candied Date Crispies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from Shelby, The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch

1/2 lb. (8 ounces) dates, pitted and finely chopped

scant 1/4 cup coconut sugar

2 tablespoons raw honey

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 cups organic brown rice crispy cereal (or crisp rice cereal of your choice)

finely chopped walnuts

shredded unsweetened coconut

2-4 tablespoons Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (optional)

Simmer coconut oil, sugar, honey and dates in a saucepan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until dates have softened.  Remove from heat and stir in the cereal. Roll in to walnut sized balls.  Roll balls in finely chopped walnuts or coconut.  If desired, added some chocolate chips to some of the date mixture.  Since it is still warm, the chocolate melts and that is okay.  Then roll in nuts or coconut.  Set on baking sheet lined with waxed paper to firm and cool.  This made 6 walnut balls, 6 coconut balls and 5 with chocolate. 

Candied Date Crispies at Baking and Boys!

Thank you to Shelby’s Aunt Helga for these yummy treats.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Peanut Butter Overload Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Overload Chocolate Chip Cookies

You ready for these?  I mentioned in my last post about the Almond Joy Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies that I also made some with lots of peanut buttery goodness.  Well, here they are.  I know, took me long enough.  Trying to get my blogging mo-jo back. 

The reason for these cookies was because I’d bought a couple bags of the mini Nutter Butter cookies and after eating so many of them, the boys decided they were tired of them.  So I watched another bag of them just sit in my baking cupboard.  I decided to chop them up and put them in My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe, yes—these:

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

But that wasn’t enough.  I put an entire bag of peanut butter chips and Reese’s Pieces in them, too, along with chocolate chips.  Overload, I’m telling you.  If you are a peanut butter and chocolate fan, you’ll love these!  These were well liked at Kevin’s surprise 40th birthday party I had for him a couple weeks ago. 

Peanut Butter Overload Chocolate Chip Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

8 ½ ounces cake flour (2 cups minus 2 tablespoons) (lightly spooned into the measuring cup and swept level with a knife)

8 ½ ounces bread flour (1 and 2/3 cups) (lightly spooned and swept)

1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt

2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups) unsalted butter, room temperature

10 ounces (1 ¼ cups) light brown sugar

8 ounces (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup Nutter Butter cookies, roughly chopped

10 ounce package peanut butter chips

10 ounce package mini Reese’s Pieces candies

8 ounces milk chocolate chips

3 ounces dark chocolate chips (you can use any combination and/or amount of chocolate you’d like)

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl with a wire whisk. Set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Then add the vanilla and combine.  Scrape the sides of the bowl. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Put the mix-ins in the bowl and carefully fold together with rubber spatula just until combined.  Scoop with a 2 ounce (1/4 cup scoop).  You should get 24 scoops.  Put them on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Cover with foil and freeze (or refrigerate).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and put the cookies on an air bake sheet, only 5 cookies per sheet.  Bake from frozen for about 12 minutes.  Check the cookies, remove from the oven and with the sides of a metal spatula, if any of the cookies are misshapen and not nicely rounded, push the spatula lightly on to the cookies where they need rounded around the edges.  Decide if they need another minute or two in the oven.  Sometimes I think they do, sometimes they are perfect.  Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool until you can’t stand it anymore and have to taste one.  (If you have a convection oven, you can bake 2 or 3 cookie sheets at a time.  Every oven is different, but even though baking on convection you should lower the temperature 25 degrees, I still leave mine at 350 for these.)  Test yours for best results.

Peanut Butter Overload Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you haven’t before, try kicking things up with chocolate chip cookies, be creative, add things to change them.  Mmmm!

Here’s some others I’ve done before with the same recipe.  (It’s the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, I’m telling you!!)  These are a favorite by many when I have freeze dried raspberries available to put in the cookies.

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cookies