Saturday, June 14, 2008

Been Busy With Lots of Things, But Still Baking

So it's been a really busy week!  We actually had some friends from Arizona visit us for a few days while they were traveling out this way.  It was so fun to see the Petersons!  (Thanks guys, we loved having you here.)  Unfortunately, we are not very good at remembering to take pictures--of people--when we are doing things--so we didn't even take any while they were here.  They had a camera and took a few pictures, so hopefully they'll send us copies.  Silly that I never forget to take pictures of all my baking adventures!  I think it is easier because they--the baked goods-- just sit there still and don't move.  People are constantly moving.  Get it.  We'll try harder.

This post may end up looking like all I do is bake, but really, there are quite a few days when I don't bake anything, I just have a hard time posting more often.  So, once again, we'll see what I can get done here.

I don't just bake goodies.  I actually make meals for the family now and then!  Last Sunday I wanted to make something using my fresh basil as I have bought a few plants of it and it was ready to pick.  I made this chicken and all I really did was make a basil pesto and used walnuts instead of pine nuts.  I baked the Pesto Chicken in the oven.  These were just chicken breast tenders and they baked in only about 15 minutes.  I think I baked them for ten minutes (350 degrees) with just salt and pepper.  Then I put the basil on top just using a spoon.  I added a triple Italian blend of grated cheese on top and let it bake another five minutes or so.  It was pretty yummy! 

For the pesto I used:

1 1/2 cups fresh basil

2-4 cloves garlic

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

1/4-1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

I did this in a food processor.  I first blended the walnuts and garlic, then added the basil and cheese.  I then added about 1/3 cup olive oil while the processor was on.  I also added a little salt and pepper to taste.  So easy and yummy.  (Try not to notice that the other two things on the plate are boxed Rice-A-Roni and frozen mixed vegetables ; )


Next up, I made some really good chocolate chocolate chip cookies.  I followed the recipe posted here at Cookie Madness pretty much exactly.  These are called Mrs. Baron's Double Chocolate Cookies you can link to her web site from Cookie Madness.  They were quite good, even though I don't usually like the chocolate cookie dough cookies--seems too rich or something, but these were not.  The cookies are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  After baking a few dozen, I then added peanut butter chips to the rest.  They were YUMMY with the peanut butter!

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I have recently made some oatmeal cookies using tahini, a butter made from sesame seeds.  They were good.  Right out of the oven, they had a pretty strong sesame taste, but by the next day you almost can't even tell it's there.  I first made a sheet without the chocolate chips and actually preferred them this was rather than with the chocolate.   I got this recipe (again) from Cookie Madness (Anna has so many great cookies she shares!)  These are called Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Cookies with Tahini.  The recipe is from Eating Well Magazine.  Here is my adapted version:

2 cups rolled oats (I used quick oats)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup tahini

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup Egg Beaters With a Touch of Yolk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (recipe calls for 1 T., but I ran out)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts

1/2 cup sweetened coconut (I added this just for kicks-it is not in the recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment.

Whisk oats, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat tahini and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until blended into a paste. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar; continue beating until well combined-the mixture will still be a little grainy. Beat in egg, then egg white, then vanilla. Stir in the oat mixture with a wooden spoon until just moistened. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

With damp hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the batter into a ball, place it on a prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly, but don’t let the sides crack. Continue with the remaining batter, spacing the flattened balls 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time on the center rack until golden brown, about 13-16 minutes. Cool on the pans for 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Let the pans cool for a few minutes before baking another batch.  Makes about 36 cookies.

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In search for the BEST brownie, Anna at Cookie Madness thinks she has finally found it (until the next great one comes around?)  This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen.  Here is the link to Anna's version of Chewy Fudgy Brownies.  Our friends, the Peterson's, who visited and my family ate these brownies.  The kids devoured them and made a nice crumby mess at the table.  Cori and I both agreed that they were good, but still not quite our most favorite ever.  They seemed a little too dense and dry (maybe I overbaked them a minute or two).  Anna (and the ATK team)insist you use a very good quality chocolate and maybe my choice just wasn't quite good enough.  While Scharffen Berger 70% Cacao Bittersweet (5 oz.) was used over at Cookie Madness, I used 4 oz. Ghirardelli Semi Sweet Baking Bar and 1 oz. Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Baking Bar for mine.   Still, this was a really good brownie!


These were all recipes I'd baked last week and I hadn't baked anything since Monday.  I redeemed myself and was a baking beast today!  I started with Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie Bites.  This is a recipe in the June/July 2008 issue of Taste of Home Magazine.  Here is my adapted version.  I made one minor boo-boo and thought I'd ruined the whole thing, but baked them anyway and they are just great!

1 1/4 cups ground hazelnuts, toasted

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 package milk chocolate chips, divided (I used Guittard)

5 tablespoons butter, cubed

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


3/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella)

a handful of toasted roughly chopped hazelnuts

In the bowl of a food processor, grind the hazelnuts (I left mine just a tad not too finely ground, wish I would have pulsed a few more times).  Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the processor.  Pulse it for about three seconds just to combine.  Set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt 1 cup chocolate chips and butter; (here is where I boo-booed--I did not even notice the word divided and I melted the whole 11.5 oz. bag of chips with the butter).   Stir until smooth.  Since I'd melted the whole 11.5 oz., mine was pretty thick, but I went ahead and finished the recipe and it worked fine!  Stir in the egss, brown sugar and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients.  (If you follow the recipe, then add the remaining chips and fold in.)

Fill paper-lined mini muffin cups three-fourths full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes (I baked mine 18 minutes), or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely.  Spread with hazelnut spread, top each with a piece of hazelnut.  Makes 3 dozen. 

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Today I also whipped up some really yummy blondie/brownies.  I got this recipe here at The Recipe Girl's blog.  These are called Butterfinger Brownies although they are more of a blondie type bar.  Delicious!  But I must stay away.  I've already given some away and Scott LOVES Butterfinger Candy Bars, so he is enjoying these!  With plenty of butter and tons of brown sugar in the recipe, not to mention four Butterfinger Candy Bars, this recipe is a splurge, but SO worth a try sometime.  I wanted a little bit more chocolate flavor to come out, so I topped the bars with melted milk chocolate chips (about 1/2 cup).  Did I say these were delicious?!  The recipe is made in a 9x13 pan, but I used two 8 inch pans.  Thanks for sharing, Recipe Girl-Lori!



And finally today I made some Paradise Pineapple Cookies that Anna recently posted at Cookie Madness.  These were a nice change from a chocolate overload!  Anna adapted this recipe from Mrs. Field's Cookie Book.  Click here for the recipe.  I only made one change and instead of three cups all purpose flour, I used 1 cup all purpose flour and 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour. 


I then made some of the cookies with Anna's cream cheese addition.  They were even better this way. 


Then I finished off by adding some toasted chopped pecans and coconut to the dough and baked them without the cream cheese filling.  All of the versions of the cookie were good and fun to "play around with".  I froze a good amount of ready-to-bake dough balls. 


I am going to attempt to make Kevin some Pasta Jambalaya for Father's Day tomorrow.  He LOVES it, especially from a restaurant we love and don't get to very often, Mimi's Cafe.  We'll see how it goes (minus some shrimp--I just couldn't bring myself to even buy shrimp because I just don't even like looking at seafood like shrimp, crab, lobster, let alone touching it to cook with it.  Ewwweeee!)   Catch ya later! 


Max and Deborah said...

You truly are a baking fool. They look awesome... I wonder what your grocery bill is like? I love you ideas. I will have to try them. Like I said before... you need to sell them.

Lisa Ernst said...

I'm always on the lookout for the "best" brownie recipe too. So far my favorite is Ina Garten's "Outrageous Brownies." This is a brownie for those who love a really dark, intense chocolate flavor. A while back, Anna had told me King Arthur Flour's brownie recpie was right up there amng the best brownies. I've bookmarked that one, but haven't tried it yet -- hope to soon.

Cookie Madness said...

You pineapple cookies look good.

I gotta say. I *liked* them, but tend to go for richer cookies like chocolate chip.