Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Carrot Muffins

I somehow ended up with two large bags of carrots in the vegetable bin in my fridge. Don't really know how. Carrot fairies maybe??
Anyway I needed to use some of the carrots right away. These muffins seemed like the perfect use for excess carrots! While not as healthy as the oatmeal banana muffins, they have lots of fruit and a little oatmeal, so I tell myself they're kinda healthy. Well health food or not they are tasty little muffins!

Carrot Muffins

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups grated carrot, squeezed mostly dry
1 lg Granny Smith apple peeled, grated, and squeezed dry
1 (8-ounce) container crushed pineapple, well drained
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup walnuts roughly chopped (optional)
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liner or use a silicon muffin pan.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Add carrot, apple, pineapple, oats, and walnuts, mix together until well combined. In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, and vanilla. Pour egg mixture into the fruit mixture and stir until combined. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan filling muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake until wooden toothpick comes out clean about 35 minutes. Remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rustic Apple Tart

I made this rustic apple tart for dinner guest last night. This tart is a relatively quick easy dessert that's great for entertaining. It can be made several hours in advance. If you want to serve it warm just pop it into 325 degree oven for a few minutes. This recipe is really just a guide. You can use almost any fruit and spice combo that you want. Pears and plums are especially good in this tart.
I use a little vodka in the crust. I find that the vodka makes the crust a little more flaky and tender. If you choose not to use the vodka, simply replace with water.
I used Pink Lady apples for my tart. They are my favorite apple and in season now. They are a firm sweet-tart apple that hold up well in baking. Granny Smiths, Jonathan, Jonagold, Pippin, Gravenstein, Braeburn, and Fuji apples are other excellent sweet-tart choices.

I only got the one picture of this tart. There wasn't a crumb left after dinner.


1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons (about) ice water
1/2 tablespoon Vodka (optional or replace with water)

1 1/2 pounds apples(3 or 4) cut into thin slices (a firm tart apple works best)
6 tablespoons sugar
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)

1/4 cup apricot preserves

For crust:
Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add vodka to ice water. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water vodka mixture; blend until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if mixture is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

For topping:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss apples, 4 tablespoons sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon in bowl. Roll out dough on floured surface to 12 1/2-inch round. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Mix 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon flour in small bowl; sprinkle over dough, leaving 2-inch plain border. Arrange apples on dough, leaving 2-inch plain border; drizzle with melted butter. Fold dough border in toward center. Brush border with egg glaze; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake tart until apples are tender and crust is golden, about 45 minutes to one hour.

Stir preserves in saucepan over low heat until melted. Brush over apples. Cool tart 1 hour on baking sheet. Serve with ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Super Meyer Lemon Ice Cream

Meyer lemons were on sale this week at the grocery store so of course I couldn't leave without a bag of 6 or 7 of these beauties! I recently became the proud owner of two Meyer lemon trees so hopefully next year I'll be picking them from my own backyard. In the meantime however, I couldn't resist bringing these home with me. After buying them I had to decide what I wanted to do with them. Oh the possibilities! I came across this article in the LA Times for 100 things to do with Meyer lemons. I'd like to try every single one of them. With my two trees, I just might get the chance! One of the suggestions they listed was for Meyer lemon ice cream. They had a link to a recipe, but I didn't have everything it called for so I decided to look to David Lebovitz, my ice cream guru. He had a recipe for Super Lemon Ice Cream that not only sounded wonderful but was also quite simple to make. So I decided I'd try my Meyer lemons in this recipe. I replaced the regular lemon juice with Meyer lemon juice. Meyer lemons are a little milder than lemons and I wanted the ice cream to have a real lemony punch so I added a bit more zest in mine. I think this ice cream has a great balance of tart and sweet.


3 teaspoons lemon zest (I used a little more than a Tablespoon of Meyer lemon zest)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 pinch salt

Zest lemons directly into food processor. Pour in sugar and process until the sugar is faintly lemon-colored and the zest is finely ground.

Juice the lemons and straining out any seeds. Pour the measured juice into the sugar/zest mixture. Blend until the sugar dissolves.
Add half and half and blend.Chill for about an hour; the product may break up, but just stir it back together. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's directions.

For Easter we had a strawberry and rhubarb sauce to go with our cake. I had a little left over and topped the ice cream with the sauce. The flavors were perfect together.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter and an award


I also received the Friendship Award from Helene of La cuisine d Helene. Thanks Helene!
FRIENDS... comes with the following description to be added & passed along:

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.”

It also says : "Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

So I passed it along to these wonderful bloggers:
1. Rosie of Baking Cakes Galore
2. Elyse of Elyse's Confectionery Creations
3.Elaina of a Chicka Bakes
4.Kelly of Evil Shenanigans
5. Bellini Valli of More than Burnt Toast
6. Sara of Sara's Kitchen
7. Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy,
8. Lori of Recipe Girl

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cautionary Tail..making peeps at home is not as easy as it looks!

It's happened again. Every time I do it I swear to myself "never again!". But hey I'm a mere human and she is not so it's not really my fault. No definitely not my fault, all the blame should go to Martha. She puts insanely cute things on her website and magazine and I'm sucked right back in. I know that it's probably humanly impossible to replicate the things she does but she makes it sound so simple. Just follow a few easy steps and Voila! I don't know what it is subliminal messages maybe but,I find myself thinking "yeah that looks easy, I could make that". Okay to be fair to Martha I do usually think if somebody else can do something, so can I, granted that it doesn't involve special training. I don't think I can perform surgery or fix you car or anything, but I can make a marshmallow peep...right? I mean Martha made it look so simple and the little rabbits were just so adorable. I'm pretty handy with a pastry bag and I'm a Daring Baker after all so you don't scare me!!! Those are all the thoughts I had when I saw the marshmallow peeps recipe on her website. Oh and by the way, yes you do scare me a little. haha
So yet again, like a crack addict, I convinced myself that this time I knew what I was doing and it would turn out great. I was going to make these adorable little peeps. They would be cute and probably taste really good as well.
That's what I thought anyway but that's not exactly how it turned out. I made the marshmallows for the peeps, no problem. No the problem came when I tried to take that marshmallow cream and make it into a rabbit. First of all Martha says you have to work fast, I should have known then and there to run away from this fast! But no it still looked easy...well not so much. You have to quickly get the marshmallow into the pastry bag. First problem for me was I needed a smaller tip to make the ears. I tried making the whole rabbit with the same tip, but the ears looked way to big and it just looked like a blob. So I ran grabbed another bag shoved a tip in and made the ears. Then tried to "pat down the spikes" which got my sugar wet which then stuck in a clump to my bunny, but only on the top. For some reason the sugar didn't want to stick to the sides on the rabbit. I guess I wasn't fast enough, meanwhile the marshmallow cream in the bag got cooler so the next rabbits came out a little lumpy but I kept trying! I did try to make ears that stood up to make mine look more like rabbits. It didn't help much.

The picture at the top is from Martha's site. My rabbits turned out, well lets just say a little less than that perfect than that. My rabbits look like they may have been exposed to toxic chemicals and mutated.
Consider yourself warned, they are not cute but here are my little mutant rabbits.

Here's the instructions for the peeps if you, like me, think you'd like to make these adorable little bunnies. Good luck getting them to look like Martha's bunny, but it was fun to try!

Fill rimmed baking sheet or small bowls with about 1 1/2 cups sugar. If desired, color white sugar by stirring in luster dust or sparkle dust a little at a time. Pipe shapes onto sugar. Bunnies and chicks must be completed one at a time. (I never made it to trying the chicks!)


Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 unflavored gelatin (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup cold water, for gelatin, plus 1/4 cup for syrup
1 cup sugar

Directions (this part IS pretty easy)

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Allow gelatin to soften, about 5 minutes.
2. In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water and sugar, and stir over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring, and place a candy thermometer into sugar water; wipe sides of pan with a wet brush if sugar crystals have splattered up. Boil sugar until temperature reaches the soft-ball stage (238 degrees). Remove syrup from heat; add to softened gelatin. Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, hand-stir the mixture a few minutes to cool; place bowl on the mixer stand. Beat on medium high with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form and the marshmallow mixture holds shape, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Transfer marshmallow mixture to a large (14-inch) pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (No. 11 Ateco) tip, and use immediately.

Bunny How-To
1. Pipe a small marshmallow mound onto sugar, about 1 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch tall. Pipe two smaller mounds on either end for the head and tail. (umm right it sticky!)

2. Pipe the ears, starting from the top of the head onto the body, pulling forward and off to finish. With a damp finger, pat down any marshmallow spikes formed from piping.

3. Immediately sprinkle sugar over the entire surface of the bunny. Allow a few minutes for the shape to set. (right and while you're doing this the marshmallow cream in you pastry bag is quickly getting to cool and your next bunny will be lumpy!)

4. Pipe on a royal-icing face with a #1 Ateco icing tip; lift bunny out of sugar with a spoon or small offset spatula. Place in a parchment-lined airtight container until ready to serve, or for up to 2 weeks.

Well I was right about one thing, these peeps do TASTE really good. Way better then the mass produced ones.
I bow to you Martha you've proven to me once again that I am a mere mortal and I need to buy my peeps at Wal-Mart!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Any excuse to make biscuits

Here in the South biscuits are like sweet tea, they're everywhere. Not that that's a bad thing. I adore a good biscuit. There's nothing better than a hot from the oven, flaky, buttery biscuit. Slather it with some jam or top with fresh ham, either way I could eat my weight in them. Now that's a bad thing, so I don't make them very often. I usually wait to make them until I have a good excuse. Yesterday, I got the perfect biscuit making excuse. My neighbor just came home from the hospital after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl and I had offered to bring by dinner. A celebratory batch of biscuits was definitely called for! I can't help it that there just happened to be a few leftover for me and Hubs.

I like Dori Greenspan's recipe for basic biscuits. It's a quick simple recipe that can be thrown together in a couple of minutes. It's a very versatile recipe. Feel free to throw in some chopped chives, or top with grated Parmesan cheese or whatever you had on hand.

These biscuits are fairly simple to make, but you do need to use a light hand in mixing them so you don't lose the flaky texture.

Basic Biscuits

Baking: From My Home to Yours
Yield: 6 3-1/2 inch diameter biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 3/4 cps all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup cake flour)~I used King Arthur Bread flour~
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
3/4 cup whole milk

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Get out a sharp 2-inch diameter biscuit cutter, and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. I used a 3.5 inch metal drinking glass, which is supposedly a big no-no in biscuit baking, but I had no problems.

Whisk the flour(s), baking powder, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes, and pieces the size of everything in between, and that’s just right.

Pour the milk over the dry ingredients, grab a fork and toss and gently turn the ingredients until you’ve got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick, gentle kneading-3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour and pat the dough out with your hands or roll it with a pin until it is about 1/2 inch high. Don’t worry if the dough isn’t completely even-a quick, light touch is more important than accuracy.

Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut the biscuits close to one another so you get the most you can out of this first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps, working them as little as possible, pat out to a 1/2 inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer these to the sheet. (The biscuits can be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept for up to 2 months. Bake without defrosting-just add a couple more minutes to the oven time.)

Bake the biscuits for 14 to 18 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a serving basket.