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Rum Cookie Bars

September 16, 2014

This is a simple recipe for blondie cookie bars. I added some spices and dark rum, which is particularly scrumptious with all of the caramel goodness from the brown sugar. The batter comes together quickly, and it’s based on ingredients you likely have in your pantry right now. What are you waiting for?

You will need:

  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 8 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t salt, scant
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 T dark rum
  • 1 c whole wheat flour

Then you will…

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment or tinfoil and lightly grease.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar and melted butter until smooth.
  3. Mix in the egg, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and rum.
  4. Stir in the flour just until mixed together.
  5. Spread in the prepared pan.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden and set in the middle.
  7. Allow to cool 15 minutes before removing from the pan.
  8. Continue cooling on a wire rack before enjoying with others!

20140806 Rum Blondies

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Lemon Chocolate Banana Bread

September 10, 2014

20140826 Lemon Chocolate Banana Bread

Here’s another sweet variation on banana bread. It’s got a few interesting twists like lemon zest and dark chocolate. I also used olive oil instead of butter or vegetable oil. The result is a banana bread that is a sweet surprise!

You will need:

  • 3-4 ripe bananas, lightly mashed
  • 1/4 c Greek yogurt (I had vanilla on hand, but plain would work too)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c dark chocolate chips (or coarsely chopped)
  • 2 c flour
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 t salt

Then you will…

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the bananas, yogurt, eggs, olive oil, lemon zest and vanilla.
  3. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  5. Add the banana mixture to the dry mixture. Stir until just combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until golden and just set in the middle.
  7. Allow to cool 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool completely on a cooling rack.
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Honey Poppy Banana Bread

September 5, 2014

This is a light banana bread with a hint of honey. It’s also full of poppyseeds, which is something I really like when I bake sweet breads. Your house will smell awesome when you make this! I challenge you to wait till it has cooled off before cutting a slice.

You will need:

  • 3-4 ripe bananas, lightly mashed
  • 1/4 c Greek yogurt (I had vanilla on hand, but plain would work too)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil or melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 c flour
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1.25 oz poppyseeds

Then you will…

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, honey and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt and poppyseeds.
  4. Add the banana mixture to the dry mixture. Stir until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until golden and just set in the middle.
  6. Allow to cool 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool completely on a cooling rack.

20140826 Honey Poppy Banana Bread

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Sour Cream Apple Pie

August 27, 2014

My family was skeptical when I said I was making a sour cream apple pie. “Sour cream?” they asked. It may sound a bit odd, but the end result is a wonderfully scrumptious pie to share around the table. The sour cream keeps it from being too sweet and adds richness.

20140704 Sour Cream Apple Pie 01

You will need:

  • 1 9-inch pie crust, unbaked (try this simple pie crust recipe)
  • 1/3 c + 1/4 c granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/3 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar
  • 2 T flour
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1/4 t ground ginger
  • 1 c sour cream (regular will taste better than low-fat)
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 6-8 tart apples, peeled and cut how you like them — either slices or chopped

Then you will…

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Prep a 9-inch pie plate with the unbaked crust, pressing it onto the bottom and up the sides of the baking dish.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together 1/3 cup of granulated sugar and the oats.
  3. Stir in the ground cinnamon.
  4. Cut in the butter until the mixture has a fine crumb texture. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar with the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, salt, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Mix well.
  6. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla and egg until thoroughly combined and smooth.
  7. Stir in the apple pieces.
  8. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes before reducing the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  10. Bake for an additional 30 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle the oat crumb topping over the pie.
  12. Bake another 15 minutes or until the pie is golden.
  13. Allow the pie to cool to room temperature before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

20140704 Sour Cream Apple Pie 02

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Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Rolls

August 11, 2014

Both my mom and my sister have a soft spot for cinnamon rolls. I have to admit that there is something pretty exciting about the slightly sweet dough and the cinnamon filling that gets swirled into the roll. I’ve been playing around with recipes for at-home cinnamon rolls and came up with this!

You will need:

  • 3/4 c milk
  • 3/4 c unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 1/4 t yeast
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 T + 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c mini chocolate chips (optional)

Then you will…

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the milk with 1/4 cup of the butter over medium heat. Heat until the milk starts to bubble, but not to a full boil. This will scald the milk.
  2. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Stir in the yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the water, egg and sugar.
  4. Whisk in the milk-yeast mixture.
  5. Stir in the flours and 1/2 t of the ground cinnamon, until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  7. Knead the dough until it is smooth, roughly 5 minutes.
  8. Cover the dough with a warm, damp cloth and let it rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, melt the remaining half cup of butter.
  10. Stir in the brown sugar and remaining tablespoon of cinnamon. Set aside.
  11. Roll the dough out into a 12×9 inch rectangle.
  12. Spread the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the dough.
  13. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips, if using.
  14. Roll the dough up lengthwise and seal the seams.
  15. Cut into twelve equal pieces.
  16. Place with the cut side up in a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish.
  17. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
  18. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  19. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  20. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

20140728 Cinn Choc Rolls 03

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Creamy Onion, Mushroom and Spinach Pasta Sauce

August 5, 2014

This is a very hearty sauce that D and I made one night recently. It includes lots of our favorite things: caramelized onions, mushrooms, and fresh spinach. We ate it with some homemade ravioli, but I think it would be even better with a longer noodle like fettuccine. That type of pasta would stand up to the meatiness of the sauce. It is also a little richer than most of the sauces we make, so it is definitely something to serve as a treat.

20140720 Mushroom Spinacb Sauce

You will need:

  • 3 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into thin slices
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and the tops sliced
  • 1/4 c sherry (or Marsala or other preferred wine) – optional
  • 14.5 oz (1 can) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 5 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1 c light cream
  • 3/4 c grated hard Italian cheeses (I used a three cheese blend of Asiago, Romano and Parmesan)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Then you will…

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, melt half of the butter over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the onion slices and stir to coat with the melted butter.
  3. Pile the onions together in the middle and allow to caramelize slowly, stirring infrequently, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garlic and allow to cook until fragrant.
  5. Remove from the pan and reserve in a bowl on the side.
  6. Melt the remaining butter over medium heat in the same pan.
  7. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat.
  8. Allow to cook through until the liquid is mostly evaporated.
  9. Mix in the sherry to the mushrooms and allow to cook off.
  10. Add the onion-garlic mixture back into the pan.
  11. Stir in the can of diced tomatoes with their juices.
  12. Simmer over medium heat, allow to cook until the tomatoes are heated through and able to be slightly broken down with a spoon.
  13. Mix in the cream and the grated cheese. Stir gently until the cheese is melted and well integrated in the sauce.
  14. Season generously with freshly ground pepper (and salt to taste).
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Cannoli Pie

July 26, 2014

Cannoli are a very fun dessert to eat, but they may seem a bit intimidating to make at home. This pie marries the best of the flavors in a really easy-to-pull-together way. I drizzled chocolate sauce on top of mine. Try this dessert at your next dinner party! 20140620 Cannoli Pie 02 You will need:

  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 c + 3 t sugar, divided
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 t ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 T unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 1 T milk
  • 2 c ricotta
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c semisweet chocolate chips

Then you will…

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour with 1/2 cup of the sugar, the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, the nutmeg and salt.
  3. Cut in the butter until the dough begins to pebble.
  4. Hand mix 1 of the eggs and the milk into the dough. Knead until well mixed.
  5. Press the dough into the prepared tart pan.
  6. Place the pan with the dough in the freezer while you mix the filling.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta with the remaining egg, the remaining 3 teaspoons of sugar, the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and the vanilla extract.
  8. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  9. Spread the filling into the dough-lined tart pan.
  10. Place the pie on the lined baking sheet.
  11. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until the dough is slightly browned and the filling has puffed slightly and set.
  12. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.
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