Tag Archives: baking

Something warm and tasty

Autumn brings with it a whole new menu. Out are the grilled veggies and burgers and in come roasted root vegetables, soups and stews. In the summer, the thought of turning on the oven or even stove-top can be exhausting. The heat of summer means you don’t want to make your house any more uncomfortable. Everything changes though in September and October, suddenly cooking is appealing, baking cookies a joy.

Looking for something tasty to welcome autumn? Here is a recipe for one of my favorites, beans and greens. This dish can be used as a main meal or as a side to braised short-ribs, pork chops or a perfectly baked chicken.

Beans and Greens

1 medium onion, chopped
1 t. thyme
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 bunch greens (kale or chard) sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 can white beans (small white beans or cannellini beans)
2 c. diced tomatoes
1/2 shredded Romano cheese
  1. In a large saute pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and cook for about three to four minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Stir in kale stems and cook for another three minutes or until the onions begin to look translucent. Mix in the kale leaves and add the thyme and red pepper. Set on a medium-low heat and let cook for fifteen minutes or until the greens are soft.
  3. When kale is tender, stir in the drained can of beans. Once warmed through, mix in the diced tomatoes and let cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat and sprinkle the Romano cheese on top. Serve.
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This is happy with pie on the side

I do not know how to express completely the pure happy that a sunshiney weekend brings. Bright and warm, full of fresh breezes. After the cold snap this past week, the long and exhausting work that made up my Monday thru Friday, the chance to sit out in the sunshine and recharge was beyond bliss.

This weekend has to go down as one of the best I’ve had in a while – but then again it could have had more to do with the company I kept than the weather we enjoyed. I spent Saturday and Sunday afternoons with a friend’s three sons – 3, 7 and 9 – three of my most favorite people in the world. We drove through fields, checked out cows, explored creeks and gravel pits on Saturday. We giggled and ate freshly baked “pumpkin” pie on Sunday. I don’t know if there is anything better than having those little boys sing out “you can’t leave yet” every time I made a move to do just that.

Below is the recipe for the “pumpkin” pie…There quote marks because I didn’t use pumpkin but sweet dumpling squash instead. I don’t know if there is a simpler thing to make. It took all of three minutes to combine everything…

Sweet dumpling squash look like decorative gourds but are too tasty to just use for decorations.

To cook the squash, take off the stems and split in two. Scoop out the seeds and set on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes or until the squash is soft. Scoop out the meat of the squash and freeze in 1 1/2 c. servings.

Winter Squash Pie

1 1/2 c. cooked squash (sweet dumpling is best but if you use pumpkin or butternut, drain the squash before measuring and using in this recipe)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 eggs

1 1/4 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. ginger

1/8 t. nutmeg

1 t. vanilla

1 9-inch pie crust

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F

1. Mix all the wet ingredients fully. Stir spices in completely.

2. Pour filling into pie crust.

3. Bake for 10 min at 425 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 35 – 45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when poked into pie.

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Muffn making machine…

I’ve had a pretty busy week. There have been meetings and events and if that wasn’t enough, I made the staff breakfast Wednesday. When I listed off the menu (muffins, muffins and more muffins) my mother ‘tsk-tsk’d and, as is her usual style, offered a more ‘wholesome’ choice. What is better than berry, banana, apple and orange muffins (four different kinds – not all four mushed together)? A ‘very easy’ breakfast bake that would have had me up till midnight trying to prepare.

Thanks but no thanks.

I make quick breads nearly every other weekend. I slice them up and enjoy for breakfast during the week. Making muffins are like second nature to me now, so much so that I know that base recipe by heart. Below is the basic recipe, you can substitute the bananas for any kind of fruit you like or have in the house.

Enjoy!

Banana Nut Muffins/Quick Bread

  • 1 stick butter (melted)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. yogurt (plain or vanilla)
  • 2 ripe bananas (sliced)
  • 1/2 c. walnuts (chopped)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar and eggs. Beat until well combined then stir in vanilla.
  3. Add 1 c. flour until well combined. Mix in salt, soda and remaining 1/2 c. flour. Mix until just blended.
  4. Fold in yogurt, bananas and nuts until batter is blended.
  5. Spray 2 – 12 cup muffin tins or 8×8 pan and pour in batter.
  6. Bake. Muffins will take about 20 minutes, bread will take about 40 minutes.
  7. Muffins are done when a toothpick comes out clean.

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Why baking requires the buddy system

My family has a joke about my affection (or lack there of) for the oven. The joke goes that when we owned our catering company I wasn’t allowed to touch the oven. Top of the range was my domain. Cooking, mixing, creating delicious concoctions were right up my alley. But baking? A definite NO.

It is a known fact that I have a minor problem with authority. I find it against my nature to follow directions to the letter. I also may have a small impulse control issue and a need for immediate gratification as well. All these…quirks…are well documented in oral and written accounts. You see, baking is a science not an art form. You need precise measurements, times and temperatures for successful outcomes. What you cannot have is any kind of lack in discipline. I’m screwed.

And, yes, I may have set one or two (or four) towels on fire by grabbing the closest thing to remove an item from the oven instead of the appropriately named oven mit. I, perhaps, have forgotten to set the timer as well and turned bacon, cookies or a chocolate cake into charcoal.

All of these things may or may not be true of the past but not my present. I have worked very hard to overcome my baking barrier. I make coffee cake, bread and even bagels from scratch. Most of what I make is edible and a majority even delicious. But I will admit that I do require a baking buddy to keep me on the path to proper procedure. Someone to double-check the instructions and make sure that I keep an eye to time and temperature.

This is where Leah comes in. Last week we made absolutely beautiful bagels together, but I doubt they would have been if she hadn’t kept a diligent eye on me (wooden spoon in hand). For example, the recipe calls for the bagels to be boiled for 30 seconds per side. I was more inclined to 30 seconds total. Impulse control and impatience in action.

Baking buddies are clearly vital to a successful outcome as you can see from the results below. And the best part? Besides getting to hang out with a great friend for a few hours was sitting down with fresh-out-of-the-oven bagel (plain and spinach) dripping with butter and savoring the moment.

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It may be Lent but…

So, Lent begins today. We were all supposed to have our last hurah over the past week, eating decidently, living vicariously and after last night’s Shrove Tuesday dinner of pancakes we are now meant to give something up for 40 days. I’m not a particularly religious person, but 13 years of Sr. Mary Elizabeth and a Catholic education don’t exactly fade either.

I decided to do something rather than give something up. This year is some form of exercise every day. I’ve fallen off the wagon with the running (must get back on) and my middle has all too happily accomodated the lack of movement.

So, for those of you who have given up chocolate – I’m sorry. And for those of you who are a bit subversive (like me) – enjoy. Being naughty can taste really good.

Oatmeal Brownies

1/3 c. butter

3 oz. baking chocolate

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 c. sugar

1 c. flour

1/2 c. quick cook oats

2 eggs beaten

1/2 c. buttermilk

1 t. vanilla

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small saucepan melt the butter, baking chocolate and chocolate chips. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in the sugar and eggs.
  4. Mix in the flour, oats, buttermilk and vanilla.
  5. Pour into a prepared 8×8 baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

These arerichand delicious so a little piece and a glass of cold milk will go a very long way.

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