Monthly Archives

October 2010

Butterfinger-Pumpkin Bread

October 28, 2010

Having candy on hand in my apartment is a rarity. In fact, I rarely even have chocolate chips lying around. Some baker I am. Thankfully, I live within walking distance of Target, making it easy to go grab supplies and a whole lot less tempting than having chocolate in the house. But last week while Joey (yes, I’ve decided to start calling him by his real name!) and I were up in Minneapolis, his mom sent us all home with a giant bag of Halloween candy.

Knowing I needed to get that candy out of my apartment fast, I saved a few pieces for my secret stash and got to baking with the rest. A majority of said candy was mini Butterfinger candy bars, which I think really go well with the flavors of classic fall baking. And by fall baking, I mean pumpkin treats. For a few weeks now, pumpkin bread has been on my list of things to bake and those extra Butterfingers were just the push I needed.

Adapted from Baking in America by Greg Patent, this recipe is killer. Crispy on the outside, sweet, dense and moist on the inside.  And the Butterfingers? It seems that pumpkin and Butterfinger were meant to be together. Give it a try and I think you’ll agree.

I’m off to get ready for the weekend. My mom and Joey are coming to stay with me and I’ve got cleaning to do! Do any of you have Halloween plans?

Butterfinger-Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from Baking In America by Greg Patent 
(Printable Recipe)

*1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
*1 tsp. baking powder
*3/4 tsp. baking soda
*1/2 tsp. salt
*1 tsp. ground ginger
*1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
*1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
*2 large eggs
*3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
*1/2 cup sugar
*1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
*1 tsp. vanilla extract
*1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
*1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped Butterfingers (about 14 mini candy bars)

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
*In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cardamom, and ginger. Set aside.
*With an electric mixer, beat the eggs for about 1 minute, until frothy. Add both sugars and beat until creamy and thick, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin, vanilla, and oil until smooth. Stir in the Butterfingers. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
*Bake for 50 to 60 (it was more like 65 minutes for me) until the loaf is well browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and turn the loaf right side up on the rack to cool completely. Cut with a serrated knife.

Happy Baking!


Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

October 25, 2010

Cue the Jack Johnson song because I’m making banana pancakes. And you should, too. Actually, I’ve been making banana pancakes for over a week now and am convinced these pancakes are the best breakfast yet on Espresso and Cream. This recipe is loosely adapted from the buttermilk pancakes in my most recent cookbook obsession, Gourmet Today. I’ve been reading and cooking my way through it, recipe after delicious recipe, entirely shocked it sat unused on my shelf for almost a year.

What makes them so great? They’re fluffy and light, despite being made with whole wheat flour, and the addition of mashed bananas and cinnamon gives the sensation of eating banana bread without the 50 minute bake time. And my personal favorite part is that they’re just slightly sweet so they don’t send you into a sugar coma. Breakfast sugar coma? Gross.

Aside from making banana pancakes to start off our Saturday, Joey and I headed off to Minnesota to watch his brother Jason play football. It was a great weekend spent with J’s family and some of our friends from Bethel.

Joey’s sister Amber and her husband Jake came from Chicago. 
Profile shot of the cheering section. 
Sarah and I have been friends since we were four. Coincidentally, she married one of Joey’s close college friends, Kurt, in June. Aren’t these newlyweds the cutest? 
 The whole gang: Joey, me, Amber, Jake, Jason, Ali, and Joey’s parents, Lisa and Brian. Thankfully most of the rain stayed at bay and we were able to bypass the ponchos. Have I mentioned how much I love fall weather?

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes
(Printable Recipe)

*1 medium ripe banana, mashed
*1 large egg
*1 tsp. baking soda
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
*1 Tbsp. sugar
*1 cup milk
*1 Tbsp. ground flax (optional)
*1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
Nonstick cooking spray
Sliced bananas 

*In a large bowl, combine the banana, egg, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar. Stir to combine. Add in the milk, ground flax, if desired, and flour. Stir until well combined.
*Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
*Spoon batter, two pancakes at a time, into preheated skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until bubbles form in the center of the pancakes. Flip and cook an additional two minutes. Serve with sliced bananas and other desired toppings. (Peanut butter is my favorite)

Happy Cooking!


Candy Corn Cupcakes

October 22, 2010

Every year around this time, I realize I’m not a Halloween person. Candy, scary movies, haunted houses – no thanks. And don’t get me started about what Halloween means when you’re a college student. Not my cup of tea. But for fear of being seen as the Grinch of October, I’ve made an attempt at Halloween-themed baking.

Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch. In fact, one of my co-workers told me the concept was lost on him, but the cupcake tasted delicious. I believe his exact words were “lose the concept, keep the cupcake”. But since this is likely to be my only attempt at something themed for Halloween, I decided to keep the theme and the cupcake.

If I could do it again, I would have made the orange layer a little more neon orange with the addition of more food coloring. And instead of trying to imitate the chocolate-bottomed candy corn, the read might have been stronger if I had gone with the white, orange and yellow color combination. Either way, these cupcakes are a fun, low-commitment way to celebrate (or not) Halloween.

P.S. – I finally rounded up some photos from a couple weeks back. J and I were part of an awesome cheering section at the Chicago Marathon. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day, and Jake and Amber (J’s sister and brother-in-law) did great! Maybe we’ll be running it next year?

Candy Corn Cupcakes
(Printable Recipe)

*1 box white cake mix
*2 eggs
*1 1/4 cups water
*2 Tbsp. oil
*2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
*1 tsp. orange extract
Yellow Food Coloring
Red Food Coloring

Almond Buttercream
*2 sticks butter, softened
*3 cups powdered sugar
*2 Tbsp. milk
*1 tsp. almond extract
Yellow Food Coloring

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.
*In a mixing bowl, combined the cake mix, eggs, water and oil. Whisk together until smooth. Transfer half of the batter to a clean bowl.
*In one half of the batter, stir in the cocoa powder until combined. In the second bowl, stir in the orange extract, 2 drops red food coloring and 3 drops yellow food coloring. Stir until well combined.
*Spoon a heaping tablespoon of chocolate batter into the bottom of each prepared liner, followed by some of the orange batter.
*Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely.

*Meanwhile, prepare buttercream. With an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add in the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, and beat until fluffy. Add in the milk and almond extract, followed by four drops of yellow food coloring.
*Pipe buttercream atop cooled cupcakes (I used a large star tip).

Happy Baking!


Oatmeal Raisin Peanut Cookies

October 20, 2010
As much as I enjoy a good recipe, I’m just as much a sucker for all things pretty. I’m not overly girly, but give me a piece of lace, a ruffle, floral pattern or cookies tied up in a ribbon and I swoon. 
Fact: When I was a little girl, my mom hardly ever let me out of the house without a giant bow perched atop my head. To this day, I plan to do the very same thing with my own girls. 
So even though I had planned to post this recipe Thursday, or even Friday, the ribbon has me feeling a little impatient and itching to share. That, and the fact that I brought these cookies to work and got some pretty great reviews. They’re based off the simple little recipe from the back of the Quaker Oats container – Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. 
But instead of the raisins, I substituted the golden variety. And added peanuts in the mix, too, for added crunch and a salty bite that highlights the sweetness of the cookie and raisins. These cookies are exactly how I like them: thin, crispy on the edges and chewy on the inside. And I think you’ll like them, too. 

Oatmeal Raisin Peanut Cookies 
Adapted from Quaker Oats’ Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(Printable Recipes)
*1 stick plus 6 Tablespoons butter, softened
*1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
*2 large eggs
*1 teaspoon vanilla
*1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*3 cups oats 
*1/2 cup golden raisins
*1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts 
*Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins and peanuts; mix well.
*Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
*Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.
Happy Baking!

Red Lobster’s Cheddar Biscuits

October 19, 2010

I’m almost, just almost, shaking my head at myself for posting this recipe. For starters, it’s based off Bisquick baking mix – hardly something to write home about. And then there’s the fact that these biscuits were popularized widely by the restaurant chain Red Lobster. It’s not that I have anything against Red Lobster, per say, in fact as far as chains go it’s pretty tasty and can be decently healthy. But if it came between a chain restaurant and eating at home, I’d choose the later.

But some things get wildly popular for a reason, like these Cheddar Biscuits, and I know I’m not the only person who finds them irresistible. The best part? The joy in J’s voice when I told him I had found a recipe to make them at home. I’m telling you, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who loves bread more than he does, in every form and variation.

Keep in mind, like most homemade variations of ‘secret restaurant recipes’ these biscuits aren’t exactly like the originals; however, if you find yourself at home craving the famous Red Lobster biscuits, these certainly will do the trick. They’re light, buttery and speckled with cheddar cheese. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with a combination like that.

Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits
Adapted Slightly From ABC News Online 
(Printable Recipe)

*2 1/2 cups Bisquick baking mix
*3/4 cup cold 2% milk
*4 tablespoons cold butter
*1/4 tsp. garlic powder
*1 heaping cup grated cheddar cheese

*2 tablespoons butter, melted
*1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
*1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
*pinch of salt

*Preheat oven to 400°F.
*Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter or a large fork. You don’t want to mix too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter in there that are about the size of peas. Add cheddar cheese, milk, and ¼ teaspoon garlic. Mix by hand until combined, but don’t over mix.
*Press dough mixture into a disc and cut out with circle cookie cutter or the mouth of a drinking glass. Transfer discs to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
*Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.
*When you take the biscuits out of the oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter is a small bowl in your microwave. Stir in ½ teaspoon garlic powder and the dried parsley flakes. Use a brush to spread this garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Use up all of the butter. Makes one dozen biscuits.

Happy Baking!


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