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dessert

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Classic Apple Pie with Ultra-Flaky Pie Crust

July 7, 2014

Classic Apple Pie (1) | Espresso and CreamUpdate: We went in for another scan on Thursday before the long weekend and got some strange news. Things on our ultrasound looked very normal, pretty much a 180-degree change from our scan on Monday. The doctor and the ultrasound tech didn’t know what to make of it all, so I’m chalking it up to God. Sound good? We’ve been told to still expect miscarriage, but that we now have a legit reason to hope. So we’ve been playing a very strange waiting game until Wednesday, and your continued prayers would be much appreciated.

I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend! Joe and I spent a lot of time working on the house, in the yard, and even painted our office, a room that I’ve intentionally left out of the E&C house tour because I’ve disliked it so much. We’re a long way from revealing the final product on the blog, but I’ll be sharing some sneak peaks Instagram as we pull the room together.

A few weeks back I made a pie and I would be lying if I said the crust was anything worth eating. Truth be told, it was horrible. Sometimes pie crust is hard and scary, isn’t it? Well, I was determined to have success the second time around because that first attempt was just haunting me. With a new sense of resolve, I went back the the kitchen to make another pie crust for a classic apple pie. The result was amazing, if I do say so myself. It was flaky and tender and perfect enough to bring over to Joe and his friends, who needed a break from painting a house on a hot day.

Classic Apple Pie (2) | Espresso and CreamI based my pie crust on one of my favorite recipes from Sherry Yard in her fabulous baking book, Desserts by the Yard. Over the years I’ve made great pie crusts and horrible pie crusts. And I think that if I had to recap what makes success versus failure, it would be in the way the liquid is incorporated into the dry ingredients. Sometimes I’m feeling impatient and I dump the water in rather quickly, in two or three additions. The problem with doing this is that the water doesn’t get evenly incorporated into the flour mixture and I end up needing to add more water than the recipe calls for.

But when I’m patient, adding just a drop or two at a time and constantly using a fork to stir the flour mixture as I add water, that’s when I have the most success, when the magic of tender, flaky pie crust happens. So give yourself a few extra minutes to incorporate your liquids into your dry ingredients and you’ll be blessed with the end product.

Classic Apple Pie with Ultra-Flaky Pie Crust
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • PIE CRUST INGREDIENTS (for 2 crust pie)
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup ice water
  • PIE FILLING
  • 6 cups thinly sliced Granny Smith apples (peeled and cored)
  • 6 cups thinly sliced Golden Delicious apples (peeled and cored)
  • 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • TOPPING FOR PIE
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. To make Pie Crust: In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt until well combined. Break up the shortening into small pieces and add the shortening to the flour mixture. Cut the butter into small pieces. Add the butter to the flour mixture, too. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until the butter and shortening are the size of peas.
  2. Gradually add the ice water (1 spoonful at a time) to the flour mixture, using a fork to mix the water into the flour mixture as you add spoonfuls of water. This is key, slowly adding the water. It ensures that you get the flour mixture evenly hydrated without having to add too much water.
  3. Divide dough into two portions and gently press into rounds. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  4. Roll one of the dough rounds out onto a floured surface to form the bottom crust. Press crust into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.
  5. In a very large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir until well combined. Pour mixture into crust-lined pie plate. (There will be a lot of apple mixture since it bakes down and loses volume.)
  6. Roll out second dough round onto floured surface. Top pie filling with second crust. Roll edges of pie crust together to seal. If desired, crimp edges. Cut two to three slits on top of pie crust for steam to escape.
  7. Heat oven to 375F. Place a metal baking sheet under pie plate to catch any excess liquid. Brush top of pie with the milk. Sprinkle with the 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool at least 1 hour. Cut into slices to serve.

 

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4th of July Sour Cream Cupcakes

June 30, 2014

Sour Cream Cupcakes 1 | Espresso and Cream

Lately I’ve been trying to see my husband’s golf hobby as a blessing in disguise. Sure, he’s gone for a large chunk of each weekend, but that means I have plenty of time to spend on the things I love to do, like blogging, getting together with girlfriends for a walk or coffee, and laying outside in the sunshine while reading magazines.

I think sometimes I’m too quick to underestimate the importance of  having individual interests and hobbies in a marriage. Because I love Joe and love spending time with him, it’s easy to default to spending most of our time together, and while quality time is certainly important, it’s amazing how much richer and fuller our conversations and time together ends up being when we devote time to interests apart from things we do together.

This extra time on the weekends has meant that I have a little better grasp on editorial plans for this little blog and the upcoming holidays. It’s also why you happen to see me posting a real, actual Fourth of July recipe almost an entire week before the actual holiday, which pretty much never happens.

Sour Cream Cupcakes 2 | Espresso and Cream

 

Since I’m not a huge fan of “cute” food, I kept these cupcakes pretty simple with just the slightest nod to the red, white and blue. The real special part about these cupcakes is how great they taste and how easy they are to make. I started with a box of white cake mix, then added all sorts of good stuff to the batter like sour cream, an extra egg, some vanilla and a box of vanilla pudding mix.

The cupcakes are light and airy and totally delicious, especially when topped with a vanilla sour cream frosting. The sour cream adds just the slightest tang to the frosting and prevents it from tasting too sweet. For a frosting lover like myself, that just means you can enjoy extra frosting! If you’re looking for a dessert that is a little more in-your-face Fourth of July, I would suggest topping the cupcakes with a mix of blueberries, raspberries/strawberries and shredded coconut.

4th of July Sour Cream Cupcakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 18
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CUPCAKES
  • 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist white cake mix
  • 1 box (3.9 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • FOR THE FROSTING
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Milk (to thin if necessary)
  • GARNISH
  • Fresh blueberries
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 18 standard-sized muffin tins with paper baking liners in red, white and blue colors, if desired.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the cake ingredients. Mix 2 minutes on medium speed until well combined and batter is smooth. Divide batter between cupcake liners. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire cooling rack and cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the sour cream and butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons milk to thin the frosting as needed.
  4. Frost cooled cupcakes with frosting. Top with fresh blueberries. Store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator loosely covered with plastic wrap.

 

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Gluten-Free Healthy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

June 26, 2014

Gluten Free Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream

Lately I’ve really become captivated by the idea of simplicity and minimalism. It started with building a capsule wardrobe (more on that soon) and after I finished, I looked at my closet, so empty and uncluttered and scaled down to what I truly loved to wear and something started to click. In the past few weeks I’ve been digging and sorting through the junk drawer in our kitchen (does everyone have one of those?) and our pantry filled with kitchen appliances. It spilled over into the giant collection of magazines that I’ve kept for years; I tossed all but my favorite old issues of Gourmet and a few items of my own published work. I’ve been selling unused kitchen appliances and giving away cookbooks that I’ve collected over the years and just don’t have room to store. My house is starting to feel like a clean-running machine rather than a car loaded down with stuff.

A little voice in my head kept saying, “I need less.” “I want less!” You see, if I’m not careful I find myself getting caught up in the fallacy that I need more and more. I finish a much-needed living room remodel and start to fixate on other rooms in our house. Rooms that don’t really need to be updated, but something inside me whispers that if I just changed that one little thing, I would be happier.

So lately, when I start to think that I need more than I really do, I remind myself that I would rather spend my life living rather than managing my stuff and trying to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies 2 | Espresso and CreamI guess some of that simplicity-seeking has translated into my cooking at home, too. I’ve been baking with less sugar, imagining that’s probably the way that my grandma baked living on the farm all those years ago. It’s been nice, in this era of hyper-sweetened desserts, to sit down and enjoy a really simple, lightly sweet cookie that tastes like something you could eat every day rather than something you can only enjoy on a birthday or special occasion. And, I suppose, with each of these cookies only having 135 calories per cookie, you certainly could have one every day.

Gluten-Free Healthy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies
Author: 
Serves: 15
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • ¼ to ½ cup brown sugar (I used ¼ for lightly sweet cookies, use ½ C if you want sweeter cookies)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup Chex gluten-free instant oats or other instant gluten-free oats of choice
  • 2 large eggs
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients until well combined. Roll dough into 15 balls, a little more than 1-inch in diameter. Use a fork sprayed with cooking spray to press a criss-cross pattern into the tops of the cookies.
  3. Bake on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray 8 minutes or until edges are set and just golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Cool completely on wire cooling rack, about 10 minutes.

 

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Berry Breakfast Cobbler

June 11, 2014

berry breakfast cobbler 4 | espresso and cream

I love breakfast more than any other meal of the day. We’ve been over this before, right? I tend to get pretty protective of my mornings, especially slow and lazy weekend mornings when Joe and I can watch the morning news and drink a pot of coffee together and eat breakfast with the sun shining through our big picture window. Although I love waking up early, even on the weekends, I don’t like to be rushed into action first thing in the morning. I’m all about having a little time to wake up and settle into the day.

If you’ve eaten dinner at my house any time in the last year and a half, the chances are pretty good that I’ve served you berry cobbler for dessert. This recipe from Sprouted Kitchen is one of my absolute favorite recipes because it’s easy, slightly healthier than a traditional cobbler and I always have the ingredients on hand. Usually I use frozen mixed berries in place of the blueberries and whatever Greek yogurt we happen to have in the fridge.

The other day I found myself thinking about that dessert and how fun it would be to have berry cobbler for breakfast. Since the base of any fruit dessert is, well, fruit, I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make a slightly indulgent yet totally breakfast-acceptable dish. And you know what? I was right.

berry breakfast cobbler 2 | espresso and cream
This Berry Breakfast Cobbler is going into regular rotation at our house, I can just feel it now. It’s perfect for breakfast, but Joe and I have also been eating it after dinner as a healthier way to ward off that need for something sweet at the end of the day. It’s packed with antioxidants from the berries and whole grains from the flour and oats, which add a hearty, earthy taste and texture in the best possible way.

Although I’m not one to typically use a lot of low-calorie sweeteners in my baking, I did sweeten the berry mixture with stevia instead of sugar to keep the calories in check and prevent this dish from becoming a morning sugar bomb in disguise. If you don’t want to use stevia, I would suggest swapping 1/2 cup of granulated sugar for the stevia in this recipe. I’m sure it would be every bit (if not more) delightful.

Berry Breakfast Cobbler
Author: 
Recipe type: breakfast, dessert, snack
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • Cobbler Topping
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 (6 oz) Greek yogurt (plain or some type of berry flavor - I used Greek blueberry)
  • Berry Base
  • 6 cups frozen mixed berries
  • ¼ cup granulated stevia (such as Truvia)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and baking powder together until well-combined. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your hands until the butter is in very small pieces and mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add in the Greek yogurt and stir until just combined (mixture will be lumpy.) Set aside.
  3. Toss together the berries, stevia and 3 tablespoons flour. Transfer mixture to the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle topping over berry mixture.
  4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until berry mixture is bubbly and topping is browned and crispy. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

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Brown Butter Cheerios Protein Cereal Treat Bars

June 8, 2014

Cheerios Protein Cereal Treat Bar 1 | Espresso and Cream

As a food editor, I spend a good chunk of my days developing recipes for our brands. It’s a wonderful job, one that I’m so incredibly thankful for, and I love seeing the way recipes and food content can solve problems and provide inspiration for each season and family event.

But when it comes to blogging, lately I’ve felt quite conflicted.

It’s not that I don’t have recipes to share or food ideas, goodness knows I have plenty. But there are so many people sharing amazing food content that sometimes I worry that I’m just one more person adding to the chaos and noise. There are bloggers doing such inspiring work and magazines and food websites that continue to do one great thing after the next. I’m so energized by what they create that sometimes I can’t imagine what I have to add on this site is even worth sharing.

In those moments when I’m tempted to stop creating all together, I find focusing on why I create recipes or share personal stories on this space is the only remedy. I’ve long since abandoned writing for page views or sponsors or new followers (although, let’s be honest, they’re always nice.) I realize that my blog may very well be a small corner of the internet forever rather than the next mega site. More than anything, I write to share life and connect with other like-minded women (and a few men!) who are striving for the same things: authenticity, health, community, a deeper faith, and really great food.

It seems that the most popular type of writing voice on the web is one that’s witty, sarcastic and always chipper. I can’t tell you the number of bloggers I’ve met that are nothing like their online personas, and it always baffles me why everyone feels they need to fall in line with that type of writing. It’s so easy to start to believe that you need to write in that same popular style, but I for one and not all that witty in real life, rarely sarcastic and more direct than chipper. This is your free pass to hold me accountable if ever I seem to veer off course.

Brown Butter Cheerios Protein Cereal Treat Bar 2 | Espresso and Cream

I’m not sure there is any natural transition from authenticity in blogging to cereal treat bars, but this recipe is too good not to share. It’s everything I expect from a dessert: simple, delicious and easy to make. Working at General Mills the word “Rice Krispie” is completely off limits. I’m only sort of kidding, but I have found that my time there has given me a lot of appreciation for marshmallow bars using other types of cereal.

Recently I got a chance to take home a few boxes of the new Cheerios Protein and it didn’t take me long to realize the Cinnamon Almond flavor was the perfect base for a cereal treat bar. But of course I couldn’t stop there, I decided that browning the butter was the best way to bring out the flavor of the cereal. If you’ve never browned your butter before adding the marshmallows I would strongly suggest you give it a try. This little trick reaps so much in terms of flavor that you’ll never want to go back to making them any other way.

Brown Butter Cheerios Protein Cereal Bar
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 9
 
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 bag (10 oz) miniature marshmallows
  • 5 cups Cheerios Protein Cereal (I used the cinnamon-almond flavor)
  • 4 oz milk or semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Instructions
  1. Place butter in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Melt butter and continue to cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes or until butter is brown and fragrant. Reduce heat to low and stir in the marshmallows. Continue to cook and stir until marshmallow mixture is melted and smooth.
  2. Stir in the cereal until well combined. Press mixture into an 8x8-inch square pan that is sprayed with cooking spray. If desired, drizzle with chocolate. Let set 30 minutes. Cut into 9 bars.

 

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