Thursday, May 24, 2012

quick treats: cinnamon sugar baked mini donuts

Alright, I gave you one post that wasn't baking.  We all know my rule:  if you have a day off you must bake.  And if you read my previous post you know we had an extra good reason to bake with one of Sara's friends about to head to Africa.  And so we have cinnamon sugar baked mini donuts.  The best part about this recipe is it just makes 24 little donuts which is a good thing because they are warm bites of cinnamon sugar goodness that prove fairly irresistible.

If you don't have mini donut pans, you could use mini muffin tins.  If you don't have those, maybe borrow some from a friend.  Have a little treat, you deserve it!

Cinnamon Sugar Baked Mini Donuts

1 1/4 C cake flour
1/4 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C buttermilk
1 egg
1 1/2 T butter, melted and slightly cooled

2 T melted butter
1/4 C sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

2 non-stick mini donut pans

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray non-stick mini donut pan wells with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.  In a measuring cup, measure buttermilk and whisk in egg, vanilla and melted butter.  Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir just until combined and moistened.  Scrape batter into a large ziploc bag.  Cut off corner of bag and use to pipe batter into prepared pans.

Bake for 6 minutes or so until donuts have risen and will spring back when touched.  Cool for 5 minutes in pans on baking rack.  Melt additional butter in a small bowl.  Stir cinnamon into sugar in a shallow dish.  Turn donuts out onto the rack.  Dip in butter and roll in cinnamon sugar.

wet and dry ingredients co-mingling

the batter

piping into pans

so cute

my fresh baking powder is making everything rise like crazy

turned out to cool

all dipped in a little melted butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

lost time: Grilled Romaine with Grilled Polenta Croutons and Manchego

Wow.  Where did the past week go?  Here's one place:  the endodontist for a root canal.  That was root canal number 6 for me, unless I have lost count.  Underestimated the pain and recovery.  Three evenings on vicodin and a good thick haze of exhaustion and not one completed blog post.  I have three in the queue, but I believe they'll need a good edit and fluff up before they make it out on the "interweb".

I volunteered for salad for dinner club this past Saturday and took what Kelly calls "the good salad" with the twist of polenta croutons.  Whole Living magazine gave me that brilliant idea.  I've never actually sat down to read their recipe, but I cooked a pan of polenta, spread it in a pan, chilled it, sliced it and brushed it with olive oil and salt before baking the croutons in a very hot oven.  The whole family tried them before the balance of them were packed up for the trip across town for dinner club.  Great snack and lovely in the salad.

Today was another gorgeous day and a day off for me.  Sara and I hopped on our bikes and cruised 22 miles on the Monon Trail with a mid-ride lunch stop at 3 Sisters Cafe in Broad Ripple.  If you follow my social media posts you saw the amazing barbecued grains on a whole wheat bun that I devoured in record time.  Sara savored her Tofu Scramble and was highly amused at how quickly my lunch disappeared.  Needed a rainy day to get life organized on the second floor of our house, but instead we maximized the day outside.

Dinner was on the back patio in the dappled shade with a slight cool breeze.  I grilled up chicken tenders, steamed broccolini and grilled romaine to make into a salad with my second batch of polenta croutons.  This time I "baked" the croutons on my cast iron grill pan outside.  I have a good hunk of Manchego cheese so I shaved off a little to serve on the grilled salad.  Parmesan would be fabulous too.  So easy.

Lest you be concerned that I broke one of my rules and did not bake today, have no fear.  One of Sara's friends stopped by tonight before heading to Africa on a medical mission so we just had to bake.  Had to. It's a rule.  Look for a post soon on mini cinnamon sugar baked donuts.  Nom. Nom. Nom. as my girls say.

Grilled Romaine with Grilled Polenta Croutons and Manchego

Grilled Polenta Croutons

3 C water
1 C polenta/coarse ground corn meal/corn grits
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
additional olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring the water, polenta, olive oil and salt to a boil, stirring until thickened, about 7-10 minutes.  Spray an 8 x 8 x 2 pan with cooking spray.  Spread cooked polenta in pan and smooth.  Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so or the freezer for half and hour or so until it can be cut into croutons.

Heat your grill or preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Brush a tablespoon of olive oil on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Turn cubed polenta onto the prepared sheet. Using the oil still on your brush brush the tops.  Either bake the croutons on the sheet in the oven, turning once, for 20-30 minutes until golden or grill them on a hot grill pan for 15-20 minutes watching they do not scorch.

Grilled Romaine

2 small heads romaine lettuce
olive oil
kosher salt
balsamic vinegar
Manchego cheese or Parmesan

Rinse the full head of romaine under cold water.  Shake to remove excess water.  Remove bruised or torn outer leaves.  Keep head in tact.  Roll up in a tea towel to dry.  Cut head in half from top of leaves through base of stem keeping stem on to hold the leaves together.  Drizzle with a little olive oil.  Place on hot grill and grill 3-5 minutes on each side until lettuce is wilted and nice grill marks have been achieved.

Place grilled romaine on a serving platter and grind fresh pepper to taste.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Top with warm polenta croutons and shave some cheese on top.

polenta at the beginning

cooking and stirring

chilling in the baking pan

cut for croutons

prepped on baking sheet



Thursday, May 17, 2012

snack classics: fast cinnamon rolls

It's been a week of classic recipes with everyone home.  The girls and I made these cinnamon rolls just once before, but because they didn't even last an hour the first time we made them a couple of years ago they are kind of legendary.  Just had to make them again.  The recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking magazine.  There is no yeast in the roll recipe which means no big time kneading or rising (read:  waiting).  There is cottage cheese in the roll recipe which is very unusual, but apparently part of the magic.  I've never actually made these before 9:00 at night.  But the mornings after I have baked them I haven't woken up hungry!  I never ice cinnamon rolls.  Please go ahead and make icing or a glaze if you like.  So not necessary, but I suppose baking cinnamon rolls at bedtime is fairly unnecessary also!

I promise you we are cooking actual meals around here too and not just baking!  We keep making trips to the store for more produce, tofu, chicken and fruit.  We also keep  making trips to the store just because we can.  You forget the thrill of an errand or the thrill of someone else buying your food unless you have been a college student!

Fast Cinnamon Rolls

3/4 C cottage cheese (4% milk fat)
1/3 C lowfat buttermilk
1/4 C sugar
4 T unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 C all-purpose flour
1 C white whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 T unsalted butter, melted
2/3 C packed light or dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray sides and bottom of 9-inch cake pan or 9 or 10-inch springform pan.

In a food processor, combine cottage cheese, buttermilk, sugar melted butter and vanilla processing until smooth, about 10 seconds.  Add the flours, baking powder, salt and soda and pulse just until dough clumps together.  Do not over process.  The dough will be soft and sticky.

Scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead with floured hands 5 or 6 times, or until smooth.  Gently shape into a fat rectangle and dust lightly with flour.  Use a rolling pin to form it into an even 12 x 15-inch rectangle.

Brush the dough with the 1 1/2 T melted butter leaving a 1/2-inch border without butter around the edges.  In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the melted butter.  Starting at long edge, roll up the dough pinching seams to seal and leaving ends open.  With a bench scraper or sharp knife cut the dough in half and cut those pieces in half and then in three equal pieces to make 12 rolls.  Set the pieces cut side up in the prepared pan.  They will fill the pan and touch a bit or you might even be squeezing them into your pan (depends on the pan).
Bake until golden brown and firm, or 22-28 minutes.  A little hint, if you can smell your baked goods they are most likely just about done.  Cool pan on wire rack for 5 minutes.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the ring or turn the rolls out onto a serving plate (if using a cake pan).

roll ingredients

roll dough in processor

filling ingredients


action shot courtesy of Sara

brushing melted butter on dough


bench scraper and cut dough

oven ready

all baked


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

National Chocolate Chip Day: Chocolate Chip Cake revisited

Martha Stewart reminded my on Facebook this morning that May 15th is National Chocolate Chip Day.  Well, she didn't precisely remind me because I never actually knew there was a National Chocolate Chip Day.  And we all know the rule:  if you have a day off, you must bake (yes, it's a rule just like National Chocolate Chip Day is an official day) so after much deliberation (and a trip to the store for chocolate chips) I decided to revisit my favorite chocolate chip cake recipe.  It's easy and there's just a mixer bowl and bundt cake pan to clean.  But the real reason is because the batter tastes like chocolate chip cookie dough.  Can't resist.

So here are the twists from the original recipe posted on this site:  I used half all-purpose flour and half white whole wheat flour, I upped the salt to a rounded 1/4 tsp of kosher salt, I added 2 T of King Arthur Flour cake enhancer and I mixed in 4 tsp of espresso powder.  The whole wheat flour redeemed the nutritional value a bit.  The kosher salt with the extra bit from rounding the measuring spoon punches up the salt flavor just enough.  The cake enhancer is just a miracle ingredient making my cakes moist and tender and if we didn't tear right into them, it also keeps cakes fresher longer.  I happen to love the combination of chocolate and coffee, so in went the espresso powder.  I always use mini semi-sweet chips from Nestle even though I can appreciate other premium brand chocolate chips.  I'm not a chocolate girl, so the mini chips are more my thing.  Chunks of Scharffen Berger would be wasted on me.

Please see my picture of this cake.  Or what is left of it after about three hours out of the oven.  It's a bundt cake and not a tall one, but really do we only have 1/3 of the cake left?  Guess everyone approved of the updates!

one of the two chunks left, use a serrated knife the eager
cake eaters used a table knife and the slices weren't too pretty
however, that didn't seem to slow anyone down!

Chocolate Chip Cake

1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
8-ounce cream cheese, softened (regular or 1/3 less fat)
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 C all-purpose flour
2 T King Arthur Flour cake enhancer, optional
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt, rounded for a little extra
1/4 C milk
4 tsp espresso powder
1 C mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat 12-cup bundt pan with cooking spray. 
In a large bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flours, baking powder, soda and salt and mix until well combined.  Stir in milk, espresso powder and chocolate chips.  Batter will be very thick.  Spread in prepared pan (I drop it in big scoops and spread it with my spatula).  Bake for 30-40 minutes until tester in center comes out clean.  Cool for 15 minutes in the pan.  Invert onto cooling rack or serving plate to cool.  Kind of yummy served warm with vanilla ice cream, but let it cool a bit before cutting or you will smoosh it!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day: berry french toast casserole

Happy Mother's Day if applicable, and if not, make this for your mom this weekend.  Make ahead and bake that morning.  Super easy.  Many thanks to my Aunt Elaine for sending the recipe along from one of her and Uncle Jim's favorite B&B's.  It calls for 4  1/2 C of frozen blueberries, but I always have that grande bag of mixed berries from Costco so that's what I used.  The recipe also calls for 10 slices day-old French bread, but personally I'm a big fan of challah for french toast.  I used an entire loaf and had to squish and fit all the pieces across the casserole.  Worked out just fine.

Got to post and run.  No time to chat.  Kelly graduates from Purdue (3rd generation!) tomorrow morning and her celebration tailgate is in our backyard tomorrow evening.  So. Much. To. Do.

So busy I can only mildly freak out about graduation and the fact that I rarely if ever have both of them home for mother's day again.  Keep going, no thinking allowed.  No point in it.  Enjoying the NOW.  I've been to enough yoga classes, that even if I could not fit one in since Monday this week I can find the calm I need in there somewhere.  Keep reminding me of that if you see me!

see the berries in there under the french toast?

Berry French Toast Cobbler

4 eggs
1/2 C skim milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
10-slices day old French bread (challah and brioche are great too)
4 1/2 C frozen blueberries or mixed berries
1/2 C sugar
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 T unsalted butter, softened

Whisk eggs, milk, vanilla and baking powder together until smooth.  Pour into a large shallow dish (13 x 9 x 2 glass or pottery baking dish with lid works great).  Add bread slices, turning each once to coat.  Cover dish and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

If you only have one 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish, after refrigerating the bread slices remove them from the dish to a platter and clean the dish for the casserole.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 13 x 9 x 2  baking dish.  Toss berries, sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon together.  Pour berry mixture into prepared dish.  Top with soaked bread slices. Spread softened butter over bread slices.  Bake, uncovered at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until toast is golden brown and berries are bubbly.  Serve hot with powdered sugar.  Serves 8

french toast ingredients

whisking the eggs, milk, vanilla and baking powder

bread soaking

tossing the berries, sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon

berries in dish

soaked bread slices on top with softened butter spread on top of bread
yes, it's not diet or Paleo friendly
remember, it's for mom and she's okay with a splurge!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cinco recap: tamale in a bowl and yummy sangria

Quite nice of Cinco de Mayo to fall on a Saturday.  After one of the best yoga classes in my life (hot vinyasa with a guest instructor on hand for adjustments and a little Thai massage in a super hot full room) and a quick necessary shower Sara and I headed to opening day at the Broad Ripple Farmer's Market.  We were so excited for the produce, of course but also for frozen tamales from Feast in Bloomington for our Cinco de Mayo lunch.  Plus we were going to stock the freezer because I had all kinds of cash from selling back her textbooks.  So exciting!  But after two laps we came to the crushing realization that we did not miss Feast, they just weren't there for opening day.  So we chatted up Farm Indy about their CSA which I am seriously considering this growing season because I can pick up our share on Thursdays and then supplement on Saturdays at the market.  We sampled.  We bought some lovely greens for salads.  And we headed home by way of Whole Foods to get what we might need for our own tamale lunch, we'd make all the ingredients and eat them out of a bowl which would be supremely faster than soaking cornhusks, stuffing them and steaming tamales.  You could make it into a casserole just for appearances.

A little note about polenta:  it's just coarse corn meal.  In the South, they are grits.  In Italy, they become polenta.  The package says to cook for 30 minutes, but mine are always perfect after 15 minutes tops.  I just use 1 C coarse corn meal to 3 C water with a little kosher salt (1/2 tsp) and olive oil (1 T).  I've covered this before, but they are a new favorite at my house.  So good with grilled or roasted vegetables.

Tamales in a Bowl, you could also chop everything smaller for a truer feel to the dish

So that was just lunch at my house.  We still had the whole Cinco fest dinner to go.  Kelly and her traveling friend Robbie rolled in just before dinner after a road trip to Nashville, TN so of course we had Quinn join us.  I'm sure Robbie appreciated the balance instead of facing three Rogers women all alone.  Flank steak and chicken fajitas, guacamole, chips and pinto beans were served outside on the patio, party lights aglow in the trees, with sangria edging out margaritas for those of legal drinking age.  One of our Whole Foods Finds was a fabulous bottled sangria on huge discount, so we filled a big pitcher with chopped mango, chopped apple, lemon, lime and orange slices and poured in two bottles.  I still have a mason jar in the refrigerator if you'd like to try the combination.  Technical glitches, but it's Peppa Suprafruta Red Sangria.

Peppa Suprafruta Red Sangria

And since it became a party, right before dinner we mixed up a Texas sheet cake because it's a bit like Mexican chocolate with cinnamon as the surprise twist.  Not sure if it was the fresh baking powder or the guessing at the baking time (because dinner was on the grill and the stove at the same time and I just couldn't get back to the recipe to check) and being spot-on because it was the best one ever.  So moist.  Two days later there is not even a crumb left in the kitchen.  I've updated the post for it with an actual picture, so check it out.  The best part:  you use a mixing bowl, whisk, spoon, measuring cups and a little pan on the stove.  It's super easy.  30 minutes start to finish.  

Texas sheet cake

Tamales in a Bowl

one pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in tenders
olive oil
Sweet Mesquite seasoning or salt, cumin, chili powder
one bag butternut squash
one medium onion, chopped
one red peppers, cored and chopped
one or two mangos, chopped
sour cream, optional
mango salsa or salsa verde, optional
lime, optional
1 C polenta

Prepare polenta.  I use Bob's Mill polenta (coarse corn grits) adding 1 C of polenta to 3 C of water with a teaspoon or two of olive oil and maybe 1/2 a teaspoon of kosher salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring a few times until it's set about 10 minutes.
Toss chicken with a tablespoon of olive oil and 3 T of seasoning.  Heat grill.  Toss squash, onion and pepper with 1 T of olive oil and a little kosher salt.  Grill chicken 3-4 minutes per side over medium flame until done.  Grill vegetables on a grill pan or grill tray, stirring a couple of times for about 10 minutes.
Place polenta in the bottom of the bowl and top with chicken and vegetables.  Add in mango, cilantro and toppings you desire (mango or salsa verde, sour cream, squeeze of lime or even a little cheese).
If you'd rather serve it as a casserole, spray a baking pan and add a layer of polenta, top with chicken and vegetables (and cheese if you like) and spoon a layer of polenta on top.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes just to warm everything.

ingredients minus the polenta

peppers, squash and onions next to the chicken tenders

this is how you slice a mango

coming off the grill, next time I would chop my ingredients finer


Sara's bowl

Monday, May 7, 2012

home = baked goods whenever: zucchini muffins with chocolate chips

My girls know that whenever for whatever reason I will be happy to bake you anything for which we have the ingredients (or reasonably close to all the ingredients, this is where blog posts often come from).  Sara's first full day home after my day of work, cutting the lawn and making dinner we were catching up on one of our shows (ok, I can admit that we still watch Grey's Anatomy) and drowsily enjoying the early evening.  Next thing you know it's almost sundown when we decide something must be baked and it should be some super fast cinnamon rolls.  No problem, I can rally.  We were just about to get on our bikes to hit the neighborhood stores for cottage cheese (yes, that's a cinnamon roll ingredient and I will make them this week and post them because they do not need to rise and they are delightful) when we wheel them out of the garage and look around to see storms building and actually just about upon us.  Oops.  So we jump in the car and look in vain for easy cottage cheese shopping in the pouring rain.  Surely there is something else we can bake.  Something quick and easy.  Let's try zucchini muffins since I have zucchini and everything else on the ingredient list.  Let's throw in some mini chocolate chips.  Sure it's now after 9:00 at night.  I told you, I will bake for you just about anytime you ask.

These zucchini muffins got the usual nutrition adjustments with the substitution of whole wheat flour and a slight reduction in sugar.  I might try them with agave syrup next time when I actually remember to buy more at the store!  I added a bit of mini chocolate chips for fun, but walnuts would be good.  I've had zucchini bread topped with sunflower seeds once and pumpkin seeds another time, but I've never baked mine that way mostly because I don't keep either one in my pantry.  But I do keep just about everything else.  You could film some very creative chef challenges working from the stores of food in my house.  Or you could just read my blog, because that's how a lot of my recipes become truly my recipes.

Zucchini Muffins

3/4 C all purpose flour
3/4 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C white sugar
1/2 C brown sugar (loosely packed)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 C canola oil
1 1/2 C grated zucchini (one large or two medium zucchinis)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 C mini chocolate chips (can use up to 1/3 C)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 12 muffin cups or line with papers.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugars, salt, cinnamon and baking powder.
In a medium sized bowl, combine grated zucchini, eggs, vanilla and oil and whisk.  Pour wet ingredients into flour mixture and gently stir in chocolate chips to combine (do not over-mix or you'll have tough muffins).
Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden and tester comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes then cool completely on wire rack or eat them when they are warm!

ingredients, note:  I did not use the yellow squash
my zucchini was enough after grating

dry ingredients

wet ingredients

all together now

zucchini muffins with chocolate chips