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Archive for May, 2011

Pear are you going?

Okay, I’ve been keeping it from you.  I’m leaving for Florida this week.  I’M SORRY.  I do want to give you some baked goodies while I’m away but I’m also not sure if that will happen.  I mean, there’s going to be all that sun and the sun and, did I mention, the sun?  Oh, and Disney World, too.

That being said, I’m trying to get rid of the arsenal of food that might spoil or over-ripen while I’m away.  You might think that some of the things that I’ve been making would be more suited to the fall season but all fruit beckons to me in the spring/summertime.  Especially when it goes on sale.

I’ve always liked pears.  They kind of seem like the underdog of the fruit world.  You don’t often find them in baked goods, which is why I really liked making this bread.  Eating it was even better.

After a long, long walk, Lee and I sat our butts down and each ate a big piece of this bread.  We both mmmm’d our way through eating and then we both thought about what a second piece would taste like.  The health nut in us struggled with the fat kid in us and, surprisingly, the health nut won.  This time.

Almond Pear Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 to 4 firm, ripe pears (2 cups total)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Heat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 10-inch tube pan or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to mix everything together. If using nuts, scoop out 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and combine in a small bowl with the chopped pecans, stirring and tossing to coat the nuts with the flour.

In a medium bowl, combine the butter, oil, eggs, applesauce, sugars, and extracts.  Mix until combined.  Grate the pears and add to the wet ingredients, along with the nuts.  Stir together.  Scrape the pear mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until the flour disappears and the batter is evenly moistened.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 70 to 75 minutes, or until the bread is browned and firm on top and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Then turn it out onto a plate or a wire rack to cool completely, top side up. Serve it as is or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

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Yesterday was my cousin’s graduation party and I wanted to bring something for the food table.  At first I was just going to bring some assorted goods from a bakery, then I thought, “where is my head!”  I actually think I got scared after I did a little at home sampling of one of their so-called whoopie pies and, well, just no.  Needless to say, I was a bit unsure about the quality of the other things I’d purchased.

So into the kitchen I went.

I’m still working on wheedling down my fruit supply so I dug through and picked out a few apples to use in a full-fat, full-delicious apple pie bar recipe.  The result?  Yummy, I want another one, I could eat the whole pan goodness.

Apple Pie Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced (I used granny smith)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and spices.
In a large bowl beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
Add in eggs one at a time until completely mixed together and smooth.  Mix in the vanilla.
Add the flour mixture and stir until all of the flour is incorporated.
The dough will be pretty thick at this point but muscle through and stir in the apple chunks.

Spread dough evenly into your greased pan.  You may want to use your hands for this step.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown all around.
Let cool completely before cutting.

Recipe adapted from The Velvet Bird.

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Apple Grapple

I was very tempted to make something not so healthy.  Very tempted.  Then I thought it’d be better to save my unhealthiness for the weekend.  Unless you count the Mexican casserole I made for dinner…

ANYWAY.  It’s me and the fruit, again.  I think maybe I like baking with fruit because it makes me feel a teeny bit better about whatever I’m consuming.  I felt very good about the apple “cake” that I made, since it mostly utilizes the natural sugars of the apple to carry it over into the sweet realm.  Since it isn’t overly sweet, I wouldn’t really categorize it as a dessert but more of a breakfast goody.

Apple Spice Breakfast Cake

Yields: 8 servings

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons low-sugar apple juice
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 medium apple, peeled and grated
1 medium apple, peeled and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and 8-inch cake pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg.
In a medium bowl, whisk together applesauce, juices, sugar, egg, canola oil, vanilla extract, and apples. Pour into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and stir until flour just disappears. Do not overmix.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the top of the cake springs back when pressed gently and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Invert cake onto a serving platter when ready to serve.

Approximate nutrition facts per serving:

Calories: 135; Fat: 2.1g (Saturated Fat: 0.3g); Carbohydrates: 26.7g; Protein: 2.7g; Fiber: 4.0g; Sodium: 145.9mg

Recipe adapted from Slashfood.

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I’ve been trying to stock the pantry with healthy fruit and have, therefore, had an abundance of it.  I may have subconsciously had ulterior motives when buying an overstock of fruit but that just means more posts for you!  We all win, yes?

I started thinking about baking some type of banana bread this past weekend, looking over at the pile of bananas on our counter.  Just a few more days and those would be perfectly mottled brown.  So I made the very conscious decision to leave the bananas untouched until they started showing the effects of their ripening skin condition.

Now, about a month back I was shopping in a little spice store and found a packet of matcha green tea powder.  I snatched up the powder, not really knowing what I would do with it but wanting to try something different.  So here we are, me with some ripe bananas and green tea powder, and you with a recipe for A Cup of Banana Tea Muffins.  How splendid!  And everything is so wonderfully subtle in these muffins that you can taste everything individually dancing on your tongue.

A Cup of Banana Tea Muffins

Yields: 6 large muffins

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

5 small-medium bananas
1 tablespoon low fat sour cream
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a jumbo muffin tin or grease liberally.  Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk.  In a separate bowl, mix all of the wet ingredients together.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until flour disappears in the batter.  Divide the batter equally among the six muffin cups.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Recipe adapted from Salt Bird.

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Mango Make These

pretty

Sunday always seems like the best day to bake something nice for breakfast.  It’s that “I think I might sleep in just a wee bit longer” day.  It’s a “I’m going to take my time” day.  It’s THE “I want to smell yummy things like cinnamon and sugar and fruit” day.  And lucky me, yesterday was the epitome of all those things.  With shopping!  YOW.

There was some mango in the fridge that needed to be used so I started thinking.  Should I eat the mango?  That would certainly be tasty.  Should I eat the mango with some vanilla yogurt?  Tastier.  Should I bake something with the mango?  TASTIEST.

And so the crumb-topped mango muffins were born.  These things filled the house with that nostalgic warm cinnamon smell, something like how you would imagine a stereotypical 50’s household would smell.  Always.

There was that smell and then there was the taste.  Ohhhhhhh my.  The muffin was moist without being heavy and the mango maintained its shape within to give a little boost to the texture.  The crumb topping was just an added bonus, as I think these muffins could stand well on their own.  Try making these on one of YOUR lazy Sunday (or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…) mornings.

fresh out

Crumb-Topped Tropical Mango Muffins

Yields: 6 large muffins

Batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup agave syrup
1 egg
1 cup almond milk (or any other milk)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 fresh mango, peeled, seeded and finely diced (about 1 1/4 cups)
4 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut

Crumb topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup almond flour
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 6-cup jumbo muffin tin or line with disposable liners.

First make the crumb topping. Combine the brown sugar, flours and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Cut the butter in with your fingertips or a pastry blender, processing until it has the consistency of wet sand. Set aside.

To make the batter, measure the flour, baking powder and sugar into a large mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. Add the agave syrup, egg, milk, oil, extracts, and lemon juice and mix just until moist. Gently fold in the mango and coconut, stirring just until combined.

Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full, then top with the crumb mixture, dividing evenly between the cups (about 2 tablespoons each).

Place the pan on the middle rack in the oven and bake 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and gently move muffins to a wire rack to cool fully.

crumby

fluffy

Recipe adapted from The Daily Dish.

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de-constructing

I warned you.  I told you that my strawberry obsession would only get worse so you really can’t blame me.  Plus, why would you blame me?  Strawberries are delicious!  And strawberry-themed baked goods?  Get outta here.

We’re trying to be healthier, yes?  Kind of, sort of?  Okay, yeah, a little indulgence is good for the soul.  But eating better doesn’t have to be boring or gross!  Little substitutions like replacing a portion of all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour or subbing part of the sugar content with agave syrup can still produce some real hearty mmmm’s.  Sure, your healthier desserts aren’t going to taste exactly the same as a full-fat, full-sugar, full-everything, don’t hold back, don’t look back dessert BUT you might feel a little better about that forkful you just put into your mouth.

yum

This bread isn’t overly sweet and has just a hint of lemon to it.  If you want to up the lemon flavor, feel free to toss in some lemon zest for an extra kicker.  Also, if you can let this bread sit overnight, it’s so much better after a day.  All the flavors have mingled and the texture has settled into a cake-y cornbread concoction that sits nicely on the taste buds.

Strawberry Lemonade Cornmeal Bread

Yields: 12 slices

1 egg
1 egg white
1/4 cup lemon yogurt (I used Chobani)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup agave syrup
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups fresh diced strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease an 8 x 4″ loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg and egg white gently. Stir in the yogurt, oil, extracts, lemon juice, and agave syrup until evenly mixed. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until there are no longer traces of flour. Gently fold in the strawberries, then pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the bread and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.  Enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream.

Approximate nutrition facts per serving:

Calories: 160; Fat: 4.3g (Saturated Fat: 0.4g); Carbohydrates: 27.4g; Protein: 3.5g; Fiber: 1.9g; Sodium: 257.8mg

Recipe adapted from Cate’s World Kitchen.

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Sweet Review

sweet potato!

I don’t really want to give you a sob story about why I haven’t been able to give you some fine baked goods but I will.  Briefly. 

I’ve been trying to keep up with my gym visits and lately that’s been happening at night.  I planned on going to the gym last night, per usual, and then going home to bake.  One of those two things happened and the other was foiled by public transportation.  Since you haven’t seen an update, I bet you can guess which one.

It took me TWO HOURS to get home and I didn’t even get all the way home before having to call poor Lee to come and get me.  It was a mess and all I wanted to do when I got home was to eat a piece of my lemon protein cake.  So I did.

ANYWAY.  I decided to post about a new product that we found and that I actually really like: Bachman’s Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips!

golden

These chips were crisp and slightly sweet, with a definite hint of the sweet potato.  I think that it was the perfect amount of sweet to salty, and I ended up eating them on their own.  I bet that these would make some KILLER nachos, though.  I’ll have to get back to you on that one…

yum

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