Sweet Cooking

Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Gingered Lemon Squares

In Brownies & Bars, Fruit on August 31, 2010 at 9:21 am

Lemon Squares are just delicious. I am not 100% sure, but I think they are mostly a southern thing. I don’t see them at bakeries in New York.

There must be some terrible secret to making the perfect lemon square – like a bunch of Crisco or something. I have never been able to make lemon squares that are outstanding. I don’t know why, but mine never turn out like the ones served at bridal showers throughout Alabama.

These are good - a nice solid lemon bar.

There is a small amount of ground ginger in Fine Cooking’s recipe…honestly I didn’t even know it was there. It’s not a prominent flavor at all. If you’re leery, just leave it out. The recipe is not available on-line (for free anyway), and I’m not even sure it’s worth sharing, but if you want it, let me know!

This is the crust before baking. You just mix it up with your hands and press it into a buttered baking dish.

While the crust is baking, make the lemon filling.

When the squares are finished baking, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar, cut and serve!

I gave some of these away to a friend, and she wrote me a note about how much she liked them. I think she was just being nice. If you have a recipe for lemon squares that you love, please send it to me. I would love to try again!

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Cinnamon Bread

In Bread, breakfast on August 30, 2010 at 8:31 am

This bread is genius! You know how sometimes you want to make banana bread or zucchini bread, and you have ALL the ingredients BUT the bananas and zucchini? Happens all the time. When you run into that predicament, make this cinnamon bread instead! It’s just like banana bread sans bananas and with a little more cinnamon.

I got this recipe from Sugar Plum. It’s super easy and comes together just like any other quick bread.

The dough should look like this.

Pour it into a greased loaf pan.

Sprinkle on the brown sugar topping (I'm drooling now).

Fresh out of the oven!

Not only does this bread taste great, it makes your house smell like a Cinnabon store! Amazing!

Bread Reinvented.

In Bread on August 27, 2010 at 8:53 am

I’ve been busy the last few days and haven’t had a chance to cook much. I hate to let my four readers down though, so here is a quick post about bread crumbs and croutons!

I hate throwing out food. I really try hard to make every last crumble count for something. I had leftover homemade bread that was edging towards its moldy phase. I took 20 minutes and made some awesome croutons and fresh breadcrumbs.

Homemade Croutons

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Dice bread into cubes (I did large cubes, but you can pick your size).

Your cubes don't have to be perfect...mine certainly are not!

3. Toss cubes in some olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt.

4. Add any herbs or spices that you like (I added some crushed red pepper).

5. Put cubes in a dish and bake for 15 minutes – I shook the pan halfway through.

6. Once cool, you can store these in an airtight container for a week. You can also freeze the croutons in a Ziploc bag.

Easy Homemade Croutons! So much better than the ones that come out of a box!

Homemade Bread Crumbs

1. Chop up the bread into cubes.

2. Add the cubes to a food processor. I use the mini prep.

3. Turn it on.

Done! How easy is that!

You can add herbs to the breadcrumbs. Try dried oregano and basil for Italian meals. Breadcrumbs can be stored in an airtight container or in the freezer.

Have a great weekend everyone!

My Five Favorite Conveniences in the Kitchen

In Miscellaneous on August 26, 2010 at 9:32 am

Since I started this blog, I had to update a few small things in my kitchen. I’ve been cooking and baking more than ever, so having the right tools is a must!

1. Pre-cut parchment paper. I am such a novice. I didn’t even know this existed. This parchment paper is already cut to the size of a standard cookie sheet. They also make them in rounds for cake pans.

Simply brilliant. I bought these at Whole Foods. You can get pre cut sheets at any specialty kitchen shop.

2. Magnetic measuring spoons. I found these at Crate and Barrel. I am in love with them. My old measuring spoons are attached with a ring. I much prefer these that I can pull apart easily. It’s great that they are double ended too. I can measure a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard without having to clean out all the honey. It’s fast and easy. I liked them so much I got the measuring cups too.

Only $7.95! I love how they stay neatly stacked together.

3. Mini Prep. Unfortunately, I just don’t have room for storing large appliances. I don’t have a stand mixer in NYC (something I debate every day) or a large food processor. I make do with my Mini Prep. I just LOVE this thing! It’s great for pureeing, chopping, grating, etc. I use it to make bread crumbs, olive tapenade, hummus and romesco sauce. It’s small and fits in a drawer, and I throw everything but the base into the dishwasher.I purchased mine at Sur La Table.

They come in white, stainless steel and the fun colors above. Macy's also sells these...wait for a coupon or sale and buy one!

4. Microplane Rasp Grater. This is a kitchen necessity. I have several different microplanes.

This one is my favorite.

I use it mostly for zesting lemons, limes and oranges. But I also use it for freshly grated ginger. It’s easy to clean – just throw it in the dishwasher. Lots of places sell these, but I got mine at Williams Sonoma. It’s $14.95 but worth every penny!

5. Small glass bowls with lids. I am sick of all my ziplock plastic storage containers. I have used them to take my lunches to work for years, and they are just gross and stained. I am done with them. I have replaced them with glass bowls with plastic lids. I also store leftovers in these and chopped herbs, fruit and veggies. I got these at Crate and Barrel.

Only $1.95! They come in a variety of sizes too!

Please share your favorite kitchen tools with me. I am a sucker for new gadgets!

Peach Crisp

In Fruit on August 25, 2010 at 9:19 am

I received a set of Le Creuset mini cocottes as a wedding gift. They are so cute!

A cocotte is a small, heavy, round pot with a lid. The ones I received are mini – they are made for individual size portions. I plan to make some delicious dinners in these this winter. I’m thinking chicken pot pie and maybe some mac and cheese.

I used the cocottes recently to make individual peach crisps. I loosely followed the recipe in the cookbook that came with the little pots.

Here are the ingredients. I substituted almonds for walnuts.

Slice the peaches and toss them with a little cinnamon and sugar.

Make the crumble topping with butter, flour and almonds (pecans or walnuts would work too). Mix it all together with your fingers. Next time, I'll add a little brown sugar.

Put the peach mixture into the pots and then add the crumble topping.

Bake at 350 degrees until the topping is browned and the peaches are bubbling.

This is such an easy and delicious dessert! If you are using fresh peaches, you don’t need a lot of sugar…the peaches provide plenty of sweetness. If you would like the exact recipe, please leave a comment and I’ll give it to you! Enjoy!

Oh Martha.

In Cookies on August 24, 2010 at 7:36 am

I have really enjoyed the “cookie of the day” e-mails I receive from Martha (Stewart that is). I am quickly collecting a large file of cookie recipes that I really want to try.

I made these “Chocolate Charms” because they looked cute and I had all the ingredients on hand. The dough comes together very quickly.

The dough is made of butter, flour, sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla extract and unsweetened cocoa powder.

The recipe instructs to chill the dough for an hour, but I actually left it in the refrigerator overnight. When I was ready to bake the cookies, I let the dough sit at room temperature for about an hour.

Wow. Look at that giant block of ice in the back of the fridge. I guess I better call a repairman. It's always something, right?

Shape the dough into little balls and bake for 22-25 minutes. My cookies were ready on the early side.

Once the cookies are cool and you are ready to serve them, give them a little sprinkle of cocoa powder.

The cookies smell great. Chance agrees!

Martha’s chocolate charms are really tasty and pretty. They taste like a chocolate shortbread cookie. Enjoy!

Farmer’s Market Eggs

In Just Good Food on August 23, 2010 at 8:30 am

As you know, I’m obsessed with the Farmer’s Market. I’m trying to buy everything there (when at all possible). This includes eggs.

I bought these cute, little guys at the Westhampton Farmer's Market.

The fresh eggs look pretty much like regular eggs, but they are a little smaller. The real difference is the color of the yolk. I was shocked when I cracked the eggs open. The yolk is a really bright yellow color. And the egg white is a lot less runny than in regular eggs.

Can you see how the egg on the right is much more intense in color than the egg on the left? The right egg is fresh.

Dan and I pretty much like and eat all of the same things, but we do have a difference of opinions when it comes to eggs.

Dan likes to scramble his eggs with herbs and then put it on a sandwich. Check out how yellow those eggs are!

I like to fry one egg and put it on toast topped with arugula. I really love my eggs when the yolk is still runny, but I've been worried about Big Sal, so I cooked this egg all the way through.

I heard yesterday that 1/2 a billion eggs have been recalled! That is crazy! There is a list of recalled egg brands and plant numbers listed here. I would definitely be sure to cook eggs all the way through until this mess is figured out. It’s too bad because that means no more sneaking bites of cookie dough. Speaking of, I haven’t tried fresh eggs in baked goods yet. I wonder if it would make a difference? I’ll let you know!

Food & Wine. The September Issue.

In Just Good Food, Miscellaneous on August 20, 2010 at 9:23 am

I have fallen in love with this magazine. This month’s issue is especially good. If you live in the South or appreciate Southern food, it’s a must-read!

Much of the issue is focused on new restaurants in the South and recipes for updated Southern cuisine.

The featured kitchen is from a new home located on Lake Martin, AL (my hometown!). It looks beautiful. I would love to see the rest of the house!

For all of you who live in or visit Atlanta, this magazine is full of Atlanta info. New restaurants, specialty shops, bars, etc. This woman has a new chocolate shop called "Cacao Atlanta". I am definitely going by there the next time I'm in town.

There are several recipes that I will try and blog about. Just to name a few…

Yum. Smoky shrimp and grits.

Chocolate-Peanutbutter Moon Pies. I just gained a pound thinking about it.

Pick up this issue on newsstands today! You won’t regret it. Have a great weekend!

Soy Citrus Scallops

In Just Good Food on August 19, 2010 at 7:43 am

I’ve really been into Asian flavors lately. Especially at dinner. Dan and I had this last night.

Scallops marinated in soy sauce, orange juice, rice vinegar and chili sauce served over soba noodles.

Yummy! This is an easy dish to prepare. Follow this Cooking Light recipe. I pretty much did everything by the book here.

While the scallops are marinating (8 minutes), boil the soba noodles.

The scallops cook at med-high heat for one minute on each side.

I diced the green onions while Dan took care of cooking the scallops. He really enjoys timing things in the kitchen. Isn’t that weird? I hate timing stuff. Anyway, we had some delicious sugar snap peas on the side. The recipe is included in the link to the scallop recipe above. I didn’t use radishes because I didn’t have any at home.

I could eat a million of these.

This is a really easy dish for a weeknight dinner. The recipe claims that it comes together in 20 minutes. Let’s be honest, nothing comes together in 20 minutes. I would realistically double that. But still, it’s a quick dinner that is different and healthy!

Yummmmmmmm…..Banana Nut Muffins

In Bread, breakfast, Muffins on August 18, 2010 at 8:29 am

As you may know, I’m a huge fan of banana bread. I’ve been making it since I was a kid, but I have actually never tried to make banana bread muffins. I found this recipe on The Food Network website. It’s super easy and delish! The recipe uses four bananas and I think that makes for great flavor and texture.

I followed the recipe exactly. It’s very simple. Like all quick breads, you just mix the wet and dry ingredients. Anyone can do this.

Pour the batter into a greased muffin tin. This recipe makes 12 large muffins.

Doesn't everyone love a basket of muffins? This photo is a strange color. Not sure what happened. The muffins really look a lot better than this.

More like this. Enjoy!