Pin It Party #2

Before we get to anything today, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your heartfelt comments, emails, texts, phone calls and messages on yesterday’s post. They mean so much to my family and I.

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Lindsay is once again hosting a PIN IT PARTY, I joined in on the fun for the second one and I can’t wait to join the second. A pin it party is where we write a post with five posts (of our own) that we’d love to see pinned on pinterest. Then link up on Lindsay’s blog and see some other posts!

Without further ado, here are my 5 posts:

Designer Whey Chocolate PB & Jelly Protein Smoothie

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I still think this is my favorite smoothie!

Sweet Potato Bread

The best picture I ever got, sorry! I guess I will just have to make it again.

The best picture I ever got, sorry! I guess I will just have to make it again.

 

Joy the Baker’s Perfect Cup of Hot Chocolate

The perfect cup.

The perfect cup.

Flour’s Oatmeal Maple Scone

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I’ve never made the glaze, but it is still wonderful!

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not pretty, but very tasty.

Not pretty, but very tasty.

Did any of these recipes strike your fancy? I can’t wait to see what you all linked up!

Pin It! Party #1

Lindsay had this wonderful idea for a PIN IT PARTY, that alone sounds fun, where we write a post with five posts (of our own) that we’d love to see pinned on pinterest. Then link up on Lindsay’s blog and see some other posts!

Here are my 5

Flour’s Lemon Lust Bars

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Hands down the best lemon bar I have ever had or made.

Bake it in a Cake’s  Ultimate Birthday Cupcake

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This cupcake was labor intensive but the outcome was awesome and I loved everyone’s reaction.

Joy the Baker’s Cream Cheese Pound Cake

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I am not a fan of traditional angel food cake or bundt cake and I love that this can replace those items for a summer strawberry short cake

Mocha Protein Smoothie

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This smoothie is the perfect afternoon pick me up; cold, creamy and a little caffeine.

Gifts for runners under $100

 

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This was originally a Christmas post, but with lots of new runners starting in the spring and summer months, I thought this would be a helpful list!

Did you link up with the Pin It Party? What’s your favorite post lately?

 

Year of Baking: Flour’s Snickerdoodle Cookie

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I haven’t actually baked in a while, it was nice to get behind the mixer this week and whip up a few desserts for Greek Easter.

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When I saw the Snickerdoodle cookie recipe in the Flour cookbook I knew I had to try it. When I was younger all the families in our neighborhood would bake a plate full of treats for each of the other houses for Christmas. Our neighbor across the street (aka my second parents) always made snickerdoodles and to this day I can’t have one without thinking of that time.

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1.5 cups of granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for coating
2 eggs, room temperature
2.5 cups unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup ground cinnamon for coating

Instructions

1. Using the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed
2. Beat for 4-5 minutes, while occasionally scraping down the side of the bowl
3. When the mixture is fluffy, add the eggs, one at a time, beat the eggs for 2-3 minutes until fully combined
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt
5. Slowly blend the flour mixture into the butter mixture and then mix just until the flour is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed
6. Scrape the dough into an airtight container and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 3-4 hours) before baking
7. When ready to bake, place the rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees
8. In a small bowl mix together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon
9. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons into the cinnamon-sugar mixture and roll to coat
10. Place the coated cookies onto a baking sheet, spaced about 3 inches apart
11. Flatten each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand
12. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown on the edges and slightly soft in the middle
13. Cool on a baking sheet on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then transfer cookies to the rack to cool completely

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Notes

The recipe says that this makes 24 cookies, but the cookies were gigantic, I would actually make the cookies smaller and make at least 48 if not more. I n my mind snickerdoodles are 2-3 bite cookies.

I made the cinnamon & sugar coating and had a lot left over, I think I would make less next time.

The cookies were made on Thursday and were eaten on Saturday and Sunday, while they weren’t as soft as they should’ve been in the center (like they were the day I made them), they were a soft chewy and not hard so I will take that as a win.

I only let the dough rest about 3 hours, so next time I will definitely let it rest overnight.

Have you ever made or eaten snicker doodles?

What cookie has special memories for you?

Year of Baking: Flour’s Lemon Lust Bars

Maybe I should just make this a permanent move huh? Again, this weeks Year of Baking is being moved since I have an Easter post up for tomorrow’s WIAW. I was also featured on Katie’s blog on Friday, if you would like to check it out!

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My sister’s boyfriend has a nut (all nuts) allergy, so I wanted to make sure he could eat at least one of the desserts I was going to make. I am a chocolate lover through and through, but there are two desserts that I love that have ZERO chocolate, the first is lemon bars, turns out he also loves lemon bars, score. Perfect shortbread and a tart layer of lemon curd, it really is one of my favorite desserts, but every time I have tried to make one from scratch they have ended up as a sloppy mess. But, Flour hasn’t let me down yet, so I decided to give them one last try.

Ingredients

Shortbread

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Super Lemon Curd

2 cups + 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (14-16 lemons)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 eggs
4 egg yolks
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Instructions

Shortbread
1. Cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy (will take 10 minutes if using a hand mixer or spoon)

2. Stop the mixer a few times to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula

3. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined

4. Scrape the bowl and paddle again with a rubber spatula to make sure the egg yolk is thoroughly incorporated

5. In a medium bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt

6. On low speed (or with a wooden spoon) slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and then mix for about 15 seconds, or until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed

7. Scrape the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and wrap the dough in the plastic wrap pressing down to form a disk 6-7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick

8. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes, or until it has firmed up but is somewhat pliable

Super Lemon Curd

9. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the lemon juice, butter, and cream. Place over medium-high heat and heat to just below a boil

10. While that is cooking, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until blended

11. SLowly which in the granulated sugar until combined

12. Remove the lemon mixture from the heat and gradually whisk a little of it into the sugar-egg mixture. Continue whisking the hot liquid into the eggs, until all of it has been incorporated

13. Once the lemon mixture has been incorporated, return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan, and return the saucepan to medium heat

14. Cook stirring continuously with a wooden spoon and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan frequently to keep the eggs from scrambling, stir for 5-8 minutes or until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon thickly (To test, draw your finger along the back of the spoon; the curd should hold the trail for a second or two before it fills)

15. Remove the lemon curd from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl or pitcher

16. Whisk in the salt and vanilla

The Bars

17. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F

18. Lightly flour the dough disk and two large sheets of parchment paper. Place the dough between the sheets of parchment, and roll it into a rectangle 9×11 inches and about 1/4 inch thick

19. Carefully peel off the top sheet of parchment, transfer the bottom sheet of parchment with the dough to a 9×11 inch baking pan with at least 2 inch high sides.

20. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the shortbread is light brown, remove from the oven but leave it on, pour the lemon curd on top, and smooth the filling evenly over the shortbread with a rubber spatula

21. Bake for another 15 – 20 minutes or until the curd has set and jiggles like firm jello

22. Let cool to room temperature in the pan, on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight to allow the curd to set

23. Gently tug the parchment on all sides to loosen the shortbread from the pan, then slide it out onto a cutting board

24. Cut into 9 bars, they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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Notes

I didn’t have any parchment paper, I just floured the dough and put it in the pan, it was a bit of a pain but worked in a pinch.

For the lemon juice, I did half lemon squeeze and half fresh squeezed from Whole Foods. I needed the rest of the lemons for Easter dinner. Again, it wasn’t an issue an I don’t think it affected the flavor as it was not from concentrate.

I ended up cooking the shortbread for less than 20 minutes but the bars for more than 20, again it just depends on your oven.

These lemon bars were huge. It easily could make 16-18 portions. They were also a huge hit, we only had one left over the next day. They were very tart (the way I like lemon bars) but just as a warning. The shortbread was nice and soft and the lemon curd was the perfect consistency.

I will note that both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law helped, I think this recipe is definitely one that needs two people to work on it.

Do you like lemon bars? Have you ever had one?

Year of Baking: Flour’s Red Velvet Cake & Cream Cheese Frosting

For this week’s year of baking I have another birthday recipe from my sister-in-law’s birthday.

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The second recipe was a Red Velvet Cake from Flour, the recipe had the cake paired with a vanilla buttercream, but I love red velvet with cream cheese frosting, so I used the Flour recipe for that as well.

Again, I apologize for the quality of photos, I only had my iPhone that weekend so they aren’t the best.

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Ingredients

1.5 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
3 3/4 cups cake flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
3/4 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

Cake

1. Position rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees F
2. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans
3. Cream together the butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes, or until light & fluffy (It will take longer if using a handheld mixer)
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until mixed
5. On low speed, slowly pour the eggs into the butter-sugar mixture
6. Mix until eggs are thoroughly incorporated
7. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder
8. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, creme fraiche, food coloring, and vanilla just until combined
9. On the lowest speed, add about one-third of the flour mixture and mix just until combined
10. Immediately pour in about half of the buttermilk and continue to mix on the lowest speed until the buttermilk mixture is almost thoroughly incorporated
11. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl and add half of the remaining flour mixture and the rest of the buttermilk mixture until just combined. Don’t over mix
12. Remove bowl from mixer and add the rest of the flour mix using a spatula and folding the batter until the mixture is homogenous
13. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans
14. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when pressed in the middle
15. Let cool completely in the pans on wire racks
16. The cakes can then be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer for up to 1 week. That at room temperature, still wrapped tightly in plastic wrap

Frosting

Ingredients

12 ounces cream cheese, left at room temperature for 4 hours
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar

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Instructions

1. Put the cream cheese in the stand mixer and beat on medium speed for about one minute, or until smooth
2. Add the butter and continue to beat for another minute
3. Scrape the sides and add the confectioners’ sugar
4. Beat for one more minute, or until well mixed
5. Cover the frosting and refrigerator for 2-3 hours before using, this allows it to firm up enough to pipe or spread
6. Frosting can be made up to 5 days in advance if store in an airtight container in the fridge

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Notes

My cake ended up being kind of dry, I am not sure if it’s because I left it out overnight or what. Next time I would definitely put them in the fridge the night before. The flavor of the cake was spot-on, so I will definitely be trying this again.

The frosting was delicious, nice and creamy and not too heavy. My only issue was that leaving it in the fridge overnight made it difficult to spread in the morning so I had to let it soften a tad that morning and rushed through my frosting job.

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Overall, this was a good dessert and I want to try my hand at it again when I am not so rushed and I can perfect the dessert.

Check out other daily eats and treats with Jenn for WIAW!


What’s your favorite cake? Mine is definitely red velvet!

Year of Baking: Flour’s Oatmeal Maple Scone

For this weeks adventure in the year of baking I decided to tackle Flour’s Oatmeal Maple Scone. B and I had big plans on Saturday for brunch. I was going to see some of my college friends that I hadn’t seen in far too long, and B was going to play with the other babies. Our gracious host was making blueberry cake and said if we wanted to make something we could, but not required. I definitely had to make something, and scones seemed like a great brunch side dish.

Flour has a bunch of recipes, but I liked the idea of the Oatmeal Maple flavor. I picked these because it was something I could make ahead of time and grab on my way out the door.

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I liked that I had all but one ingredient (pecans) on hand. I also decided to omit the raisins, because I just don’t like them. I thought about adding chocolate chips but then I decided not too. Good Decision.

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The last two scones

These scones were crunchy on the outside and soft and crumbly on the inside. They seemed to go over really well at brunch and Nick ate all the leftovers, he especially loved dunking them in his coffee. I don’t think that we were missing anything without the raisins, but I am glad I didn’t add the chocolate because they would have been too sweet.

In my oven they were done right before the 30 minute mark, so know your ovens, keep an eye on how brown they are getting.

My plan was to make the glaze Saturday morning, but I woke up late, so I didn’t, honestly I think they were fine on their own. Nick even said they tasted just like the ones from flour. That’s a win in my book.

Even the creator herself agrees!

Even the creator herself agrees!

Recipe

Ingredients:

FOR THE SCONES
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8-10 pieces
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cold egg

FOR THE GLAZE
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pecans and raisins on low speed until combined well. Add butter pieces and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds or until butter is broken down but with pebble sized pieces still visible.

In a separate small bowl, whisk cream, maple syrup, vanilla and egg together. With mixer still on low speed, add wet ingredients to dry mixture and beat for about 30 seconds until just combined.

Remove bowl from mixer and scrape down sides to make sure that all dry ingredients have been incorporated. Using a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measuring cup, drop rounded scoops of dough onto a baking sheet 2 to 3 inches apart. You should have 8 scones.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Start checking at the 30 minute mark. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for about half and hour.

Make the glaze while the scones are cooling. Whisk together sifted powdered sugar, maple syrup and water. Once the scones have cooled, brush tops with glaze.

If you keep the scones for more than one day or freeze them, they can be “refreshed” by heating in a 300 degree oven for about 5 minutes.

Delicious Scone

Delicious Scone

Check out Jenn’s post for more delicious eats


Year of Baking: Flour’s Intense Chocolate Brownies

In case you are new to the blog, check out weeks one and two of the year of baking.

For week three, I went back to the Flour cookbook. I was having a major chocolate craving, you know the girl kind, TMI oh well.

I was immediately struck by the Intense Chocolate Brownie recipe.

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If you read the description in the book Chang talks about finding the right balance between dry brownies and thick dense brownies. I have to say, I have made my fair share of brownies. Box mix and from scratch, and these so far are my absolute favorites.

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She got the balance perfectly, although a part of the baking (as with any baking recipe) is knowing your oven. When a time is given you want to make sure you know if your oven cooks fast or slow. Mine cooks a bit slower (so far) and so I checked the brownies at 5 minute intervals to make sure that they were not going to be overdone.

I waited not so patiently for the brownies to cool, and Nick, B and I dug in.

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These will be my go-to brownies for a long time to come. They were nice and chewy, but not too fudge, and they were not dry. Perfection. Even B loved them.

So far this has been my favorite recipe of the year of baking, and no that’s not the PMS talking.

What’s your favorite brownie recipe?

I am linking up with Jenn of Peas & Crayons for this wonderful WIAW


Year of Baking: Flour’s Corn Muffins

Without fail every Christmas I ask for a cookbook/baking book for Christmas, and now that they are taking up more than one shelf on my bookcase (and it’s a large bookcase) I decided I needed to start sharing my baking experiments with all of you. I have decided to call this the year of baking 2013. I am not going to copy and paste the recipes for this purpose but review the recipe and let you know of any changes that I made.

The first recipe that I tried was the Corn Muffins with Raspberry Jam from Joanne Chang’s book Flour.

The Flour bakeries are in Boston and I actually went to one during a mini-mingle at the Healthy Living Summit this summer.

(This is an affiliate link.)

I love corn bread and corn muffins, but I prefer mine without jam, so I decided to omit that part of the recipe.

I have to say this, I love the fact that the recipe was true to the stated outcome, it really made 12 muffins.

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So how did the match up to my extremely high cornbread standards? Personally, I thought they were a but dry, but I did omit the jam. Out of the 3 items I made that day, these were my least favorite, however they were B, Nick and my brother-in-law’s favorites.

They were nice and crumbly and the top was nice and chewy while the bottom was softer. The corn flavor wasn’t too strong and the muffins were nice and light they didn’t have that heavy, brick in your stomach feeling after you ate it.

I’d say they were a huge hit with B. After a weekend of guests, we only have 4 muffins left, I would say they were a hit and I would definitely make them again!

I am sure some of you are asking how this fits into my goals, I am not eating tons of food, I take a bite to test the item and then I let my family and friends go to town and give me reviews. I love to bake, but I especially love to bake for others, it is therapeutic for me. It helps that I have two awesome taste-testers in house.



See other great eats on Jenn’s blog for WIAW

Healthy Living Summit 2012: What I am looking forward too!

Healthy Living Summit starts in less than 72 hours! Oh my goodness it seems like it was a few days ago when I bought my ticket!

Since this is my first conference I thought I would share with you all the top five things I am looking forward too. I have to say there are more then five things that I am looking forward too, but I don’t think you want to read a 4 page post!

In no particular order here are the TOP FIVE:

1. Wild Harvest Breakfast Showdown

To say that I was shocked that I made the Top 5 for the breakfast showdown would be an understatement. Regardless of the outcome I am very happy of my success thus far and I want to say good luck to Kristin, Alicia, Heather and Amy. I am very proud of my recipe, and I know whatever they choose, the breakfast spread at HLS will be AMAZING.

2. Meeting other bloggers

While this is probably the scariest thing for me, I am very shy around new people, this is also very exciting. Very few of my real life friends are as into blogging as I am and have made it a part of their life. I am very excited to meet such like minded people. If you see me being quiet, I am just shy not rude