Monday, August 25, 2014

Fall = Baking


Sometimes I find a recipe that even this constant recipe tweaker can't improve on...it is just that good! Yesterday I tried 2 recipes that fit the bill (unheard of!) and I have to share them with you. I don't know about you, but here on the Eastern Shore, the summer has been pretty mild. Yesterday it was a lovely 62 degrees when I woke up, so I threw open the windows and started baking.

What? That's not your first reaction to cooler weather?

I had been wanting to try these "Toddler Muffins" for my daughter and yesterday was the perfect time to do it.  The muffins did not disappoint and she LOVES them. They're full of great stuff for her too, whole wheat flour, applesauce, yogurt, pumpkin, carrots, the list goes on and on. I have a 2-year-old who, for some reason, gets a little freaked over big food, so I make a lot of recipes bite-sized for her to save me from constantly cutting things up.

Silicone muffin pans have been my saving grace of late, and the mini ones were perfect for the toddler muffins.  She scarfed 3 down as a snack and probably would have gone for more if I hadn't made her slow down! You can really add anything to these muffins, shredded zucchini would be fantastic or throw in some raisins, craisins or nuts if your kids dig it.

Check out the recipe, courtesy of the Real Life Dinner blog: The Best Toddler Muffins

The second recipe I baked up is not even slightly healthy, but incredibly deilicious. Its an Amish-style cinnamon quick bread that is shockingly addicting. Don't question it, just bake up a couple loaves of this stuff immediately! It's perfect with tea or coffee and works as a dessert to...basically eat it all day long!

Check out the recipe, courtesy of the Red Fly Creations blog: Amazing Amish Cinnamon Bread

All the kids in our county are starting school today so that means a morning at the playground for me and my kiddo who isn't in school yet, I'm psyched for fall for so many reasons and can't wait for this cooler weather to set in and stay!

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

End Of Summer Tomato Torte


I LOVE TOMATOES!

{ahem}

Seriously, I do love tomatoes, I always have and this year I've been able to grow a few of my own in a container on our patio. If you know me at all, you know what an amazing accomplishment this is. I usually kill any plant under my care in 2 weeks or less, but this year I managed to keep a tomato plant and a few herbs alive well into August. My mom (who is the queen of green thumbs) is so proud.

I am also blessed to live in an agricultural area that has an amazing assortment of local farmstands, the tomatoes have been particularly fantastic this year and there's a stand right across the street from our home that I frequent (sometimes twice a week).

This time of year tomatoes are in abundance around here, kind of the last "hoorah" of the summer and this recipe is a perfect way to celebrate. It takes a little bit of planning, making the crust the night before and getting the extra liquid out of the tomatoes, but it is completely worth it and so simple to assemble. You can also really customize this recipe with different types of cheese or leave out the meat completely if you like. The original recipe called for heirloom tomatoes, but any type will work.  I honestly used a mix of cherry tomatoes (off my own plant) and some hearty beefsteak tomatoes from our local farmstand.

AMAZEBALLS!

{ahem}

I also consider it an amazing achievement whenever I unmold a pastry from a springform pan successfully, so if anyone was spying on me in my kitchen last night, you witnessed an embarrassingly enthusiastic happy dance. So be it.

I hope you give this recipe a try, it's amazing and the crust alone is worth the planning ahead!

Fresh Tomato Torte

Ingredients

2 cups AP flour (plus a little more for dusting)
1/2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. fresh rosemary (if using dried, cut amount in half)
Salt & pepper
12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3 lbs. assorted tomatoes
2 cups Italian blend shredded cheese (just choose your favorite)
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
3 oz. thinly sliced capicola ham, cut into strips
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

1. Make the crust the night before so it can firm up and chill overnight.  If you don't have time to do this, make sure it chills in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Combine the flour, sugar, 1 tsp. salt and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until combined.

2. Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Whisk together the eggs and egg yolk in a separate bowl and pour into the food processor with the motor running. Process until the dough just comes together.

3. Dust a clean surface with flour and gently knead the dough until it becomes smooth and pliable, only takes a few minutes. Press the dough into the bottom and about halfway up the sides of a springform pan. Cover and refrigerate (see step 1).

4. Slice the tomatoes about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick and spread out in an even layer on cookie sheets or a cutting board. Sprinkle lightly with salt and let sit for 30-45 minutes, this will help draw out a lot of the excess moisture. Pat the tomatoes gently with paper towels to absorb the water.

5. Combine the Italian blend cheese with 1 cup of the grated Parmesan in a small bowl, set aside.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and sprinkle 1 tbsp. of Panko into the bottom of the crust. Top with 1/3 of the tomatoes and scatter about 1/2 of the ham strips on top. Add in 1/2 of the cheese mixture and then start layering again (panko + tomatoes + ham + cheese mixture). Finish with the last third of the tomatoes and remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil.

7. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool at least 45 minutes before unmolding and slicing.

Adapted from a recipe in Food Network Magazine

Printable Recipe

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Homemade Ice Pops: Toddler Tested & Approved


One of the things I've been playing around with this summer are homemade ice pops. A fantastic friend of mine picked up a few molds for me from IKEA (the closest one to me is a good 2+ hours away) and sent them my way so I could make fresh pops all summer.

If you missed my first adventure into the world of homemade pops, check out my Simply Pineapple Pops. They're still one of my favorites by far, so fresh and delicious!

I want to share two pop recipes with you, one is a simple fudge pop whose flavor is far from simple. So fudgy, delicious and addicting! You can also easily make them with lowfat or alternative milks like almond or coconut milk since cornstarch is added to thicken the mixture.  I used a whole milk because its what I had on hand, but have since given them a try with lower fat milks and got great results!

The second pop is another favorite, an Earl Grey Tea Latte pop.  Sounds a little bizarre, I know, but if you love this tea like I do, it's a winner!  You could also try it with other types of tea, a simple black tea, Darjeeling would be delicious or even Lady Grey tea to bring in some of those citrus notes. This is one where you'd want a higher fat milk or cream to get the right texture since it isn't cooked.  You can give canned coconut milk a try, but it might overpower the flavor of the tea.  My favorite combo so far has been Steeped Tea brand "Earl Grey de la Creme" and heavy cream.  The mixture makes 8 normal-sized ice pops so you're not getting too decadent of a snack, even with the heavy cream mixed in.

Surprisingly, my two-year-old like the tea latte pops the best.  She was a fan of the pineapple ones as well, but kept coming back for more bites of the tea ones. Apparently I have a little tea lover in training on my hands!

I found this Homemade Fudgesicle recipe on Chocolate Moosey and literally didn't change a thing! Feel free to customize it with your own types of milk, it is delicious no matter how you make it.

Homemade Fudgesicles

Ingredients
1 oz chopped semisweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 cup milk (I used whole)
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter

Instructions
Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan, then whisk in the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, milk and salt until completely smooth.  Let the mixture thicken (about 5-10 minutes), then remove from the heat and add in the vanilla and butter.

Pour into ice pop molds, add sticks and freeze at least 4 hours or overnight. This recipe doubles well, the original recipe makes 6 small IKEA-sized pops.

Printable Fudgesicle Recipe

The recipe for the tea latte pops is so simple, check it out below!

Earl Grey de la Creme Latte Pops

Ingredients
1 cup boiling water
2 tea bags of Earl Grey de la creme (or your favorite earl grey tea)
1 tbsp. honey or agave
1 cup heavy cream

Instructions
Add the tea bags to the boiling water and steep for 10-15 minutes (cover the cup). Remove the tea bags and stir in the honey  until dissolved well.

Let the tea mixture cool for about 20 minutes, then whisk in the heavy cream. Pour into the ice pop molds, insert sticks and freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Printable Earl Grey de la Creme Latte Pops Recipe

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