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Hello fellow culinary enthusiasts! I have moved my blog to a self-hosted platform! What does this mean for you delightful readers?  Pretty much nothing…but feel free to show your awe and support for my new technical skills if you wish.  If you signed up for email notifications, you’ll need to click on the subscription link on my new home page and subscribe via email or RSS (It’s located in the upper right hand corner). I apologize for the inconvenience, but I hope that you will continue to subscribe! You can also follow my posts on Twitter at @kelleygriff or on Facebook.

Here are the links to a few great posts you may have missed!

Pea & Bacon Risotto

Mahi Mahi with Rhubarb Compote

Homemade Hummus

English Muffin Bread

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Asparagus Salad with Truffle Vinaigrette

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It’s here!  Thank you so much for your interest in our Seasonal Potluck.  You can find the rules on our intro post HERE.  We are very excited to see and share your recipes.  Please use the link below to post your recipes to share. 

And just a reminder – April’s Potluck ingredient is RHUBARB!

May – TBD



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I pretty much love browned butter anything.  The nutty smell and caramel color – sometimes I feel like I could just drink it down by itself…but don’t worry, I don’t.  I am, however, drawn to any unique recipes incorporating browned butter.  This simple recipe for rice crispy treats is courtesy of the Smitten Kitchen, who never disappoints.  They’re like an adult version of rice crispy treats – but kids will love them too!

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats, makes 16 2-inch squares or 32 1- x 2-inch small bars

4 ounces (1/4 pound or 1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal (about half a 12-ounce box)

Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute.

As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.

Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan. I used a silicon spatula.

Let cool, cut into squares.  Enjoy!

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Vodka & vanilla beans, that’s all it takes.  Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini gives a nice in-depth description in her post here, however the whole process is really quite simple.  1 cup of  alcohol to 3 vanilla beans.  Most people use vodka because of it’s mild flavor.  However, I do think rum would be nice too.  I love the look of the flecks from vanilla beans in things like ice cream, frosting and custard, but I hate the process of scraping and steeping to get those little seeds out.  Enter vanilla bean paste.  You can use it interchangeably with extract, and no scraping!  Anyway, I don’t like to waste the paste on things like breads and cakes, where you can’t even see the vanilla bean seeds.  Enter vanilla extract.  I had some vanilla beans in the pantry from my pre-paste days, and decided to make my own extract!  You do have to cut open the beans, but no scraping is necessary…

Vanilla Extract, makes 1 cup

1 cup vodka (or rum)

3 vanilla beans

Cut open vanilla beans lengthwise and put inside an air-tight container.  Store container in a cook, dark place and shake every couple of days, or whenever you think of it.  It will gradually turn a dark brown color over time.  It takes about 8 weeks for the extract to be ready.

This is what it looks like after two weeks: 

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I have these pretty little cupcake papers that I’ve been wanting to do something with, so I figured what better occasion than birthday cupcakes!  My friend and co-worker, Shannon, has a birthday coming up and I was also stopping by the house of a friend who is sick today.  Perfect!  This gives me people to give the cupcakes to, so they are not sitting around the house for my husband and I to eat.  🙂  I decided to create my own version of “Hi Hat Cupcakes“, although they didn’t turn out quite as pretty as I would have liked – they still tasted delicious.  I didn’t want to use the marshmallowey like frosting, so I decided to try Italian Meringue Buttercream.  Well, it was a bit more difficult than I thought it would be.  I almost scrapped the whole batch, but was able to salvage it with some extra whipping and powdered sugar.  Here is a link to the original recipe I used, from Martha Stewart’s website.  I added some strawberry puree and a few drops of food coloring to the frosting, but it turned out a runny mess.  After A LOT of whipping and re-whipping, it did finally turn out tasty, but the yield was much smaller than the recipe stated.  I will have to find another frosting-worthy occasion soon to try the Italian Meringue Buttercream again.  The strawberry frosting is perfect for this time of year, as these would make great Valentine’s Day treats!

Devil’s Food Cupcakes, Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

makes approximately 24 cupcakes

1 1/3 cups cake flour

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon lemon juice + 1 cup milk)

1 cups sour cream

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners.

Sift the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Stir in the salt.  Place the bowl on the mixer stand and fit the mixer with the paddle attachment.

Combine the buttermilk and sour cream in a large measuring cup or a bowl.  Stir the eggs and melted butter together in a bowl.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the buttermilk and egg mixtures alternately, scraping down the sides often to prevent any lumps in the mixture.

Divide the batter among the lined cupcake cups.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Rotate the pan and bake for another 10 minutes, or until a cake tester or a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Remove the cupcakes from the tins and let cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.

I piped the frosting with a large round tip, but I think next time I’ll just use the coupler.  This way it give the frosting more of a “DQ cone” appearance.  Make sure the cupcakes are cooled before frosting, then put them in the freezer for 30 minutes before dipping.  To dip, heat 2 cups of chocolate chips (I used the Ghiradelli 65% cocoa chips) and 3 tablespoons of canola oil (to keep it thin enough to dip).  Transfer melted chocolate to a small cup, but deep enough to dip your hi hats.  Feel free to play around with the frosting and cake flavors.  The combinations are endless!

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The husband and I are on a healthy kick like everyone else in January, so my options for baking feel kind of limited at the moment.  With that being said, I still need to satisfy my sweet tooth.  I found this recipe for granola bars on www.allrecipes.com, and I modified it a bit with the ingredients I had on hand.  I also wanted to make this recipe a bit healthier, so I cut down on the sugar and used canola oil instead of vegetable oil.  You can use this recipe and make a number of modifications to suit your taste buds or what you have in your pantry.

Cranberry Almond Granola Bars, yields 20 bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, cranberries, almonds and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

You can wrap these up individually in plastic wrap, or keep in a plastic bag so they will stay chewy.  They make a great snack or even breakfast.  Enjoy!

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The smell of baking bread in the house is nothing short of amazing.  The taste and smell is even more amazing though when you’ve prepared this treat with your own two hands, and not just popped open that Pillsbury can.  This treat can be made a day ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator too, so you don’t have to get up at 4am to enjoy these as a breakfast treat!  They do require a bit of time and effort, so it is definitely a recipe worthy of a special occasion or company.  I made them for company with the thought that I would want something easy to pop in the oven that morning.

This recipe is from the cookbook, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart.  It uses the SAF instant yeast, which I have found that I prefer to the dry active yeast because there is less room for error.  It is fermented with sugar, so there is no need to dissolve into warm water.  I store mine in an airtight container in the freezer, and it should last at least a year.

Cinnamon Buns, makes about 12 large rolls

15 minutes mixing, 3 ½ hours fermentation, shaping and proofing; 15-20 minutes baking

6 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

5 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 large egg, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon lemon extract

3 ½ cups bread or all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 1/8 to 1 ¼ cups buttermilk or whole milk

½ cup cinnamon sugar (6 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar plus 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon)

  1.  Cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening on medium-high speed in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a large metal spoon and mixing bowl and do it by hand).  Whip in the egg and lemon extract until smooth.  Then add the flour, yeast, and milk.  Mix on low speed (or stir by hand) until the dough forms a ball.  Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes (or knead by hand for 12 to 15 minutes ), or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky.  You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture.  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  2. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
  3. Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter.  Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top of the dough with flour to keep it from sticking to the pin.  Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns.  Don’t roll out the dough too thin, or the finished buns will be tough and chewy rather than soft and plump.
  4. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll.  With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 even pieces each about 1 ¾ inches thick for larger buns; or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 ¼ inch thick for smaller buns.

     5.  Line 1 or more sheet pans with baking parchment.  Place the buns approximately ½ inch apart so that they aren’t touching but are close to one another.

     6.Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size.  After this proofing, you can place the buns in the refrigerator for up to two days before baking.

     7.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

      8.  Bake the cinnamon buns for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then streak white fondant glaze across the tops while the buns are warm but not too hot. 

White Fondant Glaze

Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a large bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange extract and between 6 tablespoons to ½ cup of warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved.  Add the milk slowly and only as much as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.  When the buns have cooled, but are still warm, streak the glaze over them by dipping the tines of a fork or a whisk into the glaze and waving the fork or whisk over the tops.

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