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Archive for July, 2011

“these are stupid good”

since july is coming to an end, i’m considering this post to be a little christmas in july. but, the only thing that would even qualify this as a christmas recipe is the fact that there are dried cranberries in these cookies and as i was making them last night i thought that these would make a great addition to my thanksgiving/christmas holiday dessert playlist! so, thank you ryan, our newest team member at work, for the suggestion of this brilliant little cookie. who knew i’d be into such a zesty morsel. but, i guess you never really know until you try!

ingredients

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 T grated orange zest

1 teaspoon orange extract

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup dried cranberries

11.5 oz. bag of white chocolate chips

preheat your oven to 350 degrees. baking time is 10-12 minutes or until golden.

let’s get this zesty party started! in your mixer’s bowl blend together softened butter and sugars until smooth and creamy. add your eggs one at a time mixing well in between. follow that up with the extracts and the zest mixing until well blended. add your flour and baking soda, again blending together well. follow that up with the oats and the chocolate chips. i really just threw in the entire bag of chips, because let’s be honest what’s the fun in not doing that.

place dough in dollops (hehe) on your cookie sheets, well spaced out and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden @ 350 degrees. once baked, set them out for two minutes to cool before carefully placing them on wire cooling racks. and that’s it. quick, simple and quite possibly life changing. i’m just saying!

happy friday

-b

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last week one of my favorite foodie (cupcake) bloggers posted about a need for “cupcake explorers.” she’s on a quest to discover the ultimate vanilla cupcake recipe and my interest was immediately sparked.

Over the years, many of you have asked me for the ultimate vanilla cupcake recipe.  Each time – although you couldn’t see it – my face turned the color of the logo below and my heart sunk as I responded, “I don’t have one.”  I’ve been so busy developing unique, funky, off-the-wall cupcake recipes that I never took the time to work on a vanilla cupcake recipe.  I felt like a gymnast who could do a double flip, but had somehow missed learning how to do a cartwheel.  That is changing now!”

As those of you who have been following along on the Cupcake Project Facebook page already know, I recently began a quest for the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake recipe.  I’ve researched, baked, and baked, and baked, and in the end created what I believe to be the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake recipe.

I refuse to call my recipe the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake until it’s been baked by a 50 baker team of testers (Explorers).  If more than 80% of the Explorers agree that it’s the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake recipe, I will declare it as such (there’s no recipe that everyone can agree on).  If the Explorers don’t love it, I’ll take their comments into consideration, go back to the cupcake tin, and try again.

cupcake project

so after weeding through almost 700 “explorer” submissions, 50 were chosen…and what do you know, lazybird was among those picked!

i’m super pumped to be a part of this group. i have certainly learned…there are just not enough baking hours in the day. with all the books and blogs and shows…there are just too many different recipes floating around…and when you want to find the best, all the resources make it an overwhelming task. that’s why i love this idea….i loved it even if i wasn’t chosen, cause i knew how much work was going into this task. all the baking on stef’s end…and then all the baking done by her explorers would surely be sufficient in claiming the ultimate vanilla cupcake title. BUT being chosen as an explorer is even more exciting…cause anyone who knows me, knows i love a good adventure.

so this week i’ll be baking and having my true blue taste testers put in there two cents….and then i report back. i’m excited to see what comes of this and SO excited to be a part of it.

-L

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one year ago: B’s VERY famous gooey butter cake

i’m not gonna lie…as far as i know, i have no french roots….and i really can’t give you a detailed account of what Bastille Day actually is (just a general one that usually ends with a question mark inflection). BUT…what i do know…is that it’s NEVER bad to have an excuse to eat french pastries….so Happy Bastille Day it is!

i decided to merge a couple existing recipes together to whip up these napoleons. if you’re a follower…you remember the toil and trouble that came with learning how to make puff pastry. it’s not difficult….it’s just specific….and takes patience, time and cold temperatures. (the latter being laughable considering the current dallas heat wave we’re in the middle of….but i went for it anyways)

someday i promise i’ll document the puff pastry process in photos…cause it’s a little hard to imagine without diagrams. (diagrams?! oh man….i’m sure i have lost half of you by now) but all of the trouble aside, one batch of puff pasty goes a long way…and you can freeze it for up to a year. it can make a sweet treat, or a savory side dish

puff pastry
5 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water
2 cups butter

whisk together your flour and salt. add in water. stir until dough has formed. dough will be a tiny bit on the lumpy side. set aside and let her rest for about 20 minutes.

roll out into a rectangle 1/2 inch thick.

cut up (chilled) butter into squares and put them ALL over the top of the dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch butter-free around the edges of the rectangle. (the butter needs to be chilled….but it’s a fine line…too warm and your dough will absorb it…too cold and it will break through your dough. my handy-dandy pie and pastry bible noted that 60 degrees F is the perfect temperature for your butter…if you want to be that technical….i just guessed it, myself)

after the top of your dough is covered in butter squares, fold it in thirds (like you would a business letter) and roll out again to about 1/2″ thickness. be careful to not let the butter break through the dough or out the sides.

(first fold) turn the dough 90 degrees and roll out again into a rectangle and fold again into thirds. (second fold) it’s important to keep your dough chilled, so between every two folds refrigerate for 30 minutes, covered.

you will repeat this process of rolling out and folding two more times…refrigerating between every two folds until you have folded the dough 6 times. once finished, wrap and refrigerate.

stabilized whipped cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cup heavy whipping cream (divided)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(note: i ended up making two batches of this cream, when i probably only needed one…maaaaybeee one and a half?!….however, there’s nothing wrong with left over homemade whipped cream. i’m sure your coffee will agree)

begin by putting your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

in a small sauce pan, over low heat, combine powdered sugar, cornstarch and 1 /2 cup whipping cream. whisk together till well blended. bump your heat up to medium and continue whisking till ingredients begin to thicken up and come to a rolling boil. immediately remove from heat and transfer to glass bowl to cool to room temperature – i usually just transfer it back to my liquid measuring cup as you will have to pour it out later on. once mixture is cooled, stir in vanilla and set aside. (if you’re making all parts of your napoleon at once, you might want to start with this step, since it will take a while to cool down. it wont take too long for your whipping cream to whip up, so keep in mind that this mixture needs to be cooled before you start with the next step.)

using your chilled mixer bowl and beaters or whisk attachment, beat the remaining 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream at a high speed till you begin to see distinct lines forming in the cream. with the beaters still going at high speed, pour in your cooled, sugar/cream/vanilla mixture. the next part happens pretty quickly, so pay attention. continue beating this mixture till it forms stiff peaks, being careful not to over-beat.

to make napoleons:

preheat your oven to 425°.

remove dough from fridge and cut off a fourth. roll out your dough into a rectangle – about 6″ x 16″ and 1/8 of an inch thick, focusing more on the thickness than the length. once rolled out, prick all over with a fork. sprinkle a cookie sheet with water, shaking off the excess and transfer your dough to the cookie sheet. bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes – dough will be puffed up and golden. transfer to cooling rack. i actually put mine in the fridge to cool which helped when it came time to cut the pastry.

once cooled, gingerly cut your puffed rectangle into three long strips. (it helps to use a wet serrated knife) then cut each strip through the middle leaving you with six strips – three tops, three bottoms. i went ahead and cut mine down to napoleon single serving sizes from there. on the bottom layer slap on some cream and berries (i picked strawberries) or chocolate shavings/sauce?! – whatever you love the most. add the top layer and sprinkle with confectioners sugar. go ahead and add another dollop of whipped cream for good measure, and some more berries while you’re at it. serve immediately – or chill until ready.

it might seem like quite the ordeal from start to finish….but the good news is….once you make a batch of puff pastry….you will have plenty to experiment with. be it cream horns, croissants, or napoleons….there will be enough to go around. AND you will feel oh so accomplished and fancy making anything french!

enjoy!

-L

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one year ago: cinnimini rolls

my little birds were skeptical about said blueberries….AND the giant bag of chocolate chips a certain (wonderful) kitchen host had left on the counter definitely didn’t help my “blueberries are delish” argument….but when all was said and done, these muffins were a hit. (and only one of my little birds picked around the blueberries)

if you’re looking for a kid friendly treat, muffins are a great choice. you don’t need a boxed-mix in your cabinet because you probably have all the ingredients you need. as far as equipment, you only need a couple bowls, a spoon and a muffin pan…no mixer required (that would actually hinder this recipe) not only are they super simple….but they are also a super quick treat – we’re talking under and hour quick.

ingredients:
streusel topping:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter (chilled)

muffins:
3/4 cup milk (room temperature)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg (room temperature)
2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries (fresh, frozen or drained canned)

preheat your oven to 400°.

prepare your muffin pans. either line with paper baking cups, or spray the bottom of the pan with cooking spray. set aside.

begin with your streusel. (if your cool enough, roll your R’s every time you say streusel….it will make you feel much fancier. i mean, don’t feel bad if you can’t do it….i can’t either….but the girls certainly enjoyed using the extra flair) in a medium bowl, stir your flour, brown sugar and cinnamon together. cut in your chilled butter till your mixture is crumbly, with the largest pieces about pea-size.

tips and tricks:
cut in” is a term used for mixing butter or shortening into your ingredients. you cut the butter with a fork or knife as you stir/mix it with the ingredients. the result is a crumbly mixture instead of a smooth mixture. use chilled butter, so that it keeps its form as you mix. if your butter is softened, it will just mix in smoothly with your ingredients.

in a large bowl, combine flour (sifted), sugar, baking powder and salt. mix all these ingredients together and in the center, make a well.

tips and tricks:
a “well” is exactly what it sounds like, a sunken in area. stir your ingredients together and run your spoon around the edges making high walls. then, in the center of your dry ingredients, scoop out a well.

these are your “dry ingredients” + “well”

in another medium-sized bowl beat together milk, vegetable oil and milk till well blended.

these are your “wet ingredients”

pour your wet ingredients into the well you have created in your dry ingredients. stir your ingredients together just until your dry ingredients have absorbed your wet ingredients. your batter will be lumpy, and that’s the way you want it. about 10-15 times around the bowl should be enough. don’t be tempted to keep going…over-mixing will create a tough or compact muffin.

tips and tricks:
please believe me when i say, don’t over-stir your ingredients. i know it’s hard to look at lumpy ingredients….but i’m telling you, if you stir till it’s smooth…you’re going to get dense muffins. over-stirring causes the gluten in the flour to over-develop and results in a tough muffin, peaked tops or tunnels.

next comes the blueberries. (or strawberries, apples, bananas, chocolate-chips…whatever you prefer)

tips and tricks:
wash your fruit and toss them in flour. this just helps your fruit not to fall to the bottom of your muffin.

gently fold your berries into your batter.

tips and tricks:
the term “fold” is used when you need to stir in an ingredient gently. we have already mixed this batter up as much as we need to, so in this step we fold for two reasons: 1. to avoid over-mixing and 2. to be careful not to squish the berries. fold by scooping your spoon or rubber spatula under all your ingredients and lift up and fold over to the other side of the bowl. continue doing this till your berries are thoroughly mixed in.

spoon your batter into your baking cups, dividing evenly. only fill your cups about 3/4th full. sprinkle your streusel on top, about a tablespoon for each muffin.

bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. you’ll want to transfer your muffins from the pan to a cooling rack after about 3-5 minutes of cooling. removing them from the pan prevents moisture from collecting between the pan and the bottom of your muffin.

serve warm….with butter, if you’re smart like me.

enjoy!

-L

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