Friday, November 14, 2014

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

After a hiatus I am happy to say that the recipe swaps I used to participate in are back!  Now being run by Ashley from Cheese Curd in Paradise, this month was a Blogger's Choice theme.  I was assigned Eva Bakes.  After drooling over 99.9% of her posts, I finally settled on a recipe.  The added bonus was that we had just received some fresh apple cider in our CSA box last week!

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In December of 2012 for my office holiday gift exchange I was gifted several requested baking items, including a donut pan.  When I asked for it I had grandiose plans of making homemade donuts all the time.  Fast forward to November 2014 and you can tell by the packaging currently in my trash can how well that plan worked out!

It turns out that donuts are really not hard to make at all.  These are cake donuts so they are a drier consistency than a puffy yeast donut would be, but it does not take away from the taste at all.  I made two adjustments from what Eva did (though they both were done in the recipe she based it off of).  First, I used cardamom that she didn't use.  I love the smell of cardamom.  It's one of those spices that costs approximately $12 and you need about 1/4 tsp or less in most recipes that calls for it.  But once you have it in your pantry you don't want to leave it out!  I had purchased it for last year's Crunchy Molasses Cookies and have been waiting for a reason to use it again.

I also added a cinnamon sugar coating to about half of my donuts which I think added a nice touch (I left them off of some because I knew a little someone's nibbly fingers would be all over these donuts and didn't want the added sugar for him).

As Eva also realized, although the original recipe said it makes 6 donuts, I was able to make 11.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts (from Eva Bakes)

1 cup apple cider
1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom
3 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter optional
cinnamon sugar optional

Preheat  the oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare your donut pan by adding cooking spray to each of the wells.
-  Boil the apple cider down in a small saucepan until it reduces down to 1/4 cup. Set aside and let cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.
-  In the bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl using a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugars. Add the olive oil, reduced apple cider, and egg. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients alternately with the milk, ending with the flour (dry) mixture.
-  Spoon the batter into the prepared donut pan and bake for 9-10 minutes or until golden.
-  Remove the donuts from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before glazing.

- If you want to add a cinnamon sugar topping, you can brush the donuts with melted butter and dip into or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Bread

Cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon.

Those are the flavors of fall to me.  I know it's fall when I break those ingredients out for my baking attempts.  When this month's theme for What's Baking was announced as "baking with pumpkin or squash" I was excited.  While I love a good zucchini bread, my favorite way to enjoy squash is in soup or just roasted with brown sugar, maple syrup, etc.  I think I made it known when we last had the pumpkin theme two years ago that I was never a big fan of pumpkin flavored things.  I realized after making Pumpkin-Parmesean Biscuits that I actually enjoy pumpkin when it's baked in with other ingredients.  I think I mostly am turned off by the over pumpkin-ing of everything lately.  I mean, there are pumpkin Oreos, and, of course, the beloved "PSL" (when did that become a thing?  Why can't people just say "pumpkin spice latte"?  I have no idea and I have no desire to try it).

With the theme in mind, I flipped through a few of my cookbooks for inspiration and came across this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Bread in The Craft of Baking and set out to see if the pumpkin could, once again, win me over.

The end result is delicious.  It's easy to make (two bowls and a loaf pan, no mixers necessary) and there was no panic that it would be ruined after my son awoke from his nap earlier than planned.  In other news, the container of demerara sugar is a great toy that will provide enjoyment for as long as mommy needs to finish getting the batter ready.

Be sure to check out Carrie's Sweet Life for her upcoming round-up of all this month's submissions.

Pumpkin Spice Bread (from The Craft of Baking)

unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pan
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sour cream
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of ground white pepper
1 tbsp demerara sugar

- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line the bottom of an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 in loaf pan with parchment paper, and grease the bottom and sides with butter.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, egg yolk, and oil.  Add the pumpkin, sour cream, and vanilla and whisk well to combine.
- In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and white pepper.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet, then whisk together gently to just combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the demerara sugar.
- Bake, rotating the pan once, until the bread is firm to the touch, well browned, and slightly cracked on top, about 55 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes.  Then turn out the loaf onto the rack t cool.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.

*The bread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Brisket

If anyone wants to buy me a gift, just get me one of the Kosher by Design cookbooks.  Seriously, I only have the Short on Time book but everything I have made from it has been absolutely delicious.  And this latest endeavor did not let me down.

Over the summer we were down at the Jersey shore with friends.  While my husband and I do not keep kosher outside of our house, these friends do, so when we heard about a kosher sports bar in town we jumped at the chance to go (mostly because our friend was craving chicken wings).  Looking at the menu, the item that jumped out the most was the pulled beef sandwich.  I don't go out for BBQ often, but this just sounded so delicious to me.  And it did not disappoint!  I was thinking about this meal the other day when I was menu planning and I came across this slow cooker recipe.  How could I not make it?!

The end result was so tasty.  I served it with roasted potatoes and steamed green beans for well-rounded meal.  And I had plenty of leftovers so I stored the beef with a little bit of the au jus (or is the correct term "I stored the beef au jus"?  either way...) in one container and the BBQ sauce in another so it wasn't totally smothered in the sauce when I reheated it.  I got to enjoy the leftovers for the next several days, but could easily have frozen some for later use.

Slow Cooker Pulled BBQ Brisket (slightly adapted from Kosher by Design: Short on Time)

3 lbs top cut brisket
fine sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1-2 tbsp canola oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp whiskey
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme
4 cups beef stock
1 (18oz) bottled barbecue sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
crusty rolls cut in half horizontally for serving

- Line a slow cooker with a liner bag, if possible
- Slice the brisket into 2 pieces, season both sides generously with salt and pepper
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Sear the meat on both sides then place in slow cooker.
- In the same skillet, sauté the onion, 3 minutes, stirring frequently to pick up the bits of meat.  Top the meat in the slow cooker with the onions.
- In a large bowl mix the Worcestershire sauce, whisky, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and stock.  Pour the stock mixture around the meat (try not to wash the onions off the meat) until you just cover the meat.
- Pour the barbeque stock directly onto the meat.  Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.  The meat is ready when it can easily be shredded with a fork.
- Remove the cooked meat from the slow cooker (reserving the sauce) into a large bowl and shred it by pulling in opposite directions with two forks.
- Pour the sauce into a medium pot (reserving about a cup if storing any meat).  Add the dissolved corn starch and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Boil until thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Mix the meat being eaten immediately with some of the thickened sauce.
- Make a sandwich with the crusty roll and the meat, topping the meat with extra sauce if desired.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Turkey Chili

I love the fall.  The cooler temps mean that I can turn to my favorite comfort food - chili.  My go-to recipe had been my slow cooker meatless three bean chili, with melted cheese on top and a dollop of sour cream.  But sometimes you just want a nice, hearty, meaty chili.

Last year I had been perusing my local library and found the book Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach.  It's a combination cookbook and memoir about life in her kitchen and dining room, spanning the years from her single life to life with two kids (and two working parents) and how they made it all work.  And it's not about how easy life is and how she whips up 3 course gourmet meals every evening, it's about real life and the shortcuts she uses.  The book was so interesting and the recipes looked so good that after I read it cover to cover and returned it to the library, I ended up buying it for myself.  I find that it really gives a realistic view of family dinnertime with all the craziness, pickiness, etc.  Plus it provides a wide range of recipes.

In the book, Jenny has a quick and easy recipe for turkey chili.  We first made it last year and it's become a staple in our home during the cooler months.  It's got a nice kick to it (especially because I use some hot chili powder, not just regular chili powder), and served over a bed of brown rice, it makes for a delicious, filling meal.  Plus, it makes enough that my husband can have seconds and we still have enough left over for 2-3 more meals.  I probably could freeze the leftovers for future meals but I usually end up eating it for lunch or dinner over the next few days.

Another thing I have been trying to incorporate into my routine is one pot meals.  We end up cleaning a ton of pots, pans, and prep tools every night and don't have a lot of downtime before bed.  This chili is great because it is not only a one pot meal (well, one pot plus a rice cooker if you make rice as well but that's a quick clean) but also the only other things to clean are a cutting board and knife which you can clean while the chili cooks, then it's just the skillet and spoon.  Between the easy prep and quick clean up, this can be made and cleaned up in about an hour.  So simple, but so delicious!!

Turkey Chili (slightly adapted from Dinner: A Love Story)

1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves (or 2 large), minced
few glugs of extra virgin olive oil
1 lb ground turkey (dark meat is preferable)
salt & pepper to taste
3 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp chipotle or hot Mexican chili powder
28oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 bay leaf
1/3 tsp cinnamon
14oz can black beans, drained
Brown rice, plus any toppings you want: avocado, tortilla strips, etc

- In a large skillet, over medium-low heat, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil about 3 minutes.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high and brown the meat until it loses its pink color.
- Add salt, pepper, and chili powders - let it sizzle a moment, then add the tomatoes and the rest of the spices.
- Turn down the heat, simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Add the beans and cook for another 5 minutes (until the beans are heated through).
- Serve over rice with any toppings you choose.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


G'mar tov!

I hope you all had a sweet Rosh Hashanah.  Ours was filled with family, friends, and food.  Lots and lots of food.  Especially being eaten by my one year old.  This kid packs it away and I have no idea where he puts it all since he's so small!  But now we know he likes matzah balls, gefilte fish and kasha.  He hasn't voiced his opinion on my gefilte fish vs my grandmother's, though.  He seems to enjoy them both equally.

As I was preparing for the holiday I knew I wanted to bring something to my grandparents'.  I have brought honey cake in the past but wanted to do something a little different this year.  So I turned to my trusty Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking for ideas.  Everything in their Rosh Hashanah section looked better then the last but the one that jumped out at me was teiglach.  I'd heard of teiglach before but had never had it.  It is basically hard dough balls covered in a honey mixture.  What's not to like about that?!  And this recipe calls for ground ginger which adds a nice kick.

The end result tasted great and was a hit with my family.  In the future I may try to make the dough balls a little bigger but I like that it's a bite size dessert that easy to share.  I didn't get fancy with my plating this time since I had to be able to transport it.  Next time I would try to put the balls in more of a shaped tower.

I wish all a happy new year and may you have an easy fast.

Teiglach (from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking)

3 eggs
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour + more for dusting

Honey Syrup:
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup shredded coconut

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly smear with vegetable oil or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, sugar and salt.
- Blend in the flour to make a very soft dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, adding just enough flour, if necessary, to make it easy to roll.
- With your hands, roll the dough into long ropes, about 1/2 inch wide.
- Pinch or cut off 1/2 inch pieces (I used my pizza cutter for quick and easy cutting).  Place all the little pieces on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake, shaking the sheet occasionally, until the dough pieces puff and are golden brown (15-20 min).

- Once the dough is baked, make the syrup: In a saucepan, heat the honey and sugar together and boil very gently for 3-5 min until just amber colored.
- Lower the heat, then stir in the ginger, walnuts, and the baked puffs, tossing to coat them.
- Spread the mixture out onto a lightly greased baking sheet (using wet hands or a spatula) or arrange the teiglach in a tower formation.
- Sprinkle with coconut.
- Allow it to cool and harden (leave out or you could put it in the freezer for 30 min).
- This is a sticky dessert, so either pull off pieces to eat or you can use 2 spoons to take a section.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Butternut Squash Risotto

I posted the other day about roasted beet and goat cheese risotto.  Before I ever tried that out I made short-cut risotto using my slow cooker.  I admit that I started a blog post about it at the time, but hadn't finished writing it.  I revisited the incomplete post, reminding myself how delicious the end result was.  Now that squash season is coming back I look forward to making this again!

In an effort to cut down on cooking in the evenings, I try to maximize the use of my slow cooker.  But I usually ended up doing the same recipe over and over.  When I started hearing buzz about the new cookbook Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2 by America's Test Kitchen I knew it was something I needed to add to my collection.  I don't have Volume 1, but from what I've heard there is a LOT of prep work that goes into the recipes in there.  Volume 2 focuses on things with easy prep.  This doesn't usually mean just chopping veggies and opening cans which is what I was used to doing.  While the prep work is still pretty simple, you utilize the microwave and other shortcuts to making a great dish in the slow cooker both before and sometimes after the cook time is up.

Among the recipes that jumped out at me was Butternut Squash Risotto.  I like everything in that title, but I had never made risotto before because it usually was done by standing over a stove for a long time.  This recipe avoids that by microwaving the rice before cooking and adding hot broth to it from the start.  I will say, though, that this is not the dish to make on a day you are putting on the slow cooker and going off to work.  It only cooks 2-3 hours and I even if you have a timer I don't know how long it can be on 'keep warm' before it affects the outcome.

Of course I thought I had totally screwed up the whole thing because I hadn't read the blurb at the top of the page where it said to avoid the pre-cut chunks of squash and instead get a whole one or a halved & peeled one.  My supermarket doesn't sell halved ones and I'm sorry, but I have no patience when it comes to peeling a butternut squash.  I have other things I'd rather be doing (just about anything I can think of...).  I cut the pre-cut chunks down to 1/2 inch pieces and I think that it came out just fine.

And the official verdict on this is that it just might be my husbands #2 favorite dish I've made (after my poached flounder).  He would have to go back through everything I've ever made to decide if anything else was actually his second favorite, but this is definitely the best dish I've made in recent history.

Butternut Squash Risotto (from America Test Kitchen's Slow Cooker Revolution Vol 2)

6 cups vegetable broth
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup chopped onion
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 lbs peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch slices (***while they like pre-cut & peeled squash, they recommend avoiding the pre-cut chunks which they find dry and stringy)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp minced fresh sage

- microwave 4 cups broth in bowl until steaming, about 5 minutes.
- in a separate bowl, microwave rice, onion, and 1 tbsp butter, stirring occasionally, until ends of rice kernels are transparent, about 5 minutes.
- transfer rice to the slow cooker and immediately stir in wine, and let sit until wine is almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.
- stir in hot broth, squash, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cover and cook until rice is tender, 2 to 3 hours on high.
- after the cook time is up, microwave remaining 2 cups broth in bowl until steaming, about 2 minutes.
- slowly stream hot broth into rice, stirring gently, until liquid is absorbed and risotto is creamy, about 1 minute.
- gently stir in peas and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes.
- stir in Parmesan, sage, and remaining 2 tbsp butter (adjust risotto consistency with extra hot broth as needed).
- season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Beet and Goat Cheese Risotto

I think I've mentioned before that I am on a cooking message board.  Each day those of us who have blogs post links and pictures to that day's blog posts.  Back in February 2012 Jill from JBeanCuisine posted a picture of her roasted beet risotto with goat cheese that was just gorgeous.  I bookmarked the page because of the picture but having never eaten beets it wasn't on the top of my list of things to make.

Then I joined a CSA this year and in our box we started getting beets.  My mind immediately went to that beautiful picture and I knew what I would do with the beets.  Plus. risotto has always been one of those recipes that I know is time consuming and hard to make but I still wanted to try at some point.

The first time beets were in the box they were golden beets, so they didn't give us that nice pinkish color, but were still super tasty.  Since then we have gotten red beets so I had to go back and make the risotto again!

The risotto is actually pretty easy to make, but it does require your attention.  I like to pour myself a glass of wine, pull a stool up to the stove and sip away as I stir in the broth.

One note when using red beets - the color will stain!  I use prep gloves (the same kind I use when touching raw meats) when handling them plus I use foil under them on the cutting board so I don't end up with a bright pink board.  I also rinse the knife immediately after use so it doesn't stain.

Roasted Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese (from JBeanCuisine)

4 medium beets, trimmed (leaving 1 inch of stems attached)
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock + 1tbsp for roasting beets
3 cups water
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp for roasting beets
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups Arborio rice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp  freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup goat cheese (plus more for garnish)

- preheat oven to 425'
- toss the beets with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp stock and a dash of salt & pepper.  Tightly wrap beets in double layer of foil and roast on a baking sheet until very tender (about 1 - 1.5 hours depending on the size of the beets).  You will now they are ready when you can insert a knife through the middle without any resistance.
- Place the cooked beets aside (with the foil opened to allow steam to escape) to cool for about 20 minutes
- When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them, discarding stems and root ends, then cut into 1/2 in cubes.
- When you are ready to make the risotto, bring the broth and water to a rolling simmer in a medium saucepan.  Reduce heat and keep at a low simmer
- Preheat a wife (4-6 qt) pot over medium/medium-high heat.  Add in the olive oil and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.  About 3 minutes.
- Add rice to the onions and oil and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes
- Add the wine to the pan, simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute
- Add in 1/2 cup broth and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed.  Continue simmering and adding broth (about 1/2 cup at a time), stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until the rice is just tender and creamy-looking, 18 to 22 minutes (reserve leftover broth).
- Stir in diced beets, salt, and pepper (mixture will turn bright pink) and cook, stirring, until heated through.
- thin to your liking with some of the leftover broth, then stir in cheese and remove from heat.
- serve, garnishing with additional goat cheese if desired