Friday, August 29, 2014

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Can you believe it's almost September?  Where did the summer go?!  I know I have been MIA for most of this past year, but I thank you all for bearing with me.  There are some exciting things happening in my life right now - my little guy just turned 1 this past week, and as of a few weeks ago I am officially a stay-at-home mom.  What does that mean for you?  Well, hopefully I'll use my "extra" time (nap time and those few moments where he actually entertains himself without stirring up some trouble) to cook more and blog more!  If you've stuck with me during my crazy past year and a half (moving, new baby, etc) I assure you that I will be blogging more often now.

A few months ago What's Baking announced the theme of "Baking your Heritage", which ended up being sidelined for the summer produce theme back in June.  My original thought was to bake my own challah, which I've been wanting to do for a while.  But when the theme came back for this month's challenge I wanted to go a little crazier.  So I looked through a few of my Jewish cookbooks and had an "aha" moment.  What's more Jewish than bagels???!  I excitedly bought the few ingredients I needed (I had to replenish my whole wheat flour and buy bread flour and yeast, everything else was already in my pantry) and set aside a rare child-free morning to tackle this challenge.

It was surprisingly easy to make bagels.  I broke out the dough hook of my mixer to knead the bread which I think helped a lot (though you don't need to knead for as long, my mixer started smoking after 5 minutes!).  These were so simple that I think I'll try again with other kinds of bagels as well.  What I especially love about them is that I can make them whatever size I want.  We love bagels but try not to have them too often since the ones we buy at the local bagel store are approximately the size of my face (ok, I'm exaggerating - they are the size of my one year old's face).  So having these slightly smaller homemade ones are great to have on hand.  I ended up with 11 bagels of varying sizes so we'll have a few over the next day or so and can freeze the rest to enjoy in the future.


1 1/2 cups warm water
4 tsp dry yeast
pinch of white sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (use white whole wheat for a lighter texture)
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
1 cup plumped dark raisins
1 egg white, beaten

for the kettle water:
6 qts boiling water
2 tbsp. brown sugar

- In a large bowl, stir together the warm water, yeast, and white sugar.  Let the mixture stand for a few minutes to allow the yeast to swell and dissolve.
- Whisk in the oil, honey, and brown sugar, stirring to blend.
- Stir in the whole wheat flour, cinnamon, and salt.  Blend well.
- Add 3 cups of bread flour and knead for 10-12 minutes, adding more flour as needed to make a firm but smooth dough (***with my stand mixer I only kneaded the dough for about 7 minutes and didn't need any additional flour).  Let dough rest for 5-10 minutes.
- While the dough rests, heat a small bowl of water (enough to cover raisins).  When water is hot, add in raisins and let them sit for a few minutes.
- Knead or press the raisins into the dough.
- Please the dough on a work surface and cover with a clean tea towel or plastic bag, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 8-12 portions (depending on desired size of bagels).  Form each portion into a rope about 10 inches long.  Form the ropes into bagels, sealing the ends by using wet fingers to press together, then roll on the work surface.
- Let the bagels rise about 20 minutes until they appear a little puffy.
- While the bagels rise, bring 6 qts of water with brown sugar added to a boil.
- preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Once the water is boiling and bagels are puffy, place a few bagels at a time in the boiling water.
- As the bagels come to the surface, flip them over and cook for another minute.
- Remove the bagels to the baking sheet and let them dry briefly.
- Brush each bagel with the beaten egg white for extra shine.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and reduce the heat to 425.
- Bake (turning once midway) until the bagels are medium- or golden-brown, 18-22 minutes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Summer is here!  I am so excited to use all the great produce out there.  Who doesn't want to enjoy some fresh berries?!  I was pondering what to make for this month's What's Baking for the summer produce theme when Jenn from Jenn Cuisine mentioned a blueberry coffee cake that was a family favorite from when she was growing up.  I love blueberries so this one jumped straight to the top of my list.

I had also recently received a wonderful gift of salts, sugars and other spices from One of the sugar I was gifted was a blueberry flavored sugar.  I ended up mixing this with the brown sugar in the topping which I think added a little something extra to it.

This was very easy to make, although I did have a little snafu with the topping.  In my head it said melted butter which wasn't the case, though in the end I think it tasted pretty good as I made it.  I used light sour cream, 1/3 less fat cream cheese and Skim Plus milk which made me feel a little better about the multiple slices I ate.  The cake is pretty big, so this is definitely one to share.

Blueberry Coffee Cake (from The Main Wild Blueberry Cookbook)

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
2 /3 cup milk
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups blueberries, drained
8oz cream cheese, cut into 1/2 in cubes

1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

- preheat oven to 350 degrees
- grease a 9 x 13in pan
- combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Set aside
- in a separate bowl, combine slightly beaten eggs, sour cream, milk, vanilla and melted butter.
- add dry ingredients and stir only until well mixed.
- fold in cream cheese cubes
- gently fold in blueberries.
- spoon into prepared pan
- in a separate bowl mix the topping ingredients
- spread topping evenly over the batter
- bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Passover Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every Passover I like to make some treats to enjoy.  This  year I was, again, trying to avoid using boxed mixes.  This recipe for chocolate chip cookies caught my eye and I knew I wanted to try it.  I mean, who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies?!

In the end, the cookies were maybe a smidgen drier than I normally like, but they were in no way a "lesser" cookie that was obviously made for Passover.  I threw in some walnuts, as well, which I think added nicely to the flavor.  My husband and I really enjoyed these and I think they will make a return appearance in Passovers to come.

Passover Chocolate Chip Cookies (slightly adapted from The Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking)

1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla (must be kosher for Passover)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup matzah cake meal
1 cup potato starch
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

- In a large mixing bowl, cream the brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla with the butter.  Blend in the eggs.  Stir in the salt, matzah cake meal, and potato starch.  Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
- Chill the dough for at least one hour.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Scoop generous tablespoonfuls of dough and place them on the baking sheet.  Press down to flatten the dough a bit.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes to desired crispness.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Passover Favorites

With Passover a week away I wanted to re-share some of my favorite dishes I have posted about in the past two years.  My eating habits on Passover have changed a lot since I was a child (I used to think that it had to come from the Passover aisle or from the catalogue of candy I would sell for Hebrew school) and I now realize that most of what I make during the rest of the year can still be eaten during this time.  However, there are some things that I make specifically during Passover, usually using matzah meal or the Passover cake meal as a substitute for flour.  I can't wait to try new things this year!

Here are links to some of my favorite Passover dishes:

Veggie Kugel

Gefilte Fish

Fudge Brownies

Geshmearto Matzah

Matzah Meal Pancakes

Matzah Ball Soup

What are your favorite dishes to make?

Friday, March 7, 2014

S'mores Pie

When I sign up for a recipe swap, I usually look through my assigned blog and try to find something that would fit perfectly into my week's menu plan, usually as a main dish.  This was not that kind of a swap.  I fully admit that this recipe choice is a case of "why not to choose a dish on an empty stomach".  As I looked through The Cookaholic Wife's recipe index this S'mores Pie jumped out at me.  I knew that I needed to make this immediately.

This pie was so easy to make and was just as delicious as I expected it to be.  I would be more afraid of just how much of the pie I'll end up eating if it weren't for the fact that my husband already ate 2 slices.  So I think my waistline will be just fine....until the next time I make the pie.

Thank you again to Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting the swap!

S'mores Pie (from The Cookaholic Wife)

1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (approx 10-11 sheets)
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
10 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
marshmallows (either 1 cup mini, whole or 16 large, halved)

- Preheat oven to 325
- Put the graham crackers in food processor and pule until crumbs.  Stir the butter into the crumbs until combined, then press the crumb mixture into a 9" pie plate.  Place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.
- Heat the heavy cream and milk in a saucepan over a medium-law flame until it simmers slightly around the edges.  Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until melted.  Whisk in the sugar and salt.  In a separate bowl lightly beat the two eggs, then add slowly to the chocolate mixture while whisking.
- Pour the chocolate mixture into the crust.  Bake for 25-30 min until set.
- Remove the pie from the oven and spread a layer of marshmallows on top.  Set the oven to broil and put the pie back in the oven until the marshmallows are toasted (approx 20 seconds).
- Let the pie cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
*** It's recommended to heat the pie in the microwave for about 10 seconds before eating for an extra gooey bite***

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gnocchi with Fontina Sauce

After having a lot of fun with the last Blogger's Choice swap, I was eager to join in for this round.  The blog I was assigned was The Cookaholic Wife.  There were so many yummy looking things on there, but after much deliberation I settled on trying my hand at homemade gnocchi,

I love gnocchi and if it's on the menu, 9 times out of 10 I will order it, but I had never made it myself.  ----- made it sound so simple that I knew this was the recipe to go with.  And it was definitely easy!  To save time I opted to heat my potatoes in the microwave, then while they were cooking I prepped the rest of the dish.  She said to use 1/2 - 3/4  cup flour.  I used 1/2 and thought the consistency was good but I think I'll use a bit more in the future, as the dough got sticky as I rolled it out.  I also was using a small cutting board to roll the dough, so I did it in a few batches and would toss each batch into the pot as I went along, removing them when they started to float..  Next time I will prep all of the gnocchi and put it in the pot all at the same time since I ended up with mostly cold gnocchi,  I don't know why I thought this way was  good idea!

The sauce was so rich and creamy.  I may, in the future, cut down a little on the butter and use skim milk instead of heavy cream just so it doesn't feel as heavy.  I think this was the first time I thought a sauce was too cheesy.  But I would totally try this sauce out on macaroni & cheese.  Maybe I'll make some homemade macaroni in a few weeks...hmm....

Honestly, if I knew how easy it was to make gnocchi I would have done it years ago.  Who knows what's in those prepackaged ones you buy at the store?  I think homemade is the way to go for this in the future!!  I have so many more dishes that use gnocchi that could benefit from this change.

And a big thank you to our trusty swap leader Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking who does all the leg work for us so we can just cook and enjoy!

Gnocchi with Fontina Sauce (from The Cookaholic Wife)

Gnocchi  Slightly Adapted from Closet Cooking
1 lb. baking potatoes
1/2 - 3/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
 1 tbsp. milk  

- Scrub the potatoes well and prick with a fork. Use your desired method to bake the potatoes. (I cheat and use the microwave for the sake of time, but the oven is fine too.)
- Once the potatoes have cooled enough to handle, scoop out the insides of the potatoes into a medium bowl and mash with the milk.
- Add the egg and salt and stir with a fork until combined. Start with the 1/2 cup of flour and use your hands to combine until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add additional flour.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Roll the dough into long 1/2 inch wide rolls.
- Cut the dough into 1/2" pieces and dip in remaining flour, shaking off the excess.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a dish towel over a wire rack.
- Using a slotted spoon, drop batches of the gnocchi into the boiling water, making sure not to crowd the pot. Once the gnocchi float, about 2-3 minutes, remove with the spoon and transfer to the dish towel. Let drain before serving.

Fontina Cheese Sauce
Slightly Adapted from:

6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. shallots, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
7 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
- Once the pot of water for the gnocchi is boiling, heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add the butter and shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the butter is melted and the shallots are soft.
- Stir in the heavy cream and heat to an almost boil. Gradually mix in the Fontina cheese and Parmesan cheese, stirring until the mixture is smooth.
- Remove immediately from the heat.
- Serve the cheese sauce over the gnocchi. Garnish with oregano. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Crunchy Molasses Cookies - Great Food Blogger Cookies Swap

Last year I participated in a cookie swap from a message board I'm on.  I had fun with that swap, so when I heard about the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap I knew I wanted to be a part of it this year.  The concept of it is that food bloggers from all over join in for a small donation to Cookies for Kids' Cancer, then you are assigned three bloggers to send a dozen cookies to and you'll receive three dozen cookies in return from other bloggers.  Doesn't that sound like a great swap?!

There are so many food blogs out there, so it was nice to be connected to blogs I otherwise wouldn't have known about.  The bloggers I was assigned were:
The Crafty Foodie
Embracing Homemaking
Cardio Cats and Cooking

Knowing I needed to make at least 3 dozen cookies (with a few extras for us to enjoy here) and knowing that this was to raise money for Cookies for Kid's Cancer, I turned to my Best Bake sale Cookbook, which happens to give all proceeds from book sales to the same charity!  I wanted to make something "holiday"-ish.  One of my favorite holiday flavors is gingerbread, so these molasses cookies are the perfect holiday treat!  And my favorite part of these cookies is the sugar coating they get before going into the oven.  It helps bring out the sweetness from the otherwise spicey cookies.

I baked them, packed them up and sent them off to the recipients.  Then as I was on my way home from the post office I realized that I hadn't taken a picture of them!  What is a girl to do??  Bake more, of course!  I knew that I wanted to make holiday treats for our neighbors, so I whipped up another batch for them, and this time I remembered to take a picture before giving them away.  And another thing about making the extra batch was that I adjusted the bake time so they didn't come out quite as well done as the ones I had sent to my swap recipients.

Oh, and the best part of this swap?  Receiving cookies!  I was sent walnut sable cookies from La Peche Fraiche which I think lasted 2 days in our house, Ritzy Peanut Butter Crackers in Chocolate from Crackers on the Couch (when I opened this box the scent of chocolate and peanut butter wafted through the air...every box should have this scent!) and yummy jelly cookies from Mooshu Jenne.

I'm looking forward to doing this swap again next year!

Crunchy Molasses Cookies (slightly adapted from The Best Bake Sale Cook Book)

1 1/2 sticks (6oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, plus additional for rolling
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup robust molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until smooth and creamy.  Add the egg, molasses, and vanilla, one at a time, beating well between additions.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Place the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a separate bowl and mix well.  Add to the butter mixture.  Beat until everything is well incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again.
- To form the cookies, break off small pieces and roll into 1 inch balls.  Roll the balls in sugar and place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Using your hand or the bottom of a water glass, press down until flattened.  Transfer to the oven and bake until the cookies begin to brown at the edges (approx. 10 minutes).  Cook on the cookie sheet.  Transfer to a wire rack and repeat with the remaining dough.