Monday, November 29, 2010

Apple Oat Bran Muffins

I made these yummy, but good for you muffins a few weeks ago at my parent's house. They were all gone when I went back to take a picture, so there are no pictures of them :(

I arrived at my parent's house one evening with dinner that I had made for the kids, my mom and myself. My dad was away and Mike was working late. When I got there, my mom had a recipe for apple oat bran muffins sitting out on the counter. Of course she chose to watch the kids when I gave her the choice to make the muffins or spend time with the kiddos. She had some old apples that she wanted to use. These muffins had very little sugar and fat in them, but the apples made them very moist and sweet. The oat bran added a little extra texture and made them more nutritious. These were a big hit and disappeared quickly. I will definitely make these muffins again. I would even buy fresh apples to make them!

Oat bran is the outer husk of the oat grain. The bran is often discarded during the milling process. The bran is what contains the bulk of the fiber and many minerals. When bran is left on a grain, it is marketed as "whole grain". You can buy different varieties of bran in your local mega mart. It is the perfect way to boost your intake of dietary fiber.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Mmmm, pancakes. Who doesn't like pancakes, right? Well, my hubby loves them. Before I was pregnant with V, I made them every Saturday. I made them recently, and they were enjoyed by all.

I really do not buy mixes for anything. It is so much healthier if you make things from scratch at home rather than buying it ready made. Pancakes are no exception. Homemade pancakes are easy and delicious. I even make my batter the night before and stash it in the chill chest so that it is ready to go in the morning. And, I know there are some recipes out there for a homemade mix. You mix together the dry ingredients, store it and just have to add the wet ingredients when you want pancakes. My husband loves chocolate chip pancakes, so I always throw some of my favorites (Ghirardelli bittersweet chips) in his while they are cooking. I don't mix them in because I prefer plain pancakes. But you could add anything from blueberries to bananas, or even walnuts. If you add these things while they are cooking on the stove or in smaller batches, everyone can have their pancakes just how they like them. Someone even gave me a tip for blueberries. She uses dried blueberries and soaks them in water first. It is just like having fresh blueberries in your pancakes year round!!!

There is archeological evidence that suggests that pancakes were the earliest and most widespread form of cereal food eaten in prehistoric societies. Dry carbohydrate-rich seed flours were mixed with available liquids that were rich in protein, such as milk and eggs. They were most likely baked on hot stones or in earthenware pots over open fire. This was a very nutritious food for that time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fudgey Oatmeal Bars (Recipe Included)

I love to make these yummy treats anytime I need something quick and easy. They are especially good for kids. They always call them brownies, but they really have lots of oatmeal in them :) Sorry there will not be any pictures this time around. Apparently, my daughter stick a quarter in the SD card slot on my computer, and I cannot find a USB cord to connect my camera to my computer :(

I have always loved these simple little bars. We always had them when I was a kid. My sisters and I always loved them. We still do. I like to make this recipe without cocoa sometimes too. Then, they are simply oatmeal bars. They are scrumptious either way. I actually think that I prefer them without the cocoa. I also generally cut back on the sugar, maybe to just one cup. Often times when I make them without the cocoa, I double the recipe. This makes for more like a dense oatmeal cake which makes a delicious breakfast treat! Try out the recipe different ways. You could skip the cocoa and add raisins. You could use dried cranberries or walnuts. This recipe, as most of my recipes, can be tweaked to your liking.

Quick oats are oats that have been processed to greatly reduce the cooking time. Quick oats are produced by taking oat grains and cutting them into pieces. They are then rolled out. In contrast, regular rolled oats are rolled out, but not cut. The cutting and rolling reduces the size of the oat, therefore reducing the cooking time.

Fudgey Oatmeal Bars
1 cup quick oats
1 1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Stir together oats and boiling water. Set aside. Stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add shortening, oat mixture, and vanilla. Beat on low speed just until combined. Scrape bowl. Then beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs. Beat at medium for an additional 2 minutes. Pour into greased 13x9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. (If doubling the recipe, additional baking time may be necessary.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cranberry Crumble (Recipe Included)

I have made cranberry crumble a few times in the past couple of weeks. It is a simple, delicious dessert that is always a crowd pleaser!

I love any kind of fruit cobblers, crumbles, buckles, or crisps. Some of these vary slightly, but are all essentially the same. Fall is the perfect time of the year for these types of desserts in my opinion. I love a warm bowl of this cranberry crumble with a hot cup of coffee. I use Granny Smith apples along with cranberries. This combination is pretty sour. However, the topping is very sweet to contrast the tartness of the fruit. This is another recipe that you can play around with a lot. If you don't like cranberries, omit them. You could do a lovely variety of stone fruits or berries in the summer when they are in season. Just use whatever kind of fruit that you like or whatever is available seasonally.

Crumbles originated in Britain during World War II. Because of the strict rationing of ingredients necessary to make a pie, crumbles were invented. They were so popular, though, that they stuck around. The term crisp is the American term for a crumble. A crumble is also similar to a cobbler. However, a cobbler typically has a smoother, more cake-like topping. A buckle is made with a yellow batter almost like cake batter. However, the filling is mixed in with the batter in this dish.

Cranberry Crumble
3 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
2 cups raw cranberries
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

In a shallow, 2 qt casserole dish, combine cranberries and apples. Mix together lemon juice and sugar. Sprinkle over apple mixture and stir together.

1 1/3 cup quick oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted

Combine all these ingredients and sprinkle over apple/cranberry mixture. Bake at 350ยบ for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I had Tiramisu to make for someone. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about this. I have not made Tirsamisu since I was in culinary school, which was about 7 years ago. I certainly hadn't made anything this complicated in a long time. It turned out not to be too difficult with just a few classic techniques. And it was quite delicious!

Tiramisu really only has two major components. First is the ladyfingers or Savoiardi in Italian. A lot of recipes call for store bought ladyfingers. I would NEVER buy ladyfingers in a store to make this luscious dessert. Firstly, I think that they would be much too hard to absorb the liquid in
which you soak them. Secondly, obviously they are not as delicious as homemade ladyfingers. Ladyfingers are a fairly complicated cookie to make. They are not just a straightforward mix and scoop cookie. I was a little intimidated when I looked at my recipe for these simple little cookies. I actually had to go back in my baking book from school and refresh myself on the mixing technique. I use a lot of the recipes in my baking book, but rarely do I need to go back and read up on techniques. It is a variation on what is called the sponge mixing method. First you must heat the egg yolks and sugar over a double boiler. Then they are whipped for quite some time. Then, in a separate bowl, you whip egg whites. They are then folded into the egg yolk mixture along with some flour. The batter is piped onto parchment lined baking sheets and baked. Ladyfingers are a rather involved cookie, but they turned out beautifully and tasted delicious.

The next step is not really a major component, but it is an important step. The ladyfingers must be soaked in syrup. There are a few options. A classic recipe would call for a mixture of simple syrup and espresso and often a sweet liquor. I chose to use straight Kahlua in this particular recipe. I chose Kahlua mainly because my espresso machine is packed away, but also because I knew that the person that I was making this for liked it with Kahlua. It obviously is not kid friendly if you use Kahlua though.

The second major component is a delicious light mixture of mascarpone cheese, eggs, and whipped cream. My arm was very tired from folding in cream after making it. I chose a method that you cook the eggs slowly for a bit of time over a water bath on the stove. Many classic
recipes for Tiramisu call for raw eggs, but I prefer to cook them. They must be stirred constantly though so that they do not scramble. Mascarpone cheese is then stirred in. Then, whipped cream is folded in. You layer the ladyfingers that have been soaked with the syrup with the mascarpone mixture. Top that with some cocoa powder. Voila! You have Tiramisu! This is definitely not a beginner's dessert, but don't be afraid to try it! The first time you try it, use store bought ladyfingers and try to perfect your mascarpone cream. You can only learn if you try!

Tiramisu's origin is debated. It may be a variation of the zuppa inglese which is the Italian take on a classic English trifle. One might think of it as a very traditional Italian dessert. It is a very popular dessert, but it does not date back that far. Some claim that the first documented mention of Tiramisu in a published work appears in a 1971 article by Giuseppe Di Clemente. It was mentioned in a 1983 cookbook by Giovanni Capnist called I Dolci Del Veneto. Merriam- Webster's online dictionary gives 1982 as the first mention of the dessert.