Peanut Butter Cookies

There are some things I just love. The smell of rain, hot chocolate on a cold morning, the combination of chocoalte and coffee. Oh and did I mention peanut butter? I love it. A lot. In fact we have about five different kinds in our cabinet right now.

However, on this occasion I took a jar out of the cabinet for a purpose other then eating it with a spoon. My mom wanted to make peanut butter cookies for a friend, so I gladly volunteered. The recipe came from Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. This book was a well worth it purchase with decadent recipes.

I was a little hesitant while mixing up the dough because it was very light and fluffy. It just didn’t seem like a cookie dough. However they baked up nicely and the lucky recipient enjoyed them.

February 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm Leave a comment

Granola bars, or maybe granola

I have to say that I’m overall a pretty unorganized and spare of the moment type of person. I wait until homeroom  to do my homework, pack my lunch right before I head out the door and my room is normally a mess. With baking, I’m no different. I get flour on the floor, batter on the ceiling (yes this really happens) and dough on my nose. My parents have no idea how I cause such a disaster in the kitchen and sometimes I wonder myself.

Besides causing such a mess in the kitchen, I tend to try new things there as well. Very rarely do I make a recipe more than twice. I even find new recipes for staples such as chocolate chip cookies and banana bread. However, I have made this granola  five times since I first saw it on Smitten Kitchen about two months ago. It’s that simple and good. The recipe is originally for granola bars, but I have made bars about half the time and granola the other times.

What I love about this recipe is how versatile it is. The options for add ins are almost endless. So far I have tried dried cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, coconut, pecans, walnuts, almonds and chocolate chips. The original recipe calls for a specific amount of honey, but I just add enough until it looks good. I’ve even added some peanut butter with great results. Depending on the amount of sticky binding ingredients you use, you can either end up with solid granola bars or crumbly granola. Both are great though and I think I’ll continue to make this recipe while experimenting with ingredients.

Granola Bars
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Adapted from Ina Garten

Makes 12 to 16 granola bars

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts)
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
2/3 cup honey/peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cup dried fruit  apricots, cranberries, raisins)

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×13-inch pan and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, nuts, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

While the mixture is still warm, stir in the honey/peanut butter, vanilla and salt until the mixture is well coated, then add the dried fruit. Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and press it down VERY well (wet fingers and/or a silicon spatula work great for this) until the mixture is packed as tightly as possible.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool until completely cool and cut into bars or crumble into granola.

This freezes well or keeps on the counter for a few weeks.

February 25, 2010 at 12:58 pm Leave a comment

Doughnuts!

Call me crazy, but I’ve never been a big fan of doughnuts. Somehow these little sugared covered pillows of fried dough have never been at the top of my food list. I would take a oatmeal cookie or slice of chocolate cake over a doughnut any day. Despite these feelings, I decided to whip up a batch of my own to celebrate Fat Tuesday.

I’ll be honest, I really wasn’t expecting much. First of all I have never fried anything before, so I was a little weary. Second, I was just expecting a standard doughnut. Despite this mixed up the dough, cut out the circles and put them into a pot of hot oil. As soon as the first few were done, I one in some powdered sugar, popped it in my mouth and wow! My thoughts about doughnuts will be forever changed. I didn’t really believe that something fresh could be so much better than shelf version.

For the most part these were simple to make. The dough was like most yeast doughs, just a little stickier. I would recommend using dough hooks if you have them, as the dough quickly ran up the beaters of my hand mixer. The dough luckily did rise and roll without a problem. It also fried up nicely to a crispy yet soft golden brown. After they cooled just a little, I coated some in powdered sugar, some in cinnamon sugar and iced a few others with leftover chocolate icing. Although these were delicious, I would recommend eating them the day of making them. I could have easily done this, but decided to take some into school, only to find they were a little dry.

Doughnuts!

Via Joy the Baker via Gourmet, December 2006

makes about 12-18 doughnuts plus some scraps

1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons warm water (105–115°F)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for sprinkling and rolling out dough
1 cup whole milk at room temperature
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
About 10 cups vegetable oil for deep frying

Stir together yeast and warm water in a small bowl until yeast is dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Mix together flour, milk, butter, yolks, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and yeast mixture in mixer at low speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat 3 minutes more.

Scrape dough down side of bowl (all around) into center, then sprinkle lightly with flour (to keep a crust from forming). Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Alternatively, let dough rise in bowl in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours.)

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round (1/2 inch thick). Cut out as many rounds as possible with 3-inch cutter, then cut a hole in center of each round with 1-inch cutter and transfer doughnuts to a lightly floured large baking sheet. Cover doughnuts with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes (45 minutes if dough was cold when cutting out doughnuts). Although you cannot  reroll scraps, they fry up nicely.

Heat enough oil for the doughnuts to float in a deep 4-quart heavy pot until it registers 350°F on thermometer. Fry doughnuts, 2 at a time, turning occasionally with a wire or mesh skimmer or a slotted spoon, until puffed and golden brown, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. (Return oil to 350°F between batches.)

February 16, 2010 at 9:24 pm Leave a comment

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February 15, 2010 at 1:05 pm 1 comment


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