Monday, August 31, 2009

how to be a domestic goddess recipes: chocolate peanut butter bars

like most foodies, i saw the "julie and julia" movie and loved it. my friend and i were inspired to go through a cookbook as well. so we decided on nigella lawson's book, "how to be a domestic goddess". the tagline of the book is: "baking and the art of comfort cooking" - which is totally up my alley. whenever people ask me what i like to bake and what my style is, i always say that it's baked comfort food, stuff your (my) mom would make. so it's the perfect book to go through. this was my first recipe to try cause i had the ingredients mostly on hand, it included chocolate and it took almost no time to make. awesome. the taste of these is very similar to peanut butter bon bons so that's pretty dreamy, but a simple approach to the same concept. anyway, enough chatter... get to making these!

ingredients for the base:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

ingredients for the topping:
7 ounces milk chocolate (i didn't have milk chocolate, so i just used 11 oz. of semi-sweet instead of the milk and bittersweet)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

stir all the ingredients for the base together until smooth. press the sandy mixture into a 9-inch square brownie pan and make the surface as even as possible.

to make the topping, melt the chocolates and butter together (in a microwave for ease, for a minute or two on medium) and spread the base. put the pan in the refrigerator to set. when the chocolate has hardened, cut into squares (after you let it sit out for a bit for the chocolate to soften just a touch, otherwise it will crack when you cut it)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

plum jam

my new obsession is plum jam. why did i not know about this earlier? so easy to make, really inexpensive and the recipe i found (at is so made in a couple of simple steps and with only a few ingredients. plum jam + brie + french bread and fresh pear = heaven.

approx. 5 cups of plums, chopped and pitted
2 T. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 packet powdered fruit pectin (i had the liquid kind and just boiled it all longer)
1 cup honey (increase or decrease as per taste) -- i love that this calls for honey instead of straight sugar
1/2 cup water

mix the plums, pectin and lemon juice in a heavy bottomed pan (i used my dutch oven pot) and cook in medium heat. the plums will start liquifying slowly. while slightly mushy, add 1/2 cup water, stir well and cook until it comes to a boil. remove the foam that forms on the top (or to make the foam go away easily you could just add a little butter.) add the honey or sugar, mix and cook for another 10-15 minutes until it all starts coming together as one thick syrup consistancy.

instructions for the canning process:
alternatively with soapy water, clean the jam can well, along with the lid. lightly dry it and then drop them in a big pot of water. bring them to a boil. lift them carefully (don’t burn your hands) and lightly dry them with paper towels. they should feel hot since it will make sure that the bottle does not break when your pour the jam inside. slowly pour the jam into the jar up to about 1/2-1/8 inch on top. close the lid tightly and invert the bottle to help the jam set well for about 5 minutes.

now slowly place it, straightup, inside the hot boiling water and leave it for another 5-8 minutes. this is done to help make the jam keep longer. if you live in higher altitudes, then leave them for about 10min. too much boiling can make the jam runny, as well.

remove and refrigerate the jars once completely cooled.


Monday, August 24, 2009

rhubarb-raspberry jam

it's official, your grandma and i should be best friends. i spent all day yesterday making jam, knitting, and watching old movies. all i need now is a hip replacement for it to be even more legit. i made two kinds of jam. a plum jam (which i'll post later this week) and this rhubarb-raspberry jam. i've only made freezer jam before, so i was excited to try making the cooked kind. i can't remember how i found this recipe, but i did, and i'm thankful for it. i found it here and it's so much simpler than i thought it would be.

Rhubarb-Raspberry Jam - from The Rhubarb Compendium - makes about enough to fill up four 8-oz jars

4 cups 1-inch pieces fresh rhubarb (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2-pint basket raspberries
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

combine rhubarb pieces, sugar and fresh lemon juice in heavy large dutch oven. cover and refrigerate until juices form, stirring
occasionally, at least 8 hours or overnight.

bring rhubarb mixture to simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. increase heat to high and boil until rhubarb mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. add raspberries and boil until mixture is thick, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes longer. remove jam from heat. stir in ground cardamom. cool jam completely.

(i boiled my jars in hot water and filled them up with the hot jam, then turned them over for 5 minutes, then boiled them for ten more minutes—right side up—to get a better seal so that my jam will last longer)

Monday, August 17, 2009

i want: pop savor from prepara

i need these in my life. how cute are they? i found these on (one of my favorite food sites/blogs). i'm always sprinkling salt or red pepper flakes or sugar on something and this is such a great design. and would be darling gifts. i think i'll have to get some for myself and some of my foodie friends.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

banana coconut muffins

my biggest pet peeve about muffins is, they are so good fresh that i want to eat a whole dozen. which i obviously cannot do. but when you store them they lose their texture. i've tried on a plate with foil (they get dry), in tupperware (they get that moist, almost waxy look, and lose any crisp edges), fridge (they get hard)... etc. and so on. if anyone has any tips they know of, please, PLEASE, let me know. my waistline demands it. moving on...

i got this recipe from one of my sisters, and make just a few tweaks (namely coconut and brown sugar) and i love it.

4 big ripe bananas
1/3 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar

blend together with a blending wand or a blender - something to make it super smooth.

1 cup wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
(i added, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring)

(also, i added brown sugar and coconut on top. just a sprinkle of brown sugar to get a little crispy, and enough coconut to satisfy)

fold the rest of the ingredients together until blended. pour into muffin pan. (sprinkle brown sugar over the top of each muffin then sprinkle coconut) bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

flourless peanut butter cookies

i first found these on joy the baker's site. and i heard my sister talk about pretty much the same recipe, so i had to try it. and i'm soooooo glad i did. best peanut butter cookies of my life! and since they don't have any flour, it's pretty much pure protein at that point, right? sure, whatever.

1 c. smooth peanut butter
1 c. sugar (1/2 c. brown sugar and 1/2 c. granulated sugar)
1 t. vanilla
1 egg
1 t. baking soda

preheat oven to 350°. in a mixer combine peanut butter and sugars until well combined, about 2 minutes. add egg and baking soda and mix for another 2 minutes. roll into walnut sized balls and create a cris-cross pattern with a fork, dipped in sugar. bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

pineapple upside down cake

there are some people who are like "i don't like warm fruit" and that totally harshes on my gig (remember that line, amy?) because think about it, peach cobbler, apple crisp, blueberry buckle, pineapple upside down cake... that's some good stuff right there. pineapple upside down cake is always a great summer cake. or winter, or any season really. i was trying to think of something to make for my family that would be pretty easy and of course, delicious. so, hello warm fruit. i actually doubled this because i was making this for my family, and it adjusted perfectly.

1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 c. butter, melted
6 canned pineapple slices, drained
2 eggs, separated
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. pineapple juice

(for high altitude: add 3 T. flour and bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes)

heat oven to 350° F. in a small bowl, combine brown sugar and margarine; blend well. spread in bottom of ungreased 9-inch round cake pan. (again, i doubled this, and adjusted for altitude so i did this in a 9x13 and cooked it at 375°). arrange pineapple slices over brown sugar mixture. set aside.

in a small bowl, beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. gradually add sugar; beat well. add flour, baking powder, salt and pineapple juice; mix well.

in another small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. fold into batter. pour batter evenly over pinapple slices.

bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. cool upright in pan 2 minutes. invert cake onto serving plate. serve warm.

(recipe from the pillsbury complete cookbook)