Moist Delicious Corn Bread

corn bread 2

Easily the quickest of quick breads, moist and tender …. this is absolutely delicious and one you must try.  Just another fantastic use for your cast iron skillet.  Serve this alongside some hearty chili or stew and you’ll have such a comforting meal.

  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 425 and place a 12 inch cast iron skillet in to heat up while you make the batter.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl whisk up the buttermilk, eggs, and 7 tbsp of the melted butter.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 and remove the skillet.  CAREFULLY … remember it is hot.
  4. Coat the skillet with the remaining tbsp of melted butter.  Pour the batter in the skillet and place it in the oven.  Amazing to watch …. it right away starts to puff up around the edges.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until firm, and a tester comes out clean.  Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
corn bread 3

This comes together so quickly – whisk up dry and wet ingredients separately and then quickly combine them.  Stir until you don’t see any lumps, but don’t over mix the batter.

Corn bread 4

As soon as the batter hits the hot pan it starts to smell amazing and I loved the way it puffed up around the edges of the cast iron.

Corn bread 1

It might be difficult, but let it sit for 15 minutes after removing from the oven.  Still warm enough to melt butter but holds together like a dream ….. try it, and I bet you love it.

Have you checked out http://www.jocooks.com ??  I got this recipe from her blog and it is most assuredly the best cornbread I’ve tried.  In fact, I think every recipe I try of hers I love!

Beer Bread

Beer Bread 1

Today I created an extra crunchy crust …… first the melted butter, then sprinkled on some grated aged cheddar, and topped with the seasoned sesame seed mixture left from the dregs of the nuts and bolts mixture I made this Christmas – Y U M

This is the easiest, simplest quick bread!  The most difficult part of making this bread is waiting for it to come out of the oven while amazing smells are drifting through the house …..

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 can or bottle of beer
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift dry ingredients together and stir in 1 12 ounce bottle or can of beer – stir just until it all comes together and turn into a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.  (I like to line the pan with parchment paper – it makes it so easy to lift out of the loaf pan.).

Drizzle the melted butter over and bake.

Bake for 1 hour until a tester comes out clean.

Rest for 10 minutes before removing from loaf pan, then let sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Beer Bread 2

Aged white cheddar and Italian seasoning added today.

 

You can mix this up however you like – add in herbs, grated cheese or some seeds.

My cousin Vivian used dried dill weed in the flour mix, and put olive oil on top … try it!

I’ve had people ask if you can use soda instead of beer ….. not unless you add 2 tsp (or 1 packet) of instant yeast.  It is the beer that helps the bread to rise and not be a heavy lump of dough!

Did you know that you should sift your flour, and SCOOP (using a spoon) into your measuring cup instead of scooping with your measuring cup?  This helps make your flour lighter and in turn, your bread lighter.

 

Candy Cane Sugar Cookies

Just in time for Christmas!  I bought a small bag of crushed candy canes at Bulk Barn, probably about $2.00 worth …. thinking it would be great for decorating the sugar cookies we make every year.  Well, Sloan had a different idea and decided they should go in the cookies, so that’s what we did.  What a hit!

Peppermint cookies 1

  • 3/4 cup soft butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup crushed candy canes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together butter and sugar.  When light and fluffy add in eggs and vanilla and beat until creamy and smooth.

Sift dry ingredients together and stir into butter mixture.  It will be a stiff mixture, so you may end up using your hands, we usually do.

Last, stir in the crushed candy cane.

Knead lightly until you have a workable dough, then cover tightly and put in the fridge for at least an hour.  (you can do this days ahead or even freeze it at this stage)

Roll out dough on lightly floured board and cut into desired shapes.

We always decorate our cookies before baking them, in place of the added sugar you get with decorating with icing.

I used to use raw egg, but find I get better results using evaporated milk and gel food colouring.  Just put a little milk in a cup and stir in enough food colouring to get the colour you want.

Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes, watching carefully – every oven is different.

 

peppermint cookies 4

Get your kids involved!  Sloan is 9 and has been rolling and cutting dough for years now.

peppermint cookies 2

So many fun sugars and sprinkles available now for decorating the tops.

Peppermint Cookies 3

We do a  cooking class on Fridays – these four work so well together, and we have a great time with Pearl and Leo joining Sloan and Stella.

peppermin cookies 3

Each of the kids made their own dough & we baked up two batches – each family got to take one batch home for baking another day.

Peppermint cookies 5

Pearl has this tray ready to go in the oven, love all the vibrant colors.

Peppermint cookies 7

The most important part is taste testing ….

 

Stay tuned – more cooking classes to come!

 

 

Apple Crumble Muffins with Vanilla Glaze

If you are looking for a quick weekend baking project with a little sweetie, this is perfect!

Apple crumb muffins 1

Moist and delicious, these muffins are fantastic.  That crumb topping tho ….. :o)

Crumble

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour

Muffins

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped apple

Vanilla Icing

  • 1 cup powder icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Ingredients:

  1. Make the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine both sugars, the cinnamon, and melted butter. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour. The crumb topping will be thick and crumbly. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. You may need a 2nd pan as this recipe makes up to 14 muffins, though you can always bake in batches using 1 pan. Set aside. *See note about jumbo size muffins.
  3. Make the muffins: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and uniform in texture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  4. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, add the milk and apple, and mix on low speed until everything is combined.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into each cup or liner, filling each all the way to the top. Press a handful of the crumb topping into the top of each; crumble it with your hands to make some big chunks.
  6. Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C) degrees, then keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C) and bake for 15-17 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 20-22 minutes.
  7. Make the icing: whisk all of the ingredients together and drizzle over warm muffins.
  8. Muffins stay fresh stored at room temperature for a few days– then transfer to the fridge for up to 1 week.
apple crumb muffins 2

3 year old Liv is the best helper!  So glad we could do a little baking together while she was here.

apple crumb muffins 3

How can you not love such a cute little helper?

Have you tried the website:  Sally’s Baking Addiction?  I’ve tried a few recipes and they are all great, this one came from her – let me know if you try it.  Or better yet, let Sally know!!

Empanadas

Most cultures have a pastry/hand pie like this one ….. empanadas are famous in many countries, but I’ve only had the pleasure of eating them in Mexico so that is what I have fashioned these after.  They can be deep fried, but I prefer baking them for fluffy, flaky pastry and creamy filling.  Extra bonus points for the way your house smells while they are baking!

Empanada 1

In today’s version I used chicken, onion & red pepper, topped with a chunk of jalapeño havarti.  The tomatillo salsa was delicious for dipping!

Empanadas are such a treat.  These will give you flaky pastry, and a creamy tasty filling.

Make sure when you roll out your dough that you do it a little thinner than you would for a pie – you want to make sure you have a good ratio of filling to crust.

Empanada 2

Saute onions and garlic until softened, then add red pepper and cook for only a couple more minutes.  Stir in cooked shredded chicken and season to taste.  In this version, I added a couple of tablespoons of tomatillo salsa, and then topped with jalapeño havarti cheese for an extra bit of kick and creaminess.

Other suggestions for empanada filling:

  • ground meat seasoned with taco spices, topped with Oaxaca string cheese
  • leftover pulled pork and pickled red onions
  • wilted spinach, sautéed mushrooms and feta cheese
  • go sweet with fruit, cinnamon and a bit of vanilla

I’ve included my pastry recipe here, but if you aren’t into making your own pastry go ahead and use a prepared frozen pie shell.  Just take it out and roll it a bit thinner.

Cut your pastry into rounds, brush beaten egg around the outside and then put about a tablespoon or two of filling in the middle, add some cheese on top.  You will want enough filling so that your ratio of stuffing to pastry is tasty.  Fold edges up together and press to seal.  Set them on a baking sheet and pinch/crimp the top to make sure it is well sealed.

Brush beaten egg over the top of the sealed empanada, and then poke a hole so steam can escape and the pastry doesn’t leak too much of your goods outside the shell.

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.  You can also freeze them on a cookie sheet at this point and bake later, from frozen.  Just bake a little longer.

Empanada 3

Oh, these were G O O D.  Before baking season the tops with salt and pepper.

Everybody loves flaky pie crust – but people are divided on whether to use shortening, lard or butter.  Through trial and error, I think I have found the best of them all – by combining lard and butter.  Try it ….. so light and flaky – you will love it.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 3/4 cup cold vegetable lard or (if you prefer) shortening
  • 3/4 cup cold butter
  • 5 tbsp very cold water
  • Lightly beat egg and vinegar

Whisk flour and salt

Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in lard/butter until pea sized.  Add very cold water to egg and vinegar mixture.  Make a hole in the center of the flour blend and stir in the egg/vinegar/water combination.  Work just until pastry comes together – adding slightly more liquid if it doesn’t, and if it is too wet, add a wee bit more flour.  Work together just until it all comes into a solid mass.  Knead very lightly on floured surface.  Wrap tightly and put in the fridge for at least 40 minutes.

Roll on lightly floured board until just thin enough to use for pie dough.

This recipe makes enough for 1 smaller pie (top and bottom) or a large deep dish pie crust bottom.

Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Glaze

Need a quick dessert?  Not tired of pumpkin yet?  Here you go – ready for the oven in about 10 minutes, and the glaze just takes minutes.  Not only will the house smell amazing, dessert will be awesome!

Pumpkin donuts 1

Spend a few dollars and buy yourself a silicone donut mold, I’ve had so much fun with it!

Doughnuts:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  1. For the doughnuts: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat the pumpkin puree, sugar, vegetable oil, butter, vanilla and eggs and together in another large bowl until smooth.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and beat until just combined.
  5. Fill three 6-cup nonstick doughnut pans with the batter so that each mold is almost full. Smooth the tops with a moistened finger.  (I always put my batter into a ziplock bag and pipe it into the molds, so much easier, and way less messy)
  6. Bake the doughnuts until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Invert the doughnuts onto a cooling rack.

(I never seem to have pumpkin pie spice, so you can easily mix up 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1/4 tsp each of cloves and freshly ground nutmeg to equal the 2 tsp)

pumpkin donuts 3

Dry ingredients whisked, and the wet stuff in my stand mixer, but you could easily do it all by hand, it only takes a few minutes to come together.

pumpkin donuts 2

pumpkin donuts 4

Once you get it all together, don’t overtax!  Just enough to bring it all together.

 

Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar (this is important – gets rid of lumps!)
  • optional: 1/2 teaspoon maple extract

Heat butter and maple syrup in small sauce pan, just until butter is melted.  Quickly whisk in the sifted confectioners’ (icing) sugar until smooth.

It is best if you make this before the donuts as that allows the glaze to thicken slightly.

Dip the slightly cooled donuts in the glaze and allow to cool.  Best served that day, but no one is going to complain about a day old donut!  This makes enough to generously DOUBLE DIP about 12 donuts.  Seriously, go for the double dip, that maple glaze is killer good and courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction – check out her blog, all her recipes are great.

The donuts however, come from Valerie Bertinelli’s show and I’ve never had a fail on one of her recipes – they are so good and usually pretty quick to make.

Profiterole Cream Puffs

Cream Puffs 1

I love bite sized desserts!  So great to be able to get a taste of each, especially after a big dinner.  These mini cream puffs, and mini pumpkin cheesecake bites finished off Thanksgiving dinner just the right way.  Enjoy!

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Profiteroles are actually quite simple, very few ingredients and easy enough to prepare … but the technique is important.

In a small sauce pan bring the water, butter and salt to a boil.  Reduce the heat and add the flour all at once …quickly start vigorously with a wooden spoon until it pulls away from the side of the pan, has a slightly shiny sheen to it and has formed a ball.  Turn it into a mixing bowl and beat in the eggs, one at a time.  This is the important part.  Beat that first egg in until it has fully incorporated.  You can either beat it in with your wooden spoon or if you don’t feel energetic enough, use a hand held beater.  When the batter is smooth, start on the second egg.  Beat again (vigorously) and stir in the bit of cinnamon.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag or ziplock.  Pipe onto prepared baking sheet.  Today I made them little mini’s to fill with cream and top with chocolate.  This mixture will make about 16 mini’s, but you can make them as big as you like.  Make sure you leave a fair bit of space around them as they do grow.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through.

Once these have cooked and are completely cool they are ready for filling.  I ended up putting my custard into a piping bag and using a long tip to fill them before topping with chocolate.

Today I used my creamy custard to fill them, and then topped with a chocolate ganache.  What a hit!

You could also split them in half and serve with ice cream and warm chocolate fudge sauce …..

CREAMY CUSTARD FILLING 

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch

In heavy saucepan, whisk all ingredients until incorporated very well then cook over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and boils, about 20 minutes.  Boil 1 minute stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp vanilla.

I have also done this part in the microwave – stir every 2 minutes until mixture has thickened well.  Make sure you use a large bowl as the mixture will raise and lower several times while it cooks.

Cover right on the surface of the pudding with saran until cool, but not set, about 30 minutes.

CHOCOLATE ICING

  • 2 squares semisweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp milk

In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate and butter.  Remove saucepan from heat.  With wire whisk beat in 1/2 cup icing sugar and 2-3 tbsp milk until smooth and easy spreading consistency.

Cream Puffs 4

I ended up with some pretty funny shapes because I went back and added a bit more to each “blob” so I’d recommend only piping once for each profiterole.

Cream Puffs 2

Dry, and ready for filling …. see what I mean about the funny shapes?  ha ha

Cream Puffs 3