February 28, 2012

Breakfast of a Champion

Yes, it's Tuesday. Yes, I'm just now writing a blog post about my Saturday morning breakfast. Yes, it was an absolutely delicious breakfast.

The whole family was home on Saturday morning, so we made an event out of it and had a big, yummy brunch! 

On the menu was: apple coffee crumb cake with brown sugar glaze, baked cheese grits, turkey bacon, and fruit.

And the good news? I have TWO recipes for you! 

I found the crumb cake recipe on one of the absolute BEST blogs I read

The cheese grits were made at a wedding shower I went to a couple of weeks ago. So, because of my excessive love for cheese grits, I got the recipe and made it right away! 

Apple Coffee Crumb Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

Apple Coffee Crumb Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze
Yield: 12-16 servings


Crumb Cake:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 

Brown Sugar Glaze:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch glass baking dish and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after the addition of each. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Fold in the apples. Pour into the prepared baking dish, spreading out to the edges. 
3. To make the topping, in a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter, and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the cake and bake until golden brown and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. 
4. To make the glaze, in a bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla, and water and mix until smooth. Drizzle the cake with the glaze and let harden slightly. Cut into squares and serve.

Baked Cheese Grits 

Baked Cheese Grits

6 cups water 
1 ½ cups grits (cooked on the stove) 
½ stick real butter 
3 cups sharp cheese 
3 eggs 
salt & pepper

Boil water – gradually stir in grits. Cook covered on low-med for 5-7 minutes until thick. Add butter and cheese. Temper the eggs by adding a small amount of hot grits a little at a time to the eggs. Then add remaining grits mixture and salt and pepper. Bake @ 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.
Add more butter and cheese to the top before baking.

February 19, 2012

Peanut Buttery Goodness

Agave. Ever been there? You should say yes. If you can't say yes, you should go ASAP so you can say yes after that.

My family went to Agave last night, and it was seriously so delicious. I can't remember the last time I was so full and my appetite completely satisfied. I got the Red Pepper Salmon Filet. Straight from the Agave menu, it was a "pan seared fresh Chilean salmon with sauteed julienne zucchini, squash, and carrots, served over a roasted red pepper sauce with grilled asparagus."

I promise Agave's not paying me to advertise :) We are friends with one of the owners, but that's not the reason for my praise, either. It truly deserves the honor. Anyway, here's my salmon...

Now for the dessert. Not the Agave dessert...just my homemade dessert for the week.

I've probably mentioned this in a post before, but peanut butter is one of my absolute FAVORITE foods. One of my addictions. One of my guilty pleasures (yes, it's a guilty pleasure when you find a way to eat it with every meal). I love it in any form on anything. And don't even get me started on peanut butter desserts. In a nutshell, I. Love. Peanut Butter.

So if you can't tell, the dessert for today involves peanut butter. They are (drumroll please) Reeses Peanut Butter Cupcakes. The drizzle of the top of them is hot fudge. And though a Reeses cup obviously would have made more sense on top, I didn't have Reeses cups, so a mini Hershey's sufficed.

Reeses Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Reeses Peanut Butter Cupcakes 
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder 
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoon sour cream
1/4 cup homemade fudge sauce (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk egg and sugar until smooth and no lumps remain. Add milk, cream, butter, and vanilla, and mix until combined. Stir in sour cream. Sift dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture. Mix until batter is smooth, then swirl in fudge sauce. Line a muffin tin with liners and using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to each cup. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool before frosting. 

Peanut Butter Buttercream
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup peanut butter
3-4 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons of milk
pinch of salt 

Cream butter and peanut butter together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add powdered sugar with mixer on low speed and gradually add milk and vanilla extract. Mix until frosting is smooth. If too thick, add more milk; if too thin, add more sugar. Frost cupcakes as desired. 

Dark Chocolate Fudge Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark cocoa powder
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt
1 cup boiling water or milk
1 tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa, salt, and flour in a bowl or pot over a double boiler. Bring water or milk to a boil. Gradually add hot liquid to sugar mixture. Stir constantly until mixture thickens. 

Once it has reached the desired thickness, remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Drizzle over cupcakes and store the rest of the sauce in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. 

February 14, 2012

Snelling Sessions

I'm sitting in Snelling (one of our dining halls) right now with a few precious friends from my small group. I'm on my computer because I'm supposed to be getting some homework done before my next class, but instead, I'm scrolling through Pinterest and my Google Reader blog list. And, obviously, writing a blog post.

I just added a recipe to my word document recipe list. The list is now 105 pages long. 105 pages. One. Hundered. And. Five. One. Zero. Five. That's a lot of recipes. I just wish I could bake all day every day. That's the only way I'll ever get through these recipes. But that's not exactly possible, so I suppose I'll just do what I can!

Anyway, I have a seriously good recipe for you today. I made this last Saturday morning. I expected it to be good, but it was even better than I expected. Though I sometimes find baked oatmeal to be dry and unappetizing, this one was anything but. It was moist, flavorful, and super filling. So here ya go!

Baked Oatmeal with Strawberries, Bananas, and Chocolate

Baked Oatmeal with Strawberries, Bananas, and Chocolate
Serves 6

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnut pieces, chopped
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ripe banana, peeled, 1/2-inch slices

Preheat oven to 375°F and generously spray the inside of a 10-1/2 by 7 inch baking dish with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, Chinese five spice, salt, half the walnuts, half the strawberries and half the chocolate. (Save the other half of strawberries, walnuts and chocolate for the top of the oatmeal).
In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, butter and vanilla extract.
Add the oat mixture to prepared baking dish. Arrange the remaining strawberries, walnuts and chocolate on top. Add the banana slices to the top then pour the milk mixture over everything. Gently shimmy/shake the baking dish to help the milk mixture go throughout the oats.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is nicely golden brown and the milk mixture has set. For an extra      tasty top, sprinkle a tablespoon or so of extra brown sugar on top then place back in the oven under the broiler and broil for 20-30 seconds. Serve warm with an extra sprinkle of sugar or drizzle of maple syrup.

February 12, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

You know what's coming up on Tuesday? That's right, it's "eat-chocolate-until-your-teeth-rot-away-day." My favorite day of the year! Not.

No, no....I'm just kidding. I don't hate Valentine's Day. I just don't find it very exciting. Anyway, whether I like the holiday or not, it's a wonderful reason to decorate some cookies.

Speaking of love and Valentine's Day and things of the sort, my friends and I saw The Vow last night. There were some mixed feelings about the movie, but I for one really enjoyed it. It doesn't take too much for me to like a movie, though...especially when Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams are in it.

I just thought I'd throw that in there.

Okay, I hope you all have a wonderful week (February 14th included!).

PS: Let's all pray that this cold weather will go away soon. Who cares if it just decided to show up two days ago? It's messing up my running schedule and I'm ready for it to go away already!

February 10, 2012

A Healthy Twist

This may be a baking blog, but I still like to eat healthy.

Though baking is certainly my specialty and favorite thing to do, I also like to cook, I like healthy foods, and I like putting recipes on my blog. So, here are a couple of side dishes my mom and I made to go along with the Almond Crusted Tilapia my dad made tonight. I love coming home to delicious food!

Tomorrow, it's onto Valentine's Sugar Cookies!

Baked Herb and Parmesan Potato Slices

Baked Herb and Parmesan Potato Slices 

Serves 3

2 whole russet potatoes (medium size)
2 whole large red potatoes
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rinse potatoes and dry with paper towel. Slice the potatoes at a slight diagonal. Add the potato slices to a large bowl. Next, add the herbs, spices, and olive oil. Mix all ingredients together so that the herbs, spices, and olive oil coat both sides of the potato slices. Lay potatoes on a cookie sheet. Try to keep them in a single layer so they aren't stacked on top of one another. Next, top the potatoes with the grated parmesan cheese. 

Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the thinnest pieces are a golden color. Serve warm right out of the oven. 


Roasted Vegetables
Roasted Vegetables 

1/2 c dry white wine
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic and Herb Seasoning 
Carrots, onion, zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper

Stir top 5 ingredients together. Set aside. Cut vegetables. Add to liquid. Let sit, and stir occasionally for 30 minutes. Roast at 400 degrees on cookie sheet for 15 minutes (Note: When placing vegetables on cookie sheet, use slotted spoon to keep liquid marinade in bowl). Add vegetables back to liquid after they finish cooking to give them added flavor. 

February 5, 2012

Minnie Mouse Birthday Cake and Chewy Oatmeal Fudge Bars

This has been such a good weekend. I probably say that about every weekend. But really. This has been good. And yes, I am watching the Super Bowl. I'm just updating this at the same time...because, well, I don't really care about the Super Bowl. Shocking, I know. I actually have to plan my trips upstairs to happen during the game rather than the commercials. I do love football. I really do. Just not this game.

Moving on. Yesterday was my lovely friend Sarah's 19th birthday. We went to PF Changs for dinner to celebrate, and ohhhh man it was good. Sorry about the bad quality picture. It was taken with an iPhone.

After PF Changs, we went back to her house for cake and presents. Sarah LOVES Disney World, so I thought I would make her a Minnie Mouse birthday cake. You're never too old for a pink Minnie cake, are you?

Next up is a really yummy recipe. These Chewy Oatmeal Fudge Bars are great to take to a party (Super Bowl party, anyone?) or just keep for yourself. They're really easy to cut and ration out for a lot of people if you do want to take them somewhere. I highly recommend trying these bars if you're looking for a chocolatey dessert to make one day. Enjoy! 

Chewy Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Chewy Oatmeal Fudge Bars

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups oats
2 cups chocolate chips
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk (15 oz.)
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional, walnuts or pecans) *I did not use

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan. 
In a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl, beat together softened butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until combined. Add vanilla and mix well.
Slowly add the sifted flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in oatmeal.
Gently spread 2/3 crust into bottom of prepared pan. Reserve the rest for topping.
Make the filling:
Over Medium-Low heat, melt together chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and salt. Stir until smooth. Remove mixture from heat and stir in vanilla and nuts if using.
Evenly pour filling mixture onto crust but keeping filling about a 1/4 inch away from side of pan so it does not stick to side while baking.Evenly dollup top of filling with remaining oat mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is light brown and fudge layer set but not solid. Don’t overbake these bars or they can become dry.
Cool in pan on rack until set before cutting. Can chill to set faster. Keep stored in airtight container.

February 4, 2012

Tomato and Basil Pizza

Phew. This has been one busy weekend. And it's only Saturday afternoon. That's okay, though. I like busy. Especially when it's with things like spending time with my friends and family...and baking, of course.

I have quite a few pictures and recipes from this weekend, but I'll start with the homemade Tomato and Basil Pizza my mom and I made last night. Here we go...

Tomato and Basil Pizza

Tomato and Basil Pizza

2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds small-to-medium sized fresh tomatoes, sliced 
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and quartered lengthwise or thickly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional oil for the pizza 
12 branches of fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Bay leaf
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
12 oz fresh pizza dough (we bought whole grain dough in the Publix bakery...it was delicious) 
8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
One bunch of fresh basil 
Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
2. Toss together the tomatoes with the garlic, olive oil, thyme, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper (be generous with the salt). Then, lay the tomatoes out on a non-stick baking sheet that's large enough to hold the tomatoes in a single layer. 
3. Roast in the oven for 1 hour, checking midway during roasting to make sure the garlic isn't burning. If the tomatoes are getting overly dark on the bottom, turn them with a spatula. 
4. After one hour, turn off the oven and leave tomatoes in the oven until oven cools completely. Roasting time will vary depending on the size of tomatoes; just roast them until they've given up their juices, as shown in the picture.
5. To make the pizza, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and place a heavy baking sheet on a rack on the lower third of the oven.
6. On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch the pizza dough into a 14-in circle. Place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper. 
7. Brush the dough with a thin layer of olive oil. Drain the tomatoes well, then distribute the tomatoes and garlic over the dough. Put the mozzarella slices over the tomatoes, then place a dozen fresh basil leaves on top of the pizza and grate some Parmesan over the top. 
8. Transfer the pizza to the baking sheet by grabbing the hot baking sheet out of the oven and slide the pizza onto the hot baking sheet.
9. Return the pizza to the oven and bake for 10 to 20 minutes, until the pizza is baked to your liking; the bottom crust should be crisp and the top should be slightly browned and bubbling. 
10. Remove from the oven and serve with additional Parmesan cheese if desired. 

February 1, 2012

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

I have a really delicious recipe for you today- homemade whole wheat hamburger buns.

Last weekend, my mom was out of town. She was going to be getting home just before Saturday night dinner, so my dad and I were in charge of cooking. We decided to make hamburgers, but we realized we didn't have any buns. 

What would a normal person do? Go to the store. What did I do? Make the hamburger buns. 

I love trying new things. I especially love making bread. I. Love. Bread. 

Anyway, I found a recipe online for whole wheat buns, and I ran down to the kitchen to start the process. They ended up tasting really yummy. However, I was a little bit pressed for time, and I didn't allow them enough time to rise. They were a little bit small, but tasted just as good :)

 Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns 

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

15 oz all purpose flour (3 cups)
10 oz whole wheat flour (2 cups)
1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
1.5 tsp salt
2.25 tsp instant yeast (one envelope. Active dry yeast will work too)
1 egg
wheat germ (optional)


In a small saucepan, combine the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat, and let it stand until it’s lukewarm (too hot and it will kill the yeast). If you have an instant read thermometer, you want to use it when it’s 110 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour and yeast together to combine. Pour the lukewarm wet ingredients from the saucepan into the flour, and stir until the dough starts to come together. If you have a stand mixer, use the dough hook to knead for 8 minutes. If not, knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes (and resist adding too much flour. Adding more flour will make the bun more dense, and heavy).  Place the dough in a large oil greased bowl, and toss the dough to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).
Redistribute the yeast in the dough with your hands (try not to degas the dough too much) and divide into 12 portions. Make tight balls by pulling the dough out and around and pinching it on the bottom.
Place them on two sheet pans lined with parchment paper, and flatten each ball with the palm of your hand until it’s about 3 or 4 inches wide (wet your hands first). Let the rolls rise until they have doubled in size, around 30 to 45 minutes. Make sure you give them the time to rise, or else they will be very dense.