Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Vanilla Buttermilk Pound Cakes

Vanilla Buttermilk Pound Cakes
Cooking Light

I learned today that a pound cake is called a pound cake because it traditionally calls for a pound of butter, a pound of flour, a pound of sugar and a pound of eggs!  That is a lot of pounds and although I am sure that it would taste delightful I decided to try a lighter version of the pound cake because I am trying to loose baby pounds and don't need a slice of pound cake popping up on each thigh.  Although this recipe deters from the 1:1:1:1 ratio of the traditional pound cake it is quite good.  It is between an angel food cake and a pound cake.  It is sweet and dense yet has an airy quality.  We served it with ice cream but, I think it would be a nice base for fruit, chocolate sauce or ice cream ... maybe since it is light I should try it with all three. 

  • 13.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • Cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt); stir with a whisk. Place sugar, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and buttermilk to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  3. Spoon batter into either 5 (5 3/4 x 3 3/4–inch) loaf pans or 2 8x4 loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes (for mini loaves)/60 minutes (larger loaves) or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pans. Cool completely on a wire rack.
*Extra loaves can be frozen.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

baby food: eggless teething biscuits

Cookie isn't teething yet but, she loves to stick things in her mouth.  Her favorite is paper.  To get her off her paper habit I thought a teething biscuit would be a good alternative.  She likes them but, doesn't quite get it yet.  I piped them into hearts for Valentine's Day and almost all of them are gone because apparently her big brother loves biscuits.  Go figure.

Eggless Teething Biscuits

1 cup flour
1 cup dry infant rice cereal with bananas
3 tablespoons cooking oil

ice water

Preheat oven 425F
Mix flour and cereal.
Gradually stir in oil. Mix a little ice water at a time (start with 1/4 cup) until dough begins to form a ball and pull away from the bowl.
Either put in pastry bag and pipe out shapes or roll out to the thickness of a cracker on a floured surface and cut into desired shapes.
Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet 10-12 min. or until lightly brown. Cool completely.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding with Hot Chocolate Caramel Sauce

O-M-G ... this is SO good!  When I put it on the table my husband took a bite and said oh my what is in this.  I wanted to enjoy it without guilt so, I did not want to list heavy cream, sugar, chocolate and croissants but, clearly all of those decadent ingredients makes this dessert truly sinful.  The bread pudding is absolutely divine.  It is warm, sweet and rich and so comforting.  Then you add the sauce which is just so good it throws this dessert over the top.  The sauce took a little time but, it was so worth it.  We had some left over and served it over ice cream and it was just as heavenly.  All I have to say is YUM and that I have been thinking (dreaming) about this dessert since I made it.  I am trying to think of a good reason to make it again real soon. 

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding with Hot Chocolate Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey

Bread Pudding:

3 day old croissants (used 6 mini croissants from Trader Joe's)
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar plus 1-2 tablespoons for sprinkling
2 cups heavy cream
1/8  teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate finely chopped

Split the croissants in half lengthwise.  Butter a 8x8 baking dish or a 1.5 quart souffle dish.  Place the bottom halves of the croissants into the dish cut side up.  You may have to squeeze them to fit.  Set the tops aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and 1 cup of sugar until smooth.  Slowly whisk in 1.5 cups of heavy cream.  Stir in the vanilla and salt.

In a saucepan over medium heat add the remaining half cup of cream and heat until it just begins to boil.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate.  Stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Let cool slightly.  Whisk the chocolate cream into the egg custard until dark and smooth. 

Pout half of the custard through a mesh sieve over the croissant bottoms.  Make sure the croissants are covered in chocolate.  Arrange the croissant tops over the custard.   Squeeze them tightly into the pan.  Strain the remaining custard over the croissants to thoroughly coat them.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place a dish on top to push the croissants down into the custard.  Refrigerate the dish for at least an hour.  The dish can be prepared in the morning and baked in the evening.

Bake at 325 on the middle rack.  Remove plastic and sprinkle with remaining sugar.  Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 60 minutes.

Chocolate Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate finely chopped or chips

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, gently swirling the pan occasionally until the syrup dissolves and starts to turn color.  Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup turns a dark amber color (4-5 minutes).  Watch because it can burn easily and quickly.

Immediately remove pan from heat and stir in cream and salt.  Use a long handled spoon and the caramel will hiss and spit when the cream hits.  Place the pan over low heat and cook stirring constantly until it thickens (4-5 minutes).  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Stir in chocolate until completely melted.

Remove pudding from oven and let cool for a few minutes.  Cut pudding into 6 portions.  Top each portion with a scoop of the hot sauce.  Ice cream on side is optional but, highly recommended.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cheese and Sausage Egg Casserole

Although this is a pretty bad picture (I had to snap fast as the guests were hungry!) you can see the yummy cheesy, meaty goodness that is baked in this casserole.  It is very versatile and you can sub any type of meat/cheese combination you like.  It lends to a lot of flexibility and is so easy.  This was definitely the favorite of the baptism brunch egg dishes.

Cheese and Sausage Egg Casserole
Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 8 white bread slices, cut into cubes
  • 1 pound bulk pork sausage, crumbled and cooked (can sub bacon or ham)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 10 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk (do not use lowfat or nonfat)
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper


Grease 9x13-inch glass baking dish. Place bread in prepared dish. Top with sausage and cheese. Beat together eggs and next three ingredients. Season with pepper. Pour over sausage mixture. Chill overnight or 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake casserole until puffed and center is set, about 50 minutes. Cut into squares.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Spinach and Cheese Strata

I love brunch and my favorite part of brunch is the egg bake.  Not only do they taste good but, they are so easy to whip up and you can do it all the night before.  The entire family loves the egg bake but, we are split on the veggie or no veggie egg bake so, I make both.  I am a fan of eggs, spinach and cheese so, this dish works for me.  I may toss in some mushrooms next time. I had the left overs and it still tasted great reheated.

Spinach and Cheese Strata
Adapted from Gourmet (Epicurious)

Serves 6 to 8
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, (squeeze of all excess liquid)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed French bread in 1-inch cubes (1/2 lb)
6 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 ounces finely grated Parmesan (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk (do not use non-fat)
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Place in a colander to defrost.  Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.  

Cook onion in butter in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in spinach, then remove from heat.

Spread one third of bread cubes in a buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other shallow ceramic baking dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture. Sprinkle with one third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice (ending with cheeses).

Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Chill strata, covered with plastic wrap, at least 8 hours (for bread to absorb custard).

Preheat oven to 350°F. Let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Monkey Bread

This recipe takes me back to my days in San Francisco.  We would make a batch of this after a fun night out.  Gather around, go nuts, eat every bite, laugh about the crazy antics from the previous night and then go back to sleep.  My hubby still loves this treat and calls each little nugget a piece of heaven.  So easy and I have not met a person who doesn't enjoy.

Monkey Bread
  • 3 cans buttermilk biscuits
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 sticks butter
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Open biscuits and cut each biscuit into quarters (4 pieces).
Combine the sugar with the cinnamon in a 1 gallon zip lock bag.  Add the biscuits and shake to mix. Make sure each piece is coated well and the pieces are separated.
Dump the entire bag into a bundt pan.  No need to spray or butter the bundt pan ... you will be adding two sticks of butter!
Melt the two sticks of butter together with the brown sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the butter is completely melted and the two ingredients have combined.  Pour over the biscuits.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the crust is a deep dark brown on top. When its finished cooking, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for about 15-20 minutes.  Turn out onto plate.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Easy Cheese Danish

 This recipe is from The Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook.  At the beginning of the book she says "Home is where ever Jeffrey is".  Every time I read that line it just makes me smile.  I love her show and I like the orchestrated interactions between Ina and Jeffrey.  Even if the  circumstance are prearranged they still appear so happy and I enjoyed learning about their love story.  I totally agree with Ina ... my home is where ever my hubby is.  My home is bursting with activity and craziness but, also lots of love.  I like to show love with food and to my hubby breakfast sweets are a true passion of his.  There are quite a few morning treats he enjoys but, a good cheese danish is always at the top of his list.  

These came together easily and were a good sized portion but, I think the amount of cheese filling was a bit light.  It may have been how I added the filling to each piece of pastry dough but, some seem a bit thin.  I made these the night before and refrigerated them and then baked them in the morning.  YUM!

Easy Cheese Danish
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into 6th with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 6 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes (or overnight).

Bake the pastries for about 15-20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Cookie got baptized this weekend.  It was a wonderful day.  We had both of our families over after the service for a brunch.  Lots of brunch type recipes to come.

This recipe was very easy to make.  I have never made a streusel toping with melted butter and it was super easy and achieved the same effect with less work.  The cake was light and moist.  The blueberry and lemon flavor were fresh and subtle.  I tossed the blueberries in a bit of flour before folding them in but, I still had an issue with them sinking to the bottom of the cake.  I forgot the powder sugar dusting on the top but, certain no one missed it.  Ina ... another successful recipe! 

Blueberry Crumb Cake
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa


  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

For the streusel:

Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.

For the cake:

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife. With your fingers,
crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and serve sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.
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