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Category Archives: Snacks

Dessert in a Flash – You’ll Love These Lemon Squares

Very often I find the need to make a dessert item at the last minute. It could be that someone is stopping by for a visit or coffee, we get invited someplace, or we just feel like having something sweet for dessert ourselves at home. Whatever the reason, sometimes I want to go beyond what a box of brownie mix can offer. There’s nothing wrong with boxed brownies; we use them often, and you can jazz them up in a number of ways to make them seem like they are homemade. However, I don’t always want to have chocolate, so having a good fallback dessert that you can make with what you have in your pantry is a good option. That is why these lemon squares are perfect. They only require a few ingredients, and they are all things you always have around in the house so in under an hour you can have a great tasting dessert that seems like you put a lot of work into it. I got this recipe from Dena Kleiman at New York Times Cooking, and it worked out perfectly.

Lemon Squares

2 cups flour, plus 1/4 cup

½ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 teaspoons

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

4 eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

cup lemon juice (from about 1 to 2 lemons)

½ teaspoon baking powder

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together two cups of flour, 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar and the salt. Add the melted butter and stir the ingredients to thoroughly combine them. Spread the crust with clean hands in an even layer into a 9-by-13-inch pan and bake the crust for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, lemon juice, baking powder and the remaining flour. Pour the lemon mixture onto the hot baked shell and bake it for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is just set. Using a small, fine-meshed sieve, sift the remaining confectioners’ sugar on top of the lemon squares once they have cooled. Cut the dessert into equal-sized bars.

It’s quite simple to make, and it tastes great. You get that fantastic lemon flavor you love in desserts like this with just the right amount of chewiness and crunch. These squares are perfect for any occasion, whether you are looking for something to bring to someone’s home, are making a bunch of cookies for a cookie swap or holiday party or just want to have a tasty treat at home to go nicely for a dessert or with a cup of coffee or tea.Depending on how big you cut the squares, you can get about 16 to 20 squares, so there are plenty to go around. I’ll be using this recipe again because it is so easy to make.

That’s all I have for today. Work has kept me pretty busy lately, so I don’t have as much time as I want to blog, but I am going to try to get here a few times this week to try and get caught up with things (though getting caught up seems to be a rarity these days). Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Cookies, Cooking, Dessert, Snacks

 

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Bread Week, Part 3 – A Biscuit That’s Hard to Beat (Literally) – Cook’s Country Derby Biscuits

As we continue you along with bread recipes for this week, I get the chance to post a biscuit recipe that I recently tried. Usually, I don’t stray too far from the norm when I make biscuits. I have 2 recipes I rely on pretty heavily – one for quick biscuits and one for a traditional biscuit. However, when I saw this recipe in an old issue of Cook’s Country, I was intrigued. It is a recipe for what is called derby biscuits. Derby biscuits are basically appetizer biscuits that are perfect for use for small finger appetizers involving meats and cheeses. They are biscuits that have been around for hundreds of years, and the traditional recipe, according to Cook’s Country, is one where the cook needed to beat the dough as a way of leavening it. This was before the days of baking powder and baking soda. The biscuits themselves are very crisp and unique, perfect for use for appetizers. I decided I would give the recipe a try.

Cook’s Country Derby Biscuits

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled

1 cup milk, chilled

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until the ingredients are combined, about 3 or 4 pulses. Add the butter pieces and pulse the ingredients until the butter is reduced to pea-sized pieces, about 10 to 12 pulses.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the milk and stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until shaggy dough forms. Turn out the dough onto a heavily floured counter and knead the dough until it comes together entirely and feels smooth, with a few small butter flecks still visible, about 8 to 10 turns of the dough.

Roll the dough into an 11-inch circle that is about a 1/2-inch thick. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut 22 to 23 rounds from the dough. Re-roll the scraps once to a similar thickness as the original dough and cut out 5 or 6 more rounds to yield 28 biscuits. Space the biscuits evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Prick each biscuit 3 times with the tines of a fork.

Bake the biscuits in the oven until the tops of the biscuits are a light golden brown, about 27 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet about halfway through the cooking process. Let the biscuits cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack. Serve the biscuits warm or at room temperature.

Of course, the new recipe doesn’t involve beating the dough by hand and makes good use of the food processor and baking powder to mix everything and get the proper texture for the biscuits. The biscuits are very crispy on the outside and still tender on the inside, almost like a cross between a biscuit and a cracker. There is also a hint of sweetness in the biscuits from the sugar and milk that is quite nice. While I  initially served the biscuits with our dinner, I found they worked great for a breakfast biscuit with a piece of sausage on them. I think they would go very well for a small ham and biscuit appetizer or even with some cheese on them. I could also see them going nicely with some jam, preserves or jelly. One thing I will say about the recipe I tried – I didn’t get 28 biscuits out of the dough. I did get 20 (the small biscuits in the picture are what I call the “dog biscuits,” since I usually make 1 or 2 sized for him), and perhaps I didn’t roll the dough out into a large enough circle to get more, but in any case, I got plenty of biscuits for just the three of us to use for days. I would certainly keep this one in mind again to use for a party where we wanted appetizers with biscuits because it is easy to make and yields a nice product.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day (it is beautiful here in NY, sunny and in the mid-60s) and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Appetizers, Breakfast, Cooking, Dinner, Side Dishes, Snacks

 

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Your Dessert for the Big Game – Banana Cupcakes with Bananas Foster Frosting

The big football game this weekend is more than just a huge sporting event. I am not nearly as big of a football fan as I am of baseball and really have no stake in whether Atlanta or New England wins. For us, the Super Bowl this year is more about just hanging out, relaxing and watching the game for the commercials. The big game also means it’s a day to enjoy all kinds of snack foods. Everyone breaks out their favorites for Buffalo wings, nachos, cocktail franks, egg rolls, meatballs, sandwiches, chips, dips and your favorite drinks. If you are hosting a party this year you probably have lots of things picked out for snacks and halftime, but what about dessert? Dessert might get overlooked, beyond the football field sheet cakes you can get or the football cookies, so why not do something different, easy and homemade? I have a particular love of banana desserts and sought out to make a cupcake this year for something different. I ended up combining two recipes, with a cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart for banana cupcakes and a Bananas Foster frosting recipe from Glorious Treats to make something great.

Banana Cupcakes with Bananas Foster Frosting

For the Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas), plus 1 whole banana for garnish (optional)

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

1/4 cup banana, mashed (about 1/2 a banana)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon dark rum (optional)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. In the well, mix together the melted butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla extract. Stir the ingredients together to incorporate the flour mixture without over mixing everything. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups.

Place the pan into the oven and bake the cupcakes until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin pan. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting. Mash the banana in a small bowl with the lemon juice. In a large bowl or bowl for your stand mixer, beat the butter until it is smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mashed banana and beat it with the butter until it is well incorporated and smooth. Add the powdered sugar slowly, one cup at a time, while slowly mixing, so that it blends in well. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum (if using) and the vanilla extract. Beat all of the ingredients together until everything is well incorporated, and the frosting is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Spread the tops of each cupcake with the Bananas Foster frosting. Just before serving, peel and slice the banana into rounds and place one on each cupcake, if desired.

It’s a pretty simple cupcake recipe that presents nicely and has some great flavor to it. The banana cupcake is lighter than the typical banana muffin you might like and has some good banana taste to it, but the frosting is what really makes it perfect for me. The frosting has the flavor of the great Bananas Foster dessert, especially if you take advantage of the dark rum in the ingredients. I actually boosted the banana flavor up a bit for the frosting by adding some banana syrup to the frosting mix (about 1 1/2 teaspoons did it for me). I also halved the original recipe for the frosting since I had only twelve cupcakes to do and the recipe seemed like it was more if you want enough to frost a whole cake, which wouldn’t be a bad idea either. We each tested the cupcakes, and the came out nicely, with moist cake and a great frosting.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

 

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2017 in Cakes, Cooking, Dessert, Snacks, Uncategorized

 

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Another From the King Arthur Playbook – Flour’s Original Pound Cake

I have to admit, I have a great love of pound cake. I know for some people it seems to be plain and not very exciting, but I love the texture and flavor of a good pound cake. It can go nicely as a dessert for just about any occasion, can be dressed up with fresh fruit or just whipped cream and even allows for some variation of flavors by adding different extracts, alcohols or flavorings. Another great thing about pound cake is that it is relatively easy to make, which is perfect for someone like me that is not the best baker in the world. The ingredients are all pretty basic and things you usually have around the house anyway so you can even put one together on relatively short notice to have a nice dessert or snack for surprise guests or for something to bring to someone’s home or party. While I was looking through the latest King Artur Flour catalog, I came across this recipe for their traditional pound cake and thought it would be a very good time to give the new oven a try and check it out.

Traditional Original Pound Cake

1 cup (16 tablespoons, 8 ounces) butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon brandy, sherry, rum or other liqueur or extract of your choice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10 to 12-cup bundt pan.In a large bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer or stand mixer until it is very light. Beat in the sugar gradually and then add the eggs, one at a time, until they are blended in. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and beat the mixture until it is very light and fluffy.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer or stand mixer until it is very light. Beat in the sugar gradually and then add the eggs, one at a time, until they are blended in. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and beat the mixture until it is very light and fluffy.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another small bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla extract, and alcohol or extract of your choice, if using.

Alternately add the wet and dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, starting the process with the flour mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Stir the mixture to combine the ingredients after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top with a spatula.

Bake the cake for 60 to 65 minutes, until it springs back when pressed lightly on the top, and a long toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If the cake appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with foil for the final 15 minutes of baking.

Remove the cake from the oven and loosen its edges in the pan. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully turn the cake out of the pan onto a wire rack to cool. Slice and serve the cake the same day or store the cake, wrapped in plastic or wrapped well in plastic if you intend to freeze it for longer storage.

The cake goes perfectly with ice cream, fruit, whipped cream or just by itself (which is the way I like it personally). I enjoy the cake with a nice cup of coffee, and it is perfect after dinner or even as a mid-morning snack. The cake is rich and buttery and has excellent flavor. I had made cakes before where I added flavoring like lemon to it or added alcohol for extra flavor, but the plain version works best for me. Freezing the cake is easy and lets you have a quick dessert for those last-minute guests. You can warm it up quickly in just a few minutes in a 250-degree oven until it is just hot, about 8 to 12 minutes, and it will be perfect. It is always one of my favorite, go-to cakes and this one is pretty tried and faithful to go with for any time.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Breakfast, Brunch, Cakes, Cooking, Dessert, Snacks, Uncategorized

 

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54 Pastries You Should Absolutely Eat for Breakfast | Bon Appetit

For me, there is nothing like great pastry treat any time of the day, but pastries can be fantastic, something special for breakfast, particularly on a Sunday. I can always remember having jelly doughnuts as a kid on Sunday morning from the bakery and how wonderful it was. Well, you can make great pastries right in your own home, with everything from doughnuts to muffins and all in between, with these 54 recipes from Bon Appetit. Check it out!

I had hoped to start posting some recipes this week now that our kitchen is finished, but life has interrupted things, and I haven’t been home much to try much new and post anything. I do have some stuff backlogged and hope I will have more time later this week to start sharing again. Hang in there, recipes are coming!

 

Source: 54 Pastries You Should Absolutely Eat for Breakfast | Bon Appetit

 

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Best Chicken Wing Recipes : Buffalo, Honey & More : Cooking Channel

The football playoffs are coming, which means the big game is right around the corner, so there is no better time to start getting your chicken wing game in order. Cooking Channel has put together 23 different chicken wing recipes so you have lots of different flavors to try out for you and your guests while you watch some football or just have some great wings as a snack or meal. Check it out!

Our appliances are due to arrive on the 10th, so hopefully our kitchen will be complete by then and I can get back to cooking! Keep checking to look for new recipes! Thanks!

Source: Best Chicken Wing Recipes : Buffalo, Honey & More : Cooking Channel

 

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50 Quick, Last-Minute New Year’s Eve Appetizers | Bon Appetit

If New Year’s Eve has snuck up on you, it’s not too late to plan out some snacks and appetizers while you watch the ball drop tonight. Whether you are just staying home to have fun with the family or are hosting a party with a bunch of friends, Bon Appetit has put together 50 easy, last-minute appetizers that you can make and look like you have been planning everything all along. Check it out.

On a side note, our kitchen is just about complete. We are waiting on the stove, refrigerator and microwave and I have spent all day putting things away in our cabinets to have it ready to go once everything is complete. I can’t wait to be able to get to work in it and it looks fantastic. I’ll share some pictures once it is ready to go. Thank you to everyone that has followed or visited my little blog this year and in the past years. I have a lot of fun doing it and look forward to sharing even more in 2017. Have a Happy New Year!

Source: 50 Quick, Last-Minute New Year’s Eve Appetizers | Bon Appetit

 

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