Showing posts with label cranberry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cranberry. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summertime Salad

One of my favorite thing to to during the summer is to make vegetable slaws. I'll put together the ingredients on Sunday and toss the dressing with the veggies when I'm ready to eat. This brocolli slaw is my absolute favorite thing to make in the summer.


Normally, I hate raw broccoli. It just tastes dry and boring to me. When mixed with slivered almonds and dried cranberries, broccoli becomes so much more delicious. This is the only reason I ever have mayonnaise in my house.

If you are heading to a pot luck picnic, having a quiet dinner at home, or want something to eat at midnight, make this recipe. It barely takes any time at all to prepare and lasts for at least five days in the fridge. Well, it will last for five days, but I doubt it will stick around that long. I've been known to eat a big bowl of this stuff for lunch.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cranberry-Pomegranate Soda


Happy festive foods week! Today is brought to you by the Cranberry!  


There are so many traditional holiday beverages - mulled wine, peppermint hot chocolate, whatever a hot toddy is - but today I thought we might need something cool, bright and refreshing. I also like carbonating things with my siphon.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cookie Week - Amazing oatmeal cookies

I thought I would end cookie week with something slightly healthy. We're not talking applesauce and yogurt replacing all the butter.  No no no, it's not that time of year.  Yet.  I'm talking about healthy and delicious additions to these cookies.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cranberry-Orange Mallomars

Happy Thanksgiving week! I'm so ready for the holiday season. During my unemployed hours I've been preparing lots and lots of recipes for you! I'm most excited to share this first cookie recipe of the season with you. This cranberry-orange mallomar is sweet and tart and tastes just like christmas!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Apple-Cranberry Crumble

I've already told you that Fall is one of my favorite times of the year.  We are now in the thick of sweater and apple cider season and I'm loving it.  There's something to be said about putting on a thick sweater in the morning and facing the crisp morning air.  A few weeks ago the boyfriend endured a Sunday afternoon away from football (#FOMOF!) and we headed to a local orchard for apple picking.


It's one of my favorite things to do in the fall.  Ever since I was a graduate student in Wisconsin, I've made it part of my annual traditions.  I've picked apples in five different states over the past ten years, enjoying so many different local varieties.  This was my first year picking in New Jersey and was pleased to go home with some Nittany & Suncrisp apples - developed at Rutgers & Penn State respectively!


The boyfriend usually isn't very good at hand picking produce, he likes to only pick the most beautiful and perfect specimens.  This means he usually winds up with a bag with three apples in it. Because of this, I decided he would be of good use behind the camera!  This left me to walk the orchard and pick all the apples.



Checking out, I was happy to learn that I didn't spend more than $20 on apples.  It's hard to find something to do in New Jersey that only costs $20, so it was really a steal of a day!



With piles of apples in our apartment and only one person who likes eating apples, I had lots of recipes to try out.  Of course the first thing I had to make was an apple crisp, because they're delicious and I love them.



One Year Ago: Pumpkin & Chocolate Chip Cookies
Two Years Ago: Cooking in Thailand
Three Years Ago: Mint Brownies & French Toast Cupcakes

Apple-Cranberry Crumble
A Wilde Original

You can make an apple crisp with any combination of apples that you happen to have on hand. I made this crumble in a large casserole, but you can decide to make it in small ramekins for individual portions.

Filling
4 pounds apples, mixture of two different types (I used Nittany & Stayman)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Crumble Topping
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons butter, cubed and chilled
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 ºF and lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Peel and core all the apples.  Slice to 1/8-inch thickness with a knife or mandoline.  Combine all ingredients for the filling in a large bowl. Pour apples into prepared baking dish.

Combine first 6 ingredients for the topping in a bowl and stir to mix.  Add butter and cut it in with your fingers, two forks or a pastry blender.  Don't overwork it too much, you don't want to the butter to melt.  Pour topping over the apple mixture.

Bake crumble for 1 1/2 hours, until bubbly and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack until lukewarm.  Enjoy with a big scoop of ice cream.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cavatappi Pasta with Sausage and Butternut Squash

Winter has finally struck the New York City area!  I knew this was coming, we can't go a full year without a week or two of frigid temperatures.  I'm just going to say that I would have been perfectly fine if the temperature never dropped below freezing. 

I know my mom is reading this and saying "But you grew up in Buffalo!"  Yes I did.  I also went to grad school in Wisconsin and spent a year living in Colorado.  Yet, I moved to the coast and have since thawed.  No longer do I want to deal with minus twenty wind chills and three feet of snow on my car.  I no longer own a winter coat that resembles a down comforter with sleeves.  I don't want to wear two pairs of pants while I wait for the train to work.  If there were jobs for chemists in Florida, I would be there in a second!


January is almost at it's end and February in the Mid-Altantic region is a smattering of warm and cold days.  I just have to make it through two weeks of wind chill.  There is only one problem with these cold days.  Boyfriend and I are house hunting.

That's right, we are getting ready to put down some roots and stop paying the ridiculous rent on our current apartment.  It's exciting, overwhelming and scary all at once.  Our first major problem, we're not set on a location yet.  It's not as simple as, do we live in this neighborhood or the one next to it?  Our question is - Do we live in New York or New Jersey?


There are a million factors to take into account.  Boyfriend and I work in two different states, he drives, I commute via train.  New Jersey has high property taxes yet New York has those darned city taxes.  Brooklyn is so hip and cool, Jersey city is... well, I have no idea what Jersey city has to offer.  I've only been there a few times!

So, see all the issues we have to deal with!  Add in the fact that it's chilly out and we are spending our Sundays trekking all over the two cities looking at open houses, you've got two very chilly individuals.  Luckily we have a few months before we have to leave our current apartment, the weather can warm up before we have to move. 

I'll just be a little crazy for the next few months, what with the stalking the NYtimes real estate page for new listings.  During that time I plan on making lots of dinners like this.  Ones that make a ton of leftovers! 

Anyone out there recently buy a house and have some tips and tricks for us?  While Boyfriend has previously bought a condo in Buffalo, this will be our first place together and my first purchase (Hello Property Virgin!).  So much to do, will we ever find a place?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Why Bother? 2012 - Granola Bars

Yes, the Why Bother challenge has spilled over into the new year!  I'm finally over a long bout of bronchitis and have drained nearly all of the congestion from my head.  Nobody is happier than I am, except maybe the hundred or so people I share my train car with.  No more loud coughing from me!  So many of my friends and family have been battling with some virus, bacterium or other, this season.  And after a month of being sick, I'm happy to count myself among the healthy again.
With the bronchitis I was battling, I had to push of the last few challenges of the Why Bother? challenge.  This January we will complete the challenges with granola bars, crackers and soft cheeses.  I'm excited to finish all of the challenges that you gave me over a year ago, so let's get started with snacks!

Most foodie friends that I know are highly unlikely to venture down the cereal bar aisle in the grocery store.  You bakers out there probably have your own go to recipe for granola bars, perfected after many tries in the kitchen with different grains, nuts and dried fruits. 


I want everyone else out there to have a go at the bar.  Or in this case, the cup!  I love making granola bars at home.  They change every time I make them, depending on what I have in my kitchen.  Sometimes they are heavy on the nuts, sometimes I have an odd assortment of dried fruits.  You should feel free to adapt each granola bar recipe in the same way.

Today I bring you a baked granola bar recipe (Saturday we'll have a no-bake variant) that combines some of my favorite flavors.  Peanut butter, cherry and oats.  It's like a PB&J sandwich!  Don't have any dried cherries in the house?  Substitute the dried fruits for whatever you have lying around!

Granola Bar Muffins
Adapted from Snack Girl

This recipe was given to me (via my mom) from a fitness fanatic.  She loved that these bars are low in calories, high in protein and packs major flavor.  With no added sugar, these bars are great to feed your kiddos or yourself!

1/2 cup peanut butter
2 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup mixed dried berries (mine included raspberry, cherry, cranberry & blueberry)
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

Mix peanut butter and mashed bananas with a fork.  Add nuts, dried fruits, oats and vanilla.  Stir until it all comes together.  Scoop 1/4 cup of the mixture into each muffin cup and lightly press into the pan.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove granola cups from the pan and let cool completely on the rack.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cheesy Polenta with Sausage

I can't believe that it has been over ten months since I had my braces put on!  And it's been far too long since I've updated all of you on the progress/process.  For those of you who are less interested in my orthodontia experience and more here for the food, don't worry, I made you a delicious dinner.  (That is also braces friendly!)

For those of you just tuning in, as a thirty-year old woman, I decided it was about time I got braces.  Well, my dentist "strongly suggested" me having a consultation with an orthodontist.  I was mad at my new dentist (seriously, it was the first time I had an appointment there!), but I was also mad at my old dentist (the one I had since I first got teeth.  The guy who told me I didn't need braces.).  Eventually I decided that it was a great time in my life to get my bite adjusted.


Invisalign was not an option, the corrections required real braces and *gasp* rubber bands!  I was okay with the braces, but he wanted me to wear rubber bands?  Like the ones that looped from top brace to the bottom?  I didn't know if I was okay with that.  I just kept thinking, *It's only 18-21 months, I can handle it.*

In February of this year, I had these fancy ceramic braces affixed to my teeth.  Until the metal archwire was attached, the brackets themselves were almost invisible.  Even with the wire in place, it's the only thing you can see when I smile.  It took some people at my office months to realize I had the braces put on.  My mom and brother had to be reminded that I had them, as they didn't notice them either.  My close coworkers made fun of me for about a week, but I just made fun of them for a wide variety of reasons and we all got used to my braces.  Recently, my orthodontist got new bands (the little rubber bands that attach the wire to the bracket) that are completely clear.  I'm in love with them.

I've had some questions from people along the lines of "I want to get braces, but I'm afraid they will hurt!"  I'm not going to lie, they were uncomfortable the first two weeks.  I was aware of every last tooth in my mouth.  After the initial adjustment period (and loss of a few pounds), it really hasn't been that bad.  After my monthly adjustment, one tooth or another might hurt for a few days, but it quickly goes away.  Also, as your teeth start to line up properly it becomes much easier to speak normally.  I've finally learned to say M words properly, I'm sure I'll have to get used to speaking again once the braces are removed.


So yes, I'm about halfway through my term in braces.  I just have three things to say...

1. I think my old dentist was in cahoots with my dad.  He totally saved him a bundle of cash by not pushing braces on either my brother or I.  And Wilde brother would do well to get himself some grills.  Dudes got crazy teeth!

2. I would totally get them again.  I'm really looking forward to having all my pearly whites lined up and biting down in the proper fashion!  I can see the progress they've made already and I can't wait to see the final result!

3. If you are thinking about getting braces, don't worry about the pain, your ability to eat, what other people will think.  The pain isn't crippling, you'll just decide which foods are too much work to eat and you're doing this for yourself, ignore those haters!

Get braces and make this dinner - very braces friendly!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Plums and Spinach & cranberry Quinoa

WARNING!!! If you are a Doctor Who lover and haven't watched Saturdays episode, read no further!!! Go watch it!



Okay, I'm going to nerd out on you a little.  The Fall season finale of Doctor Who was so sad!  I know, some people (namely my labmate) weren't fans of the Ponds, but I thought they were so much fun!  I don't feel too bad saying that I'll miss them without calling "spoilers" ahead of time, since they have been advertising the Ponds departure for weeks now.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you're missing out.  You need to take a week off of work and get aquanted with The Doctor.  Doctor Who is a show on BBC America that follows the shenanigans of an immortal alien and his companions through time and space.  It's been on TV, on and off, for over sixty years.  It's fun, silly, frightening, dramatic, heart-warming and sad.  Those Brits know what they're doing here.  Not into sci-fi?  Don't worry, it's so much better than American sci-fi. 


If you only have one hour, watch the episode "Blink."  It's a stand alone episode that will pull you in.  Fellow Whovians, what was your first episode?  Are you a long-time viewer and remember hiding behind the couch watching Peter Davies?  Or are you a newbie like me and were introduced to the ninth doctor in 2005?

For now, we all need to wait until Christmas for more new Doctor Who.  I'm a little sad.


One Year Ago: Pumpkin Pie Mallomars
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Crisps

Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Plums
Adapted from Everyday Food

I was able to get boyfriend to eat pork by making this meal with pork tenderloin.  He refused to eat the plums and told me fruit is lame.  Actually he said something a little more colorful than that, but this is a family friendly blog!

1 pound pork tenderloin
4 plums
1/2 yellow onion
1 tbsp butter
Olive oil
1/4 cup pomegranate red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper

Trim pork tenderloin and slice into 1-inch pieces.  Pound pork medallions thin.  Cut plums in half and remove the pits.  Cut each plum into 12 pieces.  Slice onion thinly.

Heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.  Cook pork tenderloin, approximately for 3-4 minutes per side.  Do not crowd the pan with pork, cook in two portions if necessary.  Once pork is cooked, remove to a plate and set aside.

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan and add plums and onions.  Stir to coat in oil.  Saute for 5 minutes, or until the plums are slightly softened.  Add vinegar to the pan and let cook down for 1 minute.  Return pork to the pan and toss together.

Spinach & cranberry Quinoa
Inspired by Everyday Food

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 cups baby spinach
Zest from 1 lemon

In a medium pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add quinoa and stir to coat in oil, cook for 1 minute.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid.  Let simmer for 15 minutes, add cranberries.  Let simmer for 5 minutes more.  Add spinach and lemon zest and stir.  Cover with a lid for 5 minutes to wilt spinach.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chai Cupcakes with Chai Cream Cheese Frosting

When you collect your race packet and written in large red letters is the following "There is a real possibility that YOU MAY DIE or be catastrophically injured," you may be wondering what you got yourself into.  I was staring at these exact words this Saturday when boyfriend and I got ready to run our very first Spartan Race. 

Registering for the Spartan Race was not my idea.  Four months ago, Boyfriend found the race through a Living Social deal and signed us both up.  I went to the website and was presented with a video of fit looking people crawling under barbed wire, scaling ten foot walls, leaping over fire and jumping into giant pits of mud.  On top of all of this, the runners were confronted with armed gladiators in the last 100 feet.  What did I get myself into?

Saturday morning we drove through rainstorms and wound up at the Mountain Creek Ski Resort, in beautiful and sundrenched Northwestern New Jersey.  We donned our race numbers and lined up at the starting gate.  I jumped up and down, arooing at boyfriend.  He stood there and told me I was acting crazy and to stop it.

The siren blared and we were off and running!  For the first 500 feet.  Then we were faced with a very daunting, very steep, very tall hill.  A black diamond ski slope to be exact.  The 250 racers in our heat quickly turned from a group of excited, cheering athletes, to a mass of red-faced, short-of-breath ninnies.  What am I saying, I was right there with them.  This hill just kept on going up, it took me 2/3 of the way up to control my breathing and get into a good place.

After the first two miles, boyfriend and I found our pace.  He pushed me to keep going up those hills and I kept him running through the woods.  We swam through a lake, climbed over wall, flipped huge tractor tires but at mile 7, I was on my own.  Boyfriend was struck down by a serious migraine and I had to finish the last four miles on my own.

Luckily there was lots of fun to be had in the last four miles, including a 200-foot rock scramble to the top of the last hill, 9 & 10-foot walls to climb, monkey bars, mud slides, A-frames and...  a torrential thunderstorm.  With only two miles to go, the heavens opened up and the racers and I were sprinting to the finish line through sheets of rain, it was way dramatic.  Good thing I didn't know about the tornado warning.

I crossed the finish line, accepted my fancy medal and located my sad boyfriend.  Now I'm nursing my wounds and walking very slowly down the stairs.  And I'm eating cupcakes.  Because I ran eleven miles on Saturday and totally deserve them.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Salad Dressing

I planned the posting date for this Why Bother? challenge very carefully.  With the unofficial start of summer a mere six weeks away, I think this is a good time to start eating lots and lots of healthy salads.  I know that there is a group of people out there who just detest eating salads.  Sitting down to a plate of lettuce just doesn't seem right to them.


And who could blame anyone for thinking that way?  Salads can be boring, unsatisfying and just plain forgettable.  There is another train of thought, the one that I have adopted toward the salad.  Salads can be bright, filling and the main course of any meal, with the right ingredients.  And of course, with the right dressing.


I have had more awful store-bought salad dressings than I care to mention.  The flavors tend to be muted, the salt to everything else in the dressing ratio is way off and the ingredient combinations sometimes wacky.  Sure, there are some pretty delicious dressings out there.  I'm not suggesting you steer clear of the salad dressing aisle completely.  There are just so many reasons to make your own dressings.

1. You know what all of the ingredients are.  As a chemist, I look at the back of a bottle of salad dressing and wonder why they need all of those chemicals.  The main reason?  To make the stuff shelf stable.  Look in your fridge, those bottles have expiration dates.  Granted, they are usually pretty far out from the purchase date.  Please go and throw away all of your old bottles of dressing, you'll have so much more space for the new dressing that you're going to prepare.


2. You can control the salt.  For the same reason that there are so many chemicals in your store-bought salad dressing, there tends to be a lot of salt.  Americans consume far more salt than is necessary for daily life and it affects our health in a negative way.  By making your own dressing, you can add just a pinch of salt (and that's only if it needs it!).


3. Think Fresh.  Those salad dressings sitting on the shelf at your local grocery store can't call any of their ingredients "fresh".  Nothing is better than putting together your own dressing and finishing it off with some freshly chopped herbs (straight from your garden if you're lucky!).  With the flavor that those herbs bring, you'll be leaving the salt shaker on the table.


4. You control the fat.  Along the lines of eating healthy in preparation for bathing suit season, everyone is watching their fat intake.  Store-bought dressings contain primarily soybean oil or canola oil.  There are some true winners out there containing extra virgin olive oil as their main fat source, but you have to be sure to read the labels.  Why settle for flavor-less canola oil when there are so many other delicious options!  From avocado to walnut, there are more options for oils than ever before.


So head out to the grocery store and skip the condiment aisle.  Go to the vinegars and oils section and pick up a few options.  I like to have white wine, rice wine and balsamic vinegar in my pantry at all times.  Specialty vinegars make an occasional appearance and are fun when changing things up, try champagne or pomegranate.

Stock up with a large bottle of extra virgin olive oil, try to catch it when it's on sale!  You'll find other amazing oils, such as walnut, sesame and avocado, often hiding in the natural foods section.  Specialty oils are a little more expensive, but give your homemade dressings amazing flavor.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' - Quick Breads!

After months of not being able to participate in the Daring Bakers', I was so happy to read that this months challenge was quick breads!  The Daring Bakers' February 2012 host was - Lis!  Lis stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own.  She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.


I'm a huge fan of quick breads for so many reasons.  First, they come together fast (hence the name!).  Second, they make a wonderful and delicious breakfast/snack/I'm going to eat it anytime of the day...  Also, quick breads are so versitile, you can make them into anything you desire.


When I was mulling over the challenge, I was looking into my pantry.  I didn't want to make the traditional banana bread or zucchini bread.  While those breads are delicious, I've made them many times before.  Instead of going totally crazy with flavors, I decided to go with a classic flavor profile - cranberry & almond.  By swapping out some of the all-purpose flour for almond flour and subbing in almond extract for some of the vanilla.  I chose dried cranberries over fresh because of the time of year.  If I had thought ahead, I think that fresh cranberries would have lended a perfect tart pop for the bread.  Oh well, next time!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Iceberg Wedge & Blue Cheese Dressing

Welcome to the new year everyone!  I hope the first two days have treated you well.  If my first two days of the year reflect how everyone else spent their first two days, I hope you all enjoyed shopping at Walmart and Target, buying storage containers and hangers! 


Yesterday, boyfriend and I spent the day cleaning and organizing the apartment in preparation for our move to a slightly smaller apartment.  We filled up three huge garbage bags with clothes than no longer fit into our wardrobe and dropped them off at the donation bin.  The huge pile of metal hangers made their way to the recycling bin.  The pile of shoes in the bottom of the coat closet got organized and whittled down. 

Along our cleaning journey, we realized that we had accumulated lots of new clothes for christmas and were in need of hangers.  A series of thoughts brought us to getting in the car and driving to the closest Walmart, only to discover that everyone else in the county decided to go there too.  Were you at the big box store this weekend, because I think just about everyone in the world was in my checkout line.  (Warning - if you take a cart FULL of items into the "Speedy Checkout Line" you're going to get quite a few snide comments)


At the end of the day, our closet was slightly cleaner and our bodies were tired.  There was very little energy remaining to prepare anything for dinner.  Chopping a head of lettuce into four pieces was just about the amount of prep I could handle. 

Iceberg wedge & Blue cheese dressing
Adapted from Williams Sonoma - New York


I've had a couple of wedge salads in my time and I've always wanted to make it at home.  The dressing always had the same notes, but I didn't have a good base recipe.  This recipe from Williams Sonoma really hit the spot.  Although, to be completely honest with you...  After I photographed the pretty wedges of lettuce, I chopped it up and tossed it into a big bowl.  So much easier to eat, just less pretty to look at!

1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into 4-6 wedges

1/2 cup mayonaisse
1/2 cup light sour cream
juice from 1 lemon
dash of Tabasco
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
1 tbsp fresh chive, finely chopped

1/2 cup candied walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Plate one wedge of lettuce per plate.

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the salad dressing (mayo through chives).  Spoon a few tablespoons of dressing over each wedge.  Spinkle with cranberries and walnuts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baked Pears & Salad

This whole, Working in the real world, thing is taking some getting used to!  Between the corporate and academic worlds there seems to be an inverse relationship between working hours and meetings.  That relationship has been very apparent this week and it's only Tuesday.  Let me explain.


While I was working in academia I spent the majority of my hours in the lab.  I have friends who worked for professors with set work hours of 9am - 11pm, with an hour break for dinner of course!  Yet, when it came to meetings, they were almost non-existant.  We had once-weekly group meetings for an hour or two every Monday.  During the summer we didn't have any meetings!  Summer was the time to get lots of work done in the lab, not time to sit in the conference room!

Working in the corporate world, my hours have been cut in half.  Sadly, my time in the lab has been reduced by at least 60% too.  I like working in the lab, I like making stuff.  With this decrease in working hours has come an increase in meetings.  In the 16 work hours so far this week, I've spent half of them in meetings.  My butt has been falling asleep a lot, I need to bring my office chair with me to these five hour meetings.


I've been told to get used to all the meetings, because my schedule is only going to get more full as I've worked there longer.  At least I'm learning lots of new and exciting things at these meetings!  Sounds like my working hours are going to increase a little more as I get a fuller schedule, luckily I was given a laptop at my new job!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Filled Meringue Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker's challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria's Collection and Jamie of Life's a Feast.  Ria and Jamie challenged the Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted meringue coffee cake.  I love breakfast and when I learned that this months Daring Baker's challenge would be a coffee cake, I was jazzed.  I've never made a yeasted coffee cake before and this was something new to try out. 



To just look at the pictures doesn't do this recipe service.  The dough was so smooth and springy, it was a treat to work with.  Many people called this dough "sexy" and after making it, I have to agree.  It was so easy to roll out and fill, it rose and baked up like a dream. 



When it came down to deciding what to fill this sexy dough with I thought to keep it simple.  When I was little, we would get an Entenmann's walnut danish ring for breakfast every weekend.  When picking out the ring, my dad would go with the ring with the most frosting on the top.  As a kid, I couldn't help but agree with this method of choosing breakfast.  More frosting = more sugar!  I decided to fill my coffee cake with something similar to the Entenmann's version.  Cinnamon sugar with dried cranberries and walnuts, coated in a delicious layer of orange icing.


How did this coffee cake compare to the Entenmann's version of my youth?  Listen up dad, THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER!  The meringue melts into the coffee cake making it unbelievably moist and the cranberries and walnuts give it great sweetness and crunch.  Give up your storebought danish ring and head to the kitchen with mom, you won't be sorry.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Gorgonzola Risotto

You’ll notice a little something different about today’s post. No pictures of food! Now don’t worry, I am giving you a recipe (a very delicious recipe in fact!). However the pictures of the food weren’t nearly as pretty as my pictures from New York City last weekend! You might remember that I met my mom in New York last weekend to celebrate her birthday. We had three girls-only days in the big city.


I’ve been to New York a many number of times and know my way around pretty well. Of course, it’s pretty tough to get lost when you’re in Midtown, all the streets are numbered. Once I get to the East Village is when I start to get all turned around, especially after coming out of the subway. I think all I need is a compass, then I wouldn’t go the wrong direction nearly as often as I do. It’s too bad the compass on the iPhone doesn’t work in New York. The signal bounces off the buildings and your GPS thinks you are inside of a building three blocks away, not helpful.


So what did we do in our weekend in the city? We went shopping, we saw the sights and we watched a show. We also ate a lot of cupcakes. Seriously, we had cupcakes every single day that we were there. Rather than heading to just a single bakery, we decided to check out a couple of different ones. You know, we had to compare and contrast the product, right?


Personally I fell in love with my peanut butter cup cupcake from Crumbs, although I was covered in frosting when I finished eating it. I was licking it off of my elbow, I’m pretty sure there was frosting in my hair too. I was a little wired that night! Mom liked her vanilla cupcake from Eleni’s Bake shop, located inside of Chelsea Market. They also served up a mean raspberry cupcake, super delicious.


It was a great weekend, full of history, culture, shops and sugar!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

BBAC - Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread

I love a challenge. When I’m presented with a task, I’m going to complete it. Maybe I’m stubborn like that. Actually, yes, I’m very stubborn. I’ve been told this several times in the past. When I first got to grad school, I was nervous. It was the first time in my life that I was living away from home. I lived at home the entire time I was in college, it was free and only five miles away from school. Moving fourteen hours away from my parents, brother and boyfriend was hard. Every few days I sat thinking “Why am I here? Was this a good idea?”




Luckily I made friends and came to discover that every other first year grad student was thinking the same thing.  Even those who had gone to undergraduate far from home were questioning their decision to come to grad school. The first year of grad school was tough. Challenging classes, the stress of finding the right group to join and teaching teenagers freshman chemistry, it just all piled on. Some people cracked, it’s a lot of pressure. Most people succeeded and we were stronger for it.


Making it to the fifth qualifier, our official anniversary, was so uplifting. Completing our first year in grad school was just the first of many hurdles we would have to overcome, that first year hardened us. From there on out we would present seminars, defend original research proposals, write papers and get scooped. Getting scooped is always the worst.


In the back of my mind I always knew that I could finish what I started. It might start off a little shaky, uneasy of the strange new ground I was walking, but every challenge makes me stronger. Each step becoming more steady, until that goal is accomplished. Triumph!


So what is the challenge that I’m talking about today? The Bread Bakers Apprentice challenge! I started a few months ago with the Anadama bread. It turned out well, but being new to yeast, it wasn’t perfect. Later, I celebrated my gram with Cinnamon bread. A fitting tribute to many days spent in her home as a child. This year I plan to finish this challenge. Forty recipes in fifty-two weeks, here is the first one of the year. And it is going to be a hard one to surpass, absolutely delicious.


The cranberry-walnut celebration bread can be found on page 154 of Peter Reinhart’s Bread Bakers Apprentice (also on several other bloggers webpage). I made no changes to the recipe and it was absolutely delicious. I wound up eating the whole loaf in a matter of days. Yep, just me, one person, ate the whole loaf. It was amazing as French toast and great slathered in butter as an evening snack. The double braid was a kick to make and made the bread look gorgeous. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.
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