Sunday, January 8, 2012

Roasted Chickpeas



In the past few weeks everyone was a buzz about Pinterest.  I’m sure we are late to the game, but of course, just as suggested, I am now wasting far too much time on yet another website.  Beautiful ideas for how to organize a kid’s room, or host a gorgeous party, or wear my hair for a wedding… all very useful suggestions posted mostly by friends who don’t live in tiny studio apartments. 

I did come across some practical pins however, like roasted chickpeas for snacking!  This would barely qualify as a recipe, more like an idea.  And, I have to say, having recently decided that microwave popcorn gives me migraines, this makes me extra happy.

The “recipe” comes from here and is listed below.  But my recommendation is to just play around.  Basically cook chickpeas on a parchment lined baking sheet at 450 for about 30 minutes and then dress as you see fit.  I did some spicy (because I heart cayenne pepper) and some sweet as recommended below.  No measuring necessary.  Crunchy and delicious. 

Happy pinning and crunching!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Red Velvet Cake Pops



Update: Second attempt at cake pops was much more successful and pretty!




The cupcake trend is over, at least in New York, which is really what counts.   I would venture to say the whole cupcake trend really got started back in 2000ish when Carrie and Miranda enjoyed Magnolia cupcakes on Sex and the City.  Once Magnolia hit it big, cupcake shops were popping up everywhere.  They’ve had a good run.  And, don’t get me wrong, I still love a good cupcake and will continue to bake them from time to time; however, I am glad to throw some different celebratory treats into the rotation.

On that note, a coworker recently mentioned making cake pops.  The only time I’ve had cake pops was in the form of insane deliciousness at Townhouse.  Those are cheesecake and the presentation is something to talk about in and of itself.  

Mine weren’t as divine as David Burkes, but then again this is an amateur venture. 

The recipes I found when googling “cake pops” basically involved crumbling cake mix, adding canned frosting to form balls, and then covering them with some sort of candy coating.  While I may not be David Burke, I also refuse to be Sandra Lee so I wasn’t about to use a cake mix and canned frosting.    Because the pops would be for Emily’s birthday (she turned 29 again, as I will in a few months!) I went with her favorite cake combination and combined red velvet cake, cream cheese frosting, and white chocolate candy coating.  I have to say, these were rather party-perfect in their miniature size. 

The best part is these can be done in any combination of cake and frosting flavors you can imagine - vanilla/vanilla, chocolate/chocolate, lemon/vanilla, red velvet/cream cheese, cheesecake, chocolate/mocha, chocolate/peanut butter.  Coat in candy shell (better than chocolate because it hardens at room temperature and doesn’t melt) and decorate as desired.  Trust me you will impress people, and as I continue to say, that is really what it’s all about.

Happy Popping! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cranberry Lemon Scones

It’s Marathon Sunday in New York.  Almost as fun and prestigious as Marathon Monday in Boston, but let’s leave that debate for another forum.  Growing up my Marathon memories are very child-oriented, cheering at heartbreak hill, maybe handing out some water or orange slices.  Then I moved to Manhattan and realized, like any other day in NY, the marathon is a big excuse to party.  I’m sure the same can be said of Comm Ave in Boston, I was just to na├»ve to realize.  Either way, parties usual begin at apartments with some brunch items.  I decided to tackle scones. 

I have made scones once or twice before and they were never quite good enough to share.  To be honest, these aren’t quite up to snuff either.  But I think it’s me.  I combined two great recipes and then fought the dough because I always do.  Maybe a dough/ pastry class needs to be in my future.   I know the general rules – don’t overwork dough, don’t add excessive flour when rolling it out – and I always do both.  It is so sticky I have no choice!

Stickiness aside, by batch two they came out pretty well.  And, if you can handle some sticky dough, it is a pretty easy recipe.  You can keep the dough formed and frozen for up to a week so a fresh batch is never more than 20 minutes away.

The original recipe comes from Cooks Illustrated.  The recipe is for Blueberry scones but I had seen a recipe for Cranberry Lemon scones that seemed much more seasonal so I did a bit of swapping.
  

The Cranberry Lemon recipe comes from…. Yep, SmittenKitchen… and suggested using a biscuit cutter because her scones didn’t hold shape.  So with a few adaptions the recipe is below.

Happy baking and marathon celebrating!
  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

In college, the girls and I had a habit of buying holiday edition Reese’s peanut butter cups whenever we went to CVS. The problem was that it was always Halloween, or Valentine’s Day, or Easter and there was always an excuse for a jumbo sized Reese’s. I’ll keep the rest of my thoughts on this bad habit to myself. The bottom line is, we clearly love the chocolate peanut butter combo, so for Cara’s birthday this seemed like a good starting point.

Certainly birthdays should be celebrated with cakes; however, sometimes transporting cakes or cupcakes is a bit too cumbersome. Traveling with a large cake tuperware isn’t the most convenient and certainly doesn’t work if you are going to a restaurant or bar. For such occasions I am a big fan of sandwich cookies. They can be stacked, and you can put a candle in them. So, a search for a good chocolate peanut butter cookie began… I found a recipe for Whoopie Pies on Epicurious (originally from Gourmet), that sounded delicious. With a bit of adjusting the filling became peanut butter and Cara’s insanely rich birthday “cookies” were created.

These were huge and shareable. So good that the few leftovers I had at home got given to the doormen so I wouldn’t be tempted by the gluttonous cookies.

Happy Baking. Whoop it up!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Zucchini Bread


Life is good. I’m summering in London with my cousin and three of the cutest little kiddies ever.


And, it just so happens Eitan loves to cook. He has become my sous chef (how lucky am I?) as we’ve made cupcakes, playdough and zucchini bread.

My memory of zucchini bread is that my moms weird friend Karen used to bring it over. She was uptight, clearly didn’t like kids, and brought over bread made from vegetables – eew. However, given that Marcy bought a humongous zucchini at the farmer’s market that had gone unused, I decided to get over my dislike for Karen, and zucchini bread… of course Smitten Kitchen had a recipe and so I had to look no further.

We made one loaf and 9 muffins – they were yummy, and kid-approved. If I made these again, I would definitely substitute some whole wheat flour, and maybe something lowfat (applesauce? Buttermilk?) for some of the oil. I don’t have any need to fuss with cakes and cookies, but zucchini bread seems like it should be healthy – and these were tasty enough that they could definitely be lower fat and still be good. Experimenting comes next…

Until then, happy baking (I hope you find a sous chef as cute as mine!)

Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (*skipped)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 - 1 cup chopped walnuts/pecans, or dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans. Or line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk.


Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using.

Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 50-70 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Bake muffins for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lemon Passover Cheesecake


We always end our Passover Seder with a sponge cake.  My dad’s mom, Grandma Gertie used to make it.  When the tradition was passed down, I felt somewhat honored to be making Grandma’s cake, until one day I realized Grandma’s recipe was pretty identical to the one found on the Manischevitz cake meal box.  I felt like Monica after she tried to perfect Phoebe’s special chocolate cookie recipe.  If you don’t know what I mean, you should be ashamed and then watch this.

Anyway, ever since the realization that Grandma’s cake was more of a generic Passover sponge cake recipe than a secret family recipe, I have realized how average that cake is (sorry Brinks).  We still make the cake for Grandma’s sake, she’s 92 after all, but this year I was finally home in time to make something more exciting for night two.

I found a recipe for Passover Cheesecake on Epicurious that had great reviews (4 forks!).  The crust is made from almonds and matzo meal and cheesecake is already Passover ready.  My first attempt at cheesecake was mighty good. 

Happy Passover.  And, Happy Updating!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Confetti Cupcakes


I grew up on Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix.  While I am certainly not a fan of cake mixes these days, I do admit that there is a tendency for cakes from a mix to come out perfectly moist, whereas cakes from scratch are much harder to get just right.  I am always searching for a great cake recipe… nothing fancy, but one where I control the ingredients (I’d prefer to avoid Maltodextrin, Xanthan Gum, and yellow food dye).  Not surprisingly, I found my new go-to on Smitten Kitchen.  Described as the Best Yellow Cake, it really is easy, moist and delicious. 

This time, I decided to get a little crazy.  A friend just mentioned that she had homemade Funfetti cake for her birthday and I thought Clare’s birthday would be the perfect occasion to add a little pizazz to the plain yellow cake.  Funfetti is actually a Pillsbury cake mix, but I figured all I needed to make my own confetti cake was some rainbow sprinkles.  As they dissolve in the batter of a simple yellow cake they form colorful, confetti-like spots.  The results were yummy and adorable…

Happy Caking!