Tag Archives: Baking

Orange Spice Banana Bread

Orange spice banana bread.  It’s like regular banana bread, but sexier.  The kind of sexy that wears an old wool sweater and glasses.  The nerdy kind.

Despite all this, it’s also delicious.

My internet is also still quite unreliable, so this’ll be a short one.

Orange Spice Banana Bread

  • 2 ridiculously ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1/2 C plain or vanilla fat-free yogurt (keep in mind that vanilla yogurt will be sweeter, and adjust accordingly!  I used vanilla.)
  • 1/4 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 T orange zest
  • 1 t orange extract (optional)
  • 3 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C almond flour (or use two cups total all-purpose flour)
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t each cinnamon and nutmeg

Like most quick breads, this recipe couldn’t be easier.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, mix the wet ingredients, add the dry, and pour into a greased/parchment papered loaf pan.

Here, I decided to top the loaf with whole walnuts.  That’s up to you, though I must say it made a really nice crunchy top crust.

Bake on the middle rack until an inserted skewer comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it, about an hour.

Yum!  I’m by no means an expert at creating breads, but this one came out perfectly–dense and moist like any banana bread, but still light enough to eat two slices at once (or three, if you are Fritz).

The orange flavor is pretty subtle, and you could ramp it up a bit with more orange zest (or sub OJ for the skim milk?  More sugar there, though).

Perfect with a pat o’ butter, and I know exactly what my breakfast will consist of early tomorrow morning.

 

Actually, I’m not really sure.  Steel-cut oats have been calling my name for a couple of days, too.  But if I have those for breakfast, than a slice of this bread will definitely be a part of second breakfast (movie/book, anyone?). 

Tomorrow morning Fritz and I are heading to go to one of my top fall destinations, Westchester County (in NY), to go apple picking/pumpkin picking/hay riding/hot apple cider drinking/apple cider donut eating with some friends–and I can’t wait!  I’m confident I will return with at least a thousand photos (just kidding! Maybe…), and that the 67 degree weather tomorrow calls for boots.

Hallelujah.

Henry’s plans for tomorrow largly consist of this:

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Filed under Breads

Comfort Food: Apple Crisp Edition

Apple crisp isn’t going to change your life.  I can promise you that.

But what it might do is make you feel like everything is all right with your world; that your insides are warm and fuzzy and nothing bad can happen.  And that nothing makes you feel better than ice cream melting into cinnamon and nutmeg with warm apples and crunchy-buttery oats and nuts.

Apple crisp is a comfort food, my friends.  At least in my house it is.  My mom always makes at least one apple crisp every fall, and when I was a freshman at college she drove six hours to visit with a pan of still-warm apple crisp to help me move in the right way.

And that is comforting.

Apple Crisp (makes enough to serve a large crowd, or have lots of leftovers to be warmed up later)

for the filling:

  • 10-12 mixed varieties of apples (Empire, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Braeburn…), peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 2 T lemon or lime juice
  • 1 t cinnamon

for the topping:

  • 1 C whole-wheat flour (I was out, so I used all-purpose)
  • 3/4 C almond meal
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 C whole walnuts
  • 1 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C butter (1 stick, chilled)
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/2 t)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  The first big step is to peel, core, and chop the apples–and this step is much easier when you have one of those nifty apple corer and slicer things.  I do, thank goodness.  Mix in the sugar, spices, and lemon or lime.  Pour the apple mixture into a large dish–mine is 10′ x 15′.  The apples should come right up to the top (but don’t worry, they’ll cook down later).  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the topping.  Cut the butter (it’s better if it is a bit chilled) into small pieces into the bowl.  Use your hands for the easiest mixing, blending the flours into the butter until it is the texture of sandy pebbles…if that makes any sense. 

Crumble the mixture over the top of the apples, and dust with freshly grated nutmeg.  Bake on the middle rack until the apples are soft and bubbly and the top is golden brown, about an hour.

Please, please, oh please, serve with ice cream.  Warm.

And when you reheat this, do it in the oven and not the microwave.  Your mother will thank you.  And so will your belly.

One of the best parts of this is the big walnuts–and that’s coming from someone who’s not a big fan of nuts inside desserts.

And if you’ve had a hard day at school, or a long day at work, or a fight with your hubs, or you are feeling down for any reason, really…this is your dessert.

Enjoy!

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Sunrise Muffins

I’ve wanted to make these muffins ever since I bought Allison Fishman’s You Can Trust a Skinny Cook–mostly because the recipe involves putting an entire orange (peel, pith, and all) right into the blender.

That just appeals to the green monster-making side of me–and I’m so used to using and washing the blender every day that I don’t mind breaking it out again.  Combine that with the chilly, rainy weather that woke me up this morning, and sunrise muffins became a necessity.

Sunrise Muffins (makes a dozen muffins)

  • 1 orange (I actually used a tangelo), sliced into eighths
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour (I used whole-wheat pastry flour, with excellent results)
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 dried fruit (I used a dried berry mix–cherries, blueberries, cranberries, and strawberries)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and line muffin tins with papers.

The fun part: in the blender, combine the eggs, oil, orange juice, and sliced orange sections, and blend until smooth.  While blending, mix the remaining ingredients except the dried fruit in a medium bowl, and create a well for the orange mixture.  Pour it in, mix until a smooth batter forms, and fold in the dried fruit.

You may regret tasting the batter at this point because it is so gosh-darn, finger-licking, re-taste, save-a-little-extra-in-the-bowl-who-cares-if-the-muffins-are-tiny good.  Anyway, divide the (remaining) batter evenly into the 12 muffin tins.  Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.  Cool on a rack.

I love how golden these are, thanks to the orange–they really do look like a sunrise.

And the taste.  Wow.  I wasn’t expecting anything magical from these muffins, but these really served to remind me that basic can be best!  They are sweet and tangy but also have the perfect amount of salt.

A teaspoon of salt can do so much for a basic muffin.  I ate one muffin.  I want to eat many more muffins.  Morning can’t come soon enough.

Oh, and for those who are interested, these muffins are only 175 calories each!

In case these muffins aren’t enough to brighten your day, here’s some of my absolute favorite new photos from an apple-picking session I went on with my mom and younger sister Kristen a few weeks ago:

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A Bun In The Oven (and a Recipe for Sandwich Buns)

I’m so excited to finally share this news with you–someone’s got a bun in the oven, and I’ll let you guess who it is!

What?! No, not me!  Fritz and I are still students, living on loans and a tight budget.  Let’s get serious, please!

Yes–it’s my beautiful, wise, and soon mommy-to-be big sister, Erin:

Isn’t that just the cutest baby belly you have ever seen?  That was taken two weeks ago, and now Erin is at 13 weeks and says her belly is growing more every day.  Meet Sprout (otherwise known as Dub):

I know.  I can’t believe that I’m going to be a first-time aunt–and with great power comes great responsibility (…what?).  Henry has been carefully stockpiling his favorite toys under the oven to share when his little cousin comes around for the first time, Fritz has a pile of baby toothbrushes and dental instructions ready to go (especially since Sprout is already developing his teeth!), and I have been busily scheming ways to steal the favorite auntie crown from my other sisters via baked goods and sweet treats (back off, ladies!).

So to show solidarity between my big sis and I, I decide to bake some buns in my own oven.  The kind of buns that don’t need to be carried around for 40 weeks or fed and clothed once they’re finished baking.

The Best Sandwich Buns (from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads)

  • 5 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 pkgs dry yeast (that’s 4 1/2 t, you guys)
  • 1 T salt (I used a teensy bit less)
  • 2 T butter, room temperature
  • 2 C hot water
  • Milk to brush on top
  • sesame seeds or poppy seeds (or both!) to garnish

As a side note–Erin used to have bread baking fits when we were in high school, and would make approximately 20 loaves of the best white bread ever in a few hours that the family would frantically consume before nightfall.  So the smell of any yeasted bread rising always makes me think of her.  That lucky Sprout, man.

In the bowl of your mixer, add 2 C flour, the salt, and the yeast, and briefly mix to combine.  While mixing with the flat beater, add the butter and hot water, continuing to mix until a smooth batter forms.  Add the remaining flour 1/2 C at a time until the dough forms a shaggy mass–it’s okay if you don’t use all five cups, I ended at 4 1/2.

Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 8 minutes, sprinkling in a little flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the sides (it should form a ball around the dough hook, but still be soft and a little sticky to the touch).  Lightly grease a bowl, then place the dough in it, cover tightly with Saran wrap, and move to a warm place to rise until doubled in size (this is quick–about a half an hour).

I always put rising dough in our bedroom closet.  It’s so hot in there!  Is that weird?

Once the dough is ready, place it on a floured surface and divide into 12 parts (this recipe makes a dozen large buns).  Shape each one into a ball, then cover in wax paper to rest for a few minutes.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper in the meantime.  Once they’ve sufficiently rested, flatten them into circles about four inches in diameter and lay them on the parchment paper.

Cover them with wax paper and allow them to rise for another 30-35 minutes, until they are soft and puffy-looking.  Preheat the oven 20 minutes before baking to 400 degrees.  Right before the buns go in, brush the tops with milk and sprinkle them with sesame or poppy seeds (or both!).

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are a light golden brown.  If you aren’t sure if they are done (the tops will still look pretty light), flip them over and check to see if the bottoms are browned.  If they are, take ’em out and let them cool on a rack.

These really are the perfect sandwich buns–and I know, because Fritz is super picky about having the ideal ratio of bread to sandwich innards, and he ate two different sandwiches for dinner, very enthusiastically.

The buns have a satisfying crunch on the outside but are so soft and fluffy on the inside.  They taste of yeast, salt, and seeds but don’t distract from the sandwich.  And that is the mark of a prime sandwich bun.

Plus, Bernard Clayton says that you can freeze these babies for up to a year!  So if you have a picky sandwich bread eater (ahem, Fritz!), it might be worth your while to make a double batch and put them away for special occasions.

And if you have the other kind of bun in the oven, I’m really super excited for you…but it’s not going to be as cute as my future niece or nephew.  Sorry, but genetics are a powerful thing!

Oh, and speaking of additions to the family, Fritz and I picked up a coffee table on sale (thank you Labor Day!) at the thrift store for $12!

That’s the only kind of addition we’ll be adding to our family anytime soon (the fluffy orange cat has been put on hold for the time being).  Nieces and nephews are always welcome, though!

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Lavender Salt & Sugar

This post is so quick and easy I can hardly call it a recipe.

But pretty? Yes.  Delicious?  Oh, yeah.

Welcome, lavender salt and lavender sugar.  I’ve seen you around the blog universe, and I think even Martha Stewart would appreciate your gift-worthiness.  Plus, lavender grown in my very own herb garden made you extra easy to make–and real cheap.

Lavender Salt or Sugar

  • 1/2 C sugar (white or brown) or coarse sea salt
  • 3 t dried lavender buds (make sure they are approved for eating!)

I gave the lavender buds a quick whirl in my coffee grinder to break them up a bit and release some of those fragrant (not to mention delicious) oils.  I kept them mostly whole, so they were recognizable as lavender buds, though.

Either layer or combine the salt or sugar with the lavender in a glass container (or hey, you could go plastic if you want) with a lid. 

Well, that’s it.  You’re done.

I did a small one with brown sugar (probably only a quarter of a cup of sugar, if that) for sprinkling on top of oatmeal or baked goods.

I also did a bigger one with coarse sea salt–which would also be amazing on top of baked goodies (lavender salted chocolate fudge, anyone?), or fish, or pork.

Lastly, I made a fairly large container of plain white sugar–I figured I could add small amounts to things that I am baking for some extra flavor.  Or imagine rolling snickerdoodles in lavender sugar?  Gosh.

So many possibilities.

And of course, this makes a cheap and easy gift, especially if you tie a sweet label with some ribbon or string.

Christmas is coming up, ya know! 

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Filed under Spice Mixes

Seeded Crackers

What a relief to finally be home!  We began our travels yesterday at 8:00 in the morning and finally arrived home to Long Island at almost 9:00 at night.  Super long day.

Needless to say, we were super exhausted when we finally made it home–but very, very excited to see this face:

He’s been cling-wrapped to us all day and I think he’s finally starting to get that when we leave, we won’t be gone for another two weeks.  Oh–except that I’m catching a flight tomorrow night for Syracuse to see my side of the family (but Fritz is staying here, since his classes are starting tomorrow).

So, it was nice to have a bit of a normal routine today, including weekend baking.  I decided to attempt making crackers for the first time ever today, using this recipe from It’s Not About the Recipe for inspiration.

Seeded Crackers Printable Recipe Card

  •  1 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 C rye flour
  • 1/4 C poppy seeds
  • 1/4 C sesame seeds
  • 1/4 C sunflower seeds
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 3/4 C water

This was a super easy recipe.  In the mixer, combine all the dry ingredients.  Mix in the olive oil, then the water, until a dough forms.  Let it rest for 15 minutes.

After resting, break the dough into four pieces (the original recipe said eight–not sure why, since it was not necessary and a bit more time-consuming).  Roll out the dough until very thin, using extra flour to prevent sticking (I stopped rolling only when I had to–when the thickness of the sunflower seeds prevented me from rolling it out any thinner).  Using a pizza cutter (or a pastry roller if you are lucky enough to have one), cut off the rough edges and slice the crackers into squares.  Place them close together on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and stick ’em with a fork a couple of times for those cute cracker dots.

Bake in a hot oven (450 degrees) for 7-10 minutes until light golden brown.  You gotta watch these guys carefully, since they’ll burn fast and the only thing worse than the smell of burnt sesame seeds is the taste of burnt sesame seeds.

Let them cool completely and store in an air-tight container for about a week.

I wasn’t a huge fan of these crackers at first, but I posted the recipe anyway because I think that it’s a personal preference–I’m just not a huge fan of toasted sesame seeds.

Fritz enjoyed the crackers just fine.

Oh, and when I tried them the way I used to eat Ritz crackers in my youth (with strawberry jam), I was totally won over.

Yum.

Double, triple, crunchy seedy cracker yum.  These guys might just be those crackers that really work best with toppings.

My next cracker attempt (because these were so fast that I will definitely be making more crackers soon) may have to be sweet.  Or cheddar.  Or herby.  Either way, we need more crackers.

Back at the homefront, Henry has been peering out from behind our television (the one place he’s not supposed to go and is therefore his favorite place), daring us to have the gall to yell at him after we abandoned him for two weeks.

World’s worst cat.

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Hot Chocolate Cookies

This may sound like a weird thing to post in the middle of summer, but it was freezin’ cold yesterday!  It required sweaters, multiple pairs of pants, socks, and blankets in order to sit outside and read my Kindle by morning light.

So you can imagine how happy I was, since I’ve been fiending for fall since April hit.

I know, I’m a crazy person.  But Fritz made the whole family some hot chocolate, and I was inspired.  I needed hot chocolate in cookie form.  Immediately.

I searched the web for a few recipes, but didn’t find any that I really liked so experiment, I did.  I also had limited ingredients on hand (we are on vacation, after all), so I was pleasantly surprised when this recipe turned out just loverly.

Hot Chocolate Cookies (makes a dozen cookies) Printable Recipe Card

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/3 C butter
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/8 C milk
  • 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1 t baking soda
  • sprinkle of salt (probably around 1/8 t)
  • 1/2 C hot cocoa mix (not unsweetened cocoa powder)
  • 1/2 C choc0late chips (optional–use as a glaze or in the cookies if you want!)
  • 6 large marshmellows, cut in half vertically

This recipe is fairly simple.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the milk and egg.  Beat until blended, and sprinkle in the remaining ingredients, except the marshmallows (and chocolate chips if using for a glaze).  Mix until just blended.

Drop large spoonfuls onto a lightly greased baking sheet (I used two, since the cookies spread out and puffed up quite nicely!).  Bake for 6-8 minutes on the middle rack until they just begin to set. 

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and press a marshmallow half, cut side down, into each cookie.  Place the cookie sheets on a higher rack and turn on the broiler.  Watch carefully and remove the cookies after the marshmallows puff and turn a beautiful golden brown (about a minute).

If you used the chocolate chips in the cookies, then you are done.  Otherwise, carefully melt the chips in the microwave at low power for a few seconds at a time, then drizzle the melted chocolate over the top.

Enjoy with a cold glass of milk or a steaming mug of hot chocolate.

Fritz and his dad later heated some cookies up in the microwave to be topped with ice cream, and declared that a true success.

What I like about these cookies is that they are not too sweet–even with the marshmallow and chocolate chips.  You’ll still probably want to eat only one, maybe two, but you won’t be overwhelmed with a sickly sweetness of bad hot chocolate mix–I promise. 

I also like the slight chewiness from the oats.  But you guys know how I feel about oats in any form (very, very good, in case you actually don’t know).

And here’s part of the gorgeous sunset from last night!  Isn’t it beautiful? 

Today the weather is back up in the 80’s and I am subsequently enjoying a nice left-sided pink sunburn from when I fell asleep at the lake after our run this morning (2.5 miles–but not all continuously).  Have a peaceful day!

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Lemon Meringue Pie

I tried making lemon meringue pie once, a long time ago, when I was probably about 12 or 13 years old.  It took a long time, and then devastatingly, the lemon custard layer never set, so we just threw the whole thing out.  Since then, lemon meringue pie has been dead to me.

Dead to me.

So imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago I found out that it is one of Fritz’s favorite desserts!  I knew that since his long-studied for and agonizingly difficult test was finally over today, we needed to celebrate, and celebrate good.

It was enough motivation to write lemon meringue pie back into my will.  Oh, and this recipe is super easy, totally fool-proof (you can tell if the lemon custard will set or not before you bake it), and…oh yeah.  Totally delicious.

I probably ate about 3 weeks worth of calories in lemon custard.

Pie, you will never be dead to me again.

Lemon Meringue Pie (from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook) Printable Recipe Page

for the crust:

  • 3 T vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 4 T butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 1/4 C flour (I used my new whole-wheat pastry flour, but you can sub in all-purpose)
  • 4-6 T ice water
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs

for the custard layer:

  • 1 1/2 C cold water
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/4 C cornstarch
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 6 (yep, 6–deal with it) egg yolks
  • 1 T lemon zest (zest from 1 large lemon)
  • 1/2 C lemon juice (from 3 lemons)
  • 2 T butter

for the meringue layer:

  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 t cream of tartar

Yeah, I know.  It’s a lot of stuff–and I promise you, this recipe takes a lot of time (but not at all if you buy a pre-baked pie crust!) but pies are never quick and never easy and they are always worth it.

You need to start out with the crust, ’cause it’ll take a few hours of waiting before this baby is ready to go.

In your mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt (you can do this all by hand, too, or in a food processor).  Add the shortening and the butter and allow the mixer (paddle attachment) to blend them until small crumbs are formed.  Add four tablespoons of ice water and mix until just blended.  If the dough isn’t coming together, add up to two more tablespoons of water.  Flatten the dough into a small disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Once it’s ready, take it out of the fridge and allow it to rest for a few minutes.  Use the graham cracker crumbs in lieu of extra flour as you are rolling out the dough.  This makes the dough more resistant to the sogginess that is correlated with baking custard pies.  As you roll out the dough, continue to sprinkle crumbs above and below to incorporate them.  Roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle and carefully lift into the pie pan.  Tuck the extra edges under, and crimp the edges any way you like–using your fingers, a fork, whatever.  Just make it reaaal purty.

Stick the crust in the freezer exactly as it is for about a half an hour, or until it’s firm.  Then (whew), line it with foil, covering all the edges so they don’t burn, fill with pie weights or beans, and bake for 25-30 minutes.  Remove the foil and beans and finish baking another 12-15 minutes until the crust is a deep, golden brown.  Let it cool completely.

Let me also remind you that you can buy a crust at the grocery store if you don’t have an issue of pride or require kitchen therapy the way I do.

‘While the crust is cooling, you can make the rest of the pie.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

For the custard layer, bring the water, sugar, cornstarch, and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat (keep it at medium no matter what!) while whisking constantly.  Once it thickens a lot and starts to turn translucent, whisk in the egg yolks, two at a time, then the lemon zest, lemon juice, and lastly the butter.  Go slowly and whisk constantly.  Allow the mixture to come up to a full simmer (it should be getting very thick!), then remove from the heat.  Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top, right against the custard, to keep it hot and prevent a skin from forming.

Next stop: the meringue.

Bring the water and cornstarch to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Once it’s thickened and translucent, remove from the heat and set aside.  In a mixing bowl (I used my KitchenAid with the beater attachment, but you can also use a hand mixer), whip the eggs and vanilla until frothy.  Add the sugar and cream of tartar to the eggs, a tablespoon at a time, whipping at medium speed until soft peaks form (when you lift the beater from the eggs, the peaks should droop–those are soft peaks).  Add the cornstarch mixture, and continue whipping at medium speed until stiff peaks form (no more drooping).

You are ready to assemble the pie.

Peel the plastic wrap off the custard layer, and test the temperature.  If it has cooled a lot, return to low heat for a minute until hot.  Pour the custard into the cooled pie crust.

Leave a good 1/4 C out “by accident” so you can eat it with a spoon.  Actually, don’t do that.  But do it.

But don’t.

Even the custard layer out with a spoon, then drop large spoonfuls of the meringue over the top.  Press the meringue into the crust to ensure that it adheres, and gently even out that layer with a spoon.  It’s also quite pretty to use the back of a spoon to press into and lift from the meringue, making nice peaks all over for the good housewife-decorating effect shown here.

Bake on the middle rack for twenty minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.  Cool to room temperature before serving (alternatively, eat a slice immediately and cool the rest to room temperature).

Isn’t this totally gorgeous?

Fritz was so excited when he got back from his test.  He said it went well, and I had just taken the pie out of the oven, so it smelled all lemony and meringuey (?) in the whole apartment.

Lemon meringue, I’m so glad you’re back.

Never leave me again.

Henry and I also built some shelves today to surprise Fritz with!  He now has a place for his extensive dental book collection–and Henry has a new stepping stone to the top of Fritz’s dresser.

Fritz also shaved his beard for the first time in weeks as a post-test celebration–and he considered this look:

What do you think?  Ha!

Lastly (so much news today=longest blog post EVER): I now have a Facebook page for this blog and you, my friends, can “like” it from the button on the right side of this blog.  Nifty, eh?

By the way, Fritz said this was the best lemon meringue pie he has ever eaten.

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Almond Oat Cookies

Only three more days until Fritz gets to take his test and then it is SUMMER!  Which is weird, because I’m already craving fall like nobody’s business.  I want apple pie.  I want cinnamon spice.  I want pumpkin…anything.  And knowing that the weather in Canada is going to be in the high 70s and 80s is just heaven.  Bring on the sweaters for those chilly nights, baby.

I also got around to baking cookies today!  I wanted a treat to go with tea, and I knew that Fritz could use a break from studying.  I also wanted to try using the almond flour that I got from Swanson Health Products, so when I found a recipe for almond oat cookies, I got right on board. 

Almond Oat Cookies (adapted from here) Printable Recipe Card

  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1/4 C butter, melted
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 1/4 C almond flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • handful whole almonds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Whip the egg and sugar together until light, then add the melted butter and vanilla.  Mix in the oats, almond flour, and baking powder and stir until combined.

Drop spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, giving them enough room to spread out (I didn’t really give them enough space).  I put one whole almond in the middle of each cookie, but you could also chop ’em and sprinkle them over the tops.

Bake them on the middle rack for about ten minutes until the bottom and edges are golden brown.  Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for about five or ten minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. 

The absolute best part of these cookies are the crunchy, buttery, golden edges.

So gosh darn delicious.  Not to mention quick and easy–the recipe makes about a dozen big, thin, crunchy on the edges, soft in the middle cookies.  Perfect with tea or coffee.

The almond flavor from the almond meal is subtle but really, really good.

I also got to experience something fun today that I like to call “Big Cat in a Small Box”.  That cat really loves small and enclosed spaces.

He also loves standing inside the handle of bags.  Leave any bag lying around, and he’ll sneak over, snuggle his way into the handle, and just stand there until someone notices him.

Meow.

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Zucchini and Tomato Tart

Only one more test to go (my last practical for my entire educational career!), then I’m a free woman!  My test isn’t until 8:30 tomorrow night, which gives me quite a bit of time to study (and agonize) until it’s all over.

I was searching for recipes using zucchini (since it appears I will be receiving yet more of it in my CSA box tomorrow), and I found this very yummy-looking tart from The Flour SackSince I haven’t made real food in a while, I thought it’d be a nice change from having Fritz grill everything while I cram for exams.

Zucchini and Tomato Tart Printable Recipe Cards

for the crust:

  • 2 C whole-wheat flour (you should probably use pastry flour, but I used straight whole-wheat)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • scant 1/2 C ice water

for the filling:

  • 1 C fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 C feta cheese
  • 1/4 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 C thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

top:

  • 1 medium to large zucchini, sliced thinly
  • handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • drizzle of olive oil (about a T)

This is a bit of a complex recipe, just in terms of how many bits and pieces there are to prepare, so make sure you have a little counter space and time available to you before starting.

Start with the crust.  Oil a 10-inch tart pan.  Combine the flour and salt in the mixer bowl, then drizzle the olive oil over the top while the mixer is running.  It should form small little balls throughout the flour (some flour will remain dry).  Slowly add the ice water until all the flour is moistened, and stop the mixer.  Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice to form a ball before rolling out to a large circle.  Lightly place onto the tart pan, press into place, and cut off the excess edges.

I didn’t have a tart pan, so I used a slightly smaller pie pan.  It worked fine, but I think the larger size would work better in making a thinner tart that cooks more quickly and evenly.  I used the extra edges to make four small mini-tarts–so cute!

Refrigerate the crusts for at least half an hour, then place them in the oven (preheated at 375 degrees) for 15 minutes, weighted down with pie weights or dried beans over a piece of parchment paper.  After 15 minutes, remove the weights and paper and let it toast for another 5 minutes.

While the crust is chilling and cooking, set up the zucchini.  Because they have such a high water content, toss the thin slices with a pinch of salt and lay them out on paper towels.  This will let them release some water before they drown your tart while cooking.

Mix the filling ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  When the crusts are ready, spoon the filling into an even layer.  Dab the zucchini slices with a paper towel to dry them, then layer in a circular pattern over the top.  Drop the grape tomatoes, halved, on top, and drizzle with olive oil.

Don’t expect yours to look exactly like mine, since I doubled the zucchini–I’ve got a lot to use up!  I absolutely love zucchini, so I was happy with more, but the proportions would probably be better with the original amount.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about half an hour, when the tart is cooked through–the zucchini is tender and the tomatoes are bursting with flavor.

A work of art to look at!

My only complaint with this tart was that the crust was a bit dense–that may be my fault, since I didn’t use pastry flour.  I also would have preferred to put it in a larger pan than what I had lying around, but I didn’t have anything that would be a better fit.

I must say, however, that the bite-sized tarts were absolutely amazing.  Two-bite-sized, really, but super cute and the perfect ratio of crust, cheese, and vegetable.

We ate half of the tart, and were completely stuffed.  Very filling.

Anyhoo, I have to go write a take-home final for my ethics class (best kind of test there is), so have a lovely evening!  To keep up with the late nights, I’ve been drinking vast quantities of English breakfast tea to keep me feeling sane–what’s your comforting drink of choice?  I’ve never really been a coffee kind of person.

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian