Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Thanks To: Savvy Eats

Makes about 1 c.

2 T canned pumpkin puree
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c + 2 T water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir regularly to keep the syrup from burning as it reduces. The pumpkin will “melt” into the sugar + water. When it takes on the consistency and thickness of maple syrup, remove from heat and pour into heat-proof containers. Don’t let it get too thick, or it will be ropy and won’t blend into your drinks well. Refrigerate until needed.

Banana Bread Oatmeal

Yields 2 servings

1 1/4 cup milk (soy or almond can be substituted)
1/2 cup (about 1 1/2) overripe bananas, mashed (you can slice the leftover 1/2 banana and use for garnish)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup quick oats
2 teaspoons brown sugar

In a large saucepan, whisk together the milk, mashed bananas, and spices. Heat the mixture on medium heat. When it starts to boil, add the rolled oats and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the oats are soft and the liquid has been absorbed.

Pour into a bowl, top each serving with a teaspoon of brown sugar, slices of banana, and enjoy your nice, hot, nutritious breakfast.

Baked Apple Chips

Yields about 6 cups

6 medium-large apples (choose any varieties you wish)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.

Slice the apples thinly, approximately 1/8 inch thick (if you have a mandolin, now is the time to use it). Place the apple slices into a large bowl and mix in the lemon juice to prevent the apple slices from browning. Spread the apple slices in a single layer on a parchment covered baking sheet. Try not to overlap them. You must cover your baking sheets with parchment or your apples will stick to the pan. I learned this the hard way.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture liberally over top of the slices. Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Every 30 minutes flip the apple slices over to ensure they bake evenly. You will know they are done when they are just at the point of browning. Allow the chips to cool completely on the baking sheet.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Now munch.

Homemade Apple Cider

Thanks To: The Pastry Affair

If you want to go the easy route, you can substitute the apples for 2 quarts apple juice, eliminate the water, and spice the juice as directed.

Yields about 2 quarts

17-18 medium-large apples
5 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 orange, not peeled, cut into slices
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups water

Core and slice the apples into a large dice. Do not peel. By not peeling the apples, we can retain some of the nutrition value (and fiber!) that is in the apple peel for the cider. This will result in a darker shade for the apple cider, but it will taste the same and have more nutrional value. I can't say no to that.

In a blender or food processor, add the diced apples and blend until the mixture is pulverized, resembling a thick paste. You will have to repeat this process several times.

Cover a large jar or bowl with a cheesecloth. You may need to secure the cheesecloth with a rubber band. Place the apple paste over the cheesecloth and allow the juice to drip out naturally. When the dripping has slowed, remove the rubber band, gather up the cheesecloth, and squeeze out the excess juice by hand. If you squeeze too hard, the apple paste will leak through the cheesecloth. Now is not the time to bring out the hulk hands.

Throw away (or, better yet, compost) the dried apple paste. Repeat this process until all the apples have been juiced.

In a large saucepan, combine the apple juice, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, orange slices, ginger, and water. Place on medium-high heat until the juice boils. Cover and turn the temperature down to low, simmering for 15 minutes.

Strain the juice and toss the spices. Serve hot with a cinnamon stick or orange slice to garnish!

Store the cider in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week. The cider can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Thanks To: Annie's Eats

Yield: about 12 muffins

For the muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
1¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla)

For the glaze (optional):
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Stir briefly to combine. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in two additions alternating with the yogurt, beating each addition just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared liners, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the muffins are still warm, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl to make the glaze. Drizzle a small amount of the glaze over each muffin. Let the glaze set before serving.


Thanks To: Lucky's Tattoo

Makes: 1.25lbs of gum drops

1 cup Sugar
1 cup Corn Syrup
3/4 cup Water
1 Box Powdered Fruit Pectin (find it in the baking/canning section)
1/2tsp. Baking Soda
A few drops of Flavor Oil
A few drops of Food Coloring

Vegetable Oil
Silicone Mold
2 small saucepans
Heat resistant spoons (wooden or silicone are best)
Waxed Paper
Extra sugar for rolling (about 1 cup)

First thing is to grease up the silicone molds with vegetable oil. This will make the candies turn out perfectly shaped and be easy to remove. The simpler and smaller the shapes, the better. I used a Wilton silicone mold with 24 square shapes, which was ideal. This recipe will make about 1.25lbs of gum drops.

In one saucepan mix the sugar & corn syrup. In the other mix the pectin, baking soda and water. Put both on stove top over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When both are boiling and the foam on the baking soda mixture has died down (about 5-10min), pour mixture into the boiling sugar/corn syrup saucepan. Stir continuously for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in a few drops of flavor oil & food coloring.

Quickly pour hot candy into mold and let it set for 24hrs.

When candy is ready, flip mold upside down over a piece of waxed paper and gently push pieces out from bottom.

Let candy firm up for another 24hrs and then roll each piece in sugar. Store in an airtight container, with waxed paper between layers to prevent sticking.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tiny Chocolate Ganache Apples on a Stick

Thanks To: justJENN

6 ounces chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

tiniest apples you can find
lollipop sticks

Wash the apples, and set them aside to fully dry. Your chocolate won’t stick otherwise.

Since eventually these are going to be put on a stick, I like to make a small hole in the bottom first, before I dunk them in a ganache bath. You can use a paring knife or even a drill if you’re Handy Manny like that. Once you’ve made the hole, set the apples aside.

Most people make fancy ganaches – but me – I use chocolate chips because it’s what I have, and heck, it tastes good. Ganache is simply: EASY. It comes together so quickly and tastes so amazing.

In a small saucepan over medium heat – combine the chocolate chips, heavy cream and the vanilla. When it starts to melt, work fast and whisk it together. Keep whisking while the chocolate keeps melting and magically in a matter of seconds you will have a beautiful silky ganache. Let cool slightly before you use it.

Take the apple by the stem and give ‘em a little dunk. I like to leave some apple peeking out at the top because it looks nice and that way people know what they are eating too. Put the chocolate dipped apples to set on a piece of parchment paper.

Once the apples have set, carefully set them on their sticks.

Obviously the tinier the apple, the better this will look. They came out absolutely adorable – the kids loved them! A whole line up of these would be great for a party!