Maple Bacon Biscuits

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There are few things in life that are tastier than bacon, unless of course you’re a vegetarian. (Although with pure number of meat flavored non-meat products it makes me think you miss it…) Bacon is also a manly food which makes for a perfect Fathers day addition. These biscuits are simple and quick to make, so let Dad sleep in and then wake him up with a delicious brunch; some eggs, biscuits and OJ, then convince him to fire of the grill so he can show off his skills. It is summer after all.

Maple Bacon Biscuits (adapted from A Cozy Kitchen)

biscuit:
5-6 slices of Bacon
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 stick super cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 large egg
1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tbsp butter, set aside (this is for when they come out of the oven)

glaze (optional)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup

First you’re going to need to cook your bacon up, if you’re making these as a surprise from someone and your kitchen is downwind from where ever they are I recommend doing this before hand and just wrap it in a paper towel and put it in a ziploc bag in the fridge. You can cook your bacon however you like but I recommend stopping when it’s  still chewy, it will make for a more suple biscuit. Once you’ve got your bacon diced it up into small little pieces. Set aside.

Take your buttermilk (or if you don’t have any on hand just take regular milk and squeeze a bit of lemon juice in –wahla! buttermilk) and whisk in the egg and heavy cream. Set aside.

In a large bowl take your sifted flour and add in your baking power, brown sugar and salt. Next quickly add your cold butter. Mix in with a your fingers or a pastry cutter until the cubes are now pea sized marbles. If you have  naturally warm hands, invest in a pastry cutter. I chill mine before I used it as well just too keep things extra flakey. Quickly  add your maple syrup and the milk/cream/egg mixture until just combined.

Dust your counter with flour and roll it out about 1 inch thick. Cut out your biscuits and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. For traditional biscuits use a 2 inch circle cutter, or if you don’t have one try a d 1 cup measure or a glass. You don’t have to be fancy here, creative is just a fun. Chill the cut out dough in the freezer while you preheat your over to 450 degrees. (You don’t want to preheat your oven when you’re working with cold butter.)

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. When they come out of the oven rub the butter we set aside earlier on the top. You can either enjoy this way or you can whisk  up some glaze to pour over. Just whisk the powdered sugar and maple syrup together. Feel free to play with the amounts to taste. Make sure though that it’s not TOO thick. You want it to be pourable.

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Enjoy.

Cran-tastic Lemon Scones


I’m a breakfast person. If I don’t eat in the morning I become this big grumpy monster. It’s not pretty. To make matters worse, time is scarse, I like sleep, and I’m often in a rush to get out of the door in the morning. This is why grab-n-go breakfast is an amazing thing all round.

I love a meaty scone in the morning with a mug of tea. It’s perfect for a morning car ride. (Just wrap it in either a ziplock,  or napkin, if you’re not afraid of crumbs, and eat on the go.)

Being that it’s summer, it is always nice to have some fruit included. This recipe calls for lemon and cranberry but who’s to say you couldn’t swap out the lemon zest for orange, or the cranberries for blueberries. GO CRAZY!

Cran-tastic Lemon Scones
Adapted from Candice Kumai’s Lemon Cran Scones

3 cups – whole wheat flour (plus extra for shaping)
1/4 cup – sugar
1/4 cup –  light brown sugar
1 lemon – juice and zest
1 tsp – baking powder
1 tsp – baking soda
1 tsp – sea salt
4 tbsp – unsalted butter (cubed)
3/4 cup – buttermilk
1/4 cup – applesauce
1 1/4 cup – cranberries (dried)
1 cup – confectioners sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Combine the flour, sugars(brown and granulated), lemon zest, baking power, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together.

2. Combine the buttermilk and the applesauce, whisk together.

3. Add the buttermilk mixture with the dry ingredients until just combined.

4. On a slightly floured surface divide the dough into two round discs. Cut into 1/4’s about 1 inch thick.

5. Place the scones onto a parchment line baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, aprox 15 minutes.

6. While the scones are cooling make the glaze by adding the lemon juice and the confectioners sugar together, whisk vigorously. Drizzle on cooled scones, allow 5 minutes for it to set.

This recipe comes from Candice’s cookbook Pretty Delicious. If you  haven’t had the chance to check it out, I highly recommend that next time you’re in Barnes and Noble to have  sit and thumb through it. You won’t be sorry.

Enjoy!

Doughnuts with Joy the Baker

This summer has been a crazy one to say the least. I apologize for my sporadic posting.
Summer is funny in that it’s when everyone decides to everything because the weather is usually so accommodating. For me thus far, it’s meant lots of studying (hurrah for summer school!), fun birthday weekends, and wedding festivities. In between I’ve trying to make real the fun cooking and baking ideas that I have in my head, in what little time I have.

A little while had the please of meeting with Joy the Baker as she taught a class at The Gourmandise School. It was a fun couple of hours filled with doughnut making and sparkling wine drinking, curated by Whitney Adams.

Let me start off by saying I totally felt like a badass to be in a class with these two lovely ladies. The wealth of knowledge was both awe-inspiring and intimidating (in a good way). Additionally doughnuts are now on the list of can do, win!

I wanted to share this recipe with you guys, for those of who don’t read Joy’s blog and haven’t seen this yet.

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Pink Raised Doughnuts with Toasted Coconut
(From Joy the Baker)

makes 12-14 doughnuts
recipe adapted slightly from Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts

For the Doughnuts:

3 tablespoons (four ¼ ounce packages) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (about 105 degrees F)
½ cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons iodized salt
4 to 4 ½ cups bread flour, plus more for dusting, rolling, and cutting
¼ cup vegetable shortening
3 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
canola oil for frying
toasted coconut for topping

For the Glaze:

4 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
¼ teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 to 3 drops red or pink food coloring
scant 1/3 cup hot water, plus more if necessary

To Make the Doughnuts:

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, whisk together the yeast, water, and 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Let stand for 5 minutes until mixture is foamy and frothy.  That’s how you know the yeast is alive and ready to doughnut!

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and 4 cups of bread flour.  Set aside.

Break up shortening and add to the yeast mixture.  Add the egg yolks, and vanilla extract and beat on low speed using the paddle attachment.  This will deflate the yeast bubbles and help break up the shortening.

With the mixture on low speed, add one third of the dry ingredients.  Blend until flour disappears.  Add another third of the dry ingredients.  Beat until flour disappears.  Switch to the dough hook and add the last amount of flour.  Mix on low speed until no flour bits remain.  Add a bit more flour if necessary.  The dough should clean the sides of the bowl, and not stick to the bottom in a pool.

Knead for 2 minutes.  The dough will be glossy, and just a bit sticky… but it shouldn’t stick to your hands.

Transfer the dough to a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with 1 tablespoon of flour.  Shake into a 6-inch circle and dust the top with flour.  Cover with a dishtowel and set in a warm place to double in size.

The Top Pot Cookbook has an awesome way to create your own proofing box!  Bring a large kettle of water to a boil.  Pour about 8 cups of water into a large baking dish.  Set it on the floor of your oven.  Place the sheet tray with covered dough on the middle rack above the steaming water, close the oven door and let rise for about 1 hour.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a roughly 12-inch circle, about ½ inch thick.  Cut into 12 doughnuts and 12 holes using a 2 ¾-inch and 1 ¼-inch round cutter.  Gently transfer the doughnuts and holes to two baking sheets that have been sprinkled with flour.  Set the doughnuts for their second rise about 2 inches apart.

Let rise in the oven for another 30-45 minutes, using another hot water proofing bath.

In a medium or large, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat canola oil that is 2-inches deep.  Use a candy thermometer to bring the oil to 350 degrees F.

When the doughnuts have doubled in size place a few doughnuts into the oil to fry.  Don’t overcrowd the pan.  Fry for 30 seconds on one side, flip and cook for another 30 seconds.  Doughnuts will darken slightly as they cool, so don’t cook them too dark.  Transfer to a few layers of paper towel to cool.  Bring the fry oil back to 350 degrees F before frying new batches of doughnuts.

Allow to cool completely before glazing.

To Make the Glaze:

Place the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Add the food coloring and hot water and use a whisk to incorporate.  Blend until entirely smooth.  If the mixture seems to thick to easily dip doughnuts, add more hot water 1 teaspoon at a time.

To ice the doughnuts, dip one side of the cooled doughnuts into the freshly made icing.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut.  Let dry and set for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Spiced French Toast (Quick and Easy)

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I’m a fan of breakfast foods. I can eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes you just need a stack of pancakes with some good company in the evening hours. (I know I’m not the only one.) Lately I’ve been trying to be better about waking up in time to eat a decent breakfast, which as they say, is the most important meal of the day. French toast is a super quick and easy way to a) feel accomplished for making breakfast b) eat a tasty meal to kick start your day.

Spiced French Toast

2 Eggs
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Cardamom
1/2 Vanilla Bean (scraped)
2 tbsp milk
4 slices of bread (pick your poison)

Serves 2

Preheat a a non-stick pan to medium heat. I usually give a quick spray of Pam before I put it down but you can also use olive oil or butter. 

Combine the eggs, vanilla, milk and spices in a container. I’ve found that using a glad tupperware container is both the perfect size for dipping bread, but it also works if you want to prep this out the night before and just turn on the pan in the morning and get going.

 

Dip the bread in the mixture, making sure to fully coat each side. Place the coated slice on the pan immediately.

Cook until golden brown on each side.

In addition to french toast’s many amazing qualities it’s also very versatile. I use Sara Lee 45 cal Wheat as my bread of choice, so when I’m looking for a low-cal breakfast I just pair this with some fresh fruit and bam, for generally under 200 cals you have a delicious easy morning meal. You can also add a scoop of ice cream for the lazy weekend mornings when you’re going big. (Or even for lunch or dinner, I dare you!)

Enjoy!

Banana Nut Muffins

It seems that I’ve developed a habit of having a banana nut muffin and Chai tea latte for breakfast on most mornings. It’s warm, cozy, and tasty way to kickstart my morning. I usually just grab one on my way to class, but it dawned on me that this is becoming a bit of an expensive habit to keep up and that I could just make some muffins at home.

So last night as I decided to follow through with this revelation, I got to do so to the sound of my boyfriend playing the banjo in the background. Despite what your preconceptions about banjo’s might be, it was really rather pleasant, in a completely unexpected way.

Banana Nut Muffins

2 Bananas (Smashed or Cubed to your liking)
1/3 cup melted browned butter
¾ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 vanilla bean
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Yields 1 dozen delicious muffins.

[ Adapted From A Sweet Pea Chef]

In baking, there is actually method specially designed for muffins. It’s appropriately named, “the muffin method”. It’s pretty simple, the concept is that you keep all the dry and the wet ingredients separate until the last minute when you’ll combine them.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

1. Combine the salt, flour, and baking soda in a bowl. Whisk together.

2. Add the banana and melted butter together in a mixer and mix on the lowest setting.

You can mash the banana to your liking, if you like the tasty chunks just don’t mash as finely. I used browned butter in my recipe, but simply melting the butter will do. To make the brown butter you will simmer the butter until you see brown flecks appear at the bottom of the pan, you’ll also notice this by the distinct smell. It’s life changing.

3. Add in the sugar, egg, and vanilla bean.

I like to put the whole bean in and take it out right before I add the dry ingredients. It helps get all the flavor out.

4. Add the dry mixture to the wet until just combine, do not over mix.

5. Fold in the walnuts with a spatula.

6. Spoon into a lined muffin tin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Enjoy!

Orange Chocolate Chip Pound Cake From Joy the Baker!

For those of you who have not discovered Joy The Baker, allow me to introduce her. She’s amazing food blogger that has been decorated with many blog awards and writes about amazingly tasty things and you can really get a feel for her personality through her writing, which I love. It’s definitely something to aspire to. That said I decided to try out one of her recipes, for her Chocolate Orange Cream Cheese Pound Cake!

I don’t know about you but whenever I think about oranges and chocolate I get the visual of the candy you could get at the store of the chocolate that was shaped like an orange that you had to slam against the table and it would crack into a bunch of different pieces. The chocolate also tasted as if it had been infused with orange, which I remember the first time that I tried it being weird.

That said, my taste buds have progressed passed that and now I loved chocolates infused with different flavor profiles. It’s an adventure for them really. So when I came across her post with this recipe I had to try it.

Chocolate Orange Pound Cake (From Joy the Baker)

makes one 9×5-inch loaf

Print this Recipe!

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons orange zest

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate pieces

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9×5-inch baking pan and dust with flour.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

On a clean cutting board or counter, place the granulated sugar.  Add the orange zest.  With a bench scraper or the back of the spoon, work the zest into the granulated sugar, creating a fragrant and orange flavored sugar.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together softened butter and cream cheese.  Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the bowl and make sure that the butter and cream cheese are evenly mixed.  Add the citrus zest to the butter and cream cheese mixture, and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.

Stop the mixer.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  On medium speed, beat in one egg at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Beat in vanilla extract.

Add dry ingredients all at once.  Beat on low speed until dry ingredients are completely incorporated.  Fold in the chocolate pieces.

Spoon batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, rotating once or twice during baking.  Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, or with just a few crumbs.

*Some readers are finding that the cake takes up to 75 minutes to fully cook.  You might consider loosely placing a foil tent over the cake after about 45 minutes of baking.  This will keep it from browning too much, and help the center bake up.

Cake will last, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to four days.

As you can see if you click over to her site (which you should do!), she takes awesome pictures, but I’ve included mine so you can see the variation.

This makes a great tea snack for my tea drinkers out there!

Enjoy!

San Fran Adventure

This weekend I traveled up to San Francisco with my fellow to check out the sights. I feel like there always has to be something when traveling that becomes noteworthy enough to share with everyone. For me this was the fact that our initial departure time from LAX of 6:40pm was actually ended up being about 11pm. I guess there was a storm, then some sort of fly block, and finally we took off.

Upon arriving the original prospects of dinner had diminished. Especially given it was about 1am when we checked into the hotel We stayed at the Omni, it’s a great hotel and walking distance to lots of the sites. The next morning proved hopeful however. A friend had recommended that we mosey over to Dotties True Blue Cafe for breakfast. This place was super charming.

The wait was probably about 20-30 minutes and was complete with some interesting characters that were shouting about some randomness. I found this to be quite humorous, not sure I was in good company though. Upon entering I started coveting their beautiful marble/dark wood counter-top. I’ve always loved that style. Additionally it featured exposed brick walls that were adorned with glamour portraits of celebs that began as strippers. Gotta love it.

Following an over indulging breakfast with some really tasty pancakes (Dottie’s Famous Pancakes, she adds ginger, it’s amazing.) We decided to walk it off across the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d been to San Fran several times over the last couple of years but I had yet to make it over to the bridge which was quite exciting.

Later that eve we decided Chinese was on the menu for dinner. I’d been looking forward to this since we booked the tickets for the trip. I love Chinese, preferably as left-overs out of those lovely paper boxes. Somehow it’s just tastes better that way. I have yet to find a place in LA that still gives these endangered boxes it would seem. We went to a place in Chinatown called Z & Y.

After dinner I’d did a bit of research before we left and found this dessert bar called Candybar that I wanted to try. When we got there, there was a bit of a line (lines in SF = LA traffic) and it looked like we weren’t going to get in. Fortunately our determination and the announcement from the host saying that he didn’t think anyone was going to get in meant that we outlasted most of the people waiting, and when two seats opened up we were on it. Note to self: get to places earlier.

It was a bit too dark for photos, and I was too excited for my dessert to wait anyway. I got their Apple Pie which was an amazing almond crust with a cream cheese filling, topped with some gingerbread ice cream. It was a party for my taste buds. I’d gladly come back here any/every day of the week! They also serve fun cocktails and other non-alcoholic beverages.

The next morning we were all excited to go to another place that my friend suggested we try, called Mamas, but that was quickly ruled out when we saw a line that would’ve easily taken an hour to get through, and at the point they would’ve been closed. Next trip! We ended up wandering back of the street to a cute pastry shop called Stella’s.

I had a yummy eclair for breakfast. Although it was a bit of a hard choice due to the nice selection of treats. I was craving the eclair otherwise I think I would’ve gone the Cannoli route due to it being located in Little Italy.

For our last day we grabbed some breakfast at a placed called Honey Honey Crepes. I had my standard Banana Nutella, served with a scoop of ice cream. While the ice cream didn’t really leave me wanting more, you can’t go wrong with nutella!

We closed out our trip at San Fran Botanical Gardens. I always take some warming up time when I visit gardens, but they always surprise me.

It did start me thinking about which flowers that you can cook with besides roses. I found this list of ones that you can. Although I didn’t get to the kitchen this weekend I think I might try and get some floral inspiration for my next recipe. Maybe Marigolds?

[ I apologize for the quality of the photos, camera phones aren’t always known for their stellar quality. ]

Enjoy!