Category Archives: Baking

Breakfast Banana Bread

 

Banana bread is one of my favorite fall treats and is a great way to use up any ripened bananas before they go south. Actually, the riper they are, the stronger the banana flavor is.

This recipe was an instant hit at the office, and definitely made for a happy Friday. I like to treat those that I care about, especially with food. This is recipe is full of spice and sure to win over even the coldest comrades.

 

Ingredients

Bread:
4 bananas
1/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mash bananas in mixer. Add butter and sugar, and cream together. Mix in egg.
Add baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Once incorporated, mix in flour.
Top with brown sugar topping.
Bake 350* for 45 minutes

Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix brown sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon with a fork, until mealy. Sprinkle over bread batter.

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Me oh my, Blueberry Pie: a Lesson in Patience

I don’t have the greatest pie-making track record. My first attempt, an All-American apple pie, was a flop. I was a baking novice in high school. I misread the recipe, but I didn’t realize it until I had gotten to my grandparents’ house and cut into it. It was starchy and dry; two cups of flour instead of two tablespoons. Lesson learned: read the recipes more closely.

A month ago, I made a beautiful chocolate meringue pie; but when I cut into it, the inside pudding spread. I ended up with a delicious dessert soup, but it was not the pie I’d had in mind.

Determined to perfect my pie-making, I turned to fruit. Fruit pies tend to hold together better than custard pies, but will still fall apart if not fully cooled.

Patience is the most important ingredient in pies. If you choose to make your own pie crust, you have to let the dough chill for a few hours. After your beautifully smelling pie has been pulled out of the oven, the waiting game is on. I tend to sample my cooking as soon as I go, but with pies, you must have patience in order to allow the juices to cool and solidify.

This delicious blueberry pie was successful because I let it cool for over four hours. The mint and lime added freshness to the tart blueberries. As you an use a prepackaged crust, I like Martha Stewart’s recipe, found here.

Blueberry and Mint Pie

Ingredients

2 chilled pie crusts, 9 inches

4 cups blueberries

Zest of one lime

Juice of one lime

3 Tablespoons chopped mint

1/4 cup corn starch

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg, mixed with a splash of water, for egg wash

Roll out dough and set into 9 inch pie pan.

Carefully stir together blueberries, juice and zest of lime, corn starch and mint. Try not to pop the berries.

Pour berry mixture into crust, and sprinkle with sugar.

Top with crust. You can cover completely with top crust, create a lattice top or use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes to arrange on top of the berries, as I did.

Brush top crust with egg wash mixture for a browner, flakier crust.

Bake at 350* for 30 minutes. If crust browns too quickly, tent with foil.

Here’s where patience comes into play: let pie cool for four hours or longer. This will ensure a cohesive filling.

Enjoy your hard work and patience with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and sweet tea.

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Jalapeno Creamed Corn

It’s no secret: I love spicy foods. Jalapenos, cayenne, crushed red pepper. I add a spicy element to just about everything I cook. And this recipe is no different.

Creamed corn is a national staple, especially in the South. As I was growing up, I only knew the sweet kernel goodness from a can. What a travesty! Making this spectacular side dish from fresh corn takes little effort, and produces a dreamy, creamy pudding-like corn casserole. With the addition of jalapenos, creamed corn is elevated into a restaurant-worthy menu item. If you can’t stomach spicy foods, cut the jalapeno out. The base of this recipe can stand on its own.

 

Jalapeno Creamed Corn

Ingredients

4 ears corn, unhusked

1 Jalapeno

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons milk

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese (Parmesan works fine, but I used an Italian cheese blend)

Bake corn in husks at 350* for 30 minutes. Bake jalapeno with corn for last 10 minutes of cooking. Let cool.

Husk corn; deseed and dice jalapeno.

Heat milk and butter in small sauce pan until butter melts. Add flour, sugar, salt and pepper. Once combined, add water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

In a food processor, puree contents of sauce pan and 1/2 of corn (about 2 cups) until creamy.

Stir in remaining corn and jalapeno. (If you have leftovers, this recipe freezes well; do not add cheese.)

Layer in ramekins, or 9×9 inch pan, with cheese. (Pour half of mixture in pan and cover with cheese; pour in remaining mixture and top with cheese. )

Bake at 350* for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cheese on top is melted.

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Baked French Toast

It was an ongoing joke when I was a kid: “Dad, what’s for breakfast?”  “Your favorite, French toast!” With a roll of the eyes, I’d reply: “C’mon, Dad. What’s really for breakfast?”

He knew how much I hated the half-soggy, half-crispy toast. On top of that, the dish was served with syrup, which I cannot seem to palate.

But, as I grew older, I began experimenting with different ways to cook and top French toast, and I found that baking it was a way to eliminate the soupiness that tends to accompany pan-toasted French toast. With some fresh whipped cream and strawberries, French toast has become one of my favorite weekend treats.

Baked French Toast

Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon 

Half of a day old French loaf, cut into 1 inch slices

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Stir together cream, eggs, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Soak bread slices, about 10 seconds per side, or until bread is soaked through.

Spray 13×9 inch pan with non-stick spray. Arrange soaked bread in one layer.

Bake 350* for 10 minutes. Flip toast with spatula, and cook another 15 minutes. (Total cook time: 25 minutes)

Broil for 2 minutes to add extra crisp.

Dust with powdered sugar. Top with whipped cream and fresh strawberries or syrup.

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Mocha Morning Muffins

I love bringing my coworkers treats. As the producer for a morning show, I am in charge of making sure my staff is fully energized and happy before we go live at 5 a.m., and I’ve learned that baked goods always make mornings sing. These folks serve as my guinea pigs, as well as motivators for me to crank out new concoctions.

These dense, chocolately cakes are a mildly sweet compliment to your morning coffee or milk. The bitter dough with bites of sweet chips prove to wake up and excite the mind.

Mocha Morning Muffins

Ingredients

3/4 cup cold milk

2 Tablespoons instant coffee

1 3/4 cup flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Dissolve instant coffee in cold milk. Set aside.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and sugar.

Beat one egg with vegetable oil and vanilla. Add coffee and milk.

Mix well with dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips.

Spoon out batter into lined muffin tin. These don’t rise much, so feel free to fill to 2/3 of the way up the cup.

Bake at 400* for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Serve with milk or coffee.

 

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Grilled Peach Crumble

The concept of grilling is new to my home. Aaron and I are learning, and burning, together. The latest grill-fail was kebabs: uneven cuts of vegetables and chicken over a heap of scorching coals.

Surprisingly, we still have eyebrows.

However, the fire was not wasted. I was able to grill some sweet peaches for dessert. Grilling adds depth and interest to a Summer dessert. The heat carmelizes the fruits’ natural sugars. Bake a nutty crumble over it and crown with ice cream for a sweet finale to a summer barbeque.

(You can follow this recipe with almost any fruit– I recommend peaches, apples, plums, or even halved strawberries.)

Grilled Peach Crumble

Ingredients

6 medium peaches, halved

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Combine brown sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. Toss with halved peaches.

Grill 3 minutes per side.

Crumble 

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup pecans

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, cold

Mix flour, oats, pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.

Using beaters or food processor, combine butter with dry mixture until pea-size balls form.

Cover peaches with crumble.

Bake at 350* for 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool and top with vanilla ice cream.


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French Pear Tarte

French Pear Tarte

Patisseries are my first thought when Paris is mentioned. I loved the croissants, macarons, tartes.

Soft pears give a sweet bite to this flaky tarte crust. The buttery dough melts with a cinnimon-sweet sop.

French Pear Tarte

Crust

1 1/2 cups flour

3 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoons salt

2/3 cup butter, cold and cubed

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift dry ingredients together. Coat butter in mixture. Mash and mix together with hands.

Add egg and vanilla, and mix.

Roll out between two sheets of parchment paper, and put in tarte pan. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork to prevent bubbling.

Bake 425* for 18 minutes, or until brown

Pear tarte filling

3-4 pears, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon
Toss pears in sugar and cinnamon. Arrange in crust
Bake 375* for 5-8 minutes.
Top cooled tarte with whipped cream, or chantilly cream, and simple syrup.
Chantilly Cream Recipe: 
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whip together ingredients until a smooth cream comes together. Keep chilled.
 Pear tarte with fresh chantilly cream

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