Showing posts with label Friday Favs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Friday Favs. Show all posts

Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Favs Roundup!

I had a lot of fun featuring some of my favorite bloggers this year with my Friday Favs. I'm posting an entire roundup of all the posts that you saw throughout the year. If you're reading this on my blog home page, be sure to click through to see the entire post. Thanks to everyone who participated this year!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Favs - The Little Kitchen

How's everyone doing today? I heard that if you haven't shipped your holiday gifts by now, they won't make it by Christmas... I guess that means my family in the Midwest will be getting their gifts a little late. Sorry guys! Today's Friday Favs feature is Julie from The Little Kitchen. Julie and I "met" on Twitter (I believe) and then we got to meet in person at TechMUNCH Boston this summer. She's one of the reasons I drug myself out of bed after M&M's wedding even though I was a bit hung over. I knew I wanted to meet her that day and she had come all the way from Florida, so I figured I could drag myself the one mile to get from my bed to TechMUNCH... You might recognize her name because she has been a busy little bee these past few weeks as one of the co-organizers of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

I love Jen. I don't know if she knows this but I was reading and enjoying her blog before I started my own. Her blog, along with a couple of others, inspired me to start The Little Kitchen blog. I loved following her 30 by 30 list and now her 30 while 30 lists and keeping us updated on how she was doing. I wish I had thought of that! I love following her while she does the Avon breast cancer walks and I loved that she co-organized the Bakers Bake for Hope campaign. I was so excited when I got to meet Jen this past summer in Boston at TechMUNCH. She is so sweet online and even sweeter in person!

So it's holiday baking season and we just finished up with the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and I'm still thinking about cookies. Do you use pinterest? I love it! You can create virtual boards and pin links, recipes, pictures, anything that has an image and a link associated with it. I like to use it as a way to collect recipes and projects I want to try.

I have a Cookies, Cookies, Cookies pinterest board and I just went through them and while I have quite a few I want to try, theare are five recipes I want to make ASAP.

Brown Butter, Brown Sugar Cookies from The Novice Chef
Brown butter makes everything better...I told Jessica after I tried the actual cookies that she made that I need to bake more with brown butter. Love these cookies and you must make it!

Pecan Pie Cookies from Bakers Royale
Love at first sight for me when I saw these cookies. Naomi is a cookie genius! Pecan pie in a cookie...I can't wait to make these!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies from love veggies and yoga
Have you ever had a chocolate chip cookie with oatmeal before? If not you need to. I'm not talking about an oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips, I'm talking about a chocolate chip cookie that has oatmeal in it. It's amazing and when I saw this cookie recipe from Averie that combines peanut butter, I'm making these soon.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies
from Two Peas and their Pod
Oh my heaven! I love red velvet cake, don't you? This just looks absolutely amazing. There are no other words.

Cookies 'n Creme Cookie Sandwiches from Gingerbread Bagels
I love, love cookies 'n creme...this looks divine. Sandwich cookies are so fun and Lindsey makes it look so easy!

As for chocolate chip cookies, I think I have found the ultimate recipe.

Check out Jen's cookies as well the roundups for the cookie swap! Thank you for having me, Jen!

You can follow Julie on twitter and facebook.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Favs - Tri 2 Cook makes Butternut Thyme Bars

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you had a great week back at work after the Thanksgiving holiday. Today's Friday Favs is another local Boston blogger. Shannon from Tri 2 Cook was one of the first bloggers I ever met in real life. Shannon is a triathlete and she loves to mix up really unique flavor combinations in the kitchen (think blueberry, goat cheese, basil pie or white chocolate wasabi truffles). I've had the chance to enjoy some of her creative creations and they've always been amazing.

Hi Beantown Baker readers! I'm Shannon, and I blog over at Tri to Cook. As a fellow resident of Beantown, I post about my adventures in the kitchen (here's where the "Cook" comes into play) and swimming/biking/running (and here's the "Tri" part). I love to play around in the kitchen, baking and cooking my way through new ingredients and flavor combinations :) I also like to throw in healthy ingredients and substitutions as much as I can!

This recipe came about as I sat with 3 butternut squashes staring at me on the counter.  I love butternut squash, but wanted to try something different. Butternut Coconut Jam turned out to be exactly what I was looking for!  I was smitten upon tasting this and immediately starting brainstorming with things to do with it. A crumble bar, with jam instead of cooked down fruit? Done and done.

Given my penchant for playing with the boundary between sweet and savory, I added some thyme to the crust of these bars, but I bet rosemary or sage would be good options as well. The crust balanced the sweetness of the jam well, creating a goodie that passes for a delicious snack or breakfast!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Favs - Ezra Pound Cake makes Rosemary Cheese Crackers

Can you guys believe Thanksgiving is next week! That's craziness. It's time again for Friday Favs. This week, Rebecca from Ezra Pound Cake is here to post. Rebecca used to be a professional baker! And before that she was a writer. Now she's a blogger who makes amazing recipes with amazing photographs to go along with them. I owe her a huge hug for introducing me to a spinach and butternut squash casserole that has become my go-to holiday potluck contribution. Everyone LOVES it!

Hey, everyone! I'm Rebecca Crump, a freelance writer living in Nashville. My food blog is called "Ezra Pound Cake," because I'm a writer (like Ezra Pound) who became a professional baker (that's the "pound cake" part). I learned how to bake as an apprentice (and then pastry chef) at a German bakery, but my real passion is Southern food, so I'm thrilled to get to share one of my favorite Southern recipes with you today. Thanks for the opportunity, Jen!

So, have you ever made your own cheese crackers?

I know, why make them when The Lord gave us Cheez-Its? But, you guys, Sara Foster's Rosemary Cheese Crackers are so worth the almost-nonexistent amount of effort they require. They're the sort of thing you take to a party, and no one gets excited at first. But then they taste one. And then another. And then they start rummaging through the host's cabinets for containers so they can take some home.

Because these things are addictive.

And they're easy.

In fact, you probably have the ingredients in your kitchen right now.

If you've ever made slice-and-bake cookies, you know how to make these crackers. First, you combine the cheese, butter, flour and other ingredients into a lovely, tangerine-colored dough. Then you roll the dough into a 2-inch wide cylinder, chill it, and slice it into nice fat rounds (or squares) that you bake until they're slightly puffy and golden-brown at the edges.

Sandy, buttery and intensely cheesy.

Since the crackers are flecked with green and red confetti from the chopped rosemary and crushed red pepper flakes, they come out of the oven looking festive. Pack them in a pretty tin to give your neighbor. Pile them onto a big platter for guests to nibble before a big holiday meal. Or, do as Sara Foster suggests: top them with a little goat cheese and pepper jelly, and serve them with Sazeracs.

So much better than Cheez-Its.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Favs - Erin's Food Files makes Tipsy Cake

This week flew by for me! I'm so glad it's Friday. That means it's time for another installation of Friday Favs. This week, I'm featuring Erin from Erin's Food Files. You guys should be glad that I follow Erin's blog. She was the one who introduced me to the idea of sandwiching a layer of cheesecake between two layers of cake. Remember the red velvet cheesecake cake I made last year? Yea, that was her recipe. She even made it twice. Once for a birthday party and again just to take pictures for her blog. If you're not already following Erin, I *obviously* recommend that you start (and her birthday is tomorrow, so be sure to wish her a happy birthday!).

Finally the stars seemed to have aligned to make it possible for me to do a guest post for Jen. I've been asked in the past, but have always been too busy. Around the time I agreed to guest post, I came home from work to discover a brand new cookbook sitting on the counter. My husband works at a television station, and long story short, I got my hands on a copy of this back in August before it went on sale, thanks to the author coming in for a cooking segment!

My first time flipping through Desserts from the Loveless Cafe the "Tipsy Cake" caught my eye immediately. The author of the book is resident pastry chef at the Loveless Cafe, and is also the author of another popular baking cookbook, Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes. I knew I wanted to do my guest post using a recipe from this cookbook, as a way to represent where I live, in Nashville, TN. The Tipsy Cake would be a great representation of me as a blogger. Because there's one thing my readers know to expect from me, and that is booze, bourbon especially.

A little background on the Loveless Cafe, it's a restaurant outside of the city, famous for their country cookin', especially their biscuits. It's been open since the 1950's, and they make between 4,000 - 7,000 of their famous biscuits every day! It's a pretty popular place, and they get rather busy. In fact, one time they were so busy they told Kenny Chesney "Sorry, there is a 2 hour wait."

Now, onto this Tipsy Cake. If you're thinking, "Why Erin, that looks like a fruit cake" then you're right. It is a fruit cake. But it's a boozy & delicious fruit cake! Any recipe that involves soaking dried fruit in bourbon, is good in my book! The real booziness of this cake happens when you brush the finished product with bourbon. If you like your desserts less tipsy, you can skip this step. This was a great dessert in my book. Not too rich, simple, and homey. I think this would be a great holiday cake. Whether as a hostess gift, or just a holiday treat.

Tipsy Cake
Yield: 3 small loaves, serves 4 to 6 each

1 1/4 cups golden raisins
1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons bourbon
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I used non-freshly ground nutmeg)
3/4 cup pecan pieces
*special items: 3 mini loaf pans, 5 by 3 by 2 inches

Preheat the oven to 325 °F. Grease and flour loaf pans.

In a small saucepan, bring the golden raisins and 1/2 cup of the bourbon to a boil over medium-low heat. Immediately remove from the heat and let the raisins steep until cooled completely.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and salt together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl before each addition. Sift the flour, baking soda, and nutmeg over the batter and fold a few times. Add the raisins with any bourbon, not absorbed and the pecan pieces. Fold the batter together thoroughly. Divide evenly among the pans.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then turn them out onto a rack and brush each one with 2 tablespoons of the remaining bourbon. Let cool completely before slicing.

from Desserts from the Loveless Cafe

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Favs - Proceed with Caution does a Carrot Cake Comparison

TGIF everyone! I am so glad the weekend has arrived. This was a rough work week for me and I'm looking forward to some resting and relaxation this weekend. But before we can get excited about this weekend, let's talk about this week's featured blogger on Friday Favs. Stefany from Proceed with Caution has put together an awesome comparison post for you guys. I "met" Stefany online a few years ago. Probably before either of us had ever thought about starting a food blog. She posts a lot of clean eating recipes and makes cupcakes to honor the cast of Glee when it's in season - how fun is that?!?

Hello! I'm Stefany from Proceed with Caution I started my food blog over four years ago, with very little kitchen experience.  I was very cautious when attempting anything in the kitchen for fear of ruining a perfectly good meal, so that's where I got my name.  Four years later, I still tread lightly because I love to try new recipes and techniques.  In the summer of 2009, I decided to make a change in my life and switch to a clean eating lifestyle. Since then, my blog has focused on healthy recipes with the occasional treat thrown in. It's a balance that I've been really happy with, and hope that readers enjoy.

I’ve always been a huge fan of sweets. Ice cream, cookies, bars, pies, confections, cake… especially cake… I love it all.  My favorite kind of cake is, by far, carrot cake.  I’m not quite sure what makes it so special to me, maybe that I can pretend it’s not as bad for my waistline since it contains a vegetable, or that it’s never as boring as plain white or chocolate (or even marble, for that matter) cake.  I love the spices and nuts, and more complex flavor profile.  In recent memory, I’ve made two carrot cake recipes, but a new baking book made it’s way into my home and I started to wonder, out of the three, which is the best?  (By the way, in any such comparison post, “the best” really only means “my favorite,” as I am but one person!)


I saw before me the beginnings of a cake comparison challenge: three recipes, from my three favorite baking books.  The timing was perfect, as I am planning on making a carrot cake for my son’s first birthday, which is fast approaching!  I decided to throw in a forth recipe for fun, when I saw one of the bag of Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour.  Since I would inevitably make a wwpf substitution to my favorite carrot cake recipe, I figured I would throw in one recipe that’s already designed for that kind of flour. That brings me to these four recipes:

Bill's Big Carrot Cake, Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan (DG)
Carrot Cake, Baking Illustrated (BI)
Classic Carrot Cake, Flour, Joanne Chang (JC)
Carrot Cake, Bob's Red Mill (BRM)


On a snowy day in October, I settled in for a day of baking with my son as my sous chef.  Of course the most laborious part of making carrot cake is preparing the carrots.  I make it as easy as possible.  I start with baby carrots, give them a rough chop (because my poor excuse for a food processor can't handle the whole ones), and toss in the food processor.  A few pulses later, I have perfectly grated carrots.  As an added bonus, Baking Illustrated's recipe instructs me to do it this way, and then continues to start the cake batter using the food processor.  Since I obviously didn't need 4 large carrot cakes in my house at one time (or the expense of all those ingredients), I cut each recipe down to make about 6 cupcakes.  One might argue that carrot cake in cupcake form is not the same as in cake form, but I had to go with the easiest way to do the comparison.  Each cupcake liner was filled with about 1/4 cup of batter (using a cookie scoop for measuring).

Of the four recipes, BRM was by far the easiest to prepare. Throw the wet ingredients in a bowl (and the spices, which is weird), toss in the dry ingredients (no need to mix them together in a separate bowl first!), stir, and load up your pan.  I got the fewest number of cupcakes from this recipe (5).  Later, you'll see why I think the reason is that the 1/4 cup of this batter was too much for the pan.  As I've already mentioned, BI tries to make prep easy by processing wet ingredients in the food processor, then adding to the bowl of dry ingredients.  Both DG and JC call for dragging out the stand mixer.  I love my stand mixer, but for something this simple, it seems like overkill.  Score one for BRM in this category.

Baked appearance:
At the outset, I was concerned the cupcakes would be hard to tell apart, so I carefully selected different cupcake liners for each recipe.  That was completely unneccesary as they were all very different once baked. The BRM cupcakes rose up and then completely deflated, leaving a very goofy appearance.  Since these were the favorite so far, I was a little sad that I couldn't get an accurate read on the BRM cupcakes, thanks to some serious user error.  The BI cupcakes looked like perfection - beautiful golden color and perfectly domed tops. JC and DG were both flat topped.  If I were baking cakes, the flat top would be preferred, but in cupcake form, I love the domes from BI.  BI gets a win here.

From top left, clockwise: BRM, JC, BI, DG

Taste and texture:
The BRM cupcakes had fantastic flavor, despite the baking woes.  They had an earthy, nutty flavor and were warm with spice.  I could easily pick out the flavor that whole wheat flour brings to baked goods, and since it bake with it so often these days, these were my preferred cupcake.  They were on the drier side, but when I later reviewed the recipe, I saw that omitted crushed pineapple in the interest of aligning all the recipes.  That was probably an important ingredient in keeping the cake moist (if you are counting, that's baking fail #2... oops).  I had a hard time with the difference in flavor between BI and DG.  Both were well spiced, sweet, and moist.  The top of the DG cupcake was crunchy, while BI's remained soft.  I definitely preferred the soft top.  The JC version was had the best moisture content of all the cupcakes, but something seemed off.  The spice seemed lackluster.  I couldn't quite put my finger on what else was missing. It just seemed bland.  I started to wonder if I'd done something wrong with that recipe, and I think it deserves another chance, somewhere in the distant future when fatigue from a day of baking has passed.  While I personally prefer the earthy flavor of the BRM cupcake, I think either BI or DG would provide an equally appealing choice to non-whole-wheat-obsessed folk. 

From top left, clockwise: BRM, JC, BI, DG

Overall results:
Despite some serious challenges, the dark horse recipe - BRM - is ultimately my favorite.  I hope to try again and correct the problems I encountered, so I can finally confirm that it's my personal favorite. If I'm baking for others, I'd go with either BI or DG, whichever suits my needs at the time (domed cupcakes vs flat cake, stand mixer vs food processor).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Favs - Sugared Whisk makes Spiced Pumpkin Fudge

How has everyone's week been going? We got SNOW last night. Not enough to stick or anything, but it was downright COLD here. That makes me very sad... For today's Friday Favs, I bring you Amber from Sugared Whisk. Amber is a fellow Hoosier - while I love Boston, sometimes I really miss Indiana and the Midwest. Honestly, I do. I especially miss having four distinct seasons. But enough about me. Amber has some great recipes over on Sugared Whisk. And for an extra treat, you can check out her old blog, Amber's Delectable Delights.

Hello, my name is Amber and I am the heart and soul behind Sugared Whisk. Although Sugared Whisk is a fairly new site for me I have been blogging about food since early 2007. I was honored when Jen offered me a chance to guest post here on Beantown Baker and jumped at the chance. I thought and thought about what I wanted to make for such a special post. At first I was going to make some bread. Readers that are new to my site don’t know it yet but yeasted items are some of my favorite things to make. I decided to go with something that is festive and also something that I have wanted to make for quite some time now, fudge.

Fudge is one of those sweets that has to be cooked to the perfect temperature, if it is under cooked it will not set properly and if it is overcooked it is very sugary and grainy. The recipe below states to use a candy thermometer to check for doneness with a candy thermometer. Don’t worry if you don’t have a candy thermometer, it is not actually a requirement. The only requirement is that you cook the liquid mixture until it reaches the soft ball stage. Although it sounds intimidating, it is really a pretty easy method to use. At the soft ball stage, the sugar mixture will form a soft ball when dropped into cold water. If the ball is removed from water it will flatten like a pancake. Piece of cake, right?

This fudge turned out better than I ever could have expected. The texture was spot on; it was so rich and creamy! The taste, well WOW it was near perfect too. The pumpkin flavor was not to overpowering and the spice was just right. I love white chocolate and thought that it complimented the pumpkin flavor perfectly. This is definitely a treat that will not disappoint. If you enjoyed this post and want to stay up to date with the happenings on Sugared Whisk please check out my Facebook page.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Favs - Baked by Rachel makes BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Who else out there can't believe it's already October 21st?!? Seriously time, stop flying by so fast. At least it's time for another weekend, and I've got a lot of fun things planned this weekend (including crossing some things off my list!) But enough about me, let's talk about this week's Friday Fav: Rachel from Baked by Rachel. I honestly have no idea how I ever came across Rachel's blog... But I know that what keeps me coming back is to her approachable recipes and fun wit. She's one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter and I was excited to meet her at TechMUNCH earlier this year.

Hi! I'm Rachel of Baked by Rachel. I'm a New England girl, born and raised south of Boston and now live in southern New Hampshire with my husband and three kids. I've had a love for baking for as long as I can remember, but my excitement has grown more over the last 10 years or so. I started my blog as a place to share both new and old recipes that are well loved by my family, most importantly that are easy and require basic ingredients nearly anyone should be able to find.

I seem to find myself scrounging for ideas to use up leftover ingredients. Why toss them when you can use them for another dish, right? Chicken is the biggest culprit it seems. It gets forgotten about or just goes bad too fast for my liking. I hate to just keep cooking the same boring thing, even though I do have those ruts. I think we all do. The other week I had chicken that needed to be used in a hurry. I love bbq almost anything, especially pizza and chicken so I figured why not try bbq quesadillas. It's sort of like a pizza with two crusts so it was sure to be good. And good it was! It was a no-brainer given that I liked all of the ingredients going into it. BBQ coated shredded chicken and melted cheese sandwiched between two crispy tortillas. Yum!! It's a perfect snack or quick dinner. Best of all, it's kid approved. I love when that happens. For an even quicker fix, chicken cooked and cut into chunks can be subbed in for the shredded chicken.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Favs - Apple A Day makes Cranberry Chai Cupcakes

Happy Friday! What's everyone up to this weekend? I'm on my way to NYC for the Avon Walk!! I've got a great guest post for this week's Friday Favs. Kelsey from Apple A Day is one of the bloggers that I met on an online food forum quite a few years ago. I've been following her blog pretty much since the beginning. Kelsey makes food that is similar to how we eat, so I have quite a few of her posts starred in my Google Reader (and quite a few have made an appearance on my blog too!) Be sure to head over to her blog to check it out!

If you’re a long-time Beantown Baker reader like I am, you are no doubt aware of Jen’s penchant for cupcakes and cranberries. I mean, really…the girl has done some amazing things with both of those things.

As luck would have it, I also love cupcakes and cranberries. So when Jen first asked me to be one of her Friday Favs, I jumped at the chance (who wouldn’t?!?) and immediately began looking for the perfect recipe to share with her readers. As soon as I saw this one, I knew my search was over.

What I didn’t realize until I sat down to write this entry was that I also would have the privilege to make my guest post during October, a month in which Jen always goes above and beyond in support of breast cancer awareness, research, and treatment. While my cupcakes have only a hint of bright pink from the cranberries, I think those hints are enough to remind us all how important it is that we continue to support each other in bringing an end to a disease that will affect 1 in 8 women.

So in honor of Jen’s Power of Pink challenge, women currently fighting breast cancer, those who can count themselves as survivors, and the numerous friends and family everywhere who lend invaluable support, I bring you these cranberry chai cupcakes. I hope you’ll make up a batch for a girls’ night and share them with the women in your life.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Favs - The Novice Chef makes Churro Cake

Happy Friday everyone!! Who's ready for the weekend? It's supposed to be beautiful here in Boston, so I plan to spend some quality time outside. For this week's Friday Favs, I bring you Jessica from The Novice Chef. Have you guys read her blog? She seriously cracks me up on a daily basis. Between the humor in her posts and her random tweets, Jessica is one sassy lady! And to top things off, her recipes and photos are totally drool-worthy.

If there is proof that God loves us, I am sure it is in the perfect combination of butter and sugar. Just about any recipe that begins with "in a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar" is a guaranteed winner in my book. Sometimes you can pick a bottle of bad wine. Or you try a new restaurant and it's But when you are baking with butter and sugar...magic happens. Even when the recipe is a flop, you still find yourself trying second and third bites over the sink. At least I hope you are that kind of person, it would be awkward if I am the only one with crumbs all over my shirt.

When Jen asked me to guest post for the Friday Favs I knew exactly what I wanted to make for y'all. Churro Cake! ...or more precisely named, Cinnamon Vanilla Scented Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting and a drizzle of Dulce De Leche. In essence, this is the cake that will bring down anyone's willpower. The soft, tender cake and big wonderful swirls of frosting will be the end of diets everywhere.

Good to the very last bite!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Favs - Becky Bakes makes Caramel Apple Crisp

Well, as you can see, Fall is in full swing over here. As I mentioned, Hubby and I are off to Canada to see some sites. Tuesday was my Friday this week (love two day weeks!), but for those of you what had to work all week, I'm sure you're exited that the weekend will be here soon. For today's Friday Favs, I bring you a fellow baker. Becky from Becky Bakes has a Hubby who doesn't like sweets and four kids including a newborn. A couple of her children have food allergies, so many of her recipes are allergy friendly. Be sure to check out Becky's blog for all sorts of deliciousness!

Hi! I'm Becky from Becky Bakes. I am a self-professed baking addict. Which means I can't spend more than a few days out of the kitchen before I'm dying to get back in there and make something sweet! I'm so excited to be posting here at Beantown Baker today! Thanks so much for having me Jen.

I love baking any ol' time of year but fall is my favorite. The cool, crisp air just begs me to turn the oven on. Plus, fall baking aromas are amazing. Earthy spices, fruity apples and pumpkin! I have been doing lots of baking with apples lately but the recipe I'm sharing today is at the top of my list to repeat soon. So, so good!! Entirely worth the few simple steps it takes to make.
Ahhh...this caramel is heavenly!!

This apple crisp is wonderful all by itself but once it's topped with vanilla bean ice cream and homemade caramel sauce it is absolute bliss. Caramel Apple Crisp is fall comfort food at its finest!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Favs - Blog is the New Black makes Strawberries and Cream Scones

Happy Friday everyone! How was your week? Mine was pretty good and I'm definitely looking forward to the weekend. Today for Friday Favs, I have Liz from Blog is the New Black. Isn't that such a cute blog name? I love it! Liz is another local Boston blogger - I love the blogging community here in Boston. It's been so fun meeting other people who have this crazy little hobby. I'm sure after you see this post, you'll be following Liz in her adventures in the kitchen as well.

Hey, Beantown Baker readers! My name is Liz and I share my recipes over at Blog is the New Black. My recipes ran the gamut from indulgent dinners and desserts to the more figure-friendly sides, salads, entrees. As an avid reader of Jen’s blog, I was flattered (and psyched!) when I got an email from her asking me if I’d like to do a guest post on her site. My answer, of course, was an enthusiastic “YES!”

Today I’m sharing a scone recipe! Don’t shake your head and click off this page! I was one of you- I always assumed scones were some bland, dry, breakfast pastry that I didn’t want to eat… but I had never actually tried one! My first experiences with scones were homemade cinnamon chip scones. I was very impressed! I experimented with a few more recipes, and then a friend asked me to make over her favorite petite vanilla scones from Starbucks. The outcome was a success with my friend as well as everyone who tasted them! Since then, I’ve come to love making scones.

This scone recipe was no different- it was fun to make and everyone enjoyed them. They boast a batter made with strawberry puree which helps distribute the flavor throughout the dough. Additional chunks of fresh strawberry are then folded in to make the fruit pop even more! Lastly, the scones are kissed with a glaze made from granulated sugar (not confectioners’ sugar) which adds a beautiful crunch on top. These are best enjoyed fresh out of the oven, with a smear of jam or preserves.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Favs - Sugar Plum makes Italian Black Forest Cookies

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you all had a great week. For today's Friday Favs, I have a treat for you guys. Emily from Sugar Plum is here with one of her original recipes. You might recognize Emily from Food Network Ultimate Recipe Challenge. She was on it TWICE! How cool is that? She recently won a recipe contest that landed her a trip to Boston to cook with Giada at the St Anthony's Feast (too bad Hurricane Irene had other plans for her). I love reading her recipes and the stories that accompany them. She also posts about various travel and other goings-on in her life.


Hey Beantown Baker Readers! I'm Emily from Sugar Plum, and I'm guest posting for Jen today. I love Jen's blog and was thrilled when she asked me to participate in her "Friday Faves." Isn't the name of her blog the best? I think it's so cute.

Some people around here call Springfield, Springvegas. I could change the name of my blog to Springvegas Baker. Hmm... it doesn't have the same ring to it. Oh well.


I'm guessing Jen has a lot of readers from Boston. I recently visited Beantown for the first time a few weeks ago. Hurricane Irene stranded me in the hotel room for most of the time, so I didn't get to see much of the city, but I did get to go out and try some of the Italian bakeries in the North End. It's probably a good thing we don't have bakeries like that here in Springfield, Missouri. I wouldn't be able to control myself.

Let's just say I ate a lot of Italian pastries and gelato in Boston. Cannoli, meringue cookies, rainbow cookies, cream puffs. One night I actually ate pastries as my dinner. I do not regret my decision.

Unfortunately, I am now going through Italian pastry withdrawals now that I'm back home in Missouri. We have ten frozen yogurt locations, but no Italian bakeries,

I guess I'll have to make my own Italian cookies...


These Italian Black Forest Cookies are incredibly delicious. They're double chocolate cookies; I used cocoa powder and chopped dark chocolate in them. I've also used dried cherries, oatmeal, chopped toasted hazelnuts and ricotta cheese in them. Oooh, how very "Giada" of me. I almost cooked with Giada DeLaurentiis in Boston while I was there. I'll have to tell you all about that some other time, though.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Favs - The Apron Archives makes Orange Kiss Me Cake

For Friday Favs today, I'm going to introduce you to a local blogger who has become a great friend over the past few months. Aimee from The Apron Archives actually won my Power of Pink challenge last year and then in March, we met at a mutual friend's birthday party. Since then, Aimee and I have been hanging out on a regular basis, sharing our love of a good gin and tonic, all things Harry Potter, and just good old fashioned girl time. Aimee's blog features all sorts of delicious baked goods and vegetarian meals. Aimee is a history nerd and also blogs for Yankee Magazine over at The Yankee Seeker. In a few short months, she has become one of my dearest friends and I definitely recommend checking out her blogs!

Hello Beantown Baker readers! I am Aimee from The Apron Archives, and I am delighted to be this week’s Friday Fave. I was a longtime fan of Beantown Baker before I had the opportunity to get to know Jen in person, and since then I have become an even bigger fan of the lovely baker herself. Baker friends are the best kinds of friends.

Because I have a passion for food and history, I am especially fond of paying homage to kitchen classics. While some vintage desserts are best left in the Jell-O Molds they were chilled in, there are others that never stop being table-worthy.

One such confection is Orange Kiss Me Cake, the charmingly-titled winner of the 1950 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest, created by Lily Wuebel from Redwood City, CA. The name was undoubtedly inspired by the smash Broadway musical “Kiss Me Kate,” which debuted in 1948.

This sheet cake is a snap to make, loaded with flavor, and ultra portable – making it the perfect cake to take along to your next potluck-brunch or picnic. As someone that doesn’t have a car and transports a lot of cakes via public transportation, this is a big plus for me.

Orange Kiss Me Cake gets its flavor from fresh orange zest, orange juice, raisins and nuts. The raisins and nuts are finely chopped so the texture isn’t overwhelmingly busy, and the combination of citrus, raisin, and nuts had me mentally bookmarking this cake as a must-make-again for the holiday season.

Many shortcut versions of this recipe exist – some use frozen orange concentrate, some orange extract, while others (including the original) call for an entire orange, pith and all, to be ground up into the batter. I wasn’t too sure about that, and neither were the expert (and local!) testers at Cook’s Country, so I put my trust in their adaptation.

One pleasant variation I saw substituted the glaze topping with a combination of brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and chopped nuts instead, or even on top of the glaze. Feel free to experiment. I think cream cheese icing would also taste wonderful.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Favs - BitterSweet makes Marbled Blueberry Bundt Cake

Happy Friday everybody! Who's excited for the long weekend? I sure can't wait for the weekend to start. This week's featured blogger for Friday Favs is Hannah from BitterSweet. What a cute name for a blog, right? I found Hannah's blog back when I first learned that I was lactose intolerant. I wanted to continue baking cupcakes, so I started getting into vegan baking. Thanks to Google, I came across one of Hannah's cookbooks - My Sweet Vegan, which Hannah published before starting college. Then I found her blog and was instantly hooked.

Greetings, readers and fans of Beantown Baker! My name is Hannah, and I blog over at BitterSweet. I’ve written two cookbooks, My Sweet Vegan and Vegan Desserts, with a third on the way. Needless to say, my passion in life is writing recipes and photographing the results- Especially if they’re sweet! I’m honored that Jen invited me to share a little taste of my work in this lovely space here, and hope you all enjoy it as well.

Slim pickings. Literally, that's what we found after embarking on our much-anticipated annual blueberry picking adventure. We're spoiled with riches of wild raspberries all across our county, but blueberries? Those round, sweet gems are a bit harder to come by, and even the farms were sorely lacking this year. After being turned away due to poor picking conditions once already, we were determined not to go home empty handed yet again.

Arriving near the tail-end of their growing season, it's reasonable to expect a less than bountiful harvest, but this was downright pitiful. Shriveled, grey berries remained where they once blossomed and were forgotten, while others had over-ripened to the point of bursting, like weak balloons filled with shaving cream. Regardless, with a bit of careful, diligent plucking, there were still enough berries to fill a small bucket, and satisfy the peckish picker, of course.

The effort, though more demanding than usual, was rewarded by modest heap of fresh, juicy blueberries, far more flavorful than anything store bought. After hungrily wolfing down about half of our plunder whole and plain, I was itching to make more of this seasonal treasure. Colorful filling to sandwich cookies started the wheels in motion, but I wanted more; something seriously blueberry-filled, rich and ripe.

Cake, the universal party centerpiece, fit the bill with ease. More of a simple tea cake or even breakfast treat, white whole wheat flour contributes a more hearty texture, without any overbearing wheat flavor. Touches of lemon brighten up the soft and tender bundt, although orange could also be a delightful accent instead. Though it may sound unremarkable on paper, trust me, the cut slices are anything but ordinary.

Marbled in striking blue and golden tones, this easy yet stunning dessert is like summer condensed into cake form. Now that the days have begun to cool off considerably, a warm oven is a welcome thing again, and there's never been a better time to bake with blueberries. Handpicked berries or not, this is one recipe that's sure to make repeat appearances in kitchen, many times over.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Favs - Pink Parsley makes Spiced Peach Carrot Bread

Happy Friday everyone! It has been an interesting week in Boston weather-wise. I experienced my first earthquake on Tuesday, and we're supposed to get some nasty weather this weekend because of hurricane Irene. With only a few weeks of summer left, I'm still loving all the late summer produce that is plentiful this time of year. But enough about you, let's talk about this week's Friday Favs. Josie from Pink Parsley is another blogger that I "met" on an online food forum. She is another self-proclaimed nerd, has an ADORABLE daughter, a beautiful blog, and an eye for taking amazing food photos. So definitely be sure to check out her blog after you check out this amazing looking spiced peach carrot bread she made.

Hi! I'm Josie from Pink Parsley, and I'm guest posting today for Jen. I am a chemist-turned stay at home mom to a 3 year old girl, and a soon-to-be-born baby boy! I am a born and raised Georgian and live in the Atlanta suburbs. So when Jen asked me to participate as one of her Friday Favs, I knew I wanted to do something with peaches to represent my home state. Peaches are by far my favorite fruit, and I love incorporating them into both sweet and savory dishes. In my opinion they are the ultimate summer fruit. And while some people are gearing up for fall cooking and baking, and the temperatures are starting to drop a bit in some parts of the country, I know that we still have another 2 months of hot weather here in the south.

However, this peach bread is a great bridge between summer produce and the warmth and spice of fall. It's a pretty standard quick bread, but the addition of carrots and peaches give it a nice sweetness, and the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger provide a warmth that is reminiscent of pumpkin bread or spice cake. I just loved the contrast of the sweetness and the spice of this bread. This makes a great snack or breakfast treat, and with a generous smear of cinnamon-honey butter, it's elevated to an even higher level.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Favs - The Food Librarian makes Coffee Cake Bundt

Hope everyone had a great week. Mine was busy but pretty good. For this week's Friday Favs, I'm featuring Mary from The Food Librarian. This is a blog I've been following for a long time and I don't remember how I even found it in the first place. Mary posts all sorts of yummy looking baked goods. Her photos sometimes include clever little comments and are always enticing. One of the most memorable things that Mary does is her I Like Big Bundts posts. In 2009 and 2010, she posted a new bundt recipe every day in November. That's a lot of bundts! So it's no surprise that when I opened my email from her, there was a recipe for a bundt in there.

Aunt Patty's Coffee Cake Bundt
Aunt Patty's Coffee Cake Bundt from the Martha Stewart website

Hi! It's Mary the Food Librarian guest posting on Jen's blog today! I'm a public librarian in Los Angeles who is obsessed with the Bundt cake. For the past couple years, I've celebrated National Bundt Day by posting 30 days of Bundts - affectionately named, I Like Big Bundts. Since National Bundt Day is just around the corner (November 15th), I thought I would bring you a Bundt!

Aunt Patty's Coffee Cake Bundt - collage

I found this Bundt on Martha Stewart's website. It's from Everyday Food's Lucinda Scala Quinn's Mad Hungry book. A sour cream batter is prepared and two layers of sugar, cocoa and instant coffee (I used instant espresso) are layered in the Bundt pan. Swirls with a knife marble the mix a bit before baking.

Aunt Patty's Coffee Cake Bundt

This isn't the biggest Bundt, so I think you could make it in a 10-cup or a 12-cup Bundt pan. I used this Classic Nordic Ware Bundt (12-cup).

Aunt Patty's Coffee Cake Bundt

This Bundt is perfect with a mug of coffee or cup of tea. It's nice served for breakfast or brunch...or standing over the sink for a midnight snack. Thanks for letting me visit! You can find The Food Librarian blog here and on Twitter @foodlibrarian. I hope you join me in making a Bundt to celebrate Bundt day this November!

Aunt Patty's Coffee Cake Bundt

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Favs - White Room Colorful Life makes Pickled Banana Peppers

Happy Friday everybody! For today's Friday Favs, I bring you one of my favorite people in the whole world. Steph and I knew each other long before either one of us had blogs, college degrees, or husbands. We met in freshmen year in college and became great friends. She was the matron of honor in my wedding and even though we live almost a thousand miles apart now, we always make a point to visit each other every year (we're vacationing to Niagara Falls together this fall). Steph is one of the most creative people I've ever met. She's the kind of person who just oozes creativity. She blogs about some food, crafts, and photography over at White House Colorful Life.

Hey there! I may be a little out of my blogging league here, but Jen is one of my closest friends, and that may have had something to do with being honored as a Friday Fav. I’m flattered either way!
My blog is pretty random… it started as a place to share photography stuff with friends. These days, it’s a place where I keep all the different photography and other projects I’ve been working on. I do bake from time to time, but it’s nothing I’d want to display next to all the beautiful sweets here. So, I’m just going to talk about what I’ve been doing of late…pickling.

About two years ago, my husband and I bought a house with a yard big enough for the garden of his dreams. Our yearly abundance of produce pushed me into the world of canning. I bought a canner, was given a book and got busy. I canned tomato sauce, green beans, corn, salsa, and pickles last year.
One of the biggest things learned in this process is you don’t need a canner, or even canning jars for that matter, to make “Refrigerator Pickles”. AND refrigerator pickles turn out much crisper than pickles done the long way with a canner.

That brings me to this year. Due to the incredibly dry hot summer here in the midwest, the cucumbers were far from a bumper crop this year. Banana and jalapeno peppers on the other hand didn’t seem to mind the heat. So pickled peppers it is!

Now, I should preface this recipe with a few things:
1. This recipe is modified from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I highly recommend this book!
2. All you need is a saucepan and some clean jars, like all those old store bought salsa jars that your husband just can’t get rid of because you may need them someday…
3. Many vegetables other than the usual cucumbers can be pickled. The book lists carrots, green beans, and even onions.
4. These peppers are really tasty on tortilla chips with melted cheddar cheese, if you are so inclined.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Favs - The Cupcake Project makes Hefeweizen Cupcakes

How is everyone doing this week? Today's featured Friday Favs blogger is one of the first blogs I ever started following. When I started reading blogs in the summer of 2007, I was obsessed with cupcakes. So I searched out any cupcake blog I could find. Stef's blog, The Cupcake Project has a great concept. She agreed to bake cupcakes for some friend's wedding. So she set out to find the perfect cupcakes by baking a new recipe for them to taste test each week. They chose their three favorites and Stef made them for the wedding. Since then she's done three more wedding projects and whips up some really whacky flavored cupcakes.

Who The Hefe Are You?

I'm Stef from Cupcake Project - I create cupcakes. Sometimes, I'm thrilled with the results - like when I made honey baked ham cupcakes baked in an actual piece of ham or the time I took a pumpkin pie, shoved it into a piping bag and used it as frosting.  Other times, the results are not as pleasing - why did I think it was a good idea to make corned beef and cabbage cupcakes?  Good, bad, and a high percentage of zany, I share the result of my cupcake experimentation with my readers and let them know if the cupcake is worth trying.

So, are the Hefeweizen Cupcakes Worth Trying?

I'm in puppy love with my Hefeweizen cupcakes.  Maybe it's because I've been on a quest to find the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake and the past 15 or so cupcake recipes I've made have been some variety of vanilla, or maybe these Hefeweizen cupcakes really are just that good.  If you are a beer fan (I'm talking about the kind of person who drinks beer for the taste, not chugs for the buzz), and you like wheat beer, you will truly appreciate this cupcake.  With beer in both the cupcake and the glaze, these cupcakes have a noticeable beer flavor.  The cupcakes also contain a touch of lemon as though you squeezed some into your bottle.  

Beer cupcakes are typically heavy and manly.  The beer cupcakes I've created in the past are no exception.  I've done a beer cheese cupcake with bacon cheddar frosting (trust me on this one - it is a fan favorite), chocolate stout cupcakes, and Trappist cupcakes with a Trappist-style cheese.  Unlike those, these Hefeweizen cupcakes are beer cupcakes for the summer.  They are moist, fresh-tasting, and just the snack to tide you over while you're waiting for your burgers to finish on the grill.

Hefeweizen Cupcake Recipe

From time to time I play a game on the Cupcake Project Facebook Page called Cupcake Roulette.  I let 38 food bloggers grab a spot on a virtual roulette wheel.  I promise to make something inspired by whatever blog I randomly draw and I ask the blogger to do the same with mine.  I decided to make this guest blog post a Cupcake Roulette post so that you would have the opportunity to be introduced not only to my blog but also to another fun blog!

These Hefeweizen cupcakes are adapted from the Corona Cupcakes on Starting all Over Again, Cupcake Roulette winner Paige's blog.
Photo courtesy of Schlafly

Although Paige used Corona, I wanted to go local. I'm from St. Louis, Missouri and we are lucky to have a wealth of amazing microbreweries here.  I decided to opt for a Hefeweizen from Schafly. Make the cupcakes with Corona (like Paige did) or use your favorite light, summer beer (I recommend a wheat beer) from a local brewery.

The only other change that I made to Paige's recipe was to up the amount of beer and decrease the amount of lemon.  I find that lemon overpowers everything else and I really wanted the beer to shine.

Hefeweizen Cupcakes
Yield: 9 cupcakes

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • zest of one large lemon or 2 small lemons
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Hefeweizen or other wheat beer
  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form.  
  2. Gradually mix in the sugar.
  3. Mix in baking powder, baking soda, vegetable oil, zest, and milk.
  4. Mix in half of the flour.
  5. Mix in the beer.
  6. Mix in the other half of the flour.
  7. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.
  8. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when lightly touched.
Beer Glaze Recipe

Paige topped her Corona cupcakes with a buttercream.  Although it's probably sacrilegious, I'm a cupcake baker who hates buttercream.  So, I topped mine with a beer glaze.  I used a recipe that I found on tuttifoodie by Jennifer Burke for a beer glaze made with malt powder.   I can't imagine topping these cupcakes with anything else.  The glaze enhances the beer cupcakes without overwhelming them.  The only changes that I made to Jennifer's recipe were to switch the type of beer and to remove the lemon.  As I noted above, I didn't want an overpowering lemon flavor.

Warning: The glaze is a bit runny - just think of it as overflowing beer foam! 
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup hefeweizen or other wheat beer
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  1. In a double boiler, combine all the ingredients except for the butter and sugar.
  2. Melt the mixture, stirring continuously until it's thick - about 12 minutes.
  3. Jennifer then strained the mixture to remove lumps.  I skipped this step because I'm a lazy baker and not a perfectionist.  You do what fits your baking personality.  
  4. Cool completely.
  5. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the cooled malt mixture with the butter.  
  6. Mix in the powdered sugar.  The end result should be a thick and sticky glaze.
  7. Spread onto cooled cupcakes.
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Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Favs - Healthy and Sane makes Chewy Caramel Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Hope everyone had a great week. I have another great blogger for you guys to check out as part of my Friday Favs. This week, I introduce you Elina from Healthy and Sane. Elina is another local blogger who I have enjoyed seeing out and about at blogging events. Elina blogs about food, local restaurants, travels, and just her life in general. Elina really puts it all out there for her readers and shares her efforts to find a balance between food, weight loss, and dieting. The brutal honesty is refreshing. Definitely check her out.

Hi Beantown Baker readers! My name is Elina. I’m the writer behind the blogs Healthy and Sane and Russian Bites. I’ve been blogging at Healthy and Sane for nearly 3 years and this is my very first guest post! I’m nervous and excited to be here with you. Hope you’ll enjoy this post and maybe come visit me some time! 

When I discovered my love for healthy cooking, I felt like I found a secret to sustainable weight loss. Healthy food can be fun and delicious. I couldn’t believe that people still had stereotypes against it! I started blogging at Healthy and Sane because I wanted to share my experience of losing weight the right way. I was calorie counting at the time and whipping up something new for every meal (I used to blog about every bite that went into my mouth). Everyone I knew in real life were amazed at how I could sustain it but I was having so much fun!!

[Caramel bubbling]

Over the years I realized that losing weight was not just about healthy cooking or calories in and out. I realized that I was an emotional eater and when things got rough, I reached for food. I beat myself up often for “letting go.” I’d start new, more ambitious eating plans, new challenges, new mind games (this one was actually fun but it still didn’t last). Until eventually I couldn’t do this for one more day and I said good bye to dieting for good. I’m now chronicling my journey towards diet free living on Healthy and Sane, among restaurant reviews (Jen’s favorite feature!), random kitchen adventures, and fun events around the Boston area.

[Chewy caramel disks]

My readers say they love my blog because of how honest and relatable I am. So I’m going to share something very honest with you here. I quit dieting but I’m still struggling with emotional eating and bingeing when I’m faced with new challenges or uncomfortable feelings. And I still often give in to those tendencies (yes, I’m a work in progress). But the thing is - I love love love food. I do. And as backwards as this sounds, when I get the bingeing shakes, (as I try to resist it) I find that it helps to look at pretty food. It reminds me of the beauty in food. It reminds me that food is not something to abuse yourself with but to love and enjoy!

[chocolate cookies]

This is how I found the recipe for these chewy caramel chocolate sandwich cookies. I hope you find them as pretty and delicious as I did.

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