Sunday, July 29, 2012

summer cocktail: mango pineapple rum punch.

This week the ladies & I decided to take a break from all the baking & try something a bit more refreshing: summer cocktails.

The bf & I like to try & keep our bar stocked with the essential liquors, which can be tough to do as poor grad. students. However, we have a copious amount of rum in our collection, something I bought to make his tres leches birthday cake with. (I'll try to blog about that sometime.) We don't drink rum often, so I thought it would be a good idea to put that rum to use!

Mango Pineapple Rum Punch
adapted from Martha Stewart's Pineapple and Mango Rum Cocktails 

  • 2.5 small ripe mangoes, peeled and cubed, which is about 2 cups
  • 4 cups fresh pineapple juice (about 4 1/2 lbs of pineapple)
  • Rum. Put enough in for your taste preference.
  • 1/2 mango cut into slices with skin, for garnishFresh tropical fruit, such as dragon fruit and star fruit, for garnish -- optional
How To:
For my recipe, I am using our fancy juicer:
This juicer is WONDERFUL. It juices just about anything & keeps all the nutrients intact. The reason is because of the auger, a really powerful spinning ball in the middle of the machine that squeezes out all the fruit's juice. And the heat of the motor is not near where the fruit is being juiced, so even more nutrients stay in! And the juice is absolutely delicious. No sugar added, just pure fruit.

It is pricey, but totally worth it in the long run.
Click on this for more info about the Omega Juicer. 

1. Juice the mangoes & pineapples together. You may want to double this recipe to make sure you can serve all your guests!

2. Pour the juice into a pitcher that has ice, then add the rum. You have to taste it to make sure it has the right amount of rum. Just get out a glass and pour a splash in your cup to test!

3. This next step is optional, but you can chop up more mangoes, pineapples, and other tropical fruit for either garnish or to put into the pitcher.

4. Serve & drink up!

Don't be fooled. This looks like just plain ol' juice, but there is alcohol! :)

Check out Cassie's blog on Tinto de Verano.
Rhiannon's will be up soon! 

UPDATE: Rhiannon's entry is up! 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

late night baking: homemade twix.

There is something so comforting about baking at night. I leave on the energy efficient lights that are near my kitchen & try to eliminate the use of that glaring florescent light. Thankfully there's a light over our stove that is warm & inviting and this was a perfect atmosphere to create this delicious candy:


When Rhiannon & Cassie brought this up (I'm not sure who... I'm thinking Rhiannon), I immediately thought, "I LOVE THIS CANDY BAR!"

The cookie, the caramel, and the chocolate are a perfect combination of texture & taste. I've never made a candy bar before, so I was excited to embark on another baking adventure.

My recipe is adapted from a food blogger named Tessa and her blog is titled "Handle the Heat". She brought the interesting component of salt on top of the candy, which I thought was genius. I'm totally into the salt & sweet combo. I think both bring out the best in each other.

Homemade Twix

--> This recipe is adapted to fit the tools I have in my kitchen! 
Makes about 20 bars, depending how you cut them.

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp cold water
  • 1 large egg yolk
For the Caramel Topping:
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Glaze:
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped --- can be chips
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • Sea salt out of a grinder --- set it to fine or medium (depends how big you want the salt to be)
How to:
This recipe is in 3 parts:
The crust first
The caramel second
The chocolate last

1. For the crust:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Coat a 9x13inch baking pan with margarine. Line with parchment, leaving enough to overhang, and coat parchment with margarine. You can also use nonstick spray.

  • There are 2 ways to make this crust: with a food processor or a standing mixer. I do not own a food processor, so I experimented with a standing mixer. It actually turned out good. I think with the food processor, the texture of the crust is coarser.
  • Blend flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
  • (For those of you with a standing mixer, read on. If you would rather use a food processor, refer to Tessa's post.)
    Take the butter & melt it in the microwave, heating it for 10-20 seconds. You don't want it completely melted.
    Gradually add the butter to the dry mix. Incorporate everything together completely, but do not over mix. A paste will form.

  • Add the cold water and egg yolk. Blend.
  • Pour dough onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Spread it evenly with a spatula.

  • Bake until golden, 22 minutes. Cool completely.
2. For the caramel topping:
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
    (I highly recommend a medium saucepan! Basically, don't use one as small as mine. It was the only one I had that wasn't in the dishwasher... haha)
  • Add brown sugar, stir until dissolved.
  • Whisk in milk, corn syrup, and vanilla and let come to a boil.
  • Boil gently, whisking constantly, until caramel is pale golden and thick, about 8 minutes. (If you have a candy thermometer, you want the caramel to get up to 225 degrees. I don't own one & found 8 minutes was fine.)
  • Pour caramel over cooled crust, spreading evenly to the edges. Cool 15 minutes.

3. For the chocolate glaze:
  • While the caramel is cooling, melt the chocolate with the cream in the microwave in 15 second bursts. Stir until smooth. I did it in three 15 second bursts.
    Be careful not to overheat!
  • Spread the chocolate evenly over the warm caramel.
  • Take out that sea salt grinder and grind some sea salt over the top. Not too much, just sprinkle it.
  • Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, at least 1 hour. (Mine set for over 12 hours. I'm not sure how I resisted trying it sooner...)
  • This can be made 3 days ahead. Just keep it covered & refrigerated. Cut the dessert into long bars before serving!

Sooo yummy.

& Cassie's Blog! Her Homemade Twix will be up soon. In the meantime, read up on her take on Scones. 
UPDATE: Cassie's Post is up on Homemade Twix! 

Brought the Homemade Twix to a birthday party & it was a hit! Everyone gobbled it up very quickly. The salt really does complement the candy, a couple people brought up how the flavors contrasted nicely. Yum yum. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

late night baking. peanut butter bread.

When Rhiannon & Cassie suggested to make bread this week, I got real excited. I think the only bread I've ever made was a banana bread when I was in high school, but it's been so long since I've actually baked something!

As a poor grad student, I'm trying to not buy so much stuff, so I did my best to find a bread recipe in which I had all or most of the ingredients. I got lucky! Stumbled across this peanut butter bread recipe & I had EVERYTHING in my cupboards. :)

I know that it's more of a dessert bread, but whatever. It's my goal to make a bread with yeast in the future.

Ok. Get ready for this yummy-ness. (It's baking right now in the oven and smells delicious!)

Peanut Butter Sandwich Bread
adapted from Jenna & her blog eat, live, run

(Thank you for this awesome recipe, Jenna! Excited to eat & share this!)

Ingredients (only 7!):
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1.5 cups milk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder

How to:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F & grease a loaf pan (or whatever pan you have close to a loaf pan) well. Mine is a CorningWare pan!
Tip: I use Country Crock margarine, scoop some out with a folded paper towel, then spread it around the pan.
 (please excuse my recycling in the background)

2. Take out that standing mixer! Cream together the peanut butter & sugar until well combined. Put the setting on medium.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon. Set aside.
Tip: In baking, it is important to make sure the amounts of each item are as close to accurate as possible. I use a butter knife to level out my measuring cups or spoons. In this case, I also used it to stir my dry ingredients together, haha.

4. Put the mixer on low, then slowly add the milk & dry ingredients by alternating between the two. Mix until smooth.

5. Pour batter into the greased loaf pan & bake for 60 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minute. You may take it out and cool it on a wire rack. I don't own one of those, so I'll just cut into it after 10 minutes, haha.


Some suggestions to top your slice (or slices) with:
marshmallow fluff
peanut butter
margarine or butter
SLABS of dark chocolate :)
any kind of melted chocolate
eat it plain!

Gonna try French Toast with it this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes!

As I was getting ready to eat this late-night-delight, I came across what Jenna recommends serving this with: Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate.

I know right?? Why haven't I thought of this before??

It's reeeeaaally simple to make. Takes less than 10 minutes.

This recipe is for one PB Hot Chocolate
adapted from Jenna & her Eat, Live, Run blog

1 cup milk (or just the amount of milk you need to fill your mug)
1 Tbsp peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
2 Tbsp of cocoa mix, already sweetened (if you don't have this, do 1 Tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder & 1 Tbsp of sugar)1 tsp vanilla extract
Whipped Cream, Salted Peanuts, &/or Cinnamon for garnish (optional)

How To:
1. Fill your mug with the desired amount of milk. Pour the milk into a small pot on the stove on medium heat, then add and whisk or stir together the cocoa mix and vanilla. (I don't own a whisk, really need to get one.)

2. Bring to a simmer, add the peanut butter, then stir well to get rid of any clumps. 

3. Pour into the mug and serve with a garnish of whipped cream, salted peanuts, &/or cinnamon!

Check out my sweet apron:
 Got it as a gift from my cousin when I visited WA recently. 
Yay Pike Place Market! 

Make sure to check out Rhiannon's Blog (she just made a Key Lime Pie. Her bread post will be up soon!) --- Update: Rhiannon's Chocolate Orange Bread
& Cassie's Dark Chocolate Almond Bread

Friday, July 6, 2012

a happy 4th of July with apple pie

So, I'm starting a lovely food cooking adventure with two lovely ladies, Rhiannon & Cassie. All three of us LOVE cooking and thought it would be a fun for each of  us to cook a themed dish of some sort once a week. We'll each do different recipes according to the various themes, then share with on the interwebs... Stoked to embark on this adventure with you awesome girls!

Our first adventure? APPLE PIE for the 4TH OF JULY!

I have never made a pie in my life. I don't even own a pie pan. So obviously had to go get one. Haha. I did a variation on an Apple Raspberry Pie with a Gluten-Free Crust. I was out celebrating the 4th with friends & one of them is gluten-free. I always try to make gluten-free things for get-togethers because I want everyone to have the chance to indulge. :)

Apple Raspberry Pie with a Gluten-Free Crust
adapted from Joy the Baker's Apple Raspberry Pie
& from About.Com's Gluten-Free Crust Recipe

for the Crust:
1/2 cup of shortening
1.5 cups of organic rice flour
4 tablespoons of water

I doubled the recipe for a top and bottom crust. Then just split the dough in half!

for the Filling:
2 1/2 pounds baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced ¼-inch thick
     (I used a combo of Granny Smith & Fuji. Joy also recommends Pink Ladies)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
     (I used the already powdered nutmeg. Already had it in my cupboard.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch                
1 heaping cup fresh raspberries
1 egg, beaten
Sugar, for liberally sprinkling
how to:
1. Made the crust first!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, gradually add in the shortening as you mix the flour. I used my hands to mix it all together, much easier. Then add the water last. 

Should have read a person's comment below the recipe post before making this recipe. This person recommended adding an egg to get to get the rice flour to bind better. I DEFINITELY would have done that, had I known. Also, next time, I would sugar to this. Could be sweeter. 

3. Take half of the dough & roll it up into a ball with your hands.
Take your pie crust pan (I used a 9-inch pan) and put the dough in the middle of the pan.
Mold the dough to the pan! Use your fingers, way more fun.

4. After you finish that, prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Prevents buckling.


5. Bake the crust at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
When done baking, take it out of the oven & set aside. 

6. With the other half of the dough, roll it into a ball with your hands.
Take some parchment or wax paper and place the dough ball in the middle of it.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it can cover the top of your pie.
Cover the top of it with another sheet of parchment or wax paper, then set aside.

7. Let's move on to the filling!

Take a large bowl & combine the apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together. Toss it all together to mix. Do it by hand, again more fun. Cover apples (I used foil) and allow them to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to a maximum of 3 hours. The apples will develop and release juices.  

Due to time constraints, I let mine rest for 2-2.5 hours & a lot of juices were released!

8. Get a colander and put it on top of a large bowl. Take the apples and their juices and transfer them to the bowl. The bowl will capture the liquid. You will have at least 1/2 cup of liquid.

9. In a small, preferably non-stick, saucepan boil down the liquid over medium heat with the butter. Boil it down to about 1/3 cup or until syrupy and lightly caramelized. If you have more than 1/2 cup of liquid, then boil it down to a little more than a 1/3 cup. Be sure to swirl the liquid and not stir!

10. While the sauce is cooking,  transfer the apples to a bowl, add the raspberries, then toss with the cornstarch until it's all dissolved.

11. Pour the syrup over the apple and raspberry mixture, tossing gently. I used a spatula to toss it.
Don't worry if the liquid hardens on the apples, it will dissolve when it bakes.

12. Take the bottom crust of the pie and transfer the apple & raspberry mixture to it.

Take the top crust and gently place pieces of it on top of the mixture. (Due to how delicate the gluten-free crust is, it will be difficult to get the top crust on the pie in one piece. Just take big pieces of it, it's like a crumble topping.)

13. Before preheating the oven, set oven rack at the lowest level and place a foil-lined baking sheet on top of it. Then preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Do this at least 20 minutes before baking!

14. Beat the egg. Brush the top crust with it. It'll help the crust become golden brown. Then, liberally sprinkle sugar all over it.

15. Put the pie directly on the foil-topped baking sheet and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices bubble through the top and the apples feel tender but not mushy. Use a fork to test the apples' consistency.

16. Cool for at least 2 hours before cutting. It will be a bit crumbly, but that's part of the fun!
 Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

The one thing I would try differently next time is to make adjustments to the crust. Beating an egg into it and adding some sugar. It was too crumbly for me and a little too bland in flavor. But this was my first time making a pie and I'm pretty proud of myself! :)

Check out Rhiannon's Pie
and Cassie's Pie