Sunday, November 20, 2016

SWEET POTATO TART WITH GINGERSNAP CRUST


 I haven't really celebrated Thanksgiving since I've lived in Israel. It falls in the middle of the week and my family here is not really excited about the very American type food of Thanksgiving. Personally, as a kid, I always concentrated on the stuffing, cranberry sauce and dessert. I could leave the rest with no problem.

I haven't baked anything in a while and I  miss it. This tart came just at the right time- I happened to have sweet potatoes on hand. I love it when I can just get to work without having to run to the grocery store to get this or that. The sweet potato puree is easy to make and I had all I could do refrain from sitting down with the whole bowl and just eating it as is!
Putting it together is easy enough and the smell that fills the house as it is baking just yells "autumn". ( I'm sure it is autumn somewhere in the world- certainly not here!) There was quite a bit of the sweet potato filling leftover, so I decided to make sweet potato muffins. The recipe is adapted from the recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf from the first of the Baked books "Baked- New Frontiers in Baking". I switched the pumpkin to sweet potato and made one loaf and the remainder of the batter into muffins. Froze them for an easy to pull out, quick , on-the-go breakfast. Really good!

You can find the recipe for the tart here, at Baked Sunday Mornings.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Mini Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes


Life is so fragile. Every once in a while something comes along to brutally shake us back into reality. Look at things in proportion. All those catch phrases like: "live for today", "cherish the moment", "don't sweat the small stuff" etc. etc. We hear them, nod our heads yes ,yes, and then continue on the rat race of life , forgetting to heed those words. I am one of those people. 


True-much easier said than done. Our lives have become so busy and complicated in these modern times, that sometimes just surviving on a day to day basis, getting things done, making ends meet, can take an incredible amount of energy. In the process we often get lost; lose sight of what matters. then that big "boom" comes along-unexpected, shocking, causing us to STOP! We take a moment or even longer (as in my case) and look at our lives, ourselves and how we really want to live. Sometimes, it is enough to rock our world to make a change. More often we SAY we are going to make a change and then get swept back into the rat race.

My "rock the world" event happened just recently, the other day, in fact. A colleague and friend passed away after a long, painful illness. Just 53 years old, 3 children and a life of beautiful moments clipped short in a most agressive and brutal way. We knew there was no hope, but the reality of the finality is always difficult, regardless. It is then all my questions arise- why? and why in this grueling, painful way? what can I learn from this tragic event? I believe her life and memory can be honored by approaching life as she did. Always positive, helpful, caring of people and animals, I know these are all "words". Putting those words in to practice in our lives is another thing, but at least we can try and make one small change, whatever it may be. 

I have dealt with depression, poor body image and low self-esteem for as long as I can remember. I am aware that much of it is physiological; serotonin, endorphins and all those other big words. But it is also the way I have always looked at life in general. It takes work (at least for me) to overcome or at best, deal with these feelings. Sometimes exhausting, sometimes feeling it is futile, but I keep on working at it.

So today, as I, and our community pay our last respects to this special person, I hope to take away some of her positive outlook, her attitude towards life and her kind, thoughtful being.

As for the recipe for today..... well, chocolate is always chocolate. Probably one of the best bites you can have to make you feel better- even if for that fleeting moment. Recipe can be found here.
So have a bite of chocolate and smile!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

NANAIMO ICE CREAM BARS




I've seen and heard of these bars many times in the past but never tried them. I wasn't even sure how to correctly pronounce it.  So here you go:

Now that we've got the pronunciation down, the next question is- where does that name come from and exactly what are they? Straight from Wikipedia!
"Nanaimo, a city on Vancouver Island in British Columbia,Canada. It is known as "The Harbour City." The City was previously known as the "Hub City" which has been attributed to its original layout design where the streets radiated out from the shoreline like the spokes of a wagon wheel as well as its generally centralized location on Vancouver Island. It has also been known as the "Bathtub Racing Capital of the World." Hmmm, interesting little fact tidbit! ( I have secretly always wanted to know where the "Bathtub Racing Capital of the World" was!)

Nanaimo is apparently the place these bars originated and there are varying views as to who actually wrote the recipe. Different versions have emerged through the years. This one, from Baked Occasions, has a  crust from digestive biscuits ( a semi-sweet biscuit originating in the UK), crushed salty pretzels and walnuts. I love the addition of the salty pretzels, as they give just the right amount of balance to this very sweet dessert.

Ready for the freezer
The recipe calls for vanilla or salted caramel ice cream for the middle layer- homemade or store bought. Obviously , store -bought will make the entire process faster and easier, but I can never refuse an opportunity to make my own ice cream. I used David Lebovitz's recipe for Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream.  OMG!! to die for! I actually cut down the amount of sugar it calls for , since the whole recipe for the Nanaimo Bars is so sweet. It came out delicious and perfect for the bars, but really any quality store-bought ice cream would be fine, if you're not into that extra step.

All that's left......



"Lick your lips" delicious!


A few steps involved(but nothing impossible) to make this sweet, summer dessert- eat 'em fast before they melt!

You can find the recipe here at Baked Sunday Mornings.
Enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Derby Cookies

As a child, I loved horses. Even took riding lessons and collected horse figurines. I wasn't a particular fan of horse races, but just to see the beautiful horses run the Kentucky Derby was a treat.

These are easy cookies to make. I was expecting them to come out more like actual balls, but they sort of flattened out on the bottom, while retaining the rounded top. No matter- delicious in any shape. 

The addition of bourbon to the demarra sugar for rolling, really kicks these cookies up a notch. That, with the 2 tablespoons of bourbon in the recipe- well, we're set for the day!



You can find the recipe here, at Baked Sunday Mornings. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

MAE'S CRESCENT COOKIES


I love cake, and I love pie, but what I really love the most are COOKIES! All kinds and shapes.There are cookies that are the "usuals"- chocolate chip ( although there are some very "unusual" varieties), oatmeal, sugar.  There are cookies from different countries and cultures and cookies of all shapes and sizes. The fun part about cookies (besides eating them) is that you can play around with additions and easily make them your "own" cookie.  Pretty quick to put together,  a great gift when wrapped in an interesting package, and of course- always have that cookie tin filled with cookies for the kiddies when they visit!
                             
These cookies fill all those categories for me. A simple, ton of butter cookie with walnuts (I substituted pecans), shaped into a delicate crescent shape and drowned in powdered sugar for that extra zing. Easy?- check. Pretty gift in a tin or jar?- check.  Kid ready?- check. Taste more than good?- check , check , check! Not a crunchy cookie, they just melt in your mouth as soon as you bite  pop a whole one onto your tongue. A bit addictive, yes, but what kind of cookie isn't?


Crescent cookies go onto my list of  "go-to's" for sure. You can find the recipe here, at Baked Sunday Mornings, as well as see the creations of other members from our baking group. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

ST. PATRICK’S DRUNK BUNDT CAKE- Chocolate -Stout cake with Whiskey-Bailey's Glaze

That title is quite a mouthful, but so is this cake! If you are looking for something very 
chocolatey with a hint of alchohol, then this is your baby. I don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day , but I certainly don't see that as a prerequisite for enjoying a combination of chocolate, stout, Bailey's Irish Cream and whiskey.
The cake is easy to make- NO MIXER to clean-yay! I acutally didn't have any whiskey on hand so I just upped the amount of Irish Cream. I'm sure that the whiskey would give it a nice,extra kick. (next time, which there definitley will be!)


The whole family willingly indulged at last night's Friday dinner. The youngest participant 
(age 3) enjoyed sitting next to the plate and scooping up the glaze with his finger. He said that was the part he liked the best!!

Give it a try! You can find the recipe at Baked Sunday Mornings, along with the other bakers reactions to this cake.

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Conversation Heart Cakes( black velvet cake) Happy Valentine's Day!

I can't say I have ever been a big participant in the Valentine's Day celebrations. Maybe it's because of one outstanding memory I have of a Valentine's Day celebration from second grade. Coming from Upstate New York, Valentine's Day falls in the middle of winter- cold, snowy, windy and icy winter. In "those" days ( and I'm dating myself here) we walked, yes, actually walked to and from school!
It was traditional to exchange Valentine cards with classmates and get all kinds of little packets with candy hearts and other sweets. I remember having a large package of all my Valentine cards and candies in a plastic bag. I was all bundled up except for some reason I decided not to put my mittens on before leaving school. Walking home, I began to drop things, the bag ripped and I was struggling to hold on to everything with my "unmittened", freezing hands. I began to cry (as the tears froze on their way down my cheeks), somehow finally made it home to find that my hands had become slightly frostbitten. Ouch! Mom ran them under cold(yes!)water and slowly but surely the pain disappeared, but I was left with a not so nice memory of Valentine's Day.


This week's recipe for Baked Sunday Mornings, was a chocolate (what else for Valentine's Day?!) or actually , black velvet cake. They are decorated like the candy messages we all remember from our childhood- LUV U!, BE MINE! etc. etc. I followed the recipe exactly except for the fact that "black cocoa" is literally unobtainable in this neck of the woods so I used regular cocoa- the best I could get here.  
The frosting is a cream cheese base frosting, which I usually have no trouble with, but this  time something went wrong. Not sure if my amounts were off or if I over beat it, but it came out very runny- good but runny. Even after refrigeration, it didn't hold it's shape. Once in a while, it's good to have a bit of a failure, just to keep things real. 
I love to decorate cookies as well and this was a wonderful opportunity to get back into it after a long hiatus. I forgot how much I enjoy the cookie decorating!

I have a weakness for stores that sell all different kinds of cupcake liners, paper cake molds and well, all baking supplies, so when I see something I like, I buy it. Even if I don't need it right at the moment. Sometime, somewhere, some occasion may pop up and those little liners or molds will be perfect! So, on one of my rounds of those stores, I came across these heart shaped baking papers. Couldn't resist, bought them, and put them upon the shelf to wait patiently for their turn. And their turn came! Instead of making a flat cake and cutting out the heart shapes, I simply poured the batter directly into the molds. So, mine are one layer, quite thick, but a nice size for two to share. How appropriate for the occasion! 

Happy Valentine's Day! Get the recipe here.
Enjoy!






Sunday, January 31, 2016

CHINESE FIVE SPICE SCONES



Risks. Taking risks is an important part of life (in my opinion). Now, there are all levels of risk- some involve a life or death decision (tfu, tfu tfu), some have to do with a life change- career, moving to a new place etc., and then there are those type of risks that won't hurt you one way or the other... trying a new food, wearing a type of clothing you've never worn before, making friends with someone you wouldn't normally connect with; they are risks that can broaden your view of yourself and the world around you- good things!

This recipe is one of those "risk-taking" types for me. I've made scones before- chocolate, actually, so what could be bad about that? Scones were a totally foreign item to me and what I did know about them was that they were something the British ate. Wasn't particularly appealing to be honest. 

So when it came time to make these Chinese Five Spice Scones, I was very skeptical. First of all,  I knew that trying to find Chinese Five Spice mix here in Israel was going to take some searching and investigation. After checking out a few places with no luck, I decided to make my own. No lack of recipes for DIY spices! Bought the ingredients and was planning on grinding everything together, when at the last moment, (completely  by chance-isn't that the way it always works?!)I came across this.
Granted, it is from Thailand, but after reading the ingredients, it seemed like it would do the trick. It contains cinnamon, anise, coriander (which wasn't listed in any of the recipe I found , but whatever) Szechuan pepper and regular pepper.  I added some ground fennel and ground cloves as well. 
They were easy to put together- no mixer, all in one bowl- now don't we just love that part!?
The recipe calls for cutting it into eight pieces. I thought they were too large , so I cut them smaller. Topped with a glaze of buttermilk and demerara  sugar, they baked up quickly, brown and beautiful, not to mention the delicious aroma that permeated the house.
And..... they are delicious! I was definitely surprised. They have a flavor that is warming, with just a slight hint of the pepper, but super with a cup of good coffee.  
   
                                

 Take a risk! Give them a try!
You can find the recipe at Baked Sunday Mornings. Enjoy!


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dolly' s Doughnut - Coconut Bundt Cake with Dark Chocolate /Coconut Fillling



Now that's a mouthful!
"Baked Occasions" dedicated this cake to Dolly Parton, whose birthday is January 19th.We'll leave out her age- you can Google that on your own if you so choose. Apparently she loves coconut and pink is her favorite color. Now I'm not a wild fan of Dolly's either one way or the other, but this cake certainly fits the bill for anyone who likes coconut, chocolate and pink.


A few steps involved but nothing terrible complicated. While baking, the smell of coconut permeated the house and this is a good thing! The chocolate coconut (cream cheese, I might add) filling is a dream (being one of my favorite combinations) and stayed creamy in  the middle of the cake.


The glaze is quite sweet- you could leave it off, but then it wouldn't be a Dolly Doughnut! This cake was worth any bit of effort involved. A nice alternative to a traditional birthday cake. 
You can see the recipe here at Baked Sunday Mornings. Have a piece!



Sunday, October 11, 2015

Peanut Butter and Jelly Crumb Morning Muffins


Give me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I'm a happy girl. Smooth, crunchy, whatever- but the jelly (or really, jam) HAS to be raspberry! No substitutions for me! It's not a PB&J if it has any other kind of jam.

So this edition of Baked Sunday Mornings was perfect for me. PB&J all rolled in to one delicious muffin with crumb topping filled with crushed, toasted peanuts. What could be bad?

The recipe calls for grape jam, but you can substitute your favorite( as I did). 


Breakfast, snack, dessert or just any time is fine with me! Eat them as you like- in one big bite (my preferred way) , a little nibble at a time or even with a spoon. Just savor that strong peanut flavor then rejoice when you hit that burst of jam in the middle!

You can find the recipe at Baked Sunday Mornings and see what the other bakers have done.

Enjoy!