baked blueberry clafoutis

Since our decision to kick cable t.v., to the curb, there’s a lot less television-watching in our house.  We’re down to NetFlix and about 25 channels, twelve of which are in Spanish and of no use to anybody.  The other twelve or so are home shopping (still not useful), local affiliates (mainstream programming not my taste), and PBS.  So, I’m watching a lot of PBS.  And, hey, I’m a member, so no guilt trips, please.

One of the shows we see…well, I see pretty regularly as my partner-in-crime is snoozing away on the other half of the couch, is a great gardening show called Growing a Greener World.  One of the best things about it is the cooking segment at the end of each show.  Chef Nathan Lyon (Tweet him @chefnathanlyon – he even tweets back), always seems to be cooking up something fresh and easy-to-prepare with nutritious ingredients you don’t have to hunt down at a specialty store.  It’s nothing over-the-top.  Just healthy, simple fare you can throw together for a weeknight meal for your family, and always a little unique to impress your guests.  I don’t own his cookbook, but I’m definitely going to get it given the rave reviews I’ve gotten with his recipes, so far.

This one was from an episode we watched last night.  Again, I watched, hubby dozed.  I’d made a traditional cherry clafoutis at my mom’s one summer a number of years ago.  It was delicious.  How could it not be delicious?  It’s full of eggs and a tiny bit of sugar and fresh fruit.  And, it’s fun to say!  What I discovered after baking this one; blueberry, is the French are particular about their clafoutis.  It’s apparently only a clafoutis if it’s cherry.  If you bastardize it, as the French would undoubtedly claim, by baking it with blueberries, or any other fruit, it’s considered a flaugnarde – not nearly as fun to say, but equally yummy.  They’re not too sweet, since there’s really not much sugar compared to other desserts, and have a wonderful texture – more like a custardy-tart, since you use a minimal amount of flour to bind all the egg and creamy loveliness together.  The texture is creamy, a very thick custard, and melts in your mouth.  The berries hold their shape nicely, so there’s good texture in the fruit, as well.  Call it what you will: clafoutis or flaugnarde, it’s good eats!

Serve it warm, dusted with powdered sugar or a little heavy cream.  Personally, I found it just as delicious served cold.  Personal preference.  Enjoy!

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Baked Blueberry Clafoutis

Recipe Courtesy: Nathan Lyon, Growing A Greener World, Episode 116

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 Tbsp granulated sugar, separated
  • 5 whole eggs, large
  • 1 cup half and half, or whole milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tsp)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pint blueberries (12 oz)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. In a medium, oven safe, non-stick sauté pan, combine the butter with 2 Tbsp granulated sugar and place over medium heat. (Be careful not to let butter brown).
  3. Meanwhile whisk the eggs plus the remaining 2 Tbsp sugar on high speed until tripled in volume and pale yellow in color (about 5 minutes). Then, by hand, gradually whisk in the half and half or milk, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and flour until just incorporated. It should look light and foamy at this point.
  4. Pour this mixture into the hot pan, top with the blueberries, then transfer into the oven. Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top, and the Clafoutis has puffed up.
  5. Remove from the oven, and turn out onto a cutting board. Slice, and serve with the optional powdered sugar.

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***Baker’s Notes:  Don’t try to skimp too much on the calories with low-fat or skim milk.  Your end product will be watery and unsatisfying.  At the very least, I’d say 2% milk, but whole milk or half and half are truly best.  I used the full pint of berries and, even though I love blueberries, I thought it was a lot of berries.  I might experiment with 8 ounces next time.  Mine baked for 24 minutes and I actually spun it under the broiler for a few minutes to give the top a more golden appearance.

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blood orange olive oil brownies

A couple of years ago, we went to the Olive Blossom festival at Queen Creek Olive Mill, in….you guessed it, Queen Creek, AZ.  It’s a place I’d highly recommend visiting if you’re here from out-of-town, or live in the Valley and are looking for a unique day trip.  It was an oasis in the desert.   Not to mention, live music, great food, lots of shade, and wine!

While we were there, I had a slice of the most delicious Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake from the mill’s kitchen.  It was so delicious, I picked up a bottle of Blood Orange Olive Oil and a handful of recipe cards.  This was one of the recipes:  Blood Orange Olive Oil Brownies.  Seriously!  Citrus and chocolate.  Heaven!

Like a lot of things, this one sat on the back burner for a while.  But this weekend, because our citrus is plentiful and I have an enormous bowl of fresh lemons on my kitchen island, I got it in my head to bake these brownies.  You don’t actually need Blood Oranges for the recipe, just get yourself a bottle of this olive oil.  If you’re not local, you can order online.  If you’re in Arizona, but can’t make it out to the mill, they have several shops in the Valley and one in Tucson.  Check out this link to find the location closest to you.

The end product was delicious.  The dark chocolate flavor is beautifully infused with citrus undertones.  We loved them and I’ll definitely be making these again, although probably more for a special occasion.  The kiddo was not as enamored with the citrus.  She’s a purist, I suppose.  But to a more sophisticated palette, they’re a real treat.  Enjoy!

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Blood Orange Olive Oil Brownies (recipe courtesy Queen Creek Olive Mill)

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 1 c walnuts, coarsely crushed (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Spray 9×13 baking pan with non-stick baking spray (i.e. Pam).
  2. On low heat, melt chocolate in sauce pan, stirring constantly.  Set aside to cool.
  3. In a separate bowl sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  4. In a separate sauce pan, melt butter, add olive oil, and incorporate one egg at a time, whisking as you go.
  5. Add vanilla and then chocolate, combining well.
  6. Fold in dry ingredients and walnuts, being careful not to over mix batter.
  7. Pour mixture into pan smoothing off the top.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until brownies pull away from side of pan.

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***Baker’s Note:  There’s A LOT of sugar in this recipe. (It’s not a healthy treat by any stretch of the imagination.)  Don’t be discouraged if your batter seems gritty.  The sugar does bake down and the texture of the brownies is cakey and dense.  No grit.  Just lots of calories.  But they’re special occasion, right??

spice cake

This cake could be frosted, but there might not be enough left to frost after everyone discovers how yummy it is.  So, if you frost it, do so quickly.

There are no prep pictures of this cake because I threw it together on a whim one evening after a bout of tears in the grocery store parking lot.  We’d been decorating for Christmas and we opened up several boxes of things I’d brought from my mom’s house last fall.  It was hard.  Really hard.  Walk-away-to-get-my-car-keys-to-go-to-the-grocery-store-for-some-obscure-item-so-I-can-sit-anonymously-crying-in-the-parking-lot hard.

And if there’s anything to make me feel better in an emotionally charged moment, well, it’s a good cry in a parking lot and baking a cake!

As I said above, if you want to frost it, don’t let anyone near this cake until you’ve done so.  I planned on it (a nice brown butter drizzle would have been excellent), but it was sliced and packed into lunch boxes before I had a chance.  After that, consensus was just leave it be.  It’s perfectly delicious without frosting and frosting is messy in lunch boxes, anyway.  This cake would make a wonderful addition to a holiday brunch buffet, in which case I’d definitely frost it to give it that finishing touch.  I think you’ll love it either way.  Enjoy!

Spice Cake (recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)

Ingredients:

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 c low-fat buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Grease a 13×9 baking pan, or grease and lightly flour a 9″ bundt pan; set aside.  Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high-speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar and vanilla; beat till well combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Add dry mixture and buttermilk alternately to beaten mixture, folding in after each addition just until combined.  Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in a 350° oven for 35 to 40 minutes for the 13×9 pan, or 45 minutes for the bundt pan, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Cool sheet pan completely on wire rack.  If using bundt pan, cool for 10 minutes on wire rack.  Remove cake from pan and cool thoroughly on wire rack.

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***Baker’s Notes:  The original recipe suggested baking in either the sheet pan or 2 8 1/2 inch cake pans, but I wanted a bundt cake.  Mine is a 10 1/2″ bundt pan which can hold between 10 and 15 cups of batter.  This recipe makes about 8 cups of batter, so my bundt pan wasn’t anywhere near full to capacity.  Therefore, the finished cake was a little thinner than if I’d used a smaller bundt pan.  My baking time was 45 minutes.  If you use a smaller bundt pan, just make sure to check the cake at about the 45 minute mark.  It may need a little more time.  When the cake begins to pull away from the edges of the pan, you’re just about there.

baked s’mores – not just for the campfire

Kat and I had a girl’s night last night while Daddy-O was at the Stanford/ASU game.  We baked homemade mac/cheese (her all-time favorite meal) and settled on the animated version of A Christmas Carol for after dinner entertainment.

But what of dessert?

Ice cream?  Too cold.

Popcorn?  Too last Friday night.

Baked S’mores?  Why, yes, please and thank you!

These are pretty much a no-brainer.  You don’t really need a recipe.  Just keep your eyes on the s’mores at all times lest they quickly turn to ash under the broiler.

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Baked S’mores

Ingredients:

  • Graham Crackers
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate pieces (Hershey, Dove, you choose)
  • Parchment paper for easy clean-up

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat broiler to 500° F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Break crackers in half, placing one half on baking sheet and reserve other half to top your S’more.  (Or, bake both sides and eat them open-faced.)  Place one marshmallow on each cracker.  Heat under broiler until tops of marshmallows are golden brown.  Turn off oven and remove pan.
  3. Top melted marshmallow with the chocolate pieces of your choice.  For these I used dark chocolate Dove candies.
  4. Slide pan back in the oven for 25 -30 seconds, or until chocolate starts to melt.
  5. Remove and top with remaining graham cracker halves to complete your S’mores.
  6. Indulge!

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homemade chocolate buttercream frosting

I’m a pretty low-key when it comes to birthday celebrations.  I like to keep it simple.  Party of three, please:  Me + Husband + Kiddo.  It’s all good that way.  They took me to dinner, bought me a couple of gifts, and we ate cake; the cake they baked and of which I was tasked with frosting.

Frosting my own birthday cake is not offensive to me in the least.   Being asked to do so insures I don’t have to eat store-bought frosting, and I get to play with butter and sugar and cocoa.  What’s not to like about that?.

This recipe is a staple…tried and true.  Everyone has these stock items in their pantry and they go together in less time than it would take to run to the grocery store for one of those gritty, over-priced, pre-packaged frosting containers.  The quantity easily frosts a 9 x 13 sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes.  For a round layer cake, I might bump up the ingredients a bit to allow for frosting between layers.  Enjoy!

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Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 2/3 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 c cocoa, unsweetened
  • 1/3 cup milk (I use 1%)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Place butter in a bowl and beat until creamy.
  2. Add sugar and cocoa, mixing well.
  3. Stir in milk in portions, stirring each time.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Spread on cooled cake or other items needing frosting.
  6. Lick the bowl.

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pumpkin chocolate chip squares

So, yesterday I spent too much time reading news and scanning the Twitter feed re: the current state of affairs in Washington D.C.  I’m a fiscal conservative.  Borrowing money to pay your bills is ludicrous.  You wouldn’t run your household budget that way, so why is it ok for the government to spend like a passel of reckless teenagers with a stolen ATM card??  (I’d refer you to the recent glitch in the welfare EBT system in which recipients of government-funded, i.e., my tax dollars, debit cards went on a spending spree…knowing full well their cards did NOT have balances to support their spending).  Get it?

Well, enough of that.  After an overload of (more) bad news out of our nation’s capital, I shut down (ha ha…no pun intended) the internet and headed to the kitchen to bake.  With ingredients I bought with hard-earned money contained within our monthly household budget.  Get it?

Oh, never mind.  Just bake these.  They’re yummy and perfect for fall – pumpkin, pumpkin spice, vanilla, and chocolate.  Good stuff.  Good stuff.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin-pie spice*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5/8 cup sugar (weighed on a kitchen scale = .625 ounces)
  • 1/2 large egg (approx 1 Tbsp and 1 1/2 tsp)**
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips (I used a combination of white and semi-sweet)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray bottom of 8 x 8 baking pan with Pam Non-Stick Baking Spray
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Approximately 30 – 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

*Pumpkin Pie Spice is easy to make at home:  Combine 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

**I halved this recipe which created the dilemma of halving an egg.  A typical large egg contains about 2 Tbsp egg white and 1 Tbsp yolk.  So, to half the egg, you’ll need 1 1/2 Tbsp of whipped egg (1 Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp).

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***Baker’s Notes:  First, the original recipe called for chocolate chips.  I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, but I had a partial bag I wanted to use up, so I divided the 6 ounces into half white chocolate, half semi-sweet.  The end result?  Perfect way to eat white chocolate.  You can’t even really taste the difference.  Secondly, because I halved the recipe, I ended up baking in an 8 x 8 pan rather than the 9 x 13.  Watch the baking time.  I pulled them the first time at 30 minutes, but quickly reconsidered because they’re much thicker.  Last, the one thing I might add to give this recipe a little more punch (not that they’re not delicious), is cayenne pepper.  Heat and chocolate and pumpkin.  Triple threat!!

nutella sandwich cookies

Despite the beauty of technology and the ability I have to catalog and cross-reference all my recipes online, I still keep a big, honkin’ three-ring binder full of recipes I collect from various places.  I don’t know why.  I guess I’m a tactile kind of person.  I need the tangible product; the book, the magazine, the sheet of paper.

With some regularity, I add to the file, or go through it for inspiration I’m just not finding on the internet.  That’s hard to believe given how much great cooking and baking there is out there in the vastness of the web.  Anyway, being in an old-school kind of mood, I was flipping through clippings the other day looking for something to bake.  I haven’t baked in a while.  It’s summer.  It’s hot.  I swore not to turn my oven on until October.

But I have yet to master baking on the grill.  And we needed something to occupy us as the days of summer wind down and the start of school looms.  And what better way to take a little girl’s mind off the looming start of school than by baking.  With Nutella!!!!

These cookies are simple and delicious and it’s taking all the willpower I can muster not to eat more than one.  A day, that is.  They’re brownie-like and chewy and that Nutella center is heavenly.

I like Nutella.  A lot!  Eat them with milk icy cold from the fridge.  Enjoy!
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Nutella Sandwich Cookies (recipe courtesy Radically Simple)

Ingredients:

  • 13-ounce jar Nutella
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups self-rising cake flour (I used regular self-rising flour)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.  Beat together 3/4 cup of the Nutella, butter, and egg.  Slowly add the flour until a wet dough forms.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently, adding more flour if necessary; the dough will be sticky.  Divide the dough into 18 pieces and roll each into a perfect ball, flouring your hands as you go.  Place several inches apart on the baking sheet.

Bake 10 – 12 minutes, until firm.  Cool 10 minutes on the sheet.

Using a serrated knife, split each cookie in half horizontally.  Spread each bottom half with 1 tsp Nutella.  Replace the tops, pressing lightly.

Serve!

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***Baker’s Notes:  On the baking time, err toward the lower end.  My first batch stayed in closer to 12 minutes and I thought they were a little harder to slice in half because they were crisper.  For a softer cookie, I’d recommend 10 minutes.  Also, next time I’d use all-purpose flour on my hands to roll them into balls.  Self-rising flour contains salt and rolling them with the self-rising flour gave the outer part of the cookie a hint of salty flavor.  That’s not a bad thing if you like the sweet/salty combination.  Just a head’s up to anyone who would rather not taste a hint of salt in their cookie.

cocoa fudge cookies

Two or three times a year we have a “movie night” in our cul-de-sac.  A neighbor has an inflatable outdoor projection screen.  They stream Netflix  through their iPhone and….well, I don’t know how all the techie stuff works, but I do know I got to watch Cars II on a gorgeous spring evening with a lot of other families and their kids, noshing all sorts of tasty treats.  That’s one of the rules:  bring a treat to pass!  There’s never a shortage of food…or wine, for that matter!

This time around we opted to bring cookies.  I was scanning the contents of my pantry and spotted the unsweetened cocoa, which became my inspiration ingredient because I’m always looking for an excuse to add cocoa to baked goods.  A quick Google search turned up these little lovelies from Cooking Light.  I wasn’t the least bit surprised when they baked up thin and crispy because the picture provided with the recipe clearly presented a thin cookie.  But I was surprised to bite into one and discover, between the crisp exterior, an almost brownie-like inside.  Thin, yes, but soft and chewy and nicely contrasting to the original texture.

These cookies were delicious on their own and perfect for dunking, but given their crispy outsides I think they’d also be perfect for making a sandwich cookie.  Maybe even an ice cream sandwich-type cookie.  I didn’t try it, but I would think the outer cookie would hold up nicely if you added a layer of ice cream after they’ve cooled completely.  Serve immediately, of course.  Cookies and ice cream are not meant to be eaten slowly.  Enjoy!

Cocoa Fudge Cookies (courtesy Cooking Light, January 2002)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, soda, and salt; set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
  3. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

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Nutritional Information (provided by Cooking Light):

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 78
  • Calories from fat: 31%
  • Fat: 2.7g
  • Saturated fat: 1.6g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 0.8g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.1g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Carbohydrate: 13.4g
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Cholesterol: 7mg
  • Iron: 0.5mg
  • Sodium: 54mg
  • Calcium: 12mg

chocolate chip buttermilk banana bread

There isn’t a shopping trip to my local grocer that doesn’t involve bananas since we’re big banana lovers in this house.  As the weather heats up, my stock of frozen, over-ripe bananas increases dramatically because their shelf life seems to decrease dramatically.  You’re never supposed to put bananas in the refrigerator, but I guess you’re not supposed to keep them in a desert, either.  Point being, I always have some banana-bread-ready specimens in the freezer.

This recipe came to the top of my in-box recently via Anne at Uni Homemaker, a blogger I follow and whose recipes always look simple and delicious.  She had adapted her recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod who had, in turn, adapted it from somewhere else.  Along the way, the adaptations included less and less granulated sugar – a change I’m always happy to see, and more vanilla (also never a bad thing).  I was also intrigued by the buttermilk, and I just so happened to have a bottle in my fridge perilously close to its expiration date.

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I was feeling better about the reduced sugar when reality set in:  how good is any banana bread without chocolate chips??  Honestly, without them, I’m not sure anyone in this house would give banana bread a second glance.  So, for fun we threw in a few of those, too.  Who needs reduced sugar, anyway?  I’ll justify it by continuing to tell myself buttermilk has fewer calories and less fat than regular milk.  So, what’s a few chocolate chips, right?

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While the recipe originally said to cool completely before serving, there was no way that was happening.  Personally, I like mine a little warm so the chocolate has that decadent, gooey consistency.  To cool, or not to cool…that’s your dilemma.  Either way, it’s tempting, moist, and delicious.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 c mashed banana (about 3 medium)
  • 4 tbsp low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla until well mixed.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir in thoroughly.  Slowly fold dry ingredients into banana mixture being careful not to over mix.  Gently stir in chocolate morsels.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool the bread in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove from pan and place on wire rack until completely cooled.  Slice and serve.

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Baker’s Notes:   Since buttermilk is more acidic and quite a bit tangier than regular milk, I thought there would be a noticeable flavor difference between this recipe and my standard recipes.  I can honestly say, though, I detected no difference at all.  After our taste test, I perused the internet for other buttermilk banana bread recipes and found quite a few, most of which called for a lot more buttermilk – anywhere in the range of 1/3 to one full cup.  I also discovered that the tanginess in buttermilk is mellowed during baking, so I think 4 tablespoons isn’t enough to  make a perceptible difference in taste.  The final product was no less delicious, but I think I might make it again using more buttermilk to see if I can’t bring out more of the buttermilk flavor.

strawberry hand pies

We surprised my husband with a picnic dinner at one of our favorite parks the other night, which was a total blast and Kat had such a great time preparing for the “big surprise.”  We’d been texting back and forth with him late in the day to get an idea when he’d be home.  When he gave us the 20 minute warning, we taped a clue note to the laundry room door and set off for the park.  Once there, we tucked another clue note under my windshield wiper (presupposing he’d find the car with the clues we provided).  Fortunately, he’s a pretty bright guy.  Had he been a little slower on the uptake, he might have missed these little lovelies I’d baked for dessert!

I had a really busy day on Wednesday, so I didn’t have time to shoot the entire prep of the pies.  Needless to say, there was some finger licking and cursing – inwardly, of course, because working with any kind of pastry dough turns me into a bit of a lunatic.  You could use any berry you’d like, but since strawberries are coming in to season, I stuck with those.

The pies turned out beautifully and made the perfect picnic dessert.  No dishes or cutlery required.  Enjoy!!

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In spite of my cursing, they were a hit.

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Strawberry Hand Pies (recipe courtesy Country Living)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 cup(s) (plus more for dusting) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 stick(s) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 3/4 pound(s) fresh strawberries, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup(s) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoon(s) strawberry jam (I used Smucker’s Simply Fruit)
  • 1 tablespoon(s) sanding sugar

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse sand. Add 1 egg yolk, 1/2 cup chilled water, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and mix until just combined. (If dough is dry or crumbly and doesn’t stay together, add up to 3 tablespoons more chilled water.) Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead 2 to 3 times, just until dough comes together. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make filling: In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, confectioners’ sugar, and jam, plus remaining flour, vanilla, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, beat remaining yolk and 1 tablespoon water for egg wash; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut dough into 6 rounds.
  • Roll 1 round into a 6-inch circle. Spoon a heaping 2 tablespoons filling onto half of circle, leaving 1/2-inch border. Brush the edges with egg wash, then fold dough over filling. Using a fork, crimp the edges to seal hand pie. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking pan. Repeat with remaining dough rounds and filling.
  • Using a toothpick, poke a few holes in the top of each pie. Brush with remaining egg wash and sprinkle each pie with 1/2 teaspoon sanding sugar. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Baker’s Notes:  The berry mixture only makes enough for six pies, but I had pastry dough enough to re-roll and make five more.  Adapt the berry recipe accordingly if you want to make more pies.  I froze my dough for another day.  Also, the recipe instructs you to make the berry mixture ahead and then set aside.  Because I had so much to do that day, I made the berry mixture too far ahead, which caused the berries to create a lot more juice.  So make it ahead, but only as long as it takes you to mix and roll the dough, otherwise you end up with a lot of fruit juice loss in the baking.  Lastly, as with any pastry, make sure your water is icy cold!