Friday, October 31, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Bread

 

You won't find any tricks here today...only treats!  Hopefully your costumes are ready and bowls of candy wait by the front door in preparation for tonight's festivities.

I've seriously been craving something baked with apples and cinnamon lately, thanks to the arrival of my very favorite season.  Fall, I heart you.

This bread was fabulous.  It was perfectly sweet, packed with fresh apples and delightfully cinnamon-y.  It's easy to make and will infuse your entire home with delicious wafts of goodness.

I repeat, delicious wafts of goodness, people.  :)

It was hard for us to wait until the photos were taken before devouring this loaf.  You'll love it, too!  The next time I bake this (and there WILL be a next time!) I'm thinking about mixing the apples throughout the batter before it goes into the loaf pan, and then using the technique below to create the cinnamon/sugar swirl.  I think the bread would be equally fantastic with apples throughout, instead of just in the middle and on top.

Happy Halloween!

Bon Appetit, my friends.


Apple Cinnamon Bread
Adapted from:  The Happier Homemaker

Ingredients:
½ cup packed brown sugar
1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅔ cup white sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ cup milk

2 large apples, peeled and finely chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside.  In a stand mixer, combine white sugar and butter until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed until combined.  Add flour and baking powder, then milk.   

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan.  Cover with half of the apples, patting apples into batter with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle with half of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
 

Pour the remaining batter over the apple layer; top with remaining apples and add more brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Pat topping into the batter with the back of a large spoon.
 

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.


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Monday, October 20, 2014

Creole Shrimp & Sweet Potato Grits


Well, my food photography studio is finally back up and running after a short hiatus following our move...I'm so excited to get the blog posts flowing again.  I've even got a window in the studio that has gorgeous natural light, so I'm looking forward to experimenting with that.

This delicious seafood dinner graced our table last night.  Shrimp & Grits has long been a favorite of ours, but I love recipes that put a new twist on stand-by favorites.  The sweet potato grits are what originally caught my attention.  

I used an apple-smoked gouda cheese in the grits, which paired with the mashed sweet potatoes perfectly.  It gave the grits a wonderfully cheesy, smoky flavor, and the sweet potatoes infused the grits with super food nutrients.

This is an easy dish to prepare and left us plenty of time to enjoy our new fire pit after dinner.  My sweet hubby built a fire pit for me recently, and we love spending time around it roasting marshmallows and making smores.  It doesn't get any better than that on a chilly fall evening!

Bon Appetit, my friends!




Creole Shrimp & Sweet Potato Grits
Adapted from:  Southern Living

Ingredients:
2 cups milk
1 cup
uncooked regular grits

1 tablespoon
Creole seasoning

2 pounds
large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

2
garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon
canola oil

3/4 cup
chopped green onions

1/4 cup
chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon
lemon zest

1 cup
cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

1 cup
(4 oz.) shredded smoked Gouda cheese

2 tablespoons
butter

1 teaspoon
salt

1/2 teaspoon
freshly ground pepper
Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs

Directions:
Bring milk and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened.

Meanwhile, sprinkle Creole seasoning over shrimp. Sauté garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 30 seconds. Add shrimp, and sauté 3 minutes or until shrimp are almost pink. Add green onions and next 2 ingredients, and sauté 3 minutes.

Stir potatoes and next 4 ingredients into grits. Serve shrimp mixture over sweet potato grits.



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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Purple (Blackberry Buttermilk) Pancakes, Cutie Pies & Pink Roses



I promise I haven't completely fallen off the blogosphere!  This year has been insanely crazy on so many levels.  In July, we moved into a new home, so we've been busy setting up house and decorating.  I'll have to share some photos of my new kitchen with you in my next post.  

Because of all the packing, moving and disarray, my food photo studio has yet to be re-assembled in the new house.  It's coming VERY soon, though!  Then, I'll be back up and running in full force.  Because you know what?  I've missed you guys! :)

Throughout all the moving chaos, my nieces and I have carried on our tradition of Sunday morning breakfast goodies after a sleep-over.  One such morning involved Purple (err, Blackberry!) Pancakes and hand-picked knock-out roses from the new garden.  I thought I'd have some fun and change up my favorite Buttermilk Pancake recipe with some chopped blackberries.  They added such a terrific color, that these photos don't even do them justice.  They were just as much fun to eat, as they were to make.

While I was busy in the kitchen whipping up these pancakes, Brad took the girls out into the garden to pick some roses.  They came back in proudly showing off their new hair accessories (the girls...not Brad..Hah!), while carrying a cute little bouquet for me to display in the kitchen.  It was a perfect morning.

Bon Appetit, my friends!


  
Blackberry Buttermilk Pancakes
Adapted from:  The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook by Julie Fisher Gunter
Yield:  18 (4-inch pancakes)

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 heaping cup of fresh blackberries, roughly chopped
Maple syrup

Directions:
Combine first 5 ingredients; stir well.

Combine eggs, buttermilk, and oil in a bowl;  add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Stir in blackberries.

For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle.  Cook pancakes until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked;  Turn and cook other side.  (Store unused batter in a tightly covered container in refrigerator up to 1 week.  If refrigerated batter is too thick, add milk or water to reach desired consistency.)

Serve pancakes warm with butter and maple syrup.


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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Giada's Lemon Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze and Candied Lemon


Ahh, the joys of baking.  It's my therapy.  :)

Today, I'm bringing you a gorgeous, mouth-watering concoction that you will love.  This beautiful, lemon-flavored bundt cake is smothered in a delectable chocolate glaze that falls over the edges and wraps the entire cake in an oozy, goozy hug.  The cake itself is studded with little bits of candied lemons that give it both a satisfying and surprising twist with each bite.

This cake is so unexpected, thanks to the lemon.  Yet, somehow, the flavors are perfect together.  The addition of buttermilk in the cake batter helps to keep it moist and lends a wonderful texture.  I love baking with buttermilk and substitute it into all kinds of recipes whenever I can.  

Although the recipe might seem a little long, I promise it's not complicated.  It would be an ideal baking session for a lazy weekend afternoon, when you can take your time and enjoy the process.  A few tips to keep in mind would be to not cut the lemon slices too thin, and don't cook them longer than the recipe calls for. 

This cake was a big hit around our house, and I'll definitely be making this little gem again.

Bon Appetit, my friends!  :)



Lemon Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze and Candied Lemon
Adapted from:  Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:
Candied Lemon:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 lemons, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

Cake:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt

Chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream

Directions:
For the candied lemon: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the lemon slices and simmer until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to drain. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Finely chop the candied lemon slices. Set aside.

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a nonstick Bundt pan with vegetable spray.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. On low speed, slowly add the buttermilk and the vanilla. Stop the mixer, add the lemon zest and juice, and mix to incorporate. With the mixer on low, add the flour, one cup at a time, until combined. Finally, add the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Raise to medium speed and mix for 1 minute, until the batter is fluffy and smooth. Mix in the chopped candied lemons. With a spatula or wooden spoon, transfer the batter to the prepared Bundt pan and smooth out the top. Set the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden and a cake tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before turning it out onto a plate.

For the glaze: Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once bubbles have formed around the edges of the cream, pour it over the chocolate. Whisk the cream and chocolate together until smooth. Pour the glaze over the Bundt cake, using a spatula or spoon to push the glaze down the sides and center of the cake.


Candied Lemon Slices

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kale, Mushroom & Tomato Saute with Polenta



Simple weeknight meals are something that I'm always on the lookout for.  After all, it's way too easy to get in a routine of making the same old things every week (I'm totally guilty of this!).  This meal from Whole Foods Market is a great example...It's one of their highest rated recipes on their website, plus it looked super easy.  So, I decided to give it a try.

I'm a big fan of kale lately, so it's no surprise I was drawn to this recipe.  I jokingly say that I'm going to turn green one day from eating it so much.  I mean, it IS healthy!  :)  I love it, because it's pretty versatile and has a great flavor.  The ingredients for this meal are also inexpensive, and I ended up with LOTS of extra kale from the 32oz bag to use in other recipes.

This dish did indeed  come together quickly.  It's as simple as sauting a skillet full of mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and kale.  Then, slices of polenta are quickly sauted in a separate skillet until golden.  Easy peasy.  You can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes, from start to finish.

Of course, the first question out of my husband's mouth when I placed his plate in front of him was, "But, where's the meat?!?"  That silly man.  I should have known.  If your hubby is anything like mine, crumbled bacon would make a perfect add-on to this quick dinner.

Bon Appetit, my friends!


***This post is brought to you by the great folks at Whole Foods Market.***



Kale, Mushroom & Tomato Saute with Polenta
Adapted from:  Whole Foods Market

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 pound sliced button mushrooms
Salt and pepper
8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch kale (about 3/4 pound), stemmed and roughly chopped
1 (18-ounce) roll precooked polenta, cut into 8 rounds
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in kale and 1/4 cup water, cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook until kale begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Toss well, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes more. Cover and set aside.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Arrange polenta in skillet in a single layer (working in batches, if needed) and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer polenta to a paper towel-lined plate as done.

Arrange polenta on plates, spoon kale and mushroom mixture over the top, garnish with cheese and serve.



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Sugar & Spice by Celeste