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Posts Tagged ‘the joy of baking’


I was watching an early morning show on baking and I was impressed with the quick and easy way they bake desserts. I am for simple recipes that I could make in less than an hour and which does not need too many ingredients. I have a favorite site that I watch when I am not too busy with household chores, they make baking so easy and enjoyable. I checked the pantry and I was lucky to find ingredients for raisin cookies. I hope Nate would love this when they come over tomorrow for a visit.

Raisin cookies1

 

Raisin cookies2

You may find the recipe here at this site.  These are larger than those in the recipe since I used an ice cream scooper instead of a tablespoon.

 

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I am listening to some afternoon 70’s and 80’s music as I write this. When you’re used to blogging and posting something every day, you miss the hustle and bustle of the blogging world. I’ve been busy for a while though, catching up on gardening (finally finished replanting Crossandra  that just sprouted in all corners of the garden, regrouped them together in one line) and reading e-books, Christmas stories that warm the hearts and lift the spirits.  When it’s Josef’s days off, we work together to finish pending household chores that need his help. We found fresh zucchini and honeydew melons on our trip to the wet market last Saturday morning. Honeydew is juicier  than your regular melon found in the market. Low in calorie, rich in vitamin C and rich in fiber too. I don’t know if zucchini are in season now but  they are cheaper than a few months ago. It’s time to experiment on some recipes using zucchini. I normally use them for pasta dishes and crispy fries. I found out to my delight that there are about a hundred ways to cook zucchini. Here’s one simple dessert that I just baked a few minutes ago. The recipe is for muffins but I tweaked it a bit and came up with this yummy loaf.

Zucchini loaf

Zucchini loaf

Last week, I made a variation of Puto (steamed buns) by adding Pandan flavoring. Just love it. I always reduce the sugar in the recipe, although I like to bake, I am not fond of too much sweets but my son is.

Puto pandan with cheese toppings

Puto pandan with cheese toppings

Josef gifted me with a three-tier Camel food steamer. It’s a late birthday gift, another gadget in the kitchen that I love. I have the bigger aluminum steamer which I use for embutido (our local sausage) and siomai (pork dumplings) but this one is easier to use and you can steam several kinds of veggies and meat in one cooking.  Healthy eats with no messy oil to think of. I tried it last night with carrots, sweet corn and deboned chicken breast with lemon.  Yummy! How was your week?

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This afternoon, I got really, really bored  so I started to update my journal, transferring some recipes I culled from the net for future kitchen experiments. I have to check our pantry if there are available ingredients for what I am planning to cook. Then I saw a pack of dates (my last one actually…huhuhu) which I am saving for my no-bake fruit cake. I don’t know where I could buy dried dates here (aside from the fact that they are expensive locally) but I was craving for something sweet. I’ve baked dates  bars before but I recently found a simple recipe sans vanilla extract and cinnamon powder.  Baking saved the boring afternoon. I love the smell of something cooking in my oven, the calming moments while waiting for it to bake, the oh-so-yummy look of it when it’s done.

Date Squares...oh so yummy!

Oh so yummy Date Squares!

If you want to try this, here’s the link.  I reduced the sugar because the dates are naturally sweet and used calamansi instead of lemon. Happy baking.

 

 

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And before you think this is about books  again, you’re wrong.

Sorry, I amend that. After blogging about my loot from Books For Less for the last few days, I switched to e-books for a change. Sometimes it is more convenient to read just holding your phone close while relaxing to the beat of some sentimental music, a somewhat low-key means of  spending the time away. I am currently reading The Glass Kitchen and I was inspired by the book thinking of what to bake for a change. Two days ago, I read one of the books I bought at the sale  (a Christmas story) and there were three recipes there for fruit cakes. One thing that intrigued me is the recipe for no bake fruitcake.  I would definitely try that one of these days and I will use locally produced dried fruits and nuts instead of using imported ones.

Banana and Chocolate?

This is my first time to try baking by combining banana and chocolate. I told Josef to leave two pieces of bananas that I could use for today’s experiment. It’s either chocolate (brownies mostly) or banana bread with nuts or raisins. I searched the net for a simple recipe and I found this, a yummy Banana Chocolate Cupcake recipe.

banana choco cupcakes

Banana Chocolate Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Line 12 regular-sized muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non stick vegetable spray.

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, mashed banana, water, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, or whisk, until combined. Pour or scoop the batter into the muffin cups, about 3/4 full, and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Frost with the Chocolate Frosting.

Chocolate Frosting: Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low-speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy (about 2 -3 minutes).

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (35 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-processed)

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup (120 ml) mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium sized banana)

1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water

1/4 cup (60 ml) milk

1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable or corn oil

3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Fudge Frosting:

3 ounces (90 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup (120 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

 I didn’t bother with the frosting since it tastes so good even without it and it was moist inside.  I made  twenty mini cupcakes. The recipe was lifted from the joyofbaking.com

Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

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It’s been a while and I felt quite lazy to sit in front of the computer and blog. This afternoon, I experimented on another dessert recipe culled from the net. I was looking for a simple recipe for chocolate brownies, something easy to do with a minimum of preparation and found this. As usual, I tweaked it a bit adding grated Belgian chocolate truffles on top instead of frosting.  My son was all praise for it and said it taste more like a chocolate cake than a simple brownie mix. I smiled and said, “the one on top makes it so yummy” plus the unsweetened dark chocolate I used.

Yeay, it's so yummy!

Yeay, it’s so yummy!

Look at how it looked when I finished baking it and topping it with truffles.

brownies

Here’s the recipe if you want to try it. You can double the amount of ingredients if you want a thicker slice.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup  white sugar (since I used unsweetened chocolate, this is just enough)

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

Frosting:

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. cocoa powder

1 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour an 8-square inch baking pan. (I just greased it).

In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter, remove from heat and stir in sugar,  eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa powder, salt, 1/2 cup flour and baking powder. You don’t need to use a mixer, a spoon will do. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.  Garnish with grated chocolate truffles while still hot. Slice into squares when it is cool to the touch.

 

 

 

 

 

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“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.”~ Julia Child

One of the  best volumes I’ve seen in cooking are that of Julia Child’s  Mastering the Art of  French Cooking. They’re available at Bestsellers. They come in four volumes actually but they cost the earth so I just look at the spines and indexes  and try to memorize some simple recipes  that don’t need  complicated ingredients.

We have some left-over food from yesterday and some ripe mangoes from the other Sunday that a friend gave us. I thought of  making mango bread and found this site on how to make a simple one.  The procedures are almost the same as making banana cake. Gosh, I burned my finger trying to take it out from the oven. I love the heavenly aroma of combined cinnamon and fresh mangoes.  There is something  so comforting about measuring ingredients, sifting the flour, mixing and such.  So here it is,  my yummy version of mango bread. Can you imagine a mango bread topped with grated Belgian chocolate truffles? Another friend who was on  vacation from Canada gave me a box of these sinfully addicting  chocolates together with some mint candies wrapped in dark chocolates.

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I can proudly say, it  is really, really yummy. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it copied from  kitchenrunway.com.

Ingredients:

  • 2 C All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon powder
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ C Regular Butter, melted
  • ¼ C Oil
  • 2 Ripe Mangoes, finely chopped (or chunks if you prefer) I used 3 medium-sized ripe mangoes, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 180 ° C
  • Sift flour into a large bowl.  Add baking soda, sugar and cinnamon and stir the dry ingredients to combine.
  • In a medium bowl, beat eggs, add vanilla extract, melted butter and oil.  Combine the ingredients and add to dry ingredients.
  • Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon stir to combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Fold in the  chopped mangoes.
  • Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 55 – 60 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Remove bread from pan and let cool before slicing.

 

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“There was a mood of magic and frenzy to the room. Crystalline swirls of sugar and flour still lingered in the air like kite tails. And then there was the smell-the smell of hope, the kind of smell that brought people home.” – Sarah Addison Allen

One thing I love about baking, be it a simple banana bread,  moist carrot bars or cookies  is the smell that permeates the whole kitchen once you place the baking pan in the oven. I love the  combined smell of cooking raisins, nuts, vanilla or cinnamon or whatever ingredient a particular recipe calls for. This afternoon, I baked my second apple pie confident enough to tweak the recipe a bit and  experiment on brushing just egg whites on top instead of a beaten egg with the yolk.  The top part of the pie may not be as silky as when you use the whole egg but it adds a flaky feel combined with sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon. Whereas before I didn’t even know how to make a dough, it’s now as easy as kneading something for our local steamed bun called “siopao”.  I also sliced half and half of Fuji apples for a natural sweet taste and the tart flavor of Granny Smith.  It came out good, son said, “it’s yummy”.  I laughed when he asked, “did you take pictures?” He knows that I document almost everything that I cook in the kitchen  just like I do with my flowering plants when they are in bloom. He cut a slice even before it cooled down. I got three remaining apples, would love to try making apple sauce and use it on my next baking adventure.

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Here’s one more that I experimented on a month ago, a simple recipe for vanilla cake. I didn’t put icing because I love the flavor without being too sweet.

IMG_5707

I love the quiet, concentrating on the task at hand , the calming effect of kneading, measuring and  mixing to make something  yummy and  scrumptious.

I got a lovely surprise this afternoon when a friend sent me a lovely tin of Fannie May Colonial Assortment chocolates via LBC.  Aren’t I lucky? Can’t wait to take a bite. Thank you Ex.  🙂

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Two weeks ago, a friend from Hongkong sent me three packs of pitted dates and a pack of dried yellow raisins. Eating the pitted dates direct from the plastic pack is not really an option because I find them too sweet to my liking. I searched the internet for a simple bar recipe for dates. What do you know, it came out really yummy. As usual, I reduced the sugar since the dates are naturally sweet.

Image

If you want to try this, here’s the recipe.

You would need:

1 1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dark brown sugar (reduced it to 3/4 cup since the dates are sweet)

1 cup old-fashioned oats (I always use rolled oats when baking)

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup (equal to 1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced, room temperature

Here’s how:

Preheat oven to 350 °F.  Rub butter on an 8 x  8 inch baking pan. Set aside. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to simmer in a saucepan. Add dates, simmer until very soft and thick, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature then stir in vanilla.

Combine flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl, stir to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until moist clumps forms. Press half of oat mixture evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Spread date mixture on top. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture by pressing gently. Bake until brown at edges and golden brown and set in center, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack. Cut into bars and serve.

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I was craving for sweets the other day and since I cannot eat oatmeal solo, I always incorporate it in some other recipes that need a cup or two of rolled oats.  I have to source the net to find something simple to make and I came up with this recipe.  It was moist and yummy though but I told Josef  it is better baked as bars than cookies.  Will try it some other time.

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And these are the ingredients which as usual, I tweaked a bit. I don’t really dig sweet cookies so I always lessen  the sugar. These are the original  ingredients though, it’s up to you to adjust everything if you want to try it.

You will need:

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 stick butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips ( I omitted this)

Preheat oven to 375 °F or 175 °C. Grease cookie sheets. Stir together flour, cocoa, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown and white sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients using a hand mixer. Spoon into the greased cookie sheet leaving at least two inches in between cookies. Bake for about 10 minutes. Let cool.

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