Raspberry Granola Bars

20120328-090759.jpgDo you ever wake up in the middle of the night and raid the kitchen? I used to do this quite regularly in my early 20’s.

I stopped doing this quite a while ago. Until recently. Being pregnant my eating habits have completely changed. Including desperately needing to eat around 5:00 in the morning. And I loathe being awake at 5:00 in the morning.

I’m not talking about a lot of food. Just something small I can pop in my mouth, finish quickly and hurry back to bed. Because I definitely need to go back to bed as soon as possible at that time.

When I don’t have something easy to eat it in the middle of the night it kind of sucks. Really I’m way too tired to try and figure something out so I just go back to bed, hungry, and hungry I stay until I finally wake up.

I decided to make some granola bars because I was pretty certain I had everything I needed to make them at home which would make them cheaper then buying at the store. While scouring the internet for a suitable recipe I was pretty disappointed as most seemed more like a dessert then a granola bar. Then I remembered a recipe I had seen for raspberry crumble bars and thought I’d check out the ingredients. Surprisingly the amount of fat and sugar in these was far less then what was required in the recipes I came across for granola bars. So I decided to base my recipe off of this dessert recipe and tweak it to health it up a bit (ps this girl is a genius and you should totally be all up in her website. I told my husband I hope we can raise half as intelligent and self aware of a teenager).

I added some chopped pecans to this recipe, downed the butter a bit and subbed half whole wheat flour. It worked beautifully. I ended up with a delicious little granola bar that is simultaneously soft and crunchy. The sweetness of the raspberry jam balances the weight of the bar perfectly. And they’re ridiculously easy to make. Really, go do it. Right now.

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Raspberry Granola Bars

Adapted from 17 and Baking

Ingredients

3/4 plus 1/8 cups all purpose flour
3/4 plus 1/8 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

1.  Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl oIna mixer until well combined. Add the butter and mix until crumbly. Add the milk and mix until dough comes together. Mix in the oats and pecans until well combined.

2.  Put 1/4 of the dough off to the side. This will be the topping. Press the rest of the dough evenly into a buttered 9×9″ baking pan. Spread the jam evenly over the top (if the jam seems tough to spread, heating it a little could help.) Crumble the reserved dough evenly over the top.

3.  Bake in the center of the oven until golden, 20-25 minutes, and cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use a knife to loosen the sides, lift it out, and cut into bars on a cutting board. I got 25 small bars out of one pan.

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Random deliciousness

20120321-141204.jpgChocolate cupcakes for hire. Made with the best cocoa powder courtesy of Joy the Baker.

20120321-141332.jpgThe Enjoy package that I completely forgot I signed up for. Do you had any idea how excited I was to see a giant box full of King Arthur products? I’m pretty sure I actually jumped up and down.

20120321-141613.jpgLemon cupcakes. Inspired by this fine lady who posted a lemon cupcake recipe that she was about to make on Facebook.

20120321-141836.jpgThe pretzels that brought me back to life after weeks of hormone induced sickness.

20120321-142102.jpgAn almost cocktail. The closest I’ll get these days. It looks real though right?

20120321-142227.jpgOne day I had to have waffles. Like HAD to. So much so that I bought a waffle maker. And then ate waffles every day, for like three days.

I am seriously enjoying feeling good enough to cook and eat again. Food is kind of my like my sanity and being at odds with it for so long was painful! And now that it’s spring I plan on making you even more delicious treats!

Catching up with doughnuts

20120316-131056.jpgSometimes I make things, photograph them and then promptly forget they ever existed. I dunno why, it just happens. Maybe more so these days.

Like these doughnuts. I made these one day, because I just felt like doughnuts. Here’s the thing about making doughnuts. There’s a lot of them when you’re done. Like a lot a lot. And doughnuts are really best served the day they’re made.

20120316-132009.jpgThe day I decided to make these doughnuts the pregnancy tracking app I have told me I was probably starting to look like I ate too many doughnuts. It sort of read my mind.

I didn’t eat too many doughnuts though, not too worry. It seems since getting pregnant the amount of food I can ingest in one sitting has decreased significantly. I’m pretty sure I used to be kind of a glutton.

20120316-132235.jpgI filled these doughnuts with cream and jelly. My parents brought home a super fancy jar of raspberry jelly for me from a recent trip and shoving it into doughnuts sounded like a good plan. The cream was just softened cream cheese and whipped cream mixed together. It was good. I melted chocolate with a tablespoon of cream for the chocolate ganache. I used the same lovely doughnut recipe I used before. Rather then making them all at once, I froze about 3/4’s of the dough once I let it rise and cut out the doughnuts. Let me tell you, they thaw beautifully, 1 day in the fridge, an hour on the counter and they’re ready to hit some hot oil. Try your hand at doughnuts, you might be surprised at how easy it is!

Grapefruit blah

20120314-125421.jpgSo remember how I said I would not only post my success on here but also my failures? Well I’ve had a couple of those lately, both involving grapefruit.

I’ve been a bit obsessed with grapefruit lately. As a kid I remember finishing Saturday and Sunday meals with a half of a grapefruit sprinkled with sugar. These days the amount of sugar is less and I eat them whenever I feel like it.

I decided I wanted to translate them into a sweet and tried two variations.

20120314-125523.jpgThe first was a beautiful grapefruit tart, topped with vanilla bean whipped cream. The tarts were actually very good, just not quite what I was going for. I made grapefruit curd to fill these tarts. I think what I was picturing in my head was more of a grapefruit pastry cream. I was more impressed with the lightly sweetened speckled with vanilla seeds, whipped cream. I ate it by the spoonful.

The next failure came in the form of candy. Pâté du fruit to be exact. Or for those of us only wishing we lived in France, jelly candies. I followed a simple recipe I found online, knowing candy is more scientific and not wanting to wing it. What I ended up with we’re gorgeous looking little fruit gems. The taste was perfect too. The consistency however, was not. They didn’t get as firm as they should. A good jelly candy should show teeth marks when you bite into it. These seemed to turn to liquid upon hitting your mouth which for me was a somewhat unpleasant tactile sensation. I’m guessing it was the fact that the recipe didn’t call for using a candy thermometer to ensure you heat to the proper temperature. I will be attempting jellies again, this time with a more husband friendly flavor and using the recipe from my beloved French Laundry cookbook. I’m fairly certain they will turn out the way I want.

20120314-125629.jpgSo I had some flubs. I still had fun making them, and really as far as kitchen failures go, these were pretty minor. They still tasted good, they just didn’t live up to my high standard of perfection.

I’ll let you know when I perfect them.

Muffins, bread and brown butter!

20120313-135618.jpgHave you ever browned butter? Have you melted butter until it spits and bubbles and then fills your kitchen with a warm nutty aroma and fills with flecks of browned goodness? If not you need to make this a priority.

I am of the opinion that any baked good is improved by the addition of brown butter. Oh you want me to add a stick of butter to that cake? I’m gonna go ahead and brown it first, you just watch.

Did I mention I finally received my Joy the Baker Cookbook in the mail?

20120313-135931.jpgThere it is. I pre-ordered this baby way back in November and am so happy to finally have it! And there are multiple mentions of brown butter in here.

The first recipe I delved into was Brown Butter Blueberry muffins. Fresh out of the oven these were the absolute best muffins I had ever put in my mouth. Crumble topping, loaded with blueberries, rich caramelly brown butter flavor. I made mini muffins and I’m pretty sure I immediately ate four.

20120313-140255.jpgMy husband has a preference for strawberries so a few days after I made the muffins I swapped out the blueberries for strawberries and made them again. This time I made them into gorgeous little mini loafs.

20120313-140438.jpgI lowered the sugar a bit too as I tend to like my muffins(and sweet breads) a little less sugary. I also swapped out the vanilla extract for vanilla bean and a touch more milk. I dunno it just felt right.

20120313-140736.jpgPlus it looks like some sort of eggy milky nebula.

I ended up with amazingly moist little loafs bursting with strawberries and topped with crunchy sweet crumble topping. And don’t forget the brown butter. It’s that important! I’m pretty sure you should go make these tonight.

20120313-141211.jpgBrown Butter Strawberry Loafs

Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

For the muffins:

7 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk plus 2 tablespoons
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 vanilla bean scraped for seeds
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt (don’t use if using salted butter)
2 cups fresh strawberries

For the topping:

3 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1. Place the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease your pan. I used a mini loaf pan that makes 8 individual loafs. Set aside.

2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter. It will melt, froth and begin to crackle. That’s the water cooking out of the butter. The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly. Remove from heat when butter solids become a medium brown color and butter smells slightly nutty. Immediately pour hot putter into a small bowl or it will continue to cook and possibly burn in the hot saucepan. (I put my pan on a cool marble surface to cool off).

3. Whisk milk, egg, yolk and vanilla seeds. Add brown butter and whisk to combine.

4. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the milk mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir gently to combine. Gently but thoroughly fold in the strawberries. Divide batter in prepared pan.

5. To make the topping: combine all the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with clean fingertips until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over the loafs.

6. Bake 18-20 minutes until golden and crisp and a skewer inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 15 minutes before removing. Serve warm(they’re best warm!) or at room temperature.

Banana Malt

20120305-102642.jpgWhen I was a kid my grandma was sick a lot. She developed heart problems and spent a lot of time in the hospital. I don’t really remember how old I was, maybe late elementary or early middle school.

I remember visiting her in the hospital every day. I’ve always been freaked out by hospitals. For as long as I can remember, before I even understood sickness or death, I hated hospitals.

I think my mother somehow picked up on this fact and promptly bought me a banana malt in the cafeteria upon every visit. Or at least that’s how I remember it. I was hooked on these banana malts that summer. I remember slurping the thick ice creamy goodness while my mother talked to doctors and nurses and ignoring the world around me. All that mattered was that delicious cold drink.

Recently I bought a bunch of bananas and the smell of the bananas instantly brought me back to that place. Somehow those malts turned a stressful scary time into something comforting and magical.

These malts got me through the last couple of weeks. At the end of the day, when the thought of eating was too much, my husband made me a banana malt, so I had something in my stomach. Early pregnancy has kicked my butt, and I’m happy to say I’m getting back to eating. I still might take a banana malt occasionally though.

20120305-102950.jpgBanana Malt

Ingredients

4 large scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon malt powder

1. Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth. Serve with a straw and a spoon