Coconut goodness

I’m pretty sure I’ve said before how much I prefer a coffee, caramel, vanilla, chocolate dessert to a fruity good time dessert. It’s totally true! It’s not that I don’t like fruity desserts it’s just they never sound good. Last week my friend Hannah and 2 of her kiddos came over and we ended up at New Season for a late breakfast. For some reason they were selling warm berry crisp at 10 am. I’m not sure why, however Hannah and I were pretty happy about it. It was so good! Since then I’ve had crisp on my mind!
Several months ago I was working in the test kitchen at Bob’s and we were playing the end of the week game “refrigerator bingo”. This is a pretty fun game. On Fridays we would clean out the refrigerator after a week of cooking. Most of the time the recipes we made didn’t use the whole product. So, on Friday we would go through and pull all the stuff that we weren’t going to use the next week or that would go bad by Monday and we’d take it home. It was great I didn’t grocery shop for like 2 months! By the end of my time there I ended up with 2 bags of frozen blueberries. I was tired of the blueberries being in my freezer so, today I thought I would use them.
I get a lot of my recipes from Smitten Kitchen, I love Smitten Kitchen. Her pictures are pretty, the food she makes is good, and the recipe always works! There are some blogs that have recipes that just don’t work or they are so labor intense that it makes me not want to make them. Smitten Kitchen doesn’t care for a Labor Intense recipe either! I’m pretty sure we could be friends if I lived in New York were she lives. I do think that of a lot of people who are more famous then me. For instance Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, Julia Roberts but then that’s a story for another day! Anyway…She posted a couple weeks back a strawberry rhubarb crisp bars. Sounds tasty, right? I didn’t have strawberries or rhubarb but I did have blueberries! The plan was to switch out just the fruit but then Cousin Laura called and invited me to dinner. Cousin Laura happens to be vegan and if we are meeting for dinner I would like to have a dessert for her to eat. So, instead of using butter I decided to use creamed coconut and some coconut oil. Creamed coconut might just be my new favorite thing! It’s a little expensive but totally worth it!

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It’s good in everything, I really like it on hot cereal. I also really like Aunt Patty’s products. I use her cocoa powder, barley malt, molasses, she has a ton of products and you can buy most of them at Bob’s.
I was kind of worried that the bars would be dry but they ended up being the yummiest vegan thing I’ve ever made! In fact Laura said it was the best vegan dessert she’d ever had.

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Smitten Kitchen lined her pan with parchment and mixed everything in the pan. I didn’t have any parchment and didn’t want the bars to stick so I opted for a separate bowl. Both ways would work.
Here is the recipe I used, I doubled the original so I could put it in a 9 x13 pan.

Vegan Coconut Blueberry Oat Bars

2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup of all purpose flour set aside
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup creamed coconut melted
1/4 cup coconut oil melted
2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 cups blueberries

Mix your oats, 1 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Melt your creamed coconut and coconut oil. Pour coconut oil into flour oat mix and stir (I use my hands because it’s easier). Until it’s clumpy and and there aren’t any dry patches. Add remaining 1/4 cup of flour and mix. Take out about 1 cup oat mixture and set aside. Pour the rest into a greased or lined 13×9 pan. Press into pan, sprinkle your berries evenly over the crust. Drizzle the berries with lemon juice and sprinkle the cornstarch and sugar evenly over berries. Take the remaining 1 cup of crust and crumble that on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

A few weeks ago I also made these

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They were a little too sweet, I thought the original picture of them looked super yummy. I ate maybe 1 and a half of them, they were called brownie cookie dough sandwich cookies, I think. You can find the recipe for those here.the recipe calls for marshmallow cream. I think this might have been my first time buying marshmallow cream. It gave the filling the texture of cookie dough. They were a huge hit at work, my boss agreed they were almost sickening sweet!

Rhubarb cheesecake

I have this friend named Heidi who lives in Estonia, she owns an awesome bakery. If you’re ever in Estonia you should go there! She often times posts a link to a website that is not in English so I don’t know if it’s a blog or forum or what. Since I don’t speak Estonian, I usually just look at the pictures. This last time it looked so good that with the help of the internet I translated the recipe. It didn’t translate perfect but it also didn’t translate terribly. One of the instructions told me to add eggs and mixed berries. The recipe does not call for mixed berries and picture doesn’t seem to have any in it. Little things like that were mentioned but looking at the ingredients I figured it out. The list of ingredients leads me to believe its a style of cheesecake. I made a few changes myself, not huge changes but a few. Overall it looks good.
I have used rhubarb before, however anytime I have used it I would chop it up into bite sized pieces. The picture showed it cut in strips, I thought it looked much prettier!
Now, there are a few things in the baking/pastry world that I’m not the best at. I know it’s shocking that I’m not perfect! I can’t seem to master the French macaroon, those super cute meringue cookies that are all bright colored and happy. When I make them they look all sad and ugly! I’m not even joking about it, one day I’ll master those. Feel free to give helpful hints on those if you’re really awesome at making them. I also am terrible at crusts. The only ones I can do nicely are graham cracker, or nut crusts. Pie crusts I’m terrible at along with any kind of sugar dough. They always shrink and there is always too much…like I said one day I’ll master this too! Today it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t good either! I ended up pushing the sides back up half way through the par bake. No worries, it all worked out the cake looks great!
I was surprised that with it being rhubarb season that New Seasons hardly had any of it. But what they did have was lovely! It’s so pretty all chopped up.

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In the translated recipe it call for creamy cottage cheese or a farmers cheese. I found a French farmers cheese but since I’m not super rich I chose not to buy the 6 ounces of cheese for $7. I went with Ricotta cheese instead. The recipe does call for cream cheese as well, I’ve made a cheesecake with both of these cheeses before and was pretty happy with the texture. It also calls for cardamom, the translation was saying it was salt and some were saying cardamom. I was confused so, I added nutmeg cause that should taste good and I don’t have any cardamom. I was going to add salt but then forgot. The batter was a little lumpy but not too horrible. It worked out good!

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I could have done this in a spring form pan but I thought a tart pan would be prettier.

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I ended up have a little extra batter so I made two tiny tartlets which weren’t as cute as you might think. I haven’t tasted it, it’s for a book club tomorrow night. A friend of mine hires me to make desserts for her book club. It’s a pretty sweet gig, I get to make whatever I want! Hopefully the ladies will love this one!

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Here’s the recipe, it’s all in weight measurements and it’s grams not ounces.

Crust:
100 grams butter
85 grams sugar
1 egg
180 grams flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream your butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and mix till together. Add flour, nutmeg and salt. Don’t over mix, this causes your crust to shrink.
Press into the bottom of a 8 or 9 inch tart pan, I used a 10 inch and needed more crust. Poke the crust with a fork so it doesn’t puff up like mine did.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until edges are a light light brown. Set aside.

Filling:

400 grams cream cheese
200 grams ricotta cheese
100 grams sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

About 3/4 pounds rhubarb for the top.

Cream your cheeses, sugar and nutmeg. Slowly add eggs and vanilla letting batter mix for a minute after each egg is added. Pour batter into crust and smooth out top. Arrange rhubarb into columns or however you please. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until cake is set. Let cool before serving.

I used a small amount of nutmeg, you could add more but be careful because nutmeg packs a punch! You don’t want to over do it!

Enjoy!

Beyoncé Pancakes

A somewhat well known fact about me is that I don’t like to take care of things. By take care of things I mean feed, water, walk that kind of stuff, this would be the main reason I don’t have kids, plants or pets. About 2 months ago I made a sour dough starter. About 2 weeks in I was regretting it. I won’t say that having a sour dough starter is like having a kid because most of the time it sat next to the heater and didn’t bother me. From what I hear, kids are slightly more high maintenance than that. It is however like having a cat, you know it’s there, you can kinda smell it, you don’t have to entertain it, but you do have to feed it.
I ended up making 2 starters one with white flour and one with whole wheat flour. I made them for work and at the time I had Saturday and Sunday off so I had to take them home and keep them alive. They did really well at my house because my apartment is crazy warm! I named them Beyoncé and Gisele, anytime I post pictures of the bread I make I hashtag them #sexybread. Its pretty funny to me, I usually laugh every time! Sometimes I even send Beyoncé and Gisele pictures of the sours or bread via twitter. They don’t respond. Another well known fact about me is that I love JayZ! Not in any sort of way that Beyoncé should be concerned about, I love his music and I think he’s amazing. My boss is a huge Patriots fan and a huge Tom Brady fan, there are Tom Brady pictures all over our computer at work! Anything I know about football (which isn’t much) she taught me. We thought it would be fun and totally appropriate to name our starters after Jay’s and Tom’s wives.

20140131-171257.jpg I took the girls home at Christmas and Beyoncé went total Sasha Fierce on me! In case you aren’t a huge Beyoncé fan Sasha Fierce is her alter ego. She totally blew her lid and made a mess!

20140131-171900.jpgIf you have never cleaned up sour dough starter consider yourself lucky! The stuff is like glue! It was all down the front of the dresser it was sitting on! After that I cut back on how much I was feeding her.
Starters are really wasteful if you keep them active and don’t use them. You throw away around 3/4 of your starter everyday. You don’t have to, but unless you want to fill your house with starter, you’ll throw it away. I decided I would at least try to use some of the starter by making pancakes. Another somewhat well known fact about me, I love pancakes! I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to pancakes (I also may have one devoted to JayZ). The first round was not good, they tasted a bit like paste. Once you covered them in butter and maple syrup they really weren’t that bad. It was probably 3 batches later that I figured out how to make them work. They were really good, not super sour but definitely had good flavor!

20140217-162042.jpgSo, after I figured out a good recipe I wrote it down on an old envelope and made sure I didn’t throw it away. I mean who wants to be the person who looses the best pancake recipe in the world??? Apparently, I want to be that person! I totally lost the recipe…I’ve looked everywhere! All that work and no one will ever know the deliciousness of Beyoncé pancakes! All I can say is I’m sorry. If I find it I will post it, I promise.

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Even JayZ and Beyoncé are disappointed. I’m sorry guys, I’ll try not to let you down again!

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Christmas Cookies

I always have the idea that I’m going to make all kinds of cookies and chocolates for Christmas. When I’m done I would divide all the goodies up among my friends and family and put them in little boxes with Christmas bows. It would be really cute! It turns out, I don’t have that kind of time! The few times I have tried to get truffles done, I make such a mess that it’s really not worth the clean up. To be fair I’ve been pretty busy, I went to Alabama to visit my sister, I’ve been working, I got totally addicted to a TV show on Netflix. I mean the holidays are crazy and that TV show has like 10 seasons!
This year my Mom planned a cookie baking day, I decided this would be all the Christmas baking I would do. We used to do this several years ago, when all my siblings and I lived in Oregon. Since I am the only one in the state it would just be Mom, Dad and me. Mom had some cookies she wanted to make and then I came up with a couple, when we were done I think we had four or five different kinds. Holiday baking is much easier when there are more people involved. My Dad was put in charge of rolling out sugar cookies and then dipping pretzels. I made a chocolate hazelnut crackle cookie which went over really well. In fact my dad told me they looked professional, almost like there was a professional baker in the house!

Here’s Dad rolling cookies.

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And here’s Mom rolling cookies. I’m not sure if you can tell by this picture but her favorite kind of dog is a pug! 🙂

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My favorite part of making these cookies is the dipped pretzels. We dip them in that white chocolate bark candy stuff. I’m sure it’s all sugar and fat and horrible for you! However, these are all salty, sweet and delightlful!

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Not only were we baking but we were also watching the Hallmark channel. They make some great high quality Christmas movies! Half way through the afternoon we took a break and headed over to George Fox University for the Christmas concert. It was a nice concert but I really need more entertainment then a choir. Surprisingly the small children sitting in front of us also needed more entertainment. At one point I felt like volunteering to take the kids outside and run around with them. They’re parents really looked like they wanted to watch the concert.

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After the concert we finished the cookies and divided them up to take home. The other great part was I able to get a ton of laundry done! At my house I have to pay for laundry, so free laundry is always nice!

20131225-194738.jpg I’m pretty sure the afternoon was a success! Maybe next year I’ll get around to making truffles and turtles or maybe not! 🙂

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve been slacking on this blog. It seems that most people slack after having their blog for awhile or they have a bunch of posts. Not me, 5 posts in and I’m too lazy busy, too busy to blog! My excuse is that my work life has been flipped around a bit in the last month. It started with working a graveyard shift for a week and a half and then I was sent over to the other building for an 8-5 shift. I haven’t worked a “normal” schedule in years, in fact I would rather not work that kind of schedule, I like 4 A.M! We have two buildings at Bob’s one is the store and restaurant (where I work) and then there is the other building, The Mill or World Headquarters (where I was sent). We are remodeling the kitchen at the restaurant so the bakery will be shut down till January. Instead of laying off the kitchen staff they have relocated us within the company. I got the best relocation job, some people had to go down to the production room. The production room is this really noisy room where you put bags of Bob’s product in boxes, all day…8 hours of building boxes or filling boxes! I don’t know how they do it, I would go crazy! I was sent to the Test Kitchen to work with Sarah our recipe tester….I don’t know what her actual title is, but it’s the best relocation job. I get to wear jeans! That’s a big deal at Bob’s, usually my uniform is tan “Cathy” fit pants from Cintas. They’re just as sexy as you’re imagining, I mean they are “Cathy” fit. The test kitchen is located up in the offices and there you can wear jeans! It’s the little things! For the last 2 weeks or so I have been helping Sarah with a cookbook that Bob will give away at book signings and such. Our job has been to make the recipes in the book and plate them for the photo shoot. It’s been pretty fun, and we can take home the food! For the last 2 weeks I haven’t had to cook much which makes my slacking off even worse! When you work over at the other building they give away a ton of product, mostly it’s product that has left the building for shows and such. They can’t sell it after it leaves the building. One of my first days there I came home with this stuff.

20131123-091555.jpgI was pretty excited, I love free stuff!
Getting home at 5 P.M. is really exhausting. All I really want to do is put on my jams and watch TV, not make fun tasty food to blog about. However last week I decided I needed some chocolate chip cookies. It was probably more that I wanted some chocolate chip cookie dough. If you know me at all you probably know that I would rather eat the dough then the cookie. I am a dough and batter eater, I learned this from my Dad. Not to sell him out or anything but I’m pretty sure it’s common knowledge that he eats cookie dough. Some people say that you can get salmonella from the dough…not us, we have trained our stomachs to handle the raw eggs. The only time I won’t eat the dough is if the eggs are fresh from your chickens in your yard. Fresh eggs (I think that’s what they are called) totally freak me out, it’s my own issue they are perfectly fine to eat. I just can’t handle how orange the yolks are or how big the yolks are…it’s all in my head!
I decided that I would make the NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. It’s all over Pinterest, it’s suppose to the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. It makes a ton of cookies! I decided to use some of my free Graham flour and the rest plain old All Purpose flour. Graham flour gives the dough a little grit which I love! Graham flour is ground up hard red spring wheat berries. As the package says “it contains the wheat berries healthy and natural elements – the germ, endosperm and bran”.
I changed a few things in this recipe and I cut the original in half because I don’t need a million cookies. As for the chocolate I used mini chocolate chips and regular chips. I have used chopped up chocolate and that’s really tasty too!

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
3/4c + 2T granulated sugar
1c + 2T brown sugar
2 eggs
2c + 1T all purpose flour
1c graham flour
1 1/2t salt
1t baking soda
1t baking powder
1 1/2t vanilla
1 pound chocolate chunks

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Doesn’t that just make you want to eat cookie dough?

Set oven to 350 degrees. Measure out all your ingredients, you can put your butter and sugar together, eggs and vanilla together, dry ingredients together and then chocolate in it very own bowl. Cream your butter and sugar until it’s fluffy like. Slowly add your eggs and vanilla and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add your dry ingredients and mix until combined. Toss in your chocolate and mix until it’s combined. I scooped out the dough using a spoon, and baked the cookies at 325 degrees (my oven runs hot) for 10 minutes. However all ovens are different so watch the first batch maybe set your timer at 8 minutes and check them.

This last picture is not great, I blame it on my work schedule. Had I been baking these at 3 P.M. rather then 6 P.M. I would have had natural light and a better picture.

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Pumpkin love

A couple of weeks ago I came home to 6 smallish pumpkins on my back porch. My first thought was Pumpkin Fairy, obviously! Come to find out that the Pumpkin Fairy came in the form of my Aunt and Uncle. I was super excited, I love the gift of vegetables! With it being October and smack in the middle of fall, I felt I needed to make some delicious pumpkin pastries. In order to use those pumpkins I needed to roast them. This was the first time I have roasted pumpkins to make my own pumpkin purée. I’ve been told and have read that you want to use sugar pumpkins to bake with, they are smaller pumpkins with a non stringy texture. Apparently jack o lantern pumpkins are very stringy and not your best choice. I would imagine that if you had a heavy duty food processor it wouldn’t matter if it was stringy. I don’t know what variety the ones I used were but they worked out just fine.

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To roast pumpkins for purée, I set my oven at 400 degrees and got out a couple of baking sheets with Silpats. You could use parchment paper or foil if you don’t have a Silpat, you will need to spray the paper or foil with pan spray…otherwise you will never get them off the foil! I love using a Silpat for roasting veggies, super easy clean up! Cutting up pumpkins is really a difficult task especially when your knives are as dull as mine. Seriously my knives are in sorry shape, it embarrassing! You should probably use a sharp knife…it would easier! I chopped up the pumpkins Into medium pieces. The smaller the piece the faster it cooks. I filled my baking sheets pretty full because they will shrink a smidge in the oven and it won’t be so crowded.
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I don't put anything on them, and I set a timer for 15 minutes. It takes longer then 15 minutes but I like to check them and move them around. Mine took about 30 minutes in the oven . I do know someone who has an oven that will roast pumpkins in 15 minutes, his oven is dark brown….clearly about as old as I am! Obviously it runs a shade hot. I don't know your oven so be conservative with your time, you can always add more time. You will know they are done because they will be very soft. Let them cool down and once they are cool you should be able to peel the skin off of them. Once you have all the skins off I used a food processor to purée the pumpkin.

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It’s not the same as the canned stuff. It’s a lighter color and not as thick. You could adjust the liquid in the recipe by reducing it just a shade, I left everything the same and the muffins I made turned out just fine. I ended up using all of the purée I made, however if you have more than you need you can always freeze it.

Mountain Dew cupcakes!

I just want to start this whole post saying I hate Mountain Dew. Even when I was a pop drinker I stayed away from it. I have always been wigged out by its color and the crazy rumors of it having formaldehyde in it or other crazy chemicals. With that said, I have a friend and coworker named Bryce who loves some Mountain Dew. He even likes the Code Red flavor…Bryce likes a lot of food items I wouldn’t eat, but he’s still my friend. This last year I decided that I would make a birthday treat for my coworkers on their birthdays. This week was Bryce’s birthday. I found this recipe on Pinterest, and was totally grossed out and really wanted to make them for Bryce. So, I had to buy Mountain Dew, luckily New Seasons sells individual cans.

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The cupcake it’s self had a decent crumb and texture, but there is way too much sugar! The recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar and 3/4 cup of Mountain Dew. Since soda has high fructose corn syrup in it, it was almost sickening sweet. If I were to make these again I would take out a good cup of that sugar. The recipe also calls for lemon and lime juice along with the zests and lemon extract or oil. I left out the extract/oil, mainly because I don’t have any of that and wasn’t willing to buy it when I did have the actual lemon. I think I would have liked these had they not had so much sugar in them. Here is the recipe, the woman who posted it on Pinterest said her husband loved them and says that any citrus lover will think they rock. She was wrong…I love citrus and I don’t think they rock.

Mountain Dew cupcakes

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar (really you should try 1 cup)
4 eggs
3/4 cup Mountain Dew
1/4 cup of lemon and lime juice
Zests from 1 lemon and 1 lime
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract ( maybe this is to give it that fake citrus flavor)
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Bake 350 for 18-20 minutes
Mix your juices and soda together and set aside. Combine all your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) and set aside.
Cream your butter, sugar and zests high till its fluffy. Add your eggs one at a time and your lemon extract.
Alternate adding your wet ingredients and your dry ingredients starting with dry.
Line a muffin pan with cute muffin cups and scoop out batter tills he cups are 3/4 full.
Bake 18-20 minutes

Mountain Dew frosting

1 cup butter
4-5 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons Mountain Dew ( I added more because I added a shade too much powdered sugar)
Zest from half a lemon and half a lime
1 teaspoon lemon extract (once again I didn’t use this)
Yellow and green food coloring

Beat butter and powdered sugar on slow to medium until combined. Slowly add in liquids and zest. Add food coloring.

The picture on Pinterest was a Kelly green. I was pretty proud of the color I got, I thought it really captured the weird color of Mountain Dew. I used a lot of Yellow and just a smidgen of green.

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Bryce really enjoyed the cupcakes, he agreed that they were way too sweet. The cake part didn’t taste bad I think if you were to cut back on sugar they would be fine.

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