Monday, July 29, 2013

Cinnamon Waffle Nuggets



Cinnamon Waffle Nuggets
I haven't even checked to see if anyone else has done this with waffles, but I'm figuring that someone out there has.* I happened upon this by accident. It started with me dropping my sugar tub on my tray of left over gluten free waffles that I was going to put in the freezer. Some sugar got on a waffle and that got me thinking. I thought about it throughout today, until this afternoon, when I decided to do something about it. (I have to also note that today I also saw some cinnamon sugar waffles on Pinterest--stacked like pancakes, not chunked like these.) 
At first I was going to call these cinnamon waffle croutons, but they're not crunchy at all, and my kids and I ate them so quickly, that I only had a few left to crisp up in the oven. Although these tasted perfectly awesome without toasting them in the oven, I think I liked them better after crisping them up a little bit.
Basically I took two of my leftover gluten free waffles and cut them into bite-size chunks. Then I melted some butter in a pan, tossed in the waffle pieces, and then tossed the buttered pieces in cinnamon sugar. What we got was soft, buttery, bready, sweet goodness. Crisped up they sort of taste like churros, which I have so far been unable to successfully make at home. Even my super picky gluten limited kid scarfed down a bunch of them--and came back for more. I guess it's the sugar. 
I think I may need to try these with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese instead of the cinnamon sugar. For now, though, I'd say this little experiment was a success. A sweet, buttery success.

Update: Since I originally posted this recipe, these waffle nuggets have become a staple weekend breakfast for my gluten-limited son. Still so tasty.

Cinnamon Waffle Nuggets

Ingredients:
  • 4-5 cups waffles cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions:
Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When butter is melted, place all of the waffle pieces in and stir/toss with a spatula until all of the butter is absorbed and waffle pieces are warm. 
Pour waffle pieces into the cinnamon sugar bowl and toss with a large spoon until all pieces are evenly coated with the cinnamon sugar.
If you want to crisp these up, place coated nuggets onto a baking sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and serve warm. Either way, these are fabulous.

Makes 4-5 cups of waffle nuggets

*I did find someone who's done this with Eggo waffles: B-Inspired MAMA-and she made hers into a neat snack mix. Good stuff.



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Flour Tortillas 2

I adore homemade flour tortillas. Probably too much. This one has been buttered.

As you can probably infer from this post's title, I've already posted a Homemade Flour Tortilla recipe. In the last year and a half, I've made those tortillas about once a month. I love them. Along the way, I've gotten better at making them the right size and shape, and I've discovered that I like them less bready and more chewy. I've figured out how to achieve all of these things and I'm writing it up here. So, if you like your flour tortillas thicker, with slightly less fat (this recipe already has very little, as far as I'm concerned), then you might want to try out the other recipe. I'm going to try to post the video on that recipe too, because you'll be able to see how to achieve the roundest shape. It's not 100% fool proof, and it takes a lot of practice, but if you watch it, you'll get the idea and after about 16 batches of tortillas, you'll get there too.



Homemade Flour Tortillas
   --adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
Instructions:
1. Place the flour, salt, add baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low for a minute.  Add vegetable shortening and mix on low until it resembles cornmeal.
2. Switch to the dough hook attachment and add water.  Mix on low until dough forms a cohesive ball.  You may need to scrape the sides once with a silicone/rubber spatula.  Once it's in a ball, increase speed to medium low and kneed until smooth and elastic (about 5-6 minutes).  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest while you get your other tools ready.
3. Gather your cast-iron skillet, rolling pin, flour, canola oil, and large plate with a clean dish towel (to place finished tortillas).  Very lightly grease a smooth, flat surface with canola oil by spreading a few drops onto the surface with a flat hand.  
4. Remove dough from the bowl and cut into the desired amount of pieces.  If your skillet is small, cut more pieces (up to 24); if you have a large skillet and want large tortillas, cut no fewer than 10 pieces.  With your hand cupped over a piece of dough that is sitting on the greased flat surface, gently push the dough around using a small circular motion with your hand until you have a well-shaped ball of dough. Place dough balls on a floured plate or piece of wax paper and cover with plastic wrap.
5.  Once you have all of your dough balls, wipe your flat surface down with a paper towel to remove any canola oil residue. Place about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of flour in a small bowl. Take one dough ball and toss it in the flour. Without shaking off the excess flour, place the floured dough ball onto the rolling surface. I start with a couple of strokes across the entire surface in opposite directions, just to get it started.  Then I start so roll from the center and go out, turning my rolling pin about a quarter of a turn with each roll, so hopefully the tortilla will end up in a relatively round shape. Sprinkle very small amounts of flour, as needed to prevent sticking and pulling. (After doing this a few times, you'll start to get the feel for when it's starting to reach the sticky point.) Roll as thin as you possibly can if you want a thinner tortilla.  


video

6. Preheat your cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Carefully transfer raw tortilla into pan, making sure you don't make any wrinkles.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until light brown spots appear.  My skillet is fairly large, as were my tortillas, so I had to move it around once a crust was formed on one side, to make sure the edges got cooked a bit on the hot spot of the skillet. Using a clean pastry brush, brush off any excess flour, and then wipe the pan out with a clean paper towel if there is residual flour in the pan because it will continue to cook in the pan if you don't remove it.
7.  Repeat with remaining dough balls.  When a tortilla is done, put on a dish lined with a clean dish towel folded in half to cover the tortillas.  You can stack cooked tortillas on top of one another as you go.
8. Store leftovers in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator.
Makes from 10 large to 24 small flour tortillas.


Chocolate Cake with Mascarpone Ganache Filling

Chocolate Cake with Mascarpone Ganache Filling
This is one rich, delicious cake. The mascarpone ganache filling is rich, smooth and creamy, almost like a French silk, but a bit lighter. The outside frosting is a deep sweet chocolate flavor. The cake is moist with a tender crumb. Exactly what I was going for. 
I still have a bunch of extra mascarpone cheese in my refrigerator, due to my bad math for the wedding cupcakes I made a month ago. So, when my friends were going to pass through town and spend the night, it created the perfect opportunity to make a cake. At first I thought I'd make my favorite chocolate birthday cake, but all of the different layers would take too long. After looking up "chocolate cakes" and mascarpone ganache, I came up with this, and I LOVE it. My friends all loved it too, particularly Jen and Jeremy, who gave up carbs three months ago. I'm honored that they chose to break their diets at my house. Hopefully I have not permanently derailed their new lifestyle.

Chocolate Cake with Mascarpone Ganache Filling
     --(adapted from Ghirardelli.com

Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa (or use 1/2 cup ground cocoa powder and increase the total amount of sugar below to 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons King Arthur Flour Cake Enhancer (optional)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs @ room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 batch of Mascarpone Ganache (recipe below)
  • 1 batch of Empress Frosting (recipe below)
Cake Directions
: 
Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Prepare two 8" x 1 1/2" round cake pans by spraying with non-stick cooking spray and then lining with parchment or wax paper circles.  Into a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, sift flour with ground chocolate, cake enhancer, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add butter and 3/4 cup buttermilk. Beat on low speed to combine ingredients. Scrape sides of bowl and then beat on low-medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup buttermilk, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat additional 2 minutes.  Spread batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350ºF for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on racks for 10 to 15 minutes; carefully remove from pans. 
While cake cools, make the ganache.
Cut cooled cakes in half horizontally so you have four equal layers of cake. Layer the cake with the mascarpone ganache, using 1/3 of the mascarpone ganache for each of the three layers of the filling. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the Empress Frosting (you can let it refrigerate overnight, if you wish).
Frost with the Empress Frosting and serve.
Refrigerate leftovers.
Makes one cake, about 12-16 servings

Mascarpone Ganache

Ingredients:
  • 28 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises, unwrapped (or 8 oz. good quality chopped dark chocolate)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
Instructions:
Place unwrapped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Place cream in a small heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Heat the cream until it comes to a simmer. Pour hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for about five minutes. After five minutes, stir chocolate and cream until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and uniform.
Allow ganache to cool to room temperature. Once it's cool, pour ganache into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add mascarpone cheese and mix on low until ganache and mascarpone are mixed. Whip on high until stiff peaks form.

Empress Frosting

     --(adapted from Ghirardelli.com

Ingredients:
Directions:
In 2-quart heavy saucepan, heat half and half with butter and sugar, stirring until blended. Add ground chocolate, mixing with wire whip until smooth. Heat on medium-low until mixture is thick and shiny and runs off the spoon like syrup and the first bubble appears on the surface (160°F). Do not boil or overcook frosting. Cool 5 minutes, add vanilla. Place pan of frosting in a bowl of ice and water (or snow in the winter). Beat slowly with spoon until frosting holds shape. Frost cake. Refrigerate to set frosting. Makes frosting for and 8-inch layer cake.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Berries and Yogurt Breakfast



Today is the day after our summer in California. In California we stay at my parents' house, and if you've followed this blog long enough, you know that my mother is the original food pusher in my life. She loves to stock her house with yummy things that she knows we all love, like chips, and sourdough bread, and ice cream Drumsticks, and Dove Chocolate. Okay, maybe I was the one to buy the Dove chocolate when I got there. I was also the one baking and cooking daily to fatten my family up. 
At any rate, I decided to turn over a new leaf when I got back home. I was doing great until about 1:30, when I got really hungry. But before 1:30, around 10:00, I had this for breakfast. It is inspired by both my Star Spangled Cheesecake and McDonald's Fruit and Yogurt Parfait. I've loved the parfait for a long time, and I knew it was simple--just vanilla yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, and granola. As for the cheesecake, it was the first time I've actually paired fresh fruit with this type of cheesecake, and I loved it so much that I kept wanting to make it while in California. I never got around to it, and now that I'm turning over my new leaf (sort of), I need to put that notion away. This dish here is my happy solution to my craving.
If you've ever tasted the parfait at McDonald's, you know what this tastes like. I don't even think I really need to write out a recipe, but since I have a food blog and all, I decided to just post about it. I used Anderson Erickson (a local Des Moines dairy) French Vanilla Bean Yogurt, fresh berries, and Target's Simply Balanced Honey Almond Flax Granola.  It was absolutely delicious. The perfect breakfast. Now I just need to figure out a reasonable lunch that will satisfy so I don't end up dipping into the chip bag...

Berries and Yogurt Breakfast

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup fresh berries (blueberries and strawberries for me today)
  • 6 ounces low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup granola cereal
Instructions:
Rinse berries under cold water and place on a clean paper towel. Pat berries dry, cut strawberries into bite-size pieces, and place berries in a cereal bowl. 
Scoop the yogurt over the berries and then top with the granola.

Makes 1 serving



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Toffee Almond Flour Cookies (Gluten Free)

Toffee Almond Flour Cookies
I have a fairly large amount of toffee bits left from the Toffee Almond Muddy Buddies I made here the other day at my parents' house, so I had to figure out something to do with them. This is what I've done: Toffee Almond Flour Cookies. And yes, they are delicious.  These ones are quite soft, but sometimes when I make this cookie with chocolate chips (see Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe), they turn out more crumbly. These are buttery, sweet, and tender. I plan to make them again when I'm back home in Iowa, but will probably have to give most of them away because I need to stop eating so much pretty soon here...

Toffee Almond Flour Cookies (Gluten Free)
   --adapted from The Wannabe Chef who adapted recipe from The Food Lovers' Primal Palate

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups almond flour (I used Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour)
  • 3/4 cup toffee bits (see recipe below or use Heath Toffee Bits)
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cream butter and sugar until very light, about 2-3 minutes.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Add salt and baking soda and beat until incorporated.  Mix in almond flour.  Fold in toffee bits.
Scoop about one to one and a half tablespoon mounds onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet (or use a small sized cookie scoop), placing about an inch and a half apart.  Gently smoosh dough to make almost 1/2-inch thick disks.  
Bake at 375 degrees for 9-10 minutes, or until the edges are browned.
Allow to cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Makes about 28 cookies.


Be sure to flatten cookie dough ever so slightly before baking.



English Toffee Bits

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup packed C & H Light Brown Sugar 
  • 1/2 cup C & H White Sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
Directions
1. Line a square Pyrex pan (8X8) with parchment paper or non-stick foil. 
2. In a heavy saucepan heat butter and sugar to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil over medium heat until it reaches 300° on a candy thermometer. Pour into prepared pan and evenly spread with a silicone (not rubber) spatula. Allow to cool completely.
3. Break toffee up into big chunks with your hands and then on a clean cutting board, chop into smaller bits. Be sure to taste some to see if it's good.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups of toffee bits. Use the extra to make some toffee chocolate chip cookies or use as an ice cream topping. They'll keep in a zip top bag for a few weeks as long as you keep them in a cool, dry place.


Chewy Chinese Peanut Sesame Candy Take 2

Chewy Chinese Peanut Sesame Candy Take 2
Actually, this is Chewy Chinese Peanut Sesame Candy Take 3 4. I'm just going to tell you about the worst batch because you would not want to replicate what I did. To see why I'm in the midst of making this candy, see my Chewy Chinese Peanut Sesame Candy post which is is right under this one. Hmmm...now that I think of it, this is my fourth batch of this candy. The second batch got thrown out. The third batch (the terrible one) I cooked too long. It stuck to the eater's teeth like a thick glue. My dad ate a bunch of it anyway, and when I came home from Knott's Berry Farm with my kids last night, my mom showed me a cup she'd set aside. It contained this row of three crowns from my dad's mouth. Yeah. The candy apparently was really quite dangerous to dental work. Yikes!
Believe it or not, when the dentist's office heard what it was that caused the damage they were repairing, they thought it sounded so good, they wanted some. So my dad took in a bunch of that nasty candy when he went in for the work. Ugh. I threw out the three remaining pieces and then set about to make another safe batch.
This fourth batch, although it needs more sesame seeds, is as close to perfect as I think I'm going to get. It's soft, chewy, amber-colored, peanutty and really yummy. My mom told my dad he has to wait until tomorrow to try it, but I'm pretty sure he'll give it a go on his good teeth within the next hour.
Good times. I just feel bad that I did that to my dad's teeth. I'll be more careful from now on.

Chewy Chinese Peanut Sesame Candy Version 2

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/6 cup white vinegar
  • 1/6 cup water
  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds, divided
  • 1 pound roasted and unsalted peanuts (out of the shell)
Instructions:
Prepare a 9x13 inch pan by lining it with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil. For good measure, go ahead and spray the parchment with non stick cooking spray. sprinkle half of the sesame seeds evenly over the bottom of the pan, and then carefully spread peanuts over the sesame seeds in an even layer. Place this pan with the peanuts on a cooling rack and set aside while you prepare the sugar.
In a heavy medium sized saucepan over slightly higher than medium heat, mix the sugars, corn syrup, vinegar, and water, taking care to not splash sugar crystals up on the sides. Just to make sure you have no lingering crystals, take a pastry brush and dip it in water and wash down the sides by brushing all around about 1-2 inches above the sugar mixture.
After the ingredients are mixed and the sides are clean, let the mixture come to a boil. Clip a candy thermometer on the side with the tip in the boiling sugar. Boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Immediately remove from heat and remove the thermometer and set it aside carefully. Immediately pour the molten sugar in a thin, steady stream evenly all over the peanuts, making sure to get every nook and cranny. Immediately sprinkle with the remaining quarter cup of sesame seeds.
Allow to cool completely. Then remove from the pan by using the parchment/foil. Place on a cutting board and cut into pieces with a very sharp knife that's been coated with non stick cooking spray or a little canola oil.
Separate pieces and store in an airtight container, placing wax paper between layers.
Makes about 4 dozen pieces




Thursday, July 4, 2013

Chewy Chinese Peanut Sesame Candy

Chewy Chinese Peanut Sesame Candy

As I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog, my Chinese father was born in Hawaii. Therefore, a lot of our family favorite goodies are from the islands. When talking about this treat last night, my dad said that the woman who owned the little shop where he would buy this confection would not let people buy all they wanted. She would ration it for her customers, so it was a rare treat indeed. My dad really shouldn't eat much of this, but we are all together this summer at my parents' house, and my brother sent me a recipe for this. I looked up a few more recipes because the first one called for it to be cooked to a hard crack stage, but we all remember the chewy version. Some called for brown sugar, and some called for white. I used white because I thought it would turn the golden color I remember, but it didn't. Next time I think I'll use a mix of white and brown, or try adding some honey---or maybe even some corn syrup--because this batch got all grainy on one side. (Don't tell my mom, but I had to throw 1/3 of it away due to graininess--she would be horrified.)
In the spirit of full disclosure, I don't think I ever actually ate this candy until today. It tastes pretty good. My brother thinks it's too sweet, so maybe the brown sugar would help with that. Not sure. My dad likes it, though, so I'm posting it. I'll post an updated version if I ever get around to trying it with the brown sugar.
Oh, and although my fingers still smell like vinegar, the candy doesn't smell or taste like it at all.
Update: I did try it again, and I think it turned out better. Click here for that recipe. 

Chewy Chinese Peanut Sesame Candy

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/6 cup vinegar
  • 1/6 cup water
  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 pound peanuts, roasted & unsalted
Instructions:
Line a brownie pan ("9x9") with parchment paper or nonstick foil. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sesame seeds evenly over the bottom of the pan.
In a medium size heavy saucepan over medium (maybe a little higher) heat, mix the sugar, vinegar,and water. Then DO NOT STIR until it comes to temperature. Place a candy thermometer in once it starts to boil, and cook candy to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Once the candy is at 350 degrees, pour in the peanuts and stir with a silicone spatula to combine. Pour mixture into the prepared pan, smooth out the top as much as you can with the silicone spatula. Sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds evenly over the top.
Allow to cool completely and then cut into pieces with a very sharp knife that's been sprayed with non stick spray.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Toffee Almond Muddy Buddies

Toffee Almond Muddy Buddies

So, now that I've discovered some new ways to make muddy buddies/puppy chow, thanks to Your Cup of Cake (see Butterfinger Muddy Buddies post), I've made up another version: Toffee Almond Muddy Buddies. It just makes sense. I can't even tell  you how I arrived here, but I must say that I really like these, and if I hadn't already eaten so much of the Butterfinger version, I would probably be munching on this right now. Thankfully, I can resist for the time being. We have guests coming for dinner tonight, and I'm hoping they'll put a good dent in the bag of muddy buddies in the fridge. (This house is too hot to let them sit out, but they probably don't need to be refrigerated if you can keep your house below 75 degrees.) I got the cocoa almond spread at Trader Joe's, but if you can't find that, I think Nutella would work too. I just wouldn't use peanut butter because I think it would overpower the toffee.
These are light, crisp, and sweet--but not too sweet. I think it's a nice light way to enjoy some English toffee.

Toffee Almond Muddy Buddies


Ingredients:
  • 6 cups Rice Chex cereal
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cocoa almond spread (or Nutella)
  • 3/4 cups finely chopped toffee bits or Heath Bars
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped roasted almonds (I used unsalted, but I think salted would be good too)
Instructions:
Line two cookie sheets with wax paper. Set aside.
Pour the Rice Chex into a large bowl. In a microwave proof container, melt the chocolate chips with the cocoa almond spread (or Nutella) in the microwave until almost melted (I put it on high for 40 seconds). Stir until chips are completely melted.
Pour chocolate over the Chex and stir/fold gently with a silicone/rubber spatula until Chex are completely coated.
Pour coated Chex into another large bowl with a lid or into a large bag that can withstand some shaking. Pour in the almond and toffee bits. Cover bowl or close bag tightly and shake and toss until almonds and toffee are evenly distributed and sticking to the Chex.
Pour muddy buddies onto the prepared cookies sheets and spread them out into a single layer as much as possible. Put in refrigerator until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
Move to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator if the weather is to warm to allow chocolate to remain set.
Makes about 6 -7 cups of Muddy Buddies


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