the baker upstairs: July 2014

7.28.2014

honey lime chicken skewers

Yum

This week I've made it my goal to make a menu and actually stick to it. I had gotten in a really good habit of doing that every week, and had kept it up for months. But then when my schedule changed at work a couple of months ago, my habit just kind of fell apart. Most nights we either pick up something that's easy to make (we particularly love Trader Joe's for that!) or just cobble together something random using what we have in the fridge or pantry. (For example, our meal last week of chicken fried rice, peaches, and guacamole and chips.) We're getting by, but I miss planning things out and actually cooking meals. I'm hoping things will get better in a few weeks when Abby goes back to school and we can settle into a more normal routine, instead of the crazy summer we've had! It's been tough trying to balance work, nursing school, day care, summer activities, vacations, and trying to keep up with running the household.

Anyway, last night I made the first meal from my new menu, and it was a fabulous way to start off the week! These honey lime chicken skewers were so flavorful and so easy to make. I think they would be awesome on a grill, but since I don't have one right now (boo apartments!) I just did mine under the broiler and they came out great. I drizzled them with a little extra honey when they came out of the oven, and they were fantastic. Both of my little girls ate every last bite of chicken, so it was definitely a recipe win!

Honey Lime Chicken Skewers

juice of one lime
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon sriracha
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 pound chicken breast, cut into chunks
bamboo skewers, soaked in water for a few minutes

Whisk together all ingredients except chicken. Toss the chicken in the marinade and refrigerate for at least one hour. Thread the chicken chunks onto bamboo skewers. Grill over medium heat for 7-8 minutes, or until cooked through. Alternately, preheat broiler and broil for 6-7 minutes, then flip and broil for another 4-6 minutes, until cooked through. Drizzle with extra honey if desired.

adapted from Baking with Blondie

7.24.2014

mini german pancakes

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I know, right? I gave you a long spiel on Monday about how I never eat "normal" breakfasts, and now here I am posting my third breakfast recipe in a row. :) This is another great one that's easy to make for a quick dinner (or breakfast, if you're more normal than I am). I've been using this recipe for years, but I figured it was time for a new post with some updated pictures. I don't really understand while they're called german pancakes, since apparently no german people ever eat them. You're welcome to call them whatever you like… dutch babies, puff pancakes, or (my personal favorite) hootenannies. No matter what you call them, they're delicious and magical!

My favorite part of making them is watching them puff up like crazy in the oven. The batter is so quick and easy to mix together, and it works in pretty much any type of round baking dish. I've made them in cupcake tins, pie plates, cake tins, and my new favorite, in my mini springform pans. I think the cupcake tins or mini springform pans are especially fun because everything mini is more fun, right? As far as fillings go, the possibilities are endless… Geoff loves Nutella and fresh fruit, my girls love maple syrup, and my favorite is with my delicious homemade strawberry sauce. They're so versatile and delicious every time!


Mini German Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

for the pancakes:
4 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup flour, sifted
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons soft butter, plus more for pans

for the strawberry sauce:
3 cups chopped strawberries
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of your strawberries)
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 400. Butter two 9 inch pie plates (or cake pans) or 1 pie plate and 4 mini springform pans. To make the pancakes, add the eggs to a blender and blend until light yellow. Add the sugar, salt, flour, milk, and butter, and blend until smooth. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 and bake an additional ten minutes. Serve warm with desired toppings.

To make the sauce, add the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a medium pot and stir well. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. While the mixture is heating, dissolve the corn starch in the water and whisk until smooth. Add the corn starch mixture to the strawberry mixture and stir well. Let simmer 2-3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove and let cool slightly before serving.

pancakes adapted from Smitten Kitchen

7.21.2014

raspberry coffee cake

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Are you a breakfast eater? I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I'm what you might call a non-traditional breakfaster. I eat breakfast every day without fail, but usually what I eat isn't what most people would consider breakfast food. I often eat leftovers from the night before, or make a quick sandwich, or… well, I've even been known to eat cold pizza right out of the fridge. It's a combination of factors… I really like savory things for breakfast more than sweet, and I'm usually too tired (and in too much of a hurry) to make much of anything in the morning. I make frozen waffles, toast, or cereal for the girls (lest you worry I am converting them to my strange breakfasting habits) but I'm usually just trying to grab what I can as I'm heading out of the house to work.

So what does that have to do with today's post? Well, on the days I don't work, I actually make an effort to make real breakfast foods, and my family loves it! I made this delicious raspberry coffee cake  few weeks ago, and the whole family loved it. It's super simple and straightforward to make, and has a delicious buttery crumb. The fresh raspberries in the filling made it extra special and tasty. I can't wait to try it again with some other varieties of fruit. Yum!


Fresh Raspberry Coffee Cake

for the filing:
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch

for the cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + a splash of vinegar)
1 teaspoon vanilla

for the topping:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a 9 x 9 baking dish by buttering or spraying with cooking spray. To make the filling, whisk together the water, sugar, and corn starch in a medium saucepan. Mix in the raspberries and heat over medium heat until the mixture reaches a simmer. Let simmer 4-6 minutes, or until thickened. Set aside.

To make the cake, in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla, and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Spread about half of the mixture in the prepared pan. Pour the raspberry filling over the batter, then drop remaining batter by spoonfuls over the raspberry filling.

To make the crumb topping, mix together the flour and sugar, then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the batter. Bake 40-45 minutes or until light golden brown and cooked through.

adapted from Heather Homemade


7.16.2014

perfect pancakes

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Happy Wednesday! I'm excited to share one of my all-time favorite, never-fail, dinner-in-a-pinch recipes with you today. I'll be honest… pancakes have been a struggle for me in the past. I love diner or restaurant pancakes but whenever I tried to make them at home, they always turned out rubbery or gross. A few years ago Abby's preschool teacher gave me the recipe for these lovely pancakes, and I've been hooked on them ever since! They are incredibly light and fluffy, and have the perfect taste and texture. They taste as good as or better than any pancakes I've had at a restaurant. Best of all, they are super quick to make and I always have the ingredients for them on hand. We've had them for dinner several nights in the last month (yes, we eat brinner pretty frequently) and I've fallen in love with them all over again. I usually serve them with lots of fresh fruit and some turkey bacon on the side, and everybody's happy!
Perfect Pancakes

2 cups flour
5 tsp baking powder
4 T sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 cups milk

Preheat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl, and whisk with a fork to combine. Mix eggs, oil, and milk together until well combined. Add to dry ingredients, and mix with a fork until mostly combined, with some small lumps of flour remaining. Lightly butter the preheated griddle and pour the batter by 1/4 cup scoops onto the griddle (I always use a measuring cup so they're all the same size). Cook 3-4 minutes or until there are bubbles throughout the top of the pancakes, and the edges of the pancakes look dry. Flip the pancakes and cook for another minute or until lightly browned on the bottom. Serve warm with butter and syrup or (my favorite!) with fresh strawberry sauce. Makes 20-24 pancakes.

7.14.2014

s'mores cupcakes

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Does it get any better than this, my friends? These s'mores cupcakes are pretty darn amazing! The back story on them is that I've been working like crazy for the last few weeks and haven't had a lot of time to bake or cook. My co-worker Meag (who is a seriously awesome baker) brought in some s'mores cupcakes to work this week (yes, my co-workers are great like that), and I couldn't stop thinking about them! I could hardly wait to make my own batch. Pretty much the minute I got off work on Saturday, I was busy in the kitchen whipping up these beauties, and they did not disappoint.


I absolutely adore the delicious flavor combination... graham cracker crust, chocolate cupcake, marshmallow cream filling, and luscious chocolate frosting. Sprinkle the tops with a little extra chocolate, graham cracker, and marshmallow, and you've got a dessert that's both stunning and delicious!


S'mores are one of my favorite summer desserts, and these cupcakes are an awesome way to pack in even more s'mores flavor! They do take a little time to assemble, but the end result is totally worth it!

S'mores Cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
twelve graham crackers, crushed, divided
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces
1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream

for the frosting:
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3-4 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 1/2 cup powdered sugar

for assembling:
7 ounces marshmallow cream
mini marshmallows
hershey's bars

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 and line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners. Reserving 3 tablespoons of the crushed graham crackers, mix the remaining graham crackers with the melted butter until evenly distributed. Add a spoonful of the graham cracker mixture to each paper liner and push it down with your fingers to form a crust. Set aside. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together butter and sugar. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, and beat until the mixture is cool, 4-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and cocoa mixture, and blend until smooth. With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream. Mix until smooth. Scoop into prepared pans, filling 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting and decorating.

To make the frosting, in a large bowl or the bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and milk, then add cocoa and powdered sugar. Whip until the mixture lightens and is smooth and creamy.

To assemble the cupcakes, fill the cooled cupcakes with marshmallow cream. I used a piping bag and a large round tip and just jammed them into each cupcake, but you could also use a knife to cut a circle out of the top of the cupcake, fill the cupcake, then replace the circle. Frost with chocolate frosting (I used a large closed star tip) and sprinkle with reserved graham cracker crumbs, mini marshmallows, and hershey's chocolate. Enjoy!

adapted from my perfect chocolate cupcakes


7.07.2014

simple blueberry turnovers

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Happy Monday! I've been a little absent on the blogging front lately because I've been super busy at work for the last few weeks, but I'm back with a fun recipe to share today! These blueberry turnovers are super tasty and super easy to make. I'm going on a little overnight vacation with the family today to Bear Lake and wanted to make a snack that would be fun to take on the road but would also use up some blueberries I had in the fridge that were threatening to go south. I had an extra sheet of puff pastry in the freezer, and voila! So simple and so delicious!


If you don't have any fruit on hand, you're welcome to use pie filling, but I love how fresh they taste with the sweet and slightly tart blueberries. The filling comes together in just a few minutes and could not be easier to make. I love the layers of flaky puff pastry contrasted with the warm and gooey blueberry filling. I'm sure they would be wonderful plain, but I thought it might be fun to jazz them up a little with a lemon glaze, and it made for a great combination of flavors!

Simple Blueberry Turnovers

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons milk
1 cup powdered sugar (more or less as needed)

Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with cooking spray. In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, water, and corn starch, and heat until simmering. Simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool. Cut the puff pastry into six equal sized rectangles, and roll each out into a square shape. Put 1-2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each square, and fold in half to make a triangle. Pierce the top with a fork to let steam escape. Place on the baking sheet and repeat with remaining squares of dough. Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned, then let cool. While the turnovers are cooling, whisk together the lemon juice, milk, and powdered sugar, adding more or less to reach desired consistency. Pour the glaze into a plastic bag or piping bag, snip a small piece off the corner of the bag, and drizzle over the turnovers. Let harden and enjoy!


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