The Baker Upstairs: July 2017

7.31.2017

Pumpkin Pasties

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These delicious and sweet Harry Potter-style pumpkin pasties are so easy to make at home!

These delicious and sweet Harry Potter-style pumpkin pasties are so easy to make at home!

If you're a nerd like me, July 31 is a special day... it's Harry Potter's birthday! I'm not sure I've ever admitted it on this blog before, but I am a major Harry Potter fan. I started reading the books way back as a junior in high school (17 years ago now!) and loved them from the first page to the last. I was totally that dorky person lining up at midnight for every book release! Luckily, my husband is just as into Harry Potter as I am, and it has always been something we've enjoyed together. I have an embarrassingly encyclopedic knowledge of the Harry Potter universe (although mostly, I try to keep this part of myself quiet, so as not to scare off potential friends.)

My best friend Cort and I have been known to throw Harry Potter parties, complete with O.W.L.s, butterbeer, quidditch, and homemade chocolate frogs. A few years ago, she held a Harry Potter birthday party for her oldest daughter Elinor, and it was amazing! Cort asked me to bring something for dessert, and of course I had to make pumpkin pasties.

These delicious and sweet Harry Potter-style pumpkin pasties are so easy to make at home!

I've made them before, but this was my first time actually making the pastry myself, and I think it made all the difference. They were like perfect tiny bites of pumpkin pie! Judging by how few were left after everyone had made the rounds of the food tables, I think they were a hit. The pastry itself was delicious, and I would love to use it for other kinds of pasties. I'm not actually the biggest pumpkin pie fan, but these were some pretty tasty little treats. Harry Potter forever!


These delicious and sweet Harry Potter-style pumpkin pasties are so easy to make at home!
Pumpkin Pasties

for the crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold butter
1 pack­age of cold cream cheese, cut into pieces

for the filling:
3/4 cup canned or fresh pump­kin puree
2 large eggs, divided
pinch of ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Grate the butter into the flour mixture, and blend in using a pastry blender or a fork, until the pieces are no larger than pea sized. Add the cream cheese and mix until the dough starts to come together. Turn out onto a floured surface and shape into two discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes. To make the filling, mix together the pumpkin, one egg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and sugar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone liner. Roll the dough out into a large circle about 1/8 inch thick, and cut circles out of the dough using a biscuit cutter or glass. Place a small spoonful of filling on one side of each circle, fold over the circle, and crimp with a fork to seal. Using a sharp knife, make two small slashes on the top of each pasty. Beat the remaining egg with one tablespoon of water, and brush over the top of the pasties. Bake 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

adapted from Brownie Bites
Just for fun, here are a few shots of the party! I made little golden snitches to go with the pumpkin pasties by printing and cutting out wings and taping them onto Lindt white chocolate truffles. The golden snitches disappeared in the blink of an eye!

These delicious and sweet Harry Potter-style pumpkin pasties are so easy to make at home!

Cort (the coolest mom ever) spray painted a bunch of dishes gold on which to serve the food. We had all the authentic Hogwarts foods... chicken legs, sausages, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, and chips. We also had watermelon and carrots to balance things out, because for some reason Harry and his friends never seem to eat fruits and vegetables. It was easy, fun, and everyone had a great time!


These delicious and sweet Harry Potter-style pumpkin pasties are so easy to make at home!

For more fun Harry Potter-themed treats, check out these fun ideas below!


Butterbeer Cupcakes from A Pastry Affair
Butterbeer Muddy Buddies from Hey Let's Make Stuff

7.28.2017

Spinach and Bacon Quiche

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This savory and cheesy spinach and bacon quiche is so delicious, and easy to make!

This savory and cheesy spinach and bacon quiche is so delicious, and easy to make!

I shared with you on Wednesday that I have finally discovered the perfect pie crust recipe, and now you get to see what I made with that lovely pie crust! This spinach and bacon quiche is incredibly delicious, and perfect for breakfast, brunch, or dinner. My family loves quiche, and we have it for dinner at least once a month. This broccoli cheese quiche is always a favorite at our house, but I think this spinach and bacon quiche may be my children's new favorite. Both of them cleaned their plates without any prompting from me, which is always the mark of a good dinner. My six year old, who HATES spinach, nonetheless ate every last bite. I should probably just make a mental note to add bacon to everything if I want her to eat it. :) This quiche is the perfect mix of flavors, and the texture is amazing. It's definitely going to be added to the rotation at our house!

This savory and cheesy spinach and bacon quiche is so delicious, and easy to make!
Spinach and Bacon Quiche

1 pie crust (I used half of this recipe)
8 eggs
1/2 cup half and half
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chopped cooked spinach
4 slices bacon, chopped, fried until crisp
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375. Press the pie crust into a pie dish, shaping it as you like. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and half and half. Add the flour and water to a small bowl and mix until combined, dissolving any lumps. Add the flour mixture, salt, and pepper to the eggs, and mix to combine, then whisk in the spinach. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese on the pie crust, then pour the egg mixture over the top. Sprinkle the bacon and the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until the top of the quiche is lightly golden and only jiggles slightly when shaken gently.
This savory and cheesy spinach and bacon quiche is so delicious, and easy to make!

7.26.2017

Perfect Pie Crust

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Homemade pie crust is simple, quick, and easy to make with this fantastic recipe!

Homemade pie crust is simple, quick, and easy to make with this fantastic recipe!

One of the (many) frustrations of my life is that I've never been able to make a good pie crust. I've tried many times, and have always failed. It ends up too thick, or has terrible flavor, or is hard and brittle instead of flaky and tender. I have a lot of recipes on the blog that call for pie crust, and I always use a store-bought crust. They do the job, but they never taste as good as a homemade crust. This summer, I made it my goal to find the perfect homemade pie crust recipe, and this, my friends, is it! I've made it multiple times now, and it always comes out perfectly. It's buttery and flaky, light and tender, and it doesn't get soggy while baking. Best of all, it comes together in just a few minutes and takes almost zero effort to make. It's easy enough for beginners, but tastes better than any pie crust I've had at a fancy bakery. The recipe makes enough for two pie crusts, but you can easily halve or double the recipe if you're making a single crust pie, or more than one pie. I can't sing this pie crust's praises enough!

Perfect Pie Crust

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter
1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk plus a splash of vinegar)

In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour and salt. Grate the cold butter into the flour mixture, and cut in using a pastry blender or the paddle attachment, until the pieces of butter are no larger than pea sized. Add the buttermilk, and mix until the dough just starts to come together. Turn out onto a floured surface and gently work into a ball, handling as little as possible. Divide the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least twenty minutes, or until ready to use. Use within 2-3 days.

adapted slightly from Baking with Blondie

7.24.2017

Strawberry Freezer Pops

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These healthy and delicious strawberry freezer pops have only three ingredients, and are full of strawberry flavor. They're so simple to make, and the kids will love them!

These healthy and delicious strawberry freezer pops have only three ingredients, and are full of strawberry flavor. They're so simple to make, and the kids will love them!

I've mentioned before that my mom didn't give us a lot of sweets when I was growing up. She tried really hard to get us to eat healthy food, which is awesome, although I think that it may account for my overconsumption of sweets as an adult. :) One of the few exceptions was that every summer we would buy several large boxes of Otter Pops. Those artificially colored and flavored frozen popsicles were one of my favorite things about summer vacation! My little brother and sister were born at the end of July, and they often asked for Otter Pops for one of their birthday gifts. We all loved them that much!

Now that I'm an adult, and not quite as thrilled about those artificial flavors, I thought it would be fun to make a healthy homemade version that's just as delicious. These strawberry freezer pops are every bit as tasty as those Otter Pops from my childhood, but way more healthy! They're made with fresh fruit, apple juice, and yogurt, and they are the perfect refreshing summer treat. My kids love these, and actually prefer them to store-bought freezer pops. That's a win, in my book!
Strawberry Freezer Pops

2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 cup apple juice
6 ounces vanilla yogurt
ice pop bags (or popsicle molds)

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into ice pop bags, filling to fill line. Close the bags, lay them flat on a baking sheet, and freeze at least two hours.
These healthy and delicious strawberry freezer pops have only three ingredients, and are full of strawberry flavor. They're so simple to make, and the kids will love them!

7.21.2017

Thai Peanut Chicken Skewers

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These thai peanut chicken skewers are so delicious and flavorful! They are a quick and easy weeknight dinner that everyone will love!

These thai peanut chicken skewers are so delicious and flavorful! They are a quick and easy weeknight dinner that everyone will love!

If I want my kids to eat something, all I have to do is smother it in thai peanut sauce. Everyone in my family is crazy about that sauce! We use it to make thai chicken pizza, thai peanut noodles, and drizzle it over steamed vegetables for an easy and healthy dinner. These thai peanut chicken skewers are another fantastic way to enjoy that amazing sauce, and they are fantastic! They're super easy to make, and everyone in my family loved them. I served them with some coconut rice on the side, and they went perfectly together!
Thai Peanut Chicken Skewers

1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon sriracha (more or less to taste)
3 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
juice of 1/2 lime
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into one inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

Whisk together the chicken broth, peanut butter, sriracha, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and lime juice in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened and starting to bubble. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Place the chicken in a large ziplock bag and pour half of the peanut sauce over the top of the chicken. Close the bag and toss to coat the chicken in the sauce. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or until ready to cook. When you're ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 400. Stack the chicken pieces on wooden or metal skewers, and place them on a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes, flip, and bake another 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Brush with remaining peanut sauce and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.
These thai peanut chicken skewers are so delicious and flavorful! They are a quick and easy weeknight dinner that everyone will love!

7.19.2017

17 Magical Unicorn Treats

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17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

My kids are obsessed with unicorns. Like, Agnes from Despicable Me-level obsessed. They've been known to make horns out of paper and tie them around their stuffed animals' heads with curling ribbon. As such, they are also completely obsessed with this new unicorn dessert trend. If it has sprinkles and rainbow colors, they are in! I've been seeing unicorn desserts all over Pinterest, and thought it was high time to make a list of all the amazing recipes I've seen. (And who knows, maybe I will actually be a good mom and make a unicorn dessert or two for my kiddos!) Hope you find something fun to make as well!

Unicorn Frappe from Cheeky Kitchen

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Fudge from Kara's Party Ideas

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Banana Bread from Deliciously Sprinkled

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Cupcakes from Best Friends for Frosting

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Magical Unicorn Donuts from Savvy Saving Couple

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Horns from A Bajillian Recipes

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Hot Chocolate from Favorite Family Recipes

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Ice Cream from Bread Booze Bacon

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Ice Cream Cones from Just a Taste

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Macarons from Southern Fatty

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Marshmallow Pops from The Decorated Cookie

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Milkshakes from Sugar Hero

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Popcorn from Life Love Liz

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Pretzels from Lady Behind the Curtain

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Meringues from MomDot

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Muddy Buddies from The Baker Upstairs

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Unicorn Angel Cake from Sweetapolita

17 magical and whimsical unicorn desserts. All things unicorn, from macarons to muddy buddies!

Have a magical baking day!

7.17.2017

Crusty Artisan Bread

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This homemade crusty artisan bread is better than the bakery, and so easy to make!

This homemade crusty artisan bread is better than the bakery, and so easy to make!

If there is anything better than a hot slice of bread, fresh out of the oven, and spread with butter and honey, I haven't found it! I bake bread all the time, and this bread recipe is one of my favorites. It has a crisp and chewy crust, a tender, soft middle, and the perfect texture throughout. It's the perfect loaf to make when you want to impress your guests, or bring something special to a dinner party, but it's incredibly easy to make, too! You just stir all the ingredients together, let it rise, then bake, and it comes out perfect. I love a bread recipe that doesn't require kneading!  

This homemade crusty artisan bread is better than the bakery, and so easy to make!
Crusty Artisan Bread

1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
3 cups warm water
1 tablespoon salt
6 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting dough

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Mix in the salt and flour, stirring until there are no dry patches. The dough will be very soft and not like a typical bread dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. After rising, divide dough into two pieces and shape each into a round ball. Place each ball of dough on a piece of parchment paper, and let rest 40 minutes.

During the second rise, preheat oven to 450. Place a baking stone or overturned baking sheet on the upper oven rack, and a broiler pan or metal cake pan on the lower shelf. Heat the baking stone at least 20 minutes before baking. When the dough is ready to bake, dust it with flour and cut three deep slashes across the top. Slide the dough on the parchment paper onto the baking stone using a pizza peel (or a thin cutting board). Pour a cup of water into the broiler pan/cake pan and shut the oven door quickly. Bake until golden brown, 24-28 minutes.
This homemade crusty artisan bread is better than the bakery, and so easy to make!

7.12.2017

Garlic Scape and White Cheddar Biscuits

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These buttery and flaky garlic scape and white cheddar biscuits are so savory and delicious!

These buttery and flaky garlic scape and white cheddar biscuits are so savory and delicious!

I've wanted to buy a CSA share for years now, and this summer I finally did! If you're not familiar with a CSA, basically you buy a share of a farm's harvest at the beginning of a season, and then get a regular delivery of produce throughout the season. CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture, and it's a great way to support local farms and local produce. (Psst... If you're a Portland area local, I joined the Hood River Organics CSA and I've been really pleased with the quality so far!) Not only do I get a regular delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables, I've also had the opportunity to try some new things that I wouldn't normally have tried, like garlic scapes!

Garlic scapes are the sprouts of the garlic bulbs that the farmers cut off just before the garlic is ready to harvest, and I'll confess that I had never heard of them before I got them in my produce box. They have a nice garlic flavor that's much milder than eating a garlic bulb, and a raw texture that's similar to green beans. You can add them to stir fry, scrambled eggs, or hummus, and they add a nice garlic flavor that's not overwhelming. I'm planning to use most of my bunch to make some garlic scape pesto (I'll keep you posted on that!), but I used a few scapes to make these gorgeous biscuits. If you don't have access to garlic scapes, you could substitute chives or green onions, and I'm sure they'd be equally delicious that way. These biscuits are so buttery and flaky, and the garlic scapes and white cheddar are a delicious combination!
Garlic Scape and White Cheddar Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter
1/4 cup chopped garlic scapes (or chives or green onions)
3/4 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk with a splash of white vinegar)

Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicone and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Grate the cold butter into the flour mixture, and toss to coat. Add the garlic scapes and cheddar cheese, and toss to combine. Pour in the buttermilk and mix just until the dough comes together. (Be careful not to over-mix!) Pat the dough out to an even layer, about one inch thick, on a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough into thirds, as though you are folding a letter. Pat the dough out again until it is about one inch thick. Turn the dough 90 degrees and fold it in thirds again. Pat it out into a rectangle that is approximately one inch thick. Cut into circles using a biscuit cutter or small cup. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

These buttery and flaky garlic scape and white cheddar biscuits are so savory and delicious!

7.10.2017

Piña Colada Cupcakes + 13 Tropical Piña Colada Recipes

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These piña colada cupcakes have the perfect combination of flavors, and a light and tender crumb. So delicious and easy to make too!


These piña colada cupcakes have the perfect combination of flavors, and a light and tender crumb. So delicious and easy to make too!

Today is National Piña Colada day! I have to say, piña colada is not usually my favorite flavor. I don't drink alcohol, so I've never had a piña colada mixed drink, but everything I've tried with that flavor (candy, smoothies, ice cream, etc.) has been disappointing. It always just seems to tastes syrupy sweet and fake and over the top to me. These cupcakes, though.... well, they are delicious enough to win even me over! I started with a light and tender pineapple and coconut cupcake base, then added a sweet and fluffy coconut frosting on top. A maraschino cherry on top is the perfect finishing touch!

These piña colada cupcakes have the perfect combination of flavors, and a light and tender crumb. So delicious and easy to make too!

I made these for our Fourth of July celebration, and shared some with our neighbors. They were a huge hit all around! I think my husband ate four cupcakes over the course of the evening. :) I wasn't sure if I would like the pineapple in the cupcakes, since I tend to only like fresh pineapple, but it added a really nice touch without being overwhelming. I will definitely make these cupcakes again!

These piña colada cupcakes have the perfect combination of flavors, and a light and tender crumb. So delicious and easy to make too!
Piña Colada Cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cold, grated
4 eggs
1 cups sour cream or greek yogurt
1/2 cup pineapple juice (reserved from crushed pineapple)
1 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons coconut extract
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

for the frosting:
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons coconut extract
2-3 tablespoons half and half or milk
3/4 cup shredded coconut, plus additional for sprinkling on top
24 maraschino cherries

Preheat the oven to 350. Line two muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl or a the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the sour cream, pineapple juice, vanilla, and coconut extract in a measuring cup, and add about half of the sour cream mixture to the flour mixture. Beat until well blended and smooth. Add the other half of the sour cream mixture, and beat until smooth. Mix in the crushed pineapple. Fill paper liners 2/3 full and bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powered sugar and mix to combine. Add the coconut extract and enough half and half to make the frosting come together. Beat on high speed for 4-6 minutes, until light and fluffy. Fold in the shredded coconut. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes, sprinkle with additional shredded coconut, and top with a maraschino cherry.
These piña colada cupcakes have the perfect combination of flavors, and a light and tender crumb. So delicious and easy to make too!

For more delicious piña colada recipes, check out these posts from some of my favorite bloggers below!

13 amazing piña colada recipes from your favorite food bloggers!

Piña Colada Ice Cream from Ashlee Marie
Tropical Piña Colada Cupcakes from Life Made Simple
Piña Colada Bread from Creations by Kara
Vegan Piña Colada Cocktail from Namely Marly
Piña Colada Tembleque from Foodie with Family
Piña Colada Pie from Real Mom Kitchen
Piña Colada Grilled Pineapple from Hey Grill Hey
Piña Colada Popsicles from Gather for Bread
Virgin Piña Coladas from Real Mom Kitchen
Tropical Cinnamon Rolls from Life Made Simple
Piña Colada Quick Bread from Gather for Bread
Piña Colada Ice Cream from Baked by Rachel

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