Monday, February 27, 2017

Baked Parmesan Sweet Potatoes

Baked Parmesan Sweet Potatoes - made January 24, 2017, modified from Lil Luna
I'm back with another sweet potato recipe because, you know, bag of sweet potatoes from Costco. And there are a million ways to make sweet potatoes. I've tried and tried and tried to make crispy sweet potato fries. Why aren't those efforts on my blog? Because they've failed. Spectacularly. I'm okay blogging my failures too but honestly, I couldn't even bring myself to take pictures. And yes, I've tried all the tricks from all the recipes that say "here's the secret to crispy sweet potato fries!" Um, no, I couldn't do it, not the cornstarch trick, not the soak or rinse or bathe in cold water trick or both cold water and cornstarch. You know when I gave up? When I freaking deep fried them and they still weren't crispy!!
Okay, deep breath. It's upsetting because you know I love sweet potato fries. But they mock me. Never mind. I now switch my attention to other ways to make sweet potatoes without going the crispy-fries route (mutter). Thankfully, I can pan fry and bake sweet potatoes with the best of them and these turned out to be delicious.
I did make a couple of modifications from the original recipe to fit what I had in my (Penzey's!!) spice drawer. I used paprika instead of Italian seasoning and sprinkled tarragon instead of parsley. (Hey, they were still bits of green.) They turned out beautifully. The pictures aren't very good but believe me, the sweet potatoes were. As long as I'm not making sweet potato fries, it's hard to go wrong with sweet potatoes.
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Tarragon or parsley (I used tarragon)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place garlic, oil, butter, salt, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning in a ziploc bag and mix well.
  3. Add sweet potato cubes and shake until well coated.
  4. Place cubes onto cookie sheet in single, even layer. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until fork tender.
  5. Serve warm and sprinkled with dried parsley if desired.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies - Levain Bakery copycat #2 from Kirbie Cravings

Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies - made dough January 28, 2017, modified from Kirbie Cravings (same as Modern Honey recipe)
I'm dwelling on a new riff of an old obsession. Yes, I'm still fixated on Levain Bakery cookies. I think I've got the chocolate chip ones out of my system (for now) as I've come to realize that while I do like the original Levain Bakery chocolate chip cookies, some of the copycat recipes I've tried out have also been excellent and satisfy my chocolate chip cookie sweet tooth (yes, I have one of those). So I don't feel the need to make an exact Levain copycat because there are quite a number of acceptable substitutes out there. thing I realized from my visit(s) to the original Levain Bakery is how much I loved their chocolate chocolate chip cookie. The crisp outside, the rich dense fudginess of the inside that's like eating baked fudge? Nirvana. And nirvana is hard to replicate. However, never let it be said I back down from a challenge, at least not while I'm obsessed. So you're going to see more copycat recipes for their fudgy chocolate chocolate cookie in the coming weeks (months?).
Pinterest, of course, was the logical starting point as yes, they have copycat recipes for Levain's chocolate chocolate cookie, although not as many as I'd like. And the same one keeps getting repinned. I'd tried one some months ago before I even went to Levain and that turned out well but not quite like the real thing. This copycat from Kirbie's Cravings seemed quite popular and looked amazing on her site. It's the exact same recipe I found on Modern Honey as well. So that became attempt #2.
I thought it was pretty good. The picture above shows the inside while it was still a bit warm so the gooey-ness is prominent. Chocolate chocolate cookies are one of the few cookies I recommend eating at room temperature. That gives the chocolate time to set and it'll still be fudgy without being too mushy. You'll also get the full flavor of the chocolate. The recipe calls for baking the cookies at 410 degrees. Depending on your oven, that might be a bit hot. When I bake chocolate chip cookies over 375 degrees in mine, the chips tend to burn slightly before the cookie is done enough to be taken out. I put the baking sheet in at 375 while the oven is still preheating, let it hit 410, keep it there for 2-3 minutes then bring the oven temp back down to 375 to finish baking.
The picture below gives you an idea of what I mean about a room temperature texture as that was taken well after the cookies had cooled and the chocolate had set. As chocolate chocolate chip cookies go, this was tasty. Be sure you use a dark, high quality cocoa to get the richness of the chocolate flavor. But it's not quite a Levain Bakery cookie because once the cookies had cooled, the crisp-ness of the outside softened. The taste was still good and was rich but not quite the baked-fudge texture of the Levain original which is one of the things I loved so much about it. It was just a bit more "light" in texture than the dense fudginess of the Levain Bakery original. On to the next attempt and another copycat recipe for me.
1 cup unsalted cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Pernigotti cocoa)
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips and/or chunks (I used half semisweet, half milk chocolate chips)
  1. In a mixing bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, dark brown sugar and granulated sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  2. Whisk together cocoa powder, cake flour, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Add to mixing bowl on lowest speed, mixing until just combined. Do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chips or chunks.
  3. Portion into generous 4-ounce dough balls, cover and chill for 15 minutes or longer.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 410 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space chilled dough balls. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until surface is dry and cookies look almost set. Let cool for a few minutes on baking sheet then remove to wire cooling racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Garlic Butter Smashed Sweet Potatoes

Garlic Butter Smashed Sweet Potatoes - made January 20, 2017 modified from Cafe Delites
I have yet to meet a sweet potato that I don't love. I can eat it plain boiled or baked and be perfectly fine. Once in awhile, I take a walk on the wild side and "do stuff" to the plain sweet potato so that it isn't so plain.
It helps when you buy a large bag from Costco and get all crazy. Fortunately, it's hard to ruin sweet potatoes. Even more fortunately, this recipe makes them better. This was just enough savory to complement the sweet potato perfectly. I made one minor mistake because I didn't read the directions carefully enough beforehand (oops) and sprinkled the Parmesan cheese on top the first time I put them in the oven. So the sprinkles got a bit burnt.
Fortunately, the potatoes survived me and my cooking, er, skills and were perfectly fine. It's best to cut the potato rounds a bit thick so they don't fall apart in boiling so easily and there's more sweet potato to enjoy with each serving.
4 medium or 3 large sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  1. Cut sweet potatoes into thick discs, skins on. Place in large pot of salted water. Bring to boil, covered for 20-25 minutes or until just fork-tender. Drain.
  2. Preheat oven to broil, high heat setting. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Arrange sweet potatoes in single layer and lightly press with fork.
  4. Mix butter, garlic powder and parsley. Brush each sweet potato generously with mixture until evenly divided among the pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  5. Broil until they are golden and crispy, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle tops with parmesan cheese and return to the oven until the cheese is melted.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Apple Crumb Coffee Cake

Apple Crumb Coffee Cake - made January 20, 2017 from NeighborFood
So...I kinda messed up on this recipe (and the pictures didn't turn out that well either). Fortunately, it survived me so you may want to keep reading. Otherwise, you're going to miss a really fabulous apple coffee cake.
I put together the crumb mixture, peeled and sliced the apples, and made the cake batter just fine. Had my 9 x 13 baking pan all lined with foil, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, the oven was preheated, everything was good to go. Except when I started spreading half the batter for the bottom layer of the cake and there was hardly enough to cover 3/4 of the pan. Seriously, it looked like I was making a really big rectangular pancake. Never mind that the other half of the batter was supposed to cover all of the apples and a part of the crumb layer. Eek.
So I got the brilliant-to-me idea of using a smaller pan. In hindsight, I should've gone with a 10 x 10 pan as it was closer in size to the 9 x 13 I was supposed to use. But no, don't be silly; that would've made too much sense. Instead, I went with a 9 x 9 pan. The first half of the batter spread nicely and covered the bottom of the pan like it was supposed to at a height I would estimate would be great for the cake once it was baked.
The larger cake with the apples but you can't really see them
Except....I still had the apples to layer, then part of the crumb topping then the rest of the cake batter then the rest of the crumb topping. If you guessed I would have run out of room before I could layer all that, you guessed better than I did. I layered the apple slices, I crumbled the crumb topping on top and hit the top of the pan. And that was before baking. I knew the cake would rise so it would end up even higher.
Yeah, that's when I belatedly remembered how crumb cake was really all about the crumb, not the cake. As in, I had so much crumb topping that had I stuck to the 9 x 13 pan, things would have been fine. Fortunately, I knew enough not to insist on cramming everything in that 9 x 9 pan. Instead, I went with just the bottom cake layer, the apple layer and a generous amount of crumb topping on top. The extra batter and crumb topping I split between different ramekins.
Despite my blunder, this was an excellent crumb coffee cake. The crumb topping was probably one of the best I've ever made. It mixes together easily and is easy to squeeze into big lumps so you get gorgeous, crunchy-sweet topping on top of your baked cake. When making a crumb cake, you don't want crumb dust. No, you want big pieces of streusel that crisp up during baking provides a sweet crunch to go with the cake. Just bake it in a big enough pan.
3 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large or 3 small tart apples, peeled and chopped (I used Granny Smiths)

8 tablespoons butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons apple cider
1-2 tablespoons milk
pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13-inc baking pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Crumb: In a mixing bowl, whisk together 3 cups flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract and stir until the mixture is evenly moist. Set aside.
  3. Batter: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and sour cream. 
  4. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture, stirring just until combined. Do not overmix.
  5. Spread half the batter into a thin layer at the bottom of the pan. Line the apple slices evenly over the batter. Top with about 1 cup of the crumble mixture, Spread the remaining batter over the top followed by the rest of the crumble. Squeeze some of the crumble into large chunks before topping the cake.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. If top is getting too brown, lightly cover with foil for the last 10 minutes.
  7. While the coffee cake bakes, whisk together the powdered sugar, apple cider, milk and salt. Drizzle over warm cake and serve.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sweet Cornbread

Sweet Cornbread - made January 18, 2017 from High Heels and Grills
Cornbread always brings to mind Marie Callendar's, the restaurant chain known for its pies. I know it for both pies and cornbread. They always served the square of cornbread warm with butter melting on top and it seemed more like a cake than a quick bread. Which meant I liked it, of course.
I haven't gone to Marie Callendar's very much since my undergrad days, way, way back in the day. But I still like me some good cornbread. I don't like it enough to keep trying out different recipes for it though, mostly because the ones I've tried in the past have invariably been dense and sometimes dry with a gritty, crumbly texture. There's only so much dry cornbread warm, melting butter can save.
Fortunately, this wasn't like that at all. I made it with white cornmeal so it might not shriek (yellow) cornbread in the pictures and could try to pass itself off as vanilla cake. But nope, it's cornbread and pretty good cornbread at that. It lives up to its name as being "sweet cornbread" but that made it tasty to my sweet tooth. I also liked the texture which leaned more towards cakey rather than crumbly but still retained the slight grittiness of cornbread.
As always, you can't go wrong with serving it warm with melted butter on top. Even at room temperature it's still pretty good but go for the warm; it's worth it.
4 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, combine egg yolks, milk, vanilla and melted butter; whisk to combine.
  3. Add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir until fully combined but do not over mix.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold them into the batter.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sweet Potato Hash with Sausage and Eggs

Sweet Potato Hash with Sausage and Eggs - made January 17, 2017, modified from Delicious Meets Healthy
This is the kind of "real food" cooking I like to do. It's easy, it doesn't have too many ingredients and it's pretty healthy. With healthy being relative considering if you plugged a search for "chocolate chip cookies" on my blog, the results probably come back with more than 8 pages' worth of posts. And if you're of the camp that the nutrients of the sweet potato outweigh the affect on blood sugar levels, you might even consider it paleo-friendly if you're on the paleo way of eating.

I also consider this recipe pretty flexible in that, although it's meant to be a breakfast dish, it's good for any meal of the day. I modified it slightly from Delicious Meets Healthy, swapping out the original coconut oil for olive oil and adding a couple of the Penzey's spices I had on hand. I swear I'm not affiliated with Penzey's but I like their spices and love the company. I've been so bent on supporting them that I now have a drawerful of spices I need to use; hence my recent mania with cooking, almost more than baking.

The only drawback to this recipe is you really need to watch the baking once the eggs are cracked open on top. I was afraid of the yolks being runny so I think I kept the baking dish (I didn't have a cast iron skillet large enough) in the oven longer than I should have. Consequently, a film had baked over the eggs. While the yolks still looked undercooked, they actually weren't. In fact, they were as firm as if they'd been hardboiled, even if they didn't look it at first glance. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this dish - simple, hearty and (relatively) healthy.

1 pound bulk sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Rosemary, to taste
Roasted garlic, to taste, optional
  1. Preheat over to 425 degrees F.
  2. Brown onions and sausage in a cast iron skillet. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Reduce heat to medium high, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sweet potatoes. Stir occasionally until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Cover skillet with a lid while cooking.
  4. Once sweet potatoes are tender, add sausage and onions to the cast iron skillet. and stir together.
  5. Crack four eggs over sweet potato hash. Place cast iron skillet in oven and cook 10-15 minutes until eggs are set.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Skillet Snickerdoodle for One (or Two)

Skillet Snickerdoodle for One - made January 17, 2017 from Well Floured
Do you have portion control issues? Do you ignore my suggestion to make cookie dough ahead of time, put it in the freezer then bake off ONE cookie when you want one instead of baking (and eating) the whole batch? No joke, I've had friends give me the side-eye when I suggest the one cookie thing. "Who eats just one cookie?" they demand. Like I'm some kind of weirdo.
My ramekin runneth over - oops
Okay, fine. How about making one cookie then? Like this one for a skillet snickerdoodle. Granted, it's larger than your average cookie but maybe that'll make up for its single-ness.

You can tell a couple of obvious things from the picture right off. First, I didn't make this in a skillet. Because I didn't have one small enough. So I baked it in a ramekin. Which, second, turned out to be too small. I didn't think so at the time when I put the dough into the ramekin as it fit just right. I was shown the error of my ways halfway through baking when the dough puffed up and began spilling over the sides. Oopsie.
So if you don't have a 6-inch cast iron skillet either (I only had an 8-inch) and go the ramekin route, play it safe and divide the dough into two ramekins. I know, that's two cookies but that's better than losing some of the cookie to the bottom of the oven floor like I did. Which was a shame because this turned out to be a pretty good cookie. The edges were crisp and light, very airy. The middle was nicely chewy. It was a bit sweet though but a scoop of vanilla ice cream can temper that right quick. Wait a few minutes after you take the cookie out of the oven. If you put the ice cream on when the cookie is too hot, it melts too fast and you end up with melted goop over your cookie instead of actual ice cream. I like to give it 3-5 minutes then put the ice cream on top. The cookie is still warm and the ice cream remains cold in the time it takes you to eat the cookie.
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until light colored. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla.
  3. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cream of tartar and salt. Add to the butter-sugar mixture and beat until just combined.
  4. Press dough into a 6-inch cast iron skillet and top with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until edges are set and middle no longer looks raw. Serve warm with ice cream.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Gingerdoodles - made dough January 17, 2017 from Kristine's Kitchen
Remember earlier when I said I wasn't much into the traditional flavors of Christmas, like gingerbread and such? But I did try a ginger molasses cookie recipe for the holidays. And, being on a one-track sense of purpose of using my fabulous spices from Penzey's (I swear I'm not affiliated with the company, I just like them and their spices), I decided to try another one even though it was past the holiday baking season.
 I compromised though and went with this "gingerdoodle", billed as a cross between a ginger cookie and a snickerdoodle. And I think that's a pretty apt description. The molasses keeps it from being a snickerdoodle but the cream of tartar, texture and rolling in cinnamon sugar before baking also beats back the traditional ginger molasses cookie. Instead, it's a pretty good blend between the two.

I prefer this over the traditional ginger molasses cookie, mostly because the molasses wasn't so overwhelming and I have a fondness for snickerdoodles. If you can't choose between one or the other, give this one a try as a way to have your cake cookie and eat it too.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened slightly
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cinnamon sugar for rolling
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cream of tartar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Mix in molasses, egg and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.
  3. Portion the dough into golf-ball-size dough balls, cover and chill or freeze for an hour or overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together the 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon (feel free to add more cinnamon if desired). Roll chilled or frozen dough balls in cinnamon-sugar, coating completely. Bake cookies for 9-10 minutes, until barely golden and set. Do not overbake. Let cookies cool on pan for 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Soft Toffee Cookies

Soft Toffee Cookies - made dough January 10, 2017, modified from Call Me PMC
First batch - baked until middles were no longer raw
I thought I would like these cookies. Unfortunately I didn't. They weren't bad, per se. Just not my kind of cookie. I didn't think it was even possible that I had a cookie type I didn't like. I mean, who knew? But if you're not me and you do like soft, sweet, cakey, toffee cookies, this might be for you.

Cakey insides
You know I don't like cakey cookies and that was the first strike against this one. I didn't overbake it but took it out just when the middles didn't look like raw dough anymore. You can't eat it warm (strike 2) or the toffee is just sticky and hard to eat. But even at room temperature the edges were cakey and the middle was just kinda goo.
Same dough, second sheet, baked 10 minutes, still raw in the middle 

That was the first batch. So I tried it again when I had to make a goodie bag for a friend I was meeting for lunch and baked off the rest of the dough balls. This time, I actually timed how long I baked these and only went for the recommended 9-10 minutes (it was 10 minutes) before I took the cookies out even though the middles didn't look done. They weren't but when cooled to room temperature, I thought that would work and the cookies wouldn't be cakey because they hadn't baked long enough to get cakey. That worked but it just meant the cookies were really soft. And a bit too sweet (strike 3). Maybe it was because I froze the dough first rather than baking right away so it did need longer to bake than the 9-10 minutes specified in the recipe? Probably.
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup toffee bits
  1. Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and egg; mix just to combine.
  2. Add flour, baking powder and salt; mix until just combined.
  3. Fold in toffee bits. Portion into golf-ball-size dough balls and chill or freeze for 30 minutes to an hour (minimum).
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space chilled or frozen dough balls. Bake 9-10 minutes or until edges are set and middles are no longer raw.