Friday, December 18, 2009

Homemade English Muffins

I've been doing a lot of baking lately....not a whole lot of posting.

To prove it...I bring you...English muffins...from scratch.

You may be' makes those and you can buy them in the grocery isle.

But if you have ever had the pleasure of a homemade English muffin, like I did from the Model Bakery in St. Helena, California you too would be on a wild man hunt for something so lovely as a homemade english muffin.

I try not to knock package foods...well all the time...but the truth is...they stink. In fact, most times they are garbage. To prove it, try these and taste them against store bought. It's the difference between eating a piece of heaven and a piece of shoe leather. Its your choice..and we all know...we all get to make our own choices in this country.

But if you are truly looking for something amazing and like nothing you have ever had...make these. I will tell you, they are easy. Mix general ingredients you most likely have at home: flour, water, yeast, milk, etc and you are on your way. The only thing is, you must have a bit of patience as you do with all bread making since it needs rising time. As far as hands on time? Barely any. You measure, mix. Wait. Roll, cut out round shapes. Wait-rise. Bake/fry. Eat. Anyone can do that, wouldnt you say?

I made the entire says it yeilds 18. I got less but I made mine a bit bigger than the directions. I also froze a half dozen of these after their last rising. Instead of cooking them, I put them in the freezer on the cookie sheet. Then after they were frozen I wrapped them up in individual freezer bags. Hopefully they will work for another morning!

I ate myself into an English muffin the next few days and decided instead of allowing any of these go to waste...I made them into mini pizzas (like I remembered from Nursury school) and also into little garlic toasts. The sky is the limit....

I used a recipe from Allrecipes. Click here for the recipe. Next time I will have to check out the one from The Bread Biblem still waiting for it's return to my public library.

Enjoy---I know I certainly did.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

I let my pregnancy cravings get the best of me one afternoon and decided it was a good idea to make not only one kind of cupcake...but two (see my anniversary cupcake).

As luck would have it, I had to go to a gym opening that evening, and I told my trainer I would bring a dessert. (I know...who brings a dessert to a gym opening besides me?) But regardless, he was grateful. Plus, maybe he 'gained' a few clients ;)

My thoughts were that I would just make mini cupcakes. That way, people are more apt to pick them up and eat them because they are small. I think the problem was that many people ate five minis which add up to about one full cupcake but whose counting anyways? Not me!

I think I have had chocolate peanut butter cupcakes on the brain for months, but have not taken the plunge to make them until now. To add decadence to the pot, I added mini peanut butter cups to the batter of each mini cupcake. I had a weak moment in the check out isle at Trader Joe. Why do I feel like I have a lot of these so called 'weak moments' lately? Why can't I crave things like vegetables or something? Anyway...

So the cupcakes are my go to cupcake--deep, rich, chocolately, and crumble in your mouth moist. I have never found another chocolate cake recipe to live up to this one. (And I have made my fair share). Just before I pop the cupcakes in the oven, I throw in the mini peanut butter cup to the top of each one. Mine sank to the bottom--even adding the candy to the top. I think you could remedy this in two ways. One: toss the pb cups in flour then add them. OR Two: toss the pb cups in half way. Honestly, its up to you. I'm not sure if either would work, and I cannot be bothered to open my oven and hang my head in to add morsels in while my face burns. If anyone has a good suggestion--feel free to share ;)

The frosting is a fluffy peanut butter and I must say the perfect compliment to this chocolate cake. Its derived from Martha Stewart and forgive me as I am posting the alteration from memory. Sometimes...not always a great thing. The good news is, you can play with this frosting to your taste. I happened to want something 'less peanut butter' and more frosting with a side of peanut butter.

Enjoy! I know I did!

For the cupcake recipe, click here.
-Alterations: none except adding a mini peanut butter cup to the top of the unbaked cupcake. I also cut the recipe in half which still made almost 40 minis!

For the peanut butter frosting recipe, click here.
-Alterations: I cut the peanut butter down, added more cream cheese, and more confectioners sugar. Don't forget to top the cake with another peanut butter cup!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

POM Ice Cream

Sorry guys, no TWD this week. I'm hoping to catch up next week!

Last month, the wonderful folks at POM sent me a huge box of POM samples to try new recipes with. While I was super excited for the venture of trying new things...I have to admit...I love free stuff!

I was a bit at a loss though, when I received the box. Not because I wouldnt be able consume it, believe me, I drink my weight in the stuff so that wouldn't be the problem. You see, I've been suffering from major pregnancy brain and my creative mojo just isn't what it was! So I enlisted my cousin Lisa because she is into cooking and always has great cooking ideas. So after she rattled off a few ideas....I set on my way.

My first stop was pomegranate ice cream, or should I call it POM ice cream. Now, just hear me out on this one. I know the people at POM probably had high hopes for 'healthy' recipes. But, sometimes its fun to venture out and have fun with something healthy. Desserts need antioxidants too, don't they??

And if you are on a holiday diet, I get it. Stay tuned because I do and have been working on some great healthy options as well!

For now, I give you my homemade POM ice cream. Something so creamy, so amazing, your friends/family/guests --whatever --won't believe you made it.

And if you aren't familiar with the health benefits of POM--you really should check it out. I was blown away with the statistics.

POM Ice Cream
Recipe by: Cafe Coco

1 cup POM juice reduced to 1/4 cup (reduced, see directions)
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Start off by reducing 1 cup of POM juice in a small heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Bring it to a soft boil and keep an eye on it so that it reduces down to 1/4 cup. It should be somewhat thick and syrupy. Let it cool. In fact, refrigerate it and mix this into the ice cream mixture when cold.
2. Whisk together milk, cream, half and half, vanilla, sugar, and POM juice reduction. Whisk until the sugar dissolves.
3. Pour into ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturers instructions. I churned mine for about 25 minutes in a Cuisinart.
4. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and store in the freezer.