Lo Siento: No TWD

Yet another missed Tuesdays with Dorie selection. I had all the intentions in the world to make the summer fruit galette chosen by Michelle of Michelle in Colorado Springs, but I found out at 10:30 last night that I didn't have any vegetable shortening in the house to make the crust. Procrastination is never a good thing. I might make it later on this week if I ever remember to pick up some shortening at the grocery store.

Please check in with the other TWD members; you'll be in a for a treat!

Please excuse my lack of activities recently. I've been a bad blogger, but it's not without reason. I've been busy eating sushi, shopping in Dallas, receiving flowers from a dear friend in Arizona, acquiring a new microplane for the kitchen, and obsessing over what is now known as the biggest blockbuster movie ever (and rightly so). I've been enjoying birthday celebrations and haven't stepped near the oven for quite some time. I think it's better for my waistline not to make any baked goods at the moment, especially since my family and I are trying to get through my behemoth birthday cake. It might be hideously decorated, but the cake is pure goodness. Mmm. Nothing hits the spot quite like Sam's Club chocolate birthday cakes.

I hope you all are doing well. I will be back in full spring soon. In the meantime, run out and watch The Dark Knight, marveling at the sheer genius of everyone involved with this film.

Blueberry Cornbread
After work yesterday, I sat down with the latest issue of Vogue and a little snack--blueberry cornbread muffins. I know that it might seem weird that I'm using blueberries in a lot of my baking, especially since I griped about how they ruined my pie, but they work so well in quick breads. Also, Bread & Honey recently featured this recipe, and its loveliness pushed me to try it out myself.

This was another easy day in the kitchen. The batter came together without the help of a mixer, which was really nice because I hate cleaning the whisks and beaters of mixers. I didn't have any yogurt or honey in the house, so I used clabbered milk (milk + lemon juice) and sugar. Wrong move.

The cornbread didn't turn out as fantastic as it did for Summer, and I'm convinced the ingredients I used are to blame. Yogurt would have made the cornbread much richer and creamier than the clabbered milk I put together, especially since I used skim milk to make it. I also used reduced fat margarine. With the lower fat content, the cornbread was bound to come out of the oven dry, and it did. This was compounded by the blandness of the cornbread. Honey would have added a much deeper sweetness to the bread than sugar and would have probably contributed some moisture.

I'm not too excited about the end result, but I think I will give the recipe another try if I ever get around to stocking up on some yogurt and honey. This cornbread really reminds me of the Polenta-Ricotta Cake I made for Tuesdays with Dorie, and that one turned out super well. So I have to give this recipe another shot.

Blueberry Cornbread (adapted from Bread & Honey for 8 muffins)
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup clabbered milk (1/2 cup skim milk + 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice; set for 10 min)
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons margarine
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin by lining it with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. In another container, combine the liquid ingredients, and then stir then into the dry mixture. Be careful not to overstir; mix just until the dry ingredients are full incorporated. Fold in the blueberries.

Divide into the muffin tin. Bake for about 18 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Blueberry Muffins

With my dad's eye swollen by a nasty insect bite, I decided to do a bit of baking to cheer him up. Luckily, he had recently spotted a sale on blueberries during his last trip to the market, so I made his favorite breakfast item--blueberry muffins!

I came across several different muffin recipes, all calling for very different amounts of flour, fats, and sugar. It was a tough call, but I settled with this recipe because it had 2,141 votes of confidence. How can you really compete against that kind of support?

I skipped the crumb topping since everyone in my family is watching their sugar intake. Plus, I wanted to keep things simple. This recipe could not have been easier to recreate. I didn't even have to pull out a mixer to help do the work. These muffins were completely made by hand, and it was a strangely satisfying experience.

The muffins came out of the oven much paler than I anticipated, but they at least had nice, rounded tops. My dad thought that they were too sweet, but my mom and I enjoyed the taste of it. However, I had used skim milk instead of whole milk in the recipe so the muffins were dry. I really need to invest in whole milk, or as Cook's Illustrated claims, I could supplement the skim milk with some heavy cream to get the same effect.

I would love to try this recipe again because it was so quick and easy to put together. Next time, I will use whole milk and perhaps reduce the sugar by a teensy bit. I wouldn't mind experimenting with other fruits--strawberries, apricots, cherries. The blueberries tasted great in the muffins, much better than in the pie, and they produced such a lovely deep, royal purple-blue color.

Blueberry Muffins (from AllRecipes)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin by lining the cups with cupcake liner. (This recipe makes 8 muffins, but I somehow stretched it to 9.)

Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a measuring cup with the capacity to hold at least 1 cup of liquid, pour in the oil, milk, and egg until the 1 cup mark is reached; now stir in the cup. Incorporate the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful to not overmix. When there is a trace of flour still unmixed, STOP and fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter into the muffin tin. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

I hope you all have a great Thursday! The weekend is almost here!

The new layout is finally up! This has been in the works for some time now, and I'm satisfied with the results. I hope you are as well. To celebrate, I baked some chocolate chip cookies. Nothing warms the heart better than a plate of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and a glass of cool milk.

Happy Monday!

John Barricelli and the rest of the crew at Everyday Food would be disappointed in me. Though they strive to create simple yet tasty recipes, I somehow managed to muck things up. I have long wanted to try the Eggplant-Ricotta Bake recipe since I saw John Barricelli whip it up on PBS's Everyday Food. After it being in my "Things to Try" queue for over a year, I finally attempted this dish the other evening when I found an eggplant wasting away in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator.

As the picture above shows, I ran into some problems and all because I didn't read through the instructions. I had only one eggplant instead of two. I used 26 ounces of marinara sauce instead of 16 ounces. The eggplant was sliced too thinly and I failed to brush the slices with olive oil, so parts of the vegetable were charred and dumped in the trash. I layered the cheese mixture right on top of the tomato sauce. The baking dish was too small. It was inevitable that I would end up with something more akin to soup. Luckily, this Eggplant-Ricotta Bake soup had a pretty decent taste.

I haven't touched the dish since Wednesday night, but I will try to salvage its remains this weekend by drying it out in the oven. Considering that the taste was good and the soup provided for a solid meal, I wouldn't mind too terribly if I made this dish again. It came together very easily and quickly, which is nice when you want to have dinner all set before the start of So You Think You Can Dance.

Eggplant Ricotta Bake (from Everyday Food)
  • 2 large eggplants, cut lengthwise 3/4-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 16 ounces store-bought marinara sauce
Line two rimmed baking sheets with the eggplant slices and brush both sides of the cuts with olive oil. Salt and pepper the eggplant. Bake in an oven preheated to 450 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until the eggplant is tender and golden. Don't forget to turn them halfway through!

In a large bowl, stir together the cheeses, eggs, oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Brush an 8-inch square baking pan with olive oil.

Line the bottom of the baking pan with eggplant and spread marinara sauce on top. Layer on more eggplant slices and top with the cheese mixture. Repeat the layers, ending with the cheese mixture. Slide into the 450 degree F oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the sauce begins to bubble. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Happy Weekend!

I hope you all had a happy and exciting weekend. I certainly did. I fully took advantage of the three-day weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July with much rest and relaxation. I skipped over the fireworks and grilling, but I've never been one for such celebrations. No, Fourth of July weekend has long meant watching Wimbledon coverage on television all day long. Back in Pete Sampras's hey day, I would actually tape matches during the week and catch up on them on the weekend.

This year was no different, and I was rewarded with one of the best matches I have ever watched. From 8 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon on Sunday, I was parked in front of the television to watch the championship final between Nadal and Federer. It was thoroughly enjoyable, but since the match went longer than expected, I wasn't able to join my parents at my future abode and help with the ongoing renovations. My parents understood my need to witness this match (I mean, I've been watching Wimbledon since Pete Sampras won in 1995), but I still felt guilty about lounging at home while they were doing some heavy duty stuff. To assuage my guilt, I decided to make the Double Crusted Blueberry Pie, which was this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection as chosen by Amy of South in Your Mouth. I wasn't planning on making it because I'm not a big fan of blueberries, but my dad is.

The pie recipe was relatively straightforward. While I tossing the blueberries with sugar and lemon juice for the filling, my mom plucked a blueberry from the mixing bowl and tried it. No one in my family has ever had fresh, uncooked blueberries, so we were all curious. My mom liked it, but the blueberries were too tart for my liking. My mom enjoyed the mixture so much that she asked if I could forget about making the pie and let her eat the plain filling instead. My decision is obvious...

I thought the pie was all right. Blueberries aren't my favorite, so this pie naturally wasn't my favorite. Despite the cup of sugar tossed with the blueberries, it was still too tart. Maybe with a different fruit next time? Apple? Peach? Strawberry? In the meantime, if you want to try this recipe out for yourself, visit Amy for the full details.

Happy Tuesday!

With the boss out of the office yesterday, my co-workers decided to have a small party to celebrate the upcoming three-day weekend. With everyone bringing one food item to share, I decided to make some good, old-fashioned brownies.

I woke up a little earlier than usual in the morning to whip up a batch of these basic brownies, using my go-to recipe. I put together this formula a few months ago by scrounging up some brownie recipes that use unsweetened cocoa powder. With the help of Microsoft Excel (yes, I'm a nerd), I compared the amount of ingredients that each recipe called for and came up with my own ratios.

Basic Chocolate Brownie

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Slowly melt together the butter and chocolate. A double boiler or a microwave can be used. If a microwave is used, be sure to heat the mixture for only 10-15 seconds at a time. Stir and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract until a consistent color and texture is achieved. Beat in the eggs.

Carefully fold the dry ingredients--flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder--into the wet mixture. Do not overwork the batter; fold until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Stir in the melted butter and chocolate.

Pour the batter into a 9-inch square baking pan sprayed with baking spray (I like Baker's Joy). Bake the brownies for 22-25 minutes, until a tester comes out with clean or with a few crumbs (if you like your brownies slightly gooey, go with the latter option). Let the brownies cool to about room temperature before serving.

These brownies were a winner the first time I tried the recipe, and the winning streak continued yesterday. My co-workers really enjoyed the brownies and loved how "chocolate-y" they were. I stole away from the party few a minutes for a impromptu photo shoot at my desk, resulting in the picture above.
I hope you all have a wonderful, wonderful weekend!