Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cranberry Mousse


Cranberry mousse has been a staple at every holiday dinner in my family for as long as I can remember.

So what exactly is cranberry mousse? Cranberry mousse can be a dessert. It can be a side dish. It can be a snack. It’s a little tangy and a little sweet. And it’s healthy and delicious!


Cranberry Mousse

Ingredients
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple
  • 1 (14 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 2 small packages of sugar free strawberry gelatin
  • 1 (16 ounce) container of fat free sour cream

 Directions
  1. Drain pineapple and set the pineapple tidbits aside. There should be approximately 1 cup of juice. Add water to the juice so you have 1.25 cups of liquid.
  2. Mix pineapple juice liquid with dry gelatin and cranberry sauce in a sauce pan. Bring it to a boil on medium heat.
  3. Let boil for approximately 1 minute.
  4. Take off heat and leave out until liquid is room temperature.
  5. Place it in refrigerator for about an hour or until it is semi set.
  6. Add sour cream and pineapple tidbits to mixture and fold together.
  7. Let set in refrigerator. 





Saturday, November 21, 2015

Healthy Cranberry Relish


During the holidays, we’re surrounded by so many caloric and unhealthy treats that sometimes it’s actually refreshing to eat something healthy.

This cranberry relish is exactly that. It’s literally just raw fruit with a teeny tiny bit of sweetener. The combination of fruits works really well together too, and the colors in the relish make for a very festive addition to your holiday table.

Additionally, it is very very minimal work – you don’t need to worry about peeling the fruit because it just gets ground up in the food grinder – talk about all the extra fiber!




Cranberry relish
Ingredients
  • 1 (12 ounce) package of cranberries
  • 2 apples, cored with skin still on
  • 2 oranges, seeded with peel still on
  • 1 (8 ounce) container pineapple tidbits
  • 1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute like Splenda
Directions
  1. Cut the fruit into chunks. The chunks don’t need to be small – they just need to fit in you food grinder or food processor
  2. Stick chunks of fruit in food grinder
  3. Stir in sugar and serve





Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chocolate Pecan Pie


My favorite holiday of the year is only a week away! I've always loved Thanksgiving because in my opinion there is nothing more fulfilling than sharing a big meal with your closes family and friends.
Today I’m talking about the dessert portion of the meal. Specifically PIE! Because holiday season = pie season.

So I’m going to share a few tips for perfecting your pie!
  1. Make a “shield” for your crust. What I mean by this is when you’re baking your pie and you notice the edges start to turn brown shield the crust from the oven with aluminum foil. Do this by folding a square of aluminum foil into quarters and then cutting out the center of the foil so you can place it on top of the pie edges.
  2. Bake pies on the lowest oven of the rack. This is because you want the crust to cook well on the bottom but you don’t want the top of the pie to burn.
  3. Place your pie on a cookie sheet before putting it in the oven. Pies are very delicate and hard to transport. If you put the pie on a baking sheet first, it’s easier to remove the pie from the oven.


For my segment on FOX59 I chose to make a chocolate pecan pie! Have you ever heard of a derby pie? Yeah, it’s the same thing – EXCEPT Kern’s Kitchen, the original creators of the Derby Pie, holds a trademark on the name so no one else can use it.

Chocolate pecan pies are always a staple at my family’s holiday gatherings. For those of you out there who have never feasted on this delightful delectable, let me describe it to you: Imagine a thick and fudgy chocolate chip cookie that has just been taken out of the oven. A cookie that is so saturated with chocolate and pecans that they oooze out when you take a bite. Now imagine that cookie wrapped in a flaky pie crust and topped with whip cream. 

Chocolate Pecan Pie
Servings: 8 slices

INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup semi sweet morsels
  • 1 frozen or refrigerated pie crust (you can make your own pie crust if you really want to, but I've found that with this particular pie it's hard to tell much of a difference)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Melt 1/2 cup butter on medium heat in saucepan.
  3. Once butter is melted remove saucepan from stove and let it cool for a few minutes (this step really is necessary because if you don't let it cool, the eggs will start to cook when you add them to the pan)
  4. Add the sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla to the saucepan and mix well
  5. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips
  6. Pour mixture into pie crust
  7. Bake pie for 35 to 40 minutes (start checking center of pie with a toothpick at 35 minutes to see if it's done)
  8. Remove pie from oven and let it set for at least an hour before serving
  9. Serve pie warm and with whip cream!





Monday, November 9, 2015

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Cupcakes


As of three years ago, I had never made non-box mix cupcakes. Sure, box mix cupcakes are okay. Like when you talk about them, you think “Ehhhhh.” And they’re definitely edible. But when have you ever thought, “Wow! That box mix cupcake was amazing!” Probably never.

The ingredient list on the back of a box mix includes niacin, thiamin mononitrate, and riboflavin. Do you know what that stuff is? Because I don’t.

What I’m trying to say is there’s a HUGE difference between box mix cupcakes and cupcakes where you take the time to measure out the ingredients yourself.

I understand that sometimes it can be intimidating trying to bake the perfect cupcake because you’re not sure if they’ll turn out and you don’t want to spend a bunch of time on something that turns out to be a gooey mess.

So I have compiled my check list for assuring your homemade cupcakes turn out perfect every single time! Trust me, you’ll never buy a box mix again!
  1. Measure ingredients correctly 
    • I can’t express enough how important it is to properly measure your ingredients! Baking is an exact science. An extra half-cup of flour in the batter can mean the difference between light and fluffy cupcakes and hard rocks. The best way to do this is to measure your ingredients by weight. One of my favorite baking tools ever is the EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale. I use it to measure everything. I try to add weight (in grams) to each ingredient listed in my recipes, but when I encounter a recipe where the weight isn’t listed, I used this ingredient weight chart to check.
  2. Bring all ingredients to room temperature
    • I know from experience that when you’re ready to start baking you want to start immediately, but about an hour before you start take your cold ingredients out of the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature. This includes your eggs, milk, butter, etc. Cold ingredients don’t mix as well with ingredients that are already at room temperature like the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  3. Don’t overmix the batter
    • You should only mix your cupcake batter until “just combined.” That means you should stop mixing as soon as you can no longer see the ingredient or ingredients you just added to the batter. The scientific reasoning behind this is when you overmix the batter, the gluten in the flour forms “elastic gluten strands” that make the product more dense and chewier. Basically, you squash out all the air bubbles and everything that makes a cupcake light and fluffy.
  4. Equally measure out the batter
    • Make sure there’s an equal amount of batter in each cupcake liner. This ensures evenly baked cupcakes. I use a cookie scoop to portion out my batter.
  5. Don’t overfill liners
    • Fill your cupcake liners 1/2 to 2/3 full. If you overfill the liners, the batter will spill out of the top of the liner resulting in slightly deformed cupcakes. Also, the cupcakes won’t bake evenly, the bake really quick on top, but the center will remain gooey.
  6. Don’t peek when they’re in the oven
    • I know this is easier said than don, but DO NO open the oven door and peek at the cupcakes while they’re baking. Opening the door releases heat and it messes with the baking time of the cupcakes.
  7. Remove cupcakes from pan
    • Once you take the cupcakes out of the over, do not wait long (like maybe a minute or two at most) to remove the cupcakes from their cavities and place them on a cooling rack. If you leave the cupcakes in the hot pan they will continue to bake and your cupcakes will dry out.
 Following these cupcake-baking rules will ensure consistency every time you bake a batch of cupcakes. Trust me, you’ll never want to use a box mix again!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Yield: Makes about a dozen cupcakes

Ingredients
For the vanilla cupcakes
  • 1 and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (208 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (201 grams)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 2 egg whites (you can use 1 egg instead, but the batter will be a more yellow)
  • 1/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt (60 grams) (you can use plain yogurt, regular yogurt or sour cream instead)
  • 3/4 cup milk 
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
For the vanilla buttercream frosting
  • 1/2 cup unsalted or salted butter, room temperature
  • 3 – 4 cups powdered sugar (378 to 504 grams)
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions
For the cupcakes
  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Line muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  5. Add sugar to the bowl of melted butter and whisk together - mixture will be gritty.
  6. Add egg whites, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract to bowl and whisk until combined.
  7. Slowly add dry ingredients to bowl of wet ingredients, and whisk until no lumps remain. The batter will be thick.
  8. Add batter to cupcake liners and bake for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
 For the frosting
  1. Beat softened butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add powdered sugar to bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth.
  3. Add heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and salt to bowl and increase mixer to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes.
  4. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin or more heavy whipping cream if frosting is too thick.
  5. Frost cooled cupcakes.
  6. Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days and in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
Cupcake recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction.





Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Maple Glazed Apple Cider Doughnuts


I dare you to find someone who dislikes doughnuts. I mean seriously, what’s not to love? There are so many different varieties and flavors, and they’re acceptable no matter what time of day it is.

Growing up, I used to love going to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts after getting my report card. They’d give you one donut for every “A.” And you’d always know when the donuts were fresh by the sign in the window!

November 5 is National Doughnut Day so I’m celebrating with a seasonal apple cider donut! Usually pumpkin donuts are my favorite autumn doughnut, but it’s good to branch out and try something new every once in a while.

And to be completely honest, my neighbor gave me several gallons of apple cider, and I’m a big believer in using what you have.

The key to apple cider doughnuts is using very strong apple cider. And you can make strong apple cider by simmering the apple cider on low heat until it reduces to half a cup. The result is very strong apple cider.

The stronger the cider, the more apple-y the doughnut.

Additionally, these doughnuts are BAKED, not fried. So they’re healthy, or something like that.

You can either bake the doughnuts by investing in a $10 doughnut pan or you can make doughnut holes in a mini muffin pan.



Maple Glazed Apple Cider Doughnuts
Ingredients:
For the doughnuts
  • 2 cups apple cider (reduced to 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (250 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (you can substitute with more cinnamon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar (207 grams)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the maple glaze
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple extract (or 1/2 cup pure maple syrup)
  • 2 Tablespoons milk (add more if it’s too thick)
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar (112 grams)
Directions:
For the doughnuts
  1. Simmer apple cider over medium heat in a small saucepan for about 20 minutes or until the cider has reduced to about 1/2 cup. Add cinnamon sticks for added flavor if desired.
  2. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator as you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a donut pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. 
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar and the melted butter together until smooth. Whisk in the egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of concentrated apple cider.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and very gently mix together with a whisk. Mix until all ingredients are just combined and there are minimal lumps.
  7. Pour the batter into the doughnut pan, filling the crevice only about 1/2 way.
  8. Bake the donut for 8-10 minutes.
For the maple glaze
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.
  2. Remove saucepan from heat and add maple extract.
  3. Whisk in the milk and then the sifted confectioners' sugar.
  4. Dunk doughnuts in the glaze and place on a wire rack to let the glaze harden. If you want, you can sprinkle pecans on the doughnut, but make sure you do it immediately after dunking the doughnuts in the glaze.
  5. Doughnuts stay goof for up to two days or you can freeze them for up to three months.
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.






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