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Archive for the ‘Sweets’ Category

Pregnant women need to snack. Fetus’s need nutrition. Fetus’s push against the digestive tracts of pregnant women. Sometimes you just need something to accommodate all three of these statements. That’s why I created this muffin yesterday. It’s packed full of healthy grains, probiotics, fiber…you know, things that keep the pipes running smoothly. And let’s be honest here though, these muffins aren’t just for pregnant women!

I used 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour, 1/2 pound of pitted prunes chopped up, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 cups of plain kefir, 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 cup of rolled oats.

In a large glass bowl I first mixed together all of the dry ingredients very thoroughly. Then, 1/2 cup at a time I stirred in the kefir until I had a nice smooth batter. After that I added the prunes and mixed them in. I poured them into my 12 muffin pan that had been lightly sprayed with baking spray and tossed them into a 400 degree oven. It took about 25 minutes for them to cook. I took a good night’s sleep for them to do their trick on me. I couldn’t be happier with the results of these muffins…both of the results.

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Lares is a crusty little mountain town in Puerto Rico. It’s famous for two things. First, in 1868 it was the birthplace of the uprising against Spanish rule, El Grito de Lares. Second, and even more historically important, in 1968 Salvador Barreto opened Heladeria Lares.

This is no ordinary ice cream parlor, no sir. This ice cream parlor not only makes regular old chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, etc. ice cream. This ice cream parlor will make ice cream out of anything!

When you walk in there are literally at least 50 different flavors to choose from. The do limit you to 3 samples though. Kind of a shame because there are so many I wanted to try, but they need to be able to sell some ice cream so I understand they don’t want customers to fill up on free samples.

I sampled the Arroz con Gandules. Rice and pigeon peas, it was actually really good.

Ajo, or garlic. They did a great job of accentuating the sweetness while suppressing the sharpness of the beloved garlic clove.

Bacalao, salt codfish. This one was absolutely disgusting! Salted fish should never ever be turned into a sweet treat. It was one of the worst flavors I’ve ever had in my mouth.

I ended up getting a scoop of two flavors I didn’t try but was confident would work together, ginger and pumpkin. I was right, as usual. They gave me a little bit bigger scoop of ginger while I would have preferred more pumpkin, but hey, you can’t have your ice cream and eat it too.

Yuki got a scoop of the Arroz con Gandules and one of the sweet potato. Both excellent scoops of ice cream.

If you ever get to Lares, you have to hit Heladeria Lares up for a sweet adventure. Some of the flavors are just as terrifying to even think about as they are to eat, but mostly what they do works out just fine. With people like Bill Clinton haven eaten their ice cream, I wonder if they’ll come up with a special cigar flavor.

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Another muffin here. This one used up the pomegranate and a half that I had. This continues my effort to keep healthier snack food around the house.

My ingredient list included 2 cups of cake flour, 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1/4 cup of butter, 2/3 cup of sugar, seeds from 1.5 pomegranates, 1 egg, 2/3 cup of milk, and 1/3 cup of orange juice.

I sifted and mixed together all of my dry ingredients in a large glass bowl. Then I mixed in the pomegranate seeds. In a separate glass bowl (I used my measuring cup) I creamed the butter with the egg and then mixed in the milk and orange juice. I little at a time I poured the liquid into the dry mix stirring it thoroughly until it was all incorporated into a nice smooth batter.

I poured the batter into my lightly buttered muffin pan and threw it into a 425 degree oven for about 13-15 minutes.

The only thing I’d do different is to add a little more sugar. I tried to keep the sugar count low, but it could definitely use a little more sweetness. Maybe a little honey instead of more sugar. Otherwise, the orange juice and pomegranate match very well.

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We ran out of muffins so I had to make some more yesterday. Since I still had some pumpkin left from the quinoa dish I made the other day I decided to use it up.

The ingredient list includes 1 3/4 cup of cake flour, 2/3 cup of butter at room temperature, 1 egg at room temperature, 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg, 1/3 cup of maple syrup, 3/4 cup pure cane sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup of pumpkin.

First thing I had to do was cook my pumpkin. I diced up 1 cups worth and tossed it in my steamer for about 6 minutes or so, until it was soft enough to puree. Then I pureed it in my small processor and set it aside to cool down a bit.

Then, in my large glass bowl I creamed the butter with the sugar and syrup until it was nice and fluffy. I don’t have a good electric mixer, so this was tough for me. I started with a fork to get the butter nicely incorporated, then switched to a whisk to get the air whipped in. After that I added the egg and pumpkin and stirred it all together.

In my other glass bowl I sifted together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. In a few batches I added the flour mix into the pumpkin mix and mixed really well to make sure there were no lumps in my batter. I poured it into my muffin pan (only got 10 instead of the 12 I was expecting) and put it into a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

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I’ve been doing more baking lately and find that I quite enjoy it. There’s nothing like biting into a warm, fresh, moist baked good. With just the two of us one batch lasts about a week giving us healthy afternoon snacks. My latest were these Raspberry Yogurt Buns. They’re made like a muffin, but with the yogurt they don’t rise very much. They are absolutely delicious though and could be made with just about any kind of fruit, fresh or dried.

The ingredient list includes 3/4 cup pure cane sugar, 1 package of fresh raspberries, 1 3/4 cup cake flour, 2 eggs at room temperature, 1/2 cup butter at room temperature, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1 cup plain yogurt, and two teaspoons baking powder.

In a large bowl I mixed together the butter and sugar until it was nice and fluffy. An electric mixer would make this easy. I don’t have one, but I kind of enjoy the challenge of doing this by hand. I used a fork to cream the butter and sugar. Once it was nicely creamed I switched to a whisk and added the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla, the yogurt, and then the raspberries. I whisked it really well until the raspberries mostly came apart and mixed in evenly.

In a seperate bowl I sifted the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mixed that all together with a clean fork. In batches of three to make sure it’s evenly incorporated I mixed this flour mixture into the yogurt mixture. I whisked it all together until I had a nice smooth batter.

I have a 12 cup muffin pan that I lightly buttered each cup. I poured the batter in each cup and then put it into a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. The tops should be a little springy when touched. Once cooled I had some fantastic little buns.

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Again, no Meatless Monday. With the Bears-Packers game it just didn’t seem right to cook vegetarian. Sausages on the grill seemed much more appropriate for a Monday Night Football game like that. I did make some carrot cake earlier in the day however, and that’s a vegetarian dish.

There are a million ways to make carrot cake, but to me, there’s nothing better than the classic. I used 6 medium carrots, 2.5 cups of cake flour, 3 eggs, 7 ounces of greek yogurt, 1/4 cup of crushed walnuts, 1.5 cups of pure cane sugar, 1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, 1 teaspoon each of baking soda and baking powder,  1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 2/3 cup of vegetable oil (didn’t make it in the photo).

In a medium glass bowl I stirred up the eggs, sugar, yogurt, and oil. I set that aside and grated the carrots. I used the grater in my food processor because that’s by far the fastest and easiest way to grate 6 carrots. You could easily use a hand-held grater too, doesn’t matter as long as the carrots are grated. In a large glass dish I mixed together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt and then put the grated carrots in and mixed it all together until all of the carrot pieces were completely coated. I poured the egg mixture into the carrot and flour mixture and completely mixed all of that together. Then I stirred in the walnuts. I poured the batter into a regular 9 inch loaf pan that I placed a piece of parchment paper on the bottom. I baked it at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes then turned the heat down to 325 degrees and let it bake for another 20 minutes. This kept it nice and moist while giving it a golden color.

It’s great either on its own or sliced and toasted with some butter. You could also frost it with a buttermilk or cream cheese frosting if you want, but it’s just fine by itself.

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Yes, I do bake (get baked) on occasion. When I do, it’s usually nothing special. I don’t have enough baking experience to really screw around with the basics so I stick to recipes pretty closely. I did, however, alter the basic chocolate chip cookie this weekend. The results were fantastic! What I did was added some kinako.

Kinako is flour made from toasted soybeans. It’s extremely fine and has a subtle nutty taste, like a mild peanut. When baking with it you can replace some of the all-purpose flour in a recipe and end up with delicious results.

I started by mixing a half cup of room temperature butter with a quarter cup of cane sugar and a half cup of brown sugar until light and fluffy. Well, as light and fluffy as butter and sugar can get. My mixing bowl isn’t that large, so I always have to tape some newspaper together and build a wall around it to keep the sugar from flying everywhere. Yuki laughs at me, but not just because of that.

In a small bowl I scrambled an egg with a half teaspoon of vanilla extract and then beat that into the butter and sugar mixture. Then, in another bowl, I sifted together one cup of all-purpose flour, a half cup of kinako, a half teaspoon of baking soda, and a quarter teaspoon of salt. Once that was sifted it got mixed into the butter, sugar, and now egg mixture. After I had a thoroughly mixed together dough I mixed in a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

I put big blobs of the dough on a greased baking sheet and baked at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. It was really hard to let them cool though, I just wanted to dive headfirst into those things!

The additions of kinako really does add a peanuty flavor. It’s not quite as strong as the peanut, so it doesn’t overpower the vanilla or chocolate. If cooked properly, it’ll be just as soft in the middle as a good chocolate chip cookie should be. The only problem is that now Yuki wants me to make them every week! I’m going to get fat!

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