Friday, April 29, 2011

Have you seen my 20s?

As I inch closer to 40, I'm finding myself mourning the loss of my younger-self. Ah, to be carefree and energized with the appetite and metabolism of a 24-year-old again. Gone are the days of binging on pastries and cocktails only to be burned off by a couple of days' worth of exercise. I've become painfully aware of the old adage "a second on your lips, forever on your hips." Sigh.

So I'm turning over a new leaf. No more egg sandwiches and bowl after bowl of cereal. I need to find a healthier alternative that I know my whole family would still enjoy. There had to be something healthy (kind of) and certainly scrumptious in my Flour cookbook, right?

I realize Granola and Good Morning Muffins won't be part of your next detox regime. But they are pretty healthy and damn delicious.

Mom's Granola
Adapted from Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery and Cafe

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups wheat germ
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup vanilla extract
2 teaspoons vanilla exract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, coconut, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, and salt and mix well. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.

3. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir the granola with a spatula several times during the baking to ensure even browning. Let cool completely, then add the cranberries and raisins and mix to distribute them evenly.

The Good: Super easy to whip up. Sprinkle on top of some yogurt and you got yourself a great breakfast.

The Bad: If you lose the revised instruction (like I did), the original recipe says to bake for 45-50 minutes. DON'T. I ended up burning some of the granola :(

Grade: B. If I hadn't slightly burned them, I think these would be extraordinary.

Good Morning Muffins
Adapted from Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery and Cafe
(makes 12 muffins)

1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup hot water
1 small zucchini, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 chopped walnuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped (about 1 cup)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners (or coat with nonstick cooking spray or butter)

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the wheat bran and hot water until bran is completely moistened. Add the zucchini, raisins, walnuts, coconut and apple and stir until well mixed.

3. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and lightens. On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil and then the vanilla (about one minute). When the oil and the vanilla are incorporated, remove the bowl from the mixer stand.

4. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well mixed. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and fold carefully just until the dry and wet ingredients are well combined. Then add the bran mixture and fold again just until well combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim.

5. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the muffins are lightly browned on top and spring back when pressed in the middle with a finger tip. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

The Good: Moist and flavorful. My youngest could not get enough. Served them over Easter and they were a hit.

The Bad: Because of all the good-for-you ingredients, pretty lengthy ingredient list!

Grade: A. Makes any morning a good morning!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cupcake Camp 2011

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the second annual Cupcake Camp Boston as a member of the "cupcake crew" to help Kelly of Mix Bakery. I'm *still* coming down from the sugar rush.

First, what is Cupcake Camp? According to the website, Cupcake Camp "is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and eat cupcakes in an open environment." Basically, bakeries and amateur bakers gather to show off their baking chops by handing out free cupcakes. This year it was held at The Center for Arts at the Armory in Somerville. Organizer Elizabeth Ginsberg of Free Food Boston did an amazing job of corralling dozens bakeries and amateur bakers, including securing King Arthur Flour as sponsor.

Even though the event is free (thus drawing hundreds of people just within the first hour), a suggested $5 donation to Lovin' Spoonfuls was collected at the door to sweeten the already sweet event. Over $2300 was raised for Lovin' Spoonfuls, a Brookline based non-profit organization that recovers otherwise wasted food and delivers it to local soup kitchens and crisis centers.

If anyone thinks cupcakes are just a trend, then I think they would feel differently after attending Cupcake Camp. The smell of sugar was just as overwhelming as the enthusiasm that night.

Okay, enough preamble. Here are some photos from Cupcake Camp 2011.

Mad rush as the doors open at 7pm.

I was part of the Cupcake Crew with Mix Bakery. All 16 dozen minis were gone in an hour!

One of my favs - Party Favors. Red Velvet was very good.
Treat make-your-own cupcake bar
mixing in chocolate frosting with m&ms, toffee and peanut butter cups
I found some hair in the frosting, so was not able to enjoy this stone-cold creamery like cupcake.
cocktail inspired cupcakes by Cupcake MoJo

Frosting Vegan Cupcakes at Biba's Baked Goods

Red Velvet from Sweet

My favorite cupcakes were the salted caramel cupcakes from Mix Bakery (and not because I was part of the cupcake crew!). Whole Foods' Two-Bite cupcakes make a great everyday cupcake treat for a household of hungry kids. I was disappointed in Treat having found hair in the frosting (blech). Party Favors of Brookline consistently delivers moist cupcakes with sublime butter cream frosting.

Off to work out for the next three months to burn off all the calories I consumed!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Brown Butter-Crispy Rice Treats

marveling at vanilla beans (first for both of us)

As I've mentioned on this blog, I am not much of a baker. Consequently, desserts around here are usually store-bought. Sure, I'll make the occasional oatmeal raisin cookie, muffins or quick bread. The fact that my boys know exactly what to do with the immersion blender but will look at our stand mixer as some scary kitchen appliance says something about my baking skills.

So as a challenge to myself, I bought myself the Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe cookbook by Joanne Chang. I thought best to ease into what I would consider the master class of baking cookbooks with a no-bake recipe: Brown Butter-Crispy Rice Treats. This would be a fun and easy treat to make with my oldest. And the stand mixer would take a back seat to our stovetop.

split vanilla bean, using the tip of a knife to scrape beans into melted butter
browning butter

mixing rice cereal with 2 sticks of butter and 2 bags of marshmallows
possibly the best rice crispy treats in the world

  • The Good: Easy to make with only a few ingredients
  • The Bad: You have to be careful not to burn the butter when browning. Vanilla beans can be pricey.
  • Grade: A+. My childhood memories of this classic treat comes nowhere close to this rendition.


Related Posts with Thumbnails