Monthly Archives: February 2013

Apple Crisp

My roommate had a large quantity of apples leftover that she said she wouldn’t be able to finish and asked if I wanted some. Naturally, I decided to bake something. I found a few apple crisp recipes online and some muffin/cupcake recipes in a book I had, but I decided to go with a crisp because I already had all the ingredients. Here’s the recipe I used with some adjustments.

Ingedients:

5 cups sliced apples (about 3 medium apples)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon vanilla
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick, room temperature)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar

Recipe:

1. Place sliced apples (chopped relatively the same size, shape doesn’t matter) in bottom of 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish.

chopped apples

2. Add half the cinnamon, half the nutmeg, and half of the vanilla. Pour the water over the apples (though I recommend using slightly less than the listed amount. Mine was a little goopy.)

with the spices

3. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. (This will be easiest if your butter is room temperature.)

apart

together

4. Add the rest of the vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon to flour mixture and distribute evenly over the apples. Spread the brown sugar evenly over the top.

ready to bake

5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes. Check and bake in 5-10 minute increments until crust is browned (but not burned) and apples are tender. Mine took about an hour and ten minutes total, but I don’t want you to take my word for it and burn your crisp! Carefully remove from oven and enjoy! This is great with vanilla ice cream.

remove and enjoy

Post & Photos by: Melissa


Pizza!

So I made a pizza with a pre-made dough ball from Publix. And it turned out so much better than I even thought was possible! The best part is that they were recently buy one get one free, so I have another in my freezer to use soon. Just thought I would share that with you.

this is the frozen one

So, I took the pizza dough, after letting it rest on the counter for an hour, and with floured hands, pressed it down into a circle-shape on a Pam-ed pizza sheet.

totally a circle

I then used some pasta sauce that contains sausage and garlic (though yours doesn’t have to!), which I had previously heated on the stove to make it thicker because I didn’t see pizza sauce at the store, and spread that on top of my pizza crust. I also added spices to the sauce while I was cooking it on the stovetop. I topped this with grated mozzarella cheese and then sliced mushrooms and basil.

looking gooooood

I placed the pizza in my 400 degree Fahrenheit oven and baked for 25 minutes (though I ended up checking it at 10, 20, and 25 minutes.)

tah-dah

It turned out beautifully and tasted great!

nom nom

This was so easy and a great way to make your own pizza/choose whatever you’d like to have on it for not a lot of money. The pizza dough was BOGO (as mentioned above) and only $2.69 regular price. The crust wasn’t soggy at all, it was very firm throughout and I feel like even with just cheese this would’ve been great. ūüôā

Post and photos by: Melissa


Black bean and guacamole tostadas(?)

I’m not sure exactly what to call these, but I got my idea from this recipe so I’m going to call them tostadas. This recipe makes a really easy snack, lunch, or dinner (and I suppose breakfast, but I think that would be a little weird.) Here’s my version:

Ingredients:

3 large tortillas (your choice)
6 Tablespoons grated cheddar cheese (or more if you’d like!)
1 can black beans, drained
1 Tablespoon of taco seasoning (from a packet)
Cilantro (shredded, to taste, I used about 2 Tablespoons)
3 large spoonfuls of guacamole (I made mine with a powder mix+avocados)

Recipe:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the drained black beans in a small saucepan and heat over medium. Add taco seasoning and stir, then add cilantro and stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes, until heated through.

all stirred in

 

2. Spoon some of your black bean mixture onto a tortilla, and top with guacamole.

toppings

 

3. Fold your tortilla as desired, and top with cheese.

topped with cheese

 

4. Bake for about 10 minutes. Then, raise heat to “broil” for about 3 minutes, with oven cracked open, or until cheese has slightly browned. Remove from oven (carefully!)

crispy cheese

 

5. Enjoy!

so cheesy! :D

 

Post by: Melissa
Photos by: Melissa


Tallahassee: Birthday food (Kool Beanz Cafe)

Today was my birthday and I went out to get a bunch of food. I stopped at Starbucks for my free birthday drink (which you can get for registering a Starbucks gift card) and my free pastry at Panera (a “candy” cookie which I got for opening a mypanera card.)

candy cookie!

I also headed over to Au Peche Mignon, which I’ve mentioned in a previous post, for some other sweets. I got a pistachio/pistachio macaron, a rose/strawberry preserve macaron and a pistachio/chocolate macaron. I also got a raspberry tart. (All were delicious.)

tart and macaron

tart close-up

les macarons

Later, for dinner, I went to Kool Beanz cafe which I’ve been meaning to try for a while now and it is DEFINITELY my favorite restaurant in Tallahassee. The menu changes often, or so I’ve heard, but I had the duck and it was amazing. I also tried my friend’s shrimp and it was great. The raspberry-jalapeno jam that came with my meal might have been my favorite part though.

tried to capture the menu

(sorry its dark)

I had the “boneless duck breast, raspberry-jalapeno jam, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato mash” and my friend had the shrimp and I would definitely come back for either dish or anything else on the menu because most of it sounded amazing. Overall, a nice food-filled birthday.

Post & Photos by: Melissa


Asiago Cheese Bagels (1st attempt at bagels)

I love bagels and asiago cheese. So asiago cheese bagels are the best! I’ve been intimidated by making my own bagels for some time, and interested in baking bread, so I thought I’d give it a try when I saw this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, How Sweet it Is.

I have to admit that as a first attempt this did not turn out perfectly. I also halved the recipe, because this was supposed to make 12-15 bagels and I certainly don’t need that many. I ended up with 6, though one was horribly¬†misshapen¬†and they all ended up more like mini asiago flatbreads. But they had the right texture and taste for asiago bagels, even though they did not have the full roundness of a bagel. I think I would try a different shaping method next time, but overall I’m satisfied with the flavor, if not the look, of these “bagels.” This is also the first time I’ve used bread flour. And as a last note on the recipe, I also do not have a fancy mixer (so I used a spoon.) Because I’ve posted the link to the recipe, I’m going to simply list the ingredients and my step-by-step simple instructions with pictures here, but recommend referring back to the original recipe for best results (hopefully even better than mine!)

Ingredients:

10-12 oz. grated asiago cheese
2 cups warm water
2 packets active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons honey
3 cups all-purpose flour
2.5 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
vegetable oil for brushing/coating

Recipe:

1. In a medium bowl, combine the water, yeast and honey and stir to combine. Let sit about 10-15 minutes, or until foamy. 

foamy

2. Once foamy, gradually add salt, 2 cups of all-purpose flour, and 2 cups of bread flour while mixing at a low speed. If dough remains sticky after around 5 minutes, add remaining bread flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and combine.

3. Remove dough from bowl and knead a few times, and form into a ball. Add remaining all-purpose flour if dough is still sticky. Brush a large bowl with oil and place dough inside, turning to coat. Leave in a warm place for one hour, until dough has doubled in size.

coated in oil

4. Once dough has doubled in size, punch down and divide dough into 12-15 equal pieces that are about 2.5-3 oz each. Roll dough into balls and place on oiled baking sheet. Cover and let rise about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. After 30 minutes, fill a large pot with water and the brown sugar and slowly heat it to boiling. While it’s not too hot, add a dough ball and poke ¬†hole in the middle with your finger, then gently twirl to create a bagel shape. Re-place on cookie sheet while you wait for the water to boil. Repeat with all bagels.

6. After water is boiling, add bagel to water and boil 2 minutes on one side, then flip and boil 30 seconds on the other. Remove and press gently in the cheese to coat, then re-place on cookie sheet for final baking. Repeat for all bagels.

full of cheese

so cheeeeeesy

7. Bake for around 28-35 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bagels are done when dough is cooked and cheese is golden and crisp.

and here she is, ms. america (I mean asiago bagels...)

there they are!

Trust me, they taste great! I’ve had two already and it’s only been one day. But I won’t be continuing at this rate, don’t worry!

Post by: Melissa
Photos by: Melissa


Baked sweet potato chips

I’m always interested in healthier alternatives to snack food, so when I came across this recipe on Minamalist Baker¬†(yet another food blog I’m addicted to now) I knew I wanted to try it.

I was pretty satisfied with how these turned out. Overall I think I should have added a bit more salt and baked adjusted the baking time and temperature a little so some wouldn’t be overly-brown. But they were crispy and delicious, despite the look. These also would’ve been easier to make if I had a sharper knife to chop with, or a mandolin slicer. I halved the recipe for my experiment, but will reproduce the original for you here.

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
A pinch of salt (to taste)
(I also peppered mine, but don’t think it added much)

Recipe:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut sweet potatoes thinly into rounds.

sweet potato

cut it up

2. Coat slices in olive oil.

3. Place on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt or desired seasonings. Make sure they are not touching.

waiting for baking

4. Bake for 1.5- 2 hours, flipping at least twice to ensure even cooking. I flipped these around 5 times because I get paranoid. I also took a few off the sheet earlier than others, because they were slightly smaller. Make your own judgments about your chips. Remove from sheet and cool on wire rack when golden brown and crisp.

crispy

5. Let cool, then enjoy! They’re a great snack and alternative to store-bought chips, and I would definitely make them again!

piled high

Post by: Melissa
Photos by: Melissa


Nutella walnut brownies

As I had a rather large quantity of leftover Nutella, and a desire to bake, I searched online for a Nutella brownie recipe. I came across this one and decided to use it, with the addition of walnuts (because I had those too and brownies are always better with nuts!)

It was super easy to follow and they turned out really well, so I thought I’d share my experience with anyone who wants to make something special for Valentine’s Day or really any other brownie-appropriate occasion.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup Nutella
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted, melted butter (room temperature)
Walnuts (if you’d like, I think I used 1/2-3/4 cup)
A dash of cinnamon

Recipe:

1. Melt your butter. Let it cool till it is room temperature and set aside. You may also preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit at this time, because the prep time for these brownies is minimal.

2. Mix your flour and salt in a bowl.

salty flour mmmmm

2. In another bowl, combine your eggs, brown sugar, Nutella, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. This is also when I chose to add my walnuts.

appetizing

all the walnuts!

walnuts!

3. While mixing at a low speed, alternate adding dry ingredients and the melted butter.

texture

4. Butter or grease your square baking dish, or use parchment paper, with the parchment overhanging the lip of the pan to make for easy removal. Spread your mixture evenly in the pan. I greased mine a bit too vigorously but in the end it was fine. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top.

spread it out

5. Put your brownies in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes (mine took about 40.) Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the center (or a fork/knife which is what I had to resort to as I don’t own toothpicks)comes out clean. Allow to cool for two hours, after which you can easily cut them into squares to serve.

brownies

6. Enjoy!

closeup deliciousness

Post by: Melissa
Photos by: Melissa


Macarons: Success

After the last attempt I decided to try a recipe that actually included the measures of ingredients in cups, as I don’t have a kitchen scale, and this time it worked out (for the most part, a few of the shells were still hollow so I’m in the process of perfecting it.) But I decided to do a post on the recipe, in the hopes that it will show how I’ve corrected from what I did last time. I made the same nutella-chocolate filling as last time, so if you’d like to see that click here. This time I used a Martha Stewart recipe for the cookies, although I altered the cooking time/temperature a little due to paranoia that I would burn them. This makes about 10 macarons (20 halves.)

Ingredients:

1.25 cups plus 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
1 cup (4 oz) almond flour
6 Tablespoons egg whites (3 large eggs)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Recipe:

1.¬†Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (although honestly how long does an oven take to heat up, I don’t think it’s necessary to do this as the very first step, considering how long it takes to whisk the egg whites, I think it’s a waste of electricity, just keep it in mind for a later.)

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour and powdered sugar.

apart

 

together

 

3. Separate your egg whites into another bowl. Whisk until frothy/foamy. This time I was very careful not to get any yolk in here…

egg whites

 

4. Gradually add your granulated sugar while whisking (so much easier with an electric mixer than by hand) and continue whisking until the white mixture forms stiff peaks.

peaking

 

5. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into your meringue until fully incorporated.

folded

 

6. Pipe your batter onto ¬†parchment paper/wax paper or a Silpat on a cookie sheet. Make evenly spaced, similar-sized circles. Lift the cookie sheet and drop it lightly a few times after you’re done piping, in order to spread and remove air bubbles from the batter. This makes about 20 cookies halves, or 10 macarons.

allow to rest

 

7. Allow to rest about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the top is no longer sticky/shiny and a skin forms over the tops. Then bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Check cookies every 3 minutes after that point. They are done when the top is hard and the bottom slides against the baking surface and removes easily (though you may need a spatula to remove them, still.)

baked them

 

they're cute

 

they're cute

 

8. Pipe/spoon in your desired filling and sandwich it up!

finished cookie

 

enjoy

 

Photos by: Melissa
Post by: Melissa


Macaron fail (a.k.a. delicious cookies that aren’t what they’re supposed to be)

I attempted to make chocolate macarons with a nutella mousse filling. However, I shouldn’t have attempted to use this recipe. It’s a fine recipe, but I do not have a kitchen scale. And I do not feel like purchasing one for the sole purpose of making these cookies. While my mousse turned out fine, the cookies were more like… very thin chocolate cookies with a crisp outside, chewy inside, and a brownie-like taste. Still delicious, but not-so-macron-y. The nutella mousse turned out lovely though.

This can be attributed to many things. As mentioned above, I have no kitchen scale, which most likely led to me combining the wrong amount of ingredients. I also failed to make a sturdy meringue, which probably is what led to me not being able to create the cookie texture I desired. This may have been due to the non-weighing-cup-conversion-in-my-head based approach I took to the ingredient amounts, or a tiny bit of yolk in my egg whites because I’m not practiced in separating them. But, if you’d like to knowhow to create what I’d like to call crisp brownie cookies, read on!

Ingredients for cookies:

1 cup almond flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 T. cocoa powder
3 egg whites (from large eggs)
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Recipe:

1. (Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.) Sift your almond flour and combine with your powdered sugar and cocoa powder.

powdered sugar and cocoa powder

combined

added to almond flour

total combination

2. Beat egg whites in another bowl until foamy.

foamy

3. Add granulated sugar and whisk until meringue-y. In my case, this never happened. (It was goopy and would not form peaks, but that’s ok if you’re not making macarons!)

sugar added

won't form peaks

4. Add the dry ingredients and fold in with a spatula.

nom nom

chocolate-y

5. Add contents of bowl to pastry piping bag (or non-fancy plastic Ziploc bag that you will cut the corner off of) and pipe even circles onto your wax paper or Silpat.

or not so even

As you can see, mine are *not so even* but this turned out to be fine. I also have an odd number, so I could eat one outside of a cookie-sandwich situation. Let these sit out for about 1 hour.

6. Bake for about 15 minutes, then check. Mine took a long time, essentially 45 minutes to bake, but as they were uneven, some were done before others, so check frequently. Leave on a wire rack to cool. These are not the prettiest cookies.

cookies wooooo

7. Done! Now make your mousse.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate
3 T. nutella

Recipe:

1. In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream on medium low until simmering.

creamy

2. Spoon out your nutella into a bowl and top with the broken-up chocolate.

nutella

 

chocolate pile

 

3. Pour your heavy cream over the nutella & chocolate. Leave for 20 seconds, then whisk until smooth.

stir it up

 

4. Place in fridge for 30-45 minutes (I had to leave mine for an hour) until still pourable/mixable but hardened overall. Remove and whisk until lightened in color.

looks like this then

 

whisked it

 

5. Scoop (or pipe) a dollop of this mousse onto the flat side of a cookie, and sandwich it with another cookie.

cookie pile

 

cookies!

 

all ready to eat!

 

Enjoy your cookie sandwiches! I think this would also be a good type of cookie to put ice cream inside of, in order to make ice cream sandwiches!

Post by: Melissa
Photos by: Melissa


Tallahassee: Au P√©ch√© Mignon and the farmers market

Recently I looked at my bookmarks on Yelp. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Yelp lets you bookmark places that you want to try and organizes them into lists for you by category. I looked at all the places I wanted to try around Tallahassee and found there were almost 80! A few I had already tried and hadn’t taken off my list yet, so I reviewed them and deleted them and I’m left with about 75. I don’t know if I’ll get to them all, but I did cross one off my list today!

Today I went to Market Square in Tallahassee and tried Au Peche Mignon, the local French bakery. It was amazing! I didn’t think that macarons existed in Tallahassee, but I was wrong. Today I tried three of them and one amazing almond chocolate. The bakery is conveniently located next to the farmers market (on Saturdays.)

First, the market. I was happy to see it was here, I’d never been in this area on a Saturday before and it was really quite cute. There were lots of fruits and vegetables for sale and a man playing guitar. It was pretty lively but I had no trouble parking, which made me happy. It probably helped that it was a gorgeous, sunny day.

farmers market

food!

After I walked around the market I headed over to the pastry shop.

au peche mignon

So I had a look around.

macarons omg

pastries and cakes omg

more pastries and cakes omg

chocolates omg

sign and more pastries! and cheese!

I ended up with 3 macarons (which I’ll get to in a moment) and a delicious almondine chocolate. The macarons come in this adorable bag (which they actually seal at the top for freshness, which is such a nice touch.)

cute bag

macarons!

I got these flavors, from left and around clockwise(in picture 2): strawberry jam-filled, ¬†hazelnut with kirsch buttercream & nutella. I liked them all, but the strawberry jam one was the most perfect and delicious. The nutella one was great but the shell was a little hollow, and the hazelnut one was the perfect consistency but I should’ve paid more attention and gotten the chocolate-filled hazelnut, because Kirsch is a type of brandy and I was confused as to why the macaron tasted a bit like alcohol. However, if you like that sort of thing, it had a great texture, brandy’s just not my thing. I’ll definitely try more macarons there in the future!

Next, the chocolate. I’m not sure any of my pictures captured the true beauty of this chocolate! I got the “almondine” chocolate, which is described as: “a whole caramelized almond and ganache covered in dark chocolate” and I could pretty much eat these all day every day and not get enough.

could it be in here?

so good

In summary, amazing. I recommend. If you live around the area you must go, and if you visit, you must go. I’m excited to return in the future and I really want to try their baguettes!

Post by: Melissa
Photos by: Melissa