Not Your Average Easter Breakfast

Not Your Average Easter Breakfast

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So, if I said baked oatmeal, what would you say? You know, I probably would have said the same thing at one point but then I actually tried baked oatmeal and let me tell you, it rocked my world! Baked oatmeal is nothing like it’s cooked-on-the-stovetop counterpart. Oh, no. Baked oatmeal is firm and cake-like and filled with cinnamon and nuts. Baked oatmeal could just turn your mornings upside down! I’m serious. I am NOT a fan of gloppy, gooey, oatmeal that will congeal if it sits long enough. Can you say eeew?

This is a breakfast your family would be happy to sit down to on Easter morning. You can serve it on its own or if throw in some bacon and scrambled eggs on the side. This is a hearty enough oatmeal to keep your belly full until it’s time for Easter lunch. So go on, try something new this Easter! You won’t regret it!

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Add some butter to a skillet and pop it in the oven to melt.  Keep an eye on it and take it out when it’s completely melted but not yet browned.

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Chop your nuts.  I like mine a little more chunky.  I’m using walnuts and pecans.  What can I say?  I like variety.

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Dice your dates.  If you haven’t diced a date before, beware: they’re sticky!!!

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To a small bowl, add the 1/2 cup oats, 1/4 chopped nuts, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and the cornstarch.

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Give it a stir.

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Then add two tablespoons of the melted butter from the skillet.  Stir it around until there isn’t any dry mixture left.  Set this to the side.  We’ll use it in a bit.

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To a large bowl, add remaining oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nuts and dates.  That’s a lot of stuff.  Did I forget anything?  I hope not!

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Stir this mixture up too and make sure you break up any date or brown sugar clumps that are lurking amongst the oats!

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Whisk together milk and 2 eggs!

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Pour in that delicious melted butter!  Don’t scrape it all out of your skillet, though.  I know it’s tempting to use every drop but you want what’s left to grease your skillet!

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Add your egg/milk mixture.

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It will be very wet and may look kinda funny, but I promise you that’s normal!  You want all that liquid so it can soak into the oaks and make them nice and soft!

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Pour it in your prepared skillet and smooth it out on top!

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Now add the prepared crumble to the top and smooth it around pretty evenly.

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Pop it in your oven and bake for 30-35 minutes; the edges should be starting to brown.  Beware of cooking it too long because then it may be dry.  Watch it closely toward the end!

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When you pull it from the oven it will smell divine!  Allow it to cool just a bit before slicing it into wedges.

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Slice it into wedges and serve with a drizzle of maple syrup or be creative and choose your own way to serve it!  Don’t forget to enjoy!

 

Baked Oatmeal

4 cups old fashioned oats, divided
1/2 c + 2 Tbsp brown sugar, divided
1/2 c nuts, divided (I used walnuts and pecans)
10 dates, chopped (roughly 1/3 cup)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 c milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add butter to 10 1/2″ cast iron skillet OR deep dish pie plate. Place in oven until melted, but not browned, then remove from oven and set aside.

While butter melts, roughly chop the nuts and dates. Add 3 1/2 cups of oats to a large bowl and 1/2 cup oats to small bowl. Divide nuts between the two bowls, adding just slightly more to the larger bowl. Measure out 1/2 cup brown sugar for large bowl and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar for small bowl.

To the small bowl add the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Give it a good stir until the butter is well incorporated then set aside.

To the large bowl, add the dates, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir the mixture until everything is evenly distributed making sure you break up any date or brown sugar clumps. Add the rest of the butter from the skillet and the egg mixture and stir it well. It will be very liquid but that’s okay because the oats will soak it all up! Pour the mixture back into your skillet and smooth it out on top. Add the oat/nut mixture from the small bowl and spread it around as evenly as you can.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until edges turn golden brown. Cool slightly before cutting into wedges and serving.  Serves 8-10.

Notes: Once you dish it up you can do so many things! Serve it with yogurt on the side, drizzle it with maple syrup, add a small splash of heavy cream (if you’re feeling decadent) or if you prefer a more traditional style oatmeal, add some milk and give it a stir.  This recipe can easily be adjusted to suit your preferences.  Instead of cinnamon, try some nutmeg.  Substitute dried cranberries and almonds for the dates, pecans and walnuts.  More sugar, less sugar, white sugar, no problem.  The sky is the limit here people!  Don’t let your oatmeal be boring.  Experiment! Create!

This recipe is heavily adapted from this one on thekitchn.com.

Happy Easter my friends and until next time, keep baking!

Love,

Callie

Best Pound Cake Ever!

Best Pound Cake Ever!

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As promised, here I am with another recipe.  It seems like I don’t post nearly enough of those.  I’m working on it, I swear!  Easter is nearly upon us and with Easter comes Easter lunch.  I volunteered to bring the desert (naturally) and since we’re feeding 20 people and they all have different tastes, I’m taking a desert assortment instead of something large and impressive, which is the route I usually choose.  This pound cake is one of my choices.  The first time I made this pound cake it disappeared in record time.  It’s crispy topping is a perfect complement to the dense texture with the just the right amount of sweet and a lovely citrusy/vanilla flavor.  With Strawberries starting to make an appearance at the grocery store, it would be a shame not put them to good use as a topping for this delicious cake!  Here we go!

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First things first, preheat your dang oven!  350 degrees here.  Pretty much the standard temperature for baking ANYthing.  Next, combine butter, cream cheese, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.

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Add flavoring of your choice.  I chose to use Fiori di Sicilia, which is an Italian-inspired citrus/vanilla-y flavor I purchased from King Arthur Flour.  If you don’t have the Fiori di Sicila, you can use a combination of vanilla and almond extracts and I’m sure it would be just as yummy!

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Cream all of the ingredients together until well combined.

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Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Your batter will be a lovely yellow color and should drip off of the beater in a thin stream. At this point you’re supposed to crank up your mixer and beat on high for 3 minutes.  I did this and batter went everywhere, even with my splatter shield.  After losing what seemed like a good portion of my batter, I turned the mixer down so as to not lose anymore.  I think the farm fresh eggs I used were more on the extra-large side than large so that may account for the runniness (not a word, sorry) of my batter.

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Next, measure out three tablespoons of milk.

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Add it to the butter/egg mixture.  The milk will make it even more runny!

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If you have cake enhancer, add it now.  Cake enhancer helps a cake stay fresher and more moist for longer.  I don’t always use it but this recipe called for it and I had some laying around waiting to be used so I went for it.   Cake enhancer is totally optional.

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Now add the flour.  You can’t have a cake without flour!  Unless you’re having a flourless cake.  Oh, nevermind.  Just add the flour and beat it well.  The batter will be very thick!

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Grease your 9″x5″x2″ pan with a hefty amount of cooking spray.  You can also use butter, I’m sure, but I’m lazy so spray it is.

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Pour that thick, luscious batter into your greased pan.

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Place said pan on baking sheet just in case there is any spillage.  You definitely don’t want to clean out your oven.  I know I don’t.  King Arthur wisely assures us that as long as you use the correct size pan that you shouldn’t have any over flow but I’m not taking any chances.  Like I said, I’m lazy.

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While the cake is baking, combine sugar, water and vanilla in small bowl or measuring glass.

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Give it a good stir until it becomes syrup-y.  I really like hyphens.  Have you noticed that?

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After the cake has baked for 55 minutes, pull it out of the oven and drizzle the syrup mixture on top.  Return the cake back to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.

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When you’re done, you’ll have this gorgeous hunk of a cake.  Eat at your own discretion because once you take a bite, you may not be able to stop!  Here’s the recipe from King Arthur Flour

Perfect Pound Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 oz cream cheese, softened

3/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

5 large eggs, at room temperature

3 Tbsp milk

2 Tbsp cake enhancer (optional)

1 3/4 cups + 2 Tbsp all purpose flour

Topping

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease your pan. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine butter, cream cheese, salt, sugar, baking powder, and extracts.  Beat until well combined.  Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.  Once you’ve added the final egg, beat on high speed for three minutes (Warning! This part can be messy if your batter is really runny!) then reduce the speed and add the milk.  If you’re using cake enhancer add it now then add the flour gradually while mixing on low speed.  Don’t forget to scrape the sides of the bowl along the way to incorporate all of the flour.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place pan on a baking sheet (just in case it overflows!).  Bake for 55 minutes. Once the mixture is in the oven, combine the sugar, water and vanilla extract.  Stir it until a syrupy mixture forms.  After 55 minutes is up remove cake from oven, drizzle or brush on the syrup mixture.  Return the cake to the oven and bake for 15-20 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cake cool for about 5 minutes then remove it from the pan, after loosening the edges, and turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes: Instead of vanilla and almond extract, you can subsitute 1/8 tsp of Fiori di Sicilia.  You don’t want to use any more because it is potent stuff.  Seriously, a little goes a long way.  I’ve had the same bottle for three years now and I’ve only used about a fourth of it.  Also, the King Arthur site has some good tips for making sure the cake is done or using other pans.  You can see those here if you’d like.

Thank you so much for reading!  I hope you all have a Happy Easter!

Until next time, keep on baking!!

Love,

Callie

Coming soon…

Coming soon…

Hi Everyone! Easter is almost upon us! Can you believe it?  April is literally 3 days away.  Yowza! Where has this year gone already?  I apologize for my absence.  I was spending some quality time with my family, two weekends in a row, and since that’s my primo baking time, posts have been a little light.  I DO have some yummy treats in store for the upcoming holiday so stay tuned as I share them!  I’ve missed you all and I hope you’ve missed me!  Keep on baking!

Love,

Callie

St. Patrick’s Day sorta-Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick’s Day sorta-Irish Soda Bread

Top ‘o the morning to you!  It’s St. Patrick’s Day.  I’ve been wearing green since yesterday because if I don’t wake up wearing green then I get pinched first thing in the morning.  That is NOT the way to start your day.  Trust me, I speak from experience.

Today I’m bringing you a recipe for Irish Soda Bread.  You’ll notice that I called it sorta-Irish Soda Bread.  That’s because the bread that we’ve come to think of as “traditional” is not Irish at all.  There is an actual Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread and they go into all the details.  Suffice it to say that in Ireland they would scoff at what we call Irish.  Actual soda bread is very simple and consists of four ingredients: flour, salt, buttermilk and of course baking soda.  We Americans, being who we are, can’t help ourselves and have Americanized traditional soda bread by adding butter, eggs, dried fruit, carraway seeds and sometimes even nuts.  My recipe is much more Americanized because I didn’t want just a plain bread.  So sue me, I like flavor!  My recipe is adapted from Brother Rick Curry’s book The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking.

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Start with some buttermilk.

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Add one egg to the buttermilk.

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Give it a good whisking until it’s combined and a lovely yellow color.

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Combine all your dry ingredients in a bowl.

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Whisk to combine (I really like whisking things).

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Dot your butter around in the flour.

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Give it a good toss and cut it in using your pastry blender or fingers.

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Add the caraway seeds.

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Stir them in.  Notice how I said stir this time instead of whisk?

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Now it’s time to add the buttermilk-egg mixture.  I started off adding only part of it and stirring but it was too dry.  I intended to use only what I needed to make the dough come together and I would get rid of the rest but I got impatient and dumped it all in.

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I should have been more patient.  My dough was WAY to sticky!!!  No worries though! I was able to salvage it!

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GENEROUSLY flour your work surface.  Turn the dough out onto the surface and generously flour that too.

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I kneaded the dough until a lot of the flour had been worked in and I had a nice firm-ish dough.  Be careful not to knead too much though or you’ll end up with tough bread.

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Cut an X in the top.

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You can put yours in a pie plate or cake pan.  I chose to use my baking stone!  The dough was still pretty soft but in the end it didn’t matter!

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Add a little butter for flavor and moisture.

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Ain’t it pretty?🙂

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You can see the caraway seeds throughout.  They gave the bread such a nice flavor but it wasn’t too overpowering.  Serve it up with lots of butter!

Sorta-Irish Soda Bread

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 c + 2 T sugar

1/2 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

3/4 t salt

1 1/4 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1/2 stick butter, cold, cut into small pieces (I always use unsalted butter)

1 1/2 T caraway seeds

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk your butter milk and egg together in measuring cup or bowl.  Set aside.  In large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.  Dot the butter around on top of the dry ingredients and give it a good toss to coat it.  Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles large crumbs.  Add your wet ingredients and stir until it is well combined and a stick dough is formed.  Flour your work surface and turn out the dough onto the surface and flour the dough generously.  Knead the dough until the flour is incorporated and the dough is more firm.  Be very careful not to over-knead the dough or your bread will come out tough when it should be very tender.  Shape dough into a flat ball and cut and ‘x’ in the top.  Transfer to preferred baking pan (pie or cake pan, baking stone)  Bake bread for 45 minutes.  Check for doneness by inserting toothpick in middle.  Toothpick should come out clean.  Generously butter the top of the bread while still warm.  Allow to cool before slicing.

Notes: This dough is a very wet dough.  Brother Rick bakes his a loaf pan so the wetness doesn’t matter.  If you choose to go this route, bake for an hour.  I wanted a more traditional style loaf so I chose to bake mine on a stone.  Next time, I would reduce the buttermilk by a 1/4 cup so it wouldn’t be as sticky and wouldn’t need kneading.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Everyone!  Don’t forget to wear green.

Until next time, happy baking!

Love,

Callie

 

Happy (belated) Pi Day!

Happy (belated) Pi Day!

No, that was not a misspelling.  Yesterday was 3-14, otherwise known as Pi Day!  I’ve been ready to post this recipe ALL week long and yesterday I got so busy that I forgot. Bad blogger!  So here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, ready to share my Pecan Pie with you.  That’s right, I said Pecan Pie.  I was all ready to bring you something delicious and reminiscent of spring but Matt requested a Pecan Pie and he so seldom requests something sweet that I just had to comply with his wishes.

The recipe I used is from no other than The Pioneer Woman.  It’s from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays and yes, I had to turn to the Thanksgiving section. I made a few slight changes to ingredients and the order that things are added but otherwise, the recipe is straight from her brain!

Here’s what I did:

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I started with some Lyle’s Golden Syrup in place of light corn syrup.  Lyle’s hails from England and is pretty common there.  It’s not processed as much as corn syrup and is straight cane syrup.  It IS a special order product though, that I found online, so feel free to use the standard corn syrup in it’s place.  I purchased Lyle’s awhile back when I was trying to recreate and English flapjack, a sort of chewy granola bar, and all the recipes called for it.  I had quite a bit on had some I’m trying to use it up!

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Next some granulated sugar.

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Brown sugar. I used Dark Brown Sugar because that’s pretty much all I keep on had these days.  I think the darker the sugar, the better flavor.  Go big or go home, ya know?

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Next I added the beaten eggs.

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Salt of course to balance out all that sweetness.  I added more than PW, too.  Love salt.

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A good splash of vanilla.  Vanilla is one of those things that I very rarely measure.  I love it and the flavor it gives so I just poured in a splash.  It was much closer to one teaspoon than the 3/4 that PW calls for.

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A gave the ingredients a little stir to partially combine then poured in the melted butter.  Then I stirred until everything was very well combined.

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Chop some pecans.  You make make them a rough chop or chop them more finely.  PW likes the finely chopped, I went for a little chunkier.  It’s totally up to you and your preference.

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Put your pecans in the bottom of your prepared pie crust.

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Then pour that luscious filling on top of the pecans.  Sugar and butter, does it get any better than that?

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The pecans will float to the top.

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Lightly tent with foil and place on a baking sheet just in case it boils over.  Cook it for 35 minutes then remove the foil and cook for 25-30 more.  My pie required considerably more time and I believe it took longer to set because of the golden syrup.  You’ll know your pie is done when I knife inserted near the middle comes out clean.  I kept jiggling my pie and it was still jiggly in the middle so I did the knife test instead.

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Remove pie and let cool, on a cooling rack, several hours until no longer warm.  I totally couldn’t wait that long and cut into it when it was still slightly warm but man was it delicious!  I like pie no matter the temperature.

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Here she is in all her beauty!  The extended baking time of my pie really had me worried about my crust.  It was actually way crispier that I’ve ever made one before but it was flaky, delicious and a perfect vehicle for the gooey pecan pie.  I hope you take the time to make this someday.  It was totally worth it!

Pecan Pie

1 cup light corn syrup (or Lyle’s Golden Syrup)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark, your preference

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

3 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 heaping cup chopped pecans (not pecans, chopped-there’s a difference people!)

1 recipe for Basic Flaky Pie Crust, prepared and uncooked

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, except the pecans, and stir well to combine.  Sprinkle the pecans in an even layer over your prepared pie crust then pour the wet ingredients over the pecans.  Place pie on a baking sheet and lightly tent it with foil.  Bake for 35 minutes, remove the foil and bake for 25-30 minutes more or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Even if your pie is jiggly in the middle, you may want to check for doneness.  When you’ve determined your pie is done, remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.  Cool completely before serving.

Enjoy everyone and thanks for reading!

Until next time, happy baking!

Love,

Callie

My New Floor!!!

My New Floor!!!

So, what seems like forever ago (but was really just October) our local hardware store had some laminate flooring really on sale.  Matt and I decided to seize the opportunity and purchased enough for our bedroom and closet and the kitchen and pantry/laundry room area.  Matt, who used to install flooring for a living and is a maintenance man by trade, started with our bedroom at the end of January.  When he was done it looked A-mazing.  I couldn’t wait for the kitchen to be completed.  Fast forward a few more weeks and it’s finally done!!!  I have to say that I’m pretty OCD about keeping them clean now.  (With the old floors, I’m really too embarrassed to admit how infrequently they actually got cleaned.).  The wood-style laminate really lightens up the rooms and makes it so much more attractive.  Why don’t you see for yourself!

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This was our closet before.

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This is our closet after. Snazzy, huh?

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Bedroom before.

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Bedroom after.  Isn’t it bee-yoo-ti-ful?

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Pantry before.

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Pantry after.  Notice the new color?  I let Matt pick any color he wanted and he chose Green Light.  At first I wasn’t so sure but now I love it.  We have a different color in each room.  What can I say?  We’re color people.  We love color.

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Kitchen before.

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Kitchen after.  The new, lighter color adds so much light!  I only have one small window so the floors go a long way toward lightening up the space.

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Even Noah loves the new floor!!!

Until next time!

Love,

Callie

My favorite pie crust

My favorite pie crust

So, I love to make pie.  I love to eat pie.  I love when other people eat pie that I’ve made.  If there were other things to do with pie, I’m sure I’d love doing those, too.  With every good slice of pie, there’s a (hopefully) good crust.  Everyone has their own way of making pie crust, too.  Butter or shortening.  Egg or no egg.  Vinegar. Cold water.  Sugar or not.  This crust recipe comes from Ken Haedrich‘s pie bible: PIE, one of my favorite cookbooks of all time (I had it checked out from the library for months at a time.  I eventually had to buy my own because I got tired of racking up late fees!)  It’s got shortening for flakiness and butter for flavor.  It’s chilled to make it easier to handle and it bakes up like a dream.  I’ll be posting a pie recipe soon and this is the crust I use!

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Start with your flour, sugar and salt.

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Whisk ’em together.

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Cube up the shortening and butter and dot them randomly into your flour mixture.

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Give ’em a toss to make sure all the pieces are well coated.

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Using your pastry blender (or two knives or your fingers) cut the fat into the flour.  You’ll have roughly small pea-sized chunks when you’re done.

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Drizzle the cold water over the mixture.  Start with about half the water and add more as needed.

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Using a spatula (Ken recommends a fork and he’s right, a fork is good for this and it’s what I normally use.  Don’t ask me what I was thinking with the spatula.), toss the mixture around scraping up from the bottom and giving it a toss.  Kind of like folding the dough in on itself and making sure as much of the flour is incorporated as possible.  You may need to add more water when mixing by hand.  I kept sprinkling on a little water and tossing the mixture around until there was no dry flour left underneath and I could compress the mixture into a ball.

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Lightly flour a work surface and turn your dough ball out onto it.  Lightly sprinkle with flour on top.  Knead the dough 2-3 times until relatively smooth.  DON’T overwork the dough or you’ll have a tough pie crust!

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Flatten into a 3/4″-1″ thick disk and wrap in cling wrap.  Now, pop that baby in the fridge for NO LESS than 30 minutes but and hour is really best.  I was in a bit of a rush this time so mine probably only got about 30 minutes.  It wasn’t the end of the world.

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When you’re ready, lay out a sheet of waxed paper and sprinkle lightly with flour.

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Roll your dough out into a 12″ circle.

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Now here’s the fun part: don’t roll the dough around your pin or fold it in quarters and try to get in it your pan, oh no!  You’re going to take your dough, waxed paper and all and flip it, dough side down, into your pie pan.  Get it centered then peel off the waxed paper by pulling it straight back towards you (not up and away).  Make sure you pie dough is tucked into the pan nice and neat.

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Trim the rough edges and use your preferred crust finishing method.  I use my left thumb knuckle and two fingers from my right hand to crimp the edges.

You’re now ready to pre-bake your pie shell or fill it with something yummy and then bake it up nice and golden brown.  Here’s the recipe:

Basic Flaky Pie Pastry

1 1/2 c All Purpose Flour                          1 1/2 t sugar

1/2 t salt                                                    1/4 c (1/2 stick) cold butter, cubed

1/4 c cold vegetable shortening, cubed    1/4 c cold water

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk together to combine.  Scatter butter and shortening over the flour and toss to coat.  Work the fat in with your pastry blender (or two knives or your fingers) until the mixture resembles small peas.  Sprinkle half the water over the mixture and toss well with a fork to dampen the mixture.  Add remaining water 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons at a time and continue to toss and mix, pulling the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl on the upstroke and pressing down on the downstroke.  Dough made by hand often needs a bit more water.  If necessary, add water 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time until pastry can be packed.  Using your hands, pack the pastry into a ball.  Knead once or twice then flatten into 3/4″ disk and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight before rolling.

Tips: Refrigerating the dough is super important because it helps the fats solidify again and makes the dough easier to handle.  I probably only chilled mine for a half hour and it ended up working out just fine for me, but I’ve also made a lot of pies and I have a pretty good ‘feel’ for the dough and what it should look and feel like.  If it’s too soft, chill it another 30 minutes and it should be easier to handle.  Ken also suggests chilling your pie shell once you have it in the pie pan so it can set up again and be more sturdy for when you add the filling.  I often do that but this time I was in a rush so I skipped that step.

Stay tuned for a yummy, not-so-springlike pie.🙂

Keep baking!

See you soon!

Love, Callie