The Original Kitchen Cooperative: Straight Wooden Rolling Pin #Review #RollingPin

dsc_2062

I bake on a weekly basis and sometimes even twice. From baked goods that range from sweet to savory, I have come to the point where I rarely even buy baked anything from stores. When I do, I regret it. The one thing I learned over the years, is the tools you use matter. It’s not the cost but how they perform. I have a french style wooden roller that has lasted me over a decade. Simple to care for and I am one of those that if it needs a wash, a wash is something it better handle because this wipe and store idea to make it last…….well, I find it gross. Butters, fats and oils age and if your crust or dough has them, they will oxidize and go rancid on the wood. Not something I exactly wish to share with my next baked creation.

 

dsc_2063

 

Retail Price Point: $13.75 via Amazon with free shipping if you have Prime Membership.

 

dsc_2061

Verdict:

The straight rolling pin from The Original Kitchen Cooperative is made of 100% Beech wood. The roller arrived smooth and with zero imperfections. Has a nice weight that is balanced and easy to roll even when your pie crust is between having cold spots and softer warmer ones. It plays nice with most dough types and because it’s so smooth, it almost acts like if it had a nonstick surface, allowing the dough to softly stretch without tearing. I have used the roller and washed it and what was nice, no split wood or separations the next day, so this roller is not only fairly priced but should last with regular use. I do not have to worry about treating it softly, just as long as I wash it (never fully submerge in water), quickly dry it and then allow it to air dry on the rack before storing. The company also offers a 100% money back guarantee and that means they stand behind the quality of the products they produce. I don’t see myself needing to use the guarantee but there is something to be said about a company standing behind their products.

Connect with The Original Kitchen Cooperative at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from The Original Kitchen Cooperative. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Just Jan’s: Jams, Preserves, Curds, Marmalade……Fruit Spreads and More #Review! Plus, a Meyer Lemon Sponge Cake #Recipe

DSC_1191

Being a fruit lover and especially when made into purees and spreads, the one thing I find difficult in locating, is good jams and the such. The market is flooded with everything from gourmet brands, local “Farmers Market” varieties, to the common major brands and store brands. You flip a jar over and you find that there is much more going on than just the fruit. Heck, sometimes even the fruit itself is last on the list and I’m sorry but when you advertise a spread as Raspberry, but you start with apple, pear, and white grape……I may smell Raspberry in the jar but that is as close as I may be getting to one! Jars of shame is what they should be called! I no longer even venture further if the list of ingredients starts wrong, no matter the art/picture in the front, if the prominent fruit pictured is not the only fruit being used. You tell me Raspberry and the next question should be with seeds or seedless? Not, red dyes, strawberry as a filler, and flavor enhancers, plus an emulsifier here and there to hold the lab experiment together. I desire simple, real and honest ingredients.

 

When Tryazon offered me the Just Jan’s campaign, I first did some nosing around. I did not want to take a spot away if in the end by just looking at the list of what makes this stuff…..well, is not to my liking. I first spot the “About Us” page and notice that Jan started this company in 2012. Has a dog in the picture (always a plus) and I see no preservatives, 14% lower in sugar and refusing to compromise quality or flavor. Okay, Jan, you are my long lost twin! I found ya! So, I quickly sign-up and especially when the Fig fruit spread and Lemon curd were the focus of the campaign. Hard finding a good fig spread. So many are figgy jello like spreads that sort of spread in a lumpy manner even though they have few seeds and fruit. It’s like the sugar water they made, found a way to keep together wants to stay forever together. It then tastes like if someone just took fig juice and jarred it. No backbone to the product and it’s really mostly water and sugar…..oh, and some even get cute and add caramel coloring. The only thing cute is Jan’s dog and after that, she is serious about the 13 different products she offers.

Retail Price Point: $6.95 to $7.50 per jar.  Each jar measures a generous 10 ounces.  My gift pack is the “green gift pack“.  The green gift pack sells for just $15.00 and comes with 6 jars.  This pack includes, Kadota Fig, Tangerine Marmalade, Meyer Lemon Curd, Muscadine Grape, Apricot, and Seedless Raspberry.  They sell a red gift pack but it seems to be out of stock at the moment.

I started off with tasting the Lemon Curd. I buy two different brands and one being from Trader Joe’s. Jan’s has a more lemon flavor, is less yellow in color and less sweeter. The curd is lighter in texture too. This means I can have more options when using it. I decided from the get go making a marbled Meyer Lemon pound cake. As the days passed and I ate this curd. That seemed like the lazy way out. I wanted the spread to be the focus more. So, I changed it around and decided on a Meyer Lemon Sponge Cake! It’s still Spring and Summer is like right there, just a few inches away from getting into pool weather, so why not a more lighter and delicate dessert. This also allowed me to make Jan’s Meyer Lemon Curd the focal point. You also need no milk or butter because again, this about the Meyer Lemon Curd popping!

Let’s Begin……

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs at room temperature (divided)
  • 3.5 ounces of Sugar
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of Vanilla
  • 1/2 a Zest of a Meyer Lemon, Sweet Lemon or just a normal Lemon
  • 1/4 cup of Lemon Juice from the lemon you used for zest
  • 1/2 cup of Cake Flour
  • Jan’s Meyer Lemon Curd (about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of spread per cakelette, so you will need 6 teaspoons or tablespoons because you add the amount you are comfortable with)

DSC_1273

This recipe is a super easy and fast to make. Set the oven to warm at 350 degrees and I used the Convection mode.

Then divide the eggs and first whip the egg whites until firm and form peaks. Not soft peaks or super firm ones, just peaks (somewhere in between). Scoop the egg whites out and set aside.

DSC_1275

Then add to the mixing bowl the 2 yolks, the sugar, the zest, the lemon juice and the vanilla. Whip for about a minute and stopping in between to scrape down and around, just so everything mixes well.

DSC_1276

Then in intervals, add 1/2 of the egg whites and 1/2 of the amount of cake flour. Whip quickly and stop the moment it combines about 75% of it coming together. Scrape down and around, and then add the remaining of the ingredients until combined.  Again making sure to not over whip. You can also try the folding technique if you do not trust yourself by folding in the egg whites and flour. This makes sure you do not break the cake batter.

Then take 6 (buttered or cooking spray) ramekins and fill them evenly with the batter. The batter should fill about 6 of the smaller ramekins leaving none to waste.

Bake for 15 minutes. Then take the almost set cakes out and add Jan’s Meyer Lemon curd to the center (amount of your choosing) and return to bake between 4 to 5 minutes.

You can eat them warm by flipping them upside down and they taste like a Molten Meyer Lemon cake that is moist and light in texture (airy).

DSC_1284

You can also eat them cooled by serving them in the ramekin and you can dust then lightly with powdered sugar or even serve them with ice cream. A dessert that is done in 20 minutes and gives you the option of eating both warm or at room temperature!

DSC_1285

DSC_1286

 

Verdict:

Phenomenal cake!  You can make these cakes with pretty much any of Just Jan’s spreads.  The juice and zest are optional and you can add a little more vanilla, even orange zest with juice, extracts of different flavors, and so on.  Imagine a center dollop of Just Jan’s Raspberry in the center of a lemon flavored cake?  Replace some of the cake flour (about a 1/4 cup) with unsweetened cocoa powder and you can create chocolate sponge cakes!  The possibilities are endless and in 20 minutes, you are munching!  The Just Jan’s fruit spreads were very well received.  No one found a negative thing to say and the most common thing said, “so fruity and not sugary, I like that.”  It’s nice to know I am not the only one that found ways to avoid jams, preserves, and spreads because they just stopped being what they were suppose to be.  It’s a way to preserve a fruit so you can enjoy it at any season.  Just Jan’s did just that and in the good way!  Thank you Jan and cute dog 🙂

Connect with Just Jan’s and find your favorite fruit spread (plus they carry a few savory blends) at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Just Jan’s and Tryazon. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

BetterBody Foods: PB Fit, Peanut Butter Powder and PB Chocolate Powder #Review Panettone Pound Cake #Tryazon

I have looked at powdered peanut butter but never actually purchased it. I sort of walked around it and wondered how it was when it reconstituted, how it baked when used in recipes, to even how it was when sprinkled over my morning breakfasts.  I even imagined mixing the powder with peanut butter, creating a grilled PB Nutty &J sandwich that would make everyone stand in lines to get their fix.  The BetterBody Foods PB fit is a brand that I saw was preferred mostly and touted as being the “must try” when it came to venturing into Peanut Butter powders.

Powdered Peanut Butter is not just one of those products that is made just so you can see if you can be done! It has it’s applications because I myself sometimes wish I could up the “peanut flavor” without having to add more nuts or even the butter itself. Formulations have doomed me when I cooked recipes or was experimenting and added too much peanut butter that created an unpleasant texture. From too much oil to even producing bake goods that baked up more like a crunchy paste than a bread or a cookie dough. Thankfully, our dog saves us when my PB creations have failed.

The BetterBody Foods PB fit is also a different product all together than what comes out of a jar and no butter knife required. You can easily add flavor and not sacrifice texture. You also have health benefits that come in to play that I had overlooked. The BetterBody Foods company powder offers:

  • A Gluten Free Peanut Butter Powder
  • Lower in Fats, which depending on the variety you buy that can be from 75% to 85% lower
  • 1/3 less calories per serving compared to standard peanut butter
  • Good source of protein and also fiber
  • The Peanut Butter powder is also natural with no artificial ingredients, dyes, or preservatives.
  • Simply Peanuts, Salt and Sugar made from non-GMO ingredients

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Okay, this Peanut Butter is a different nut all together in my book. It’s a cleaner and a more intense tasting peanut, so I opted to make a recipe and using the PB Fit powder because of the lower fat content but not lowered peanut tasting! With the holidays approaching, almond cakes and pound cakes are some of my favorite baked goods. They just go with anything from the seasonal fruits and berries, to just plain with a dollop of whipped cream or a warm sauce. I figured since I was being adventurous, why not make an Panettone Pound Cake and use a combination of products that are nut based.

Let’s Begin….

  • 7 ounces of Almond Paste (grated)
  • 2 sticks of Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cups of White Sugar
  • 4 Eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 drop of Lemon
  • 2 drops of Almond Extract
  • 1 tablespoon of Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 4 tablespoons of PB Fit Powder (you can use plain or even the chocolate variety.  You can also divide the batch to make a marble cake by using both varieties)
  • 1 cup of Cake Flour
  • 1 cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup of Hazelnut Flour (ground hazelnuts)
  • Zest of one Orange (any variety you desire)
  • 1/2 cup of Milk (room temperature)
  • Optional 1/2 a cup to a cup of nuts like Pistachios to even mini chocolate chips.  You can even add candied fruits, dry fruits (imagine figs) and crystallized ginger in lower amounts.  You can also add slivered almonds on top when 1/4 baked through, and then make sure to cover (with foil) to avoid burning when they have toasted.

Set oven to warm at 325 degrees

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I start by grating 7 ounces of Almond Paste and added it to the butter and white sugar. Blend until creamy.  Add eggs to the butter mixture and blend again until smooth and combined.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In a separate bowl, add zest of the orange to your dry ingredients (flours, Salt, PB Fit Powder, and Baking Soda) whisk, and set aside.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Add extracts.  You then grab your dry ingredients bowl and in shifts add some of the dry ingredients and then some of the milk until all ingredients are combined.  Do not over mix, as this produces a dry cake.  You can then fold in the optional ingredients if desired.

IMAG3686

I use a large pound cake pan, but you can even use a cake pan and make two layers with the cake batter.  No rules here because I can imagine making a custard/pudding that would be divine with this cake.  You bake the cake for 60 minutes and if it starts to brown too much on top, cover with foil.  At the 1 hour mark, raise the temperature to 350 degrees and bake until done.  Cool for 5 minutes and then flip the cake on to a wire rack to cool an additional 1 to 2 hours before slicing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This cake is like a Panettone in flavor but with a heavier texture to resemble a pound cake, which has a crumb that can withstand more than the airiness you get from a Panettone batter.  You bake it slow to allow the flavors to build, the butter to brown, and to yield a moist pound cake.  Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Verdict:

So, it’s a product with the name PB fit and I made cake (I know)!  Well, I’m a girl that thinks even fit focused products can create magic with what is seen as naughty.  They talk about clean eating, well I think that applies to baking too.  Alienating a product because it carries the word “fit” would just be silly and the BetterBody food company is about making products better for the consumer, and I always say when you use top quality ingredients, you can never go wrong and this cake proves it!  It’s a little of naughty and nice to go with the holiday season.  The holidays are about experiencing flavors from pumpkin to dark chocolates, and peanut butter is no longer seen as just the “poor man’s nut”.  Many companies make exceptional peanut butters that are even considered gourmet creations.  BetterBody Foods, allows the consumer to take a known product that is just not like any peanut butter I ever tasted.  There is that cleaner taste that is more intense and closer to the nut’s true flavor because of the simple process they use that equates to just less processing in the first place!  I can make the powder into a butter by adding water, so don’t think your sandwiches are in jeopardy.  I can’t wait to make a peanut butter cookie because this is the product I have been waiting for!  On Halloween, I added the PB Fit Chocolate powder to crispy rice (cereal) treats and they were different and gone before the evening was over.  It was one of those moments where I was about to add peanut butter and thought I already add mini chocolate chips to the top of the treats when they are cooling, so why not add the powder to the marshmallow and butter mix.  It took just 4 tablespoons to create a flavor that made my treats vanish, and any cook and baker loves that!

Connect with BetterBody Foods and get your PB Fit fix at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from PB Fit and Tryazon.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Ardenne Farm: Giveaway for Chocolate Cookie Gluten Free Baking Mix

IMAG2523

***GIVEAWAY ALERT***

Ardenne Farm’s is offering one of my wonderful readers one free Chocolate Cookie baking mix, just like the one I received. To enter, all you need to do is:

  • Follow the company on Facebook
  • Via Twitter and
  • And, leave me a comment on this posting (the review for the product).
    Almost as simple as baking these cookies!

I will announce the winner in March 7th, so you have a little over a week to enter. Good luck!  Ardenne Farm’s will be sending out the product to the winner.

Final Product as baked at home

Final Product as baked at home

I used a simple Vanilla Bean and then press and enjoy!

I used a simple Vanilla Bean and then press and enjoy!

Ardenne Farm: All Natural Chocolate Cookie Baking Mix Review #ArdenneFarm

ardenne-farm-logo-medium

 

Even though I love to cook and bake, there are days I want to break down and just be able to drop contents in a bowl, stir, bake and eat! My biggest guilt comes from when I grab a box and start reading or glance at the list of ingredients. The stuff has so many chemicals that they might as well include a mad scientist inside to make the stuff for me. Most of my boxed mixes expire and when I throw them out, I make a mental note to never buy________ again. I think it’s my way of telling myself I know better.

My family and I are thankfully not gluten intolerant but I am always open in trying a product that is gluten free to add a change to our routine diet. I must admit that most gluten free products I have tried, well they are like imitators but of the worse kind. Think about an Elvis impersonator and then look at the real Elvis (in his good days) and maybe the outfit looks sort of the same but definitely not the wearer. When I saw Ardenne Farm was kindly offering an all natural baking mix and it said the magic word “chocolate”, I figured I would give it a try.

IMAG2523

The Chocolate Cookie Mix is Vegan friendly and like I mentioned Gluten Free, but the list is short when it comes to ingredients. I know what everything listed is and that is not something I see at the common market when it comes to baking aisle.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ingredient List: Cane Sugar, Gluten Free Flour Blend (White Rice Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Flour), Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Baking Soda, Non GMO Aluminum Free Baking Powder (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate), Salt, Xanthan Gum, Natural Vanilla.

IMAG2524

 

The directions are also simple and it’s not like some mixes where I need to bring so much to the cookie party that I end up realizing, I just bought a box of flour with a pretty picture on the front that is only possible if I add $5 more of ingredients to make it happen. You just need one stick of unsalted butter and three tablespoons of water. That is it and everything else is included.

Ardenne Farms’ has simple instructions to follow and the only factor that differs from my everyday made from scratch mixes, is the 5 minute setting time after you take the baked product out of the oven. I usually only do 1 to 2 minutes, but this is a rich chocolate product that needs to set and I’m thinking because it’s lacking the gluten glue 🙂 Other than that, no eggs to crack and you just open one bag, mix and bake.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Appearance:

The box yields 20 cookies and I am use to cookies being so small that when mixes state this, I know I will be lucky to get 10 cookies, but you see the cookie spreads out more than other cookies, so do stick to a tablespoon per cookie drop, versus the 2 tablespoon-ish I did. I am making ice cream sandwiches, so I needed a larger size. I now call it ice cream sandwiches for two, so even my oopsie has a fix!

Retail Price Point: $4.79 on-line via Ardenne Farm’s website for a 16 ounce box

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Taste Test:

My Husband has been negative about gluten free baked products because they are all impostors (he says). He told me it’s like craving a pizza but you eat a bagel bite and of course still crave pizza. It never fills the craving, so he of course was not too positive about me even baking this. He kept saying, “just make real cookies”. I ignored him and went on baking. I did notice the mix has no chips of chocolate but when I opened the bag, you quickly are taken over by a sweet and cocoa rich cloud. I say a cloud because I was hunting for chocolate chips and forgot you let things settle before cutting open. The smell is very pleasant. I mixed as directed, baked, and waited 5 minutes for the cookie to set. I tasted it and thinking is this just something we will be throwing out and I was truly surprised at how good the cookie tasted. It’s a simple chocolate cookie but the dark rich chocolate flavor is there and so is the softness. You can see it’s flat but it has that desired slight crisp texture on the outside, but it’s very gooey on the inside. I gave him half and he groaned and took a bite. He stated it’s not bad and took a second bite of the cookie (the thing has maybe 1/4 bite left) and then said, “for gluten free stuff….this is not bad but I call it more like pizzelles are cookies but this is softer”. In this house, it’s a win because he would just stop eating it and walk away from the treat. He finished the 1/4 bite and walked off while I finished the ice cream cookie sandwiches. I loved the taste and it’s sweeter than I make my own dark chocolate cookies, but it really is one of the better gluten free products out there. I would pick-up this product and especially for making ice cream sandwiches and not caring if it had gluten or not. The batter lends itself beautifully for this application and I don’t feel bad baking from an Ardenne Farm box, because the ingredients are “family friendly” and I know the cookies will be eaten. 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

IMAG2473

***GIVEAWAY ALERT***

Ardenne Farm is offering one of my wonderful readers a free Chocolate Cookie mix, just like the one I received above.  I will be posting the giveaway within a few hours and all you need to enter is follow the company on Facebook, Twitter and leave me a comment on this posting.  Almost as simple as baking these cookies! 

IMAG2526

Connect with Ardenne Farm and they have cookies, cakes, and all the sweet stuff your heart desires at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Ardenne Farm.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

“MELT”ed Chocolate? Yes, Please!

MELT-LOGO-LARGE1

I’ve been able to try every single kind of Rich & Creamy Melt Organic spread they make (feel free to take a gander at my review from a while back), and I have yet to find one I dislike, even a little bit. From the Original, the Honey, and now, the Chocolate. Oh, the chocolate. How do I love thee?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Let’s start with, it’s chocolate.                                   Not that fake, weirdly sweet, waxy, sugary, nasty pseudo-chocolate that everyone seems to like to 3480use. No, I’m talking the real deal. To quote their website, it’s a: “velvety blend of rich organic cocoa”. Boy, howdy is it. It also adds wildflower honey to the mix, along with the Melt Organic to make a truly good and good for you spread. With just 1 gram of sugar per serving and being dairy free, vanillin free, and nut free,everyone can enjoy it. Each square of Chocolate MELT Organic is certified organic, non-GMO (Non-GMO Project Verified), kosher and made with Fair Trade Fair for Life certified virgin coconut oil and Rainforest Alliance certified palm fruit oil. Chocolate Melt is also soy free, gluten free, dairy free and trans fat free. Each serving of Chocolate Melt is a rich source of the ‘good fats‘ with an ideal balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 ALA (that are optimally metabolized with virgin coconut oil), and has 425 mg of Omega-3 ALA (or 26% RDA) and Vitamin E (or 15% RDA). Now that’s a mouthful, and a darn good one, too.

The best part is, since it’s good food that’s good for you, you can truly enjoy it any time, breakfast to dessert. Want to enjoy it on some toast? Aces. Want it with some fruit? Pile it high and deep. Want to bake with it? You had to know I was going to go there, and oh…I went there. But that’s for another post. 😉 Icings, filling, just drizzled on a slice of warm panetone bread. It’s something I can’t recommend enough that you try immediately. They even have coupons to print right from the website. It’s like it’s meant to be!! You really should dip a finger into their butter 2.0, it’s something you’ll wonder how you did without.

IMAG1421-1-1

 

Connect with Melt Organic!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I received the above product(s) free of charge from MELT Organic. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Almondina Cookies: No Bake Valentine’s Day Gelato, Sorbet and Ice Cream Heart Treats

DSCN4230

For those of you unfamiliar, Almondina is a thin cookie that is not only less punishing caloric (only 30 calories each) wise but absolute deliciousness!  Most dunking cookies I love more how they look than how they taste because the cookies are so dry, they suck the moisture out of your mouth.  You try to dunk them to soften them and then they fall apart, so now your hot coffee is not so enjoyable anymore with pieces of dissolved cookie with every sip!  Almondina has fixed the problem but I find them better than most packaged cookies I have ever enjoyed because they are so versatile!  You do not have to commit to one flavor because they are thin cookies that come in different varieties.  You have chocolate based to the original vanilla tasting ones, to cinnamon, to even pumpkin.  You want yogurt dipped, Almondina has it and even chocolate dipped, so again this is more than just a cookie you have with a hot drink.  It is a cookie that stands alone in it’s own class of thin (but delicious) crisp cookies.  I love almonds and it started with how the nut tasted but it is also a healthier alternative.  What I like is the amount of almonds and fruit you get too.  I am not cheated out of anything, just eating less fats!  It may be a “better-for-you” cookie but what makes this dreamier, is you get all the flavor and can’t believe one thin cookie could do so much! I will be reviewing the cookies later this week and will have a giveaway for my readers.  Yes, that means the sample pack I received could be yours! So, stay tuned and just a small hint, start following and liking them on Facebook 🙂

DSCN4489

Let Almondina Cookies make your Valentine’s Day treats not only easy and quick to make, but they will look like you dedicated all day to them. The cookies are toasted already so no need to toast in the oven. You can even add sprinkles, chocolate ganache or just the Almondina crumble itself.

I started by using Almondina Choconut, a delicious chocolate cookie that is studded with almonds and raisins. I take the cookie and break off some of the nuts to use later as decor. Using a food processor, I pulse until get a nice mix of fine and medium crumbs. In a small bowl, I add the crumb to be used for later. I again repeat the above process with the Original Almondina cookies and the Almondina AlmondDuo, a double nut cookie, which features not only almonds but also pistachios.

Take your Valentine’s Day cookie cutters (I have both metal and plastic) . Get your favorite ice cream, sorbet, or even gelato out of the freezer. I do one flavor at a time and if I do not have a flavor…..I make it. I had left-over boysenberry preserves I made a few days ago and folded it into vanilla bean ice cream to make boysenberry ice cream. You can use a cherry preserves or any flavor you desire. This not only saves money but also makes those flavors you dream of into reality.

I use a parchment square and under that place some plastic wrap. You can also use the plastic wrap by itself if you do not have parchment.  Take your cookie cutter and place it in the center of the paper/plastic. Stuff the cookie cutter with the above frozen treat of your choice and I find using a spoon and stuff by the “sliver” versus scooping is the easiest way to avoid air pockets. I use a small spatula to smooth out the Gelato and then simply use my hands to push the form out. You can also use the assistance of the parchment paper you used the cookie cutter on if you have enough overage, this also avoids getting ice cream on your fingers. Rinse and repeat!

*The above is Pistachio Gelato

 

*The above is Coconut Sorbet 

*The above is Dark Chocolate Gelato and the Boysenberry Ice Cream I made

I then place cover the molded treat and place it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. If you are making more than one, make sure to not allow your ice cream to soften too much. I suggest placing the pint back in the freezer to keep it from melting. This is why I like to work with different flavors because I can rotate as I work.  If I need to hurry up a creation, I place it in the ice cube tray for a fast chill.

DSCN4447

While everything refreezes, I start making ganache. Ganache is a simple recipe of 1/2 heavy cream and 1/2 chocolate. I use a mix of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate and slowly melt it on the stove. For convince, I place my ganache in a glass dish with a spatula for easy scooping.

DSCN4451

Once the molded heart has hardened again, I take out one heart at a time and begin to decorate. You can use several ways:

  • Spread Ganache and then the Almondina Cookie Crumbs.
  • Stud the hearts with the nuts you recovered from the cookies before making the crumb and then only applying crumble to the sides.
  • Make a Mold of Gelato and fill only 1/4 of the way, add Almondina Crumble and then fill again with Gelato. This gives you a crumble in the center.
  • You can do half Ganache and half crumble, so you get different textures

Return the decorated heart back and allow it to set for 20 to 30 minutes. This will of course vary by size of cookie cutter and amount of frozen treat used.

I used some ganache and stencils to not only decorate the dessert but also my plate. You just smear a small amount of ganache and then some red colored sprinkles, or any color of your choice. Lift the stencil and then you have a cute design. Place the plate in the fridge and if the plate is freezer safe, it is much better because it then gets as cold as the hearts, This buys you time when you put everything together. Get your Love Bug and you have a gorgeous and delicious dessert that required no oven and just some opening and closing of the freezer ❤ This also a very kid friendly project, so make it a family thing too ❤ Enjoy!

To locate where you can buy Almondina’s Cookies or to view their large selection, please visit:

  • On-line– http://www.almondina.com/
  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/Almondina.Brand
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/almondina

DSCN4232

I received the above product free of charge from Almondina Cookies.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Bob’s Red Mill: Herby Cheese Crackers made with Rice Flour, Gluten Free #MeatlessMonday

DSCN4421 Going with my Meatless-Monday dish, I decided to pair up my soup with a nice Gluten Free option, Herby Cheese Crackers. I used a mix of Gouda and Parmesan, however I have made these with a white cheddar cheese and plain sharp cheddar varieties. The cracker’s texture will vary by the cheese you use! I make sure to stick to a good quality cheese because the recipe only requires 2 ounces and I have had unpleasant experiences when a cheap cheese (this is not always connected by what you pay) that has oozed tons of oils and fats. No one wants an oily cracker….I want flaky with a nice crumble. Let’s Begin!

Dough:

  • 2 Ounces of grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese or a cheese that has a close enough moisture content. You can use a semi-soft and pair it with a freshly grated harder cheese too. Allow the cheese to come to room temperature (after you grated).
  • 2 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Rice Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon of herbs (I mixed dried herbs with fresh)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (taste your cheese to measure saltiness before adding salt)
  • *Optional- You can add Red Pepper Flakes, Smoked Paprika even a dash of Cayenne Pepper. You can also crumble pre-cooked bacon or pancetta to change the flavors.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the Rice Flour, baking soda and herbs. I used dried parsley, thyme, tarragon and oregano. My plants have been blooming well in this mild Winter we have been having in California, so I used some fresh sage and thyme to make a 1 teaspoon’s worth with the dried herbs. Add your salt and pepper. I used a smoked salt for additional flavor and a pepper medley variety. I also included (optional) a dash of smoked paprika, a dash of red pepper flakes and also a small dash of cayenne to give the crackers some kick.

In another bowl, grate your cheese. I used a semi-soft gouda and a grated hard cheese variety of mixed parmesan and romano. DSCN4382 Add the cheese to your flour mixture and then incorporate the softened unsalted butter to the mix. I do not want to smell crackers on my hands all day so I use a glove to pretty much make a ball. Want a different way? Cream the butter and cheese in your with your mixer and add the flour mixture after. If the mix seems dry, add a 1/2 teaspoon of water. You do not want a super moist dough as this dough will rest and re hydrate in the fridge, plus we are making crackers and not bread. I usually rarely add water and just keep gathering the crumbs around until they play nice 🙂 DSCN4383 DSCN4388 Using plastic wrap, create a log that is almost 11 inches long. You can decide how large you want the crackers but since I want to have mine swim in my soup, I always go small. DSCN4390 The log can be shaped and in this case I used the assistance of a wooden chopstick to make a crease, which will then help me work these into a heart shape. You can just go square or even round….or we can also have fun and create and abstract shape!

Allow the dough to rest in the fridge 20-30 minutes if you need to shape after, or 40 minutes if you will be just slicing and baking. Heat your oven 350 degrees. Take the dough out and you can I usually slice half a log and return the other half to the fridge while the first batch bakes.  I used the chop-stick to help refine the heart shape too.

Bake the crackers for about 10 minutes and then cool. DSCN4409   You then bake the other half and these go great with soup, salads, or just by themselves. Enjoy!

Find out more about Bob’s Red Mill products at:

  • On-line– http://www.bobsredmill.com/
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/BobsRedMill
  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/BobsRedMillNaturalFoods
  • Pinterest– http://www.pinterest.com/bobsredmill/
  • Save with a $1.00 off coupon– http://www.bobsredmill.com/get-a-coupon.html

DSCN4154 I received the above product free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Greek Yogurt Ice-Box Cookies made with Chobani

DSCN2840

I am enthusiastic about Greek yogurt and the flavors I received from Chobani, that you just knew I had to honor them by baking. I present to you, Yogurt cookies!  You can make them soft or crisper by reducing the baking soda amount and cutting them thinner.  They taste great and you get to choose what yogurt flavor you wish to use.  I used the Chobani Fig and Orange Peel Bite but you can pick the Raspberry with Chocolate morsels or even a nice plain to get that nice tart flavor.  I wanted to create a cookie that is versatile but also healthier than a sugar cookie by adding yogurt.  This cookie has protein and less fat so it’s a little way to indulge and still have the cookie that tastes delicious!

Greek Yogurt IceBox Cookies:
2/3 cup of Sugar
1/4 cup of Unsalted Butter (softened)
1 Egg
3.5 to 4.5 ounces of a Greek Yogurt of your choice (I used Chobani’s Fig & Orange Peel Bite)
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
2 drops of Almond Extract
1/2 a Vanilla Bean
3/4 teaspoon of Baking Soda  (want crisper cookies, use 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon)
Pinch of Salt
Dash of Nutmeg (optional)
2 cup of All-Purpose Flour
You begin by taking the sugar and the butter and beating until creamy.  This takes about 1 to 2 minutes and don’t forget to scrape down a few times to make sure everything is incorporated.
DSCN2801
DSCN2803
Add the egg and beat for 30 seconds and again scrape down in between.  Add the Vanilla and Almond extracts and beat for a few seconds.
DSCN2804
Then you can add the vanilla bean and beat for an additional 30 seconds, making sure everything combines.
DSCN2808
Add the Greek Yogurt and you can add between 3.5 to 4.5 ounces
DSCN2806
 Take the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg and whisk in a separate bowl.
DSCN2810
Then slowly start adding it to the bowl with the mixer on.  Again, take the time to scrape down and continue adding about 1/2 cup of the flour mixture at a time until done.
DSCN2811
DSCN2812
Get a long sheet of plastic wrap and lay it on the counter, as you will be dumping the dough onto the plastic to create a log.
DSCN2813
The cookie dough log should measure around 13 to 15 inches, depending how wide you want the cookies.
DSCN2814
DSCN2815
You then put the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.  I made hearts so at the 30 minute mark, you take the dough out and create a ridge on the top of the log to imitate the center portion of where the heart comes down.  It should look like a “m” on top and still rounded at the bottom (flat-ish).  You don’t need to do this and you can just form the log to resemble a cylinder and just cut rounds when the time comes.  You can also shape it like a block, square/flat at all angles and cut squares when the time comes to slice.
DSCN2816
Again, put the dough back in the fridge for 35 minutes to an hour.  The dough needs to be stiff enough to cut and I have used the aid of the freezer when I am short on time but just make sure that the total time is close to an hour in a refrigerated setting, so the dough can rest and the flour absorb the moisture properly.
After the dough is cold and solid for cutting, you can begin by setting the oven to bake at 350 degrees.  While the oven warms, get a cookie sheet and align it with parchment paper or you can use a Silpat.  Begin cutting the cookies and I usually cut a portion of the log and return the rest back into the freezer or fridge to remain cold.
DSCN2824
I cut the cookies and since I am aiming for a heart shape, I slice and then pinch the bottoms and put them on the parchment.
DSCN2826
DSCN2825
The cookies expand, so please allow about 1/2 inch room on each side.  If you cut the baking soda to create less “poof”, you can shorten the space a little in between cookies.  Keep cutting until your pan is full.
DSCN2828
When it comes to the thickness of the cut, that is up to you as I tend to stay around a 1/4 of an inch but enough to create a soft and fluffy cookie, since crisp was not what I was aiming for this time around.
DSCN2831
You bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes and then allow them to rest for a minute on the cookie pan before putting them on a cookie rack.  Continue the above routine until all cookies are baked.
DSCN2832
DSCN2833
Allow the cookies to fully cool if decorating.
 
Variations- 
If you want sugar crystals, you just add the crystals right before baking and you can also use Turbinado sugar crystals in place of colored sugar crystals.
DSCN2829
The cookie can be also dusted with Powder Sugar once cooled.
DSCN2836
Feeling like Chocolate? You can melt white, milk, semi-sweet, bittersweet, or dark chocolate in a pan on low heat.  Takes about 1 to 2 minutes and make sure to stir and take the pan off and on to temper the chocolate correctly.  Once melted, you can drizzle as you wish or cover the cookies with chocolate, half dip them, whatever you desire.
DSCN2819
DSCN2822
DSCN2835
Since I used a Fig and Orange peel yogurt, I used poppy seeds that resemble fig seeds and sprinkled on top of some of the cookies.  You can also spread chocolate on half a cookie and powder sugar the other half.
DSCN2837
If you want to add mini chocolate or even yogurt chips, you can add them to the flour mixture.  Same if you want to add dried fruit and/or nuts.  I would not go for more than 1/2 a cup to not unbalance the dough too much.  Start there and the cookie will tell you if you can increase the next time you bake a batch.
These cookies are great plain and if you make the crisper version, you can spread jam in between and make cookie sandwiches and then lightly dust with sugar if you wish.
DSCN2840
To store-
They tend to soften if put in a container and covered.  I have stored them in a covered container and then in the fridge, but allow the cookie to get room temperature before serving.  Yogurt is moist and so are these cookies so I always no matter what version you baked, store it in the fridge if you have leftovers (better to be safe).  They go quickly so they won’t be there long.  I have put the cookies with chocolate in the fridge uncovered to allow the chocolate to set and then bagged them in a Ziploc bag and returned to the fridge.  This way the chocolate is set and they stay perfect!
Enjoy and don’t forget to play in the kitchen and have fun!

Fresh Pineapple Upside Down Buttermilk Cake

DSCN2227

Everyone loves pineapple upside down cake. If someone doesn’t, then they haven’t had it made right. Little things make the biggest differences. Like, I always just used canned Pineapple. One day I had a fresh pineapple on the counter and decided to try my recipe with it. Best ever, and I have never gone back! One of my easier cakes to make and perfect during the warmer months. Bakes quickly and you can serve it warm, room temperature or even cold. The buttermilk keeps the cake moist and gives it a unique flavor that is not typically associated with cakes. So, I hope this breaks up the usual and you enjoy it as much as we do.

Let’s begin….

Glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons of Butter
  • 3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup of Brown Sugar

Fruit:

  • 1 whole fresh Pineapple (canned may be used if needed)
  • 6 Maraschino cherries

Cake Batter:

  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 2/3 cup of Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup of Buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon of Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 a Vanilla Bean
  • 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or to taste) of Cinnamon and Nutmeg

First you start by cutting your pineapple slices and coring the rounds. Set those aside and begin making your glaze.

DSCN2119

DSCN2128

Add your butter, brown sugar and maple syrup to a nonstick pan.

DSCN2122

Over medium-low heat, you begin to dissolve the sugar.  I usually use a silicone spatula to make sure undissolved sugar crystals do not get stuck to the sides of the (non-stick) pan. Keep stirring and increase the heat slightly. You will reach a gentle boil as you stir and then continue cooking for about 45 seconds, and then remove the glaze from the stove.

DSCN2123

I take a large lasagna pan (sprayed with cooking spray)

DSCN2124

Pour the glaze carefully over and evenly.  Then place your pineapple slices carefully over the glaze.

DSCN2130

Next comes the cherries.

DSCN2133

Start your cake batter by first blending the unsalted butter with the sugar, until nice and fluffy.

DSCN2134

Add one egg and blend until it is incorporated into the mixture.

DSCN2135

Then add the second the egg and fully incorporate into the mixture.

DSCN2137

Follow with the buttermilk, maple syrup and vanilla. I tend to mix all three and pour them at the same time.  Pour only half of the mixture in.

DSCN2141

Follow by adding the 1/2 Vanilla Bean.

DSCN2144

Then comes the dry ingredients. I mix the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.

DSCN2151

You then take half of the dry ingredients and add it to the mixer. Mix well until everything is wet, remembering to scrape the sides of the bowl.

DSCN2153

I slowly then add the second half of my buttermilk mixture intermediately with the left over half of the dry mixture. I do this so I do not over whip the batter, since this tends to produce a dryer cake if you over beat it. You will end up with a nice smooth mixture by halving the wet and dry, and not over beating.

DSCN2154

Once everything is incorporated, I take the batter and drop spoonfuls into the pan with the glaze and pineapple. I do six large spoonfuls so I can get a nice even layer without disrupting the fruit’s placement.

DSCN2156

DSCN2157

Place in oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until the cake is springy to the touch. You can use a toothpick to check if the cake is done too.

DSCN2162

The sides will be bubbling!

DSCN2164

Allow the cake to cool down for 15 minutes before flipping. I usually place a glass cutting board on top of the cake pan.

DSCN2199

Flip.

DSCN2203

Remove pan.

DSCN2208

I allow for it to cool a bit more and then start cutting, usually 10 minutes.

DSCN2222

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if desired!

DSCN2226

You can store the cooled cut cake slices in the fridge (just wrap in plastic) and it holds very well. Enjoy!

DSCN2211

%d bloggers like this: