baguette french toast with fresh berries

Sometimes I think this blog should be called Carb lovers only. Carb-a-holics. All Things Bread. I try and I try to give up white breads, and to give up sugar (I’ve been moderately successful. Sometimes I talk myself into whole wheat pasta and pizza dough. Baby steps!).

The thing is, it’s just too delicious. And then things like baguette french toast are born.

So, this recipe. I made it for my boyfriend on a lazy Sunday morning after we’d spent our anniversary celebration the day before picking berries at Butler’s Orchard. Prepare to see another berry recipe coming soon!

We had half a baguette leftover from a delicious Italian feast he’d made two nights before. It was from Lyon Bakery, in Union Market – I work for the Market, but my love for Lyon’s products is pure and without bias. #Carbs.

This recipe is really, crazily easy. No forethought required – no need to soak the bread overnight (though I bet that’d make it even more delicious). Just slice, dip and toast. I made it with a little less than half a baguette, but it only (generously) served one. My boyfriend can eat a lot, so his plate may serve two if you have small stomachs, or if you’re making other delicious food!

IMG_1681

baguette french toast with fresh berries

1. Slice half an old (slightly stale, but not rock hard) baguette into 1-inch slices

2. Whisk together three eggs and 2/3 a cup of skim milk

3. Mix in: two tablespoons of white sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 a teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/4 a teaspoon of salt.

4. Dip each slice of bread in the mixture, about 30 seconds – a minute on each side.

5. Cook on a buttered, nonstick skillet or pan until golden brown (I burned some pieces!) on each side.

6. Top with powdered sugar, fresh berries and maple syrup.

Advertisements

oreo whiskey banana bread

I read somewhere once that an easy way to clean up your finances and start saving more is to stop wasting food.

Seems simple, right? I sort of cringe when I think about the amount of milk I’ve poured down the drain after I’ve soured, the spotted vegetables that have met their demise in the trash can, the soft, moldy fruit I discover in the back of my refrigerator.

This is a gross way to begin a recipe post – and I apologize. But there’s a point, I promise. For most of your wasted food, there’s no fix. But sometimes, there’s this shining light – banana bread.

And is there anything better than banana bread warm out of the oven, with a little melted butter spread on top, soft in the middle with a crunchy crust?

Probably not. Except if you add some whiskey into your batter, giving it a rich bite as an undertone. And maybe you crush some Oreos on top, adding a sweet edge that pulls out the flavor of the banana.

Be right back – I’m headed to make this bread again.

IMG_20130821_211741

Whiskey banana bread

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen

BONUS: for all my friends and readers who are just as lazy as me (Dishes? ain’t nobody got time for that) you can mix this WHOLE dough in one big bowl! More time for wine and reality television, am I right?

3 overripe bananas

1/3 cup melted butter (I used unsalted)

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 and 1/2 tablespoon whiskey

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 and 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 and 1/2 cups flour

3 Oreos

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray loaf pan with nonstick baking spray and set aside. (I made my bread in a traditional, 4×8 pan)

2. Mash the bananas, mix butter in. Add sugar, egg, vanilla and whiskey and mix well.

3. Add in spices and mix. Add baking soda and salt all at once, mix to combine. Lastly, add flour and mix until completely incorporated.

4. Pour into loaf pan. Using your hands (get messy!) crush the Oreos on top, scattering evenly.

5. Bake 40-45 minutes. Let cool enough to slide out of the pan – and enjoy!

citrus cake

Hello!

A month. I know. A whole entire month, basically, between posts.

Here’s where I’ve been:

– Learning the work-life balance (it’s not easy!)

– Gradually turning my new place into a home

– On vacation for a week/in a wedding!

– Surviving a break-in…

To get it out of the way, yes, my house was broken into. My bedroom, more specifically. It’s unsettling and gross and sad (I haven’t been sleeping very well ever since), but I’m honestly super bummed about what they took—- my bike!

I had just shipped my bicycle down to D.C. and I was really enjoying having it for commuting, exercise and fun. (So if anyone knows anyone selling a women’s bike on the cheap, let me know. Desperate to replace mine!)

Onto happier things: my cousin Erica was married a few weekends ago, and I was lucky enough to be a part of her big day! It was a beautiful ceremony and reception and – of course- bride. Congratulations, Erica and Aaron!

I was trying to think about what both tied into a “sorry I’ve been gone so long” and a wedding and the answer was obvious- cake.

I lifted the idea for this cake from Apollinas, who does perhaps the coolest blog concept I’ve ever heard of – lifts patterns and inspiration from the runways and re-creates them in baked good form. Amazing.

cakes

So the first thing I did was make my favorite yellow cake recipe. It’s from Martha, and I’ve used it before, most notably in my Super Bowl cakes. This time, I made two 9-inch rounds.

When they cooled, I spread lemon curd (my favorite!) in the middle as filling. I didn’t make my own lemon curd, but it’s easy enough to do.

lemon curd

Next up was a lemon buttercream. I put a crumb coat on, and then swirled the whooole lot of it over the cake. Here’s a little secret about me: I prefer the frosting to the cake. So when there’s a solid inch – or more – of frosting on a baked good, I’m a happy camper.

frosting

Lastly, I used thinly sliced citrus fruits  (still loving my mandolin) to decorate the top. It looked adorable – though not as good as Apollinas’ – and was a big, big hit.)

cake2

Frosting:

Lemon buttercream frosting

2 cups of unsalted butter, softened

5 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (I like my frosting to taste very lemon-y. If you don’t want this, adjust accordingly.)
* Milk or heavy cream, optional
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and confectioners sugar.  Begin mixing on low speed until crumbly, and then increase to high and beat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla extract and beat again for another minute until light and fluffy. Gradually and slowly mix in the lemon zest and juice.

roasted strawberry buttermilk cake//swimsuit season is coming

It’s coming.

Can you feel it? Do you dread and welcome it as much as I do?

Swimsuit season.

DSCF7246

Also known as the season of sun, shorts, breezy tops and floaty dresses. I mean, I love it. But it’s also hard to embrace when you’re not feeling at your 100 percent best. Which I haven’t been.

I’ve just been feeling slow lately. Some days, it feels like my head is encased in a fog all day- that no amount of coffee will fix. And I feel sluggish and unhealthy, despite my frequent gym trips.

DSCF7247

Sometimes, the baking and eating out and pizza and pasta and candy catches up to you. Funny how that works.

So I’m instituting a healthy eating challenge for myself, as an effort to re-set my system and feel confident as swimsuit season approaches, bringing with it graduation and pictures that will Be Around Forever.

DSCF7248

I’m limiting myself to one day a week for sweets (so don’t worry, I’ll still be baking). I’m drinking more water, emphasizing lean protein, focusing on fruits and vegetables. And perhaps most daunting? I’m cutting out carbs – gasp – after lunchtime.

This is going to be hard. But hopefully, it’ll help me embrace other dinner and cooking options without falling back on pasta. Or pizza. Or burritos. You get the drill.

I’m not a nutritionist or a dietician. I’m not a professional. This is what works for me, but it’s probably not right for everyone.

Anyway, on my last night of carbs after noon, I went big. You have to. I started with a huge bowl of pasta and one of my favorite sauces: pepper-caper tomato sauce, which is as easy as it sounds (Add peppers and capers to tomato sauce, stir.)

IMG_20130326_190956

Then I moved onto the big guns, as you can see from the above photos.

Roasted. Strawberry. Buttermilk. Cake.

It’s light. Sweet. Warm. Comforting.

It made me sigh as I considered the no-carb challenge I’m taking on.

IMG_20130326_214619

Recipe below, adapted from Joy the Baker.

Stick around for the no-carb adventures, won’t you? Should be fun.

Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

Strawberries:

16-ounces medium strawberries, hulled

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoon olive oil

pinch of salt

3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Place a rack in the center of the oven, to 375 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut each strawberry in half and place in a mixing bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, olive oil, and salt and toss the mixture with the berries.

Roast for 10-15 minutes. Put the berries in a bowl, toss with balsamic vinegar, set aside.

Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar (you’re going to use these two different amounts at different times)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter or spray a pyrex dish, set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and butter. Then add vanilla.

Combine the two, mix until fully incorporated. Then add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup of milk (not buttermilk). Mix.

Pour into dish and scatter the roasted strawberries on top. Sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool to room temperature before slicing to serve, top with powdered sugar.

basketball jersey cake

I love baking for myself, sure. What’s not to like about sugar and sweet? But baking for other people is probably my favorite part of getting in the kitchen.

You might swear over the mixer as powdered sugar flies up and coats your face. Maybe half of the frosting somehow, inexplicably, ended up in your hair.

But the reward – when those you bake for are amazed and excited by what you’ve made them – that’s worth even the most stubborn stain on your jeans. (Really, the dishtowels are there to wipe your hands and I still find myself absentmindedly using my pants.)

Birthday cakes are fun. They’re a little messy and a lot of work. Still, watching people eat the cake you made as they celebrate a special day is pretty cool.

Have a basketball fan on your hands? Jersey cakes are surprisingly easy and definitely a crowd-pleaser. First, just make a sheet cakes – I used my favorite Martha yellow cake recipe.

Then, when it’s cooled, flip the cake onto a cookie sheet. Cut curves along the top two sides of the cake and a gentle dent out of the very top. Discard (or snack on) the pieces.

Frost the cake to look like a jersey of choice. This one was Celtics-themed:

IMG_20130317_093249

giant sugar cookies

Let’s talk cookies for a second. I am a big fan in all sizes, shapes and types.

I am also a big fan of Pinterest. And something that always, without, fail, pops up on my Pinterest feed are those cookies in a mug. You know what I’m talking about- you add a pinch of this and that, stir it up, pop it in a microwave and boom! instant cookie for one.

Except.

Okay, you people who can eat one cookie and be satisfied? Who are you? And how can I get your willpower?

Sometimes, you need an entire batch. But sometimes, you need a cookie the size of your face. Maybe double.

It needs to be weighty and big in your hand and you can nibble around the edge for about an hour before getting to the soft, warm middle. It’s a virtual hug, a giant cookie, and it’s worth it.

Don't you love this scenic glimpse at my kitchen floor?

Don’t you love this scenic glimpse at my kitchen floor?

Giant cookies also remind me of a weekend ritual when my family used to live close to Providence. I was probably five, my brother three, and my dad used to get us up early on Sundays and take us to a local Starbucks so my mom could sleep in. (And my family wonders where my coffee addiction comes from).

Without fail, the barista would give my brother and I giant M & M cookies for free. It was essentially the best thing in the world.

These cookies are incredibly adaptable, in fact, I mixed it up based on this original post.

I made mine Saint Patrick’s themed- added some green food coloring, topped with gold sprinkles. Feel free to explore the options!

IMG_20130313_184648

Recipe makes two. The dough is very, very sticky- I added a little bit of water to make it less so, but that’s not wholly necessary.

Giant Sugar Cookies

4 Tbsp butter (room temp)
8 Tbsp sugar
1 beaten egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla.

Stir in dry ingredients.

Add sprinkles, food coloring, whatever you want.

Place the dough into two balls, evenly spaced apart, on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 14 minutes, until edges are crispy and brown. Let cool.

Eat!

rainbow butter cookies

Probably the number one rule about blogging the things you cook is that you should have your camera charged.

But it’s the holiday season- and it’s also finals season, so sometimes, cameras sit in the back of a desk drawer and then you pull them out as butter and sugar are being creamed together and – oh – that little blinking red light tells you there’s no way that camera is turning on, not today.

So. You’re left with just cell phone pictures, and not even of the process, really, just two measly pictures of the final result.

2012-12-16_12-27-19_65

The good news? This recipe is essentially foolproof. It’s a lot of fun to make, too, and doesn’t require a lot of heavy lifting. Or mixing.

The rainbow butter cookies get their “rainbow” from mixing in some food coloring. Pretty basic- the hardest part is that I did it with my hands, because I’m lazy, and didn’t feel like washing a bowl and a mixing instrument in between each color. So I stained my hands.

These cookies can be any color you want! That’s probably the best part. I went with red and green, because it’s Christmas, but any. color. you. want!

IMG_20121216_123010

Rainbow Butter Cookies

Cream together 1 cup butter with 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Add 1 egg and 1 tsp. vanilla, mix. Sift in 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. cream of tarter and a pinch of salt.

Divide the dough into three parts. Color each part with food coloring, drop rounded balls (about 1 tsp. each) onto a buttered cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes (mine were fine right at 8).