Monday, April 23, 2012

Food is fun

This is so creative I just needed to post!  Saveur asks some of their favorite comic artists to draw a recipe and this is what Travis Nichols drew for an oat cookie that I thought I would share.  I often make a cookie dough recipe like this one but don't bake off the entire batch.  I will roll them out into balls, freeze them in a tray and then transfer them to a freezer bag.  This way I can have fresh, homemade cookies, without preservatives whenever I want.

Travis Nichols is the author and illustrator of The Monster Doodle Book and Punk Rock Etiquette. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and eats noodles every single day. Find out more about him at

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April showers bring May flowers

Hibiscus Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Hibiscus Tea Frosting

These cupcakes are inspired by a Hibiscus tea lemonade available at Peet's Coffee during the summertime.  The floral notes are complemented by the lemon in the frosting.  This cupcake is topped with white chocolate Valrhona pearls and sugared rose and violet petals from Venice.

Stress releif tip for the day:
Just say NO.
I don’t mean to drugs, although I’m not recommending them or anything. What you need to say no to are the people who want to take up your time. There will probably be a friend who needs to talk to you for hours about his or her life, but if you know that anxiety is rising because you have other things going on: resist the urge. Say no to the distractions and be selfish for a day.

Hibiscus Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Hibiscus Tea Frosting Recipe
Makes 10-12 cupcakes

Hibiscus Tea Cupcakes:
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
15 Hibiscus tea bags
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

Lemon Hibiscus Tea Frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups confectioners' sugar

For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners.

Heat the milk in the microwave for 1 minute, stir and then add 30 more seconds. Place the tea bags in the milk and allow steeping for 5 minutes.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the granulated sugar, oil, vanilla and the eggs, 1 at a time. Alternate adding the flour and only 1/2 cup of the tea until incorporated. Reserve 1/2 cup of the tea for the frosting.

Fill the cupcake liners and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan and continue until the cupcake tops spring back and a tester comes out clean, about 5 more minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting: Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the lemon zest. Slowly alternate adding the confectioners' sugar and 1/2 cup reserved tea until you reach the desired frosting consistency.

Frost the cooled cupcakes and serve.

Adapted from Heather McDonnell

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Raspberry Lemonade Bars: Celebrate a California Spring

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

My obsession with raspberries has returned.  Actually it never left.  It's hard not to love these bright colors.  The best part is, this intense color is packed with an intense but smooth tangy flavor. . . and fresh lemon juice.  The top layer is sweet, tart, and luscious.  Pucker up, it's time for Spring.

Raspberry Lemonade Bar Recipe
For the crust:
2¼ sticks (18 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt

For the raspberry lemon layer:
3 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. lemon zest
¼ tsp. salt
3 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
6 large egg whites
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer,combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed,mix in the flour and salt just until incorporated. Add the dough to the prepared baking pan. Press into an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven,maintaining the temperature.

While the crust is baking, make the top layer. Combine the sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add the raspberries to a fine mesh sieve and press through, mashing with a spatula, to extract as much juice and pulp as possible, straining out the seeds. Add the egg whites and eggs to the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk well to blend. Whisk in the raspberry puree and lemon juice until smooth.

Pour the mixture over the crust and bake until the center is just set and not longer jiggles when gently shaken, about 35-40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Cover and chill well in the refrigerator, at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, use the parchment paper to lift the bars from the pan. Place on a cutting board and slice into bars. 

*This recipe can be halved and baked in an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with a slightly reduced baking time.

Recipe from Annie's Eats

Friday, April 6, 2012

The sweeter side of bread

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Bread
There's something fascinating about watching dough double in size within just an hour.  Add a sweet smell of brown sugar and cinnamon and the whole house swims with this delicious aroma after it's baked.  

Stress relief tip for the day:
Progressive muscle relaxation.  Learning how to do relaxation exercises can benefit you greatly and give you a tool to use when you are experiencing any stress or anxiety symptoms. It can be used rapidly and will give you control over these body responses. It does require practice just as any other skill. The idea is to tighten certain muscle groups and then to relax those same muscles. The purpose of this is to feel the difference between tension and relaxation. Start by closing your eyes (if you desire, turn on soothing music) and focus on your breathing. Once the breathing is slowed, begin with the toes, tightening them for 5 seconds, then relaxing them, waiting a few moments, then repeating.  Do this with the legs, fingers, arms, back, stomach, neck and shoulders.  Count backwards from five and slowly open your eyes.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Bread Recipe

1 tbsp active dry yeast
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 cup warm milk
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp salt
1 large egg
6-6 1/4 cups bread flour, plus extra as needed

For the filling:
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar mixed with 4 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

In a bowl sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the granulated sugar over 1/2cup of the water and stir to dissolve.   Let stand until foamy, about ten minutes.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining water, milk, butter, granulated sugar, salt, egg and 2 cups of flour.  Beat on medium speed for one minute.  Slowly beat in remaining flour, half a cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Switch to a dough hook.  Knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes.  Add 1 tbsp of flour at a time if the dough sticks.

Transfer the dough to a greased bowl.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1-1 1/2 hours.

Lightly grease the bottom and sides of two 9 by 5 inch loaf pans.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.  Divide the dough in half and roll each half into an 8 by 12 inch rectangle.  Sprinkle each rectangle with half of the filling, leaving a one inch border.  Start rolling tightly at the smaller end into a log.  Pinch the ends at the end of the seam to seal the filling.  Place each log, seam side down, in the greased loaf pan.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise and room temperature for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake until the loaves are golden, about 35-40 minutes.  Turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.

Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

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