Love and Confections: April 2011

April 29, 2011

Giant Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (FHC)

2 comments:

A while ago, I bought a few boxes of plain instant oatmeal. When I say, "a few" I mean 4 boxes at bogo. They were on sale, and I thought I would go through them rather quickly. I was wrong. I can only eat oatmeal so much. Don't get me wrong, I do like it, but even if I add brown sugar or cinnamon, I can't eat it every morning - especially since I don't eat breakfast on a regular basis. I know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I choose sleeping in until 5:45am, then leave for work 15 minutes later, over waking up early to eat breakfast - most days. So I have a lot of instant oatmeal packets on my hands.


What else could I do with instant oatmeal? Light bulb... Instant oatmeal cookies! There had to be a recipe for instant oatmeal cookies, and so the search began. The internet is wonderful, isn't it? I found a few recipes and narrowed it down to this one. Instead of raisins, I added chocolate chips. Chocolate makes everything better.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies made with Instant Oatmeal
adapted from ehow.com recipe

Ingredients:
- 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 6 packs of Instant Oatmeal
- 1/2 cup Butter
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 tablespoon Milk
- 1 cup Chocolate Chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray, or use silicone non-stick baking mat.
3. Combine the Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder and Instant Oatmeal in a bowl. The oatmeal can be any flavor you want, or mixture of flavors. I used plain because I added chocolate chips.
4. Melt the Butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
5. Pour the melted butter into a bowl and crack the Egg into it. Whisk the butter and egg together.
6. Add the Granulated Sugar, Brown Sugar, Vanilla Extract and Milk into the melted butter. Mix together.
7. Add the Chocolate Chips to the mixture.
8. Gradually add the Flour-Oatmeal mixture to the sugar mixture. Add more oats or flour to the cookie dough if necessary to thicken it up.
9. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. I used an ice cream scoop, so they were all the same size - my scoop is a bit large, so that is why they are giant cookies.
10. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, or until they are light golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes on the pan before removing to a cooling rack.



Until next time,
LOVE & CONFECTIONS!

April 25, 2011

Zucchini Bread (FHC)

No comments:


After a couple weeks of perusing one of the local farmer's market, I decided to buy some zucchini. The Hubby loves all types of vegetables, especially zucchini and we don't normally use it. Although, I do make a good veggie casserole with chicken, carrots, zucchini, pasta and cheese. But back to baking...

What better way to use zucchini than making zucchini bread? I have to admit that I don't particularly like zucchini, and was leery of making zucchini bread, since I have never had it. My mom has made zucchini bread more times than I can count, so I figured I'd give it a try, hoping it didn't taste too much like to the vegetable I didn't care for.


I was pleasantly surprised. No, even better; I was amazed. It was delicious! The bread tasted spectacular. I honestly do not know why I haven't tried it until now. It has a hint of zucchini, but the sweetness and the texture of the bread balance it. Want to know the best part? It's good for you - well, for the most part, minus the sugar, etc. You're eating a vegetable!


This bread has the perfect texture, the right amount of sweetness, and is absolutely lovely with all the little green specks throughout. You need to grate and drain the zucchini. Too much water will affect the recipe. I used cheese cloth to squeeze the excess liquid from the vegetables, and I found this method worked best. Happy baking!

Zucchini Bread
a Love & Confections family recipe
yield: 2 loaf pans

Zucchini Bread Ingredients:
- 4 Eggs
- 1 cup Vegetable Oil
- 2 cups Sugar
- 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 tablespoon Baking Powder
- 2 cups Zucchini, grated & drained - about 3 medium zucchinis
- 1 cup Nuts (optional)
- 1 cup Raisins (optional)

Zucchini Bread Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 325F
2. Grease and flour loaf pans
3. Beat Eggs well
4. Add Oil and Sugar to Eggs and beat well
5. Add Flour, Salt, Baking Soda, Cinnamon, Vanilla Extract, and Baking Powder. Mix to combine.
6. Add Zucchini, Nuts (optional) and Raisins (optional). Mix to combine.
7 Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when testing.



Until next time,

LOVE & CONFECTIONS!

April 14, 2011

Food Blog Forum Orlando 2011

1 comment:
"Sometimes the biggest disaster of your life is actually a moment of even bigger Grace." - The Daily Love

Of all the things I learned this past weekend, at the Food Blog Forum Orlando, the thing I will always remember is Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen and her spirit of generosity. She said that is one of the most important things we can ever do, and she lived it. Because of her spirit of generosity, I was able to attend an amazing event, when I didn't think I was able to.

In order to explain the quote above, one of my new favorites, you need to understand that my use of the word disaster is not just a hurricane or an earthquake or terrorism - and please don't judge me that I think little of natural disasters, am egocentric, etc., which is not the case. I am talking about my own personal disaster - one that not many people will think is that bad, but we each have our own personal disasters, so again, do not judge. My personal disaster was, and still is, my surgery. I have one Carpal Tunnel surgery done and one still left to do. It has been a burden physically, financially, and emotionally, and one that almost didn't let me go to the Food Blog Forum.

I am still new in the food blog scene. I met some extraordinary people that share my same passion for food and photography. We had different panels throughout the day and the information was priceless. Lindsay Landis of Love & Olive Oil and Purr Design shared information on Blog Design, Optimization and Usability. Dawn Viola of Wicked Good Dinner gave a presentation called, "Just Ask: How to Write for the Big Boys" and helped to organize this entire amazing event. Julie of The Little Kitchen is the other person responsible for making the Food Blog Forum happen.



Two of my favorite presentations during the day were from Helene Dujardin of Tartelette. She presented on, "Find Your Composition and Styling Voice" and "Find Your Light," two invaluable sessions for any food photographer. I am so glad she shared her expertise with the group and am extremely honored to have met her. She is an inspiration, and as my husband and I lovingly joke, my "food blog idol." I aspire to become as good at photography as Helene, who is impressively self-taught. Watching her styling and listening to her about composition and lighting and cameras gave me a new optimism in food photography, and taught me to take a step back and really think about the food and the light. She doesn't have the, "I'll fix it in Photoshop," mentality, which I think is great. Do the shot and do not rely on fixing it up later.



The last presentation of the day was from Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, "Beyond the Banner: Building a Blog Business." Alliteration, lol, but in all seriousness, it was very informative and opened my eyes to how a blog can really be a business. I am also honored to have met Jaden. Her spirit of generosity was visible to everyone in the room. We have food blogs to share - share our recipes, share our experiences, share our photos, and share ourselves. Out of my disaster I was Graced with this great opportunity, and I won't let it go to waste.



Thank you to all the organizers, presenters and my new food blog friends: Katie's Cucina, Cakeb0t, Food + Words, Cook the Story, and Inn the Kitchen just to name a few. ;)

*I didn't take too many pictures, and the ones I did were not that great. Too busy listening to presenters and meeting new people.

Until next time,
LOVE & CONFECTIONS!

April 11, 2011

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake (FHC)

2 comments:


To say "it has been too long" is an understatement. Work had gotten the best of me, so much so that I had to have surgery to prevent further injury to my hands.

Like any procedure, there are worries and concerns before surgery, but the worst part came after the fact. My scar healed in the normal amount of time and the doctors said my hand looked good, but I had no strength. It wasn't until I visited a physical therapist, 2 weeks after the surgery, that I was told my strength would not return for a minimum of 6-12 weeks. 3 months?! was all I heard. 3 months until I can function normally. 3 months until I can bake without pain.

I use my hands every day. As a baker, my hands are the best tools I have, and to not have use of them has thrown me for a loop. I am a month into my recovery, doing physical therapy exercises, and icing my hand daily, but I have a long way to go.



Today was the first day, in over a month, that I baked. What an accomplishment! It felt good - even though it hurt - it felt good. To be cliche, that whole saying, "you never know what you have until it's gone," is true. I do still have a long way to go, and I still need to have the surgery on the other hand. I am taking things slow, because I know my health is the most important thing, but I have missed baking.

I am going to work at it, like all things in life, and just take it one day at a time. I can see the improvements. I went from needing help for everything - getting dressed, food, etc., to being able to bake for the first time in a month.

I wanted to bake something delicious and comforting; something that would make me feel good and warm and home. A coffee cake sounded just right for the part, and I could cross off another Food Holiday Challenge. You are supposed to wait until the cake is cool to taste it, but I couldn't wait to have a bite. It was heavenly - I'm not sure if it was just the cake, or that it was my first post-op creation. Either way, it was good. Enjoy!



Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake
adapted from Bon Appetit, Nov. '93 via epicurious.com

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake Ingredients:
Swirl Mix:
- 1 cup firmly packed Brown Sugar
- 1 cup chopped Pecans
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon

Cake:
- 1 & 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 1 & 1/2 cups Sugar
- 3 large Eggs
- 1 cup Vanilla Yogurt
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Grease a 10-inch tube pan, dust with flour, and tap out the rest.
3. Mix the swirl ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

4. Sift Flour, Baking Powder and Baking Soda in a bowl and set aside

5. Using an electric mixer, beat Butter and Sugar in a large bowl, until fluffy
6. Add Eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until combined after each addition.
7. Mix in the Yogurt and Vanilla.
8. Add Flour mixture and stir until blended.
9. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan.
10. Sprinkle 2/3 of the Swirl Mixture over the batter and swirl gently into it, using a small knife.
11. Spoon the remaining batter into the pan.
12. Sprinkle the remaining Swirl Mixture on top

13. Bake cake 50-60 minutes, or until tester inserted near center comes out clean.
14. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes, then cut around pan sides to loosen cake.
15. Turn out cake onto rack and cool completely

This cake can be prepared 1 day ahead and wrapped and stored at room temperature.

Until next time,
LOVE & CONFECTIONS!