Mouthwatering Macaroni and Cheese

If you are lactose intolerant, stay away from this post at all costs.

I love macaroni and cheese. When made with quality dairy it’s tangy, buttery, and can be eaten in a wide variety of circumstances (i.e. at weddings, in bathrooms on paper plates during dreadful dinner parties, water parks, you name it). I make this particular recipe, which comes from marthastewart.com, once a year. Do I want to make it more frequently? Yes. Should I? No. Why? Because I value my arteries.

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This recipe uses three types of cheese: gruyere, fontina, and cheddar, and you can taste each one individually. This is part of what makes it so good; who wants a homogeneous bowl of cheesy pasta? (ME! I DO! But this way is even more delectable).

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Though it takes significantly longer to make this recipe than it does to crack open a box of Kraft mac and cheese, it’s definitely worth it. I refuse to say anything bad about Kraft macaroni since it has played such a large role in my life, for better or for worse. However, Martha knows what she’s doing… I’ll leave it at that.

Original Recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/853632/three-cheese-macaroni

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INGREDIENTS:

1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

5 cups whole milk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (10 ounces)

1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (4 ounces)

1 1/2 cups grated fontina cheese (4 ounces) << fontina always reminds me of the character Fantine from Les Miserables… 

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 pound shell pasta

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Liberally butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs, and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Warm milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the milk has started to warm, melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a large (no really, the largest one you have) high-sided skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter is bubbling (but not burning!). Add flour. Cook, stirring gently with a whisk, for 1 minute.

Gradually pour warm milk into butter mixture, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture bubbles and thickens, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in 3 cups cheddar, 1 cup Gruyere, 1 cup fontina, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, the nutmeg, paprika, and cayenne pepper.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente according to box instructions. Drain, and transfer pasta to cheese sauce. Stir to coat.

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Divide mixture among mini pie plates or transfer to baking dish. Scatter remaining cup cheddar, 1/2 cup Gruyere, and 1/2 cup fontina over top, and sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs.

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Bake until cheese is melted and pasta is warmed through, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving- don’t want to burn your mouth on that tangy cheese!

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Chicken Pot Pie

It’s hard to find shockingly good recipes, but this is one of them. I have never been a huge fan of chicken pot pie, probably because up until now I’ve only eaten the frozen ones. It might seem strange to try a recipe for something that I don’t like, but I had a feeling this one would change my mind, and I was right! This recipe, though not complicated, is a bit time consuming, so I’ve been waiting for a day where I had a few spare hours to make it. Finally, a nippy fall day rolled along on which I didn’t have work, so I thawed those peas and grilled that chicken and geared up to make chicken pot pie.

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The wonderful blogger behind this recipe, Joy the Baker, warns against using pre-made pie crusts with this recipe. Normally I would have heeded her advice, but I was in no mood to patch together pate brisee, so I went for it: I used Pillsbury. Consequently, I had to cook my pie for about 10 minutes past the instructed baking time, and it didn’t appear to be as crispy as Joy’s. But, truth be told I’m kind of into semi-moist pie crusts (if you use Pillsbury and notice that your crust appears to be a bit translucent, it’s probably not undercooked, it’s just absorbed some of the creamy filling!). Additionally, I switched out her preferred fresh string beans for canned corn, which I had on hand. The corn also added a nice pop of color to the pie.

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One of the most convenient things about this recipe is that it calls for grilled chicken breasts, not leftovers from a rotisserie chicken, which many chicken pot pies use. However, because you’re using grilled chicken, make sure you season it well with salt and pepper so that it has as much flavor as a rotisserie chicken would.

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Original Recipe: http://joythebaker.com/2014/04/double-crust-chicken-pot-pie/

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INGREDIENTS:

2 pre-made Pillsbury pie crusts, thawed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups chicken stock

3/4  cup whole milk>> I often use skim when recipes call for whole milk, but in this case, USE WHOLE MILK! It adds to the creamy luxuriousness of the sauce.

2 oz cream cheese

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups cubed chicken meat (2-3 chicken breasts, seasoned and grilled)

2 tablespoons butter, unsalted or salted is fine

1 small onion, diced

1 small garlic clove, minced

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 cup canned corn, drained

3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

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DIRECTIONS:

In a medium-large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in the flour.  The mixture, which is a roux, will look almost too thick- but don’t worry, that’s what it’s supposed to look like.  Heat for 1 minute.  Reduce heat to low and slowly add the chicken stock.  Whisk until no flour globs remain.  Whisk in the milk and add the cream cheese.  Heat over medium low heat, stirring often, until cream cheese has melted and the mixture is thick but not stiff.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove mixture from heat and carefully pour or spoon into a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In the same skillet over medium heat, melt butter.  Add onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add minced garlic and saute for one minute more.  Add carrots, corn, and peas.  Cook for  about 5 minutes. Remove from heat even if the veggies still look crisp, and stir in cooked, cubed chicken.  Pour the mixture into the sauce, and stir to combine. Set aside and let cool for a hot sec.

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Unroll one pie crust and place in a 9 inch pie dish. Make sure there are no cracks, or the filling may seep through. If the crusts are fully thawed, they generally won’t crack.

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Spoon or carefully pour the filling into the bottom pie crust.

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Drape the second pie crust over the filling in the pie dish. With your fingers press the top and bottom crusts together and fold under. Crimp the edges of the dough. Cut five small slits in the top of the crust so the steam can vent.  Brush lightly with beaten egg and place in the fridge to chill while the oven preheats.

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Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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Place pie in the oven bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce the oven heat to 375 and bake for 20-25 (increased time based on Pillsbury crusts) more minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour before serving.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Pizza

Ya gotta love pizza. Or maybe you don’t, who knows, but I love pizza and I’m going to tell you ALL ABOUT IT. There’s a bit of a debate regarding who actually invented pizza, but whoever it was: thank you. Pizza is fantastic in that it carries with it a lot of fond memories. Childhood ice skating parties (eating pizza signified the end of said torturous ice skating parties), “girls nights'” where my friends and I ordered Domino’s and always finished the pie, a dinner date with one of my dearest friends Thomas at John’s in the city where we similarly finished two large pizzas… the list goes on.

Normally, I order pizza if I’m just too tired to do anything else. But once in a while, it’s nice to make it myself. Kneading the dough is mildly therapeutic and I like putting on multiple toppings without being charged extra. Extra cheese? Hello. Mushrooms? Hey there. Olives? Heyheyhey.

This crust recipe is exceptionally simple, and comes out nice and crispy. A big thank you to The Silver Spoon for introducing it to me. I improvised the topping, so feel free to follow my instructions or make your own!

Buy The Silver Spoon here: http://www.phaidon.com/the-silver-spoon/the-silver-spoon-series/the-silver-spoon-9780714862569/

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INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)

1/2 cup lukewarm water

Olive oil, for brushing

1 can Hunt’s diced tomatoes, strained

1 package cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Parmesan cheese, grated

Olives, quartered

1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 tbsp olive oil

Garlic powder, if desired

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Sift the flour, salt, and yeast into a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour the lukewarm water into the well, and mix with dry ingredients using a wooden spoon.If the dough is too sticky, add a pinch of flour as needed.

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Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for ten minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.

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Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a large bowl that has been brushed with olive oil. Brush seran wrap with olive oil and wrap tightly on top. Put bowl in a warm area for at least an hour, and let the dough rise until it is doubled in size. If you’re making the dough in advance, remove from the bowl after the hour and punch down. Return to the bowl, and place in the refrigerator until needed.

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Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and roll out until it is about 16 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. I still haven’t perfected the art of making pizzas round, so don’t worry if yours is a funny shape. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Move the dough to the baking sheet. Reshape to fit the sheet if needed.

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Sautee garlic until translucent, then add mushrooms. Cook until they are smaller and a deep brown.

Spread tomatoes across dough. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes and garlic powder (if desired) on the tomatoes. Top with mozzarella and parmesan. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms and garlic from the pan and place on pizza. Add the olives, and then the parsley.

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Place the pizza in the preheated oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cookies

I’ve been posting a lot of recipes involving classically autumnal flavor profiles (i.e. cinnamon, pumpkin, and nutmeg), so I decided to go the chocolate route for a change. The name of these cookies might seem a bit overdone, but there’s so much chocolate involved that it somehow feels appropriate. This recipe, which comes from the scrumptious food blog Baker By Nature, popped up on my Instagram feed a few days ago, and I haven’t been able to shake the memory of seeing so much chocolate enveloped in one cookie.

And now, the dilemma: I’ve been mildly attempting to eat more healthily, and I knew that making these cookies wouldn’t help in my feeble endeavors for obvious reasons. I needed to make them, eat one or two (or three or four, let’s be honest), and then get them out of the house as soon as possible. And then I remembered: my church has a coffee hour in between services, so once in a while I bring baked goods to serve there. What a perfect opportunity to get rid of these cookies! Again, after I test them.

Each batch only makes a dozen cookies, but they’re so big that it’s not chintzy to cut them up before serving them if you don’t feel like doubling it. I would have tried making them smaller, but since it’s a new recipe I decided against meddling with the cooking time.

Original Recipe: http://bakerbynature.com/soft-batch-double-chocolate-fudge-cookies/#more-19665

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INGREDIENTS:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar (6 tbsp total)

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup milk chocolate chips, to be mixed in to the batter

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, and lightly grease or spray with non-stick spray (remember, these cookies are fudgey!).

Place the semi-sweet chocolate chips and butter in a small, microwave safe bowl. Heat them in the microwave for for 15 second increments of time, mixing in between each, until butter and chocolate are completely melted and can easily be whisked smooth. Be sure you don’t overcook the chocolate, as this will cause it to thicken and be harder to fold into the batter. Set aside.

In a small-medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate medium-sized bowl whisk together the sugars, eggs, heavy cream, and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and stir to combine – be wary of over-mixing, as this will make the batter too stiff.

Fold in the melted chocolate/butter and the milk chocolate chips into the batter, stirring only until everything is combined evenly.

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Scoop 1/4 cupfuls of the batter on the prepared baking sheets (do not try rolling the batter into balls with your hands… you will have a handful of melted chocolate), place pans in the oven, reduce heat to 300 degrees, and bake for 18-20 minutes. You can tell that they’re done because they will have a slight pearlescent sheen to them, due to the egg yolks.

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Allow cookies to cool for at least on hour on the baking sheets… truth be told, I snuck one before they were finished cooling, and it was totally fine, but if you have to transport them or are afraid of breaking them, I suggest waiting the full hour.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkins are amazing. They’re beautiful, have a long shelf life, and most importantly, they can become pie. I try to pretend that pumpkin pie is at least moderately healthy since it’s made out of a squash-like fruit (naturally ignoring the fact that this fruit sits on top of a buttery crust and is topped with heaping dollops of whipped cream). Pumpkin pie is also among the easiest to make if you use canned pumpkin and a ready-made pie crust. Though I normally make it this way for Thanksgiving since I would be insane to attempt anything more elaborate while making all of the other desserts that the holiday entails, I do enjoy using fresh pumpkin when I have the time.

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So, today, I peeled, seeded, and cubed a sugar pumpkin that I picked off the vine* at Hank’s Pumpkintown out east. This is the most time consuming part of making pumpkin pie from scratch; pumpkins are relatively easy to peel (using a knife, not a vegetable peeler), but they can be tough to cut through. After steaming the pumpkin, I put it in the food processor, which you will notice in the following picture, has been in my family since formica countertops were in vogue.

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I also made the crust from scratch using Martha Stewart’s pie crust recipe, which can be found on her website: http://www.marthastewart.com/344292/our-favorite-pie-crust … This was my first attempt at truly crimping the crust; please forgive any glaring crimping errors. The original recipe for the pie filling hails from Libby’s, the brand of canned pumpkin that my family always uses. I altered it slightly to omit cloves and include nutmeg. I also used a little of the extra pie crust to make a jack-o-lantern face, which I put on top of the pie about halfway through baking.

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Original Recipe: https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18470/libbys-famous-pumpkin-pie/

*full disclosure, my friend Sam kicked it off the vine for me… did you know that pumpkin vines are super prickly??

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Scant 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

large eggs

15 oz. pumpkin puree (a little less than 2 cups)

1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk

unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Pour filling into pie shell.

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Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees; bake for 20 minutes or until slightly firm, then apply jack-o-lantern face to the center of the pie. Continue baking for another 20-30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving (unless you don’t like whipped cream, in which case I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOUR LIFESTYLE).

 

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Maple Muffins

I think we all know by now that I’m a huge fan of autumn and everything that comes with it. One of my favorite autumn flavors, which often gets overshadowed by pumpkin and apple, is maple. Though maple syrup isn’t harvested until the late winter or early spring, its decadent flavor reminds me of eating warm pancakes on chilly autumn mornings.

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My aunt recently lent me a very cute maple leaf muffin tin, so I’ve been searching for a recipe to use it with. I happened upon this maple muffin recipe on tasteofhome.com; what a perfect fit! For an easy recipe like this, I try not to buy any ingredients if I don’t absolutely have to. For example, this recipe calls for sour cream and milk. Presumably, the author intended us to use full fat sour cream and milk, but that’s not what I have laying around the house. So instead, I used skim milk and light sour cream. Let me cut to the chase: use whichever version of these ingredients you prefer.

These muffins are ideal for eating on your way out the door in the morning, or tossing in your bag for an afternoon snack. Or, if you’re like me, they’re perfect for munching while you write your blog post. I prefer my muffins with a glass of cold milk, but go crazy- try them with tea!

Original Recipe: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/morning-maple-muffins

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INGREDIENTS:

BATTER:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup sour cream

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

TOPPING:

3 tbsp all purpose flour

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine milk, butter, syrup, sour cream, egg and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. For topping, combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake 16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans and moving to wire racks. Serve warm.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

IT’S HERE, IT’S FINALLY HERE!!! Autumn, my one true love, has arrived. And you know what that means: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, roast chicken and vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, turnips, cranberries, pears, and last but not least, pumpkin. Come fall all of the usual suspects, even chocolate chip cookies, get an autumn injection in the form of a pumpkin twist.

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As much as I love most things pumpkin (I would say all, but you can never be sure of what’s out there), I hadn’t thought of adding pumpkin to something as classic as the chocolate chip cookie. I’m always wary of tampering with things that are good as they are. However, I recently saw mention of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies on Taylor Swift’s tumblr, and was immediately intrigued. She attributes her favorite recipe for the treat to foodnetwork.com. Although she says that she prefers using semi-sweet chocolate chips, the recipe recommends milk chocolate, so I went with that option. The end result is fabulous; the cookies are reminiscent of pumpkin pancakes in both texture and taste. Just make sure you mix in the chocolate chips thoroughly, or the morsel-free batter will spread too much when baking. Original Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe.html

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INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2-4 cookie sheets with parchment paper for an easy clean up.

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Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips (remember to stir thoroughly!). Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets.

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Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges, and the cookies are a deep gold. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2-4 minutes. Carefully take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Kahlua Coffee Chocolate Cake

Kahlua Coffee Chocolate Cake: it’s a mouthful to say and to eat. Sometimes I bake for a specific reason, like a special occasion or a family gathering, but there are also times when I just bake for the sake of trying a new, enticing recipe. I’ve had my eye on this recipe, which I found on the beautiful bakersroyale.com, for a while now. And by a while, I mean 3 or 4 days, but those few days felt like a month. How could you see this cake and not want to make eat it immediately?

As fabulous as the recipe looked, I didn’t want to make an entire two layer cake for fear of eating an entire two layer cake by myself. So, I halved the cake recipe. I kept the buttercream recipe the same since I’m a fan of heavy frosting. I did have some leftover, but I never have a problem with surplus frosting. Since most of you would probably rather have a two layer cake to show for your labor, I have kept the cake proportions as they were in the original recipe. However, I did leave out the hazelnuts for allergy purposes.

Once I finished making the cake (and ate two slices), I actually brought it to my best friend’s house for her family to enjoy (especially Uncle Tony!). It also happened to be our 10th Friendiversary… yes, we celebrate the day that we became friends.

Original recipe: http://www.bakersroyale.com/cakes/kahlua-crunch-cake/

INGREDIENTS:

CAKE:

5 oz. dark chocolate

2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

¾ buttermilk

¾ cup brewed coffee, cooled slightly

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

½ tsp. kosher salt

4 large eggs

1/3 cup Kahlúa

FROSTING:

6 oz. dark chocolate

1/3 cup Kahlúa

¼ cup heavy cream

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened

DIRECTIONS:

CAKE:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray the bottom of 2 8-inch cake rounds with baking spray.

In a heat-proof bowl, microwave the chocolate on high power in 20-second intervals until melted; stir between intervals. Let cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, coffee, Kahlúa and vanilla; set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and salt at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at time until fully incorporated. Turn mixer speed down to low, in 3 alternating batches beat in the dry ingredients and the wet mixture, scraping down the side down the bowl as needed. Fold in chocolate.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 40 minutes, or until wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out free of wet batter.  Let the cake cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove and transfer cake to a wire rack. Using a wooden skewer or a long tine fork, poke holes in the cakes and brush Kahlua all over cakes.

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FROSTING:

In a heat-proof bowl, microwave the chocolate on high power in 20-second intervals until melted; stir between intervals. Let cool slightly. Cooling the chocolate is imperative; if it is too hot, it will separate from the butter when you mix it.

Transfer chocolate to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and on medium speed beat in Kahlúa and heavy cream. Beat in confectioner’s sugar.

Turn mixer speed to high and add butter in two tablespoons at a time and beat until the frosting is thick and creamy.

ASSEMBLY:

Transfer chocolate one cake layer to a serving platter or cake stand spread frosting on top. Place second layer on top and spread frosting on top and sides of cake. Garnish as desired: I recommend using turbinado sugar or dark chocolate bits.

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Enjoy!

         Leslie

Breakfast Cinnamon Buns

One of the most comforting scents of fall is that of cinnamon baking, especially when it’s accompanied by butter and sugar. It’s a unique spice in that’s familiar and exotic at the same time. Cinnamon buns, though excellent, take a pretty long time when you make them the standard way, which involves yeast. In contrast, this yeast-free recipe takes a measly 45 minutes including prep time, which makes it perfect for breakfast. Because they lack yeast, these breakfast buns are more biscuit-like than regular cinnamon buns, which err on the lusciously gooey side of things (eat at Cinnabon for reference). Normally I’d be all about lusciously gooey cinnamon buns, but in the morning I like to keep it pretty low key, which is why I recommend these delicious delights. If you don’t have time to make the dough and bake them in the same morning, simply prepare the dough and filling the night before, and bake the next day. Cinnamon buns are always best warm, so try to eat them as soon as possible after baking them (it won’t be hard).

This is a slightly modified version of a recipe I found on epicurious.com. Based on suggestions from other bakers, I doubled the filling. If you like a lot of icing, I recommend doubling the icing amounts as well since what’s listed below is only enough to drizzle sparsely on top.

Original recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Shortcut-Cinnamon-Buns-101437

INGREDIENTS:

FILLING:

4 tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

DOUGH:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp cold unsalted butter

1 large egg

scant 1/4 cup milk (I used fat free since it’s what I have, but whole milk is usually best for baking)

ICING:

3 1/2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp water

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

FILLING:

In a small bowl stir together 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and cinnamon.

ICING:

In another small bowl stir together confectioners’ sugar and water until smooth.

DOUGH:

Into a large bowl sift together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and with your fingertips or a pastry blender blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. In another small bowl whisk together egg and 3 tablespoons milk and add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined.

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Transfer mixture to a lightly floured surface and gently knead, 3 or 4 times, until it forms a dough. Pat dough into a 10- by 6-inch rectangle. It doesn’t have to be exact, so no need to pull out the ruler!

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ASSEMBLY:

Brush dough with some remaining milk and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar.

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Beginning with a short side, roll up rectangle to form a 6-inch log and cut crosswise into 4 pieces.

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Arrange pieces on the center of a baking sheet, cut sides up, with seams touching.

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Bake buns in middle of oven until pale golden and cooked through, about 16 minutes.

Drizzle icing over warm buns.

 

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Enjoy!
 
Leslie
               

Graham Cracker Cookies

If you live anywhere near me (any New Yorkers out there?), you know that the sweltering humidity we’re currently experiencing is far from autumnal. With that said, I usually consider everything post Labor Day and pre Christmas to be part of my favorite season: fall. Fall is the rebirth of the year for children… sort of like New Year’s for adults. It’s when they get to start the new school year with a clean slate, new hopes and dreams, and most importantly, great snacks in their lunchboxes.

One of the snacks that my mom always kept stocked in the house growing up was graham crackers. When I was younger I didn’t really get the appeal unless they were transformed into s’mores. But now I enjoy them with peanut butter and fresh strawberries as a dessert when I’m being healthy. When I’m not being healthy, I still use them for s’mores making purposes.

This recipe, which comes from the pretty and pink Miette cookbook, takes graham crackers to the next level by making them into cookies. They’re delicious with milk, as most cookies are, but I especially like putting them out when I have people for tea.

Buy the Miette Cookbook here: https://www.miette.com/mailorder/books/miette-book.html

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

Heaping tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 firmly packed brown sugar (I used dark, but either works fine)

2 tbsp honey

DIRECTIONS:

Sift together flour, whole wheat flour, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer (such as a Kitchen Aid) fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey on low speed for about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl throughout.

Add the sifted ingredients to the butter mixture a third at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. Form the dough into a disc shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling. Similarly to a pate brisee, this dough has a lot of butter so it must be chilled in order to roll properly.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unwrap the dough and place between 2 sheets of wax paper. It’s important to use wax paper and not flour because flour would ruin the caramel complexion of the dough. Roll out until it is about 1/4 inch thick. I made mine a little bit too thick so they didn’t turn out as crispy as they otherwise would have. If you like chewy cookies, feel free to make them thicker, but if you want more of a traditional graham cracker texture, I recommend sticking to the 1/4 inch suggestion.

Using a 3 1/4 inch round cookie cutter with a scalloped edge, cut out the cookies. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1/2 inch apart. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and LET COOL COMPLETELY! I put that part in caps because I tend to be impatient and always move my cookies too early. But be warned: these cookies will break very easily.

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Re-roll remaining dough scraps and cut out more cookies. Bake as directed and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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Enjoy!

Leslie