Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins

March 30, 2011

The March’s What’s Baking Challenge was baking something from my heritage. Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of luck finding ingredients for any of the Indonesian recipes that I had. Since I still wanted to participate, I decided to blog about these muffins instead, because the flavor reminded me of a similar cupcake/muffin recipe that I grew up eating in Indonesia (minus the chocolate chips). The quick cooking oats were moistened by the buttermilk; and really added a nice delicate texture to these muffins. These muffins, however, aren’t very sweet, which is why the chocolate chips are important if you have a sweet tooth, or just skip them if you want something less sweet 🙂  To see what delicious goodies everyone else baked up this month, check out our host Amanda’s round up, on Our Italian Kitchen. Happy baking!!

Adapted from Sweet Savory Southern as seen on And then I do the Dishes

Directions
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Handful of chocolate chips (optional)

Ingredients
In a large mixing bowl, soak the quick cooking oats in buttermilk for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups.

Mix in eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla in the oat and buttermilk mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into oat mixture just until moistened.

Fill prepared muffin tin three-fourths full. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, if using. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center of muffin comes out clean.

Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Yield: 16 muffins

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

March 26, 2011

I have to admit that I am a huge sucker for baked goods with sour cream in it. I think sour cream adds that creaminess and a tang flavor that contrasts nicely the sweetness of any sugary treats. This recipe was especially attractive for me since it makes 2 rounds of cakes; and freezes well for future use. I love being able to pull out a dish like this on a weekend when I am tight on time but I still would love the goodness of something fresh out of the oven. This cake was really delightful with its delicate crumbs and covered in crispy and crunchy streusel topping. I am even more impressed that it still retains all of its winning features after stored in the freezer. Happy Baking!

Adapted from The Best of American Test Kitchen 2008

Ingredients
Cake
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-3/4 cups sour cream
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Streusel
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecans, almonds, or walnuts, chopped

Directions

For the Streusel

Mix everything, except the nuts, into a small bowl. Crumble the ingredients using your fingers to resemble coarse meal. Add nuts, stir, and set aside.

For the Cake

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position. Lightly oil 2 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable spray and set aside.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk sour cream, sugars, eggs, and melted butter together. Gently whisk the egg mixture into the dry flour ingredient in the large bowl until smooth (do not overmix).

Scrape the batter into the two prepared pans, and smooth top with rubber spatula. Divide the streusel into two, and sprinkle each half on top of each cake.

Bake until tops are golden or, a knife or a tooth pick inserted into the centers comes out with just a few crumbs attached, around 25-30 minutes. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.

If you choose to freeze one for later use, wrap pan tightly with saran wrap after sprinkling with streusel. It can be refrigerated up to 24 hours or frozen up to 1 month. Do not thaw frozen cake before thawing. Bake as directed, increasing the baking time to 30-35 minutes for refrigerated, or 40-45 for frozen.

Yield: 2-cakes, 6 pieces each



S’mores Pops

March 23, 2011

I have been wanting to try making my own marshmallows for a while now. For a recent baby shower dessert-themed that I threw, I decided to try making them. I figured that if they turned out delicious; I would make them into S’mores pops and if they flop, well, I won’t need to tell anyone about the ehmm… kitchen failure!

As I was making them in the kitchen, my brother in law and I exchanged some texts, at which point he said something along… “Oh, those marshmallows would be good dipped in chocolate like at Melting Pot.” And when I mentioned this to Red, he came up with the idea of dipping these marshmallow cubes in chocolate and rolled them in graham cracker crumbs! Wow! These guys had pretty genius idea, right? Portable s’mores; how about that? The marshmallows were easy to make (just ignore the stickiness); and I used meringue powder to substitute for the egg whites–and they were yummy. The s’mores pops were even better. Happy Baking and eating!

Ingredients
For the Marshmallows (Adapted from Gourmet, December 1998, as seen on Smitten Kitchen) ~ Yield about 96 1-inch cubes

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar worked just fine)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites/reconstituted powdered egg whites/meringue powder (I used later)
1 tablespoon vanilla (or other choice of flavorings)

For the S’mores pops (Yield: 20 pops – double or triple recipes as needed)
20 candy sticks (from Hobby-Lobby or Michael’s)
4 oz of melting chocolate
1 cup of graham cracker crumbs

Directions

For the Marshmallows

Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan. Dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly covered.

In a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften. I used my standing mixer bowl.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved.

Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture in the large bowl, stirring until gelatin is dissolved using a wooden spoon.

With a standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer.

In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites (or substitutes) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan (you will not get everything out, just work quickly to get as much as you can).

Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife or oiled pizza cutter trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.

For the S’mores pops

Insert a candy stick into one cube of marshmallow.

Put chocolate in a microwave/heat-safe glass bowl. Melt chocolate either in 50% power setting in microwave for approximately 3-4 minutes; or on top of a double boiler on the stove.

Dip the bottom half of marshmallow into chocolate.

Roll the bottom part on graham cracker crumbs.


Baby Shower Dessert Party

March 20, 2011

Recently, I hosted a dessert theme baby shower for a friend and co-worker. After a lot of discussions on theme and menu, we agreed on having a dessert and drink shower for a small group of her co-workers. There were only two desserts that she requested: carrot cake or cupcakes and lemon bars; and  I was basically left to go with the rest of the menu. I wanted to take more pictures of the party; but really ran out of time but here are a few pictures of the desserts I made. I thought that this was really a fun idea for a baby shower.

In addition to the desserts I listed below, her family made dessert crostini with ricotta spread, sliced strawberries and balsamic vinegar glaze and baked brie with apricot jelly, sugar cookies and Italian fried cookies (I have no recipes for those).  For drinks, we had coffee, iced tea, cold soft drinks, and bottled water.

Here are the desserts I made:

Carrot Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting with Royal Icing Yellow and Purple Pansies


Chocolate Truffles

S’mores Pops (recipe coming up soon, I promise–these were divine!)

Lemon Bars (No pictures)

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipster (No pictures)

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies (No pictures)


Breaded Chicken Cutlets

March 19, 2011

Fried chicken is one of my secret guilty pleasures… The crispy skin under the delicious breading with juicy meat all thrown in together with hot sauce, oh yea, I am in foodie heaven! Now that you know my secret obsession, I also need to let you in on a little secret that I am perfectly aware that I don’t eat it all that often. When Red and I were planning our wedding; we talked about having a low key fried chicken reception. But we backed away from that since we figured that not too many people would be too receptive of our “whacky” idea. We went with the traditional plated fish and beef dinners instead. This chicken recipe is a go-to recipe at our house; when we crave fried chickens, but want a quicker and less-messy version. It is also delicious eaten as a chicken sandwich, although I love them on their own without the buns. The key here is to make sure that you pound the chicken to even thickness so they cook thoroughly and can have that crispiness that we all want from fried chickens. Happy Eating!

Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5 to 6 ounces each), tenderloin removed and reserved for another use, fat trimmed
1/2 cup kosher salt or 1/4 cup table salt
1/2 cup sugar
5-8 slices high quality white bread such as Pepperidge Farm, crusts removed and torn into rough 1-1/2 inches pieces (or, if you don’t have white bread available, use panko instead, this is what I did)
Ground black pepper
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 cup vegetable oil
Lemon Wedges for serving

Directions
Use rubber mallet, meat pounder, or rolling pin to pound chicken breasts to even 1/2-inch thickness. Dissolve salt and sugar in 1-quart cold water in gallon-sized zipper lock plastic bag. Add cutlets and seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; refrigerate 30 minutes. Line rimmed baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels.

Remove cutlets and lay in single layer on baking sheet; cover with another triple layer paper towels and press firmly to absorb moisture. Allow cutles to dry for 10 minutes. Process bread in food processor until evenly fine-textured, 20 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1-1/4 cups fresh bread crumbs). Transfer crumbs to pie plate. Carefully peel paper towels off cutlets, sprinkle cutlets with pepper and set aside.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, set heat proof plate on rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees. Spread flour in second pie plate. Beat eggs with 1 tbsp oil in third pie plate.

Working one at a time, dredge cutlets thoroughly in flour, shaking off excess. Using tongs, dip both sides of cutlets in egg mixture, taking care to coat thoroughly, allowing excess to drip back into pie plate to ensure very thin coating. Dip both sides of cutlets in bread crumbs, pressing crumbs with fingers to form even, cohesive coat. Place breaded cutlets in single layer on wire rack set over baking sheet and allow coating to dry for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile heat 6 tablespoons of remaining oil in a heavy-bottomed 10-inch non stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, around 2 minutes. Lay two cutlets gently in skillet; cook until golden brown and crisp, 2-1/2 minutes  total.

Flip cutlets using tongs, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until meat feels firm when pressed gently and second side is deep golden brown and crisp, about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes longer. Line a plate with paper towels, set cutlets on top. If you’d like, use an oven-safe dish, and keep the chickens warm in the oven.

Discard oil, wipe skillet, and repeat the frying process with fresh new oil. Serve with lemon wedges if desired.

Yield: 4 servings


Chocolate Scotcheroos

March 16, 2011

I have amazing co-workers, and I really mean it. A few weeks ago, our group had to cover some super early morning meetings, like 5 and 6 o’clock meetings *blah* and we couldn’t really get away from them. There are three of us who were responsible to do these, and between the two of them, they volunteered to cover those early slots for me so I didn’t have to disrupt my daughter’s morning routine. Isn’t that amazing? One of them actually took  all three of my morning slots three days in a row. When I asked him what was his favorite treat, he said chocolate scotcheroos. I was glad to bake these for him and brought them to work. He was kind enough to share with the rest of the people in the office, but happy to have four big pieces himself.  I really don’t think I need to “review” this recipe… if you have had them, you know how addictive they are! 🙂 Happy baking!

Adapted from Mrs. Sullivan

Ingredients
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cup rice krispies cereal
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup butterscotch hips

Directions
Place corn syrup and sugar into 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil.

Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter. Mix well. Add cereal, stir until everything is well coated.

Spray a 13x9x2 baking pan with cooking spray. Press mixture into the pan. Set aside.

Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in large 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Let stand until firm. Cut into 2×2 inch bars when cool.

Yield: ~24 bars


Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

March 13, 2011

Red credits me for being able to come up with food ideas with the ingredients on hand. (Ehhmmm…, that’s probably because I’m either reading hard copy cookbooks or surfing through hundreds of food blogs on the internet). One weekend, I just saw a pack of mushrooms sitting in the refrigerator; and my mind was spinning trying to think of what to make with them without having to go out and get some more ingredients. I finally decided to make these sausage stuffed mushrooms because we try to make one night a week to be a movie and appetizer night. These little morsels were amazing; so delicious and the house smelled incredible when the filling was being prepared. I didn’t have “extra-large” mushrooms, so I only made half of the filling; but still ended up with tons of leftover filling.  I looked through several other recipes while making this; and a couple of them used a couple other type of cheeses that I didn’t have in hand. But I loved this version with cream cheese instead of mascarpone. I wouldn’t change a thing! Oh, and since I only had about 16 small to medium size mushrooms, I only baked them for about 30 minutes and they were perfect. Happy eating!

Adapted from Ina Garten, through Food Network

Ingredients
16 extra-large white mushrooms
5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons wine or medium sherry (Did not use them)
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage removed from the casings
6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
2/3 cup panko crumbs
5 ounces mascarpone cheese, preferably from Italy (I used cream cheese)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place themushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it’s completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste, Cool slightly.

Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake until the stuffing for 50 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crusty.