Homemade Bagels

Homemade Bagels
Ingredients
1 1/2 tsp Sugar, divided
1 tsps Active dry yeast
1/2 Cup + 2 to 4 Tbsp Warm water, divided3/4 tsp Salt
2 Cups Bread flour (9.6 oz Gold Medal Better Than Bread Flour)
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 Tbsp Vegetable oil

Combine 1/4 Cup of warm water (105°-110°F), 1/2 tsp sugar, and the yeast in a liquid measuring cup. Allow the mixture to sit for several minutes until the surface begins to foam. (Some would say that this step isn’t necessary if you’re using instant yeast, but I find that it can’t hurt and only takes a few extra seconds. I’d rather do this than get to the end and realize my yeast was bad when the dough doesn’t rise.)

While waiting for the yeast to proof, combine the flour, remaining sugar, salt, and vegetable oil. Add the yeast mixture, plus 1/4 Cup and two tablespoons of the warm water. The dough should feel stiff, but add the extra 2 tablespoons of water if the dough is really stiff or you can’t get all the dry flour incorporated.

Turn the dough down onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about ten minutes or until the dough is uniform and smooth.

Cut the dough into 4 equal sized balls, and let rest for 10-20 minutes. Yeast dough is happiest between 70 and 80 degrees. If your kitchen is too cool, turn on the oven for just 1-2 minutes and then let the dough rise in there. Do not forget to turn the oven back off before proofing your dough.

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Take each dough ball and use two hands to roll it into a snake slightly longer than the width of both hands. When the snake is the proper length, wrap it around your dominant hand so the overlapping ends are together at your palm near the base of your fingers. Use your palm to squish the overlapping ends together. Once the dough is fused, slip it off of your hand and you should have a perfectly circular ring of dough. Try not to get discouraged if they aren’t shaped quite perfectly. It takes a bit of practice.

Let your bagels rest on the counter for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and grease a large baking tray lightly with vegetable oil.

After 20 minutes, your bagels should start to look puffy. Add as many as you can to your boiling water without crowding. Boil you bagels for about a minute on each side. Remove them from the water, allowing them to dry briefly, and place them on your oiled baking tray. Repeat until all the bagels are boiled.

Place the tray in the oven. Bake the bagels for 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time.

Let them cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

To create flavored bagels like sesame seed or onion, spread the seed or slice on a small dry plate. Place the boiled, dried bagels face down onto the plate to coat and then place them seed side up on the baking tray. Bake and flip as described above.

Adapted slightly from Homemade Bagel Recipe by John D Lee.

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Spiced Applesauce Muffins (grain, oil, dairy, and sugar free)

Spiced Applesauce Muffins

I’ve been doing a lot of non-traditional baking lately. I’m feeling pretty confident with my non-traditional cookies, but I was missing things like banana bread, applesauce cake, and crepes. I started researching paleo cooking and discovered that they have some ingenious recipes for muffins, including this one for Grain-free Banana Muffins. With a few tweaks and a bit of experimentation, I managed to recreate my favorite Spiced Applesauce Cake in a grain-free muffin form. Hopefully you’ll enjoy these as much as I did!

These can be made vegan with chia or flax eggs. They can also be made with other types of natural nut butter (no added sugar or oil), although I prefer cashew because it is mild and doesn’t compete with the apple flavor.

Ingredients
1 Cup Natural cashew or sun butter
3/4 Cup Apple butter or applesauce (strained in cheesecloth)
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 Cup Apple, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into a greased mini-muffin tin.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The muffins will rise during baking and will fall somewhat after they are removed from the oven; don’t worry, this is normal.

Spiced Apple Granola Bars

Granola Bars
I love granola in all of its forms. I could probably live on the stuff if given the opportunity. I’m sure you could understand my disappointment when I realized corn (in all of ITS forms) was one of the foods making me sick. Just about every granola product in the grocery store contains some form of corn syrup. Every time I picked up a box of granola bars for Boyfriend, I struggled with my desire to sneak just one. The occasional failure quickly reminded me that my body was not impressed with my lack of willpower. There was only one solution: figure out how to make my own.

My first attempt at granola bars was a complete failure, although what began as a granola bar failure turned out to be a candy bar success. (Peanut Butter Crunch Bars will be posted tomorrow!) The second attempt was far more fruitful. I mixed these up in just a few minutes, popped them into the oven while I got ready to go to the gym, and pulled them out right before I left. They were cooled and ready to cut when I got home…and I immediately ate 3! At least I worked out today. That balances out my granola bar indulgence, right?

See the notes below the recipe for alternative flavors.

Ingredients
1 Cup Apple butter*
1 1/2 Cup Rolled or quick oats
1/2 Cup Pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 Cup Golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the bottom. Dump the mixture into the center of the pan; use a rubber spatula to firmly press the mixture into the pan. Bake for 35 minutes.

Allow to cool completely. Use the parchment paper to remove the granola from the pan. Cut into 12 bars. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*If you do not have apple butter on hand, substitute 1 Cup applesauce**, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Any other fruit butter (including pumpkin butter) may also be substituted.
**Canned pumpkin may be used in place of the applesauce if substituting.

This recipe was loosely adapted from Pumpkin Granola Bars on Girl Makes Food!

Honey Vanilla Almond Butter

Almond Butter 1

Yesterday, I decided to make a recipe that I found on Pinterest a while ago. I’d forgotten all about it until it popped up on my facebook feed over and over and over again these past two weeks. The recipe was for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (no flour, oil, or sugar added). *I’ll be posting that one in a day or so.* The recipe calls for natural peanut butter, but with Boyfriend’s peanut allergy, that makes me nervous. He can handle some peanut products (generally the heavily processed ones) like Reese’s and processed creamy peanut butter, but other things like whole peanuts or chunky peanut butter send him into anaphylaxis. Not wanting to kill him (yet), I decided to make some homemade cashew butter to use instead, and my obsession with nut butters began.

Can you call it an obsession after only two days? Actually, I’m not really sure. After making the first batch of cashew butter and adding it directly to the cookie dough bites, I decided that I wanted to make a batch just to have for spreading on things, so I pulled out the blender again last night and got to it. When I put the remaining cashews back into cabinet, I realized that I had almonds just sitting there begging to be useful. I couldn’t just close the door and forget about them! So, when I got home from running errands today, I decided that it was time to try my hand at almond butter…Honey Vanilla Almond Butter, to be exact.

Creamy, sweet, and slightly salty, it is delicious on its own or spread on just about anything. (Yes, I admit it, I scraped the blender jar clean and ate it straight from a spoon.)

Almond Butter 2

Ingredients
1 Cup unsalted roasted almonds (slightly heaping)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp honey (to taste)
1/8 tsp salt (omit if using salted almonds)
Canola oil (as needed for blending)

Add almonds to a food processor or blender. Blend on the slowest speed until finely chopped (almond meal). Add the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of the honey. Continue to blend until the almonds become smooth and creamy. Taste the almond butter and add another tablespoon of honey if necessary.

If you cannot get the almonds to the creamy stage, add 1 teaspoon of canola oil at a time. Mine were old and a bit dry, so I had to add 2 teaspoons of oil so the blender could finish the job. Once the almonds are completely creamed, add the salt and blend for a few seconds more until fully incorporated.

Store your almond butter in the refrigerator. It will keep for at least 2 weeks.

Easy Microwave Lemon Curd

My Beautiful Mother! (She would probably kill me if she knew I posted a picture of her on the internet, but I've always thought she was one of the most beautiful women I know.)

My Beautiful Mother! (She would probably kill me if she knew I posted a picture of her on the internet, but I’ve always thought she was one of the most beautiful women I know.)

In (slightly early) honor of Mother’s Day, this recipe is dedicated to my mom.

My mother is a wonderful woman, and I have her to thank for my cooking acumen. Growing up, I spent almost as much time sitting on the kitchen counter or perched on a chair helping her cook as I did playing outside with my friends. Despite the fact that we’re both getting older, I still see her as she was when I was small, happily teaching me everything there was to know about cooking and baking. I still call her with questions like how to cook her meatloaf; she keeps telling me that I should write down the instructions, but I like calling her to ask.

My mother made Lemon Meringue Pie every single summer. I remember cracking the eggs, learning how to separate them, stirring in the lemon juice and licking the thick curd off of the wooden spoon; I remember watching her whip the meringue, and using the spatula to form pretty peaks. Unlike most lemon meringue pies, hers had a mildly tangy lemon filling with a lightly sweetened meringue. Her pie tasted like summer. Sadly, her recipe was lost and I’ve never found another like it.

Microwave Lemon Curd

If I could choose one item that encompasses every good memory I have of my mother, this would be it. I found this recipe for Microwave Lemon Curd a few days ago, but I had to wait until I had a free moment to make it; tonight was the night. I’ve never tasted lemon curd before, but everything I’ve read about it suggests it tastes like Heaven in a jar. The moment I licked the spoon, I was transported back to those childhood summers, learning to cook and idolizing the woman who magically turned eggs, lemon, and sugar into one of my favorite treats. This curd isn’t quite as thick as Mom’s lemon filling, but the flavor is absolutely perfect. It might not be Heaven, but it’s close.

Mom, this one’s for you!

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

In a large microwave-safe bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the sugar and whisk together until smooth and thoroughly combined. Whisk in lemon juice, lemon zest and butter.

Cook in the microwave on full power for 3-5 minutes, stirring after each minute. The amount of time will vary based on the strength of your microwave**. You will know the lemon curd is done cooking when it coats the back of a metal spoon.

Remove from the microwave, push through a fine, mesh sieve and pour into sterile jar.

Notes: **Mine took 5 minutes in an 1100 watt microwave.
This recipe makes just under 3 cups.
Store lemon curd in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Adapted from Microwave Lemon Curd by My Baking Addiction.

Pina Colada Muffin in a Mug

I’m feeling a little bit sorry for my regular 12 cup muffin tin. It doesn’t get much use these days and I can’t help but picture it sitting forlornly in the drawer beneath the stove, sighing and lamenting its neglect. Someday soon, I’m going to have to pull it out and make a big batch of muffin or cupcake shaped somethings to give away, but today is not that day. Today, I have some left over shredded coconut sitting in the pantry and a new can of crushed pineapple just begging for a chance to shine.

I’m using this recipe as motivation. (I have the ingredients figured out, and I have enough faith in my microwave muffin instincts now that I’m sure it will work out.) I need to start exercising more, especially since the weather is warming up and I no longer need to make the drive to the gym to keep from turning into an icicle. (Oh how I love Maine winters!) I have all of the necessary workout gear, but I usually lack the motivation to get up and go.

Boyfriend has been talking about starting a couch to 5k, although he’s pretty fit so he’s not really starting at couch, and he’s been hinting that I should too. So, today marks the start of my couch to 5k. As soon as I get back, I’ll put one of these luscious muffins into the microwave! I’m not quite sure that rewarding myself with baked goods is the best way to go about this, but a muffin in a mug is certainly a better option than a whole pan of brownies, right?

Speaking of a whole pan of brownies, I have a wonderful recipe for homemade brownies that almost perfectly replicates my favorite boxed mix, (Betty Crocker Ultimate Fudge Brownies). I’ll post that one this afternoon!

**After a two-mile walk, I came home to my pina colada muffin. It tasted just as amazing as I expected, although it had a slightly more custard-like texture, so I felt like I was eating dessert! All I needed was a bit of fresh whipped cream. I hope you enjoy it too! (Sadly, I just couldn’t seem to get a good picture.)

Ingredients:

2.5 Tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vinegar
1/2 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp melted butter
4-5 drops vanilla extract
4 Tbsp flour
Pinch salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp shredded coconut
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp crushed pineapple (drain if using canned)

In a mug, add the milk and vinegar together, and allow to stand 5 minutes. Add the egg, melted butter, and vanilla, and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Stir in the pineapple.

Microwave on high for up to 3 minutes, checking after 90 seconds. (Mine took exactly 2 minutes.)

Adapted from Pina Colada Muffins by Kitchen Confidante.

Blueberry Muffin in a Mug

I’m beginning to wonder how I survived my childhood, eating cold cereal or microwave oatmeal on most school mornings. Growing up, we occasionally made blueberry muffins on weekends from a boxed mix that came with a small tin of “real Maine blueberries.” These days, I live in Maine and I can get fresh blueberries close to home during the summer.

Homemade blueberry muffins are by far my favorite kind, but I’m the only real muffin lover in the house. It’s not worth making a whole pan of muffins when I’m the only one who will eat them, so I rarely get to have any.

This recipe was requested by another friend of mine, although I was planning on getting around to it soon anyways. A few months ago, I tried my hand at canning blueberries. With four pints sitting in the cabinet, I was looking for ways to start using them up. Once again, mug cooking seemed like a great option. I don’t know why it took me so long to think of trying this!

WARNING: Give this a minute or two to cool when it’s finished. The miracle of microwave cooking makes the blueberries hot enough to incinerate your tongue. No…I don’t know that from experience…really.

Blueberry Muffin in a Mug

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp butter, softened
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
1/2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp milk
1/3 Cup all-purpose flour
Slightly heaping 1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
Dash cinnamon
Smidgen nutmeg
1/3 Cup blueberries

In a mug, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and stir;
add the milk and stir again. Add the dry ingredients and stir
until thoroughly mixed. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Microwave on high for up to 3 minutes, checking after 90 seconds.
(In an 1100 watt microwave, my muffin cooked in 2 minutes and 15 seconds.)

Spiced Applesauce Cake in a Mug

Applesauce Cake with Butter

Can you tell that I’m obsessed with mug recipes? This past week, I’ve been working feverishly to put up a show. I choreographed a long dance piece that opened yesterday, so I haven’t had much time to grocery shop, cook, do dishes, or just about anything else unrelated to dancing. With few clean dishes, a nearly empty pantry, and very little time, I’ve had to get creative when I get hungry.

I find mug cooking for breakfast to be perfect. It only takes me a couple of minutes to put together, tastes great, and is additive free. Two days ago, I made banana bread in a mug. Unfortunately, that was my last banana. One of the few ingredients that I have lying around at the moment is applesauce. I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to make applesauce cake in a mug. It was delicious! I hope you enjoy it too.

This recipe is amazing for breakfast or a snack with a bit of butter. It would also make a wonderful dessert with a bit of drizzled cream cheese icing or topped with vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce.

Ingredients:
1/4 Cup applesauce
1/2 Egg, lightly beaten (or 1 egg yolk)
Dash Vanilla extract
4 Tbsp All-purpose flour
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Baking soda
Pinch Salt
Dash cinnamon
Dash Ginger
Dash Cloves

Batter

Add all of the ingredients to a mug and stir to combine. Microwave on high for up to 3 minutes, checking after 90 seconds; a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. This cake rises quite a bit, so keep an eye on it; if it looks about to pour over the sides, pause the cooking until it settles.

Applecause Cake

Banana Bread in a Mug

I am obsessed with cooking things in mugs. Boyfriend works nights, so I usually only cook one big meal for him, and then I eat the leftovers for dinner the next day. The rest of the time I’m on my own and I hate making a lot of food when I’m only hungry for something small. Microwave mug cooking has been the perfect solution.

Up until now, I’ve been working exclusively from other people’s established recipes. I had half of a banana left over from a PB&Banana sandwich the other day, so I decided to make banana bread in a mug to use it up. Unfortunately, all of the recipes I found called for a whole egg and a whole banana for just one little mug. In my regular recipe, one egg and three bananas makes a whole loaf pan, so it seemed a little bit out of proportion.

I’m still a little leery when it comes to baking and I like to stick to recipes exactly as they’re written, but I wasn’t happy with anything I found. It seemed my only choice was to depart from the script and try to create my own. The result was absolutely perfect.

In a mug, mash the banana with a fork.

With a fork, mash your banana in the mug.


 
Add the egg, oil, and extract and stir. Add in the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir until fully combined.

Add in the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir until fully combined.


 
Microwave for up to 3 minutes, checking after 90 seconds. Mine was on the verge of overflowing, so I paused it at 45 seconds to let it settle before finishing the cooking. (Mine took 90 seconds total.)

Microwave for up to 3 minutes, checking after 90 seconds. Mine was on the verge of overflowing, so I paused it at 45 seconds to let it settle before finishing the cooking. (Mine took 90 seconds total.)


 
If you prefer your bread slightly brown like it's fresh out of the oven (I do!), place it under the broiler with the oven door slightly open. Cook just until the top is a golden brown. Do not walk away, because it can turn from golden to charred.

If you prefer your bread slightly brown like it’s fresh out of the oven (I do!), place it under the broiler with the oven door slightly open. Cook just until the top is a golden brown. Do not walk away, because it can quickly turn from golden to charred.


 
Serve warm with a little bit of butter.

Serve warm with a little butter.


 
Ingredients:
1/2 Banana
1/2 Egg, lightly beaten (or 1 egg yolk)
Scant Tbsp Vegetable oil
Dash Vanilla extract
4 Tbsp All-purpose flour
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp Sugar
Scant 1/4 tsp Baking soda
Pinch Salt

In a mug, mash the banana with a fork. Add the egg, oil, and extract and stir. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir until fully combined. Microwave for up to 3 minutes, checking after 90 seconds. Mine was on the verge of overflowing, so I paused it at 45 seconds to let it settle before finishing the cooking. (Mine took 90 seconds total.)

If you prefer your bread slightly brown like it’s fresh out of the oven (I do!), place it under the broiler with the oven door slightly ajar. Cook just until the top is a golden brown. Do not walk away, because it can quickly turn from golden to charred.

Serve warm with a little bit of butter.

Nutella Filled Banana Muffins

In college, my friends introduced me to Nutella with waffle pretzels. They were shocked and amazed that I had survived for nearly 30 years without ever tasting the delicious chocolatey hazelnut goo. I was hooked on first taste. However, my Nutella instruction was far from over. They taught me all of the wonderful ways that it could be eaten, by dipping strawberries in it, spreading it on toast, covering a banana, scooping it straight by the spoonful. My favorite combination was definitely Nutella spread on a banana.

Banana Muffins

I absolutely love quick breads like zucchini bread, apple spice bread, and banana bread. With that in mind, I was sure that if bananas and Nutella were good together, banana bread and Nutella would be even better. I made a batch and Boyfriend was a huge fan. I took the rest of the batch to work with me, and they were gone almost as soon as I brought them in the door.

This past week, I found myself with half a dozen bananas that were more ripe than we’ll eat here (I like them still a bit green and Boyfriend doesn’t like them with more than a few small brown spots). Banana bread seemed like the perfect solution. Boyfriend and I are taking an Advanced EMT class together, so I decided to double the batch of muffins and take them to class. I didn’t bring any home.

Nutella Banana Muffins

I am still working on making everything from scratch, and finding an acceptable recipe for Nutella is on my list. For now, though, I used the store-bough stuff.

Ingredients:
1-1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 C sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 medium ripe bananas
1 egg
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2-1 C Nutella

Preaheat the oven to 375°.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In another bowl, mash the bananas. Add egg, oil and vanilla; mix well. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups half full.

Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Fill a pastry bag with Nutella. (I prefer a size 5 round frosting tip for filling my muffins.) Insert the top half of the tip into the first muffin. Squeeze the bag gently just until the top of the muffin starts to bulge. Then pull the tip out of the muffin and move onto the next. Repeat until all of the muffins have been filled.

Yield: 1 dozen.

TIPS: Store-bought Nutella gets a bit thick after it has been opened. If yours is too thick, microwave it for 15-30 seconds (no more than 15 at a time) until it thins slightly. If you must stack these for storage or transportation, place a piece of parchment paper between each layer.