Flashback Friday – Peeps Show

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 3/9/09 at Exit 51.

Peeps Show

What do you get when you mix Marshmallow Peeps with Pop Culture?  Not some freaky science experiment…step away from the microwave.  No, what you get is the third annual Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest.

image from washintonpost.com
image from washingtonpost.com

Read all about it here and get moving, the entry deadline is March 15th.  Need some inspiration?  Look no further than the 2008 contest and photo gallery. My personal favorite is the Peep Art.

For those who are less artistically inclined, but still want to get their Peeps on, check out the following:

Marshmallow Peeps Official Website where you can join their fan club, get fun facts and recipes.

The Big List of Peeps Links is pretty self explanatory.  Although, the page is in serious need of an update.

And my personal favorite for the DIYer – a review of the WHAM-O Marshmallow Peep Maker.  For real, how come I never found this in MY Easter basket?

Bran Muffins

This is the tale of two muffins.  Two bran muffins.  On the surface, they are completely identical.  I used the exact same recipe for both batches of muffins.  So what could possibly be different about them?  I’ll give you a hint, it has everything to do with how I baked them.

One muffin was baked in my big oven.  400 degrees for 20 minutes.  The other muffin was baked in my Advantium.  380 degrees for 16 to 18 minutes.  One muffin was made on a lazy afternoon.  The other muffin was made after a long day of work.  Can you tell which is which?

I typically avoid baking on weeknights because I’m tired, I’m cranky, and it’s tiresome to have to haul out all of the pots and pans that live in the oven in order to heat it up and bake something.  But after the Advantium arrived, I wanted to challenge myself to see if its super powers could make baking accessible to me during the week.

The proof is in the picture.  The muffin on the right is from the batch that I made on a Thursday night.  It helped that the recipe I used was minimally fussy and didn’t require me to break out the stand mixer, let the batter rest, or otherwise allow me to get sidetracked from my muffin mission.  It also helped that I halved the original recipe and only baked up a dozen of these on a weeknight.  Sometimes the smaller capacity of the Advantium totally works to my advantage.

So the two muffins may look the same, but how did they taste?  If I hadn’t known which batch of muffins of which, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which came out of the big oven and which came out of the Advantium.

Weeknight baking mission accomplished.

Bran Muffins

Adapted from The Muffin Myth

BAH Note: There’s nothing fussy about these muffins.  They are full of wheat bran which I was readily able to find in the grocery store.  Look for Bob’s Red Mill brand.  I think they are the bran muffin equivalent of a blank canvas…sturdy and up for the job but they aren’t out to wow you.  So you might want to add in some fresh fruit and spices you like to give them a little something special.

Advantium Tip: To modify the recipe below for use in your Advantium, place the metal cooking tray on the turntable (instead of the glass tray) and install the wire rack in the bottom position.  Select Convection Bake from the menu and set the temperature to 380 degrees.  You will want to start checking for doneness after about 15 minutes.  Depending on how full you’ve filled your cups, the muffins should be done in approximately 16 to 18 minutes.

  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups wheat bran
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat your oven to 400 degrees and line approximately 18 muffin cups with liners.  Mix the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, milk, water, and vanilla together in a large bowl.  Combine the wheat bran, flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in another bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill your muffin cups (the muffin myth said she got 12 out of the recipe but I made mine a bit smaller and got about 18) and bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are firm.

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning the muffins out on a wire rack to cool completely.  Leftover muffins can be wrapped in plastic and frozen.

{priable recipe}

Disclaimer:  As part of my partnership with GE, I received an Advantium oven.  All opinions posted about my Advantium experience are my own.

Pumpkin Bread

You may feel like you’re experiencing a bit of deja vu seeing that photo.  Yes, you saw it when I talked about the quick bread frosting I made with the new Kerrygold Premium Spreadable Butter.  You even got the recipe for the frosting.  But I didn’t really talk about what was under the frosting.  And that must be addressed.

Back in October I was introduced to this pumpkin bread by my friend Mary.  She stopped by for a visit and brought along a wee loaf of it for me to enjoy.  Now let me say that a visit from friends is an absolute pleasure.  But when they also come bearing gifts lovingly made with their own hands….multiply that by infinity.

After only one bite I was badgering Mary for her recipe.  And she told me that she had found it on allrecipes.com.  A few google moments later, I pulled the recipe up on my phone and had her confirm that I found the right one before I could continue in any kind of normal conversation.

A few weeks later, I went about making the pumpkin bread not knowing the chain of events that it was about to start.  First, I used it as the delivery vehicle for the quick bread frosting as part of the Kerrygold competition.  Then, I took some to work for a birthday celebration….congratulations, you’re a year older, please have a slice of quick bread.  I also delivered a loaf to the folks at the coffee shop who get my morning caffeination needs met Monday through Friday and to my chiropractor and his staff for taking such good care of me after the latest fender bender.  Lastly, I sent the rest of the batch off to the Headquarters staff of my sorority to thank them for all of their support in the last few months.

Yes, I was using butter, sugar, and pumpkin to express my thanks and appreciation.  Or in the case of the competition, to share my #butterlove…it’s what I do.  And I do it for the joy that I receive from the act of expressing my gratitude or sharing my love of something with others.  It’s as simple as that.  But sometimes, that gratitude has a way of being returned to me.  Take the Headquarters staff.  They had no idea that a lovebomb was coming their way.  When it arrived, it made them feel special.  And it could have ended there with their enjoyment of the pumpkin bread and cookies.  But they took a moment to sit down and write me a note to tell me how much they enjoyed the treats and to thank me for thinking of them.  It made my heart smile.

And then, most unexpectedly, my chiropractor asked me whether I sell any of the things I bake because he had 16 guests coming for Thanksgiving and wanted to include the pumpkin bread in their holiday meal.  If I hadn’t been so relaxed and dreamy from the adjusting he was doing, I would have probably laughed because it has never been my ambition to do the cooking and baking as my profession.  On the contrary, I do it as a bit of personal therapy.  So I told him that what I don’t keep for our personal enjoyment I give away.  And then I asked whether I could give him a batch of pumpkin bread for his Thanksgiving.  Because really, is there a bigger honor than being asked to share something I have made with someone’s family for Thanksgiving?  In that moment, I felt the Universe beaming my gratitude back to me.

I can’t promise you that this pumpkin bread will bring you fame or fortune.  But it just might bring you a bit of gratitude when it’s least expected.

Pumpkin Bread

Adapted from allrecipes.com

BAH Note: Go ahead and bake up two batches like I did…the quantities below make a single batch. Because according to Mary, the loaves freeze beautifully.  So even if you plan on giving most of it away, stash a well wrapped loaf or two in your freezer for your own enjoyment.   You  will likely need to mix each batch separately, unless you’ve got a ginormous mixing bowl.  And be sure that you’re using canned pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.

  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour six 3×5 disposable aluminum loaf pans and set them on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water, and sugar until combined.

In a separate bowl, using a clean whisk or a fork, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.

Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until they are just combined.  Pour the batter into the loaf pans and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating your pan halfway through the cooking time, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer the loaves to a rack to cool completely before wrapping in several layers of plastic wrap for freezer storage.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Ina’s Buns

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 3/4/09 at Exit 51.

Ina’s Buns

I haven’t gotten around to trying Ina’s Easy Sticky Buns.  But online, I’ve come across folks who have.  And the results are a mixed bag.

First was The Amateur Gourmet.  His post was titled Burnt Sticky Buns.  Pretty much sums it up.

Then Meleyna posted her tale.

I have to say that I’ve lost some of my enthusiasm to try this recipe.  If The Amateur Gourmet can’t bring a Barefoot Contessa recipe to life, then what chance do I stand?  But I suppose I’ll never know until I try.  What about you?  Have you tried it yet?

Over at foodnetwork.com, that recipe has gotten mostly positive reviews.  I just dunno.  Someone, please, help me decide what to do about Ina’s Buns.

Tenderloin Filet a la Advantium

So as I talked about earlier, I am the proud new owner of a GE Advantium oven.  And as part of my collaboration with GE, I’m going to go on an adventure to see how this new technology can help me do more in the kitchen and share what I learn here on BAH.

The first thing I learned is that my kitchen is now smarter than I am.  But I mean that in a good way.  The Advantium comes with over 175 preset cooking programs for everything from bagel bites to tenderloin filets.  With the press of a button and the turn of the knob, you can set it and forget it until the Advantium lets you know that you need to do something…like flip your filet or get to eating.

Through the various cooking modes you can:

  • Microwave
  • Convection Bake
  • Speedcook
  • Warm
  • Proof dough
  • Broil
  • Toast

All that in a single appliance.  I swear, I am not making this up.  It’s as though a bit of Jetson’s technology is living in my kitchen.  And that’s good news for me because the Advantium solves some of my big problems.

First, I’m terrified of my broiler.  I avoid it at all costs which means that I forgo things like sizzling hot steaks.  I think my fear has a lot to do with not being able to keep a close eye on what’s happening under that flame.  With Broil, I can see through the window and monitor what’s happening to my steak.

Second, there is no room on my counter for a toaster.  It lives in the cabinet above the stove which means I have to find the step stool, get it out of the cabinet, and clean up whatever crumbs spill out of it each and every time I want to make some toast.  Then I have to wait for it to cool off, shake out the latest batch of crumbs, and climb back on the step stool to put it away.  As you might imagine, there has been a prolonged toast shortage here at BAH.  Thank you Toast setting for allowing me to reunite with toasted nooks and crannies.

Third, I don’t have a good spot to set bread dough to rise.  The kitchen is drafty and inside the big oven is where the pots and pans live.  Every time I set about making bread or rolls, it’s a crap shoot whether my dough is even going to rise.  I can see myself making good friends with Proof.

And maybe most exciting of all is how Speedcook will make things like roast chicken a viable weeknight meal option.  Monday through Friday, I don’t have 90 minutes for dinner to cook.  But I can carve out the 45 minutes Speedcook needs to roast a 5 pound whole chicken while I do something like speedwatch the episodes of Modern Family that have accumulated on my Tivo.  Speedcook, I see you as my newly acquired super power.

So the Advantium wasn’t even out of the box before I was plotting what to make in it first.  Flipping through the cookbook that came with it, I spied Steak au Poivre.  This is the dish that I had seen demo’d down at GE in the spring.  And I knew that’s how I would christen my Advantium because it’s the kind of recipe that I would be too intimidated to try either on top of the stove or under the broiler.

The filet was prepped and ready and went into the oven using the Speedcook preset for 1 filet cooked to Medium.  And without a single moment of preheating, it was done in 16 minutes.  Hell, it would take my big oven that long just to heat to 500 degrees.  Not only did it cook in less time than the entire process would have taken in my traditional oven, I also didn’t have the wasted energy of the big oven heating to an incredibly high temperature before I could begin to cook.

So what’s my verdict?  The tenderloin filet came out of the Advantium sizzling hot and was cooked to a perfect medium.  Being that I’m more of a medium rare girl, I’m going to take advantage of the ability to add custom cooking programs and set myself up with a Medium Rare preset.  Which means that next time I’m only going to have to wait about 12 minutes for my sizzling steak needs to be met.

Yes, I think Advantium is going to make me a Super Hero in my kitchen.

Disclaimer:  As part of my partnership with GE, I received an Advantium oven.  All opinions posted about my Advantium experience are my own.

My GE Advantium Experience

I am horrible at keeping secrets.  And yet there has been a happy little nugget of news that I’ve been sitting on for a while.  No, not THAT kind of news.  Geez.  Remember earlier this year when I shared with you the first rate experience I had down in Louisville as a guest of GE at their Experience Center?  Mais non?  Well then clicky here.

I came home from that trip thinking that in our next house, whenever that may happen, it would be nice to incorporate the Advantium technology into the kitchen.  And then life kept rolling along and took my mind off of the serious case of Advantium envy that came home with me from the great state of Kentucky.  Now fast forward a few months.  Out of the blue, the folks at GE reached out to me wanting to know if I would be interested in helping them tell the Advantium story.

Would I want to receive an Advantium of my very own to use and then talk about it here on the blog?  That was like asking me “does butter taste good?”.

I had someone ask if it felt like I was selling out by agreeing to collaborate with GE on this project.  And I thought it was a legitimate question.  My answer was “no”, and here’s why…I already use GE appliances.  I am already one of their consumers.  Heck, if it weren’t for GE and their 18 inch dishwasher, The Mistah and I would still be in handwashing hell in our ridiculously small kitchen.  When I had the choice of what brand appliances I would purchase for our kitchen, I chose GE.

Another reason I didn’t feel like this was a case of selling out is because GE is not dictating the content of my posts.  They are providing me with the product but I am not being told what to say about my experience with it.  If you’ve followed my kitchen adventures for a while, you know that I talk about failures as much as I do successes.  Frankly, the Advantium is going to challenge me as I learn to harness the power of Speed Cooking and Convection.  I expect that there’s going to be bumps in the road…and I won’t gloss over them and pretend that they don’t exist.  But I also expect that this tool is going to help me do more when it comes to cooking.

I’m not sidestepping the fact that companies are in business to promote and sell their products.  That’s what businesses do.  And as customers, it is up to each of us to make the best, most informed decision of how to spend our consumer dollars.  So by hearing me talk about being able to roast a chicken for a Tuesday night meal instead of reheating leftovers from the weekend, you may decide that this product is right for you.  Or you might decide that it’s not.  I’m not here to tell you that your life will magically become picture perfect because you can cook, bake, microwave, and warm in a single appliance.

What I am here to do is share my real experiences of using the Advantium product.  I have an opportunity to be part of the conversation.  Is it flattering to have a company single me out and say “we like what you’re doing, what you represent, and we’d like to have you help tell our story”?  Absolutely.  It is hugely validating.  But it is also a responsibility that I take very seriously.  That’s why I chose to publicly state my reasons for deciding to partner with GE on this project instead of merely including a disclaimer on each Advantium post stating that I have been provided with the product but that the opinions expressed are my own.

Am I beyond excited to have this opportunity? Am I looking forward to the adventure that is about to unfold in my kitchen?  Again, that’s like asking me “does butter taste good?”.

Flashback Friday – Choco Lot

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 2/25/09 at Exit 51.

Choco Lot

What’s that?  You say that you want more chocolate?

If that Chocolate Souffle didn’t satisfy your dark cravings, try this Molten Chocolate Magic.  Personally, I’m looking for an excuse to make this.  Does Saturday count as a special occasion?

chocolate

Molten Chocolate Magic

Adapted from “Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef” by Mark Bittman and Jean-Georges Vongerichten

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more to butter the molds
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons flour, plus more for dusting

In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, heat the butter and chocolate together until the chocolate is almost completely melted. While that’s heating, beat together the eggs, yolks, and sugar with a whisk or electric beater until light and thick.

Beat together the melted chocolate and butter; it should be quite warm. Pour in the egg mixture, then quickly beat in the flour, just until combined.

Butter and lightly flour four 4-ounce molds, custard cups, or ramekins. Tap out the excess flour, then butter and flour them again. Divide the batter among the molds. (At this point you can refrigerate the desserts until you are ready to eat, for up to several hours; bring them back to room temperature before baking.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake the molds on a tray for 6 to 7 minutes; the center will still be quite soft, but the sides will be set.

Invert each mold onto a plate and let sit for about 10 seconds. Unmold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately.