Ken’s Ginger Milk Cake

Ginger Cream Cupcake

I turned 42 this year.  How that happened, I don’t know.  One day I am young; I have my entire life ahead of me.  And then people my age suddenly have children old enough to graduate high school.  People my age are posting on Facebook about their grandchildren.  People my age have as much of their lives in the past as they do in the future.  Call it whatever you like – middle age, seasoned, etc – the reality is that like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.  And as of my birthday this year, I’ve had 15,695 of them.  That’s worth celebrating.

So I decided that I would pick a special treat to mark the end of one year and the beginning of a brand new year of me.  Part of what I’ve learned on my journey is that by virtue of just being me, I am worthy.  I have value.  And until I embrace that and celebrate it, I can’t expect anyone else to.

I may have had Brene Brown in my head as I took the time to mix and stir, to fold and frost in celebration of me. But having love and compassion for ourselves allows us to experience love and compassion for others.   This year, love and compassion tasted like Ginger Milk Cake.

Ken’s Ginger Milk Cake

Adapted from Hungry Rabbit

BAH Note:  I’m not going to kid you, this cake is very hands on.  It’s not something I would attempt with lots of distractions like children, Candy Crush, or a Dance Moms marathon to pull your attention away from the task at hand.  If cupcakes aren’t your thing, or if you have better portion self control than I do, this batter will make two 8″ layers.

Ginger Milk Mousse

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (full fat please)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon super fine sugar

Cake

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Melt 5 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon grated ginger and allow to sit, off the heat, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the 4 egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt together in a medium bowl until pale yellow, smooth, and fully combined.

Sprinkle the gelatin into 1/4 cup of the coconut milk in a small bowl or ramekin.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup coconut milk, 3/4 cup heavy cream, and 1 tablespoon grated ginger to a small saucepan and heat to just simmering.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for least 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove from the heat and slowly stir a few tablespoons of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.  Stir all of the tempered egg mixture into the hot milk and return the pan to the stove.  Cook over medium heat until the milk mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Off the heat, stir in the gelatin mixture and vanilla.  Pour the ginger cream through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  Cover the surface of the cream with plastic wrap and allow to cool completely.

While the ginger cream cools, strain the butter ginger mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl.  Stir in the vanilla.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, ground ginger, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt into a medium bowl.

In a separate mixing bowl (non reactive s’il vous plait) set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the 4 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar.  Continue to whisk until it reaches about 115 degrees (if you don’t have a thermometer, this is a touch warmer than body temperature but should not be HOT).  Transfer the heated egg and sugar to the workbowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed for about 5 minutes or until the mixture triples in volume.

Warm the melted butter in your microwave for about 10 seconds, just to loosen it up.  Whisk 1 cup of the egg mixture into the melted butter and set aside.  Sift half of the flour mixture onto the batter and gently fold it in with a rubber spatula.  Repeat with the remaining flour and fold it in just until the flour is no longer visible.  Gently fold in the butter mixture until just incorporated.

Divide the batter into lined muffin tins and bake until the cake just begins to pull away from the baking paper and a tester comes out clean.  Start checking for doneness at about 15 minutes…I honestly don’t remember how long mine were in the oven but Ken calls for 18 to 22 minutes for an 8 inch layer cake.  So cupcakes should be in the 15 to 20 minute range.

Transfer the cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.  When ready to frost, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar in your mixer until you get soft peaks.  Stir about one cup of the whipped cream into the ginger cream and then gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream.  Frost the cupcakes and then top with crystallized ginger.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready.

{printable recipe}

Touch of Grace Biscuits

Graceful Biscuits

There’s no graceful way to say this, so I may as well just be blunt…I can be a complete ass sometimes.  And by sometimes I mean when I just react instead of stopping and thinking about how I want to react.  It’s the dark side of living in the moment.  Because in that precise moment, it’s a head spinning, furious fisted meltdown.  I was swallowed whole by  that moment this morning at breakfast.

That’s right.  I had a tantrum over a plate of scrambled eggs.

And here’s the kicker….as soon as I started, I knew I was over reacting.  I knew it and knew that it was easier to just be swept out by the rising tide of my anger than it was to dig my heels into the shifting sand and ground myself to a halt.  And while I see progress in the fact that I’m not sitting here stewing mad hours later, listening to the looping rant in my head about “why can’t you just listen to what I say?”, this place of saying I was wrong is uncomfortable.

Wasn’t I just talking about being a student of life and the continuing education that has come courtesy of the Tater Tot?   What is the saying about pride coming before the fall?  Yeah, the Universe has a way of keeping us humble and in check.  So maybe I should expand this particular life lesson plan to include being mindful enough in that moment to consciously choose how to react.

Since the Universe also has an uncanny knack for giving us repeat opportunities to try and get things right, I have a hunch this won’t be the last time I get quizzed on this particular life lesson.  I can only hope that my scores improve so that I get to move on to the next chapter in the lesson plan.

And what exactly does this have to do with a pan of biscuits?  Well I’ll tell ‘ya.  Once upon a time, I tried to make Touch of Grace Biscuits.  There were  multiple attempts.   And they all failed to make a passing grade.  Really, click that link and take a look at the best I could do.  That’s no biscuit.

But thanks to putting my pride aside and paying attention to the lesson as the Universe presented it to me, I was able to create pans of graceful biscuits.  So while I still have a ways to go with some of life’s lessons, I’m going to say that I’ve gotten a passing grade on this one.

Thank you Shauna Server for bringing me face to face with perfectly graceful biscuits.  I am in your debt.  Not only did you get the right recipe in my hands but your photos gave me great visual cues to how my biscuit dough should look.

Touch of Grace Biscuits

Adapted from BakeWise

BAH Note:  I don’t typically say you need to use a specific brand of anything…unless it really makes a difference.  And in this case, I think it does.  So look in your grocery store for White Lilly self rising flour.  Once you get to know these sinfully graceful biscuits I don’t think that bag of flour will go unused in your pantry.

Oh, and if you were inclined to brush a tablespoon or so of melted butter on the tops of the biscuits when they come out of the oven, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad choice.

  • 2 cups self rising flour, preferably White Lily (see the note above)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening (yup, shortening)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (don’t substitute any self rising flour here)

Heat your oven to 425 degrees and lightly spray a 8 or 9 inch round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix the heavy cream and buttermilk in a measuring cup and set aside.

Place the all purpose flour in a pie plate or dish and set aside.

Whisk together the self rising flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Use your fingers to work the shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles wet sand with no large clumps.

Add the liquid to the flour mixture and stir gently to combine.  The dough should resemble wet cottage cheese.  To tell if you have the right consistency, use an ice cream scoop and scoop out some dough into your plate of all purpose flour.  It should hold its shape.  If not, return the test scoop to the mixing bowl and add self rising flour one tablespoon at a time and gently stir it in.

As soon as your dough holds its shape, place a few scoops of it in the all purpose flour.  Working with one scoop of dough at a time, pick it up, dust it with flour from your plate, and gently toss the dough from hand to hand to form your biscuit.  Place the formed biscuit in your prepared pan and repeat the process with the remaining dough.  Fit your biscuits as close together as you can…they need to be snug up against each other to get a really good rise.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes  or until the tops are light golden brown.  Allow the biscuits to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before turning them out and serving.

{printable recipe}

Clodagh’s Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Mint Chocolate Chip

Disclaimer:  The good folks at Kerrygold provided me with a copy of Coldagh’s Kitchen Diaries and coupons for their fantabulous butter.  I highly recommend both.

I have found a new outlet to get baked goods out of my house….it’s called daycare.  Not that my coworkers have tired of being on the receiving end of what comes out of my kitchen.  It’s just that it’s good to have options. And now that my daily activities include daycare drop-off and pick-up, I can spread the love (and the calories) around a little further.

When The Mistah and I became parents, it was with less than 48 hours notice.  So where most parents have nine months to plan, prepare, and make arrangement for life after a baby arrives, we were winging it.  Our heads were still  spinning at the idea of a baby as we swept through the aisles at Target and Babies R Us to get the stuff that we thought we might need.  And even though the list of what you really need to bring a baby home can be rather short, those carts filled up pretty damn quickly.

So the buying tons of stuff part of becoming parents got taken care of.  And then we brought Lib home.  And the taking care of a little person got underway.  Which led to buying more stuff to take care of our little person.  It went on like this for a while.  And then one day, two and a half months had gone by and I needed to go back to work.

It was only after we became parents that I had any understanding about how hard it is to get an infant into daycare.  When you are able to estimate your child’s arrival in the world, you’ve got the luxury of time on your side.  You can go to a daycare and get a spot in their infant program.  When your family grows by +1 overnight, the stars need to align, the Universe needs to smile on you, and you need to make a wish upon a falling star to find a daycare center that has openings for an infant.

And as if I needed further proof that the Universe was smiling on our adoption, we managed to do just that. Now our child is charming her way into the hearts of the folks at daycare, one day at a time.  Seriously, she has her own fanclub at daycare…teachers from other classrooms come by to see her and say hello.

As her parent, I want to make sure I acknowledge the people who spend their day caring for my child so that I can spend my day at work.  And it never hurts to build a little goodwill for those days when my normally charming child chooses to be a devilish handful.

If you find yourself hankering for a little mint chocolate fix, wanting to say say thank you, or maybe even apologizing in advance for something that your child may or may not do in the days to come, these cupcakes have your back.

Clodagh’s Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries

BAH Note:  If you don’t have self rising flour in your pantry, you can substitute 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon salt.  My cupcakes sank in the middle as they cooled….that could have been my doing or not….I just used the frosting to camouflage that and nobody was the wiser.

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons self rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  • 2 ounces mini chocolate chips

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with 9 or 10 baking cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly combined before adding the next one.  Add the mint extract and then use a spatula to fold in the flour mixture until combined.

Divide the batter among the baking cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.  Cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before turning the cupcakes out and cooling completely on a rack.

{printable recipe}

Mint Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Abby Dodge

BAH Note:  If you want a richer frosting, add up to an additional 1/2 stick butter.  Taste the frosting and if you want a mintier flavor, add another 1/2 teaspoon extract.

  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 7 ounces marshmallow fluff
  • 3/4 powdered sugar
  • 1  teaspoons mint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • green food coloring (optional)

Combine butter and marshmallow in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium until completely smooth.  Reduce speed to low and add confectioners sugar, mint extract, and salt.  Continue to beat until smooth and fluffy.  If using food color, add it a few drops at a time and mix until the color is distributed.  Add more food color to get your desired shade of green.

Frost your cupcakes, garnish with mini chocolate chips, and enjoy.

{printable recipe}

Big Ass Biscuits

Big Ass Biscuits

Remember all those times you were asked to picture your life in x number of years?  Did your idea of what that life was include the nitty gritty details?  Like that you would struggle with {fill in the blank with your issue of choice} or that you would find yourself {name your situation}?  Probably not.  At least I didn’t.  Because if I had then maybe I would have a handle on my battle with time management by now.

I haven’t found my solution yet.  I maintain a calendar; I write myself notes; I set reminders on my smart(er than I am) phone.  And still deadlines come and go.  I’ve become more accepting of the idea that whatever “it” is will get done eventually.  There’s only but so much time in a day.  Perhaps acknowledging that is the solution in and of itself.  I dunno.

I do know that I now add appointments to my calendar to do things like wash Miss Libby’s dirty clothes and to respond to emails.  Funny, I just bought Lib’s spring/summer wardrobe and I swear that she could probably go about three weeks before she ran out of things to wear.  Coincidence?  I wonder.

One thing I have been able to do is make these Big Ass Biscuits.  And shove them in my mouth.  On more than one occasion. If the day ever comes when I have to put an appointment on the calendar to throw together some butter, flour, and cheese and bake until golden brown and delicious, then I will be a lost cause.

Until then, I guess there’s hope for me yet.

Big Ass Biscuits

Adapted from Cook’s Country

BAH Note:  I call these Big Ass Biscuits because they are sizeable.  But also because consumption of them on a regular basis will contribute to a personal expansion of sizeable proportions.  One way I try and keep things from getting out of control is to only make a half batch of biscuits.  If  you have more self control than I do, or have other people around to take one for the team, I would double the quantities listed below to make a dozen biscuits.  PS, the cheese is totally optional, but why wouldn’t you?

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup grated cheese (I’ve used both parmesan and cheddar)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, cold
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Heat oven to 475 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cheese, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt.

Combine the cold buttermilk and cooled butter in a measuring cup or small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.  The cold buttermilk will cause the melted butter to clump up and thicken a bit.  If that does not happen, set your cup or bowl in the fridge for a few moments.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined being careful not to overmix.  Use an ice cream disher to portion the dough onto the prepared baking sheet.  Leave a good bit of room between them because they are going to spread.

Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes.

{printable recipe}

Angel Food Cake

cake

My Grandmother is old.  I say that because she just turned 90.  And let’s be honest….90 IS old.  But the funny thing is that in my mind, she’s always been old in an ageless sort of way.  As a child I didn’t really understand the concept of age.  I was young.  Everyone not young was old.  There was no in between.

So imagine my surprise when, as an adult, I did the math and figured out that my grandmother was only a few years older than I am now when she and my grandfather took on the responsibility for raising me and my brother.  I’m no young whippersnapper but I’m certainly not old either.  Yes, I’ve reached the point in my life where the ghosts of all kinds of youthful arrogance and naivety come back to haunt me.

Some of these moments amuse me….like how I’ve become the crotchety old lady on the block who doesn’t want the  kids loitering around my yard.  Others make me think that I’ve always had a guardian angel on speed dial….let’s just say age has made me rethink the wisdom of some of my youthful decisions.

But back to my agelessly old grandmother….as an adult I’ve had the opportunity to see her through a completely different lens.  It was when I started to see her as her own person and not merely a wife, mother, or grandmother, that I realized I did not give her enough credit for the life she has lived.  She used family, work, and faith to define herself.  I didn’t used to understand that.   Now I see it as her way of declaring I believe, I love, and I think for myself.  I may not agree with her choices but I understand they were hers to make.

Way too often we never manage to see the people closest to us as being independent of us.  We define and understand them in the way that suits us best without regard for whether or not this takes into account the fact that they are imperfect people with their own flaws and struggles.

I’m lucky.  I have had the opportunity to reach this realization and see my grandmother for herself….not for who I wished she were…and appreciate her beautiful imperfections.  I can only hope that Libby learns this life lesson a little quicker than I did.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that one day she will understand that while I may not be the person she thought I should be, I am more than a list of my imperfections.

I also hope she can tell by looking at pictures exactly how much joy she brought to one old lady.  It makes me sad to know that Libby won’t remember these early moments.  So part of my job is to share with Libby the stories about the lady who called her “My Sunshine”.  I can tell Libby how she made her very first trip to Lexington Market to pick up crabcakes for her Great Grandmother’s 90th birthday lunch.  And that when her Great Grandmother tasted this Angel Food Birthday Cake, the making of which Libby supervised from her highchair, she said it was the best one she’d ever had.

two elizabeths
two elizabeth’s – one old and one young – are the bookends of my life

Angel Food Cake

Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian

BAH Note: If you don’t have, or can’t find, superfine sugar in your grocery store, just give plain old white sugar a whirl in a food processor or spice grinder for about 15 seconds.  It may give your workbowl a sandblasted look but life is full of enough aggravations and finding sugar shouldn’t be one of them.  Be sure NOT to grease your loaf pan….the foam needs to be able to grab onto the pan to get that beautiful lift.

BAH Tip: You do need to be vigilant about not getting any egg yolks in your whites.  Your best bet is to separate the eggs one at a time into a  separate bowl.  If you get a clean catch, transfer the white to the bowl of your mixer and proceed with the next egg.  If not, you haven’t contaminated your entire batch of egg whites.  And be sure to keep those yolks for something like custard or frittata.

  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 7 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tablespoon kosher salt

Heat your oven to 325 degrees.

Whisk together the flour with half of the sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

In the workbowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt on medium low speed until the mixture begins to just get a bit foamy.  Slowly add the other half of the sugar and continue to mix until soft peaks form.  It will take a few minutes but be patient here and let the mixer do its thing.  If crank up the speed thinking you’ll save time, you might overmix your whites.

Once you have soft peaks, turn off the mixer.  Sift half of the sugar/flour mixture onto your egg whites and use a spatula to fold them in. Sift the remaining sugar/flour and fold to incorporate.  Pour the batter into an ungreased metal loaf pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, take a deep breath, and turn the pan upside down onto two cans (there should be one can under each of the pan’s nubby handles).  I promise, the cake will not fall out.  Allow to cool for 1 hour and then run an offset spatula, knife, or pancake flipper around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the sides of the pan.  Turn the cake out to cool completely on a rack.  Use a serrated knife to slice.

{printable recipe}

Brownie Cupcakes

Brownie Cupcakes

Adapted from Annie Riggs

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick of butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the oven to 325 degrees and paper 12 cupcake liners in a muffin tin.

Place the chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl and cook in 30 second increments on 50% power until completely melted.

While the melted chocolate mixture cools slightly, whisk the sugar, eggs, and vanilla in another bowl until foamy.  Stir in the chocolate mixture until combined.  Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl and fold the mixture until incorporated.

Portion the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the brownie-cakes have risen and are firm to the touch.  If you test with a toothpick, you should see some moist crumb stuck to your tester.

Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then carefully remove the brownie-cakes from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

In my daily life, I try to be a good person.  I hope that each day I am able to find compassion, empathy, and patience for myself and those around me.  I’ll be honest, some days that is hard to do.  And being even more honest, some days I know it is hard for others to find compassion, empathy, or patience for me…especially those that spend the workday with me.  Because I’ve become the person in the office who avoids changing the bottle in the water cooler.

Not that this excuses my offense but why can’t companies make smaller cooler bottles?  I’m no featherweight but hoisting a 5 gallon bottle of water from the floor to the counter and then tipping it into the cooler is a workout.  Water weighs a lot…just ask the Google.  You’ll see that a gallon of water weighs just over 8 pounds.  Fractions bother me so I’m going to just round down to 8 pounds per gallon.  That means the standard 5 gallon bottle of water that comes off the truck at our office every month has a water weight of 40 pounds right off the bat.  The plastic bottle itself is nearly 2 pounds.  And I know this because I just ran upstairs with the office postal scale and weighed an empty water bottle.

So, 42 pounds.  Even if I remember to lift with my legs and not my back, that’s a lot of pounds to lift, move, maneuver, and pray the whole time that I don’t end up soaking wet.  Would it really be so difficult to roll out a line of 2.5 or 3 gallon cooler bottles?  We can send people into outer space.  We have technology that allows us to talk on wireless phones.  We have fiber optic lines thinner than strands of human hair.  But we have antiquated water cooler bottles.

Is it possible that I use baked goods to atone for my water cooler sins?  Could be.  Maybe if I bring in a batch of cranberry orange muffins I can buy another few weeks of my coworkers turning a blind eye to my water cooler crimes.

Cranberry Orange Muffin

Adapted from Cooking Light

BAH Note:  CL said to bake for 15 minutes at 400.  I don’t know what kind of crazy nuclear oven they have but after 15 minutes at 380 degrees (convection) in my Advantium oven, the muffins were nowhere near done.  I gave them another 7 minutes before my tester came out clean.  I used a combination of all purpose and white whole wheat flour, along with some wheat bran but you can easily use only all purpose flour…you’ll want two cups total.  Oh, and you can also sprinkle a wee bit more sugar on the tops of the muffins right before you slide them into the oven.  And while you’re at it, go ahead and zest the orange(s) that you juiced and mix that into the batter.  I thought it needed an extra bit of zip.

  • 1 ounce wheat bran (optional)
  • 3.5 ounces white wheat flour (if omitting the wheat bran, increase to 4.5 ounces, or roughly one cup)
  • 4.5 ounces all purpose flour (one cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped

Heat oven to 400 degrees and line 18 muffin cups with liners.

Combine the flour(s), wheat bran (if using), sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl.

In a second bowl, or large measuring cup, add the oil, juice, and egg and stir to combine.

Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir until the liquid is just incorporated into a lumpy batter.  Fold in the cranberries and spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins.

Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until the tops of the muffins spring back when you press them lightly and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before turning the muffins out to cool completely.

{printable recipe}

Chewy Ginger Cookies

I wish I had an interesting story to tell you about these cookies.  But look at that picture.  What could I possibly say to convince you to make these if that picture doesn’t already have you heating up your oven?

Chewy Ginger Cookies

Adapted from The Flying Biscuit Cafe Cookbook

BAH Note:  Don’t go get in a hurry and forget to refrigerate the dough before you bake the cookies.  Without the time to chill the cookies will spread too much.

  • 1 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together 1 cup of sugar and the shortening until light in fluffy.  Add the molasses and then the egg, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl down.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.  With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix until just combined.  Transfer the bowl of dough to the refrigerator and chill for a few hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a small bowl.

Using a small ice cream disher, scoop the chilled dough and form into 2 inch balls.  Roll the dough balls in the sugar and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake for approximately 8 minutes or until the surface of the cookie crackles and the edges become firm and crisp.  Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for 10 to 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store cookies in an airtight container.

{printable recipe}

Not Martha’s Blueberry Cobbler In A Jar

I’ve talked about how the canning jars seem to multiply before my eyes.  Every time I blink, there’s more of them.  This is in addition to the jars that have already fulfilled their destiny as a vessel for homecooked goodness.  As much as I enjoy canning, there’s only so much I can do and only so many jars that I can give away.  Besides, the idea of consuming even a wee jar of fruit jam or butter all by myself in a single sitting is kind of gluttonous and gives me a stomach ache.

These empty jars force me to get creative.

And by creative, I mean scour google for other people’s ideas.  That’s how I stumbled across blueberry cobbler in jars.

It was a perfect storm.  The Mistah and I had just come home with a bounty of fresh picked local blueberries.  There was a stash of empty jars begging for attention.  And we had promised to bring dessert to an outing with friends.

Unlike the Hollywood blockbuster of the same name, this perfect storm had a happy ending.  Blueberry cobbler in jars provided the perfectly portioned dessert for our outing.  It also won the hearts of the folks at the coffee shop when I showed up with wee jars of cobbler for everyone.  Because really, how bad can a Monday morning be when you start it off with a few bites of spiced blueberries and baked topping?

Blueberry Cobbler In A Jar

Adapted from Not Martha

BAH Note: I was hesitant about adding the cornmeal to the biscuit topping.  I almost didn’t do it.  Fortunately I ended up grabbing the container of cornmeal out of the pantry and scooping out a few tablespoons…it made the topping I sampled out of the bowl snap, crackle, and pop.  It felt like the combination of cornmeal, buttermilk, and baking soda/powder tag teamed to form an effervescent tingle in my mouth.  So do I think it’s worth buying a container of cornmeal for the topping?  Hells yes.  And if you need another use for that cornmeal, check out the creamiest polenta you’ll ever eat.

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons stone ground cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 teaspoons, sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Wash and dry 12 half quarter pint (4 ounce jars) and place them on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil.

Heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the berries and gently stir until they are combined with the sugar mixture.  Stir in the lemon juice and zest and divide the filling among the 12 jars.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and hot.

While the filling is cooking, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, buttermilk, and vanilla.

Remove the pan of jars from the oven and IMMEDIATELY TURN THE OVEN TEMPERATURE UP TO 425 DEGREES.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and stir until they are just combined and no dry streaks remain.  Divide the topping among the jars, gently and CAREFULLY pressing the dough down onto the bubbling filling.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 15 or 20 minutes until the topping is cooked through and golden brown and the filling is gently bubbling around it.

Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before serving or allow the jars to cool completely before screwing on clean bands and lids for longer storage in the refrigerator.

{printable recipe}

Ina’s Brownies

I had to hide this recipe after making Ina’s brownies once or twice.  They were outrageously good.  But when I made them this time, they weren’t what I remembered.  I rememeberd them being tall and cakey.  What I have on that plate up there is neither tall nor cakey.  It’s still outrageously good, but in a different way.

The beauty of the brownie is that it can be underbaked and still be a success.  Just call them ‘fudgey’ and people will think you meant for them to be that way.  I personally thought they improved after sitting uncovered for a day.

Ina’s Brownies

Adapted from Ina Garten

BAH Note: Don’t go down this road unless you can commit to making a LOT of brownies.  Or if you are willing to bust out a slide rule and figure out the math to scale the recipe down.  It would be a good idea to lay out a large sheet of aluminum foil on the rack under your pan just in case the batter ‘escapes’ from your pan.  I tell you this from my own experience…cleaning charred Ina’s Brownie batter from the bottom of the oven is no fun.

  • 1 pound butter (no, not a typo.  i told you this makes a LOT of brownies)
  • 1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 extra large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a half sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Butter and flour the foil lined pan or spray lightly with cooking spray.

Melt the butter, 1 pound of semi sweet chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of the stove, stirring frequently.  Allow the melted mixture to cool slightly.

While the butter and chocolate melt, mix the eggs, instant espresso, vanilla and sugar in the workbowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, the salt, and baking powder, and set it aside.

Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture to the eggs and stir until combined. Stir the flour mixture into the batter.  Combine the remaining 1/4 cup flour with the 12 ounces of chocolate chips and stir into the batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with an offset spatula, and bake for 30 minutes or until a tester just comes out clean. Rotate the pan halfway through cooking.

Allow the brownies to cool for 30 – 45 minutes in the pan before carefully removing the foil and cutting the brownies into small squares.

{printable recipe}