My favorite things

I have my go to recipes for most of my favorite things, but I want to make sure that I have the best recipes in my repertoire.  Here you’ll find what I’ve tried with the hopes of ultimately finding the best of the best.

Cookies:

Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Sugar Cookies:  This is really where it all started.  I remember spending many hours in the kitchen with my Mom making and decorating Sugar Cookies for every seasonal special event.  Given their importance in my life, they were even the favor at my wedding (whipped up by amazing sister and I).  The recipe my Mom swears by has been in the family for many generations and while I’ve tried many others, I do still think it’s one of the best.

ShortBread Cookies:  My grandparents always lived far away from us, but whenever they visit (or vice versa) I would always look forward to my Gramma’s Shortbread cookies, with the perfect texture and crumble.

Breakfast

Cinnamon Buns:  The best cinnamon buns I have ever tried are from Grounds for Beans in Vancouver.  I am on the search to find a recipe that replicates the sweet doughy yumminess complete with an amazing cream cheese icing.

Lemon Loaf:  Again my go to recipe for this item comings from the cookbook ‘Simply Love’.  While I’m very happy with this recipe, I’m happy to continue the lemon search.

Squares

Brownies:  My go to recipe for years has been from the cookbook ‘Simply Love’.  It has a good texture with a yummy  icing with a hint of coffee.  But I would like to find a good basic recipe with the right denseness and chocolate that I can then create variations from.

Lemon Squares:  On the topic of lemon, I love a good lemon square.  I was first turned on to these when I was working (for a short period) at ‘Sweet Obsessions’ .

Cakes and Cupcakes: 

CupCakes:  My husband and I chose to  serve cupcakes at our wedding in the Cotswolds and had good friends carefully transport them 2 hours from  London as I had to have them from Hummingbird.  Even though I’m from the other side of the pond, I really do think these are some of the best cupcakes I have ever had.  The recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes from the ‘Hummingbird’ Cookbook has been my go to ever since.

Raspberry Cake:  When I was young, I lived next to a couple who were our adopted grandparents, as our birth grandparents lived so far away.    Along one wall, they grew the most amazing plump raspberries.  In exchange for my siblings and I picking the raspberries at their peak, Mrs. Parker would serve us the most amazing cake made with the Raspberries in the icing.  The cake itself, was light, moist, crumbly and buttery.  Years later, I asked Mrs. Parker for her special secret recipe and she burst my bubble when she told me that the cake was from a cake mix.  That cake is one of my fondest food memories of my childhood and I’d love to be able to replicate it.  The best  that I have found so far was a slice of raspberry pound cake from PureBread bakery in Vancouver.

Other recipes to try:

Birthday Cake Fudge:  The first time I saw this on Delish I knew my kids would go crazy for this recipe and I was right!

 

Brownies

This past weekend, I thought that I would try a new recipe and it seems it was a hit!  There wasn’t much left for me to sample, so I’ll take that as a good sign.   After taking some to a friends, the girls ended up selling the rest at their lemonade stand.

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I love my regular recipe, but am looking for something that is amazing without icing and that isn’t too crumbly so it can easier be packaged up and this one hit the mark.  It is from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook (in cups), but is also here for reference.

 

 

 

Meal Plans

February 29 –  This week I’m out a couple of nights and I’m therefore trying to keep it simple for my au pair.

Monday:  Salmon with Cucumber Salsa.  I’m using this recipe as my inspiration and will adapt.

Tuesday:  Broccoli and Cheese Quiche.  Originally from the awesome Keepers cookbook, but found on the Cup of Jo blog.

Wednesday: Trader Joes Orange Chicken, served with rice and broccoli

Thursday:  Lemon Butter Garlic Shrimp with Angel Hair pasta

February 22

Mondays:  Hamburgers

Tuesday:  Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken

Wednesday:  Pasta with MeatBalls

Thursday:  Lemon Butter Garlic Shrimp with Angel Hair Pasta

February 15

Monday:  Pureed Veggie Lasagna

Tuesday:  Creamy Tomato Chicken (from Keepers Cookbook)

Wednesday:  Risotto with Sausage (from Dinner:  A Love Story)

Thursday:  Chicken Soup with Orzo (from Dinner:  A Love Story)

 

 

Cinnamon Buns

The best Cinnamon Buns I have ever had are from Grounds for Beans in Vancouver.   With lots of travels around the world, I still have not found something that compares.  This weekend, I tried my hand at making my own.  I don’t usually go for bread or pastry recipes that require yeast, but I had some time and found a recipe that could be made the day before so I was looking forward to enjoying some yummy buns on Sunday morning.

No Knead Challah Cinnamon Buns is the recipe I used with some adaptations as I’m a sucker for a Cream Cheese icing.  Whether it was me or the recipe, they unfortunately were not gooey enough for my liking but still tasty.

Still on the hunt…

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies are a basic recipe in any bakers repertoire and in my years I  have tried many different recipes and always on the look out for the best one.   I seem to have a thing for fleur de sel, so thought that I would try the addition of salt to provide a good mix with the sweetness of the chocolate.  I personally prefer a chewy cookie that is not too dense  and too often I find no matter what I do with the butter the cookies turn out too crunchy for my liking.

The other thing that I look for in a cookie recipe, is something that I do not need to plan for too far in advance.  When I have a hankering for something sweet, I want it now, not a few hours from now or tomorrow to let the dough rest / harden.

These cookies are different from others in the combination of sugar and also the proportion of flour which seems to make them very crumbly.

I may have left them in the oven for an minute too long as they ended up getting too hard for my liking.  The taste is good, but I’m still on the hunt for my perfect chocolate chip cookie.
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Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies
From Ashley Rodriguez’s Not Without Salt (site) and Date Night In (book)

Yield: Approximately 18 to 24 cookies

1/2 cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (25 grams) turbinado sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw; you can use more brown or white if you don’t have this, but the subtle crunch it adds is delightful)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (165 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon (or, technically, 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon) fine sea or table salt
1 3/4 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 pound (225 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, cut into roughly 1/2-inch chunks with a serrated knife
Flaky sea salt, to finish

Heat oven to 360°F (180°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, beating until incorporated, and scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in salt fine sea or table salt and baking soda until combined, then the flour on a low speed until just mixed. The dough will look crumbly at this point. With a spatula, fold/stir in the chocolate chunks.

Scoop cookies into 1 1/2 tablespoon (I used a #40 scoop) mounds, spacing them apart on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, until golden on the outside but still very gooey and soft inside. Out of the oven, let rest on baking sheet out of the for 5 minutes before transferring a cooling rack.

Extra dough — I know, what’s that?! — can be formed into scoops and frozen on a sheet until solid, then transferred to a freezer bag. I’ve baked these right from the freezer; they need, at most, 1 minute more baking time. You could also form them into a 2-inch log, freeze it, and slice and bake the cookies off as desired. The only difference I’ve noted between the cookies baked right away and those baked a day or more later is that the older cookie dough is less puffy when baked.

 

Nutella Banana Muffins

I have used the same Banana Muffin recipe since I was 16 years old and very rarely try another.  My go to recipe was originally featured in the Tomato Restaurant cookbook, a Vancouver restaurant that is unfortunately no longer open.

On this rainy  day, I was in need of something richer and more chocolatey.  This recipe for Nutella Banana Muffins caught my eye over on “TheBakerMama” and I decided to give it a go.

As with most muffin recipes, it was very  simple to put together, with a great addition of Nutella and banana garnish on top.

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cropped-img_1211.jpgThey turned out really well and the smell in the house is amazing.  I hope you enjoy making and eating these muffins as much as my kids and I did.

Nutella Swirled Banana Muffins

Moist banana muffins with swirls of Nutella in every scrumptious bite!

Prep time:10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins

Author: Maegan – The BakerMama
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 12
Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 overripe bananas, mashed (about 1-1/2 cups)
½ cup Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
1 ripe banana, for garnishing
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan generously with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, melt the butter and let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar then the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour and baking soda. Fold in the mashed bananas until just combined.
Fill each muffin cup halfway with some batter. Dollop 1 teaspoon of Nutella in a few spots on top of the batter in each muffin cup. Use the end of a chopstick or other small utensil to gently swirl the Nutella through the batter in each muffin cup. Scoop the remaining batter evenly among the muffins cups, filling each muffin cup almost full. Dollop 1 teaspoon of Nutella in a few spots on top of the batter in each muffin cup. Use the end of a chopstick or another small-ended utensil to swirl the Nutella through the top half of the muffin batter.
Cut the remaining banana into 12 thin slices and place a slice in the middle of the swirled batter in each muffin cup.
Bake muffins for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.