I went to my grandparents home this weekend for Easter. We’re somewhat casual about it, none of us being particularly religious. My grandpa insisted on saying a traditional Australian grace, “2, 4, 6, 8. Bog in. Don’t wait.”
I use the holidays as an excellent excuse to get together and share a nice meal with family. Also, it gave me the chance to finally get my grandma’s fruit cake recipe. The last time I asked her about it she told me to make an applesauce cake and throw some dried fruit in it.
I tried that.
But no one ever said you had to chop the fruit up first…doh…With every bite you might get an entire prune or a whole fig. It just wasn’t right.
This time I was determined to make it with her and see how to do it. Thank goodness I did, because it is truly delicious. Not one of those cakes with the artificially sweetened candy fruit, but the real deal; a moist loaf filled with dried fruit and nuts. Super tasty.
1 cup Crisco
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
1-2 cups applesauce
4 cups flour
3 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
At least 4 cups chopped Dried Fruit and Nuts (mix and match the following)
Preheat oven to 350. If your dried fruit has been open a while, put it in a bowl with a little water to slightly soften it up while you prep the other ingredients.
1. Mix together sugar and Crisco really, really well until it’s almost foamy.
2. Add eggs and mix. Then add applesauce and mix. Then add vanilla and lemon juice.
3. Coat the fruit in flour. Mix into batter. Add nuts and mix.
4. Add salt, baking soda, and spices to flour.
5. Mix flour into batter.
6. Line loaf pans with wax paper, pour batter in loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour, less in smaller pans.
7. (optional) soak some cheesecloth in brandy and wrap it around the cake.
Yummy | Comment (0)
You may have noticed that a LOT of my posts lately have been about food. Mostly baked goods, because I love bread and muffins and pastries. Baked goods are my comfort food. They make me feel warm in my heart and in my belly. Plus, it’s fun to share them with people, so all my friends and coworkers can feel warm in their bellies too!
Yesterday I was looking up recipes for lentil soup, and I said to myself, “If it turns out well, you should take a picture and put the recipe on your site.” My next thought was, “Mmmm…lentil soup. You should make some fresh bread to go with it…” But a couple thoughts later I realized I should make a food and recipe website.
So I did. And PlayIntoFood.com was born.
It’s barely up right now. I’ll be reposting some of my recipes from this blog on that one. But check it out for awesome recipes in the next couple weeks. I’ll only share my most awesome recipes. You’ll love it.
Your tummy will love it too.
hugsYummy | Comment (0)
Does anyone ever get to plan making banana bread? Buy the bananas, wait for them to ripen, and a week later make the bread. For me it’s one of those things that sneaks up on me. I’ll look at the bananas I bought earlier in the week and realize that they are a little too ripe to put on my cereal. Either that, or someone at work will bring in a bunch and set it on my desk and say, “Erin, go ahead and make something with these.”
I used to peel them and put them in the freezer, but all that leads to is a freezer full of frozen bananas. So now I make the banana bread as soon as I get the bananas.
Here’s the thing, banana bread hasn’t always been my favorite, so a couple months ago I tried a bunch of recipes to find the best banana bread recipe. And I found it. It’s moist, delicious, and has great banana flavor.
(Note: If you bring this bread into your office, don’t be surprised if people start leaving overripe bananas in your office more often.)
Uber Banana Bread
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 3 medium bananas, mashed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
- In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the butter mixture until smooth. Finally, fold in the Greek yogurt, walnuts and bananas. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool loaf in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Ginger cookies are one of my favorites. Probably because when it gets cool outside, I like things that make me feel warm. And nothing makes me feel warm inside like a good ginger cookie (and maybe some hot apple cider).
In my opinion, most ginger cookie recipes just don’t have enough ginger. They taste good and they are sweet, but they just don’t pack enough heat. That’s why I modified your standard ginger cookie recipe, and made it hotter. These cookies are scrumptionsly warm, mostly because they have three different forms of ginger in them; powdered, fresh, and candied.
These cookies are not ginger snaps. These are soft and chewy ginger cookies. They are calling out to you- “Make me! Eat me! We are warm and delicious!”
Really Gingery, Ginger Cookie Recipe
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp. water
- 1/4 molasses
- 1/4 cup diced fresh ginger
- 1/3 cup chopped candied ginger
- 2 tbsp. white sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water, molasses, and fresh ginger. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Then add the candied ginger. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Note: Be sure your fresh ginger is finely diced so you don’t get strings of ginger in your cookies.
Tip: Having a hard time finding candied ginger? Try your local Asian market. I remember one time I went to several Safeway’s, and all I could find was candied ginger in the spice rack – a tiny amount for a lot of money. It was ridiculous. Finally I found some at the Asian market, and got a large bag for just a couple dollars.Yummy | Comment (1)
It’s November, and this is the month where it finally gets cool enough that I want to start baking all the time. Plus, it’s almost Thanksgiving. Many people have tiny pumpkins decorating their tables. Maybe some gourds and dried corn. ‘Tis the season of pumpkin. One of my favorite things to bake is pumpkin bread.
I used to always think that making breads was difficult. I thought all breads were like white bread where you had to knead for 20 minutes, wait for the yeast to rise, etc. But it turns out that pumpkin bread is super easy.
Not only that, it is soooooo delicious. One of my good friends recently told me she doesn’t like pumpkin pie. I was so confused. My mind just didn’t comprehend anyone not liking pumpkin.
I get my base pumpkin bread recipe from allrecipes.com. When 3,941 people rate a recipe and it has 5 stars, you know it’s going to be good. And it is. I’ve made it dozens of times with some slight changes. It is moist, pumpkiny, and scrumptious.
- Feel free to add yummies to the bread. My favorite are chocolate chips. Also delicious are nuts or cranberries.
- I recently tried substituting 1/2 cup applesauce for half the oil. The bread was not nearly as good, and I won’t be doing that again. Yes, it’s healthier and in some recipes it’s not a big deal. But in this recipe you can really taste the difference.
- Be sure to sift the baking soda and flour. I don’t know why, but with this recipe in particular I end up with baking soda clumps that taste nasty.
Here’s my Best Pumpkin Bread Ever recipe.
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 cups white sugar
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9×5 inch (or three 7×3 inch) loaf pans.
- In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
- Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
When was the last time you had a slice of homemade bread? If you had to think about it for more than 3 seconds, it’s been too long. It’s the season for making hearty, warm meals, and homemade bread adds to every meal. Something about the cooling season reminds me of playing games with my family in the evenings and drinking hot chocolate.
I made some soup in my crockpot, and wanted some bread to go with it. So I made French Bread for the first time ever. It turned out so much better than I ever could have expected. (I ate half a loaf in one evening with butter and fresh apricot jam. It was the best meal I’d eaten in months. Not that I haven’t eaten good food, but it was so delicious I just couldn’t stop.)
It was easier than I expected to make it. In fact, I made another batch last night. The hardest part is waiting for the dough to rise. But it’s so worth it. If you have a few hours and feel like baking, I highly recommend Yummy French Bread.
————————————Yummy | Comment (0)
A few months ago I moved to a new apartment that’s just down the block and across the street from Starbucks. All that yummy chai-ness just a short walk away. This dramatically increased my pre-work stops for Tall Chai Lattes. And I have no will power when it comes to pastries so I’d also get one of their apple bran muffins (bran is healthy, right?).
It was the perfect breakfast. Tasty pastry and drink, and it always filled me up for hours. Normally I’d eat breakfast and then feel hungry just a couple hours later. But this combo kept me full until lunch.
But the good times couldn’t last. It’s just too expensive to spend $5 a couple times a week on something I knew wasn’t too healthy for me. No matter how much I enjoy them, chunks of buttery-sugar-apple-crumble are just not good for me. Fortunately I had one of those realizations that seems so obvious it’s hard to believe I didn’t think of it 10 years ago- I could make my own bran muffins! (And so can you!)
That day I found a great muffin recipe on my favorite recipe website – allrecipes.com (note: read the comments under the recipe for GREAT ideas.). I’ve altered it slightly, and I want to share it with you. Everyone who’s tried the muffins has loved them. Plus, they’re super healthy.
Erin’s “Better Than Starbucks” Bran muffins
- 1 1/2 cups wheat bran (Fiber One cereal)
- 1 cup milk & 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/3 cup applesauce
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup wholewheat flour
- 2 tbsp. ground flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 1/2 peeled, chunked granny smith apples
- cinnamon/spices to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
- Mix together milk and lemon, then mix into wheat bran; let stand for 10 minutes.
- Beat together applesauce, egg, sugar and vanilla and add to milk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, flaxseed, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Stir flour mixture into milk mixture, until just blended. Fold in cranberries and apple chunks and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!
Try it and let me know what you think!Yummy | Comments (10)