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Ginger Snaps

17 Nov

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I spent part of my summer hanging out with my dad in his cute little house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We have bonded a lot through food over the years and without fail, my dear ol’ always requests that we bake when I’m there. “We” mostly means me, but I’m more than happy to oblige. This time, he requested ginger snaps – one of his favorites and also something I had never made before. I’m always up for a challenge in the kitchen! My poppa’s palate was pleased by these wholesome morsels and they are just perfect for the autumn and upcoming winter season with all of their aromatic spices.

Time: 30 minutes                   Yield: 18 cookies

Ingredients


  • 1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups flour (I used brown rice flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1  tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh grated ginger (these are strong in ginger flavor, if you want less use 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

How to make it


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar and butter. Mix until creamy and well incorporated. Add molasses and egg and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom . Slowly add dry ingredients into wet, mixing well to incorporate. Next, fold in ginger and mix well.
  • Place granulated sugar in a small shallow dish. Form dough into about 1″ balls. Roll dough in granulated sugar. Place on prepared baking sheet, allowing room between each as these spread as they bake.
  • Bake for 16 minutes in middle rack. Remove from oven, lift silpat or parchment paper and gently move to cool off of the hot baking sheet.

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Deep Dish Lemon Soufflé Cheesecake with Blueberry Topping

26 Jun

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One of my dearest friend’s, Ashley, and I made this on my birthday last month. It’s a riff on another friend’s recipe. I am in love with the flavor combo of lemon and blueberry so to me this is pure perfection!

Time: 30 minutes + 90 bake + cool                      Serves: 8-10

Ingredients


  • Crust


  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 30 Canelitas cookies (Mexican cinnamon cookies), processed to crumbs equaling 2 1/2 cups
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 13 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Filling


  • 32 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Blueberry Topping


  • 3 cups blueberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest

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Here are the Canelita cookies. And me! With my Mexican feast and delicious cocktail. Not a bad way to spend a birthday, not at all.

How to make it


  • Crust


  • Combine cookie crumbs, cinnamon, and melted butter (reserve one tbsp)  in a mixing bowl.
  • Spread remaining tbsp of melted butter on bottom and sides of a 6-inch spring-form pan. Sprinkle brown sugar around bottom.
  • Press cookie crumb mixture into the bottom of the spring-form pan. Press down to make an even crust, going up the sides to create a deep-dish effect.
  • Wrap pan in aluminum foil to prevent the water bath from seeping in. Place in refrigerator to firm up while you make the filling.
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  • Filling


  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • Put a pot of water on to simmer.
  • Place cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Continue beating, and gradually add 3/4 cup sugar. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, 1/4 tsp salt and heavy cream until well blended.
  • In a separate bowl, with clean dry beaters, combine egg whites, 1/3 tsp salt, and cream of tartar. Begin to beat, gradually adding remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Beat until soft peaks form, about 3-5 minutes. Do not over-beat.
  • In three parts, fold egg white mixture into cream cheese mixture.
  • Remove pan from refrigerator. Place pan in a large roasting pan and pour hot water around it, going about 3/4 up the sides.
  • Place in middle rack of oven and bake for 90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  • Once cooled, place in refrigerator for at least two hours before you plan to serve.
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  • Topping


  • Combine 1 1/2 cups of blueberries, sugar, and lemon zest in a small saucepan. Cook on medium heat for 6-8 minutes until the berries burst. Remove from heat and stir in remaining berries. Set aside to cool.
  • Once cooled completely, spread over top of cooled cheesecake.

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Amaretto Milk Cake

18 Jun

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I made this for a very special someone’s birthday. Another recipe inspired by one of Chef Matthew Kenney’s from his book, “Big City Cooking”.

Time: 45 minutes + cool                      Serves: 9

Ingredients


  • Cake


  • 4 eggs, room temp – separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar, separated
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup AP flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond flour/meal**
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • **I made my toasted almond meal by toasting just under 1/2 cup of raw almonds on a parchment lined baking sheet at 400F for 5-7 minutes. Once cooled, I ground them in my food processor.**
  • Amaretto Milk and Toppings


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp amaretto or comparable almond-flavored liqueur
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 8 almond butter thin cookies (Trader Joe’s) or amaretti cookies, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar

How to make it


  • Cake


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8×8 glass baking dish by brushing melted butter on bottom and sides. Fit bottom with a square of parchment paper and brush this with melted butter as well.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/4 cup of sugar until light and creamy – about 3 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with 1/4 cup sugar until soft peaks form – about 3-5 minutes.
  • In three parts, gently fold the egg whites into the yolks. Add salt and vanilla and fold in gently as well.
  • Sift in 1/4 cup of flour, fold to incorporate. Repeat with remaining flour. Add 1/4 cup almond meal and fold to incorporate. Repeat with remaining almond meal.
  • Pour into prepared dish and place in middle rack of oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
  • Invert cake onto a cutting board. Remove parchment paper. Cut off the browned edges of the cake and then cut into 9 even squares. Place cake pieces back into pan.
  • Amaretto Milk and Toppings


  • In a medium saucepan, combine whole milk with evaporated milk and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  • Whisk in condensed milk and simmer for an additional minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in almond extract and amaretto liqueur.
  • Remove one piece of cake. Pour milk mixture into pan in open spot, being mindful not to pour over the tops of the cake pieces.

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  • Replace piece of cake. Let soak for 10 minutes.
  • Serve pieces of cake with extra amaretto milk spooned around, topped with crumbled cookies, raspberries, and powdered sugar.

Orange Mango Banana Poppy Seed Bread

15 Jun

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One of my fellow MasterChef 4 competitors invited me to write a guest post for her blog. I decided to share this delicious quick bread (or muffins – your choice!). Oh, and would you believe it’s low-fat and gluten-free?! Oh, yes!!! Please visit Celebration Generation for the recipe and other interesting tidbits about our MasterChef 4 experience.

Nutella Pretzel Bars

26 Apr

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These are a fun way to celebrate National Pretzel Day! I got inspiration for this dessert from a cook named nicoled on Tasty Kitchen’s website.

Time: 40 minutes                Serves: 9

Ingredients


  • 8 tbsp butter, melted plus extra (about 1tbsp) for greasing the pan
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels, divided (I used cajun seasoned pretzels)

How to make it


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Brush an 8×8 baking pan with butter, line with a sheet of parchment leaving 2″ overhang on both edges. Butter the parchment.
  • In a large bowl, whisk butter, sugars, and Nutella until smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Add flour, mix just until moistened (do not overmix). Fold in 1/2 cup of crushed pretzels. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread in an even layer with a spatula. Sprinkle evenly with remaining crushed pretzels.
  • Bake until tip is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes (mine took 25 minutes). Set pan on a wire rack and let cool completely. Using parchment overhang, lift bars from pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares (I cut mine into 9 large ones, you can make them smaller if you wish). Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days – if they last that long!

Light Nutella Brownies with Hazelnuts

17 Mar

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I was in the mood for brownies but didn’t want them to be too rich. These came out great!

Time: 30 minutes               Serves: 8

Ingredients


  • 3/4 cup AP or brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts – peeled *See note
  • (1 1/2 cup water, 3 tbsp baking soda)

How to make it


  • *Note: To easily remove peels from hazelnuts, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil on the stovetop. Add baking soda and hazelnuts. Boil for 3 minutes then remove from heat and run under cold water, using your fingertips to remove loose skins.
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9-inch round or 8-inch square glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix to combine.
  • Combine wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl. Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet and mix just until incorporated. At this point you can fold in the nuts or reserve them to drop into the top as I did.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake on middle rack of oven for 22-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Best Banana Bread

23 Feb

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I know it’s a bit extreme to name any recipe the best anything. That said, I think this banana bread is THEBOMB. It tastes great and is so easy to throw together. It’s perfect as it is, but is easily customizable. Today is National Banana Bread Day as well as my dad’s birthday! He loves banana bread but I won’t be able to bake it for him today seeing as he is in Israel and I’m in California. But, if I were making it for my dad I’d add some semi-sweet chocolate chips. Sprinkle chopped nuts of your choice on top, or mix into the batter if you’d like.

Time: 10 min prep, 45 min cook            Serves: 8

Ingredients


  • 3 medium – large very ripe bananas, just mashed chunky – not pulverized
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance (or butter/margarine), melted & slightly cooled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour, or part whole wheat flour

How to make it


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 4×8 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • Place mashed bananas and butter in a large mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix.
  • Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes, check with toothpick if done in middle. If not, continue to bake in 5 minute incriments, checking between, up to 1 hour in total.
  • Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.