Archive for September, 2011

Raspberry Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

I have been craving stuffed French toast for a couple weeks now. The last time I had it was July 2010 in Chicago, when my aunt treated me to brunch. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant – it is all just one fancy, sweet, vague French toast memory.

After coming to the realization that the time was right to make this happen, the second step was deciding what to stuff the French toast with. After a couple days of thinking and taking polls I was all but set on a friend’s suggestion of apple pie filling, when I came across this adaptation of an original recipe on Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen site. Decision made.

Typically, stuffed French toast seems to be made either by creating a sort of sandwich, or by cutting a pocket in the bread. I went with the latter as it seemed like more fun.

To create the pocket, start with a 2-inch thick slice of French bread. I had some kind of block and couldn’t bring myself to slice the bread that thick, but don’t be like me! Go for it! The bigger the slice, the easier it is to fill it.

Create a pocket by making a deep slice from the top of the bread with a paring knife.

The next step is raspberry jam mixed with cream cheese, and fresh raspberries. In the words of Ina Garten, how bad could that be?

The beauty of this recipe is that you can choose any kind of fruit you like (I selected raspberries because they were available and on sale).

The process is simple – fill the pockets with the cream cheese mixture and berries, soak in a cinnamony egg base, fry on sizzling butter, and enjoy. Powdered sugar was more than sufficient for us – no need for syrup with this recipe.

I don’t know if I’ve said it yet…this was SO GOOD. It is now one of my favorite recipes, and I will definitely be making it in the future! I hope you do too!

Raspberry Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast

Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen, elements used from both Version 1 and Version 2

Serves 5

1 loaf French bread (I used two to make sure I could cut from the thick middle part of the loaf)
6 tablespoons raspberry fruit spread
8 oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
Approx 1 cup raspberries (you may have leftovers)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons butter
powdered sugar

Cut the bread into slices, approximately 2 inches thick. Make a long, deep cut into the middle of the bread slice, entering from the top.

Sprinkle the raspberries with sugar, and allow them to sit while you mix the filling. Combine the fruit spread and cream cheese – I used the hand mixer to create a sort of “whipped” cream cheese. Spoon filling and sweetened berries into the bread pocket. Try and seal the edges if possible.

Combine the eggs, cinnamon and milk.

Heat up your griddle or skillet. Once hot, add butter and let it melt.

Soak each side of the stuffed toast in the egg mixture, about 30 seconds on each side. Fry the french toast, about three minutes on each side (or until golden brown). You can try and give the edges a little heat as well, as the bread is very thick.

Cut the stuffed French toast in half, and garnish with powdered sugar and more raspberries, if desired. Enjoy!

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Berry Parfait with Homemade Granola

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Another summer has come and gone. I can’t believe how fast time flies – each day, week and season seem to slip through my fingers too quickly. Sometimes I wake up and worry about it, but obviously it’s something we are powerless to control. I suppose the only course of action is to live as much as possible in the present, and not dwell too much on the future or past.

Regardless, for me this summer has been beautiful, clear and peaceful. In June I quit my job, and took six weeks off. It was a great season of spending time with friends, doing some local traveling, and generally just unwinding. I learned some valuable lessons too. For instance, did you know that if you watch Hulu for too long you get a pop-up asking “Need a break? You’ve been watching for over 3 hours.” Lesson number two: don’t start watching a Korean drama while unemployed!

But the time came to pick myself up and find something new, and I am really blessed to have been at a great job for the last couple of months.

Just as I had to say goodbye to my season of rest, I’m now saying goodbye to summer with this simple parfait with homemade granola.

This is a really delicious, easy, balanced parfait, and if you make the granola ahead of time it can easily be a quick pre-work breakfast.

This is an easy recipe to experiment with – you could add raisins after it cools, take away the coconut, etc. I added an extra tablespoon of honey the second time I made this – it gave it a sweet, candied texture.

The same can be said for the parfait itself – there is no strict recipe because you can make it however you like! I mixed honey with plain Greek yogurt, and used blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Tragically, the fresh berries at the store were well picked-over and expensive, so I went with frozen this time. They still tasted good, but it was a reminder that the time has come to move onward to autumn recipes!

Homemade Granola

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

Serves 4

1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-3 tablespoons honey (depending how sweet you like it)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir the oatmeal, coconut, almonds, oil and honey together until combined. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and slightly crispy, stirring occasionally with a metal spatula. Stir the granola with the spatula as soon as you take it out of the oven, and once or twice as it cools to prevent it from sticking to the pan.

To make a parfait, layer cooled granola with your choice of yogurt and fruit.

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Peaks Frozen Custard and Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Lately I have been thinking about how privileged I am to live just outside of Seattle – a city overflowing with a true variety of culinary options. So while the primary focus of this blog will be baking, I will also be taking the opportunity to explore this city and share with you what I find!

That said, I was watching the Food Network the other day and Bobby Flay was raving about frozen custard. Ice cream is one of my favorite things in this world, so I had to give it a try.

Peaks Frozen Custard

There are two highly rated frozen custard locations in Seattle: Peaks Frozen Custard and Old School Frozen Custard. Last Thursday my friend Sharon and I decided to give Peaks a try!

The custard was SO GOOD – so incredibly creamy and smooth. We both ordered sundaes. While my sundae was great, I think next time I will simply order the custard by itself – it is so good on its own there is no need for all the extras!

One big difference between frozen custard and regular ice cream is the higher amount of egg yolk included, which creates a really thick and creamy texture. The custard is also churned in a way that doesn’t incorporate as much air as regular ice cream. I am absolutely a fan of this treat!

You can learn more about Peaks and frozen custard on their website.

Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream

Molly Moon’s is one of the most popular ice cream places in our area. They have a few locations, but I always visit their Wallingford spot, located conveniently on 45th. On any given summer evening you will find a line out the door, and just as many people sitting outside the shop, swinging their legs, taking pictures, and enjoying their ice cream.

What is it about this place that makes it so good? To me, it’s two different aspects: the deliciously rich and creamy texture of the ice cream, and the unique flavors.

On this particular visit, my sister and I both chose Lavender Honey and Theo Chocolate. Other offerings included Balsamic Strawberry, Earl Grey, and Tomato Basil Sorbet (wow…).

I am a little infatuated with the Lavender Honey flavor, although the first time I tried it I didn’t like it. The lavender is a little overpowering when you take the first bite, but it wears off a bit, and you begin to become conscious of the mild and sweet honey. I am getting addicted to it!

I hope if you’re in the area you can try either of these two places before summer is officially over – you won’t be disappointed!

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Red Velvet Cupcakes – with beets!

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

A couple weeks ago I took a day trip to Port Townsend with family. We had a great time enjoying the perfect weather, shopping, and wandering the neighborhoods filled with old houses and hotels. On our way through the town we stopped by the local farmer’s market. Naturally, we headed directly to the bakery stand, and I picked up this beautiful Red Velvet Cupcake.

This cupcake was exceptionally moist and delicious. We also noticed some mysterious little flecks inside and couldn’t figure out what they were, so I went up and asked. The woman working the bakery stand looked a little suspicious at my question but ultimately admitted that the secret ingredient was – beets!

I was determined to try this out. Personally, I think beets taste a little like dirt. But within a cupcake, they can contribute moisture as well as color.

I combined a Paula Deen recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes with some elements from another recipe that included beets.

My sister stopped by while I was mid-experimentation and snapped this shot!

One advantage of the beets is that you can cut down on the copious amounts of red food dye usually included in Red Velvet Cupcakes. I reduced the dye by half – it’s possible they would still be red without including it at all.

This was one of my first times messing around with a recipe and changing the elements, and I was actually having heart palpitations during the baking process.

Thankfully, the cupcakes turned out moist and tasty. They were a little less sweet/chocolaty than a typical Red Velvet Cupcake, but Paula’s cream cheese frosting is super decadent and the two elements balance each other really well. I couldn’t taste the beets at all. Here’s to taking risks!!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Recipe adapted from Paula Deen and Ladles and JellySpoons

Makes 24 cupcakes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 large or 3 small beets, enough to make 1/3 cup once boiled, peeled and pureed (Trader Joe’s pre-steamed and peeled beets work well)
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

If you use fresh beets remove the beetroot tops and boil for 15 minutes. Take out of the water and cool. Use a potato peeler to remove the skins. If you have access to a Trader Joe’s you can pick up a package of pre-steamed and peeled beets instead.

Place beets in the blender and purée. Set aside 1/3 cup and let it cool if needed.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, beets and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. In a separate mixing bowl mix together the sour cream and buttermilk. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the sour cream/buttermilk to the batter until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a big star tip.


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