Petite treats has been a popular trend this year, and following suit an adorable new cookbook has been released called “Petite Treats” which features delicious, bite-sized, reduced-guilt sweets that are sure to charm family and friends at any gathering. This cookbook shows you how to miniaturize everything from tiny fruit scones and mini pies to bite-size brownies and cutesy cannoli. But be warned, you will need to borrow or purchase miniature pans for a few recipes (such as mini bundt cake and doughnut pans)
One of the recipes I wanted to make were called F. U. Brownies. With ginger nutmeg and cloves they sounded deserving of such a name. However, I decided not to make them for this review because in my mind, calling a batch of brownies “petite” only requires cutting the bars up smaller, which seams like cheating to me. Although not quite as annoying as when a recipe claims to be “light” by cutting down the portion size. However I may need to still make it, but I doubt I will be cutting it into small squares!
First I made the Frosted Apple Spice Muffins. Just like the description says they taste like hot spiced apple cider in muffin form. These were a big hit at a Christmas party I attended. Even though I picked recipes from this cookbook that applied to the current season, this cookbook has recipes fit for all year round.
Then I made Cranberry Orange Rolls. These cinnamon rolls were exceptionally adorable in petite form. And dangerous because you feel less guilty eating a few smaller ones than one regular sized. More petite cinnamon rolls may occur soon!
One year ago: Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa Mix
Two years ago: Bacon and Cheese Egg McMuffin Cups
Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary copy of this cookbook from Beth Cook Publicity. I was not compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
When I first moved to Memphis, I was a bit distraught over the fact that Panera had zero presence. But after a couple of years I got my wish and my favorite pick two combination for lunch was within reach. When I went there most recently, I realized it had been a little while since my last visit because I was pleasantly surprised with new choices.
The soup is low-fat and vegetarian with diced tomatoes, sliced zucchini, yellow beans, fresh Swiss chard, cauliflower, bell peppers and pearled barley in a tomato broth with a dollop of nut-free basil pesto. Such a great combination of flavors, and so scrumptious that I would rather get it from them than try to recreate it (and ultimately fail) at home. I have to admit that I expected the pesto to be a visible dollop on top, but it must’ve been mixed in – not a big deal!
The second half of my “You Pick 2″ was their Big Kid Grilled Cheese with Gruyere, Vermont white cheddar, organic sliced American cheese and applewood- smoked bacon. I may make every grilled cheese from now on this way. On a normal day I would’ve paired this with their tomato soup, but I couldn’t resist the garden vegetable soup.
And while we’re talking about it, my lunch companion got their Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese, which is pure gooey deliciousness – the way mac and cheese should be. Also notice that yes, we ate outside because it was mid-December and in the high 60s.
What’s your favorite Panera Bread soup? Don’t have a favorite, then which would would you like to try? Find out more on Panera’s website.
Disclosure: I was compensated for my meal and for my time to write this post by the DailyBuzz Food Tastemakers program. However, this did not sway my personal thoughts and opinions on my experience at Panera.
Everyone loves shaped pans these days, especially around the holidays. But these pans tend to be used for a single purpose. Therefore I have taken it upon myself to discover new ways to use the various seemingly single-use pans I own. I’ve already used doughnut pans for pancakes, and a muffin top pan for cookies, now it’s time to show you that the Wilton Non-Stick Mini Holiday Cookie Pan can be used to make buttermilk biscuits – gasp!
Although I am sure this pan would’ve made beautiful cookies (or whoopie pies, anyone?), I thought outside the box and decided to make buttermilk biscuits for breakfast. Some of the shapes were more difficult to identify, but most of them came out great! The gingerbread pan, Christmas tree and star were my favorites and are pictured below. Festive treats are not only for dessert now!
Two years ago: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, thinly slice
2/3 cup lowfat buttermilk, plus additional for brushing
3 Tbsp nonfat plain Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease the cavities of a mini holiday pan with non-stick spray. (Alternatively, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.)
- In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Rub butter into flour with fingertips until butter pieces are coated and about the size of peas. Stir in buttermilk and yogurt until just combined.
- Gently divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and lightly press into the cavities of the pan. Brush tops with buttermilk. Bake for 15 minutes or until puffed and lightly golden. Flip out and serve.
- (If using a parchment paper lined baking sheet: Scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface; very gently shape it into an 8″x 6″ rectangle, being careful not to overwork dough. Cut into 12 square biscuits. Transfer biscuits to baking sheet; brush tops with buttermilk. Bake until puffed and lightly golden, 15 minutes.)
Source: Adapted slightly from SELF Magazine.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary Non-Stick Mini Holiday Pan from Wilton. I was not compensated for this post. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
What on earth is a “Breadhead”? It is a dedicated baker, someone who bakes often, who thinks and dreams about bread and is not afraid to experiment. And in How to Be a Breadhead: A Beginner’s Guide to Baking, by Father Dominic (“The Bread Monk” of PBS television fame), you’ll learn more than just basic techniques—you’ll ﬁnd out why yeast behaves the way it does, how to substitute different flours in a recipe, and how to take a simple dough and make it extraordinary for a special occasion. All in a friendly style of instruction, with helpful photos and illustrations. He also has a Bread Blog which can be found at www.breadmonk.com.
I have made yeast breads many times, but I would not consider myself an expert by any means. So while reading through the lessons prior to the actual recipes, I learned a few things I thought I should share:
- There is about a 5% difference between measuring cups for dry and liquid ingredients. I knew there was, but didn’t know exactly. When measuring out several cups of flour it adds up!
- You will use a little less flour in a recipe when using bread flour instead of all-purpose because it has a greater content of proteins.
- When doubling a recipe requiring yeast, you do not need to double the amount of yeast. One package of yeast (or 2-1/4 tsp) is enough for every 4 cups of flour.
- The gluten matrix formed during kneading is what helps bread hold its shape even when baked free-form.
- A traditional way to test for bread doneness is to thump the bottom after removing from the pan – if it sounds hollow it’s done.
- The best blades for slicing bread are not serrate but wavy. Add one to your wishlist!
Once I finished absorbing as much knowledge as I could, I set out to try some of the recipes. First I tried the Pull Apart Garlic Bread using the basic white dough. It was fun getting my fingers dirty (literally) by dipping these into a butter-herb mixture before allowing them to rise in the pan before baking. And they really did pull apart!
Then I got a little fancy with the basic sweet dough and made Butterfly Breakfast Rolls with Nutella. It was very must like making cinnamon rolls, except you cut them at alternating angles and squish them down on the smaller sides to make a butterfly image! I have to admit I also thought it kind of looked like a chameleon face! Rango anyone?
Definitely glad I have this cookbook in my collection. It is a great resource for yeast doughs and breads!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of How to Be a Breadhead from Reedy Press. I was not sompensated for this post. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
I first heard of eMeals from two other graduate students in my lab. They would talk about it over lunch while eating their leftovers, saying how easy it is to plan dinner now. So when eMeals contacted me asking if I would like to try it out myself, I couldn’t think of a reason not to. Especially when I can then turn around and offer a giveaway to my readers!
eMeals relies on a team of experienced meal planners, writers and editors to create new dinner menus every week that are designed around grocery store sales, seasonal specials and diet preferences. For as low as $5.00 per month, subscribers download a recipe plan for the week with a matching aisle-by-aisle grocery list. The easy-to-follow recipes usually contain fewer than seven ingredients to allow for prep times of less than 30 minutes. It also helps families stay within a predictable budget by being prepared with a detailed list to use at the grocery store.
The eMeals program has over 30 meal plan options to choose from and provides a consistent and reliable approach to food budgeting by factoring the weekly cost of ingredients into each menu plan. And my favorite part is that this is not just for families. They do have the Family Menu Plan for 3-6 servings, but I was much more interested in the For Two Menu Plan with 1-2 servings. Both sizes are available for all of their meal plans, which include: Classic Meals, Clean Eating, Simple Gourmet, Paleo, Low Carb, Low Fat, Portion Control, Natural & Organic, Gluten Free, and Vegetarian.
I actually tried out two different versions of their meal plans, the first being the Natural & Organic. The recipes were simple yet delicious, and it was great to use up ingredients leftover from one recipe in another because I am particularly guilty of buying ingredients and not using it all. And since it wasn’t a diet plan, when I had ingredients that were easy substitutes (such as Greek yogurt for sour cream) I could save even more money on my grocery shopping! But I think my favorite part of any of their meal plans was the inclusion of sides, which is a dish I so rarely prepare because I am too worried about the entree.
Here are a few of the recipes I tired: Top left is Pancakes with Buttery Honey Syrup with Crispy Bacon and Grapes (that syrup was awesome). Top right is Split Pea Soup with Cheesy French Bread. Bottom left is Pecan Chicken with Parmesan Pasta and Steamed Asparagus (called for turkey but I had chicken already). Bottom right is Cheesy Sausage Frittata with fruit and a bagel (called for fruit salad and bakery muffin).
After testing out Natural & Organic for about a month, I decided to switch over to Simple Gourmet, also For Two (btw, you can switch meal plans for no charge, but you can only do it once a month). For me, this menu plan was much more fun. The recipe ingredient list and directions were a little bit longer but they were still very easy and quick to prepare. I am terrible at menu planning especially when it comes to “fancier” meals, so this plan was perfect for me. Most of the time the recipes from either plan made 3 servings and I consider myself a pretty good eater. But that is by no means a complaint. Having an extra serving was nice because I enjoy having leftovers for lunches.
Here are a few of the recipes I tired: Top left is Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas with Sauteed Corn and Jalapeno Pepper (freaking awesome corn). Top right is Creamy Eggs with Avocado and Greek Yogurt with Shredded Hash Browns and Fresh Berries. Bottom left is Juicy Cheeseburgers on a Kaiser Roll with Roasted Red Potatoes (and some awesome burger sauce). Bottom right is Quick Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (hello healthier comfort food).
Now for some fun stuff for you! Since the Paleo meal plan just launched, eMeals has issued a Paleo Challenge for everyone to try a free week of Paleo meals available in family and for two versions. If you want to stick to it after your free week, you can get a 10% off discount with the code PALEO. But wait there’s more (said in a cheesy infomercial voice)! In addition to getting a free week of Paleo meals and a 10% off discount code, eMeals is letting me giveaway a 3 month dinner AND lunch subscription! Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.
Be sure to check out the eMeals blog for recipes, tips on how to simplify your life, organize your days, and plan family fun.
Disclosure: I was provided with a free subscription to eMeals. I was not compensated for this post. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
One year ago: Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
With one of my best friends being gluten intolerant, I am always very interested in trying out new gluten-free products. Especially since she tells me how far gluten-free products have come over the years (you should see how excited she gets over bagels). Gone are the days when gluten-free meant boring. One proof of this fact lies with Blue Diamond’s Nut-Thins. They are a crunchy cracker loaded with nutritious nuts and baked to perfection. Flavors include: Plain Almond, Almond Hint of Sea Salt, Almond Smokehouse, Almond Cheddar Cheese, Almond Country Ranch, Almond Pepper Jack Cheese and also Hazelnut, and Pecan.
Although these crackers are great for dips and snacking, I decided to make a meal with them. I had made this recipe before with bread crumbs and ground pecans, so I decided to replace all of the breading with ground up Blue Diamond Pecan Nut-Thins. The result? A perfectly crunchy and flavorful exterior. I really want to try the Almond Cheddar Nut-Thins for a cheesy version! Hopefully I’ll like it better than the unhealthier Cheetos Crusted Chicken haha.
Blue Diamond products can be found at any Whole Foods or natural foods section in your local grocery store, and online at www.bluediamond.com.
Wondering what those purple lumps are in the background? You will find out soon!
One year ago: Homemade Pumpkin Puree
PECAN-CRUSTED CHICKEN WITH ROASTED BROCCOLI
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded about 1/2-inch thin
1/4 cup ground Blue Diamond Pecan Nut-Thins
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 egg white
2 Tbsp gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
2 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a small roasting pan, drizzle olive oil over chopped broccoli florets. Toss with onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In one small bowl, combine cracker crumbs with salt and pepper. In a second bowl, whisk egg white until just foamy. In a third bowl, place flour.
- Dredge chicken breasts in flour, dip in egg white and then press both sides into breadcrumb mixture to coat. Place on a small baking sheet coated with vegetable oil cooking spray.
- Cook the chicken and broccoli for 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown, turning both the chicken and broccoli once halfway through the cooking time.
Source: Adapted slightly from SELF Magazine.
Disclosure: I received samples of Blue Diamond Nut-Thins from Ocra Communications. I was not compensated for this post. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
I am sure you all know by now that one of your favorite food bloggers, Jenna Weber of Eat, Live Run, has published her very own book called White Jacket Required. And it’s not just a cookbook, it’s a story about her decision to go to Culinary school after graduating from college and her experiences during and beyond school. While reading her book, certain parts I recalled from reading her blog, such as when she found her great grandmother’s recipes. It was great to have the bits and pieces I read from blog posts all wrapped up into a flowing story.
Through her struggles in Culinary school, love-life, family and an unexpected tragedy, I admire her honesty in her emotions. I have always been very wary of posting too much personal stuff on my blog, but she makes such a strong connection with her readers by doing so in her story. If you love a wonderfully heartfelt book and/or great food you really should pick this one up!
But my favorite thing about this book are the recipes that are included along with the stories at the end of each chapter. Especially when they are mentioned within the story. My life seems to revolve around food so it seems completely natural to talk about food through life’s experiences. Now I want to make everything in her book, in addition to all of her delicious recipes posted on her blog.
From her book, I made the Golden Granola. With sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts, there was no way I was going to miss out of such an awesomely nutty granola. I eat it by the handfuls, to the point where I need to tell myself to put it away before I eat the entire stock of it. I’ve never liked any granola plain by itself before I met this one. But I do still enjoy it in some vanilla Greek yogurt.
Disclosure: I received a copy of White Jacket Required from FSB Associates. I was not compensated for this post. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
When you think of jelly, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Sweet? Fruity? Innocent? Whatever you thought you knew about jelly has been shaken up by Jenkins Jellies‘ best-selling gluten-free, vegan Hell Fire Pepper Jelly. And I am here to tell you that is it so much more than just another condiment in the door of your fridge. In fact there is an entire cookbook called Sweet Heat to prove it. With fifty recipes and color photographs throughout, Sweet Heat is a love letter to the pleasures of Hell Fire Pepper Jelly, which works with all kinds of dishes.
From cocktails to appetizers, mains and zesty desserts, Sweet Heat showcases the unique versatility of Hell Fire Pepper Jelly. The foreword to this hardcover book is written by Gwyneth Paltrow, and sprinkled throughout are enthusiastic blurbs from Celebrity Chef Mario Batali, Blythe Danner, Kate Capshaw (Spielberg), Camryn Manheim, Maria Bello and others.
When I first opened the jar of Hell Fire Pepper Jelly and tested it out, I immediately thought of the sweet and spicy Hawaiian pizza I once made and was excited to see a couple pizza recipes included in the Sweet Heat cookbook.
I tried the Pizza Stu with Pizzazz, a recipe created by Titina Folliero (the owner of Folliero’s Pizza located in Highland Park, CA), and the sweet heat of the jelly added to the pizza sauce was most excellent. This pizza, topped with fresh Mozzarella and arugula, will definitely have reruns once I get my hands on some more jars of the “HFPJ”.
What else do I have planned with my precious jar or jelly? I have visions of making some Kickin’ Kornbread (pictured on the book’s cover) for my first batch of chili this fall, for starters. I would also love to marinade chicken in it, or even mix it into a burger.
In case you haven’t heard enough, they also have 3 other sweet heat jellies: Guava Brava, Fiery Figs, and Passion Fire. And guess what? I am offering a giveaway so that one of you can get yours hands on this book a long with a selection of jellies! Enter by using the Rafflecopter widget below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I was provided with an electronic copy of Sweet Heat from Crier Communications, and a jar of Hell Fire Pepper Jelly from Jenkins Jellies. I was not compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Kathleen King, the creator of Tate’s Bake Shop, has released her third cookbook called Baking for Friends. In celebration of the highly anticipated release, Tate’s Bake Shop partnered with KitchenAid to sponsor a Baking for Friends Bake-Off on Facebook, combined with a product giveaway! I know you want to know more, so here is how you can participate:
- Join the Baking for Friends Bake-Off contest on the Tate’s Bake Shop Facebook Page by clicking HERE. Put your own spin on one of Kathleen’s recipes, then supply a photo/recipe for a chance to win $1,000 or a KitchenAid Artisan series stand mixer.
- Enter to win a Cookie and Bar Tower from Tate’s Bake Shop using the Rafflecopter widget below, and while you’re at it use the discount code “BAKEOFF” to receive $5 off the cookbook when ordered from their website.
While you patiently wait to find out if you won that delicious giveaway or not, I am going to tease you even more with one of the recipes from the cookbook – Hurricane Irene Cookies. She came up with these while feeling the need to make comforting cookies on the morning of Hurricane Irene, and I have to say she did quite well creating a cookie with what she had on hand! Her pantry must be stocked full of things just like mine to have oats, coconut, chocolate, pecans, AND toffee. In other words, I did not have to add anything to my grocery list in order to make these cookies. As someone who really tries to bake and cook from things I already have in stock, this was very ideal. To make things even better, they just so happen to be scrumptious as well. Oh and get this, tornado sirens were going off last night while I made them… weird.
I would also love to make the Chocolate Pecan Pie or maybe the Pumpkin Mousse Pie for Thanksgiving. Or maybe both O:-). But the section of the cookbook I need to dive into next is the “Health & Lifestyle Baked Goods”. I find myself overflowing with baked goods quite often so it would be a good idea if I started trying to bake healthier things if I am going to have them lying around tempting me all the time.
Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of Baking for Friends from Tate’s Bake Shop. The product giveaway was also provided by Tate’s Bake Shop. I was not compensated for this post. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
This cute cookbook by Leila Lindholm called Hello Cupcake offers 45 recipes of delectable cupcakes such as: Sweet Potato, Rock Road, French Meringue, Nutty Pistachio, Nutella, Miss Piggy, Classic and much more. Plus it goes beyond the cuteness of cupcakes with recipes for Lemon Meringue, Double Chocolate and Bling whoopie pies!
The nutty pistachio cupcakes were the first I had to try. Even though I have been meaning to for a long time, this was the first time I’ve ever baked with pistachios. And true to being a novice, I went ahead and shelled all my own pistachios. Holy crapolla is all I have to say. I didn’t realize how many I would have to crack open to get what I needed for these cupcakes! Guess I should’ve splurged on the pre-shelled ones after all. But my effort was well worth it because these cupcakes were perfectly nutty and paired well with a Nutella frosting. The only problem I had was that the ingredient list for the cupcake batter was missing vanilla. It is indicated in the directions to add but no amount given! Thankfully it is an ingredient that can be improvised.
Then I decided to talk a walk on the fruity side and made the blueberry lemon cupcakes with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting. I’ve always loved cream cheese frosting, but this one was incredibly easy (just melted chocolate mixed with cream cheese) and delicious! I found myself eating the leftover frosting by itself which doesn’t happen often. Usually I need a cupcake/cookie vehicle for my frosting. Oh yea, and the cupcakes were good too .
I would definitely recommend this cookbook if you do not have a good cupcake cookbook already. But be warned, you will need a food scale and liquid measuring cups in order to make these. I find myself using my scale more and more these days when I used to improvise a lot before. Not a bad thing though!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Hello Cupcake from New Holland Publishers. I was not compensated for this post. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
One year ago: Butternut Squash Soup