Honey Roasted Pecans

It is …

Warm soft bun, salty all beef hotdog – season.

Cold overpriced I’ll take two to avoid lengthy lines later beer – season.

Red striped boxes  chock-full of salty butter flavored popcorn – season.

Enormous plastic must collect all by season’s end souvenir cups – season.

Helmet nacho season.  Enough said.

Eat my weight in roasted salted peanuts and then wonder why my fingers are swollen the following day – season.

The urge to purchase cotton candy every time the vendor wanders done my aisle – season.

It is watch, listen, breath baseball – season.

If you are new to my place here, welcome!  I am so very glad you stopped by … but know…I love baseball.  The game, the atmosphere, the strategy involved, the precision of the field, the crack of a bat, the hot dog races, the call of a homer, the pop of the ball inside a cather’s mit, a 4-6-3 double play, a 2 out rally, a walk off…

It makes my heart sing.  My soul to dance.  My very cells to shimmy.

And today friends (and by the time you read this…it will be a bit after the fact)…today is Opening Day  in the great city of Cleveland.  It is an unrecognized widely celebrated local holiday.  Vacation days are taken, school is skipped, sick days are had.  Sun, rain, snow, clouds, wind – we as, Cleveland Indian Fans, come out in hoards and celebrate the beginning of the baseball season.   All of us thinking, this is our year.

I made a snack for today that would be great for any ballgame from now through October (fingers crossed!).  At home, in the stadium, at a cookout.  The batch here, is nearly all gone, since I ate them while watching re-runs of The Office and drinking coffee…but I will be making many more to be enjoyed while sitting on the patio, listening to Tom call a game, sipping on a cold brew.

We are talking crisp nutty pecans and oh – so sweet honey, finished with a fine layer of sugar (eek!) and coarse kosher salt.
People!  It is baseball season!!!  Wahoo!

4 Ingredients.  Pecan halves.  Honey.  Sugar.  Salt.

Warmed honey.  Pecans coated.  This is where life gets good.

All kinds of sticky going on.  Guess what?  I don’t like sticky.  I hate sticky. I tolerate sticky.

Easy to tolerate when sticky is wrapped around pecans.  Not so much when the sticky is wrapped inconspicuously around a spoon handle…ARGH!

Sticky pecans, single layer, parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake.

Bake.  Sugar.  Salt.  Cool.

 

Graze while they cool.  Taste testing, if you will.  Quality control.

Pile into jam jars … perfect transport vessel for such a large number of my favorite things.  Jam, jelly, booze, nuts…

Grab me a beer (or a cup of coffee), a handful of these honey roasted pecans, a good ballgame, and I am set.  (p.s…my inner 90 year old is jumping hobbling for joy!)

Enjoy!!

5.0 from 1 reviews

Honey Roasted Pecans
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Whole Pecan Halves (unroasted)
  • ⅓ Cup Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Coarse Salt (Kosher)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a microwave safe dish, warm honey in microwave for 20 to 30 seconds to loosen it up.
  3. Place pecans in a medium mixing bowl and pour warmed honey over pecans. Toss to coat pecans well.
  4. Pour pecans out onto prepared baking sheet, separating pecans with a fork until they are in a single layer.
  5. Place in preheated oven and bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven, stir and re-spread out into an even layer. Return to oven for an additional 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes – make sure the pecans are not layered and that they are, for the most part, not sticking to each other. If need be, separate with a fork.
  6. After five minutes, sprinkle with sugar and salt and let cool for about 30 to 45 minutes.
  7. Once cooled, break apart any large pieces and transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for several days.

 

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Buttermilk Lemon Chess Pie

Did you spring break?  Break for spring.  I am still waiting on spring…but that is another story…I won’t talk about the snow that greeted me this morning that had me silently weeping and cursing mother nature and wishing I lived in where snow was not in the vernacular after the calendar moved beyond winter.  (side note…that snow was one week ago.  We had another 7 inches on this past Saturday.)  I am done.  That is my rant. It snowed.  boo hoo.  It’s spring.  Kinda.

I am instituting a break for spring next year.  Too early to make 2015 resolutions?  It is about being prepared, people.

I am going to drive south or south west until I reach a consistent day time temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  I have no real destination in mind.  No real plan mapped in my head.  Only warm weather, fresh air, flip flops, refreshing cocktails, good company.  That is all that is needed.  No cruises with added expeditions.  No all inclusive clubs that require a 20 hour flight and drinking water restrictions.  None of that.  Simple and quiet and warm.  In 2015, in March…for one week…that is where you will find me.  Fingers crossed.

Until then…I have pie!  No substitute for spring break vacation…but, it’s a decent consolation prize for like 34th place.
Lemon buttermilk chess pie is all about bringing the south to you.   And with hope in my heart, bringing warm weather as well.  I am sort of caught up on this warm weather bit…I apologize.

And we are rollin…

Pie Crust : Flour, salt, sugar.  Butter.  Buttermilk.  Kaboom.

Cold butter into flour.  Stop when butter is pea sized.  Work fast.  If butter gets to warm and begins to soften, place in freezer for 15 minutes until chilled again.  Continue on…

Buttermilk in.  Stir until combined.  Turn out onto floured surface…knead a few times, gently, until a soft shaggy dough ball forms.  Don’t overwork.  You might need a bit more buttermilk.  It depends.

Pie crust needs to chill out in the fridge…just for a bit.  Not something you want to skip.  That butter needs to get cold again and the gluten needs to some R and R.

My crust never seems to keep it’s nice crimped edges…but, I have it at some point during the process.  That is good enough for me.

Say Hello! to my pie beans.  Blind baking…not as scary as it sounds.

Gather.  Eggs, citrus, sugar, flour, corn meal, butter, buttermilk.  Basic winter pantry stock items.

I like using zest … it is about using the whole fruit.

We are squeezing every last bit out of these lemons….

 And that orange.  Just the juice though.

Rubbing zest into sugar is stress relieving … smashing zest into granules of sugar and then the heavy aroma of citrus making its way to your nose… talk about sugar scrub meets aroma therapy meets sweet lemon flavored sugar.  Hello, Heaven!

Cornmeal assists flour today in the thickening department…it also brings a bit of texture to the table too.

 Eggs.  5.

But first, melted butter.  Cooled.  And then those lovely eggs are whisked in.  Whisk with all your  might until it’s all smooth and silky.   We are pie baking and bicep building…

Lemon and orange juice.

Piled dirty dishes … small bowls piled … makes my innards feel good.

Whisked bubbles.

It’s a pour and bake situation.

Share it.  Totally share it. We are in the business of making people happy.  Pie = fast route to happiness.

Buttermilk Lemon Chess Pie
 
Ingredients
Pie Crust
  • ½ Cup of Butter, cold (very)
  • 1+1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ⅓ Cup Buttermilk – very cold
Filling
  • 1 Tablespoon Grated Lemon Zest (1 lemon)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 + ½ Tablespoon Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 5 Large Eggs
  • 5 Tablespoon Butter, melted and cooled
  • ⅔ Cup Buttermilk
  • 7 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (about 3-4 lemons)
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • ½ Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
Prepare Pie Crust
  1. Cut butter into small chunks or shred using a cheese grater. Place butter in freezer for about 10 minutes. While butter is chilling, combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss butter in flour mixture and begin to break down the butter using a pastry blender or your fingers (this will be faster if you grate the butter). Work until butter is pea-sized. Return mixture to freezer for an additional 10 minutes – keeping the butter cold is key.
  2. Remove from freezer and form a well into the center of the mixture and pour in ice cold buttermilk all at once. With your hand or a fork, stir the flour into buttermilk well. A dough ball will begin to form, but the dough will be rather shaggy – if it remains rather dry, add an additional tablespoon of buttermilk. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap and place in fridge for an hour to chill out. This will give time for the butter to get cold again and the flour to get moist.
  3. After one hour, remove dough from fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll dough out into a 12 inch wide circle. Transfer pie dough to a 9 inch pie dish and without stretching dough, tuck the pie dough into the dish. There will be excess dough hanging over edges. If needed, trim off anything beyond ½ inch or so. Crimp edges with thumb and pointer fingers. Place pie in freezer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F
  5. Remove from freezer and with a large piece of tinfoil (about 2 pie lengths) – line pie crust with tinfoil, tucking it along the bottom and edges. Leave a few inches of foil hanging over the edges for easy removal later. Fill tinfoil lined pie crust wtih dried beans.
  6. Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and carefully remove tinfoil and dried beans. Set aside and reuse for future pies. Reduce oven temperature to 375F. Prick the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork 8 to 10 times. Return to oven and continue to bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes until slightly golden brown. If the crust begins to puff up along the edges or bottom, poke tiny holes into those areas with a sharp paring knife. Remove from oven and let cool competely on a wire rack. Prepare filling.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine lemon zest and both sugars. Rub zest into sugar using your fingers. Add cornmeal, flour, and salt. Stir to combine.
  3. Stir in melted butter. Add eggs, mixing well between each addition. When all the eggs are added, stir filling briskly until thickened and light in color.
  4. Stir in buttermilk, lemon juice, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
  5. Strain mixture into partially pre baked pie crust and place in preheated oven. Bake until edges are puffed up and set and the center jiggles just a tad when it is nudged. The top will be golden brown. About 40 to 50 minutes. Don’t over bake.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool completely on wire rack for 3-4 hours before slicing and serving. Stores in refrigerator up to 2 to 3 days.

Glazed Orange Ricotta Cake

Some evenings, before I tuck myself into bed for a goodnights slumber, I will tuck away a baked good into a carrying case, snug as a bug in a rug, for my co-workers to dive into the following morning.  Often, there is but one piece missing – the one that I carefully cut away to snap a few pictures of while standing on a chair/desk/stool making sure to keep my toes out of the viewfinder.  A piece that I enjoy after dinner with a bit of coffee or perhaps tea …

And then there are some mornings where I awake and find a note next to a near empty carrying case and a few stray crumbs … a note scribbled stating- ‘Sorry babe, don’t hate me…I was hungry and this cake is so GOOD!’.

Dudes.

Dudes!

Dudes…

So, now I pack up a baked good and leave my own note…’don’t eat this or I will kill you…there are granola bars in the pantry, eat those…they are on the third shelf, next to the beans…’ – I have found you need to be exact with the location since he is looking through man eyes.  Yes, Man Eyes…eyes that are just stuck in the eye sockets of men for social normalcy and only used for avoiding running into walls.  They are one step away from glass eye balls.  One step.  Man eyes are unable to  find anything in refrigerators, cupboards, pantries, etc… It can be used in a sentence as a noun…as in, ‘were you looking for the mustard in the fridge with your man eyes? ’  (disclaimer, totally not hating here, because I am not the best finder of lost things within the depths of a fridge, but I do look beyond the first row….)

Maybe I should take to hiding the baked goods in such places.

Oh, good heavens.  Let’s bake…

Start with ricotta…and stir it into a splash of half and half until smooth and creamy.

Zest a bit of orange, scent your house with orange, and realize that your hand is much too small to grate more than one orange.  Hand.  Cramps.  Ouch.

Take those fingers of yours and rub the zest right into the sugar.  Orange sugar.  Boom!

Eggs and butter and flour and oranges.  All the stuff you will need.  Gather it up.  You don’t have to use a million little bowls.  That is just me and my weirdness.  And crazy love for small bowls that hold a mere two eggs.

 

Cut that orange in half and juice it.  Just a 1/4 cup.  Gulp down the rest and then 20 minutes later when you are experiencing the worst heartburn ever and eating TUMS like an old man, make a mental note…no orange juice.  Ever. Like, ever ever.

Whisk in the eggs, vanilla,  and orange juice into the orange sugar.  I love my KitchenAid mixer, but adore recipes that don’t use it.  I like whisks and wooden spoon and single bowl recipes.  It is more easy like a Sunday morning, than OH MY GOSH, I need 2 dozen cupcakes in 2 hours for a bake sale I knew about for 3 months.

Cooled melted butter is the next invitee to join the party.  Make sure it is cool so we don’t cook the eggs before it is time to do so…ya know, in the oven.

Fold in 1/3 the dry ingredients.

Then goes 1/2 the ricotta and half and half…And then another 1/3 of dry ingredients…And then the remaining half of the ricotta mixture….And then the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients.  So we start and finish with dry ingredients, alternating with wet.

Pour batter into parchment lined loaf pan.  Bake.

Glaze : Powdered sugar (confectioner’s) and a bit of orange juice.  Whisk.  Pour.

Glaze…best part.  If you wanted to add a bit of extra zest to the glaze…I wouldn’t argue with the awesomeness of that.

 

See, best part.  So darn sexy.

 

Glazed Orange Ricotta Cake
 
Ingredients
cake
  • 1+1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ Cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Half and Half
  • Zest of 1 Orange, grated
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • ¼ Cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice (about ½ of an orange)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • ⅓ Cup (5 + ⅓ T) Unsalted Butter, Melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Glaze
  • 1 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Orange Juice
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line loaf pan (about a 5in x 10in) with parchment paper
  2. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together ricotta cheese and half and half until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Combine grated orange zest and sugar in large mixing bowl and using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar.
  5. Whisk in ¼ cup of orange juice, 2 eggs, cooled butter, and vanilla extract.
  6. Fold in ⅓ of the flour mixture until just combined, Fold in ½ of ricotta mixture. Continue this (flour, ricotta, flour, ricotta, flour) mixing after each addition.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and place in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes until browned and golden and toothpick when inserted comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before turning out of pan and letting it cool completely before glazing.
Glaze
  1. Sift confectioner’s glaze into a small bowl. Add in 2 to 3 tablespoons of orange juice and whisk until smooth.
  2. Pour glaze over cooled cake.
  3. Trick: To set glaze, place cake under broiler for about 20 to 30 seconds. Remove immediately.

 

English Muffin Bread

Toast reminds me of my grandpa.

I never saw him eat a piece of bread that wasn’t, well, toasted.  Toasted toasted.  Crunchy toasted.  On the brink of too toasted.  Toasted.

My grandma was so used to toasting his bread, that I never had a tuna sandwich from that kitchen on soft bread.  Or a bologna sandwich.  Or a hotdog  (weiner) bun- grandma was from Rhode Island, they don’t do hotdogs, just weiners.    Or for that matter, a roll.  Or a biscuit.  Or a sandwich bun.  Or anything resembling bread.  Even cornbread.  Everything.  Toasted.

I often wonder how many toaster ovens my grandparents went through over the years.  And to think of it, I am sure grandma started making him toast on a cast iron stove after the war at the start of marriage on a small farm in rural Ohio, graduating to an oven with a broiler,  and heavens to Betsy, finally came the day of a toaster oven…how life was made easier and how we take it for granted.

There countertop never held a toaster that held slices of anything … a conventional toaster I never knew them to own.  The openings not adequate for thick slices of Texas toast and English muffins would get lost and they were not the ones to use a knife to stab at an English muffin to pry it from the depths of a toaster (not that I ever do that either) and you can never quite tell how toasted your toast is getting without popping it up…

A toaster oven on the flip side can fit any size of bread, roll, biscuit…and pizza rolls.  Pizza rolls never saw the inside of my granparent’s home.  Come to think of it, rarely did pizza.

I think grandpa would have loved a loaf of English muffin bread.  English muffins were meant for the toaster – does anyone eat them untoasted?  They don’t taste right, unless browned and crisp – salted butter dripping into each nook and cranny and jelly/jam/fruit butter/nut butter slathered edge to edge.  Gramps was a homemade grape jelly dude, grandma restocking their supply every fall from their concord grape vein/arbor or there was always strawberry lingering – often homemade as well.  This whole, homemade from scratch deal, it is in my blood.

I can never pick just one spreadable for my toast.  Or English muffin.  Too many choices and never enough toast.  Cinnamon sugar is my all time favorite…and has been making quite the comeback on lazy weekend mornings with creamy coffee.  Or afternoon snack with hot chocolate.  Yeah, hot chocolate…still winter in these parts!

English Muffin bread toasts up like a charm.  And is quite simply the easiest thing in the world to throw together.  Trust me.  As long as you have yeast that isn’t dead.  I had dead yeast, poor things never got to live to their fullest potential.  Honest to goodness, I felt bad.  I should read expiration dates more often/closely/clean out my cupboards more thoroughly/or, well ever.

5.0 from 1 reviews

English Muffin Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 2+1/2 Cups Bread Flour
  • 2 + ¼ Teaspoons Rapid-Rise or Instant Yeast
  • 2 Teaspoons Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1+ ½ Cups Whole Milk, warmed to 120F.
  • Cornmeal for dusting
Instructions
  1. Grease a 5in x 10 in (or thereabouts) loaf pan and dust with cornmeal. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  3. Stir in warm milk and mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area and let dough rise for about 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. (my favorite warming place is in the microwave with the light on or oven (turned off) with the light on…otherwise, my house is an icebox for bread dough.
  4. Once it has doubled, give the dough a stir and place in prepared loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place back into warm area and let rise for an additional 30 minutes or until it has reached the edges of the pan.
  5. Preheat oven to 375F and place oven rack to middle position.
  6. Uncover and discard plastic wrap. Place pan into preheated oven and bake until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 200F. About 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for about 10 minutes before turning bread out onto wire rack and letting cool completely before slicing, toasting, and devouring.
  8. Enjoy!
Notes
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Country

Irish Brown Bread

I feel like I am phoning it in a bit with a simple loaf of bread as my St. Patrick’s Day celebratory post…truth be told, I can’t believe it is March already and the mere thought of St Patrick’s day being just next week seems quite impossible to me, so this bread was mixed and baked with the intention of craving thick cut toast on a Saturday morning and wanting something where yeast was not involved  - my last package had , unbeknownest to me, expired 6 months ago and was most likely dead and had been tossed into the trash, buried below coffee grounds.

Sad.

Brown bread does not involve yeast…kind of awesome – since mine were dead and all.  Brown bread – a type of soda bread, I have done a bit of researching on the types of soda breads and it is quite the discussion and there are many opinions…so, I am going with all brown breads are soda breads, but not all soda breads are brown breads … get it, got it, good?  Any who…brown breads use the basic baking soda/acidic liquid to give rise to the bread.  No yeast!  Buttermilk is the go to here.  No buttermilk?  No worries…I didn’t either – I rarely do since I never use it all and I hate wasting food and the smell of spoiled buttermilk is more than I can bare.  But skim milk and a touch of lemon…those items are always in my fridge…since, ya know…cereal and cocktails are vital elements in my world.

Skim  milk + lemon juice + 5 minutes = instant buttermilk.  Woohoo!

We are going to use a combination of flours – wheat and white.  A combination of oats – rolled/old fashioned and steel cut. Brown sugar adds a nice/light sweetness with a that nice mellow hint of molasses…all under a layer of nuttiness that is so absolutely satisfying with a layer of salted butter and a slather of summery strawberry jam.  Or raspberry if that is your …wait for it….

Jam.

Toast not your thing?  Wait a second while I try to let that soak in…who doesn’t love/adore/crave toast on a daily basis?  Just the simple pure smell of toast makes me weak in the knees and has be wandering toward the source with my nose in the air like Yogi Bear after a picnic basket.

This Brown bread would be just the right touch of sweet/nuttiness that pairs so well  with a good hunk of sharp cheddar or KerryGold Dubliner cheese – if you wanna go all Irish, which I would highly recommend…even on non-Irish holidays.

Word of the wise … this is not sandwich bread.  No, sir.  Not even a little bit.  I don’t want to get ya thinking otherwise.  This is dense and heavy and crumbles a bit on day 2 or 3 and when it is lightly (or heavily) toasted, it really comes to life and lives out its carb-wonderful purpose…but it is not intended for turkey, tomatoes, and mayo.  Nope.  Lox, cream cheese, and capers…that seems like another story.  A story I’d like to write.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Brown Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour (350 grams)
  • 1 + ½ Cups Coarse Whole Wheat Flour (175 grams)
  • ½ Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (60 grams)
  • ½ Cup Steel Cut Oats (60 grams)
  • 2 + ½ Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 5 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cold (and diced if no cheese grater)
  • 1+1/2 Cups Buttermilk.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly dust baking sheet with flour.
  2. Whisk together flour, wheat flour, old fashioned oats, steel cut oats, baking soda, and brown sugar.
  3. Grate cold butter into dry ingredients and whisk to combine. ( no cheese grater – just cut butter into dry ingredients with fingers or pastry cutter, much like you would with pie crust/biscuits). Form a well into the center of the ingredients and pour in buttermilk. Stir to combine, forming soft dough. It will seem dry and shaggy – you can add a touch more buttermilk if you find it too dry.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and with lightly floured hands, knead dough for a minute or so, until a nice, slightly moist ball of dough is formed.
  5. Shape dough into a round loaf about 1+1/2 to 2 inches tall. With a lightly floured knife, cut an “X” through the center of the bread, making sure not to cut all the way through. Sprinkle with a few extra rolled old fashioned oats.
  6. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center of loaf comes out clean and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.
  7. Slather with salted (Irish) butter and good smidgen of jam.

Adapted from ‘Flavors of  Ireland’

Notes:
* Weigh ingredients…I weighed and measured to see difference and oh what a difference!  If you have a scale, use it.  The final outcome will be more consistent.
*I did not use coarse whole wheat flour, but regular King Arthurs Whole Wheat Flour.  This changed the density of the bread, no doubt, but it was still great.  When I find coarse whole wheat flour…I will get back to the difference.
*When butter needs to be worked into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fingers, I prefer grating.  My hands  are too darn warm and butter tends to just melt.  I find that what works best is to freeze the butter and then grate it over the dry ingredients and then with a fork or whisk, work the grated butter into the dry ingredients.  Works like a charm for pie dough, biscuits, scones, and bread.

oh, and P.S….

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.