Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats


These couldn't be simpler--or more delicious!  There are lots of ways you can play around with them, too. The original recipe came from the Vegetarian Times.  I followed it pretty closely, adding just a sprinkle of kosher salt when I mixed in the rice cereal.  Next time, I might add an extra cup of cereal and, perhaps, a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract to bump up the flavor.  I also put the dish in the fridge for awhile to harden a bit.  The recipe calls for almond butter, which I think makes them very special.  Peanut butter or another nut butter would work as well.

Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats
1/2 cup almond butter
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 cups crispy rice cereal (I used brown rice cereal--and next time I'll add at least 4 cups)
pinch of salt

Grease an 8x8 square baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large pan, combine the almond butter, honey and chocolate chips over medium low flame, stirring constantly until the chocolate is melted--about 3 or 4 minutes.  Add the cereal and a pinch of salt and stir to thoroughly combine the cereal with the chocolate mixture. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into squares. (I found it helped to refrigerate them for about 30 minutes after they cooled.)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Savory Honey Beer Bread

Our favorite beekeeper, Steve Repasky joined us for dinner on Saturday.  Steve is a Master Beekeeper, the owner of Meadow Sweet Apiaries and the President of Burgh Bees (check out their new and improved website!).  Steve is also working on his first book, Swarm Essentials, which should be out soon--or at least in time for the next swarm season!  I'll be sure to let everyone know when it's out.

Steve is also a beer lover, which is why I tried this recipe out for his visit.  The recipe comes from a New York Times article about wheat berries.  The article stresses that sifting the flour makes for a much lighter loaf.  We had only a little whole wheat flour on hand, so I fiddled with the original recipe a bit. The rosemary adds a lovely aroma to the bread but doesn't overpower it. There's a slight hint of sweetness, but this is very much a quick, savory bread.  

Savory Honey Beer Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon (yes! tablespoon!) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons butter, melted
12 ounces beer (lager)
Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Stir the honey and melted butter together and add them to the flour with the beer. Stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan, tap it on the counter a few times to get rid of any air holes and bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean--about 50 minutes.  Let cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  It's great toasted the next day, too!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Zucchini Honey Cupcakes with Honey-Cream Cheese Icing

I can't quite claim that these cupcakes are health food--but it's safe to say that these cupcakes are at least better for you  most other cupcakes.  They're made with olive oil and honey and they're delicious!  Delicate, not-too-sweet, and  very satisfying.  The original recipe comes from a July 2006 issue of Gourmet Magazine, now available here on Epicurious.

I will confess that initially, Robert was not ecstatic about these cupcakes.  That might have something to do with the fact that he grabbed one before it had time to cool and ate it without any frosting. They were a little greasy when they first came out of the oven, but once they cooled (and even after after two days!) they were moist and delicious.  Lots of baked goods made with honey taste better the next day--and the honey helps to keep baked goods fresh. 

Zucchini Honey Cupcakes 
1/3 cup crystallized ginger (about 1 3/4 oz.), coarsely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon (or orange) zest
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups coarsely grated zucchini (I used 1 medium-sized zucchini that seemed to be perfect)
3/4 cup mild olive oil
3/4 cup mild honey
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 18 muffin cups with liners.  In a food processor, pulse the crystallized ginger until it's finely ground.  Add flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, lemon zest, salt, baking soda and baking powder to bowl of food processor and pulse to combine.  In a medium bowl, whisk the zucchini, oil, honey, eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined--don't over mix.  Spoon the batter in the muffin cups, filling no more than 1/2 full so that they don't burst over the sides.  You should have enough for 18 regular-sized cupcakes.  Bake for about 20 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting with Honey-Cream Cheese Icing.  Don't frost if you're not eating them right away.

Honey-Cream Cheese Icing
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened 
2-4 tablespoons honey (according to taste)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
Beat the cream cheese until very smooth.  Add 2 tablespoons of the honey and the vanilla and beat until well blended.  Taste.  Add some more honey if you'd like the icing to be sweeter.  Should make enough for 18 cupcakes.