Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I know, I know, everything is pumpkin this time of year. But fall really is my favorite season and pumpkin plays a big role in that. Unfortunately we don’t have much of a New England style fall here in the southern US, and I greatly miss the gorgeous foliage and crisp fall air, but I can infuse some autumn atmosphere into my life with pumpkin goodness. And this Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread sure does bring goodness!

Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

This is my first chance to join in with the “What’s Baking” group and the theme for the month was pumpkin. Can you tell I was disappointed? Ha. I was super excited because I absolutely love baking with pumpkin. I buy cans and cans of pumpkin puree each fall and try to test out a few new recipes each year. My first for this year was this pumpkin bread. I’ve made different pumpkin breads before but this one just takes the cake. This recipe is adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book so I was pretty sure it was going to be a winner and it did not disappoint. The streusel topping to the bread lends a surprising and delightful texture and crunch. The cream cheese and buttermilk make this cake moist and counteract the sometimes metallic taste you can get from pumpkin baked goods after using canned pumpkin puree. Perfection!

Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

This recipe made two glorious loaves of pumpkin bread. I brought one to work and it was devoured rather quickly. Comments included “other worldly” and “two enthusiastic thumbs up.” Yes folks, I’m not making these reviews up. So you have got to try this recipe this pumpkin season. And I sure do hope to share some more pumpkin treats with you…if my colleagues don’t eat them all before I get photos!

Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

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Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book)

Yield: 2 loaves

For the topping:

5 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

For the bread:

Nonstick cooking spray

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 15 ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

4 ounces cream cheese (low-fat works fine), cut into 12 pieces

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

¼ cup buttermilk

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl. Work together with your fingers until the consistency is like coarse sand. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare 2 loaf pans (9×5-inch) with nonstick spray.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda in bowl and set aside.
  4. In a large saucepan, combine the pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened and reduced, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese, sugars, and oil. Stir slightly to start the cream cheese melting, then let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Beat the eggs and buttermilk together in a bowl, then stir into the pumpkin mixture. Fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture and whisk until all the ingredients are combined and the consistency is homogenous.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Divide the batter between the 2 prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle the topping over each loaf.
  8. Bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean (may have some melted chocolate), about 45-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool for another hour.

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If you love pumpkin like I do, find more pumpkin recipes on the Dinner Pages! Happy fall!

 

What's Baking Badge

Apple Streusel Coffee Cake (Wild Huckleberry Streusel Sunday Coffee Cake)

homebaker1

As my readers know, I participate in the Home Bakers group (when time allows) and we are cooking our way through the book Coffee Cakes, with a different blogger hosting each month. Well this month it’s my turn to host, so I am excited to share with you the recipe of the month, Wild Huckleberry-Streusel Sunday Coffee Cake.

Apple Streusel Coffee Cake

So why, might you ask, is this recipe titled Apple Streusel Coffee Cake? Easy answer. I have no idea where to find a huckleberry around here and honestly it’s the fall and blueberries and raspberries just aren’t really in season anymore and apples are delicious and abundant. I modified the original recipe to allow for apples, but I’ll share the original recipe here too in case you happen to have a supply of huckleberries.

Apple Streusel Coffee Cake

Regardless of the fruit, this cake is really amazing! The cake is moist and light and contrasts beautifully with the crunchy streusel topping. I brought it into to work for another brunch potluck and it was gone before lunch! And my family was quite jealous that I baked such a delicious cake to bring to work instead of share with them.

The main difference between the original recipe and my apple version was that I actually cooked the apples before adding to the batter which isn’t necessary for berries. I just wanted to make sure the apples wouldn’t be too crisp after baking. If you enjoy sauteed apples, that part of the recipe stands alone perfectly. You can adjust the spices a bit and serve it as a side dish or dessert.

Apple Streusel Coffee Cake

Feel free to check out everyone else’s interpretations of this recipe at the Home Bakers site. And don’t forget to come back to The Dinner Pages soon for another delightful fall recipe to add to your repertoire.

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Wild Huckleberry-Streusel Sunday Coffee Cake (adapted from Coffee Cakes)

Yield: one 9-inch round cake (serves 8)

For the cake

nonstick cooking spray

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cups fresh wild huckleberries, blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, loganberries, raspberries, red currants, or pitted sour cherries

For the streusel topping

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, plus 10 pecan or walnut halves

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick spray (or butter and flour the pan).

2. Cream together the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and orange zest and beat well.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, in 3 additions, starting and ending with dry ingredients, and beat until combined. Stir in the berries. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pie pan.

4. Combine the flour, butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl, the cut in the butter and crumble the mixture between your fingers until it looks like coarse sand, then stir in the chopped nuts. Sprinkle over the batter and top with the nut halves.

5. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes. Then cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

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Apple Streusel Coffee Cake (adapted from Coffee Cakes)

Yield: one 9-inch round cake (serves 8)

For the cake

nonstick cooking spray

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, divided

2 large crisp apples (I used Jonagold)

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup buttermilk

For the streusel topping

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, plus 10 pecan or walnut halves

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick spray (or butter and flour the pan).

2. Melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of the butter into a large deep skillet over medium heat. Then add the apples, coat with butter, turn the heat to low, then cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, add the brown sugar and cinnamon and raise the heat back to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender and glazed, for about 10 minutes more. Let cool slightly.

3. Cream together the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, in 3 additions, starting and ending with dry ingredients, and beat until combined. Stir in the apples. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pie pan.

5. Combine the flour, butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl, the cut in the butter and crumble the mixture between your fingers until it looks like coarse sand, then stir in the chopped nuts. Sprinkle over the batter and top with the nut halves.

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes. Then cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

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Read more about coffee cakes on The Dinner Pages…

Elmo Cake and Cookie Monster Cupcakes

My little boy turned TWO last week! To celebrate, we threw him a Sesame Street themed birthday party over the weekend. Since our house is totally not unpacked or visitor ready, we had the party at a local burger place where the kids had a fenced in astro-turfed yard to run around and I just had to provide dessert and decor. It was a fun time and I am pretty happy with how the Elmo and Cookie Monster treats turned out.

Cookie Monster cupcakes

For the Elmo cake, I bought the pan at Michael’s. I whipped up a batch of the same Martha Stewart white cake I use for my son’s smash cake for his 1st birthday and made buttercream frosting, which I tinted black for Elmo’s pupils and mouth, orange for his nose, and red for his furry face. I used a spatula to apply all the frosting except for the red. For the red face I used a star tip from my cake decorating kit but the great thing about it was that the imperfections in my decorating ability looked just fine because Elmo is supposed to appear fuzzy and loved!

Elmo Cake

Preparations for the Cookie Monster cupcakes started a day earlier with a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I just followed the recipe on the bag of chips and I tried to slightly overbake them because I wanted crisper cookies for Cookie’s mouth. The cupcakes were Martha Stewart’s chocolate chip cupcakes and I used another batch of the same buttercream, this time tinted blue for Cookie Monster’s furry face, again decorating the face with the star tip. For his eyes I used white Wilton melts from Michael’s. I bought one of those edible markers for the pupils but it didn’t work on the melt. I should have bought black icing but I didn’t and since it was after Michael’s closed for the night, and I already had completed an emergency supermarket run for more butter after a measuring mishap, I used leftover black frosting from Elmo’s mouth, piped on with a small round cake decorating tip. Don’t forget that Cookie’s eyes are supposed to be googly and uneven! I thought they looked better applied to the cupcake at a slight slant instead of flat.

Cookie Monster Cupcakes

I didn’t get to do a ton of crafting for this party due to lack to time, but I’ll share the two things I did get to finish. First, I made a Cookie Monster holding a ‘2’ on the Cricut. Also, I made these cute little Cookie Monster faces with the Cricut (both from the Sesame Street fonts digital set) which I attached to a sack of cookies. I baked chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, and honey cookies (recipe to follow soon) to fill up these favors. We also had Sesame Street books for the younger kids.

Cookie Monster sign

 

Cookie Monster favors

By the way, the white cake batter for the Elmo cake works great in other forms as well. I baked it into one of those big cupcake molds (a double recipe) last year for my son’s 1st birthday and it would be great baked into regular cake pans as well. It is such an easy cake to throw together that you definitely don’t need a mix!

1st birthday cake

I found so many great Sesame Street party ideas on Pinterest, most of which will remain in my Pinterest folder unattempted, but I’ll be adding these pictures to the mix in the hopes I can help out other parents planning their child’s Sesame Street party. Hope these treats will bring “Sunny Days” and “sweep the clouds away.” Happy Birthday to my adorable son!

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Elmo Cake (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cakes)

Yield: 1 Elmo cake (serves 12)

For the cake:

nonstick cooking spray (I used Baker’s Joy with flour)

1/2 cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup skim milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) softened unsalted butter

1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Wilton Icing Colors in No-Taste Red, Orange, and Black

light corn syrup (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat the Elmo pan with nonstick spray (either one that includes flour or dust with flour).

2. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer, then add the eggs and beat until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and beat until just combined. Then add the milk and vanilla and beat until smooth and homogenous.

3. Pour the batter until the Elmo pan and bake for approximately 35 minutes, until the cake is golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes then carefully run a small spatula or knife around the edges, place a wire cooling rack against the cake and turn both the cooling rack and Elmo pan over. Carefully remove the pan. Now you’ll see Elmo’s face. Let the cake cool for at least 1 hour. Then carefully transfer to whatever dish you will be serving the cake on and slide 3 pieces of parchment under the edges to help with any frosting overflow while decorating.

4. Meanwhile, make the frosting by beating butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy. Then reduce the speed to medium and slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, increasing the speed to high for a few seconds every so often to help the frosting become light and airy. Then add the vanilla and beat until smooth.

5. Remove 1/2 cup of frosting from the bowl to a smaller bowl and add black tint until desired color is achieved. Then, if desired, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of corn syrup to help thin the frosting (also it helps make it glossy). Smooth the black frosting over Elmo’s mouth with an offset spatula (it’s okay to color out of the lines a little because you can cover it up with red frosting later). Make sure to save some black for Elmo’s eyes too.

6. Next frost his eyes with the white frosting, again smoothing it with the spatula. Make room for his pupils and pipe/smooth a circle of black frosting onto each eyeball.

7. For Elmo’s nose, set aside 1/4 cup of frosting and tint it orange until desired color is achieved. Then smooth the frosting onto his nose.

8. Finally, tint the remainder of the frosting red and thin, if desired, with 3/4 teaspoon light corn syrup. Either smooth it onto his face with a spatula or use a star tip (I used Wilton #21) to fill in the remaining unfrosted areas with red buttercream. Remove the parchment.

9. Make your child really happy!

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Cookie Monster Cupcakes (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)

Yield: 30 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

3 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon cake flour, divided

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons skim milk

1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) softened unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

5 large egg whites (I attempted to use the liquid egg whites first but they didn’t beat up nicely so I’d recommend using real eggs)

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the decorations:

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) softened unsalted butter

1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Wilton Icing Color in Royal Blue

Wilton Candy Melts (white)-1 bag

Black frosting (either leftover from Elmo cake or purchased separately. Alternately, set aside some of the frosting before tinting it blue and tint it black)

Chocolate chip cookie fragments (see recipe below)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners (blue if possible, for the ultimate Cookie Monster effect). Whisk together 3 1/4 cups cake flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

2. Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla to the milk. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 additions, beating after each addition. Set aside.

3. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cake batter until just combined. Toss the chocolate chips with the remaining tablespoon of cake flour and gently fold into the cake batter.

4. Divide the batter among the cups, approximately 1/3 cup of batter in each. Bake for about 22 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean and the tops of the cupcakes are springy to the touch. Let cool completely before frosting.

5. For the frosting, beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy. Then reduce the speed to medium and slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, increasing the speed to high for a few seconds every so often to help the frosting become light and airy. Then add the vanilla and beat until smooth. Finally, add the blue tint until you have achieved the desired hue. I had to hold a stuffed Cookie Monster up next to my mixing bowl until I got the color just right!

6. Once the cupcakes have cooled, either spread the frosting on top with an offset spatula or pipe on top with a star cake decorating tip (I used Wilton #21). Gently insert the Wilton candy melts in at an angle for his eyes. Pipe black frosting for the pupils (remember his eyes are uneven). Pop a piece of chocolate chip cookie in for his mouth and enjoy the cuteness!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats (like Silpat).

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and the sugars and beat until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Add in the chocolate chips.

3. Drop by spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 12 minutes or until desired doneness. For Cookie Monster cookies, a little crispier is preferable.

4. Let cool on wire racks.

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Apple Basil Potato Kugel

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Next week marks the start of the Jewish year, Rosh Hashanah. Apples are a traditional part of the holiday because they represent a sweet start to the year (especially when dipped in honey) and hark back to the Garden of Eden. Kugels, which are a baked pudding or casserole, are a traditional Jewish food as well. In my family, we enjoy potato kugel at least one night of Rosh Hashanah. So when I was brainstorming for this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge, where I had to come up with a recipe melding apples and basil, I decided to put a twist on my typical potato kugel with the addition of apples and basil.

Apple Basil Potato Kugel

This kugel recipe was my grandmother’s, though when she typed it out (as she did with many of her recipes…clearly the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…) she attributed it to Margaret’s niece. So, Margaret’s niece, if you’re reading this, thanks for the great recipe. We enjoy it every year!

Apple Basil Potato Kugel

I used to grate potatoes and onions by hand, but really, there’s no need to work that hard…or add a hint of blood to the dish. This time I used my Cuisinart food processor with the grating blade and saved a ton of time! I highly recommend using the food processor for the grating step if you have one available.

Swapping out a potato for an apple makes this kugel, which can be on the heavier side, a bit lighter in taste. The basil adds a unexpected burst of freshness as well. Try this kugel as a side dish for your holiday dinner, or any meal. L’Shana Tova (have a good year)!

Apple Basil Potato Kugel

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Apple Basil Potato Kugel

Yield: 12 servings

nonstick cooking spray

3 large russet potatoes

2 medium apples (I used gala)

1 onion

3 large eggs

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup lightly packed basil chiffonade (basil sliced into thin strips)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat an 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Grate peeled potatoes, peeled and cored apples, and the onion into a bowl. Beat the eggs and add to the potato mixture, along with the flour, salt, pepper, olive oil, and basil.

3. Place in the baking dish and bake for at least 1 hour or until light brown and crisp.

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HunngryLittleGirl

French Galette with Cherry-Almond Topping

homebaker1

Along with my break from blogging altogether, I also took a break from various bake-alongs this summer and I really missed the comraderie of baking something “together” from across the world! So since this next cake, French Galette with Cherry-Almond Topping, from The Home Bakers sounded tasty, I decided to give it a whirl and get back into the swing of things. It just so happened that I hosted an impromptu dinner for some friends on Labor Day and this treat made a perfect dessert to follow Chicken and Basil Stir Fry along with a Asian themed salad and rice.

So what is a galette? My au pair asked me that as I was preparing it. I always thought it was a free form flat pie or tart, which according to “the internet” is pretty much correct, though it can also be a bread or cake. Though this recipe was taken from the Coffee Cakes cookbook, I expected the crust was going to be a little more pie-like and less dough-like however actually, it came out perfect just as it was, though it’s more like a sweet pizza dough in texture and appearance than a pie or cake.

French Galette with Cherry-Almond Topping

I let yeast bloom in warm water with a pinch of sugar, then using the mixing blade of my stand mixer, I beat in margarine, sugar, an egg, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg. I used freshly grated nutmeg and it smelled amazing, though the regular ground nutmeg would work fine as well. Finally I beat in flour. The dough was a bit sticky and rough. The original recipe recommends placing the dough onto a floured board and kneading at that point, but to save time and clean-up, I switched from the mixing blade to the dough hook, and let it knead itself for a few minutes. The dough became much smoother and elastic and less sticky and then I turned it into a greased bowl, covered it with a towel, and let it rise for about an hour.

After it rose, I punched it down, kneaded it slightly with floured hands, and then formed it into a 12-inch round and fit it onto a greased pizza pan. Since a galette is supposed to be free form and somewhat rustic, I didn’t bother to roll it out with a rolling pin but rather stretched and shaped it into a round with my hands, trying to keep the thickness fairly even throughout.

Then I spread softened margarine over the entire surface, leaving a slight rim at the edges (a la pizza crust), then sprinkled sugar, dried cherries, and blanched almond slivers atop, along with a pinch of cinnamon. One thing I really appreciated about this recipe is that there are unlimited options for topping the dough. I just stuck with the recipe this time just to see how it worked but I guarantee that other fruits or types of nuts would be great. I am picturing an iteration with chocolate in my future. Yum!

After letting the topped dough sit for a little longer, I baked it at high heat for 6 minutes. The aroma was amazing–I felt like I was walking past the pretzel store at the mall with the buttery dough scent emerging from my oven and the cake was beautiful. The crust puffed up and became golden brown. Watch this step closely because it cooks really fast!

French Galette with Cherry-Almond Topping

I cut it up into pizza-style slices and served fresh from the oven with ice cream. This cake is not overly sweet and the cold ice cream was the perfect compliment to the warm cake. Enjoy!

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French Galette with Cherry-Almond Topping (adapted from Coffee Cakes)

Yield: one 12-inch flatbread (serves 6-8)

For the dough
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

6 tablespoons warm water (105-115F)

pinch of sugar, plus 3 tablespoons

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted margarine or butter (I used margarine to keep this dessert dairy free) at room temperature

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping

2 tablespoons unsalted margarine or butter at room temperature

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (I used slivered blanched almonds)

pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

Please see Frozen Wings for the full directions for this recipe.

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Check out The Home Bakers and see other interpretations of French Galette with Cherry-Almond Topping!

If you love “coffee cakes”, try my Milk Chocolate-Walnut Coffee Cake, Blueberry Stresel Coffee Cake, and Chocolate-Almond Souffle Cake.

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake

Welcome back to The Dinner Pages! Yes, my little blog has been very neglected lately. Let’s just say I have had a lot on my (dinner) plate…moving halfway across the country alone with a toddler, trying to sell one house and buy another, and starting a new job.

Most of my favorite cooking tools spent the summer on a moving truck, in storage, then on another truck and now are, little by little, finding my way into the cabinets in my new kitchen…there’s still one box containing my favorite cookbooks that’s unaccounted for and I hope the movers hid it in the masses of boxes in my garage because I’m going to be sad if I need to replace more than a dozen books that had lots of my personal annotations inside. The great thing is that thanks to this blog I have an inventory of my cookbooks easily at hand so I can definitely tell if something’s missing!

The other issue is that I don’t have internet at my new place just yet. I don’t know what is going on with AT&T right now but I’ve been waiting over a month and…nothing. Any thoughts on how to move them along?

So there’s my list of excuses why The Dinner Pages has been MIA. The good news is that my husband finally arrived and now I have a little bit more time (in between opening up and unpacking the 270 boxes and working full time) to cook and write about it! This summer has been rough but things are looking up now. :-)

I really wanted to share one of my all-time favorite recipes with you before summer totally ends, Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake. I grew up with my mom baking this cake each summer and I learned the recipe from her. Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake is a sweet treat that I bake several times each summer. It’s easy and delicious and travels really well, so I find myself making it to bring to barbecues and work potlucks, as well as for my family. Despite my minimal access to cooking tools this summer, I still figured out how to make this cake twice while living in limbo. It disappeared from my work brunch in minutes. Yum. I also really love to refrigerate it and eat it chilled the next day. The crispy streusel topping is delicious with the cold blueberries.

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake

So welcome back to The Dinner Pages. Hopefully it won’t be so long before I share another delicious recipe with you. Despite my hiatus I’ve still been cooking from time to time and coming up with lots of ideas to share with you! Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend and enjoy this bit of summer in a cake!

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake

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Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake 

Yield: one 8-inch square cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup margarine or butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 heaping cup fresh blueberries, washed

FOR TOPPING:

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons margarine or butter

Directions:

1. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

2. Cream margarine and sugar together. Add egg and beat well.

3. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, in 4 or 5 portions, beginning and ending with flour, beating thoroughly after each addition.

4. Turn into a well-greased 8-inch square cake pan. Add lemon juice to the blueberries. Scatter over batter.

5. Prepare streusel topping by combining sugar with flour, salt, and cinnamon. Add margarine and work together into a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle over top of blueberries.

6. Bake at 375F for 40 minutes.

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Chicken and Basil Stir Fry

This recipe for Chicken and Basil Stir-Fry is quite possibly my favorite chicken recipe ever! It is so quick and simple to make and the flavors come together so beautifully.

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I’m a huge fan of basil. It adds such a wonderful light and summery flavor to lots of dishes. Caprese salad is one of my favorite uses for basil and my favorite Thai restaurant has Basil Fried Rice which is amazing! At my old house, we had extremely hearty basil! The original plant went to seed and the seeds spread throughout my yard. The lawn had various crops of basil (which made mowing it a teeny bit more pleasant thanks to the lovely fragrance) and one plant had a trunk. Yes, it was such a large and healthy plant that it had an actual trunk with tons of basil growing from it! I really miss that. We’re just coming out of winter here and I have no herb garden at the moment. I had to buy basil from the supermarket for this recipe and it was disappointing. I mean, the chicken was still perfect, but within a day of buying the basil, the leaves were wilted, even after putting it in water. Sad. Bottom line, I suppose, is grow your own basil. We will be doing that again soon for sure!

Basil Chicken

Anyway, for this recipe, I cut up a pound of boneless skinless chicken thighs into 1-inch cubes, then combined them with soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl. After heating oil in a wok, I stir fried the chicken with garlic until cooked through, then added in chili powder and hoisin sauce. You can also add a chopped up fresh red chili pepper which we’ve done in the past and it’s delicious but to make this more kid friendly I omitted it this time around (and my son still burnt his tongue on the rice. Oops).

Finally, after everything was cooked, I removed the wok from the burner and stirred in thinly sliced fresh basil.

I don’t know what it is about this recipe but the flavors meld together so well. You wouldn’t think it initially, but the basil adds the perfect touch at the end of the cooking process and is really key to bringing all the flavors together. And without the chili pepper it really was kid friendly. After my son recovered from the hot rice incident, he shoveled these little chicken chunks into his mouth with glee! So my food critics were happy and I was too! No leftovers here! Enjoy this quick, simple, and surprisingly flavorful dinner tonight!

Basil Chicken

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Chicken and Basil Stir Fry (adapted from Step-by-Step Asian Cookbook)

Yield: serves 3-4

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes or thin strips

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon peanut oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 fresh red chili, seeded and minced (optional)

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

small bunch of basil leaves, thinly sliced

steamed rice, for serving

Directions:

1. Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes. Place them in a bowl with soy sauce and cornstarch and stir to combine.

2. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Stir fry the chicken, garlic, and chili pepper if using for 8-10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

3. Add the chili powder and hoisin and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the sliced basil. Serve over rice.

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