Coffeecake LOADED with streusel

6 Nov

I had THREE pieces in one day! Zach had two pieces. Which means the two of us ate nearly half of a 9×13 pan! I think that should be a pretty dang good indicator of how freaking delicious it is!

Not enough? Okay, how about the fact that I gave up having a bun with burger so that I could save my bread serving for coffeecake! And then decided it was legit to have a piece of coffeecake in replacement for both the top and bottom parts of the bun. Meaning my dinner consisted of a bun-less burger and two pieces of coffeecake! And I hereby vote this the best dinner of 2011!

And yes that is a little brown sugar layer in the middle! Pretty essential given the thickness of the coffeecake! Perfect way to break up the cakey-ness!

This morning was the first time that I have actually drank a cup of coffee with my coffeecake! Bitterness of the coffee. Sweetness of the cake. Makes for a perfect pair!

Literally ate a bite of cake, took a sip of coffee, and repeated (multiple times of course!)

Cinnamon Struesel Coffeecake

Streusel:

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon cinnamon

6 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cocoa

Cake:

3/4 cup butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs

 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup sour cream

1 1/4 cup milk

3 3/4 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Make the topping by whisking together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter, stirring till well combined. Set the topping aside.

Make the filling by mixing together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Set the filling aside.

To make the cake, in a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time. Beating well after adding each egg.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and milk till well combined. You don’t need to whisk out all the lumps.

Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/sour cream mixture, beating gently to combine.

Spread half the batter (a scant 3 cups) into the prepared pan, spreading all the way to the edges. Sprinkle the filling on top of the batter. Spread the remaining batter atop the filling. Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter. Don’t combine filling and batter thoroughly; just swirl the filling through the batter. Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.

Bake for 55-60 minutes. Make sure to test with a toothpick or cake tester. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm with a little butter on top and a cup of hot coffee!

Source: King Arthur Flour

Christmas Baking in November

5 Nov

Men go hunting. And women start baking! It has become an annual tradition for my mom, sister, and I to bake massive amounts of Christmas cookies in November! Then we freeze them and hope there are at least a few left  by the time Christmas finally rolls around!

SEVEN bowls of cookie dough! Yes, we are insane! Usually we tackle three or four kinds of cookies in a day. But apparently this year we decided to whip out the big guns!

My mom, the master cookie maker! These six batches of cookies is just the beginning for this lady! Usually she ends up with about fifteen kinds! Her cookie platters are the ones we all dream of diving into!

And a little sneak peak of a few of the cookies!

Reese’s peanut butter cups wrapped in a peanut butter cookie! De-licious!

Mint chocolate chip cookies rolled in sugar!

Classic spritz cookies!

And the chocolate cookies with a peanut butter surprise (before they received their beautiful powdered sugar dusting!)

What a day! Who knew a full day of baking could be so exhausting! And it doesn’t help that I have about a pound of dough sitting in my tummy!

Role Switcheroo

4 Nov

Yesterday morning as I was eating breakfast and surfing the net I discovered it was National Men Make Dinner Day! wwhhhaaatttt! Didn’t know such a day even existed! But I was pumped! I immediately grabbed my phone and texted the hubby! And his response “I would love to make you dinner tonight! I will be home by 6:30!” yessss! I was off the hook again!

Then the guilt kicked in. I have the day off from work and at home doing nothing. He’s at work all day racking his brain. And then I expect him to make me dinner while I sit back and sip some wine. Something wrong with this picture.

So I set off to do him a little favor as well!

When we were looking at houses to buy we made a big list of things we would want our dream home to have. One of those things being a yard with mature trees. Can someone remind of why we wanted that? I’m not gonna lie, it sure is nice having the shade during the summer. But dang, there are A LOT of leaves on those trees!

And the look on his face when he walked in the door was priceless! Of course I strategically left the rake sitting out in the garage so he would see it and take a look in the backyard! I must say, he was very impressed! Score one point for the wife! (now it’s his task to suck ’em all up with the leaf eatin’ machine and haul them to the yard waste site!)

And now for National Men Make Dinner Day…..

Zach dinner choice took us a little trip back to Italy! A good ‘ol authentic Italian meal! Pasta with an olive oil, pesto, and parmesan sauce!

One of our last days in Italy our tour took us along the Amalfi Coast to beautiful Positano! At one of the rest stops along the way there was a little fresh fruit stand that also sold dry herb and seasoning packets! I walked away with a bag of juicy cherries and two herb packets! One of them being pesto!

Delicious! Bursting with basil flavor! And so easy! Just needed to add a little olive oil!

I think I could get used to him cooking dinner every night!

thee most amazing apple bars!

3 Nov

A couple of weeks ago Zach and I spent a Sunday afternoon visiting my grandma! And as usual, she insisted on making us dinner. Definitely not necessary, but something I will never turn down! Love my grandma’s cooking! Always a good ‘ol hearty comfort food meal!

And she never, ever forgets dessert! We both have the same bad habit of needing to end a meal with a little sugary goodness!

That Sunday afternoon she had a pan of these delicious apple bars for dessert. Unfortunately I had had a second helping of hotdish and was absolutely stuffed! Almost to the point of misery. And it killed me to have to say “no thank you” when she offered these bars. Three words that very rarely come out of my mouth at her house!

Thankfully she offered to send a few home with us! And of course I ate all four of them! One bar each day and suddenly the plate was empty. Weird how that always seems to happen!

Thick shortbread crust. Layer of soft apples. Topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar! How could not love them!

After finishing the fourth bar I dialed up my grandma and requested the recipe!

 

Apple Bars

Crust:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 1/2 tablespoons margarine

1 cup sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and sugar. Using a pastry cutter, cut the margarine into the flour mixture. Mix in the slightly beaten egg. Mixture will still be very crumbly. Press into a greased 9×13 cake pan.

Cut up five peeled apples into quarter-inch slices. Line the crust with a single layer of apples. 

Topping:

4 tablespoons margarine

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all three ingredients together until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the apples.

Bake at 350 degrees for forty minutes. Halfway through press the apples with the back of a tablespoon. Return to the oven for the remaining time.

Lettuce Wraps

3 Nov

I absolutely love, love Chinese food, but absolutely hate that two hours later my fingers have swelled and my ring is stuck. I’m not a huge salt person (but I am a huge sugar person!) I never add it to recipes when baking, rarely crave chips, and haven’t filled the salt shaker in over two years.

A couple weeks ago I sampled the lettuce wraps at P.F. Changs and while the flavor was wonderful, they were a little heavy on the salt and grease for my likings. I knew I had to recreate a low-sodium version at home!

The base of this recipe is from a coworker who is married to a Japanese gentleman! I just added a few minor twists to the recipe with the additions of honey, green onions, and peanuts!

A wonderful light, but highly satisfying dinner option!!

Lettuce Wraps

2 pounds ground chicken

1/2 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup hoisin sauce

4 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon honey

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

2 tablespoons chopped green onions

handful of chopped peanuts

romaine lettuce leaves

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground chicken and chopped onion. When the chicken is done browning, drain off any excess grease/juice.

In a small bowl, mix together hoisin sauce, sesame oil, honey, minced garlic, and grated ginger. Whisk together and pour over chicken. Add green onions and chopped peanuts to the mixture. Mix until chicken is evenly coated with sauce. Allow to heat through.

Spoon mixture down the middle of romaine leaves. Roll together and enjoy!

Finally decided to give it a whirl…

29 Oct

Peanut butter on bananas equals YUM! Peanut butter on toast equals YUM! But bananas on toast, not so sure about this one.

A number of the health and fitness blogs that I read every day show toast with peanut butter and bananas as their breakfast of choice! And I’ve always been a bit skeptical. Just seems like kind of a weird combination.

But today was the day! I got home from running some errands and was absolutely ravenous! Only had a few minutes to spare before I started eating my arm. Saw a banana in the fruit bowl and decided to give the infamous toast, peanut butter, and bananas a whirl!

And now I know why they all eat it for breakfast! Because it is freakin’ good!

The banana kind of balances out the stickiness of the peanut butter. So it doesn’t feel like your swallowing a golf ball. Slides down real niiiiccce!

And I can only imagine how good it will be when I have it tomorrow morning with a cup of steaming hot coffee!

Friday Fun!

28 Oct

I had the privilege of spending my Friday morning with two adorable little tikes! Quite possibly the cutest kids ever! And of course I think that, because they are my niece and nephew! And I love them to death!

Now don’t you agree? Fake “cheese” smile and all! At least today he let me take his picture! Which isn’t always the case. Usually he covers his face or runs the opposite direction. Little stinker!

His eyes were barely open this morning and he was already begging to play with playdough! Love that stuff! Brings me right back to the good ‘ol days of making spaghetti and meatballs and having my grandma take a bite! And yes she actually sank her teeth into it!

She woke up grinning from ear to ear and thankfully it continued most of the morning! This little bumbo chair is the niftiest thing ever! And she absolutely loves it!

Place her in the bumbo chair in front of some cartoons, and she will be totally content! Stared at the tv for an hour without a single peep!

But the best part of the day was….Whipping up a batch of cupcakes with my ‘lil buddy! Apparently baking is his new favorite thing! And boy does he have a sweet tooth! Obviously we share the same genes!