Sweet Potato Spice Bread

Sweet Potato Spice Breads

Sweet Potato Spice Breads

I’ve been spending some of my time weeding out my closets, getting rid of those oldies that I no longer wear.  Every few years I “bite the bullet’ and make some hard decisions about letting go of some favorite clothes.  Even though I loved them once, some things are no longer right because of changing fashions, changing fit, or no longer appropriate.  Ba-bye, mini skirt!

In doing this, I’ve reacquainted myself with some of my fall clothes, but strangely my jeans seem to have somehow shrunken in the closet since the last time I wore them.  Do jeans shrink from neglect?  I think so!   I’ve also rediscovered my collection of scarves.  Scarves are neck warmers and are perfectly acceptable to wear in public or at home.  Once your neck gets used to the comfort of a scarf, it feels cold without one.   I think I need a few more 🙂

Speaking of comfort and wanting to feel warm,  I’m really getting into the color orange in a big way.  Orange is such a HOT color whether you wear it or eat it.  So orange colored foods are on my wanna-eat list.  There’s no use fighting it, so let’s rediscover some old things and make them new again. Like this recipe for Sweet Potato Spice bread.  It offers a familiar comfort that I’m looking for these days.  While I’ve made this recipe many times in the past, I don’t think I’ve gotten around to sharing it with you.  This time I’ve replaced the canola oil with coconut oil, swapped out the granulated sugar for honey and some molasses and for a tad of extra spiciness I added the slightest dash of black pepper for a little mystery.  I like to layer flavors in everything I make.  Little things can make a big difference.

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An added feature of this recipe is that it makes 2 mini loaves, or 1 small loaf.  Perfect for a single person or a couple.  And its also great for gift-giving.  With the holidays not too far away, this is a recipe to save for future reference.

These sweet potatoes are the first of the season, and we love them roasted, so if I’m roasting a few sweet potatoes I roast a lot.

Roast Sweet Potatoes

Roast Sweet Potatoes

They’re great for dinner with lots of butter and a bit of broccoli, they are wonderful in Sweet potato and pecan waffles, and don’t get me started on sweet potato pie.  This recipe uses only 1/3 cup mashed sweet potato, so you can easily make these loaves with just a small amount of leftover sweet potato.

What are we waiting for?   Let’s get going…..

SWEET POTATO SPICE BREAD

Yield:   2 mini loaves:  5 3/4″ x 3″

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flourIMG_8269
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. each,  cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice
  • dash freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten  ( vegans, use egg substitute)
  • 1/3 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp. molasses
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Grease two mini loaf pans,  5 3/4″ x 3″ x 2″.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and pepper.

Don't forget that dash of black pepper!

Don’t forget that dash of black pepper!

3.  In a small bowl, combine the egg and mashed sweet potato, stirring well.  Add the honey, coconut oil, and molasses.   Whisk to incorporate.

Whisk together all the wet ingredients to blend.

Whisk together all the wet ingredients to blend.

4.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring just to moisten.

Wet meets day.

Wet meets day.

Fold in the walnuts.

5.  Divide batter between two mini loaf pans, and bake at 350*F. for 25 – 30 minutes.

Divide batter between two small loaf pans.

Divide batter between two small loaf pans.

Test with a toothpick for doneness.  Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

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SOURCE:    This recipe is of unknown origin,  It’s an adaptation of one I’ve had forever.

 

 

(Healthy) Peanut-Butter Cookies

Cookies packed into lunch boxes, cookies as after school snacks, cookies for anytime that urge for a sweet takes over.  Today we are making back to school cookies that are as “healthy” as I can make them after several attempts to take them from “big and bad” to “big and (almost) good for you”.  I really wish I could do something about eliminating those darn calories!!

We like our cookies really big around here.  I’m talkin’ Peanut Butter Cookies, here.   I like my peanut butter cookies to be really BIG. Big in diameter and big in thickness.  Thin little peanut butter cookies just don’t do it for me.  They need to be so  big that  two people can share one cookie and be satisfied with their half of it.

Are you wondering where I could have had such a cookie?  At a local Cider Mill near where I live.  Every Fall Mr. D. and I go for a ride to view the Fall foliage, and we stop at the cider mill to get apples, cider and a cookie.  Yep, just one, and we share it.  That cookie is my ideal where peanut butter cookies are concerned,  and I keep playing around with recipes trying to duplicate it.  The cookie recipe I’m presenting here comes pretty close, but they are still not quite thick enough.  I need to keep working on getting that right, but in the mean time  these are very good indeed.

First, are they chewy inside?  Check.  Are they really big?  They can be as big as you care to make them.  Are they crunchy?  Check,  I used chunky peanut butter.  How healthy are they?  Pretty healthy, really.  I used whole wheat flour for fiber (which you would never know if I didn’t tell you),  honey for some sweetness, that allowed me to cut back on the sugar, and only 4 Tablespoons of butter.  The remaining fat comes from the peanut butter and I used an “all natural” brand, so no corn syrup or other added stuff.  I used a 1/4 cup cookie scoop to measure out the dough.  The cookies spread while baking and puff up, but flatten out some as they cool so you get that chewy interior.

HEALTHY PEANUT-BUTTER COOKIES

YIELD:   about 20 cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tbs.) butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1  1/4 cup whole wheat flour ( I used white whole wheat)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • additional sugar for sprinkling on top

PREPARATION

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2.  In a large mixer bowl, beat together the sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter on low speed until well mixed.  Beat in honey and egg until well blended.

3.  Beat in as much flour as you can, then stir in the rest with a wooden spoon to create a smooth dough that is quite thick.

Ready for the oven.

4.  Measure out dough using a cookie scoop,  or form the dough into balls (about 1 1/2 inch).  Place on cookie sheets about 3 inches apart.  Flatten with a fork to form a crisscross pattern.  Sprinkle lightly with additional sugar.

Freshly baked, just out of the oven.

5.  Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until lightly browned. If cookies are really large, you may need an additional 1-2 minutes. Cool for 1 minute and remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks and cool for another 15 minutes.

 

If any of you know how to make these thicker while keeping their size, please share your secret with me.  I’m aiming for the kind of thick cookie you can get in a bakery.  Thanks, readers.

SOURCE:   This recipe is several adaptations removed from the recipe my mother used to bake.

Braised Chicken with Honey Lemon Leeks

Chicken Thighs with Honey Lemon Leeks

Chicken Thighs with Honey Lemon Leeks

Some of the earliest vegetables to be harvested from the garden are those from the onion family.  Known as alliums, there’s more to these beauties than just the round white onions that we all know.  If you peel back the layers you’ll discover the delicate flavor of leeks, chives and young green onions.  Even the flowers taste good, and they make a lovely garnish on a platter when onions are in a starring role.

 

Leeks were in abundance at the farmer’s market this week;  big, fat ones with long white stalks.

Big fat leeks, honey and lemon.

Big fat leeks, honey and lemon.

If they have been growing in particularly wet, muddy soil, they can be somewhat of a challenge to clean, requiring much rinsing to remove the grit.  However these were exceptionally clean, and I couldn’t wait to cook something with them.  Mr. D’s most favorite soup is potato-leek soup, and that is what I usually make (I probably will still make some), but I decided to give this recipe a trial run because it incorporates honey to help caramelize the leeks.

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Using chicken thighs with bone, allows you to cook this dish slowly so all the flavors blend.  Lemon partners well with the leeks, which cook twice.  They are first sautéed, then roasted to meld with the honey and lemon.  This is a dish that takes you by surprise at how “stinking” good it is;  nicely browned chicken, and tender roasted leeks nestled together.  Serve with a salad and some garlic bread, or rice and a green vegetable.  I think you will love this chicken dish.

BRAISED CHICKEN WITH HONEY-LEMON LEEKS

Yield:    serves 4

Ingredients:IMG_7318

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 8  bone-in skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 4 cups thinly sliced leek (about 3 large)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or chives (optional)

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400*F.

2.  Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat.  Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Massage lemon rind into chicken.

3.  Place chicken in pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.

Browning the chicken.

Browning the chicken.

4.  Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan swirl to coat.  Add leek and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 15 minutes or until leek begins too brown, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Remove pan from heat; stir in lemon juice and honey.

Sautéing the leeks.

Sautéing the leeks.

5.  Return chicken to pan.  Mound leeks on top of chicken thighs.  Bake at 400*F. for 20 – 25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165*, and juices run clear.   Garnish with fresh parsley or chives, if desired.

 

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SOURCE:    Cooking Light

Check out these other recipes that also incorporate leeks:

Pappardelle with Salmon and Leeks

Brown Rice Pilaf

Mushroom, Leek and Cheese Frittata

Sunshine Peach Muffins

Sunshine Peach Muffins

Sunshine Peach Muffins

Looking for something not too sweet to have with morning coffee, I came upon this recipe that features fresh peaches.  Since native peaches are still available in my area of the country, and I’m loving them used in so many different ways,  I decided to give this recipe a trial run.  The recipe’s notes state that there is ” a blast of peach in every bite of these tasty muffins”.

With my mouth watering at the thought of having one of these muffins warm from the oven with a dab of butter melting into it, I got together all the ingredients and mixed them up rather quickly.  They are easy and quick to mix up.  Into the oven they went and in 18 minutes out they came, golden brown, just as the recipe predicted.  The aroma as they baked was extremely promising that they would be delicious.  The recipe states a yield of 12 muffins, but I got only 10, filling each muffin cup 3/4’s full.  That’s OK with me, I’d rather get fewer that are large, than 12 that are small.IMG_5013

Usually when I bake something new, I let Mr. D. taste it first and I kind of watch his reaction, before I have my first bite.  Most times he’s generous with praise and comments on how good it is.  This time there was no reaction,  so I was very surprised.  I tried a bite of my muffin;  I, too, had little reaction.  We just looked at each other waiting for the other one to speak.  Why, you’re asking?  Well. they don’t taste like peach, even though you can see pieces of peach scattered throughout;  they are not sweet,  with only 2 teaspoons of honey in the whole batter I shouldn’t have expected them to be.  On the whole I would say they are rather bland.  What they are, is very light, and non filling.  I could easily eat two for breakfast and not feel full.  They are healthy with the use of whole wheat flour, honey, fresh fruit with the skin left on and low-fat milk.   These would be good for someone on a sugar-restricted diet.IMG_5015

I would say that these muffins did not live up to their promise, and on a scale of 1 – 5,  I rate them at a 3.  I leave this recipe up to you to try or not, depending on your taste and  what you are looking for.   As  cooks we all know that not everything you make is wildly successful.  For me, this is one of those recipes.

SUNSHINE PEACH MUFFINS

Yield:  12 muffins   I got 10

Ingredients:

These are the ingredients .

These are the ingredients .

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour ( I used white whole wheat)
  • 1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 fresh, very ripe peaches, pit removed, skin left on
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup  1 % milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Instructions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 *F.   Lightly grease 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper bake cups; set aside.

2.  In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.   Make a well in the center of the flour mixture;  set aside.

Mix dry ingredients, and make a well in the center.

Mix dry ingredients, and make a well in the center.

3.  In another bowl mash peaches well with honey,

Mash the peaches with the honey.

Mash the peaches with the honey.

then stir in egg, milk, and oil.  Add wet mixture all at once to flour mixture.  Stir until moistened.  Batter will be lumpy.

All the "wet" ingredients mixed together.

All the “wet” ingredients mixed together.

4.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full.

5.  Bake 18 – 20 minutes or until golden.

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6.  Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from muffin cups.  Cool slightly before serving.

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SOURCE:  relish.com

Honey-Date-Thyme Scones

Honey-Date and Thyme Scones.

Honey-Date and Thyme Scones.

Today I just had to bake something.  It didn’t have to be sweet; I simply wanted something hot and flaky fresh out of the oven.  I rationalized that if there was no sugar in it,  made with part whole wheat flour, and included honey and dates, how could it possibly be bad for me.   And also because they contain the herb thyme, these scones are technically savory, not sweet.  I will have one when they come out of the oven, the rest will be saved for breakfast(s).

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I don’t know why I’m obsessing so much about this and feeling guilty, the weight is coming off as planned, but I don’t want to hit a plateau and then say to myself, “that’s because you ate the scones”. Guess I’ll just have to chance it, because the aroma of these scones baking makes them too good to pass up.  Soooo, if you’re on a diet journey like I am and you’re craving something really good, but also good, i.e.. healthy, for you, give these a try.  And try not to feel guilty!

HONEY-DATE-THYME SCONES

Yield:  12  3″ scones

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups self-rising flour, (see below for a substitute)**
  • 1 stick salt-free butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp.  Honey,  overflowing
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, plus 12 small sprigs for decorating

**In place of self-rising flour, use 3 cups regular all-purpose flour, plus 1 Tbsp. baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt.  I used half white flour and half whole wheat flour, i.e. 1 1/2 cups of each.

Directions:

1.  Grease 2  baking sheets or line with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 350*F.

2.  Measure out flour in a large bowl.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter till coarse crumbs form.  Stir in thyme leaves.

3.  In a smaller bowl combine milk and honey and stir with a whisk to blend well.

4.  Add liquid ingredients to dry and mix lightly,  do not over mix.  If the dough remains shaggy and doesn’t come together add a drizzle of milk until it just holds together.  Stir in the dates.

5.  Turn out onto a floured board and knead 2 -3 times.  Roll out to  1 -inch thickness.

Roll out to about  1/2-inch thickness.

Roll out to about 1-inch thickness.

Cut out with a 3 – inch biscuit  cutter and place onto prepared baking sheets.

6.  Brush the tops of scones with a little milk or cream and lay a small sprig of thyme on top of each one.

Cut out with biscuit cutter. Brush tops with milk, and garnish with sprig of thyme.

Cut out with biscuit cutter. Brush tops with milk, and garnish with sprig of thyme.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 350*.    My scones were perfectly baked at 20 minutes.

Browned and flaky, fresh out of the oven.

Browned and flaky, fresh out of the oven.

Serve warm with  a little butter to melt into all the crevices.

Serve warm with a little butter to melt into all the crevices.

SOURCE:    slightly adapted from   lepirate.com  (blog)

Spiced Honey-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Spiced Honey Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Spiced Honey Glazed
Sweet Potatoes

Up until just recently  the most common way that we eat sweet potatoes is baked whole.  I treat them as I would  regular baked potatoes, split and served with butter and maybe a sprinkle of brown sugar.  One of the many recipes I looked at for holiday side dishes was this one for sweet potatoes baked in a honey spice sauce.  I took it for a spin and was rewarded by how good it turned out.  Besides being a good compliment to turkey or chicken, I think it would also go very well with ham or pork roast.  My husband said he likes sweet potatoes fixed this way better than baked whole as I had been doing, so this will most likely be my go-to recipe for sweet potatoes from here on.

It takes a few minutes of prep time to peel the potatoes and cut them into wedges.  Once placed in a shallow baking dish, I made the sauce in the microwave and poured it over the potatoes;  placed the whole thing in the oven and let them bake for about 30 -40 minutes, stirring and basting with the sauce 2-3 times.  They will come out tender, glazed, sweet, spicy and so, so good.  If you or someone you know doesn’t like sweet potatoes, try them this way and I think you will become a convert.

SPICED HONEY-GLAZED SWEET POTATOES

EVERYDAY FOOD

SERVINGS:    8

  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 ) peeled and cut into 3/4-inch wedges

    Cut sweet potatoes into thin wedges.

    Cut sweet potatoes into thin wedges.

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 stick ( 4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 3-4 dried bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • coarse salt and pepper

1.   Grease a shallow baking dish, or rimmed baking sheet.   Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  In a small sauce pan, bring honey, butter, bay leaves, allspice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to simmer over medium heat.  ( I used the microwave for this step)

Pour sauce over sweet potatoes.

Pour sauce over sweet potatoes.

3.  Pour mixture over the potatoes and bake until tender and glazed about 30 minutes, stirring and turning several times.

Spiced Honey Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Spiced Honey Glazed
Sweet Potatoes

OOOOOH, Baby!

Dutch Baby Pancake with Plum Compote

Ooooooh,Baby, oh,baby!  Dutch Baby, that is.  A puffy, soufflé -like pancake for breakfast, brunch, or anytime at all.  The one I made for a treat recently had my fave fruit in the batter, (peaches) and a stone fruit (plums) compote to spoon on top when served.  This is so fun to make.  I love the way it puffs up in the oven, and then immediately starts to deflate when you take it out.  That’s what its supposed to do–forming a depression in the center that you can fill with all kinds of good things.  Like fruits, jam, syrup, or even sautéed vegetables if serving it as a lunch or dinner entree.

The title given to the recipe I used is Peach Dutch Baby Pancake with Cherry Compote.  I didn’t have, nor could I find, any cherries, so I substituted plums.  A little tart and a little sweet, beautiful pink color,  they worked for me and tasted wonderful.  It occurred to me after tasting it that this compote would make a good topping for ice-cream also.

COMPOTE

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2  3-inch strips lemon peel
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) cherries (about 1 lb.), stemmed, pitted, halved
  • or substitute an equal amount of another stone fruit, such as plums, nectarines, peaches, apricots

1.  Bring honey, lemon peel and lemon juice plus 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small heavy saucepan.

2.  Add fruit and simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until sauce is syrupy, about 15 minutes.

3.  Transfer compote to a medium bowl and chill.

4.  To make ahead:  Compote can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and chill,  Remove lemon peel just before serving.

PANCAKE

  • 4 Tablespoons, ( 1/2 stick ) butter, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2  peaches, halved, pitted, cut in to 1/4″-thick wedges
  • powdered sugar for dusting

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave;  pour into a blender container.  Add eggs, flour, milk, 1 Tablespoon sugar, vanilla, and salt. Blend batter till smooth;  leave in the blender and set aside.

2.  Heat a 12-inch cast-iron ( or other oven-proof) skillet over medium heat.  Add remaining 2 Tablespoons butter and remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until sugar starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes.

Add peaches to skillet; increase heat to medium-high and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.

3.  Briefly reblend pancake batter.  Pour evenly over peaches and transfer to oven.

4.  Bake pancake until puffed and golden brown all over, 17-20 minutes.

It will deflate as soon as it’s removed from the oven. Dust pancake with powdered sugar and serve immediately.  Serve with compote alongside.

Dutch Baby Pancake with Plum Compote

SOURCE:    Bon Appetit,  August, 2012

Honey Bars

Having made these bars several times over the past few months, I can vouch for their popularity, and delicious combination of flavors.  They have become my go-to recipe for when I or my husband need to contribute something to a pot-luck event.  We always get asked for the recipe.  Try them—and they just might become your new favorite bar cookie, too.

Dough

  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey   (hint:  measure the oil in a 1 cup measure, add the honey, then pour both out together, and the honey will slide right out.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 10” x 15” jelly roll pan.

  1. Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, combine the oil, honey, sugar, and egg until well blended.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until they’re incorporated.
  4. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan (grease your hand first, then pat the dough into place).

      5.  Bake for 16-18 minutes, until the top of the center looks dry.  The bars will puff up, then fall a bit when they come out of the oven; this is how they should be.

      6.  While the bars are baking, make the glaze.  Mix all the glaze ingredients together.  When the bars come out of the oven pour the glaze over the top and spread evenly.   An off-set spatula or pastry brush will help with this.

      A note here:  Yes, the glaze really does contain mayonnaise, and nothing else will do to get that unique flavor.  If you must use a vegan version, canola, soyannaise, or Miracle Whip will do, but do not leave it out, and substitute something else.

Cool for 15-20 minutes before cutting into squares. ( 6 rows down by 9 rows across).  You can trim the outer 1/2” all the way around the pan to get a more uniform result.  Yield;  54 squares plus trimmings.

Source:  The Baking Sheet from King Arthur