Sunday, February 12

Maple Bacon Bars




Facebook is becoming way too important to so many people, myself included. Sure it is wonderful to be able to keep in touch with friends and family, share funny things about our day, pictures of our kids, food, and many other things. But when you roll things like blogs, twitter, Instagram, snap chat... and any other social media platform in to our daily lives, when is it TOO MUCH?

Since the election, I have come to realize that social media is a toxic force in my life as well as many other people I know. I sit back watch people I care about, fight and cut ties with one another over political stances. I have also seen a side to many people in my life, that I wish I hadn't. My constant connection to people, you'd think would create stronger relationships, but the reality is, facebook is ruining them for many of us.

So, I have stepped back, because I don't want to preserve friendships, and my sanity.

In November, I deleted my account for a couple weeks, then got back on during the holidays, but then had to delete it again a few weeks ago because it was just too much. Too much news, too much hate, too much shit that I just don't need in my life.



Something that started to happen this time however, friends and family members noticed I was off, and then got mad at me.  I just deactivated my Facebook account (but kept Facebook messenger, a nifty new option)however,  people thought I restricted them, or somehow blocked them from seeing my page and posts. The fact that they could see me on messenger but not on Facebook confused them. Seriously everyone in my personal life if you noticed that I deleted my Facebook page and your first reaction to that, was and angry and defensive.... you really need to step back and ask yourself, why do you care so much? It is just Facebook!



During this disconnected time,  some crazy things started to happen in my life. I am more organized, I am not as stressed out, my kids and I spend more quality time with no interruptions, and I am just over all happier and healthier. I honestly do not believe that mentally it is a good thing to be connected to people and to the news every single day, all day. If the state of our world is weighing you down too, I highly recommend stepping back from the internet for a bit of time, you'll feel lighter, I  promise.

A couple months ago, (before the holidays) I made these donuts, but during my hiatus, I forgot to share them with you all. With sugaring season right around the corner, I think you all need to have a Maple Bar recipe in your back pocket!



Maple Bacon Bars
These donuts are light and airy, topped with a pure maple syrup glaze, and a crispy strip of bacon.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 tbs room temperature unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 package Red Star Platinum Yeast (or other quick rise yeast)
2 tbs warm water (for yeast)
1 tbs granulated sugar (for yeast)
About 3 cups of bread flour (all purpose flour works too)
Vegetable Oil for frying (at least 4 cups)

1 pound of bacon, fried

For the glaze:
1 1/2-2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch of salt


Directions:

In a small bowl add yeast, with 2 tbs warm water, 1 tbs granulated sugar, give it a quick stir and set aside and wait for the yeast to start to foam and rise. About 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, add milk, 1/4 cup water, 1/3 cup maple syrup, butter and salt together in a sauce pan, heat until the butter melts and the mixture reaches 90 degrees.

Add mixture into a mixing bowl and mix in one cup of flour until a thick batter has formed. Add in yeast mixture and the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time.

When the dough comes together and is only slightly sticky pour it out on to a well floured surface. Knead for about 6-8 minutes (add in more flour as need) or until the dough is elastic, when you pinch a piece, it should pull back.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise. On a cold winter day, I crack the oven and place the bowl on the cook top so it stays nice and cozy!

Allow dough to rise until it has doubled in size. Forget timing it.... every one's rise time with be different. So please, pay attention to the size of the dough!

Once the dough has doubled  pour it out on to a well floured surface again, and roll it out until it is about 1/4-1/3 of an inch thick. Using sharp knife cut doughnuts out into rectangles (about 2x3in) and set aside on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (again choose a warm spot). You can re-roll and cut scraps if desired, I usually just cut them into small pieces  and fry them as they are. My kids enjoy the odd shaped scrap doughnuts for some reason!

Allow cut doughnuts to rise until they have fully doubled in size (or even bigger, I let them go until they triple) 

Once they have at least doubled in size.  Heat the frying oil in a heavy bottomed pot. I use my dutch oven, whatever size pan you choose just make sure you have at least 3 inches of oil in the bottom. Heat oil to 360 degrees.

Fry doughnuts a couple at a time, making sure not to crowd them. About 2 minutes per side. Once they are golden brown remove from oil with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain any extra grease.

Once all the doughnuts have fried and have cooled a bit, start preparing your glaze.

In a mixing bowl whisk maple syrup and powdered sugar with a  pinch of salt together until smooth.

Dunk each fried doughnut in the glaze and coat just the top. Place on a baking rack, and top with a slice of bacon. 

I enjoy eating them warm and messy, however you can let them cool to let the frosting harden. 

Tuesday, January 17

Honey Buns




When I was a kid, during the winter weekends, my dad and I would wake up super early, and hit the road by 5am to go ice fishing for the day. On our way out to the frozen lake, we'd stop at the Irving gas station on the way, and stock up on snacks to get us through the day. He would grab a pack of hot dogs, some rolls, chips, soda... I would grab banana muffins, gas station cappuccino... and lastly , Dad always grabbed a $.50 honeybun for his breakfast.

Now that I have my own kids that love fishing as much as I did at that age, I bring them on fishing trips the same way he did when I was a kid. The difference is, I am anal about food, and plan some healthy snacks. But one of the treats I always grab at the store, is a box of honey buns. My kids love those cheap, sickly sweet and sticky treats so much. It has become a staple for our outings.



Another major difference between my dad and I, is that while I love fishing, and I love bringing my kids with me. I truthfully despise the cold, so we do not venture out onto the ice in the winter. Our fishing trips are during the summer when I can work on my tan at the same time.



Needless to say, it's been a while since I have treated my kids to their beloved gas station quality honey buns. When my oldest asked me if I'd pick some up at the grocery store, I did one better... I made a homemade version of them instead. On a cold snowy day stuck inside by the fire, these honey buns were everything my kids wanted.



These buns are slightly sweet, rolled with a hint of cinnamon and topped with a glaze made with local raw honey. Defiantly 100 times better than .$50 gas station honey buns. I'll have to treat my dad to a batch real soon!




Honey Buns
Ingredients:
1 tbs dry active yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbs granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup warm milk
1 large egg, room temp
1 egg yolk, room temp
1/4 honey (raw if you have it)
1 tbs kosher salt
3.5-4.5 cups bread flour (AP if that's all you have)

Filling:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbs ground cinnamon

For the glaze;
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup raw honey

Directions:

In a small mixing bowl, combine yeast, warm water and granulated sugar. Mix well, and set aside until the mixture becomes foamy.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine yeast mixture, melted butter, warm milk, eggs, honey, salt and half of the flour. Mix with the dough hook until it is all combined.

Turn the mixer to medium/low speed, add remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough is shaggy and only slightly sticky.  Allow the dough to "knead" with the mixer on medium/low speed for about 4 minutes, or until it is elastic and smooth. If at any point the dough appears to be too sticky, add in a little more flour, until it is pulling away from the bowl while kneading.

Turn dough out into a large buttered mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot to rise.

Leave the dough to rise until it has doubled in volume, this could take a couple hours.

Once the dough has risen, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface into a rectangle. Should be about 1/4 of an inch thick.

Spread butter all over the dough, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Roll into a log, and cut into 1 inch thick rolls.

Place rolls onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and set aside to rise until they have doubled or tripled in volume. They should appear to be cloud like.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until they are golden.

Allow the buns to cool for about 20 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk powdered sugar with raw honey together, drizzle over the tops of the warm buns.

Best when served warm, but will last for 2 days in a air tight container.

Friday, January 6

Hot Chocolate Cheesecake


If any of you have been following me this week on Instagram, you see that I am documenting my newest round of Whole30. In the last year, I have tried to do it a handful of times. Some more successful than others... the three things I was never able to kick for a full 30 days, were cream in my coffee, wine, and chickpeas.



Knowing that I wanted to complete this cleaning eating challenge in the worst way, I decided I was going to spend some time preparing for it. So over the last couple of months, I have completely cut cream from my coffee, and prefer to take it black. I have also cut way, way, way back on alcohol, going weeks between drinks.



The only battle I think I will face this round of Whole30, is my love affair with legumes. I flipping love chickpeas and black beans. I eat a cup of one of them each day either in my lunch or my breakfast.

Meanwhile..... everyone else is like, sweets...bread! I can not cut out my sweets! Well lucky for them, because I have a month of over the top fattening desserts to be posted on my blog. Pull out your stretchy pants! Or if that is not your thing... come check out my pretty pictures of veggies and meat on the Bakeaholic Mama IG!


This cheesecake is ridiculously dark and rich. A classic dark chocolate cheesecake topped with dark chocolate ganache and topped with a homemade toasted marshmallow topping. Inspired by this Hot Cocoa Cheesecake I saw on Pinterest back in 2013!



Hot Chocolate Cheesecake
Ingredients:

For the crust:
1 9 0z package of chocolate Graham crackers
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt

For the filling:
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 8 oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
4 eggs, room temperature

For the ganache:
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream

For the marshmallows:
2 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water + 2 tbs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
powdered sugar for dusting
non-stick cooking spray


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wrap the outside of a 9 inch  springform pan in tinfoil.

Spray inside with non-stick baking spray.

In a food processor, pulse graham crackers butter, and salt together until it forms a crumbly mixture.

Press into the bottom of a  springform pan, and about 1/2-1 inch up the sides.

Bake for 5 minutes, remove from oven.

In a double boiler, melt 2 cups of chocolate chips until smooth. Remove from heat, and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer using the whip attachment, mix cream cheese, sugar and cocoa powder until light and fluffy.

Mix in one egg at a time until it is smooth.

With your mixer on low, slowly drizzle in melted chocolate. Once it is all incorporated and it's fully mixed in. Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl down with a rubber spatula.

Pour and scrape the cheesecake filling into the springform pan.

Place a roasting pan in your preheated oven filled with boiling water. The water should be about 1 inch deep.

Place cheesecake into the water filled roasting pan.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until it the center of the cake is set, and just barely jiggles a bit (like jello).

Turn oven off, and open the door. Allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven until it is room temperature.

Once it has cooled, prepare the ganache.

To make the ganache, place chocolate and cream into a double boiler and heat and mix until smooth and melted.

Pour on to the top of your cooked cheesecake.

Place in the refrigerator for about 4 hours or until you are ready to serve.

Before serving, prepare the marshmallow top.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, add powdered gelatin and half of your water. Mix with a fork until it's combined. Allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes for the gelatin to dissolve.

In a sauce pan add renaming water, sugar and corn syrup, bring to a low boil and let it simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved and you are left with a syrup.

Using your whip attachment, turn mixer to medium speed and start whipping the gelatin with the vanilla extract, slowly pouring in the syrup.

Once all of the syrup has been added, turn mixer to high and leave it to whip for about 7-10 minutes, or until you have extra stiff peaks.

Remove cheesecake from oven.

Using a greased rubber spatula,  add marshmallow into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe dollops of marshmallow onto the top of the cheesecake. *This can be a messy job*

Once you've covered the cheesecake, using a cooking torch, toast the top of the marshmallow.

Allow to cool for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator, and then serve.







Thursday, December 29

Champagne Jello Shots


I am not huge on celebrating New Years Eve. Normally we keep it low key, stay in with the kids and eat food all day... and then go to bed far to early for a 32 year old couple.  But just because I don't go crazy, dress up and go out for a night of parties on New Years.. doesn't mean I don't enjoy some early bird special partying on occasion.



This year, if you are unlike me, and hosting a get-together, I highly recommend that you bring back the jello shots of your youth, but instead of being chocked full of booze and juice, keep it classy with a good bottle of sparkling wine.



These jello shots are not only festive, and pretty to look at. They will get you to that buzz quickly. But be careful... because just like those jello shots you did as a 21 year old  kid, if not careful... you can over do it with these easily.

I speak from experience.....



Champagne Jello Shots
Ingredients:
3 cups dry champagne
1/2 cup simple syrup ( I use rosemary syrup)
1/2 cup vodka
4 packages unflavored powdered gelatin

Directions:

In a mixing bowl combine simple syrup, vodka and gelatin together, mix with a fork unit the gelatin has softened, and your are left with a jelly.

In sauce pan bring champagne to a low boil. (Careful it foams over quickly.)

Remove from heat, and add it to the gelatin mixture.  Set aside and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

Line a 9x13 baking dish with plastic wrap.

Pour gelatin mixture into the pan, and chill for 4 hours , or overnight.

Cut into squares, sprinkle with sparkling sugar and serve.



Tuesday, December 27

IPA Mimosa



Hallelujah! Christmas is over... and 2016 is coming to an end. 


Not a fan of champagne on New Years Eve? No worries I have you covered, a  bubbly cocktail that is made out of a citrusy IPA. Or if you wish you could crack open a beer at breakfast or brunch without being socially shunned.... this IPA mimosa is what you need. 

I am typically a huge fan of a citrus pale ale, especially when it has a lot of strong grapefruit notes. When I picked up a pack of Harpoon's seasonal spring pale ale, I knew immediately I wanted to cut it with some juice and try it as a "mimosa". It's a golden ale, with citrus and pine notes. It's pretty light, and the perfect beer to pair with fresh squeezed juice.



IPA Mimosas
Yields 4 cocktails

Ingredients:
2 bottles of IPA ( I like Harpoon's Fresh Tracks)
The juice of one grapefruit
The juice of one orange

Directions:

Divide juice into 4 champagne glasses, top off with IPA, and serve with fresh grapefruit or orange wedge. 

Friday, December 16

Walnut Roll

 The following post was sponsored by my friends at Red Star Yeast. With the help of brands like theirs, I am able to take time out of my week to bring you all new recipes!

It's been insanely cold in New Hampshire the last couple of days. Just a couple weeks ago, we had some 60 degree days, in which we were outside playing in short sleeves. Today, it's -2 without the wind chill factor. I will be spending my day making sure our furnace, and fireplace can keep the house up to temperature to avoid any frozen pipes. Oh the joys of living in an old  house with little insulation during the winter, in New England.


Growing up we only had wood heat, so the struggle during the winter was real. It was a daily occurrence having frozen pipes, and cold floors. Every morning you could hear my dad in the bathroom or kitchen with my mom's blow-dryer thawing the sinks. Even if you kept the water flowing all night, they eventually would freeze anyways.  One year we had such a deep freeze, my parents could not keep our bedrooms warm, it didn't help that the only wood they could afford that year, was not fully dry. Anyone who has a wood stove knows that you can't keep a good fire going with green wood. So imagine the struggle of heating your home when it's -20 outside on green wood, with 3 little kids inside. Pure stress. 


My dad at that point, had no choice but to go into our attic to find dry things to burn. He got that fire cranking by burning boxes of old books, and furniture that was in the attic. They then  moved their big bed into the dinning room (where the wood stove was), nailed blankets around the large doorway into the living room to close it all off, just heating the kitchen, dinning and bathroom. All five of us slept in their bed by the wood stove until the deep freeze passed. Now as a mom of 3 kids, I can't even imagine the stress my parents were under trying to keep their family warm that winter, but as a kid I remember thinking it was an adventure of sorts, and what little kid doesn't like sleeping in bed with their parents? It was a treat to us!



That story is the equivalent to our grandparent's "I walked to school 3 miles, up hill in the snow, with no shoes!" story. My kids roll their eyes when I give them the lecture on how poor some families are... how poor I was growing up... and how lucky they are to have this cozy warm house with plenty of food in their bellies. When I think back on it, it also gives me an appreciation for my parents. They did what they had to do, and kept us kids warm and stress free that winter.


*FYI the following year they installed a new heating system, we were never that cold again!*



It's days like these I welcome the chance to bake all day long. Running the oven helps keep the house toasty and warm. Not to mention the smell of fresh baked breads and cookies might be the most comforting cozy smell of all time. So while it may be so cold outside that your face starts to hurt, and your nose hair and eyelashes freeze together. Inside my home we'll have plenty to eat, and a fresh pot of coffee going to warm our bones.


This time of year there is an Eastern European bread that is traditionally made at Christmas time called a Walnut Roll. It's a sweet bread, rolled with a walnut mixture, baked in a large loaf, and then sliced and served with powdered sugar, alongside coffee.


It is possibly one of the best sweet breads I have ever made, and I can't wait to share this recipe with my family during the holidays. It will undoubtedly keep us warm all holiday season!

Walnut Roll
Recipe from Red Star Yeast

For the dough:

  • 2 packages (4½ tsp, ½oz, 14g) RED STAR Platinum Superior Baking Yeast
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 egg, room temperature

For the filling:

  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 2 cups walnuts, freshly ground
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • ½ tsp vanilla
For the topping:
  • Melted butter for brushing on baked rolls
  • Powdered sugar

 Directions:


Combine yeast, 1½ cups flour, sugar and salt. Heat milk, sour cream and butter to 120-130°F. Add to flour mixture; blend on low speed. Add egg yolks and egg; beat 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed. By hand stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. 

Knead on lightly floured surface 5 to 7 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl; turn to grease top. Cover; let rise until dough tests ripe.


Prepare Filling: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine slightly beaten egg, milk, walnuts, sugars and butter. Cook on medium heat until mixture resembles a paste, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool. Stir in vanilla.


Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; punch down to remove air bubbles. Cover; let dough relax for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 2 parts. On lightly floured surface, roll each half to a 12x12-inch square. Spread half of cooled Filling to within 1 inch of edges. 

Roll up tightly. Pinch edges to seal; turn ends under. Place seam-side down on greased baking sheet.* Repeat with remaining dough. 

Prick top of roll every 3 inches with fork to eliminate air bubbles. 

Cover; let rise in warm place until indentation remains when lightly touched. 

Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes until browned. Cover lightly with foil to prevent over browning. 

Brush with melted butter to maintain a soft crust. Breads are very fragile when warm. Using two spatulas carefully lift Walnut Roll from baking sheet onto rack to cool. 

Sprinkle with powdered sugar when cool; slice to serve.


*Using parchment paper to line baking sheet makes it easier to transfer rolls to cooling rack.
(Disclaimer: I received monetary compensation to write this post on behalf of Red Star Yeast. However, as always... all opinions are 100% my own!)

Tuesday, December 13

Salted Milk Chocolate Nutella Cups


Up until about 2 years my husband, kids and I had an insanely busy Christmas Eve. We started our day off loading the car up with gifts, food, diaper bags, and headed up to my Parent's home in Wentworth, NH (1.5 hours north of us) we did our Christmas celebrations with them and my siblings, then quickly packed up to stop to see my Nana, who would then load us up with tins of her homemade candies.

We packed up leaving Nana's and drove 45 min south to Ashland and visited my husband's grandparents and his Dad. Did a quick celebration with them.... then packed up for a 3 time that day and drove all the way down to the Boston area (2 hour drive from our 3rd holiday stop)

Our 4th stop of the day (Dinner time at this point) was always to my husband's sister or brother's house. We'd do dinner with them, and exchange gifts. Put pajamas on the kids, and then leave at about 9 to drive 1/5-2 hours north to our home.

After arriving at home, we put the kids to bed and then we played Santa, fineally going to sleep around 2am before being woken up at 5 by 3 anxious kids.

This holiday routine went on for years, and each year we were left feeling completely stressed out and exhausted. Two years ago, I said enough is enough, and we stopped traveling to see everyone.



Now everyone comes to see us, we do travel a bit here an there throughout the week of Christmas. But it is nothing compared to the hellish schedule and travel we did in years past.

Since I entertain so many family members during the holidays, I always like to have tins of homemade treats to gift to whoever may pop in to visit. This year, I have whipped up a big batch of these peppermint marshmallows, and I've also done some tins of these Salted Milk Chocolate Nutella Cups. 4 ingredients, and they only take about 4 minutes to make. They are a fun twist on the classic peanut butter cups my Nana stuffed in those candy tins every Christmas.





Salted Milk Chocolate Nutella Cups
Ingredients:
2 cups of milk chocolate chips
1 tsp coconut oil
6 heaping tablespoons of Nutella (Or other comparable chocolate hazelnut spread)
Sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:
In a microwave safe bowl melt chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave, heating it in 15-30 second increments until it is smooth.

Line muffin tin with 6 muffin wrappers.

Fill them about 1/8 of the way full with the melted chocolate.

Drop table spoons of Nutella in the center of each muffin cup.

Top each up with the remaining melted chocolate, and sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

Place in the refrigerator for one hour before serving/gifting!