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Everett, WA, United States
I love trying new recipes and baking for my friends and family.
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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Perfect Pear Crisp

If you ask Matt about his favorite dessert, he will say pear or peach crisp. I love it too. This weekend I went up to the fruit stand by our house and found some beautiful pears. They almost looked too pretty to cut up! I made a few changes to a pear crisp recipe that I found on Smitten Kitchen. The main change is that I did not have brandy. Instead I used a little almond extract. The end result was delicious, so I think it was a good substitution! I was able to use a vanilla bean that I bought a while ago and it was really fun. I've never baked with a real vanilla bean before. The vanilla and brown butter in this recipe gave the crisp a wonderful flavor. It was different from the usual cinnamon and nutmeg and I think it really let the flavor of the pears come through.

Pear Crisp with Vanilla Brown Butter
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup almonds (I used sliced almonds)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Pulse together flour, almonds, sugar, and salt in a food processor until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and pulse until just blended. Coarsely crumble in a shallow baking dish and let chill in refrigerator for 1 hour (or up to 2 days in advance, covered).


1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon flour
3 lbs. pears, peeled and coarsely chopped (I used 7 ripe bartlett pears)
1 teaspoon almond extract

Scrape seeds from the vanilla bean into a small saucepan. Then add the whole pod and butter. Cook over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until butter is browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Be careful that the butter turns just brown - you don't want it to burn!

Stir together white and brown sugars, flour, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add pears and almond extract and toss to combine.

The pears already tasted delicious at this point... I couldn't wait to taste them after they came out of the oven with the crumbly topping!

Discard vanilla pod from butter mixture and toss the butter with the pears. I let my butter cool for about 10 minutes while I peeled and chopped my pears.

Spoon filling into a large baking dish and sprinkle with topping. Bake at 425 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling.

Cool for about 10 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Blueberry Ricotta Muffins

Who doesn't love blueberry muffins? They are the perfect start to a morning. This was a delicious recipe that wasn't too sweet and had just the right texture - light and fluffy, but hearty enough to make a good breakfast or snack. I loved the brightness of the lime zest, as well.

Blueberry Ricotta Muffins
Adapted from Culinerapy

3/4 cup ricotta, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk the ricotta, eggs, and vanilla together, then stir in the melted butter.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lime zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant - yum!

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix these dry ingredients in with the lime-infused sugar. Pour the ricotta mixture on top of the dry ingredients and gently but quickly stir to blend. The batter will be thick and heavy. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter evenly in the muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are golden and springy to the touch.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Doughnut Time

I think Matt just became the most popular officer in the West precinct. He brought in 3 dozen doughnuts. I don't know what it is about cops and doughnuts, but they do have a special appreciation for this sweet treat.

Ever since Matt's grandpa gave us a deep fryer, I have wanted to try making doughnuts. Now that we have brought out the deep fryer for some other tasty treats (french fries, onion rings, sweet potato fries, beer-batter fish and chips...) I figured it was doughnut time. As I was searching for a recipe, I came across many types. Some doughnut recipes have a cake-like batter, while others have a yeast dough. Since I've recently become a little more confident with yeast dough, I decided to give it a try. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com.

Crispy and Creamy Doughnuts

2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup shortening
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy.
In a large bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix for a few minutes on low speed.
Beat in the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic (I used the dough hook attachment for this).
Let the dough rise, covered, in a greased bowl until doubled in size. The dough is ready if you touch it and the indentation remains instead of springing back.
On a lightly floured surface, gently roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a doughnut cutter, or a set of small cookie cutters in different sizes.
Doughnut cutter that used to be my Grandma's
Place doughnuts onto a cookie sheet, cover, and allow to rise again until doubled in size.
Don't forget to save to doughnut holes! I used the scraps to make some twisty shapes. They weren't pretty, but they were delicious.

Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy skillet to 350 degrees. Slide doughnuts into the hot oil and fry on each side until golden brown - just a minute or two for each side. Remove from hot oil to drain on a rack and top with glaze.
Glaze station!
Since this was my first time making doughnuts, I wanted to try out a few different kinds of glazes. The favorites seemed to be maple and plain glaze, and Matt loved the ones that I tossed in cinnamon sugar. The trick is to get the toppings on while the doughnuts are still warm. That way, everything sticks and coats the doughnuts nicely. Here are the toppings I used:
Cinnamon Sugar topping
This was the simplest and one of the tastiest, in my opinion! I just mixed about 1/2 cup sugar with a few tablespoons of cinnamon and tossed warm doughnuts in the mixture.

Powdered Sugar topping
Simply toss warm doughnuts in powdered sugar until coated.

Maple Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons maple extract
4 tablespoons milk

Mix ingredients together until smooth and brush onto warm doughnuts with a pastry brush.

Chocolate Glaze

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a double-boiler over hot (but not boiling) water, combine chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup. Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, then add in vanilla. Using a small spatula, spread over warm doughnuts.

Classic Glaze
found with the doughnut recipe at allrecipes.com

1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 tablespoons hot water (or as needed)

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in hot water until the glaze is thin, but not watery. Dip warm doughnuts directly in glaze, turning to coat. Place on cooling rack to harden and allow excess glaze to run off.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are delicious and there is nothing better than homemade - yum! I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen and actually baked these rolls on separate days. I ended up baking one batch for us and then freezing a whole pan and baking it on a different day* so that they could be fresh for Matt to take in to work.

Cinnamon Rolls
For Dough:

1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoon (one packet) instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt

Combine milk and butter in a glass measuring cup. Microwave on high for 30-45 seconds, until butter is melted and mixture is warmed to 120-130 degrees. Add the yeast to the milk and butter mixture and let stand for a few minutes to activate. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and add 1 cup of the flour, sugar, egg, and salt. Beat on low speed for 3 minutes. Gradually add the additional 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and mixture is sticky, about 8 minutes.

For this process, I switched over to the dough hook attachment. My dough was pretty sticky, so I ended up adding a little flour. Not too much, because you don't want it to become tough.

Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. In my kitchen, the top of the refrigerator seems to be a "happy place" for my dough to rise. It stays pretty warm up there and is out of the way.

After 2 hours and doubled in size

On a floured surface, roll out dough to a 15 by 11 inch rectangle.
Meanwhile, prepare the delicious cinnamon roll filling.
Cinnamon Roll filling:

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 cup softened butter
pinch of salt

Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and pinch of salt in a small bowl. Spread the softened butter evenly over the rolled out rectangle of dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top.
Now comes the fun part! Starting on the longer edge, roll the dough into a log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam end down, cut crosswise into equal slices, each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide.
Arrange cut rolls in a greased baking dish, keeping them close together. * If you are freezing the rolls to bake later, like I did with half of my batch, stop at this point and wrap the pan tightly with plastic wrap and then foil. The day before you are ready to bake them, allow the pan to sit at room temperature overnight, until rolls are completely thawed and have had a chance to rise and double in size.
Cover pan and allow rolls to rise an additional 45 minutes to an hour, until doubled in size again.
After another hour

Bake rolls at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown and cinnamon mixture is bubbly. Remove from oven and immediately invert onto a cooling rack.
Upside down rolls - let all that cinnamon-y goodness sink in!

The final step is topping them with a delicious cream cheese glaze.


4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients into a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread glaze on warm cinnamon rolls and enjoy!