Banana Cranberry Breakfast Bread

Banana Cranberry Breakfast Bread 1

After all the Christmas treats I thought it was time for a “healthier” snack.  I also needed to get rid of some grossly black bananas and the cranberries that have been sitting in my freezer since October.

I’m proud of this recipe. I usually am not able to combine ingredients in a way that produces edible food– I’m a recipe follower– but this time I remembered some of my mom’s tips about health-i-fying recipes and actually made something tasty.

The best part is, it’s not too bad for you, so you don’t even have to feel guilty about eating it for breakfast.

Banana Cranberry Breakfast Bread
Makes one 9×5 loaf

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries**
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (can sub all-purpose or whole wheat, but the texture will be slightly different)
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.  In a medium bowl, mix cranberries in flour, oats, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugars until light-colored and fluffy.  Add applesauce and blend.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in mashed banana.  Add cranberry/flour mixture to shortening/sugar mixture and stir until just combined.  Spoon batter into prepared pan

Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the loaf. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

**TIP: Any berry can be subbed in here! I imagine apple, peaches and mango would be great too.  Let me know in the comments how your experiments go.**

My recipe, inspired by Allrecipes

Banana Cranberry Breakfast Bread 3

Christmas Cookies Galore: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies 1

I will always admire my mom for her skill in finding unique and fabulous recipes.  Sure, knowing which ingredients combine to make the best tasting treats could be a result of baking experimentation over the years, but I am pretty sure that it’s partly just a gift. She found this gem on a blog that didn’t even include a picture and was intrigued by the raisin-soaking tip (I promise you, it’s the secret to perfect oatmeal raisin cookies!).

I helped her make them for our Christmas celebration and they turned out to be delicious.  In fact, my boyfriend raved about them so much that I made him his own batch the very next day.

So here, I present to you, the only oatmeal raisin cookie recipe you will ever need. Happy baking!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Makes 36-40 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinammon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups oatmeal (quick cooking or old fashioned, not instant)
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Prep: The key is to soak the raisins. This makes all the difference in the world. Beat eggs and vanilla together and then add the raisins, stir. Soak for an hour or two. I just walked by a few times and stirred it while I waited.

Directions: Preheat to 350 F.  Cream butter and sugars with mixer. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Stir the dry ingredients until well blended. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix well. Now add in the egg and raisin mixture. Then add oatmeal and chocolate chips/nuts and combine well. Form into balls on cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes.

Let cool on cookie sheet for 2-5 minutes or until firm enough to transfer to wire rack.

Recipe from Journey to Crunchville

Christmas Cookies Galore: Tried and True Frosted Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies 8

Happy holidays to the foodie blogosphere! The past few days  have been filled with family, lots of food, presents, BAKING and some much needed down time.  In my time off school, I’ve [obviously] been tearing apart the internet for recipes, but I’ve also been catching up on sleep, playing video games and watching TV.   I don’t think I will get to have these sorts of breaks once I graduate and get a job… so, I am very grateful for such a relaxing time!

In case any of you are wondering what the Princess in the Kitchen did in terms of Christmas cookies this year… you’re in the right place.  My mom and I fell into a holiday frenzy on the 23rd trying to prepare food and desserts for the celebrations to come.  We ended up making traditional frosted sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies and salted caramel pretzel bark.
Sugar Cookies 1

Sugar cookies are just a Christmastime staple in my family.  My dad grew up with basic, frosted sugar cookies at Christmas so my mom has always felt obligated to keep the tradition alive for him.   She is the master recipe hoarder (my food/recipe/cooking obsession is just a product of the gene pool), and she ended up finding a great recipe from Crumbly Cookie.  The author, Bridget tried five different recipes and chose her favorite… and my family agrees with her choice!

Sugar Cookies 2

I personally prefer soft and chewy sugar cookies (definitely not crunchy or too flour-y tasting) with a butter-y almond-y flavor.  These cookies are all of the above… and they hold their shape quite well!

Sugar Cookies 3

Santa even ate all of his sugar cookies.  Mmm, mmm… tastes like Christmas!

Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

2 1/2 cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (7 ounce) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and baking powder. In a one-cup measuring cup, lightly beat the egg with the extracts.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer), beat the butter and salt on medium speed until smooth. With the mixer running, gradually pour in the sugar; add the lemon zest. Beat on medium until fluffy, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, pour egg mixture and continue beating until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour and mix just until evenly blended.

Lightly knead the dough to form a ball, press it into a 1-inch thick disk a wrap tight in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Adjust a rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375F. If you’ve chilled the dough overnight, it’ll need to sit at room temperature for a half an hour or so to soften slightly. On a very lightly floured sheet of wax paper with a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut cookies using a floured cookie cutter. Re-roll scraps, always using as little flour as necessary. (TIP: Here, I used white sugar instead of flour.)

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 5-9 minutes, until they no longer look wet on top. The baking time will depend on the size of the cookies you’ve cut. You don’t want the bottoms to be browned, except for maybe just a bit on the edges. Let the cookies rest for a couple minutes on the sheets before transferring them to cooling racks to finish cooling. Decorate as desired.

Recipe from Crumbly Cookie

Quick Buttercream Frosting

3 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup (16 tablespoons/2 sticks) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (I subbed eggnog here!)

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Recipe from Food Network

Sugar Cookies 4

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This is my hilariously animated brother, John, who is still learning to smile properly.

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Bacon Chocolate Sable Cookies

Bacon Chocolate Sable Cookie 4

Bacon Chocolate Sable Cookies makes two recipes in a row from Broma Bakery! Since trying these cookies, I’ve come to the conclusion that Sarah (owner of Broma) may just be my baking soul mate.  She took this Dorie Greenspan recipe and made it EVEN BETTER by adding bacon.  Incredible. If you haven’t checked it out by now, you should definitely click over right this second.

Do I even need to say anything about these?  Bacon and chocolate… two of my favorite things combined!  These cookies give you the perfect amount of sweet, salty and chewy all in one bite.  Add some cold milk (or hot coffee for melt-y mocha goodness) and you have the perfect post-dinner treat.

(In my case… these will be waiting for me at a much needed snack break while I study for final exams.  Woe is me, the poor college student.)  Happy baking!

Bacon Chocolate Sable Cookie 1

Bacon Chocolate Sable Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate
chips
12 strips high-quality uncured bacon, cooked until crisp and drained of fat

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together. Set aside.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
Turn off the mixer. Pour in the dry ingredients, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and bacon, and mix only to incorporate.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

Recipe from Dorie Greenspan
Found on Broma Bakery

Vegan Salted Caramel Corn

Vegan Caramel Corn 2

Vegan caramel corn… why didn’t I think of that?  I was thrilled to stumble upon this recipe because I love caramel so much… but I always seem to forget that it’s made with a TON of butter and heavy cream. So, here’s another recipe for all of my lactose-intolerant/vegan friends out there!

The maple syrup adds a unique flavor, and I would have to say that this stuff tastes just as good, if not better than, the non-vegan version.  Another holiday gift idea?

Vegan Salted Caramel Corn
makes 12 cups of popcorn

12 cups popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup kernels)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup brown rice/maple syrup (I used maple)
1/3 cup non-hydrogenated vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

1/4-1/2 tsp good sea salt

Pour the popcorn in a large bowl and set aside while making the caramel sauce.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F and lightly oil two baking sheets.
In a medium sized pot combine sugar, brown rice syrup, and margarine over medium heat.

Stir together and bring to a boil. Let boil for five minutes, stirring once.

Remove from heat and add baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Immediately pour over the popcorn slowly while mixing it in with a spatula. Once well combined spread out into single layer onto prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with a couple pinches of good sea salt and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven and stir once more. Let sit for 10 minutes and enjoy!

Recipe from The Sweet Life

Vegan Caramel Corn 1

Butterscotch Cocoa Brownies

Butterscotch Cocoa Brownies 2

Can a food blog ever have too many brownie recipes? I’m going to start a collection…

This here is the kind of dessert that you know is going to be good as soon as you taste the batter.  After I put the pan in the oven to bake, I helped myself to some batter from the spatula (I always make sure to leave a little on there for tasting before I wash up…) and knew right away that these were going to be a hit!  They’re totally drool-worthy. The brownies are dense, chewy and super fudge-y, and to make things even better, you can mix everything in just one bowl.

I found the recipe on my old housemate’s blog- Broma Bakery (side note: her name is Sarah.  She is an AMAZING baker and wants to own her own restaurant one day! She inspired me to create PITK– and I still check Broma regularly for recipe ideas! Check her page out!).  She found the recipe on another blog then ended up adding butterscotch chips.  To make sure everyone gets credit for their genius contributions, I included a link to the original recipe at the end of the recipe. :)

P.S. I’m on a chocolate binge lately.  Expect more brownie recipes soon.

Butterscotch Cocoa Brownies
makes 16 brownies

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup butterscotch chips

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and microwave for 1:30 minutes. Remove and stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smoothes out once the eggs and flour are added.Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the butterscotch chips, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Recipe adapted from honey & jam

Butterscotch Cocoa Brownies 3

Here’s a shout out the the Shine Supper Club! Hope all your club members try this delectable treat (tip: try not to eat the whole pan in one night)!

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

WARNING: This recipe is dangerous.

Before you proceed, please know that salted caramel pretzel bark may induce random spells of uncontrollable snacking, intense sensations of euphoria and heightened protective instincts (over your share of the pretzel bark, of course).

I’m kidding, sort of.  But this recipe really is special.  My housemate actually said that she is “going to get pregnant one day and crave this stuff”… it’s THAT good (and she also usually comes up with crazy hyperboles like this).  Another one of my housemates told me that I should probably hide it from the rest of the house (I took this advice).

The best part is, you probably already have all of these ingredients in your kitchen.  It takes about 15 minutes to whip together, and the end result will impress all of your friends.  I just have pictures of the end product here, but the pin (as in Pintrest) I found the recipe on has a very nice picture guide if you prefer a visual step-by-step guide. You can find the link here.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

1/2 bag mini pretzel twists
2 sticks of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 bag of chocolate chips
Sea salt

Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper (NOT wax paper) and spread pretzels evenly over the bottom (mine didn’t overlap, I arranged them in neat rows).  Now, preheat the oven to 350 F.

Set aside, and melt butter and sugar in a medium sauce pan on medium heat.  Bring to a boil, and stir continuously until mixture sticks to the bottom of the pan and forms a smooth caramel.  Let it bubble and get nice and thick before you pour the caramel evenly over the pretzels.

Place jelly roll sheet in oven for 5 minutes, remove, sprinkle chocolate chips over the top, and place back into the oven for 1 more minute.  Spread the chocolate around with a spatula until it is mostly melted, then sprinkle generously with sea salt. Let the pan sit on counter top for about 5 minutes, and then place in the freezer to harden for at least two hours.

Break bark into piece with your hands, and try not to finish the whole pan in one night! This is best stored in an air-tight bag in the freezer.