Challah

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I’ve noticed that just about every blog I’m following has been making hot cross buns for the Easter bread. that’s cool, I’m loving everything that I’m seeing since I’ve always wanted to make hot cross buns. However, since I’m always the last one to the ‘party’ and it takes me forever to catch onto trends, I decided a while ago that this week on Cooking is My Sport would be centered around another particular recipe/ingredient. It happens to be challah. Which probably means I’ll be making Hot Cross Buns around…oh, probably the Fourth of July. Because that’s just how I am.

I’m sure most foodies already know about it, but for the ‘general’ and likely Non-Jewish reader, I can give an explanation of what it is. Challah is a traditional, braided Jewish egg bread. It’s hollow on the outer top, and light and fluffy on the inside. It’s not as soft and moist as say, brioche. But it’s also not as dense as French bread either. Challah’s religious significance can be found in the way the dough is  split into two rounds, then each round is rolled into 6 identical strands that are then braided together. The six strands in each loaf represent the 12 tribes of Israel referenced in the Torah/first five chapters of the Bible.  During the meals of the Sabbath- 2 loaves of bread are supposed to be served at the beginning of every meal- thus the 2 loaves of challah. I could go on a little bit deeper, but that’s the basic Judaic symbolism behind challah.

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Around the Foodie community, Challah is a recipe that I typically see pop up around this time of year, close to Easter. I actually find this to be pretty ironic/funny, considering that this type of year is also near the Jewish holiday of the Passover. During Passover, unleavened bread is typically eaten (like matzo). Challah, of course, has plenty of leavening agents. But whatever; I’m a non-denominational Christian, so Passover’s not something I celebrate anyway. I made this bread last year at Easter with surprisingly great results for my first time. I knew I wanted to do it again this year, but just bump things up a notch.

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So what you guys will be seeing for this, and the next two posts for this week is basically Challah done 3 ways: Regular Challah, a Sweet Challah, and a third recipe with Challah as a main ingredient…because I had to find some way to use all of the above challah up. Today I’m showing you the traditional Challah recipe that I first made about this time last year.

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Typically, challah is made as a long, braided loaf and baked on a sheet pan. If you guys read my Cornmeal Dinner Rolls post, then you know how I’m currently feeling about baking yeast breads on sheet pans. Long story short: I’m having ‘technical difficulties’ with that method. And although I did suck it up and do it for my sweet challah variation that I’ll be posting later this week, for my traditional Challah, I decided against it, and did something else. I still used the braiding method for both loaves, but one I braided and tucked into a round circle and placed into one of my 9 inch cake pans, while the other I braided and placed into one of my loaf pans that I usually use for quick breads. I was very pleased with the results. The loaves rose beautifully (take THAT sheet pans), and the bread turned out so fluffy and tender on the inside. My favorite part about challah? That hollow sound it makes when you thump on the shiny, egg glazed top of the loaves that tells you it’s done. It makes me feel like a huge Baking Boss.

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Challah

(Makes 2 braided loaves)

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

 Directions

1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water.

2. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens.

3. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

4. Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid.

6. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.

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Banana Bread Scones

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Hi. My name is Jess(ica).

I’m here because I used to be a coffee addict. Actually, no, that’s not true- I guess I still am technically a coffee addict, I’ve just gotten better at controlling my need for it. There came a time when I HAD to have some form of coffee every day just to function; sometimes I could take it straight, sometimes I wanted it in the fancy gourmet styles from coffee shops.  I didn’t care. I just wanted coffee. I needed it.

It took a while for me to hit rock bottom, to finally realize that my addiction to coffee was getting out of control. I wish I could say that I had this grand epiphany or moment of clarity/acceptance, but the truth of the matter is that I just finally got tired of spending $28 a week on the stuff at coffee shops and knew that I had to make a change. It wasn’t easy in the beginning. The caffeine withdrawals were rough; chronic headaches and irritability are a lethal combination, or so I found out. However, I pulled through- at first going cold turkey, then tapering back on to the point where I can have some form of coffee a couple of times a week without feeling as though I’ll go crazy without it.

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So yeah, for anyone out there still being affected by coffee addition at present: recovery is possible. And it doesn’t even have to mean that you give it up forever. You just gotta find a balance. Most times, when you think you need it, you don’t and you can pass. And sometimes…maybe the situation’s a little different.

For instance: there are some instances where a cup of hot coffee is a must. There’s no way around it. I certainly found that to be the case for this recipe. Aside from the profit that their over-priced drinks bring in, I’m pretty sure that a huge chunk of Starbucks’ money comes from the pastries that they display smack dab right in front of the customers in those glass cases. How many people can go in to buy a cup of coffee there in the morning without even stealing a longing gaze at the delectable cinnamon rolls, pumpkin bread, muffins, scones and other goods that Starbucks sells? I’m not one of them, that’s for sure.

I just had to clarify 1 thing: this picture is to scale. This bad boy is actually that big.

This recipe is actually one I’ve had pinned on Pinterest for a long time now. Scones was something I’ve never made before, but have always wanted to. They’re the quintessential accompaniment to coffee- hot, buttery and crumbly pastries of deliciousness. The only thing that could possibly improve them would be to add a unique flavor and ingredient…enter the bananas.

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You guys, even before I tasted them, I just knew that these babies were going to be sosososoSOOO good. I mean come ON: look at how fat and thick the scones turned out. See those flaky layers? It’s the cold chunks of butter that does that. Chilling the dough in the freezer was the secret weapon for the scones, I’m convinced. I think it’s something that I’ll definitely be doing for any future scones to come out of my kitchen, as well as for whenever I make biscuits. The glaze just sends them over the top. This recipe is one of the best, most satisfying that I’ve tried, and I highly recommend it.

Oh yeah…and the scones are even better when enjoyed with a cup of coffee. Just sayin.

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Banana Bread Scones

Recipe Courtesy of TheKitchn.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 very ripe bananas (about 8 oz or 1 cup once mashed)
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk, whole or 2%
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) plain yogurt, whole or 2%
  • 2 1/2 cups (12.5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the glaze:

  • 1 tablespoons (1 oz) salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) milk, whole or 2%
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 cup (2-4 oz) confectioner’s sugar

 Directions

1. Mash the bananas and then add enough milk to make one total cup (if necessary). Stir in the yogurt and set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Cut the butter into several pieces. Work it into the dry ingredients using a fork, pastry cutter, or your finger tips until there are no pieces of butter larger than a pea.

3. Pour the banana-yogurt mixture into the bowl with the flour and stir just enough to incorporate all of the flour. Fold in the walnuts, if using. This will make a fairly wet dough.

4. Line a dinner plate with a piece of wax paper and turn the dough out on top. Pat it into a disk about 1-inch thick and cover with another piece of wax paper. Freeze the scone dough for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

6. Peel off the top layer of wax paper and invert the scones onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Peel off the second layer of wax paper. Slice the scones into eight wedges and pull them apart a little to give them some room to expand. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the scones are firm to the touch and turning golden-brown on the edges. Cool completely and cut apart any scones that baked together with a sharp knife.

7. To make the glaze, melt the butter and the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and vanilla, and stir until the sugar has melted (heat for an additional 30 seconds in the microwave if necessary). Whisk in the confectioner’s sugar, starting with 1/4 cup. Add more confectioner’s sugar if desired to make a thicker glaze.

8. Just before serving, drizzle the glaze over the scones.

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Chicken Stir-Fry

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Any Game of Thrones Fans out there?

I  certainly hope so. It’s an AWESOME show. If you haven’t seen it, then you’re just really missing out. Whenever I’m asked by non GoT fans what it’s about, I’d say that it’s basically a medieval series with dragons and a whole lot of drama. A bunch of people are trying to sit on a throne of a kingdom and the schemes and plans by which they all attempt to do so really resembles a dark kind of game. That’s a really watered down version of a summary of course, but I would’t want to give anything away to any of you out there that still may be on the fence of checking it out or not.

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Just in case you needed that extra push to getting around to it, then here it is, direct from me to you: watch the show. The hype is not just a hype. It’s real. It’s justified. Jess from Cooking is My Sport said so.

So what does GoT have to do with this post? Well, not much to be honest. The truth is that last night when I was watching the long-awaited season 4 premiere, it suddenly occurred to me that I had wanted to do a GoT themed recipe series for the blog, ideally the week before the return of the show. Obviously, that’s not gonna happen anymore. I lost track of time. I forgot about that goal. Whatever. However, that’s not necessarily going to completely kill the idea. I think I still want to try to do a GoT-week on CIMS. Maybe I’ll make it so that I post a recipe dedicated to the show every Sunday until the season finale. Ambitious, maybe, but I think still pretty cool The next step will just be to get together a recipe collection. You guys can feel free to give me suggestions as to what foods you’d like to see that remind you of the show, I’m feeling pretty open to anything.

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Anyway, back to today’s post. I was at the store grocery shopping with my mom and she said she wanted stir-fry for dinner.  It’s not too difficult a request, so I gave it a go. Stir-fry’s really one of those easy dishes that don’t take a huge amount of effort, but yield results that are out of this world, provided you can get your seasonings right. (Of course,) I went with chicken as the protein and threw in some other stuff as well.  paired it with these DELICIOUS Sesame Glazed Sweet Potatoes, and it made an awesome meal.

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I’ve noticed that I keep posting a lot of Asian-themed cuisine on the blog. That’s kinda interesting to me, as Asian isn’t even my favorite ethnic cuisine- (it’s Lebanese/Middle-Eastern just in case you were curious). However, I’ll run with it. I think the results are coming out okay, don’t you?

Don’t forget to leave me your GoT menu suggestions: the more I think about it, the more determined I am to do this. I think it’ll be really fun ;-)

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Chicken Stir-Fry

Recipe Adapted from Pat and Gina Neely

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION 

Ingredients

  •  2 tablespoons soy sauce
  •  1 tablespoon orange juice
  •  1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  •  1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  •  1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  •  1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  •  1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more if desired
  •  1 tablespoon peanut oil, plus more as needed
  •  1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  •  2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  •  4 cloves garlic, minced
  •  4 green onions, sliced
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, pre-cooked

Directions

  1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, orange juice, light brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, cornstarch, sesame oil and red pepper flakes. Reserve.
  2.  Set a wok over medium-high heat and coat with 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. When the oil shimmers, add about half of the chicken thigh pieces. Stir-fry until the chicken is fully cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining chicken thighs.
  3.  Add enough peanut oil to the hot wok to coat the bottom. Add the ginger, garlic and green onions and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4.  Add the chicken back to the wok along with the broccoli florets and stir to warm through.
  5. Pour in the reserved sauce and stir until the sauce is thickened and bubbly, about 45 seconds. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with rice.

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Sesame Glazed Sweet Potatoes

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I’ve mentioned to you guys before that when I find a new habit or trend, or something  in general that I like, I will wear it out TO DEATH until I’m either sick of it, or until I find a new something to wear out to death.

Me and my twin sister Jas are really alike in that (among other things: our DNA  also happens to be exactly the same.) Take movies for instance; when we were growing up, we went through a phase where when we found a movie we liked, we watched it every chance we got. I find a new favorite song and it gets put on constant repeat on my iPod . I find a new interesting tv show and will faithfully watch it ever week, or if its old, I will have entire marathons of it on Netflix until I get through it all.

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So far as good goes, I’m on a root vegetable kick right now.  For a long time, I’ve just always wanted to eat a side of root vegetables with my dinner. Mostly it’s been a mix between rutabagas and sweet potatoes. I can decide which I like more honestly. Although it may not seem like it, rutabagas too have a unmistakable sweetness to them that’s so clearly highlighted when they’re roasted. If you guys don’t believe me, then you should try this recipe for Herb Roasted Rutabaga that I posted a few weeks ago- if you’re not typically a fan of them, I promise you: I’m going to make you a ‘believer’ with 2 rutabagas, and a handful of dried herbs. Because I’m a miracle worker….okay not really, but I am a pretty good cook ;-)

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 I’m experimenting with different recipes to mix things up so that I don’t get too bored. After all, variety’s the spice of life. Right now, this is my new sweet potato recipe that I’m really fond of.  Trust me, it tastes every bit as good as it looks.

I never would have thought initially to apply Asian style flavors to sweet potatoes. But let me tell you guys, it REALLY works. The saltiness of the soy sauce is perfect with the sweetness of the honey as well as the natural sweetness of the potatoes. The sesame seeds give it a subtle earthy and almost nutty aftertaste. I served them with a chicken stir-fry that I made my family for dinner ( the recipe and pics are very soon to follow).

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Random/Embarrassing Fact: About a year ago, I was on another carrot/sweet potato kick and I ate so many of them that I LITERALLY started turning orange. Seriously. I’m not joking. I went into my doctor for a general check up and she literally gasped and asked what happened to me. I didn’t notice until I stood under a fluorescent light in her office and held out my hands: my palms were the color of a carrot. My skin is naturally kind of yellow, so…suffice to say it just wasn’t a good look. I had no idea that consuming too much Vitamin A (which is dominant  in carrots and sweet potatoes) can do that. Now I do. So as delicious as these sweet potatoes are, I do try to be a little more careful to not make them take up the most space on my plate.

I try. I may not always succeed. Try this recipe and you’ll definitely understand why.

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Sesame Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Recipe Courtesy of Cookstr.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  5 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (yams), peeled
  •  2 tbsp olive oil
  •  Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  •  2 tbsp sesame seeds
  •  1 tbsp honey
  •  1 tbsp soy sauce

 Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

2. Cut the potatoes into large chunks and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast the potatoes for 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until almost tender.

4. Mix together the sesame seeds, honey, and soy sauce. Pour  over the sweet potatoes, and toss.

5. Roast 20 minutes more, or until well glazed and tender.

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Cornmeal Dinner Rolls

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I’ve never really played any real sports before (besides my high school gym class and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count). However if I had, I’m convinced that I would be one of those athletes that are very VERY sore losers. I’m very competitive when placed in a competition setting or facing something that I really want to win or perform well in. When I lose or don’t do so hot…it ain’t pretty.

Although I’ve never played sports, I can still know exactly what type of athlete I would be because as my blog so aptly puts it, Cooking is My Sport. When something I’m trying to do in the kitchen doesn’t go my way, or when I just plain mess something up…it ain’t pretty.

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The degree of my…distress (and that’s kinda putting it nicely) when having a kitchen fail mainly depends on the amount of time I’ve put into a dish and the amount/price of the ingredients I’ve invested into the project- probably about 90%. That other pesky 10% is composed of my ego- the part of me that refuses to accept that sometimes, I’m just going to mess up when cooking. It’s stupid, but there you go.

The latest monkey on Jess the Cooklete’s back is yeast breads and sheet pans. Let me explain. I know how to bake yeast breads, okay? Yeast used to scare the crap out of me, but I’ve practiced enough with it by now to know what I’m doing enough to make it a pretty regular occurrence in my house. However, even with all my practice, there is still an aspect of my bread baking that still trips me up: letting the dough rest and rise on half sheet pans.

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It doesn’t work for me. Seriously, it really doesn’t. And for the life of me, I canNOT figure out why. Every time I make a recipe that asks for me to let my dough rise on a half sheet pan, it never does- or if it does, it’s only a liiiiiitle bit.

How do I know that it’s the half sheet pans causing me trouble? Because I’ve used other dishes that have rims around them for the same purpose and have had beautiful results, that’s why. Right now, those alternates have been my glass Pyrex rectangular casserole dishes, my 9-inch cake pans, and my loaf pans- my dough absolutely blooms after resting in those. But the half sheet pans? I’m lucky if the dough will even rise in the oven while baking. I’m convinced guys: the half sheet pans are against me.

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This recipe was part of the reason that I came to the conclusion that the problem I was having wasn’t necessarily with me or the recipe, but with the flat, rimless vessels my dough was being put on. The first time I made it, I placed the dough on the sheet pans- the rolls didn’t rise. The second time, I rested them in my glass casserole dishes. Perfection. After that, every time I made these (as well as any other yeast bread) I refuse to use my half sheet pans. The result has been fluffy, round, and tender cornmeal dinner rolls that melt in my mouth and make me feel pretty good about myself as a Cooklete.

I’ve read so many articles on yeast baking to try and find the answer to this little problem I have with half sheet pan dough rising, but so far have had no solid answers. So what do you guys think? If there are any yeast baking experts out there, please feel free to give me some advice. Is it just that the sheet pans are against me, or do you think it may be something else?

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Cornmeal Dinner Rolls

Recipe Courtesy of Taste of Home Magazine

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pkg (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110°-115°)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 3/4-5 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal

Directions

1. In a large saucepan, combine the milk, sugar butter, cornmeal and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

2. Reduce heat; cook & stir 5-8 minutes or until thickened. Cool in the freezer (until mixture reaches 110°-115°).

3. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cornmeal mixture and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky)

4. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

5. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 15-20 balls. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Cover with a  clean kitchen towel; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

6. Uncover rolls; brush with melted butter and sprinkled with cornmeal. Bake at 375°for 13-17 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks; serve warm.

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Maple Chicken

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Have any of you guys ever come across a recipe on television, in a magazine or cookbook and been super excited to try it out, then looked at the ingredients list and did a little sigh inside. Not because you thought that the recipe looked too difficult, but because one (or maybe even more than one) of the ingredients was just a liiiittle bit more pricey than you were willing to pay? That happens to me quite a bit, especially in some of my more ‘swanky’ cookbooks, or also in recipes from the ‘swanky’ chefs.

I did a quick Google search of some of the more common ingredients that I see in recipes that I really want to try, but haven’t as of yet because my wallet is still giving me a resounding “No, Jess!”

  • 1 Gram of Saffron: $8.95 , 2 Grams of Saffron: $13.00, 1 Ounce of Saffron: $58.00 (I get it: a little of this stuff goes a long way, but come ON!)
  • 2 Vanilla Bean Pods: $9.95 (I know that the comparison of vanilla beans to vanilla extract is like comparing cubic zirconia to diamonds. I also know that $9.95 is enough for me to buy two jars of vanilla extract that will last me more than just two uses.)
  • 8 oz. Pine Nuts: $12.63 (No. Just…just no.)

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While for the most part, I’m  willing to remain frugal on certain ingredients, there are others that I’m willing to be more flexible about- it all depends on the day and what kind of mood I’m in, honestly. If I’m caught on a good day, I’ll probably be more willing to splurge. If I’m having a bad day, then Scrooge is my middle name.

Confession alert: I’m one of those idiots that usually buys and settles for the cheap ‘syrup’ from Hungry Jack, Aunt Jemima or Log Cabin when eating her pancakes and waffles. I know, I know. Feel free to pelt me with tomatoes for that one. I deserve it. But here’s the thing: maple syrup- the REAL Grade A and B maple syrup, isn’t cheap where I come from. I’m talking a bare minimum of $10.00 dollars for a 12 oz bottle. And if you want to buy it Organic? An automatic average of $10-$15, and that’s only at the general grocery store. The Better Health store thinks they have the right to charge $20.00. It’s rough out here in these Lansing streets, you guys just don’t know.

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Maybe some of you are thinking: “Well , gosh Jess, isn’t 12 oz enough to eat with waffles/pancakes?” My answer would be, maybe if I lived by myself. But I don’t. I live with a whole house full of other people who happen to share my habit of dousing her pancakes or waffles in puddles of syrup. When there are three other people that are doing this at the table, that 12 oz bottle of maple syrup doesn’t last very long. So typically, I just don’t buy it.

However, I recently had a very good day where I was smiling and feel like a Super Foodie and I happened to come across this recipe when brainstorming what I was going to cook for dinner. Long story short, I suckered myself into buying a $12.00 bottle of maple syrup. On the way home, I consoled myself with the thought that so long as I reserve it for very important recipes (and not just for my pancake/waffle baths), it was a worthwhile investment.

After eating this dish, I strongly second that consolation. And third it. And fourth it.

Real maple syrup is worth the money, if only to make Maple Chicken. I’m Jess(ica) and I approve this message.

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Maple Chicken

Recipe Courtesy of Great American Recipes

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 6 oz each)
  •  1 tbsp vegetable oil
  •  1 tsp paprika
  •  1 tsp salt
  •  1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  •  1/2 tsp ground cumin
  •  1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  •  1/2 tsp. black pepper
  •  2 tbsp maple syrup
  •  1 tbsp. butter, melted

 Directions

 1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet and brush with the vegetable oil.

2. Combine the paprika, salt, cinnamon, cumin, tarragon and pepper in a medium bowl; mix well. Coat the chicken evenly with the paprika mixture and bake for 15 minutes.

3. Combine the maple syrup and butter in a small bowl. Brush half of the mixture evenly over the chicken, return to oven and bake for 5 minutes.

4. Turn the chicken over and brush with the remaining maple syrup mixture. Bake until juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife, about 5 minutes longer. Serve hot.

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Blackberry Jam- Filled Muffins

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Hey guys. Let’s talk about forgetfulness for a few minutes. What are the types of things that we can forget?

I forget things when shopping at the grocery store (for some reason, it’s almost always the mouthwash. I ALWAYS forget to to buy the mouthwash. Don’t ask why, cause I don’t know).

Sometimes I forget to send in my monthly check for 1 of my latest student loan payments (which is actually really bad and you think I would’ve learned my lesson by now, but I think it’s an unconscious desire on my part to stick my tongue out at the Powers That Be that make education so ridiculously expensive these days).

I took Arabic as a second language in college for 3 years. Anyone who’s ever learned a foreign language outside of their native one knows that the key to getting really good is retention. It’s been a while since I was learning it 7 days a week and taking exams on it every two weeks or so and needless to say, I’ve forgotten more than a few things of what I learned of that lovely language. Don’t get me wrong, I can still read and write it phonetically, but my translation skills are very rusty.

I also forget to do laundry. And dishes.

….and who am I kidding? No one really forgets to do laundry and dishes, I just pretend to forget them sometimes because I don’t feel like doing them. Don’t act like you’ve never done it before.

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I’ve got a question for some of my fellow bloggers out there: am I the only one who will make a dish, take all the pictures in a photo shoot, and even eat all of the food, but then just set aside the actual post to put on ‘for later’ in favor of another post, the end up forgetting about it by mistake? I’m pretty sure I can’t be the only one who does that. I’d feel kinda silly if I was, so please go ahead and tell me in the Comments section that it’s happened to you before. Seriously, tell me if you’ve done this before.

Why am I asking you this? Well, because that’s kinda what I did with this recipe. Do you all remember a few weeks ago when I made the scrumptious Blackberry Jam for the ‘Scandal’ series? If you don’t, or just weren’t following my blog when I posted it, go ahead and check it out, cause not only is it bomb.com, it’s also featured in this recipe that I may or may not have made a while ago and accidentally forgot to put up on the blog.

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But, if I had forgotten to do so entirely, it really would have been a shame. Because despite being extremely easy to make, these muffins are really quite good. For one, they’re bursting with delicious and lovely blackberry jam that provides the perfect balance between sweet and tart. What is really the unexpected hero of this recipe though, is the cinnamon that’s sprinkled on top. After the muffins are baked, it provides a kind of ‘crunchy’ texture to the soft muffins that just works really well.

You definitely don’t have to make jam from scratch to make these muffins (although I certainly won’t discourage you from doing so). A jarred jam of your choice would work just as well with these.

Note to self: don’t forget to post yummy recipes. Ever again.

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Blackberry Jam-Filled Muffins

Recipe Adapted from Great American Recipes

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup blackberry jam
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Mix the flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

3. Combine the milk, vegetable oil and egg with in a medium bowl.

4. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring gently until the dry ingredients are moistened.

5. Fill the muffin cups halfway  with batter. Place 1 tsp jam in the center of the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the jam.

6. Combine the remaining sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over each muffin. Bake until golden, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Serve warm.

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