Mommy Cafe

Vegetarian home cooking, kid tested and approved

Peanut Butter Truffles

Happy New Year!  Now is the time when everyone is making resolutions, many of which involve eating more healthfully.  Perfect time to post a decadent, irresistible truffles recipe, right?!

I made a pamper basket for my sister-in-law who just had a baby four months ago.  Giving me such an adorable nephew deserved a special thank-you gift at Christmas.  Since I already planned on dark chocolate truffles, it only made sense to add some brightness to the basket with another light-colored treat.  Enter white chocolate.  Peanut butter was an all too easy pairing with the white chocolate, but what to add to the peanut butter to make them something extra special took a few days of thought.  Then inspiration hit.

Candy canes.

That’s right.  I crushed up some good old-fashioned candy cane and stirred it in.  It was delicious.  But not perfect.

Pretzels.

What?  Yeah that’s right, pretzels.  Also crushed into small pieces.  This made for some discomfort while rolling out the truffles, but it was worth it.  I know this, because I tested one out of the sister-in-law’s batch.  Maybe six.  Sorry, Amy.

These take a lot of time to make, but most of it is inactive time waiting for the truffles to chill.

Estimated time:  5 hours total, 40 minutes active       Estimated cost: $6, depending on quality of PB

Peanut Butter Truffles

  • 12 oz peanut butter (the best quality you’re willing to buy)
  • 24 oz package almond bark or white chocolate
  • 1 candy cane, crushed finely
  • 1/2 cup pretzels, crushed

Soften 6 oz almond bark in microwave, stirring every 15 seconds until melted.  Add peanut butter and stir until smooth.  Mix in crushed candy cane and pretzels.  Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

Using a teaspoon or melon baller, scoop out a portion of the chilled mixture and form into a ball by gently rolling it in your hands.  Place truffles on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and chill 2 hours.

Melt remaining almond bark in a double boiler over medium heat.  Using a fork, dip truffles and roll to coat.  Return the coated truffle to the parchment-lined cookie sheet to cool.

Makes about 2 dozen truffles.

 

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January 4, 2012 Posted by | Baked Goodies, Recipes, Vegetarian | , , | 4 Comments

Seven Grain Cereal Bread

Once upon a time I liked to make no-knead breads.  It resulted in the health benefits of homemade bread without the sore wrists.  I was willing to sacrifice the light and airy sandwich bread for the dense but hearty whole wheat variety (which, no matter what I did, would never fully rise).

Then I met this beauty, worth every minute of hand-kneading!

Despite the need to knead, this is a relatively simple bread to make.  It contains few ingredients, the most out-of-the-ordinary being seven grain cereal, which I’ve decided needs to become a staple in my home anyway.  Mix it, rest it, knead it, rise it, shape it, bake it.  Nothing to it!  Kudos to Bread World, my new go-to for all things baked.  I found that it took closer to 3 cups of flour to get the right consistency, and next time I might add a little more honey and a little less water for a less subtly sweet taste.  That said, following the recipe exactly got a beautiful rise and a perfectly airy loaf.

I let Will stay up a little late tonight just to have a slice.  He took one bite and loudly exclaimed “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten!”  Pretty sure the neighbors heard him.  He then proceeded to give me a monster hug that nearly knocked me into the still-hot oven, thanking me for letting him have a slice before bed.  Really?  An unsolicited hug and thank you??  This bread is a keeper.

Seven Grain Cereal Bread

Makes: 1 loaf

2 to 2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 envelope (or 2 1/4 tsp) RapidRise Yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
2/3 cup seven grain hot cereal

Combine 1 cup flour, undissolved yeast and salt in a large bowl. Heat water, milk, butter and honey until very warm (120o to130oF). Stir in cereal; let stand 2 minutes. Gradually add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.
Divide dough in half; roll each half to 7-inch rope. Place ropes side by side in greased 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Bake at 400oF for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

November 8, 2011 Posted by | Baked Goodies, Recipes | , | Leave a comment

Homemade Bread

It’s been a while since my last post.  Life has been hectic, and many nights I’ve felt that getting any kind of dinner on the table was an accomplishment, even when that dinner was a frozen pizza.  Don’t worry, I’ve still been cooking real food for the most part.  Just with a little less creativity most nights.

However, I do have a little secret that I’ve been excited to share.  Are you sitting down?  Cuz this is big…

I’ve been baking bread!  That’s right, me, the woman who hates to bake.  It all started innocently enough with a craving for cookies.  A batch of my favorite White Chocolate Oatmeal Craisin cookies turned into a second batch of cookies to share with friends, and before I knew it my baking agenda also included homemade yogurt and an experimental loaf of bread.  For someone who doesn’t bake, it was certainly a full immersion… and it was a success!

I have not purchased a loaf of bread from the store in three months.  Now how, you may ask, can someone with no time on her hands manage to keep homemade bread in stock?  Simple.  I found a recipe that requires no kneading, just one rise, and a relatively short baking time (No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread).  While it does tie me to the house for a couple of hours, I’ve found it quite easy to start two loaves after dinner and have fresh bread cooled in time for a bedtime snack.

Even better news: the recipe is fool-proof, pun intended.  The first time I made it (and maybe a few times after that), the bread didn’t rise.  It was winter, and my house is a little chilly.  But instead of tossing it in the trash, I tossed it in the oven just to see what would happen.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was delicious!  Since then I’ve read, heard, or even come up with my own tricks to get a good rise out of my bread (ha! The jokes are just rolling in now!).

1. Don’t go out and buy a $250 KitchenAid mixer.  Also don’t use your cookie beaters.  Splurge and buy yourself a nice hand mixer with dough hooks.  A good mixer will bring your dough to the perfect consistency.  I found a Black & Decker for less than $20.  I’ve already recouped that money by not spending $4 a loaf every other week.

2. Turn on your oven for a few minutes and set your bread pans in front of the vent on the stove top where it’s nice and toasty.  Better yet, bake some cookies while the dough rises so you’re not wasting energy.

3. Heat cold liquids and use water that is closer to hot than lukewarm.  Your mixing bowls, utensils, and bread pans are all much cooler than the necessary temperature for yeast to thrive.  Pouring perfectly temped liquids into the cold bowls makes your liquids not so perfect anymore.

4. When the recipe calls for instant yeast, use instant yeast.  Nothing kills a bread buzz like having to wait an extra hour for the dough to rise.

I’ve tried a few of the King Arthur’s Flour recipes now, and they have all been fantastic.  I’ve never had a bad loaf of the No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread, other than the rising problem described above.  And the English Muffin Bread is amazing, especially when made with a little wheat flour mixed in.

So look around their site, try out a few recipes, and tell me which is your favorite.

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Baked Goodies | , | 1 Comment

Will’s Apple Crater

Tonight Will decided he wanted to make dessert.  He wanted to make a “turbo taker,” which, in his words, is something you make up.  In my words, it means he pulls random ingredients from the fridge and cupboard and starts mixing.  I’m in a bit of a quandary about this cooking without a plan.  On the one hand, I like to encourage his creativity in the kitchen.  I didn’t learn to cook without a recipe until two years ago.  I think it benefits him to try new things, make crazy concoctions, and learn a little about how food happens.

On the other hand, we’ve had some big failures (noodles with a graham cracker, orange juice, and Parmesan “sauce” comes to mind), which result in a set back of our food budget and our dinner time.

So when he insisted on making dinner tonight, I set a few parameters.  The first rule was that he had to have a plan.  We talked about the ingredients, he explained what he would do with them, and when I was satisfied that he was on track, I butted out.  Although I did insist on making it a dessert and not our main course.  The result was… better than I expected.  Will was very excited about it, and before the first bite asked me to blog about it.  So here it is, Will’s first published recipe 🙂

(The name is a bit misleading– this looks nothing like a crater.  Originally he wanted to call it “fahcost,” or something equally nondescript.  I asked him to try a name that describes what it is.  It at least has apples!)

Will’s Apple Crater

  • 1/4 box of wheat crackers (Wheat Thins, for example), crushed
  • 2 oz dried cranberries
  • 1 apple, diced into small pieces
  • 3 T. peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp water
  • 3 tsp honey

Put all ingredients in an oven-safe baking dish and mix well.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Serves 4

March 6, 2011 Posted by | Baked Goodies | | 2 Comments

White Chocolate Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

Don’t let the long name fool you– these cookies are deliciously simple to make.  As I’ve mentioned before I don’t bake often.  However, this recipe made a convert out of me!  The sweetness of the white chocolate chips are a perfect pair for the tart dried cranberries.  And the oatmeal makes them healthy!  Right??

This recipe was from a magazine in an ad for Ocean Spray Craisins, so sadly I can’t take credit for the total yumminess that will come from your oven.  I didn’t make a single change to the original recipe, but one could easily use raisins instead of Craisins, or add macadamia nuts (Mmmm), or any other number of variations.  For me, I’ll stick to the original.

Disclaimer:  Will asks me to make his without the cranberries.  I do so happily, because it means I get more cranberries in my half of the cookies!

White Chocolate Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 ozs dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, mixing well.  Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate mixing bowl.  Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.

Makes approx 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Baked Goodies | | 3 Comments