The Joy of Baking

Happy Friday!!

Thank you to Jessica for letting me take over her blog for a second time. The pressure is always a bit intimidating, but I just can’t resist the invitation to hang out and smell the roses over here!

If I had to pick the top three things I love to do in my free time, I’d have to say …

  • The first is sewing {which you can read all about on my blog, Knitty Bitties}. 
  • The second is running {which I can’t do for another 4 weeks due to a cracked rib from coughing … ouch!}
  • The third, and the one I want to talk about today is … baking.

I *HEART* Baking!

There is nothing better than walking into my freshly cleaned kitchen and feeling that urge to bake. The same thing happens after I clean up my sewing room. To me, clean and organized is inspiring.

Favorite tried and true ‘bread’ recipe –
Hot Buttered Pretzels (from King Arthur Flour)
Notes:: I make this in my Kitchen Aid mixer with King Arthur’s Bread Flour {yes it’s worth the extra money and DOES make a difference}. It’s quick and easy enough that if I need a bread to go with dinner at say 4PM, I still have time to make this one.

Favorite cookie recipe –
Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies (from All Recipes)

Favorite cupcakes – 
Hummingbird cupcakes (from Cup Cake Bake Shop by Chockylit)


Favorite new recipe – 
Salted Caramel Butter Bars (from Cookies & Cups)

Most recently tried recipe – 
6 Ingredient Chocolate Chip Scones (from Beautiful Nest)

Favorite homemade snack recipe –
My version of the ‘Homemade Whole Grain & Nut Energy Bars’ recipe originally found on Jessica’s sister’s blog, 30 Handmade Days. Unfortunately the link isn’t working, so I’m including the full recipe with my modifications in parantheses.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raw nuts (1/2C pecans & 1/2C unsalted cashews)
  • 1/2 cup raw seeds (unsalted/un-roasted sunflower seeds)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed (1/2C wheat germ)
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter (almond butter/a tiny bit of Jif when I ran out of almond ;D)
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter (more like 4T since I had half a stick in the fridge)
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch of course salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate ships or chunks
  • Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Line 13×9″ baking pan with foil or parchment paper (for easy removal), and butter all sides.
  • Toast oats, nuts & seeds, and coconut on a cookie sheet in the oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  • ** I skipped this step and instead put all the dry ingredients (minus the oats) in the food processor to get a finer mix. **

  • Meanwhile, bring peanut butter, honey, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to a simmer to a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low.
  • Transfer toasted mixture to a large mixing bowl, and add the flaxseed (**wheat germ**).
  • Carefully pour the wet mixture into the bowl, and stir until fully combined; incorporate the chocolate chips.
  • Transfer mixture to the prepared pan, and use the back of a spoon to pack it in really well.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Cool in the pan for a few hours, then cut into bars and enjoy!
  • **I purchased all of my nuts/coconut/wheat germ from the bulk section at Win-Co making it slightly less expensive. I also buy my almond butter fresh ground as well as my honey from Win-Co. I wouldn’t say this is a ‘cheap’ replacement for store bought granola bars, but they are so, so, so much better tasting (and better for you). Plus it makes 16 bars, which is about 2 boxes … so it’s probably a wash or a slight savings. **

    Unlike the other recipes I had tried, these cut really nice about 2 hours after baking and didn’t require overnight cooling to come together. I cut the pan into 16 rectangular bars which really stayed together. Sure there are still a few crumbles, like any granola bar, but so much less than my earlier attempts.
    Recipes I’m wanting to try::

    • Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes (from Martha Stewart Cupcakes, blogged at Handle the Heat)

     

    Favorite recipe sites::
    All Recipes
    Pioneer Woman / Tasty Kitchen
    Joy the Baker
    Two Peas and Their Pod
    Pinterest

    And now I should be offering you a plate of baked goods for sitting through such a mouth watering post. If I could, I would. Seriously, then I wouldn’t have to eat it all {and then run 8,347 miles} … because some how I married a man without a sweet tooth and had a child who could take or leave most of the things I bake.

    Instead I *might* be giving away one of my “Happy Little List Takers” here on Allora Handmade very soon. It’s perfect for making your grocery list/meal plan and holding your coupons & calculator as you head to the store.

    Happy Creating!! I hope I inspired you to try something new!
    XOXO, Andrea

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