Pumpkin Popovers

So, I found this recipe back in October for pumpkin popovers, and boy are they delicious. Just the perfect blend of the pumpkin taste with the ever popular popover experience. I have to admit that popovers are my all-time favorite item from the bread basket. Somehow, I always hope since they are hollow in the middle, that they really don’t count for a full bread exchange.  And, these just use the ever popular pumpkin pie spice–not what you might have first thought–ugh, not that canned pumpkin again.

So, here is a great recipe that started me thinking about just adding different spices to this popover recipe–so stay tuned for other ideas.  From the pages of Good Housekeeping, October 2016, comes this recipe, with my modifications.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees along with a popover pan.  When heated, melt a bit of margarine in each cup and swirl around to coat the pan. Meanwhile, mix 3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 3 Tbsp melted butter together in a bowl.  Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Blend well, and divide into 6 large popover cups until each is 2/3 full.

    

Bake 50-60 minutes until browned.  Remove from the oven and tap to hear the hollow sound that the classic popover will make, signifying that the center is fully cooked.

If possible, serve warm, but they are tasty when cooled as well.  These can be dusted with powdered sugar, if desired. Serve popovers with soup, salad, or any breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner entree.  A great alternative to a roll, biscuit, or other types of bread choices.  This recipe makes six large popovers.

 

 

Pleasanton Bakery

On our last trip to Traverse City Michigan, we happened upon this amazing bakery located in the Village at Grand Traverse commons.  This is not the “run of the mill” bakery that you happen across most days. Pleasanton Bakery was voted one of the BEST bread bakeries in America, by Food and Wine magazine in 2012.

I would say that honor holds up as the character of their artisan breads is nothing short of spectacular.  The owner of this quiet establishment was trained at the French Culinary Institute and has been employed at some of the finest restaurants throughout New York City.  How lucky is Traverse City to have such an amazing person in their town!

Besides an array of bread that is sold to wholesale and retail establishments, the storefront also has croissants, Danish, savory scones, tarts, brownies and a variety of other items daily.  The wood fired brick oven, where the magic happens, holds up to 55 loaves at once.  So, this is a real business.

Every product that comes from this establishment is made with locally grown organic Michigan grain.

I would have to say that the upscale cost of their product matches the quality of the technique and the taste.  If you want the best, be prepared to pay for it.  And, after saying that, you will not be disappointed at all.

A few chairs are available in the summer months to enjoy a cookie or quick snack, but for the most part, this is a bakery with a mission to please a large audience.  For more information, begin at their website with some photos of product:  https://pleasantonbakery.com/gallery/

 

 

sunshine baked eggs

A great way to make eggs has always been to bake them in the oven.  Especially when preparing for a large breakfast, this technique has to be the easiest.  The eggs can be made in advance while other side dishes are finishing up or being plated.  Sunshine baked eggs are similar to eggs in a hole, but are baked instead of prepared on the stove-top.  Again, this allows for better and easier planning during the entire breakfast preparation schedule.

Baked eggs are perfect served with fruit, toast, muffins, breakfast meats or breakfast potatoes.  Often a very attractive presentation, the eggs hold their place on the plate without looking messy or less than neat.  To make sunshine baked eggs, begin by pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees.  Place 2-3 tablespoons of margarine on a baking sheet and melt in the oven for a couple of minutes.

While the margarine is melting, use a round cookie cutter to remove a circle of each slice of ciabatta bread to be baked.  Butter each piece of bread and the circles and when the sheet pan is ready, place the bread and circles on the pan to bake.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and flip the toast. Crack eggs into the holes of the slices of bread.  Top with pepper, parsley flakes or herbs of choice, and shredded Parmesan cheese if desired.   Bake for 9-10 more minutes until the egg whites are done.

Serve with other breakfast selections.  This is a fun way to serve baked eggs that your guests should truly enjoy.

Visiting Bay Bread Co.

Last week, we were in Traverse City Michigan enjoying the lovely weather and the view of the water.  Every visit we make to the city includes a stop at this wonderful bakery.  Visiting Bay Bread Co. is a tradition for us, since the charm of this bakery and the delicious baked goods are worth the trip.

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They use old world techniques at Bay Bread and offer forty different types of fresh bread, along with other baked goods.  It is a traditional bakery in that you can order and take home to enjoy, however; they also offer breakfast and lunch sandwiches either boxed to go or to enjoy in the Roost above the bakery.  The Roost is a charming spot with a mix of tables and chairs that is not only comfortable but really cute. It has been recently remodeled and is a perfect place to enjoy a morning scone and a cup of coffee.

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Located on Randolph Street, with a view of the Bay, the bakery offers some of most delicious breads and sweets.  We especially enjoy the Traverse City Cherry Walnut bread, the Greek Olive Sourdough bread, and the seeded ciabatta pretzel bread.  Many of the standard breads are offered including whole wheat, French breads, sourdoughs, rye, pumpernickel, savory and Italian breads.  My husband always purchases a large cinnamon roll, although Bay Bread also offers muffins, granola bars and even cookies that are perfect for a breakfast treat.

Don’t miss this spot when you are visiting Northern Michigan.  It is a wonderful way to support local businesses.

Kitchen tool: cooking thermometer

One of the most important tools to have in a kitchen is a cooking thermometer.  Under-cooked foods can be dangerous. Meats, such as, pork, chicken, and beef have precise done temperatures.  With various sizes and cuts of meat, it is often just a guessing game to determine if the cooking is complete.  The best way to know when meat is fully cooked is by using a food thermometer.

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Other uses for a cooking thermometer include checking on egg dishes or casseroles.  Egg dishes are not done until the internal temperature is 160 degrees, and casseroles should be 165 degrees for proper safety.

Most of us use the suggested cooking times in a cookbook, or simply look at the food and presume it is fully cooked.  Food borne pathogens cause many illnesses.  And, for that reason, check food temperatures.

I used this thermometer for another reason this past weekend.  I was baking bread, and to avoid a bread failure from using the wrong water temperature–I used this tool.  Proper water temperature for adding to yeast is 105 to 115 degrees F.  If using melted butter in a bread recipe, the butter temperature must be cooled to 85-90 degrees F.  Adding water that is too hot will kill the yeast, and adding water that is too cold will not stimulate the yeast to proof for rising.  It is amazing to me how hot the temperature of the water is flowing from my kitchen tap.  I tested it several times at various settings.

I love this thermometer, and will recommend it to anyone. It is precise and fast reading.  No more bread failures for me.  I plan to check my ingredients every time before the rising step.

For more information on the Measupro, please follow this link:

http://www.amazon.com/MeasuPro-DCT250-Ultra-Fast-Instant-Thermometer/dp/B00QAVJT32/ref=cm_aya_orig_subj

 

Kitchen tool review: Danish Dough Whisk


The holidays are here with the increased desire to bake and prepare for many celebrations.  I like to bake throughout the winter time, since I seem to have more time indoors due to the inclement weather and decreased garden maintenance.

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I recently had the opportunity to try out this Danish dough whisk that was sent to me for review.  I absolutely love this whisk, and can’t believe how I had not seen it in past years.  It has a very unique design and can actually be used for many types of batters.  I have used it for muffins, breads, and even biscuits.

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The wooden handle is super sturdy and the stainless steel design is perfect for capturing the dough that seems to always stick to the side of the mixing bowl.  The whisk handle is made from natural birch, and the clean up is super easy with soap and water.  The whisk handle comes in different lengths.  The larger whisk would be more appropriate for larger amounts of bread dough, which could be very stiff to mix.  The leverage from the strong handle is a great advantage for those types of dough.

I have been so pleased with this product, I purchased one for my very good friend who also enjoys baking. If you are searching for a last-minute gift for a foodie, here is a great idea.  For more information, check out this website:

http://www.amazon.com/danish-dough-stainless-wooden-handle/dp/b00ns4b2de/ref=sr_1_6?ie=utf8&qid=1416057069&sr=8-6&keywords=dough+whisk

#danishdoughwhisk      #doughwhisk

cherry street market –a wonderful fall experience

Last Friday, we took a relaxing Fall drive Up North to Traverse City Michigan.  I certainly do love Northern Michigan and will never give up an opportunity to experience wonderful food, shopping, and of course the Lake.  The weather was lovely and the air was filled with the crisp cooler weather that has rolled into our state.  I enjoyed every minute of the day, especially my stop at the Cherry Street Market in Kalkaska. ( http://www.cherrystreetmarket.com/)

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The vegetables and fruits were overflowing the shelves into bushels and pecks for sale.  The apples, squash, concord grapes and pie pumpkins were beautiful.  I love everything about a farm market.  I love that it is outdoors. I also love that the produce looks and tastes better than anything available at any local grocery store.  The romaine lettuce is deep green.  The corn is super sweet.  The apples are crisp and perfect without any blemishes. I love that I don’t have to “pick through” the pile, because every specimen of fruit or vegetable is picture perfect.  The freshness factor is overflowing.

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I purchased two large bags brimming with fruits and vegetables for $17.  This amazes me, as produce is so expensive at the grocery store. The abundance is breathtaking and the atmosphere is charming.  I love the harvest season and everything about farm produce.  I encourage everyone to have a small garden.  For those items that cannot be grown at your home due to hours of sun available in your yard, or even just space, I encourage supporting local growers in your area.  I have never been disappointed with the quality or the selection at the end of a growing season.

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