Last Wednesday I had the day off of work and I decided I was really going to use the whole day very wisely. So I got up, walked the dogs with Brad, showered, did some Christmas shopping, came home, made some crumb cake, went to Sam’s Club with Brad and then made some chili. Oh and then went to our town’s Christmas Main Street lighting thing and drove downtown Indy to see all the Christmas decorations.
Like I said, I wanted to use my day wisely… I think I accomplished my goal.
Ok, so every once and awhile I get on Pinterest. Is Pinterest sill the thing to do? I jumped on the wagon a little late and I feel like now no one uses it anymore, but I don’t really know. Either way, I probably get on it once a week because I feel like the same recipes are always on there, but usually if I get on once a week I can find something new. Anyway, so I was on Pinterest and realized that I am a dork because I have pinned some 100 recipe but have pretty much never made any of them. And what better thing to do on a day off than to make some random recipe from Pinterest!?
The reason why I had originally “pinned” this recipe and decided to make it was because it literally looks exactly like the crumb cake we spent like $20 on from Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ (aka Cake Boss) when we went to visit friends over my birthday in March. Brad had seen it out of the corner of his eye in their case and asked that we get it and I, of course, was not going to pass it up. However, we had thought we’d be getting just like a slice of it, maybe the size of an index card, but that’s not really how they do things there. Instead we got a whole slab of crumb cake that was at least the size of a sheet of 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper. When I saw the girl put it in the box I thought to myself that we would never eat it all and that I hoped it was ridiculously good because I knew we were going to really pay for that thing. Luckily and not surprisingly it was incredibly delicious. Delicious enough that I am pretty sure we ate every last crumb of that thing within like 2 days. It was basically too good to be true. And so when I saw the photo on Pinterest and realized it looked exactly the same, I knew it was worth a try!
Now, it doesn’t taste exactly like the one from Carlo’s Bakery (I swear theirs had a hint of lemon to it), but this was still pretty freaking good. It it’s made with ingredients that most people have laying around the house. The only thing is that it requires cake flour. The recipe states at the very beginning to not sub all-purpose flour, but I’m a dork and thought I had more cake flour than I actually did. So I cheated and used all-purpose flour for the crumb part. And what do you know, just as the original recipe said, it was dry. And of course, just as I had put everything together, my mom called me about something and I told her that I was making a crumb cake and that I cheated and used all-purpose flour and exactly like a mom, she told me I could make my own cake flour easily. Wah. It was too late. But I’ll supply a link below to help you not have this situation yourself.
Ok, so like I said, you should have most, if not all, of the ingredients and it’s really not complicated to make at all. It probably took me 10 minutes to whip it all together. It takes about 40 minutes to bake and in case you are wondering what you can do in those 40 minutes, I’ll tell you: You can eat the remaining 5 leftover steak fries from the night before, lick both the batter bowl and the crumb bowl clean, wash those bowls and all the other dishes including the ones that should have gone in the dishwasher had you thought to wait to start the dishwasher instead of doing it 1 1/2 hours before you made this crumb cake… dry all those dishes, clean up some dog vomit (twice) because one of them (I still don’t know who) got freaked by the FedEx man knocking on the front door… and after all of that, you will still be able to watch a good 15 minutes of Parenthood. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in 40 minutes!
Anyway, the crumb cake is easy and awesome and I am really excited to make it for Christmas morning because it just seems like a good thing to make for Christmas morning. It would also make a great gift! Everyone loves a crumb cake, right!? Oh and warning: it is pretty crumbly, but let’s face it, the crumbs are what makes crumb cake so amazing.
Taken straight from Smells Like Home (found on Pinterest)
Makes 1- 8″x8″ pan
For the Crumb Layer:
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 cup cake flour (don’t have cake flour? Learn how to make it HERE!)
For the Cake Layer:
1 1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still solid, cut into 6 chunks
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup buttermilk (don’t have any? Learn how to make it HERE!)
Powdered Sugar for dusting (I forgot this part. Oops)
To make the topping: Whisk sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl to combine. Add flour and stir with a spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough; set aside to cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.
To make the cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut parchment paper to cover the whole inside of the an 8″ pan. I did this in 2 pieces, it works better.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine. With mixer running at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks remaining, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary.
Transfer batter to baking pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter into even layer. Break apart crumb topping and spread it evenly over the batter. Bake until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let it cool for at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan by lifting parchment overhang. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving (but not while it’s still hot!). YUM!
Brad’s birthday was… oh … well … 2 weeks ago, but that’s ok. I was debating how I was going to post these recipes and decided that I would do both of them in one post for ease (for me, not for you). Yep. I’m officially lazy. Not sure where this has come from, but it’s true. I have found myself watching more useless television and sleeping at odd hours of the day for longer than a normal person should nap. Yep. Lazy. But it’s ok. I’ve come to terms with it and have decided I should probably make some sort of changes regarding this laziness. Maybe this week will be the week I change. Maybe… Actually, I’m really not that lazy. I’m just tired all the time because I wake up in the middle of the night to go stand and work for 8 hours. I still manage to get my lists of things done, I just sleep in between all of those things on my lists.
Whatever. I’m not sure why I even told you all of that. It was useless information. Moving on…
OK. So Brad’s birthday was 2 weeks ago and it was really fun. I brought him a specially decorated cupcake (I’m not the best at writing in icing) and we went to a concert that night and I made dinner and dessert for him the following night. When I asked what he wanted for dinner he gave no response. We had our family over that weekend and fried a turkey and had a whole bunch of sides and appetizers and desserts and beer…. lots of food. And so he considered that his birthday dinner, however, I was still determined to make him something. So when he gave me no suggestions, I went to the internet and tried to find something a little different. So stir fry it was! We haven’t had stir fry in probably a month! And as for dessert, I wanted something different than cake. I had brought him home a chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream and I made chocolate whoopie pies with brown sugar Italian buttercream for the party, so I didn’t want anymore chocolate cake (that’s his favorite). I found my answer pretty quickly while wasting time on Pinterest… carmel apple crisp. Yes, you read that correctly. Not just apple crisp, CARMEL apple crisp.
Let me start with the stir fry. This is a beef with bok choy and carrot stir fry. And it’s awesome. It’s probably one of my most favorite stir fry recipes that I have made. The sauce is a perfect combination of a little sweet and salty. It actually has peanut butter in it, which I was hesitant, but it was barely noticeable. I loved the combination of carrots and bok choy as well. I just love bok choy. If you don’t, you could sub a different leafy green, but I would highly suggest sticking with the bok choy. Now, the butcher shop in our area didn’t have skirt steak, as the recipe calls for, so I got a flat iron steak. That worked out really well, it’s so nice and tender! If you can’t find either of those, flank steak would work just fine. Let me just tell you, this recipe has definite potential to become our new go-to stir fry recipe!!
As for dessert… Holy cow it was good and holy cow it was easy! I had found a few different recipes for carmel apple crisp on Pinterest (I had no idea carmel apple crisp was so popular!) so I ended up combining recipes to make, what I felt, would be the best. Some recipes called for caramel sauce that goes on ice cream, but I don’t feel like that is REAL caramel. So instead, I used the little caramel cubes that you buy by the bag (which is clearly the real stuff). I cut them up smaller so they would melt a little more evenly. And melt evenly they did! While I got a little excited about the caramels and added a little bit too many, it still turned out delicious. It could have used another apple with all that caramel, but it’s ok (don’t worry, I took this into account when writing the recipe below). Bradley thoroughly enjoyed the extra caramel with his vanilla ice cream.
All in all it was a great birthday for him. We didn’t have a Birthday Extravaganza this year (see this link, this link, and this link for last year’s Birthday Extravaganza), but we had two great days together. I tried to be a little more low key than normal. Usually, I go crazy and have all this stuff planned and I jam pack a whole weekend with too many things. This year, we went simple. A concert and really good food. We are both excited for what this next year has in store!
Now go make this stir fry and carmel apple crisp. It’s just really important that you do it.
Steak, Bok Choy and Carrot Stir Fry
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes about 4 servings
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon peanut butter (We always have this on hand and it worked perfectly in this dish)
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1 pound of skirt steak, flat iron steak or flank steak cut about 1/2 inch thick
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2-3 heads of baby bok choy (I felt this worked better than the large heads the original recipe called for)
4 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced at an angle
Rice for serving
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped (we skipped this but I wanted you to know that this is an option)
In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter, honey and garlic together.
In a bowl (or on the cutting board like I did because I didn’t want to have to wash another bowl) mix the steak with the cornstarch. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. In a nonstick skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add 1/2 of the steak and cook, tossing, until brown, only a couple minutes. You don’t want to overcook this!! Remove from skillet and cook the rest of the steak, remove and set aside.
Add the soy sauce mixture to the skillet. Toss in the bok choy and carrots. Cook, tossing occasionally until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes. Return the steak to the skillet and toss. Cook for a couple minutes until the steak is heated through. Serve over immediately over the hot, cooked rice!
Carmel Apple Crisp
Adapted from like 5 different Pinterest links (here’s the only one I can remember I used)
Makes about 2-4 servings depending on how hungry you are!
2 apples of your choice, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
8-12 caramel cubes cut in thirds
4 tablespoons flour
6-8 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small chunks
8 tablespoons old fashioned rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350.
Spray the bottom and sides of either a loaf pan or 4 ramekins with cooking spray. Place apples in bottom of dish(es). Sprinkle the caramels over the apples.
In a small bowl mix remaining dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter with your fingertips until mixture is the texture of coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the caramels and apples.
Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the apples feel tender when poked with a knife. Remove from the oven and serve immediately with ice cream!
Friday night Brad and I and our furry children went to my parents’ house to celebrate my brother’s birthday. While I was laying on the floor wrestling with those furry children, I noticed the small stack of books under my parents’ television in their sun room. In that pile was a Julia Child baking book that I think my brother and I got her as a gift for some occasion a few years ago. I started thumbing through it and realized I wanted to make every single thing in that book. So I took it home and the second I had the chance, I made these pinwheels.
Every once and awhile I get in a baking mood, but not just a “oh let’s bake some cookies” mood. More like a “I want to make something fancy and pretty and time consuming and more difficult than a cookie” mood. I was in that mood Sunday. And I am so happy that I was. I had to finish these on Monday though because the dough had to sit in the fridge overnight, which I didn’t know until I had finished making the dough… But it was ok because my crazy baking mood was still in full force Monday (which for the record, doesn’t make any sense since I spent 7 hours baking cupcakes that morning).
My mom has gotten into canning lately and that basically means that Brad and I are fully stocked with apple butter, pickles, strawberry jam and… this just in… blueberry jam. I don’t know if you have ever had blueberry jam, but believe me when I say this… It is incredible. It is wonderful. It is unbearably delicious. It blew my socks off (wait, it’s hot out, I wasn’t wearing socks when I tried it, but if I did have socks on, they would have been blown off). I was shocked. I don’t know why I didn’t think blueberry jam would be very good (considering that I love blueberry pie) but I just didn’t have high expectations. But I can officially say now that blueberry is my favorite jam. And so when I saw that these pinwheels had jam in them, I knew exactly which one to use! I used up all the blueberry jam though, so to fill the remaining 4, I used the strawberry jam my mom made a few weeks ago!
Ok… so these taste like something out of a bakery. No joke. The Danish Pastry dough is incredible. It’s flaky and a little bit salty so the sweet jam balances it out perfectly. These are absolutely incredible straight out of the oven. They don’t really save super well because they get a little soggy with all the jam, however, they taste the same so it’s all ok. I would highly suggest stuffing your face with as many as you can though when they are done baking because they are so perfect! I’ve been eating them for breakfast, for a snack and for dessert! So basically, I have been eating them all day. You’ll just die when you bite into one. They are that good!
Jam Filled Pinwheel Danishes
From Baking With Julia
Makes about 16 pinwheels
1/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, at room temp
1 large egg, at room temp
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks cold unsalted butter
Mixing the Dough: Pour the water into a large bowl, sprinkle over the yeast and let it soften for a minute. Add the milk, egg, sugar and salt and whisk to mix; set aside.
Put the flour in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Cut the butter into 1/4-inch thick slices and drop them onto the flour. Pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is cut into pieces that are about 1/2 inch in diameter. Don’t overdo this- the pieces must not be smaller than 1/2 inch.
Empty the contents of the food processor into the bowl with the yeast and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently turn the mixture over, scraping the bowl as needed, just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Again, don’t be too energetic- the butter must remain in discrete pieces so that you will produce a flaky pasty, not a bread or cookie dough.
Chilling the Dough: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight (or for up to 4 days).
Rolling and Folding: Lightly flour a work surface, turn the dough out onto it and dust the dough lightly with flour. Using the palms of your hands, pat the dough into a rough square. Then roll it into a square about 16 inches on a side. Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter, and turn it so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. (If at any time the dough gets too soft to roll just cover it with plastic wrap and pop it into the fridge for a quick chill.)
Roll the dough out again, this time into a long narrow rectangle, about 10 inches wide by 24 inches long. Fold the rectangle in thirds again, turn it so that the closed fold is to your left and once more, roll the dough into a long narrow rectangle, 10 inches by 24 inches long. Fold in thirds again, wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes, or as long as 2 days.
To Make the Pastries
1 recipe of the Danish Pastry Dough
Jam of your choice
1 large egg white, beaten
Cane sugar for sprinkling
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Flour the top of the dough and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a square that is 20 inches on a side. Using a ruler and a pizza cutter, trim the edges to even them, if needed. Score each side at 5-inch intervals, then cut through the dough, using the ruler as your guide, to make 16- 5inch squares.
To make the pinwheel, place the pastry square on the parchment paper and spoon a tablespoon of jam in the center of the square. Using a pizza cutter or a thin sharp knife, cut a slash from the center to each corner. Brush every other corner with with a little bit of the beaten egg white and lift those points off the surface and in toward the center, pressing the dough lightly against the filling and overlapping the points to create a pinwheel!
Rise: Cover with a kitchen towel and allow the pastries to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. (reserve the remaining egg white) Although the pastries won’t double, they will look and feel fluffy.
Baking: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400. Brush the risen pastries with the reserved egg white, sprinkle with the cane sugar and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden.