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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Becca’s Book, Serial #12 and Linzer Torte Squares

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As this post is going out on Halloween, I guess we don’t have to explain how unfamiliar experiences at a party can produce unexpected behavior.  Hide behind a mask or put on a silly or scary costume, and suddenly you’re a different person–or at least acting like one. And generally that’s o.k.–it’s fun to get outside of yourself every now and then.

But what about at a theme party? Do those rules apply? In Becca’s Book, Serial #12, they do. Zach and Becca attend a German theme party and end up in an unexpected and spontaneous exchange–though it’s unclear how much, if anything, the party had to do with it. Still, they did start out at the party, and ended up in a situation neither would’ve anticipated.

One of the desserts served at the German party was a Linzer Torte, which really is more a tart than a torte–presumably an accident in the German to English translation. But tart or torte, it is mmm-mmm delicious–and with this recipe, so easy! Give it a try to see what you think. Maybe it will get you outside of yourself for a little while–a whole lot easier than putting on a silly costume and going to a party with a bunch of intoxicated hooligans in masks.

{In loving memory of Dad/Grampy: 10-31-10}

linzer torte squares

Linzer Torte Squares

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup ground walnuts

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup raspberry preserves

linzer torte

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set aside a 7×5 inch pan.

Combine the flour, powdered sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and melted butter and stir until ingredients are combined. The mixture should be slightly crumbly but not dry.

Press 2/3 of the mixture onto the bottom of the 7×5 inch pan. Spoon and spread the raspberry preserves over top of the mixture. Crumble the remaining mixture over top of the preserves. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting.

Makes 6-8 bars.

linzer torte squares1

{Adapted from Betty Crocker}

To view or download Becca’s Book in its entirety (and for free!) click on the cover.

To listen to or view Serial #12, click on the audio or the text link below the cover.

Enjoy! 

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #12, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #12, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #11 and Pumpkin Banana Muffins

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Sometimes you just need a hug.

Could be anything–your boss is mean, the car crapped out, the dog is throwing up in one corner and pooping in the other: lots of possibilities. And then there’s that old standby: relationship blues. The variations on that theme are, unfortunately, endless.

So you need a hug. It happens to all of us at one time or another. People hugs are the best, but maybe a suitable hug provider is not readily available. In that case, food “hugs” are the next best thing. Certain foods or combination of ingredients are surefire hug-givers–their mix of flavors and smells and textures are guaranteed to make you feel reassured and comforted if not outright jumping for joy ecstatic (foods that do that are illegal).

These Pumpkin Banana Muffins are certified hug-givers. How can you not feel consoled with the smell of banana, the moist earthiness of pumpkin, and mood-elevating chocolate chips thrown in for good measure? I can see that grin creeping across your face already–and maybe you didn’t even think you needed a hug. Go on! Give these muffins a try. Everyone needs a hug sometimes.

Zach could use one in Becca’s Book, Serial #11. Becca also. Too bad they didn’t have these muffins available–would’ve made their struggle a lot more bearable. Give this short chapter a listen or read by hitting the links below the cover illustration.

pumpkin-banana-muffins

Pumpkin Banana Muffins

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/2 large ripe banana

1/4 cup pumpkin puree*

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1 egg yolk

2 Tablespoons chocolate chips or chopped nuts (optional)

pumpkin-banana-muffin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 4 muffin cups with muffin liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

Add the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt to a mixing bowl. Whisk dry ingredients together. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, mash the banana. Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, vegetable oil, and egg yolk. Mix ingredients together until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until all ingredients are well incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips/chopped nuts, if using.

Divide the batter between the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 4 muffins.

*If you can’t find pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie filling can be used; just be sure to decrease the brown sugar slightly.

bite-of-muffin

{Adapted from Alida’s Kitchen}

To view or download Becca’s Book in its entirety (and for free!) click on the cover.

To listen to or view Serial #11, click on the audio or the text link below the cover.

Enjoy! 

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #11, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #11, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #10 and Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

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Becca asked for this.

O.K. So Becca is a fictional character and can’t ask for something or step forward out of the pages of a fictional romance even if the book’s title does bear her name. She’s imaginary, right?

But if she could speak, the first thing she’d ask for is this dessert. You see, in the story she eats a chocolate hazelnut mousse at a fancy restaurant and falls in love with it. (And I’ll let you in on a secret–the dessert reappears later, at a watershed moment.) So if Becca could speak, she’d be asking for this dessert.

And you will be too, once you sample this recipe. It’s so rich and decadent, yet simple and quick. So give this treat a try! And while you’re at it, listen to or download a text file of Becca’s Book, Serial #10 below, and find out just why Becca stepped forward from the pages of her book to make a special request for this dessert.

chocolate hazelnut mousse

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse

3/4 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup Nutella, or other chocolate hazelnut spread

1 Tablespoon hot water

1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso

1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Layer hazelnuts in a shallow pan and put in preheated oven for about 7-9 minutes to toast them. Watch these carefully as it is easy to burn them. Once they become aromatic and turn a golden brown, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.

toasted hazelnuts

Dissolve the instant coffee in the hot water. Add Nutella to coffee mixture and stir until well combined.

ingredients

Add the whipping cream to a mixing bowl and beat on high until stiff peaks form. Fold Nutella mixture into whipped cream until evenly combined. Divide mixture between 2 serving cups, sprinkle with cooled toasted hazelnuts, and serve immediately. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

bite of mousse

{Adapted from Erica’s Sweet Tooth}

To view or download Becca’s Book in its entirety (and for free!) click on the cover.

To listen to or view Serial #10, click on the audio or the text link below the cover.

Enjoy! 

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #10, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #10, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #9 and Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

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Sometimes same-old, same-old doesn’t quite cut it. Sometimes you just have to take same-old and make it jazzy-new. And sometimes that magical transition only requires changing one small part of the much larger whole.

So it is with these OATMEAL CRAISIN COOKIES. There’s nothing wrong with same-old oatmeal raisin cookies. I’ve been eating them since far back as I can remember. But an OATMEAL CRAISIN COOKIE? Now you’re talking–gives me a whole new outlook on life! Heck, might even make Congress get together and start governing (like they s’posed to be doin’). Now that really would be something jazzy-new.

In Becca’s Book, Serial #9, Zach and Becca are straddling old and new as they sample both a bit of the Old South at a local diner then return to the “new” culture, with its complex rules and expectations, at an off-campus party. One can’t help but wonder which of the two worlds best suits them and their relationship (if either do). Give the scene a look or a listen!

oatmeal craisin cookie

Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup old fashioned oats

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/3 cup craisins

1/4 cup chopped nuts, optional

oatmeal craisin cookies

Add the butter, brown sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla extract to a mixing bowl. Beat ingredients together until very well blended, or for about 2 minutes. Add the oats, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Mix cookie dough together until ingredients are combined. Add the flour and cornstarch, and slowly mix into batter. Fold in the craisins (and nuts, if using). The dough will be very thick. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1 hour.

When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Divide the batter into 8 balls and place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to brown. Remove the cookies from the oven. If the cookies didn’t spread very much, you can gently press them down while they are hot to make them more flat. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 8 cookies.

oatmeal cookies

{Adapted from Averie Cooks}

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #9, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #9, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Becca’s Book, Serial #8 and Banana Bread Muffins

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Banana bread was almost a staple in our house when I was growing up. It was always around, I think mainly because it was a simple way for my mom to use up those bananas that had turned black in the fruit bowl–mash those squishy things up and add a little flour and sugar and a few others ingredients and voila, like magic, you’ve got a yummy bread that can be used in so many ways. I know you’ve had it plain or with butter or cream cheese, and probably with peanut butter smeared on top or between two slices–but ever tried it toasted in the morning? or grilled with a little ice cream and chocolate sauce on top for a late-night dessert? Like I said–it was almost a staple in our house: we dreamed up all sorts of inventive uses for it.

But we never turned it into muffins. What an ingenious idea–ready-made single serving portions that you don’t have to slice or cover in plastic wrap: just pop one in your mouth or drop it in the lunchbox and GO! (But take an extra along for the friend sitting across the lunch table or the neighbor you’ve been wanting to meet that just happens to stop by the park bench while you’re having a snack of these perfect eat-on-the-go muffins!)

It’s little wonder that Becca makes banana bread during a moment of domestic tranquility in her relationship with Zach–must’ve been a staple in her upbringing as well. Take a look or a listen to Becca’s Book, Serial #8 and see how banana bread fits into this unfolding romance!

banana bread muffin

Banana Bread Muffins

1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 large banana)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

5 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

banana bread muffins

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 6 muffin cups with liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the mashed banana, granulated sugar, oil, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Make sure ingredients are well incorporated. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon to the mashed banana mixture. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined, careful not to over mix the batter.

Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 6 muffins.

banana muffins

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #8, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #8, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!