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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Two Sisters, Serial #11 and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Quick–name three things you associate with fall.

Well, apples.

Good! Got that one last week with our pre-fall intro special: Apple Pie Bars.

Now name another.

O.K. How about the fair?

Perfect! In Two Sisters, Serial #11, Brooke and Leah take their first ever trip to the State Fair at night, and the surprises they uncover there are more than even they would’ve guessed or hoped for!

One more try (and make it a food, since this is a reading and recipes site).

That’s easy–got to be pumpkins!

You’re reading my mind–the food and the decoration and the color of fall all rolled into one. Is there another vegetable that is so completely associated with a season? I don’t think so. And in this incarnation–Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins–not only is the main ingredient seasonally correct but the final product is so good you’ll wish it was fall all year long!

But rest easy–you’ve got another three months to enjoy the season and all these seasonally appropriate treats brought to you by none other than Reading and Recipes!

pumpkin choc chip muffin

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 Tablespoons chocolate chips

pumpkin chocolate chip muffin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 4 muffin cups with paper liners, or lightly grease and flour the muffin cups.

Add the sugar, oil, and egg yolk to a mixing bowl, and beat ingredients together. Mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree until all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Next, slowly mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon, careful not to over mix. Once the batter comes together, fold in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter between the 4 muffin cups. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven and let cool slightly before eating. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Makes 4 muffins.

pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

{Adapted from AllRecipes}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #11 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #11, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #11, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #10 and Apple Pie Bars

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Everyone loves apple pie, right? Well, most everyone–there may be one or two people out there that don’t like it.

But perhaps those who don’t like it feel that way because the crust is too hard to make or too flaky or too doughy, or the filling is runny and that makes it hard to cut and serve and eat.

Well, here at Reading and Recipes, we want everyone to be happy. And what better way to start than to come up with an apple pie recipe that is easy to make, easy to serve, easy to eat, and easy to store. Enter (drum roll, please) Apple Pie Bars!

With the start of fall just around the corner, fresh-picked apples are starting to flood the farmer’s markets and the grocery stores. And it’s time to incorporate this wonderful year-round fruit that is perfectly suited for fall into our menus.

So why not start with these Apple Pie Bars? Whether you’re an apple-pie fanatic or one of those rare apple-pie avoiders, we think this recipe is well-timed and right up your alley. So give it a try to see what you think.

Oh, and Happy Fall! (Or Happy Spring to our Southern Hemisphere followers. You’ll like these Apple Pie Bars too–spring or fall!)

apple pie bars

Apple Pie Bars

For the crust:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

For the filling:

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

2 firm apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (such as Granny Smith)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the topping:

1/2 cup oats

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold

sauteed apples

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 5×7 inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Make the crust by beating together the butter and granulated sugar. Once this mixture is well combined and fluffy, slowly mix in the flour and salt until all of the ingredients come together. Press this mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake the crust in preheated oven for 13-16 minutes, or until the crust starts to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

While the crust is baking, make the filling by adding the butter and brown sugar to a skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted and mixed with the brown sugar, add the sliced apples and cinnamon. Continue to cook over medium heat until the apples are tender and caramelized, or about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Make the topping by combining the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter into this mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives until the butter is about the size of peas and mixed throughout.

Once all of the layers are prepared, assemble the bars by spreading the apple filling over top of the baked crust. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the apple layer, and gently press it into the apples. Bake the bars in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the topping turns golden brown. Remove the bars from the oven and let cool completely before cutting.

Makes 4-6 bars.

apple pie bar

{Adapted from My Baking Addiction}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #10 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #10, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #10, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #9 and Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwich

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Remember those ice cream sandwiches from the old days (or the new days–maybe you had one last night)? Well, this ain’t that.

Let’s just start all over and make an ice cream sandwich that’s so kick-butt rich and decadent that you’ll never be satisfied with the old kind again.

For starters, we’ve dusted off our very first Reading and Recipes recipe–XXL Triple Chocolate Cookie–posted way back in April of 2013. Trust me, this is a very very good cookie. You’ve heard of the God particle (maybe you have–if not talk to some of your physics nerd friends). Well, this is the God cookie.

But we didn’t stop there. We searched high and low to find a suitably rich middle for this extravagant outside. And we found this wonderful peanut butter custard ice cream. Not only is it very rich, but it also has that perfect flavor match for chocolate–peanut butter!

Now put that ice cream between these two triple chocolate cookies, and you’ve got something really special. You’ll not look at a plain old ice cream sandwich the same again, but the sacrifice will be worth it!

Speaking of not looking at something the same again, in this week’s story, Two Sisters, Serial #9, each sister catches a secret glimpse of the other that changes everything she thought she knew about the other. Oh, and ice cream makes a cameo appearance in the story, though it’s sure not this Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwich. Reading and Recipes didn’t exist back in Brooke and Leah’s adolescence. Who knows what might have become of them if they’d stumbled on this ice cream sandwich? They’ve got enough excitement without that!

 chocolate pb ice cream sandwich

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwich

1 batch XXL Triple Chocolate Cookie

1 cup freshly whipped cream or whipped topping*

3 Tablespoons peanut butter

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

3 ounces sweetened condensed milk (about 1/4 of a can)

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

triple choc cookies

Make the XXL Triple Chocolate Cookie dough according to the directions listed. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the cookie dough in half to make two cookies.** Roll the cookie dough in your hands to make uniform balls and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes or until they look set. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to completely cool on the cookie sheet.

While the cookies are baking, make the peanut butter ice cream by mixing together the whipped cream, peanut butter, vanilla, sweetened condensed milk, and salt. Stir these ingredients together until well combined. Cover the peanut butter ice cream and place in the freezer for 1-2 hours, or until the mixture is set. (Note: This ice cream will be the consistency of custard and will never harden like regular ice cream. The ice cream should be set after 2 hours in the freezer.)

When ready to assemble the ice cream sandwich, remove the ice cream from the freezer and stir. Scoop the ice cream onto the underside of one cookie and place the remaining cookie on top. Eat immediately. Cover and store any leftovers in the freezer for up to 1 week.

Makes 1 large ice cream sandwich. Serves 2-4.

*If you prefer to use freshly whipped cream, you will need to beat 1/2 cup whipping cream until stiff peaks form. If you are using whipped topping, make sure the whipped topping is softened and has come to room temperature.

**You can also make 2 smaller ice cream sandwiches by dividing the dough into four cookie dough balls. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are set.

choc pb ice cream sandwich

{Ice cream adapted from Crazy for Crust}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #9 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #9, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #9, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #8 and Easy Cinnamon Rolls

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Easy Cinnamon Rolls–it’s back to kid food! Well, kid food that adults can’t seem to get enough of.

The big franchise chains and smaller mom-and-pop specialty bakeries have figured out that we (kids and adults) flat-out love cinnamon rolls. There are cinnamon-roll shops in almost every airport terminal, travel stop, and downtown shopping district in America. And cinnamon rolls used to be just for early in the morning, but now we’re happy to indulge ourselves in this treat almost any time of the day.

But I bet you never made one, always thought they were too time-consuming or complicated or unpredictable. Well, here’s your chance to break through those inhibitions and fears. This recipe is easy, quick, and foolproof. Not only will you be indulging the kid in you (and the kids in your house, even if some of them are old and gray!), but you’ll also be adding a new capability to your culinary repertoire.

Who knows–before you know it you’ll be opening your own cinnamon-roll shop in the vacant storefront downtown! And all  because of your friendly Reading and Recipes website. Drop us a note to let us know of the grand opening!

And while you’re at it, check out this week’s segment from Two Sisters, the climax to the chapter titled “The Ring.” Just click on one of the links below the recipe.

 cinnamon rolls

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

1/2 cup milk 

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided

1 package active dry yeast

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 ounce cream cheese, room temperature

1 Tablespoon cream

3/4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

gooey cinnamon rolls

In a microwave safe bowl, add the milk and 3 tablespoons of butter. In 30 second increments, microwave this mixture until it is warm and melted but not boiling. Remove the mixture from the microwave–it should feel like warm bath water; if it is any hotter, let it cool slightly. Add the milk/butter mixture to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle in yeast and granulated sugar. Let this mixture sit for 10 minutes. Once the yeast becomes frothy, add the salt and stir into mixture. Next, add the all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time and gently stirring as you go. Once the dough comes together into a loose ball, cover the bowl, place it in a warm area, and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size. (Depending on how warm your kitchen is, you might need to allow the dough to rise a bit longer.)

While the dough is rising, make the filling by combining the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix these ingredients together until well combined.

Once the dough has doubled in size, dump it onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 9×11 inches. Evenly spread the filling onto the dough, leaving about a 1 inch border around the edges. Tightly roll the dough into a log. With the seam side down, use a serrated knife to cut the dough into 6 to 8 equal rolls, depending on how big you want them. Place the rolls into a lightly greased 5×7 inch pan. Allow the rolls to continue to rise while the oven preheats to 400 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, bake the rolls for 13-15 minutes, or until the tops just begin to turn golden brown. Remove the rolls from the oven and allow to cool slightly before frosting.

While the rolls are baking, make the frosting by whisking together the cream cheese and cream. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, stirring after each addition. Lastly, mix in the vanilla. Frost the warm rolls and serve immediately. You may have some leftover frosting; cover and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. Store any leftover rolls in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Makes 6-8 cinnamon rolls.

cinnamon roll

{Adapted from Minimalist Baker}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #8 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #8, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #8, text © Jeffrey Anderson