Cranberry Peach Muffins

Have I mentioned how much I love Autumn? I went to the grocery store and I noticed that the cranberries have been released! Tis the season! I love to hoard cranberries throughout the fall and winter. I usually keep a bunch in the freezer. I use cranberries in my baking and my smoothies. I often task myself with coming up with new ways to use them. I bought cranberries and peaches. I sat around considering what I would do with the combination. I thought maybe a pie. Maybe clafoutis. Maybe a tart. I knew I was kidding myself; these were meant to be muffins. I topped most of these with streusel and that really set these babies off.

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Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted

 

2 large eggs, room temperature

½ cup half and half, room temperature

½ tsp vanilla

 

2 peaches, chopped

1 ½ – 2 cups of fresh cranberries

 

 

 

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
    • I know this seems high but we will be lowering the temperature. Science and stuff. This process will help you get a ‘taller’ muffin. Who doesn’t love muffin tops? Ask Elaine Benes.
  2. Butter and flour a cupcake tin, shake out excess flour.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine dry ingredients.
    • You can do this by hand using a whisk and rubber spatula. My kiddo just really enjoys using the stand mixer so we used the stand mixer.
  4. In a small bowl, combine liquid ingredients.
  5. Using the paddle attachment, turn the mixer on low. Slowly add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  6. You do not want to overmix. The batter may have lumps and that is perfectly okay.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the fruit20171020_181605 copy20171020_18190020171020_182001 copy20171020_182453 copy
  8. Spoon the batter into the tin, to the top.
  9. Bake at 425 for 5-6 minutes
  10. Lower temperature to 350 degrees. DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP.
  11. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the muffins pass the toothpick test.
  12. Allow them to cool in the tin before removing.20171020_190951 copy20171020_191047 copy
  13. These are best day of but can be stored in airtight Tupperware in the fridge.

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Lip-Puckering Key Lime Bars

KL1Key lime is one ingredient that I have never worked with. When I was grocery shopping last weekend I stumbled upon a huge display of key limes and I squealed. The produce guy looked at me like I was crazy but I immediately grabbed a bag and started thinking about what I would make.KL6

Key lime pie and key lime cheesecake are two of my most favorite desserts. I am just not crazy about super sweet and rich desserts; I’ll indulge once in a while. But key lime anything? I am always, always here for. The fragrance, the flavor, the tartness, the tingle in the back of my jaw? My favorite!

The taste of the creamy filling instantly makes me smile. I can’t wait to play with key lime more over this summer.

Be warned: this recipe is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like sour things, if you’re afraid of a little puckering- use less lime juice or add a whipped cream topping too, but this recipe is for champs.

 

 

Ingredients:

 

For the crust:

  • 1 (heaping) cup of finely ground graham crackers
  • 6 tbsp melted unsalted butter

For the filling:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp of key lime zest
  • 2/3 cups of freshly squeeze key lime juice
  • 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • Reserve one key lime for garnish (either zest or thinly slice)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In the microwave or on the stove, melt your butter.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into a fine crumb.KL3
  4. Slowly add the melted butter. The graham crackers will resemble wet sand.
  5. Spray your baking dish with cooking spray.
  6.  Line your baking dish.(I recommend an 8 x 8 or the next size up, which is what I used) with parchment paper (I did not and I had a helluva time removing my bars despite using cooking spray. I did that so you won’t have to go through that.)
  7. Spread your ground crackers into the dish and press down to make an even layer with your fingers.KL5
  8. Bake for about 10 minutes, the crust will be fragrant.
  9. Carefully remove from the oven (leave the oven on) and allow it to cool on a baking rack.
  10. While the crust is baking, zest your key limes and juice them (strain seeds).KL6KL7KL8
  11. Separate the yolks from the whites.KL9KL10
  12. In the bowl of a mixer, add the yolk and the lime zest.
  13. Using your whisk attachment, mix the yolk and zest on high until it thickens (at least 5 minutes)
  14. Reduce the speed, and in a steady stream, slowly add the condensed milk.
  15. Raise the speed back up to high until the mixture thickens.
  16. Once thickened, reduce speed, add the lime juice and mix until it is combined.
  17. Spread the filling over the cooled crust.KL11
  18. Bake for about 15 minutes (it should be set, but it should not brown).
  19. Halfway through rotate the dish. (Again it should not brown.)
  20. Remove from oven and place on baking rack, allow to cool thoroughly.KL12
  21. Chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight to allow them to fully set and firm up.

 

Optional:

  • Whip ¼ c and 1-2 tsp of confectioners sugar heavy cream in the bowl of your stand mixer on high until stiff peaks form and top your bars with whipped cream.
  • Garnish with lime zest or thin slices of lime

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© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

The Only Crispy Oven-Baked Wings Recipe You’ll Ever Need

 

The people who know me best know that I have a “thing” about chicken with bones. My partner likes to credit himself with “changing my life” [emoji eyeroll]. Truthfully, he did expose me to the greatness that is the Popeye’s fried chicken breast. The truth is, I still adamantly refused to eat wings when out with friends. They’re just never crispy enough for me. The worst thing in the world is a plate of wings that look and smell delicious and then…..chewy, gummy skin. Wing. Ruined.

 

Several years ago he requested that I make him wings. As a person who didn’t eat wings, at the time, it was quite a challenge. I was grossed out every step of the way. I just tossed them in the oven and then threw some sauce on them. Quite shameful, really. Fast forward a few years, I decided to play around with this whole wing-thing again.

 

This time, I had a bit more cooking experience under my belt and the following recipe is the recipe that you never knew you needed. These are the easiest, crispiest wings you’ve ever had without added oil or frying! The secret? PARBOILING!

 

I have never attempted this recipe with “party wings” or frozen wingettes. I simply buy a family pack of wings and cut them into flats and drums. It’s a little added labor but it’s worth it (and it’s cheaper, to be honest).

 

This recipe works for a few wings or a helluva lot of wings. Just watch the clock!

 

Ingredients:

Chicken wings

Salt

Water

 

(Seriously. Dassit!)

 

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Cut your chicken into wings and flatssw1

You’re going to boil water like you’re making pasta aka heavily salted and a rolling boil.

Boil the chicken for 8-10 minutes.

Drain thoroughly.

Pat dry with paper towel.sw2

Place the chicken pieces directly onto a cookie sheet (no added oil, no foil)***sw3

Bake for about 30 minutes.

The wings will begin to turn golden brown.sw4

Flip the wings and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.

 

Voila. They’re done.

 

At this point, you can toss them in your favorite sauce. Tonight, we had ginger lime sticky wings. Or you can eat them as is, but believe me, these are the perfect vehicle for some yummy sauces.

***If you’re going to eat these without a sauce, season them well with your favorite blend of herbs and spices before putting on the cookie sheet.

 

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries

I wanted a really yummy side for this meal that I’ve been daydreaming about for a week (post coming soon). I wanted something crunchy, but after the holiday, I couldn’t bear the thought of something heavy or deep-fried.

 

Enter crispy, baked zucchini fries. Now, before you raise and eyebrow- these were so delicious I haven’t stopped talking about them. However much you plan to make? Double that. Freeze what’s leftover and thank me later. I bet you you’ll love them and I bet you’ll use these techniques on whatever veggies you have laying around (string beans, peppers- hello!)

 

You want to season the fries generously. You will be doing the three-stop dredge (flour, egg, panko). Instead of frying these, we will line them on a baking rack on top of a cookie sheet and bake them on high heat until crispy and golden brown.

 

These taste so good you will forget that they are good for you! Low-carb, baked vegetables.

 

Insert heart-eye emoji.

Throw in the pig emoji too.


Ingredients:

(This recipe can easily be scaled up or down, there are very few precise ingredients here. This is just what I did for dinner tonight.)

 

1 large green zucchini

1 large yellow zucchini

Flour

Egg

Panko

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Paprika

Cooking spray or olive oil


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425.
  1. Cut the ends off of your zucchini.
  2. Cut the zucchini in half.
  3. Slice them length wise into about four slices ¼” to ½” thick.zucfrieszuchfries2
  4. Slice these into about 3-4 “fries”.
  5. Place your “fries” into a container and season them generally.
  6. Allow them to rest as you continue to prep your dredging station. Flour, panko and egg are not measured. I eyeball it. But always, ALWAYS use less than you think you will need. You can always add more if you need it. However, if you use too much you’re not pouring that flour back or that panko back into the containers. That’s gotta go in the trash. I try to minimize waste where I can. Use less, you can always add more-rule of thumb. Note: Liquid will likely accumulate in the zucchini container due to the salt; if so, simply drain the liquid.zucfries3
  1. A few at a time, place the “fries” into the flour and coat evenly.
  2. Then place them in the egg and coat evenly.
  3. Toss them in the panko and coat evenly. Press the panko gently into the “fries”.
  1. Place them on the baking rack until you are ready to go.zuchfries4
  2. (Note: if you do a large amount, these can be frozen (and kept frozen) until you are ready to use them. If you are baking these from the freezer, simply follow the remaining steps. Do not thaw.)
  1. Before baking, spray generously with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil. Optional: sprinkle with sea salt or coarse kosher salt.zuchfries5-copy
  1. Place the baking rack on top of a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.zuchfries6zuchfries7zuchfries8

These are best fresh, piping hot from the oven.

© 2017 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

For the last several days I have been randomly tweeting about wanting to bake something. Last night I had a dream that I made the most decadent, three-layer cake. Clearly, baking needed to happen on this chilly Sunday. So, I recruited my sidekick, Mason.

I stood and looked in our pantry and racked my brain. I considered oatmeal cookies but I do oatmeal cookies so often, I couldn’t bare it today. We have a massive jar of chunky peanut butter and my mind started working.

Chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven. These cookies are crisp to bite but chewy on the inside. The sweetness of the sugars combined with the salty crunch of the peanuts, man! These are so delicious; you have to try them.

These are low-carb and because we used coconut oil instead of butter, we added some healthy fats too. You can cut the sugar for a more modestly sweet cookie or amp up the recipe with additional nuts or dark chocolate morsels. This recipe is very simple and it can definitely serve as a building block for a more complex cookie.


Ingredients

1 heaping of cup chunky peanut butter

1/4 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

¼ heaping cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup baking cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda


Directions

Preheat oven to 350

In one large bowl: mix flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa.

In the bowl of a mixture: mix sugar, peanut butter and oil.

When combined, add eggs one at a time.

Slowly incorporate the cocoa-flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture.

This dough will be sticky and very thick.

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Using a small ice cream scoop or a tbsp measuring spoon, scoop out some dough and shape them into balls.

Using a fork or the palm of your hand, slightly flatten the dough mounds.

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Note: This recipe will yield roughly 2 dozen cookies. If you have more than you need, bake what you want and freeze the rest!

Leave about 1 ½ to 2” of space between your cookies.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The cookies will be cracked and highly fragrant. The tops should be set.

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Allow them to cool on the pan for at least one minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Optional: Lightly dust with confectioner’s sugar

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© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

Fresh-Picked Apple Danish

Autumn is my favorite season. This weekend my family and I went apple picking at Larriland Farms in Maryland. It was a wonderful afternoon and we got a lot of goodies. Including a ton of fresh-picked apples. Pink Ladies, Granny Smith and Stayman were the varieties that my little boy picked.applesapples2apples3

I spent two days trying to figure out what to make and I settled on an apple danish. This recipe was super fun to make and actually really relaxing. I can’t wait to play around with this again with a different filling.

These were so tasty fresh out of the oven. Will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

Ingredients:

5-7 apples (I used Pink Ladies and Granny Smith)

Half stick of unsalted butter

¼ cup of white sugar

1/3 cup of light brown sugar

¼ teaspoon of cinnamon

Pinch of salt.

 

Egg Wash

1 large egg, room temp

2 tbsp of milk, room temp

 

Follow the recipe for homemade Danish pastry dough.

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Preheat oven to 400 deg

While the dough rests in the fridge, slice your apples.danishh6danish6

Melt butter, allow it to brown not burn over medium heat.

Add apples

Add Add ¼ cup of white sugar and 1/3 cup of light brown sugar.

Simmer until crisp-tender. The apples will be soft but have some bite to them. A sauce will form.danish7danish8

Remove apples from pan and allow to cool in a small bowl.
Pour the sauce that formed into a a bowl and allow it to cool.

Remove dough from fridge

Flour your work surface and roll the dough out into a rectangle that is about 12×6-12×7”.

Slice the corners off of one side and two small triangles off of the other side.

Place dough onto your parchment lined or cooking sprayed baking sheet. (It will be very hard to move the braid if you form the braid on the counter.)

Using a sharp knife or pastry blade, create angled slices. This will form your braid.

Spread the sauce down the center of the rectangle and layer your apple slices.danish13danish14danish15

Alternate dough-strands to form a braid

Fold up the end and create a seal

Brush braid with egg wash

Bake the Danish for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. You will want to rotate the pan every 4-6 minutes to ensure the Danish browns evenly.

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The Danish will be crispy and flaky on the outside and moist on the inside. For a bit of added decadence, brush any remaining sauce onto the Danish fresh out of the oven. Super NOM!

 

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Simple Black Bean Dip

Super simple, packed with flavor and good for you! Can’t beat that.  This dip makes for a great appetizer or a middle of the afternoon “geez, I need to nosh on something before dinner snack”. I’ve heard…..

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2 cans of black beans

2-3 cloves of garlic

Lime

Worcestershire sauce

Rice wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt

Crushed red pepper or jalapeno

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Chili powder

Cumin

Olive oil


  1. In a food processor, place 1 medium red onion, 2 cans of drained and rinsed black beans, 2-3 smashed cloves of garlic, the zest of a lime, the juice of the lime, a splash of Worcestershire sauce and a splash of rice wine vinegar or white balsamic (trust me).
    *(Some recipes call for sweating the garlic, onion and peppers in a pan dip2before pulsing. This is also an option.)
  2. Add a liberal pinch of kosher salt, crushed red pepper or chopped jalapeno, ½ tsp of garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder and a tsp of cumin.
  3. Pulse the food processor while adding about a tbsp. of olive oil.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish or ramekin.dip4
  5. Eat with tortilla chips or raw vegetables.

 

 

 

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© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

#TT: Shrimp and Avocado Plantain Cups

As much as I love a quick and simple recipe, I generally loathe the videos that circulate on a certain social networking site. I saw a recipe similar to this and I was inspired. I changed a lot, for instance, baked cups as opposed to twice baked….something-or-others. I added a lot more flavor (and seasoning, ofc.) and upped the health-factor with more veg and some beans.

These can be eaten as a snack, an appetizer (great accompaniment for my simple black bean dip) or as a meal, just load up your plate and dive in.

 


(12 qty)

You will need: a mandolin slicer, cupcake pan and a microplane

 

3-4 large green plantains

Kosher salt

Pepper

Red onion

One large, ripe avocado

Can of black beans, rinsed

2 limes, 1 zested, 1 for garnish

½ lb to 1 lbs of deveined and peeled shrimp

Medium tomato, chopped

Olive oil

Smoked paprika

Chili powder

Cumin

Onion powder

Garlic powder

Bunch of cilantro

Seeded and chopped serrano pepper (optional)

Cooking spray

 


 

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

 

Peel your plantains and cut in half, across.

(PLEASE BE CAREFUL, USE YOUR GUIDE, DO NOT CUT YOUR FINGER TIP OFF. IT’S NOT FUN. TRUST ME)Using your mandolin slicer on the lowest setting (thinnest), slice your plantain as many times as possible.

 

In your cupcake pan, spray with cooking spray.

Layer your plantains inside the pan, cut into pieces as needed (pictured below). Spray with cooking spray, salt and pepper.

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Bake 15-30 minutes, begin checking for crisp, golden brownness around 15 minutes and every couple of minutes after until ready to be pulled.

In a small bowl, add your shrimp and a couple of tbsp of olive oil. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Season liberally with smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, onion powder and garlic powder. Sauté on med-high heat until cooked through.

Reserve 12 whole shrimp and chop up the remainder.

In a large bowl, combine your chopped red onion, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, lime zest, chopped tomato and chopped cooked shrimp. Squeeze the juice of your lime and toss gently to combine.

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After allowing your cups to cool, remove them from the pan.

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Fill your cups with your mixture and top with whole shrimp.

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The filling can be served warm or cold. If there is any leftover, toss it with some baby greens and have a quick, NOM-worthy salad.

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© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

 

Quick & Easy Brownies with Coffee Infused Butter

I am still learning to bake quite a few things, as such, brownies have been the last boxed treat that I had to ditch. I’d long since stopped baking cakes and such from the box, but brownies remained a staple until recently. A warm piece of Duncan Hines’ brownie is really sinful. Partially because it’s from the box and *gasp* “YOU cook from THE BOX!?” and partially because, well, chocolate.

 

They serve a purpose. A middle-of-the-night, “you know what I could go for?” purpose. Then there are other times when not only do you need a hit of chocolate, but you also need the therapy that comes with following the steps of a recipe; the browning of the butter, the measuring and the stirring.

 

Today was one of those days. I needed to eat a brownie just as badly as I needed to create a brownie. This recipe has been adapted from a very basic recipe from King Arthur flour, it’s a bit less sweet and I steeped coffee in my browning butter before adding it to the mixture. (Listen….it’s an extra step but the flavor of the brownie?? NOM!)

 

Ingredients:

10 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick +2 tbsp)

1 to 1 ¼ C white sugar

¾ C unsweetened cocoa powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp of baking powder

1/8 cup of ground coffee (or espresso)

2 large eggs

1 tsp of vanilla extract

2/3 C of AP flour

 

Cooking spray

Foil or parchment

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Allow the butter to cook, stirring frequently. After about 5 minutes add the coffee, again, stirring frequently. The butter will froth up but continue to stir. After about 10 minutes remove pan from the heat.brown1brown2
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, add sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Grab a small bowl and using a fine mesh strainer, pour your butter-coffee mixture. Using a spatula, gently press the coffee mixture in order to get as much of the butter out as you can. (There will be fine coffee particles, don’t worry. This is OK.)brown3brown4
  4. Pour your coffee-butter into your bowl of dry ingredients. Using a silicon spatula, or wooden spoon, stir into all of the ingredients are well-combined.brown5brownie10brown6
  5. In a larger bowl, pour your flour. Into the flour, add your cocoa mixture. Add one egg and stir until combined, then add the final egg and your vanilla extract. Beat this mixture thoroughly until it is well combined, 30-45 seconds. You should not see any flour.brown8
  6. Line your cooking dish with foil or parchment paper, grease with butter or cooking spray.brown7
  7. Add your batter and smooth the top. Using a knife or the flat side of your spatula, create some light swirls.brown9Bake for 20-25 minutes, it should pass the tooth pick test.
  8. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan.
  9. Once cooled, remove lined brownies from the pan and cut into squares.brownier15brown13
  10. Store in an airtight container.

 

© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved

Chewy Apricot Breakfast Bars

I still have a ton of dried fruit and I’m trying to figure out how to use it. I’ve been snacking on them straight out of the bag, I’ve made smoothies and I’ve made cinammon rolls. And I still have a bunch left. I’m not generally a fan of a huge breakfast, I like to nosh in the morning. These are very yummy and the apricot flavor comes right through. You can pick a few up and go.

 

 

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup oats

½ to 1/3 cup of sugar

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp baking soda

1 stick of unsalted butter, cold (cubed or shredded)

 

5 oz of dried apricot

½ cup of raw honey

1-2 tsp of water

*You can also use ¾ to 1 cup of apricot preserves

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, salt and baking soda.bars
  3. Cut in butter (using fingers or pastry blender) until the mixture looks like crumbs, you will have chunks of butter.bars2
  4. You’ll want to work quickly but if the butter starts to melt, stick the mixture in the freezer for a few minutes
  5. Press half of the mixture into your greased pan, you want a small-ish pan.
  6. In a food processor, blend apricots and honey. If the mixture is thick add the water.bars5
  7. Spread the apricot mixture then sprink with the remaining oat mix
  8. Press down gently
  9. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Cool on baking rack and then cut into squaresbars4
  11. Store in air-tight container

 

 

 

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© 2016 by Alexa Mason. All Rights Reserved