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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tiki party mix

For B's birthday, I decided I'd throw together a little impromptu tiki party on our roof deck.  Although it wasn't really that impromptu -- I had put A LOT of thought into almost every detail.  Pineapples, palm trees, and flamingos adorned most everything, and the color theme was mainly pink, yellow, and green to reflect those things. Matching sprinkles.  Pineapple and shark ceramic glasses (but no actual tiki glasses...go figure!).  Ok, so maybe more casual than impromptu. Poor word choice, Julie!


I let my creative juices flow in terms of decor (floating flamingo drink holders, leis, and mini beach balls) and desserts/baking (pina colada marshmallows, pineapple and palm tree chocolate lollipops), and let my trusty friend Trader Joe do most of the catering (I went with tropical/Polynesian themed foods -- coconut shrimp, scallion pancakes, mini meatballs, chicken lemongrass spring rolls, edamame, shrimp toasts -- but ended up serving only about half of those things). B, my resident bartender extraordinaire, mixed up his signature pineapple and mezcal cocktail, among others!  One more place I let my creativity shine through?  This tropical themed snack mix!

I have to say, sometimes I impress myself!  I went with traditional tropical and Polynesian flavors - coconut, mango, pineapple, macadamia, and banana (I was thinking about adding in some sesame sticks for a salty component, but decided to leave them out). Talk about addictive!  I'm so glad I made a huge batch!!


Tiki Snack Mix
A JulieBakes Original!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup roasted coconut chips
1/2 cup banana chips
1 cup dried baby sweet pineapple (unsweetened), cut into 1/4s (larger rings cut into 1/6s)
1/4 cup lightly sweetened coconut strips, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup dried unsweetened mango, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup roasted macadamia nuts (I used unsalted, but salted would be good, too.).

Directions:

Cut dried fruit into the sizes mentioned above.
Add them all to a gallon sized zip lock bag.
Shake up until well mixed.

Add to the serving bowl of your choice (I used a plastic coconut drink holder to keep with the theme).
Extra snack mix (if there should even be any), can be stored in the ziplock bag.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

S'mores muddy buddy snack mix

With today's high of 90 degrees in New York City, the idea of turning on my oven in my small kitchen was just not that appealing.  It was too hot.  Like, it-took-forever-to-cool-off-after-I-walked-in,-and-I-didn't-want-to-upset-the-temperature-balance-inside hot in NYC. So I went no-bake.


The secret is, I had bought all of the ingredients for this treat a few days ago. I was just waiting for the right time to make it, and today was that time!

I know I've told you before, but I was late to the muddy buddy craze. Like really late. My first foray into muddy buddies was the (insanely delicious) red velvet cookies and cream muddy buddies I made a few months ago. Being that yesterday marked the first day of summer, I figured a summery themed muddy buddy flavor would be great. And then I thought...muddy buddy snack mix!!  Sometimes I even surprise myself!


And thus, my S'mores muddy buddy snack mix was born!

The secret to these is the seasonal S'mores Oreo.  These muddy buddies started with milk chocolate and crushed S'mores Oreos. You could stop there. Honestly, no one would blame you. But then I went ahead and added milk chocolate chips, teensy marshmallows, broken up graham crackers, and a few cut up Hershey's bars to the already delicious S'mores muddy buddies, and voila, you have an addictively good summer treat!  And all without even turning on your oven!

** so here's the thing....I made the muddy buddies, and we devoured them.  I made sure to save some to make this snack mix.  So even though you get many cups of muddy buddies with this recipe, I made the snack mix using 4 cups of the muddy buddies.  If you can hold out and not continuously munch on them, you can double the snack mix recipe.  But if you're like me, make sure you save 4 cups of muddy buddies before you go to town on them ;-) **

S'mores Muddy Buddies
Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

6 cups Chex cereal (I used corn)
12 oz milk chocolate almond bark (I used CandiQuik)
20 S'mores Oreos
1/2 cup powdered sugar (I ended up using a little more)

Directions:

Put Chex in a large bowl.

Process the Oreos in a food processor until fine.
Set aside.

Melt CandiQuik (or almond bark) in it's tray (or a microwave safe bowl) and microwave in 30 second intervals.
Stir.
Continue microwaving and stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.

Pour melted chocolate over cereal.
Stir carefully to coat it.

Immediately add the ground Oreos.
Toss/stir to coat.
Next, toss on the powdered sugar.
Mix until coated.

I placed mine on a wax paper lined baking sheet so that the CandiQuick could dry.  
I felt mine needed a little more powdered sugar, so I added 1 Tbsp at a time until all of the muddy buddies were coated in powdered sugar.

Allow to dry completely before making snack mix.  

**Try not to eat all of the muddy buddies during this waiting period!!**

S'mores Muddy Buddy Snack Mix

Ingredients:

4 cups s'mores muddy buddies (see recipe above)
1/2 cup jet puffed mallow bits
2 graham crackers, cut/broken into small pieces
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips (I used the large baking ones from Ghirardelli)
1 Hershey's bar, cut into small rectangles

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a bowl or large ziplock bag.
Mix.

If not eating in all one sitting, or if gifting, a mason jar makes a cute gift!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Momofuku Milk Bar's blueberries and cream cookies

A long time ago, before I had eaten at a Momofuku restaurant (hard to believe, right?!), I had seen these cookies via a foodie website that I followed.  I saved the recipe immediately, as I often do, and then it sat in a cyber folder on my computer.  I've since become obsessed with certain Momofuku restaurants and in particular that they serve a rotating variety of Momofuku Milk Bar cookies at one restaurant.  B and I loved these blueberries and cream cookies when we had them (our latest Momofuku Noodle Bar trip -- yesterday! -- wound up with a different but also delicious confetti cookie for dessert), and that started the wheels turning in my head.  We needed some blueberries and cream cookies STAT (and by "we," I mean I needed to send them to work with B).

Just an FYI, these cookies involve 2 steps -- 3 if you include the difficult-to-delay-gratification waiting time of 1 hour to SEVEN days-- but they are SO worth it!  The original recipe says it makes 12-17 cookies, but I got 20 (with just a little extra to make a mini tasting cookie ;-)).



Blueberry & Cream Cookies
Momofuku Milk Bar (you have to click on the link up top for the cookies...there's no direct link)

Ingredients:

For the milk crumbs:

1/2 cup milk powder
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt (I crust it between my fingers when I add it to the recipe)
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup milk powder
3 oz white chocolate, melted

For the cookies:

16 Tbsp butter, at room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup glucose (I didn't have any....I used light corn syrup and they were great!)
2 eggs
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp kosher salt (I like to crush it between my fingers as I add it in)
1/2 recipe milk crumbs
3/4 cup dried blueberries

Directions:

Make the milk crumbs:

Preheat the oven to 250F.

Combine the 1/2 cup milk powder, flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.
Toss with your hands to mix.
Add the melted butter and toss, using a spatula, until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.

Spread the clusters on a parchment- or silpat-lined sheet pan.
Bake for 20 minutes.
The crumbs should be sandy at that point, and the kitchen should smell like buttery heaven.
Cool the crumbs completely.

Crumble any crumbs that are bigger than 1/2 inch in diameter.
Put the crumbs in a medium bowl.
Add the 1/4 cup of milk powder.
Toss together until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Pour the white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until the clusters are enrobed.
The continue to toss them every 5 minutes until the white chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky.
Try not to eat them all.

[The crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.]

Make the cookies:

Combine the butter, sugars, and glucose/corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
Cream on medium-high for 2-3 minutes.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the eggs.
Beat for 7-8 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute.
Scrap down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

While still on low speed, add the milk crumbs and mix until they're incorporated, no more than 30 seconds.
Chase the milk crumbs with the dried blueberries, mixing them in for 30 seconds.

Using a 2 3/4 oz ice cream scoop (or a 1/3 cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan.
Pat the tops of the cookie domes flat.
Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 week.

Heat the oven to 350F.

Arrange chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on a parchment- or silpat-lined sheet pans.
Bake for 18 minutes (mine were ready after 15-16 minutes....watch them carefully).
The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread.
After 18 minutes they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring them to a plate or to an airtight container for storage.
At room temp, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for up to 1 month.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tahini chocolate chunk cookies

You know when something on the surface sounds weird, but it just calls to you?  That's totally the case with these cookies!  Tahini to me, at least in my mind, has always been associated with savory foods.  In fact, I had tahini in the apartment from when I made hummus (which I need to make again REALLY soon!).  But something about this cookie just called to me.  I can't explain it to you, but it did.  And it was sad, but it sat on the back burner through all of Passover, and then another two weeks after.


Today, however, I rectified that.  B thought I was a little crazy (I'm sure he's not the only one, like I said, I get that they sound a little weird, at best), but just one bite and he was convinced.  These cookies are goooood!  The tahini gives them a nuttiness that is more muted and subtle than peanut butter or almond butter.  And the little bit of cinnamon?  It just rounds out the deliciousness!

Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies
From The Little Epicurean

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (I had planned to use light brown sugar but mine was dried out and hard, so I used dark instead)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup tahini
10 oz (2 cups) dark chocolate chunks (I only had 6 oz so supplemented with some extra dark chocolate chips)
White sesame seeds, to top dough as needed

Directions:

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
Set aside.

Cream butter.
Add sugars.
Mix until smooth.
Scrape down bowl as needed to ensure thorough mixing.
Add eggs and mix until incorporated.
Add in tahini and mix until combined.

Add flour mixture.
Mix until there are no longer any dry streaks of flour.
Fold in chocolate chunks until evenly distributed.

Cover cookie dough with plastic wrap and place in fridge.
Allow dough to chill for an hour (until it is slightly cool to the touch) -- I went out for a long walk and dinner, so I let mine warm up a little before baking them.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Use a #24 cookie scoop to portion out the dough.
Place dough on a parchment-lined tray at least 2 inches apart from each other.
Sprinkle sesame seeds over the dough.
Bake for 14-18 minutes, until the edges are crisp and the middle is still a bit soft.
Allow to cool on pan until cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Flourless blueberry almond muffins (Kosher for Passover)

Passover is here!  While some people I know (whose names will not be mentioned, but they know who they are) lament over the lack of food options during Passover.  Some might even say they *whine* about it.  But I digress.  Bottom line is: food options are limited.  However, one can at least attempt to make lemons out of lemonade, as I have tried.


First off, in a #juliebakesgoessavory endeavor, I made almond crusted chicken fingers for dinner the other night (check it out on my instagram feed).  Then I saw a recipe for Kosher for Passover Almond-Bluberry Muffins, and thought that (a) they sounded delicious, (b) B would love them, and (c) I already had almond meal on hand from the chicken fingers!


I made a few adjustments given what I had at home (Turbinado sugar instead of demerara, sweetened (cinnamon) applesauce instead of unsweetened, and slivered almonds instead of sliced), but they turned out absolutely delicious.  Just a heads up -- I followed the directions and ended up filling the 12 muffin tins and still had enough leftover batter to make 4 more muffins!

And an added bonus?  They're totally gluten-free (or at least can be made that way).  I don't do much gluten-free baking, but between the almond meal and coconut flour I picked up recently, I'm sure I could get int it a little more...

Hope everyone has a wonderful Passover!

Flourless Almond-Blueberry Muffins
(Kosher for Passover, and can be made gluten-free!)
From Epicurious

Ingredients:

2.5 cups almond meal
1 tsp ground cinnamon
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt (crushed between your fingers as you add it)
1/2 pint (about 1 1/3 cups)
Sliced almonds (for sprinkling)
Demerara or raw sugar (for sprinkling)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners (keep a few extra liners around, in case you have extra batter).
Whisk almond meal and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg yolks, granulated sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until pale and doubled in size, about 3 minutes.
Add almond meal mixture and apple sauce.
Stir just to combine.

In another bowl: use an electric mixer on high speed to beat the egg whites and salt (crushing it between your fingers as you add it to the egg whites) until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.
Add half of the egg white mixture to the almond meal mixture.
Fold to combine.
Then add remaining egg white mixture.
Fold to combine.
Gently fold in blueberries.

Divide the batter among muffin cups (I filled mine full and then had enough batter to make 4 more muffins).
Top with almonds and demerara sugar.

Bake muffins until tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes (mine took 25 minutes).
Transfer to a wire rack.
Let cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before serving.

*They can be made 3 days ahead.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bolognese sauce

I know, I know.  This is clearly not baked nor is it something sweet (most of the things on Julie Bakes are at least 1 if not both of those things), but seeing as I baked two things yesterday, and have another on the agenda for today, I needed to mix things up a little.  Plus, B and I have been bringing in a lot lately (busy schedules, little time to cook), and I wanted to make a home cooked meal for us.  So I had the day off today, I got my exercise in this morning, and B was at work all day, so I set out to make something tasty.


One of the things we tend to pick up is the fusilli Bolognese from a local restaurant -- at the recommendation of one of B's friends -- and it's delicious.  So I googled Bolognese recipes and the first one that came up was Marcella Hazan's recipe.  I've seen her recipes featured on a lot of the foodie sites that I look at, and so I went right with that one, because if people rave about her recipes...well, you get it.  Her tomato sauce (which I haven't made yet), it supposed to be amazing!

This recipe is time intensive, but in the best way possible.  Cooking down the milk before adding in the wine, and cooking that down as well, and finally adding the tomatoes makes the sauce rich and delicious.  The final cooking time -- a minimum of 3 hours! -- makes the sauce tasty and full of flavor.

In the future I'd probably adjust things a little (less wine, more tomatoes), but this sauce is a keeper!  It would probably be great for a dinner party, since the last 3 hours of cooking are mostly watching and don't involve a lot of hands-on time.

Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Sauce
Found on the NY Times website

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil, since we didn't have vegetable oil)
3 Tbsp butter, plus 1 Tbsp for tossing the pasta
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
3/4 pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork (1/4 pound) to 2 parts beef (1/2 pound)).  I used generic ground beef'
Salt
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill (we don't have a pepper mill -- something to register for, perhaps?! -- so I used regular ground pepper)
1 cup whole milk
Whole nutmeg (I used already ground nutmeg, which B and I don't particularly love, so I used about 1/16 tsp)
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups canned imported Italia plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta
Freshly grated parmigiana-reggiano cheese, at the table

Directions:

Put the oil, butter, and chopped onion in the pot.
Turn the heat on to medium.
Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent.
Add the celery and carrot.
Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.

Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper.
Crumble the meat with a fork.
Stir well and cook until the beef has lots it's raw, red color.

Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely.
Add a tiny grating -- about 1/8 tsp (I used half of that) -- of nutmeg.
Stir.

Add the wine.
Let it simmer until it has evaporated.
I added a pinch of salt and some pepper here to taste.
Add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all the ingredients well.
When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface.

Cook, uncovered, for 3 hour or more, stirring from time to time.
While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to see that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat.
To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary (I added 1/4 cup water after about 40 minutes).
At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce.
Taste and correct for salt.

Toss the sauce with the cooked, drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese on the side.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Unicorn bars

Sometimes a recipe just calls to me, and I feel compelled to make it, even if I don't have a reason/event to make it for. I saw these "unicorn bars" a while ago and wanted to make them.  Time got away from me, and the other day I received a shipment of sprinkles (gorgeous, stunning sprinkles that I ordered from the amazing sweetapolita!) and realized they'd look stunning on these bars!


So I set out to make them.  I realized that my new sprinkles (given their varying sizes, textures, and make-up (some have sixlets (chocolate-filled candies) in them) probably wouldn't mix into the bars well, so I used rainbow sprinkles for the bars themselves, and topped them with the fancy sprinkles.  (And I had fun playing around with my macro lens for my iPhone and took these close-ups of the sprinkles!)


Basically, they're a glorified funfetti cookie base covered in vanilla buttercream (in fun colors!!) and then topped generously with beautiful sprinkles (I used a combination of 4 different kinds of sprinkles -- some regular rainbow sprinkles and 3 different pretty sprinkles mixes that I had bought [in even amounts, because I'm OCD], minus the few sixlets that I picked out and ate while I was making the icing.....but shhhh, no one else needs to know that!). 


These really are gorgeous bars, and super tasty, too!  I made sure to package up a bunch for B to bring to work this weekend, and some others for drinks I have dinner plans with for tomorrow evening.

Unicorn Bars
from Cookies & Cups

Ingredients:

For the bars:

1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 tsp kosher salt (I recommend crushing it between your fingers as you add it)
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sprinkles

For the frosting:

1 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk
Blue food coloring
Pink/red food coloring (I ended up using some pink and then a drop of purple to get a richer purple)
Sprinkles for garnish

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line a 9 x 13" pan with foil, and coat the foil with nonstick spray
Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar.
Add in the vanilla, eggs, and salt.
Whisk until smooth.
Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour until just combined.
Finally, stir in the sprinkles.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the edges are set. 
The bars might seem underdone, but allow them to cool completely.

Make the frosting.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until it's smooth.
Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar.
Next, add in 2 tablespoons of milk.
Mix on medium speed until it's creamy, scraping the sides as necessary.
If the frosting is too stiff, add in 1 more tablespoon of milk until the desired consistency is reached.
Finally, add in 1-2 drops of blue food coloring.
Mix until a pale blue color is reached and evenly mixed.
Remove half of the frosting and place in a piping bag.  I chose not to use a piping tip on it, but you can use any tip that you'd like.
To the remaining frosting in the bowl, add 1-2 drops of pink/red food coloring or purple (if you have) and mix again until a pale purple/lavender color is reached and evenly mixed.
Add purple frosting to another piping bag.

Pipe or spread the frosting on top of the bars.
The original blogger piped rich swirls of frosting on the bars before cutting them  I was afraid that it would get too messy, so I cut them and then piped a little dallop of either the blue or purple frosting on top.

Garnish with more sprinkles, if desiredDefinitely, definitely liberally apply sprinkles!

Note: If you pipe the frosting on the uncut bars, with glorious swirls as the original blogger did, you will need to double the amount of frosting.  If you pipe it as I did, half the frosting recipe should be enough, but I'd make a full batch of frosting depending on how big you cut the bars (mine were quite small, about 1 x 1").