Breads and Baked Goods

Gluten-Free Caramel Nut Brownies (a.k.a. Failed Rocky Road Brownies)

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Who doesn’t like a good brownie?  I know I do.  This is my take on a good brownie recipe with a little twist.  Originally I had wanted to do a Rocky Road recipe but it didn’t quite work out.  So this really turned out to be more of a Caramel Nut Brownie, which is still good and tasty!  See, what had happened was I had added the marshmallows to the recipe, but in the process of baking they had melted down to form a caramel-ly nugget in the brownie.  It tasted great, but not exactly the intent.  But that’s how we got penicillin, right?  Well, not really but same principle.

Caramel Nut Brownies!
Caramel Nut Brownies!

On another good note, these are actually gluten-free.  Brownies are one of those things that are easier to make GF since the ratio of flour in the recipe is quite low when compared to a cake.  So you could just swap out the flour with anything that you have on hand, like bean or coconut flour.  I had some GF flour and some xanthan gum on hand so that’s what I used.  Yay me!

Breakfast of champions!
Breakfast of champions!

This recipe was adapted from Ina Garten / Barefoot Contessa and you’ll need a half sheet pan.  Here’s what else you will need:

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 lb., plus 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 7 large eggs
  • 3 T. instant coffee granules
  • 2 T. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 t. xanthan gum
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 2 c. mini marshmallows
  • 2 T. cornstarch

1.  Preheat your oven to 350  degrees F.  Now butter and flour your half sheet pan and set aside.

2.  In a heatproof bowl, melt the butter, 1 lb. of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a double-boiler.  Allow to cool.

3.  While the chocolate is cooling, in a large bowl mix the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla, and sugar.  Once combined, gradually add the cooled chocolate mixture.  Let cool to room temperature.

4.  In a medium mixing bowl, sift together your flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt.  Add this to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.  In a small bowl, toss together the walnuts, marshmallows, and cornstarch.  Add them to the batter and incorporate.  Pour into the prepared baking sheet.

5.  Bake for 20 minutes, then gently drop the baking sheet onto the oven shelf to help any excess air escape from the pan.  Finish baking for about another 15 minutes, until done (test with a cake tester).

6.  Allow to cool completely.  Cut and serve.  You could dust with a little powdered sugar if you like.

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Here you can see what I mean about the marshmallows melting down into a caramel nugget, right in the center of the picture.
Here you can see what I mean about the marshmallows melting down into a caramel nugget, right in the center of the picture.

1st Blogiverary Give-Away

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So here it is!  The moment for which you’ve all been waiting.  To get everyone up to speed, to celebrate my 1 year blogiversary (which was yesterday) I decided to have a give-away.  Nothing celebrates my anniversary more than giving away presents!  And the winner will get not just one, but TWO items!!!

If you are a regular reader, you know that I am here in the great state of Michigan.  So I wanted my give-away to focus on items that are local goods or Michiganian in nature.  Plus, since this is a food blog, it has to be food-related, but not necessarily a food item.  To be honest, sending a food item seemed a little weird.  But enough talk; let’s get to the prizes!!!

First of all, there’s this beautiful Michigan oven mitt.  It shows the Mitten State in all its mitten-shaped glory (and if you’re from Wisconsin, there’s no way that Wisconsin looks like a mitten. . . maybe a boxing glove if you squint a lot).  One side has a map of the lower peninsula and when you turn it over you get the upper peninsula!  It also has a list of the state symbols on the bottom.  Fabulous!

It's a map that's shaped like Michigan!
It's another map that's the shape of Michigan! So it's like you're really getting THREE things!

Second is a cookbook that can put the spotlight on one of our locals.  It was difficult to pick one since we do have a number of great restaurants in town that have their own cookbooks, including several Zagat rated establishments.  Also, there are books from the always spectacular Zingerman’s, which is definitely one of the places to visit if you are in the area for the day.

The book that I chose is eve:  Contemporary Cuisine, Méthode Traditionnelle by Chef Eve Aronoff.  You Top Chef viewers may remember her as a Season 6 alum.  She has worked in the industry for over 20 years, starting from prep cook eventually working her way up to executive chef / owner.  With several years of culinary experience behind her, she attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris where she received degrees in French Cuisine and Wine and Spirits.  Using her background in classical French cooking as a foundation, she draws on African, Cuban, and Vietnamese cultural influences to shape her own unique style.  She has been a champion of the Slow Foods Movement which focuses on a commitment to the environment and also stresses the importance of working with locally sourced artisans and farmers.  In addition to all that,  she was even invited to prepare a meal for the James Beard Foundation where she was able to highlight her cooking philosophy which features bold flavors, contrasts, and textures.

Luckily I had the chance to go to her restaurant eve before it closed (too soon, if you ask me!).  I witnessed first hand her wonderful mien of cooking, while at the same time celebrating the union of two of my best friends (shout out to Cari and Jeremy-with-a-Y).  By the way, her Ginger Lime Martinis are top-notch!  Her current venture is Frita Batidos, which features Cuban-inspired creations that harken back to times she spent growing up in Miami while visiting her grandmother.  Her food is amazing and her passion definitely becomes apparent in how she writes about food and how she connects with food.  And if that quick bio doesn’t make you want to add this book to your culinary library, I don’t know what will!

There's Cooper wondering why I'm not looking at squirrels with him.

Alright, here’s how you enter:

  1. Commenting on this post gets you one entry
  2. If you post in the comments, AND subscribe to my blog you get one
  3. Liking my Jereme’s Kitchen Facebook page gets you one
  4. Liking my Daisy Cakes Facebook page gets you one

So that’s four chances for you.  You can let me know on your comments if you already subscribe, but I will probably check anyway.  I will have to go ahead and say that any member of my family will have to be excluded from this give-away, but they probably won’t read this anyway.  Plus anyone who is affiliated with Jereme’s Kitchen or Daisy Cakes (thinking about changing the name) will also have to be excluded.  But since that involves just me, I can police that fairly easily 🙂

Y’all have until Friday, April 6 to enter, but maybe I could extend it a day.  The winner will be chosen at random and I will make the announcement (or contact the winner) the Monday after Easter (April 9).  Although I may be distracted because I am planning on winning that 1/2 a billion dollar Mega Millions jackpot 🙂  I know I’m going to win — I can feel it!!!

Good luck everyone!

Here's a preview of the book.

Remembering Licorice

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On this day last year, my dog Licorice passed away.  She was 16 at the time and would have turned 17 in February 2011.  Now if you remember a few months ago I had posted about having to put down my dog Moby in September of last year as well (and yes these were the saddest holidays I’ve ever experienced).  His death was from out of the blue, whereas Licorice’s passing was something for which I had been preparing for years.  Given her advanced age and some previous (and current) health scares, her death wasn’t that much of a shock.  But that didn’t make it any less painful.  After all, this was the longest relationship that I’ve had with another living thing aside from family.

I was living in Gainesville, Fl when I rescued her.  I just fell in love with her gigantic bat ears; she later grew into those.  She was black lab mix with a barrel chest, skinny legs, and pointy ears.  Definitely an odd duck for a lab.  But she was a sweetie, unless you tried to mess with her food.  Moby learned that lesson quickly.

Happy Sweet Sixteen!

Towards the end, her health started to fail.  There was a big scare when she was about 13 when she couldn’t move, spewed out fluid from both ends, and couldn’t eat a thing.  It lasted over a week and I was at the point where if I didn’t see any improvement, I would have to really consider the worst.  At the time she was on so many meds and I was up pretty much every hour administering some kind of medication.  Eventually I worked out a medication schedule that also included flipping her on her opposite side, changing / washing her bedding 3 or 4 times a day, and cleaning her as best as I could.  But she made it through and lasted a few more years.

The last few months of her life became more of a struggle.  She wasn’t able to walk around on her own; only her front legs had any kind of strength.  Also, she had started to get some skin infections and problems with discharge from her eyes.  Her weight dropped and her breathing became more labored.  Not the best quality of life.

Daisy and Licorice want some cake!

But there are lots of happy memories, with birthdays being some of those memories.  This is from her Sweet Sixteen.  I couldn’t afford to buy her a car, but she got a cake baked with love!  Thankfully Licorice, Moby, and Daisy all got a chance to take part in the celebration.  This was taken from Food, Fun, and Facts.  For a little added treat, I added a cream cheese frosting and some gummi bears.  It was her Sweet Sixteen, after all so I thought a little extra treat was in order.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. cooking oil
  • 1 c. shredded carrots
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1 egg

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a ring mold with cooking spray.

2.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking soda.  In another combine the remaining ingredients.  Add the flour combination and mix quickly.

3.  Transfer to prepared mold and bake for 30 – 40 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a serving plate.

Notes — serving suggestion is to frost it with some cottage cheese and top it with some carrot pieces. . . like I mentioned earlier, I frosted this one with a cream cheese frosting and topped it with some gummi bears.

Farmers market, or Farmer’s market, or maybe Farmers’ market?

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I still am not clear on the proper phrase to use.  Sometimes I find myself overly focused on the correct grammatical term.  They all work on some level which is kinda strange.  Weird thing to become obsessed about, I know.  But I digress. . . This is just a quick post focusing on the Ann Arbor’s Farmers Market (check them out on Facebook, too!)  These were from a couple of weeks ago.  To be more specific, this was our trip to the weekend market the morning before my family got into town for Labor Day weekend.  This was so early that some of the vendors didn’t even set up for the day.  Early trips are nice because you get to beat the crowds, but on the other hand not all the booths are there.  And it can get crowded, especially on home game days when visiting Wolverine fans and alumni come into town.  Anyhoo, hope y’all enjoy this quick introduction to the market.  If y’all are ever in town, make sure to try and stop by.

Squash!
I was so tempted to pick up some of those purple beans.
Luv the squash blossoms. I will post a recipe for some stuffed blossoms soon
Who doesn't luv fresh flowers? I guess if you're allergic you wouldn't. . .
it. . . early. . . Dan. . . need. . . coffee. . .
Isn't nice how everything is so neat and organized?
The baguettes from Cafe Japon are amazing! The best ones in town, in my opinion
I really like the work of this artist. And everything is very reasonably priced.
Those small potatoes up front were the size of raspberries. I see a salad of those, some peas, and some pearl onions, with some mint maybe?
Since Halloween is this month, I thought I'd put in a picture of some Ghost Peppers. Scary!

Remembering Moby and celebrating Daisy

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Yes, my dogs wear sweaters. But it does get cold and snowy here.

This time last year was the start of a very sad period in the household.  After a very quick, very sudden, very severe illness, one of my dogs named Moby had to be put to sleep.  He was 10 years old, but he definitely didn’t act like a senior dog.  He was always active; he’d chase squirrels all day in the backyard if you let him.  Which made it that much more difficult.  One day, he’s running around chasing leaves, two days later he’s gone.

He was rescued from a shelter in Mason, MI where I found him sitting in his own filth.  Sitting at the front of his pen, his face was just pressed against the gate, and he was just looking down at the ground.  All the other dogs in the place were barking and yelping for attention, all except for him.  He clearly was not used to being in a place like that.  So how could I turn away the saddest puppy in the place who was covered in his own crap?  Of course, he would celebrate his new freedom by throwing up into the middle console of my truck on the drive home.

Moby didn't like Daisy at first, but they worked it out eventually.

He was a member of the family for over 10 years and I wasn’t ready for him to go.  I had spent years trying to prepare for when Licorice, who was the elder dog at the time, would pass away (Licorice died later on in the year on December 13 at the age of 16, so my holidays just plain sucked last year).  But this wasn’t supposed to happen to Moby.  That was definitely a horrible day for us.  I was at the vet for hours listening to him howl in pain; even morphine couldn’t ease his suffering.  So on September 27th of last year, we said goodbye to our little buddy.  I was a mess for months; even know I can’t help but get emotional as I’m writing this.  What made things even worse, I ended up forgetting Daisy’s 1st birthday which happened to be two days later on the 29th.

As is a tradition in this house, all the puppies get a special cake or meal on their birthday.  I know that they probably have no clue as to what’s going on, but it’s important to me to celebrate it.  So this year we’re making sure to celebrate Daisy’s 2nd birthday with one of Moby’s favorites.

This recipe for the “Very Berry Drooly Dreams” cupcakes was taken from the Three Dog Bakery cookbook.  This cookbook is actually a very good resource if you do like to bake goodies for your furry friends since it contains a nice list of non-dog-friendly ingredients.  I’m sure everyone knows about chocolate and onions being toxic to dogs, but did you know that macadamia nuts could have adverse effects on the digestive and nervous systems of your pooch?  Grapes / raisins also contain toxins that could damage the kidneys if eaten in sufficient amounts.  Just a couple of facts that might be useful for folks out there.  Anyhoo, here’s what you need:

  • "Very Berry Drooly Dreams" cupcakes

    1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

  • 1 c. quick rolled oats
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. low-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 c. skim milk
  • 1 c. berries, fresh or frozen and thawed

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Coat a standard muffin tin with cooking spray.  Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl stir together the flour, oats, and baking powder.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil and honey.  Add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and milk.  Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined.  Fold in the berries.

3.  Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full and bake for 30 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

4.  Cool on a rack until room temperature before serving.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  You can freeze them, where they can keep for a couple of months.  Just thaw before serving.

Peachy Scones

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There’s still some last grasps of summer up here in the midwest.  Today may be the last “warm” day we get for a while — it got all the way up to 76 F today, which is way better than the 105 that we got over the summer.  And although autumn is pretty much here (which is my favorite time of the year), I still want summer to hang around for just a little bit.  So that brings me to some peaches.

Now originally some peaches were picked up at the store cuz they were really on sale (which is grocery-speak for “ready to spoil”) and I got inspired.  Initially one thing popped into my head — Peach Soufflé!  But I wanted a quick easy fix so that recipe will have to wait for another time.  So what’s next? — scones!  But apparently I figured it out too late and those peaches did end up spoiling.  I was still inspired so I went to the store and got some new, not quite so nearly-rotten-but-still-sellable as the old peaches.

This was taken from the King Arthur Flour website.  I made some minor changes, but it still stays true to the original.  I did follow a couple of suggestions:  1) to just drop some of the batter into a greased muffin tin, and 2) cut the amount of nutmeg in half — it originally called for 1 t. of nutmeg.  It doesn’t make for the prettiest scone, but it makes it a little easier to divide the portions out, at least for me.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. galangal
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. diced peaches, fresh or canned
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar

1.  Preheat your oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a divided scone pan, a 12-cup muffin pan, or a baking sheet.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and baking powder. Cut in the butter, using your fingertips, a fork or a pastry blender.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt or sour cream, and the almond extract. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the peaches and stir just until everything is well-combined. This is a wet, sticky dough, good for drop scones.

4.  Divide the dough among the compartments of the scone pan, or drop by the scant 1/4 cupful into the cups of a muffin pan or onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle the scones with coarse sugar, and bake them until they’re golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes (on a baking sheet), or 18 to 20 minutes (in a pan). Yield: 8 to 12 scones.

Notes — The original calls for 6 T. of butter, but I was using some low-fat sour cream so I added the last two from the stick to call it even.  Not sure if that makes everything square, but it tidies everything up — I didn’t want 2 T. of butter lying around the kitchen just waiting for some toast.

Labor Day with the family

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Batten down the hatches!!!  My parents and my brother are driving up from Florida to visit me for Labor Day.  Plus I got some other cousins and aunts and uncles coming in from about an hour away.  Lord help!  It’s not that I don’t want them to visit — it’s the planning that can be tricky.  And figuring out a menu isn’t going to be easy.  Maybe I can talk my cousin into bringing something to help with the menu.  What would be nice is having a whole roast pig, but since that ain’t gonna happen I’m going to have to improvise.  And too bad my grill just busted.  Good thing there’s still the trusty Smokey Joe. . . and as a side note, here’s what the Department of Labor says about Labor Day.

Luckily, another aunt and uncle (also from Florida) came in for a visit a few weeks ago so the meal they had here was essentially a trial run.  But since there’s gonna be more people, I’m going to need to expand a bit.  I do want to make some stuff focused on local goods and made in Michigan things, but I also want to make some things that I know they’ll like.  I did find some Labor Day ideas at Grilling.com, Martha, and Yum Sugar.  So here’s what I might end up doing (which I hope to post on these new ones soon):

Roast pork shoulder

Sautéed green beans with mushrooms

Ratatouille

Grilled corn

Fresh Lumpia

Bibingka

Zucchini Ribbons with Garlic Confit

Empanadas

Steamed Mussels with Glass noodle

Koegel’s viennas

Something with Rhubarb (probably a Raspberry and Rhubarb tart)

San Miguel

Oberon

_______________

Of course all this planning might just go out the window, so I’m going to wait until the last minute to do any shopping.  There’ll probably be a trip to Windsor in the making.  Or maybe a quick jaunt to Toronto (if I’m lucky)!