Homemade Vanilla Extract

by kristen massad on November 20, 2014

SONY DSCSONY DSCIt SONY DSCis so hard to believe that we November is flying by us and we will soon be in the full swing of holiday gifting.  Some how, this year I am feeling more prepared than ever and I actually have a good amount of my Christmas shopping done.  The edible gifts will be my last minute items and these are the most fun to make and give.  Although we have some time and we don’t want the holidays to sneak by us, there is one recipe you will need to start now in order to have ready by Christmas.  

Homemade vanilla extract is one of the most simple recipes and probably the most used ingredient in holiday baking.  I use vanilla extract in almost every sweet item I make.  It adds such a subtle flavor but would be missed if it was not in your recipe.  

Before you make your own vanilla extract, there are a few items you will need to decide: the variety of vanilla bean and your choice of alcohol.

Vanilla Bean Options:
Bourbon
Madagascar*
Tahitian
Mexican

Alcohol Options:
Vodka*
Rum
Bourbon
Brandy

*My selections for this Vanilla Extract Recipe

What you need:

3-4 Vanilla Beans 
8 Ounces Alcohol
12 ounce Large Glass Jar for Infusing
2-4 ounce Glass Bottles for Packaging
Small Funnel
Coffee Filters (Optional)
Vanilla Extract Bottle Labels 

Instructions:

1. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise

2. Place the vanilla beans in a glass jar and cover with alcohol, make sure the are completely covered and jar is sealed

3. Place the jars in a cool and dark area for at least one month (for a stronger flavor, keep infusing them for longer)

4. Once the extract is ready, remove the beans and strain the seeds out (optional: leave the seeds if you like the vanilla bean flakes)

5. Using your mini funnel, pour extract into 4 ounce glass jars, seal and decorate with label and twine

Note: This recipe only makes 2 4 ounce jars, so add more ingredients if you have more gifts to give!

Give the gift of food!

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Pumpkin Ginger Spice Bundt

by kristen massad on November 3, 2014

SONY DSCAs we enter into November (my favorite month of the year…My birthday Month!) I am still feeling the love for pumpkin…I don’t think that ever goes away.  I have officially made this bundt cake to many times, but my girls love it, my husband loves it and it is the perfect cake to bring to someones house or an office to celebrate fall!  It has a moist texture, strong flavors of cinnamon and ginger and the creamy cream cheese glaze, a great breakfast, snack or dessert!SONY DSC

With a little batter left over, it made the perfect mini muffins tossed in cinnamon sugar. I hope you enjoy and Happy November!SONY DSCSONY DSC

Pumpkin Ginger Spice Bundt
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Ingredients
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 can (15oz) pumpkin puree
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
Instructions
1. In a large mixing bowl combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth
2. Add water to egg mixture
3. Add in pumpkin puree, ginger, cinnamon and allspice
4. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a bowl
5. Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix until combined
6. Pour batter into a bundt pan 3/4 full (depending on the size of your pan there might be a little batter remaining that will make the perfect mini muffins!)
7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
8. Allow the cake to stick for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan
8. Once the cake is cooled, dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with cream cheese glaze (see recipe below)
9. Serve or store in an airtight container
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
Spiced Cream Cheese Glaze
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Ingredients
4 ounce cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk, plus more if needed
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of ginger
Instructions
1. cream together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until all lumps are gone
2. add in milk until you have the desired texture
3. add in ground cinnamon and ginger
4. drizzle over bundt cake
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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Turkey Pecan Wreath

by kristen massad on October 29, 2014

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 Thanksgiving brings so much joy and excitement — a table full of more food than we can eat and surrounded with family and friends, sharing gratitude.   With so much hard work that goes into this holiday feast, we want every last morsel to be enjoyed, and what is better than Thanksgiving leftovers? The turkey pecan wreath, made with crescent dough, and filled with turkey and other leftovers, is a creative idea that will change your holiday tradition. Add any of your favorite Thanksgiving menu items to make this wreath your own.  

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Turkey Pecan Wreath
Serves 12
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Ingredients
2 Pkgs. Crescent Rolls (16 triangles)
½ Cup Mayonnaise
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
½ tsp Ground Pepper
1 Tbsp Rosemary, Chopped
½ Cup Celery, Chopped
½ Cup Apples, Diced
½ Cup Dried Cranberries
2 Cups Turkey, Chopped (cooked)
1/2 Cup Gruyere or Swiss cheese, Shredded
¼ Cup Pecans, Chopped
Instructions
1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2. Lay out 8 triangles of crescent dough in a circle, wide end toward the middle and 3. Lay out the remaining 8 triangles of crescent dough so the wide ends touch
4.Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, and black pepper in a bowl
5. Add chopped turkey, celery, apples, rosemary, and cranberries to the mayonnaise mixture
6.Shred the cheese and add it to the turkey mixtures, stir to combine all ingredients
7.Using an ice cream scoop, place filling over the seams of the dough to form a circle
8.Coursely chop pecans and sprinkle over the turkey filling (before sealing the dough)
9.Criss cross the dough to create the wreath
10. Egg wash* the wreath
11. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top is golden brown and dough is cooked through
*Egg Wash: Separate the egg and beat the egg white lightly, using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg white evenly over the dough
Adapted from pampered chef
Adapted from pampered chef
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/

recipe featured in Advocate Magazine

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Grain Free Dairy Free Red Velvet Cupcakes

by kristen massad on October 18, 2014

 ll6There are many reasons I love that I am pastry chef, but one of the main reasons is that you get to help celebrate all the wonderful events going on in someone’s life.   A few weeks ago, when I was asked to create a dessert for the 2nd birthday of Loubies and Lulu’s, I felt very honored, but I also felt the pressure to come up with a special dessert that encompassed everything Loubies and Lulus is about.  With two dessert options for the party, I chose one of my favorite clean sweets, Coconut Banana Chia Pudding and  Drea challenged me to create one of her favorite desserts, a healthy version of the very popular red velvet cupcake. This was a fun one for me to play around with and I was able to create a delicious and moist grain free and dairy free cupcake for her event. I have used some of my favorite ingredients for this clean sweet and everything that can be found in your local natural grocery store; almond flour, coconut oil, and coconut sugar. I hope you enjoy this recipe and I want to congratulate Loubies and Lulu’s for a wonderful two years of blogging!ll3 ll1

Grain Free Dairy Free Red Velvet Cupcakes
Yields 12
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Ingredients
Red Velvet Cake
2 ¼ Cups Almond Flour
1-Cup Coconut Sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
2-½ Tbsp Cocoa Powder
½ Cup Coconut Oil, melted
½ Cup Coconut Milk
2 Eggs
1 tsp Red Food Color, Natural
1 tsp White Vinegar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Honey Meringue
2 large Egg Whites
½ cup Honey
1 tsp Ice Water
Instructions
Red Velvet Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake pans with paper cups.
2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until combined and batter looks smooth.
3. Scoop batter into cupcake papers, filling them half way.
4. Bake cupcakes for 25-30 minutes, rotating them at 15 minutes.
5. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before piping the honey meringue icing.
(if you are not eating the cupcakes the same day, store them in an airtight container and ice with meringue when ready to serve)
Honey Meringue
1. Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
2. In a heatproof bowl, combine egg whites and honey
3. Place the bowl with egg whites over the simmering water and whisk consistently until they are warm to the touch.
4. Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer to mixing bowl that attaches to your mixer
5. With the whisk attachment, start whipping your egg whites and honey on high
6. Add the teaspoon of water to your egg white and whisk until thick and glossy
7. Once cupcakes are cooled and ready to serve, pipe the meringue onto the cupcakes
8. Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the meringue
9. Refrigerate if you are not serving them immediately
Notes
Makes 12 regular size cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pie

by kristen massad on October 7, 2014

SONY DSCPumpkin season is in full swing and I know we all have our favorite pumpkin recipes, but this cookie is perfection and must be added to your fall baking!  Soft and cake like, they have the right amount of sweet and spice that brings your right into the wonderful flavors of fall.  Once you get past the pumpkin, you will enter into a marshmallow cream filling with a dash of cinnamon…like I said, Perfection! Enjoy!SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies
Yields 36
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Ingredients
2 2/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/4 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon, Ground
1 1/4 tsp Ginger, Ground
3/4 tsp Nutmeg, Ground
3/4 Cup Butter, Unsalted
2 1/4 Cups Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Pumpkin Puree
3/4 Cup Evaporated Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Prepare sheet pan with parchment paper
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
Cream butter and sugar together with paddle
Mix in eggs, one at a time
Add pumpkin puree, evaporated milk and vanilla to butter mixture
Slowly add flour mixture until combined
Pipe or scoop batter into 1 1/2" rounds (leave room between, they will spread)
Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the cookie springs back when touched
Allow cookies to cool completely before filling with Marshmallow Cream (recipe below)
Serve immediately or store in air tight container
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
Marshmallow Cream Filling
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Ingredients
1 Cup (2 sticks) Butter, Unsalted
1 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1 (17oz) Jar of Marshmallow Fluff
1 tsp Cinnamon
Instructions
In a bowl with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar, mix until combined and creamy
Add marshmallow fluff and cinnamon, mix completely
Pipe filling into cooled Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies and sandwich two halves together
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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