Peach Tapioca Pudding & A Goodbye

This will be my last blog post.  No, it’s not because I’m getting married, it’s because when I get back from the honeymoon, I will be posting at only.  I’ve been posting on both sites to give you guys a sort of transition period, but now the time has come.

Eventually this site will no longer be a blog, and will simply forward you on to the new site.  But I’m going to wait to do that until I get back.

I shall reiterate what I said in my first post about the blog move.  If you want to continue following me through my culinary crusades (and I truly hope you do) you will have to re-subscribe on the new site.  I made nifty little buttons for you to do so.

It took me a while to think about what recipe/photos/mood to leave you all with for the next week.  I tried to stay away from peaches, I really did, but I have like 8 more recipes involving them to share and it’s already creeping into September, so I need to unload these babies…ahem.

So I picked my favorite.  I love peaches.  I love tapioca pudding.  Bam, heaven in a jar.  Did I mention I drenched mine in the caramel sauce I used in this recipe?  Did I say heaven in a jar already?

You get the idea.  And now I must prepare for this wedding thing.  Wish me luck!

Peach Tapioca Pudding

Adapted from Sunita’s World

Makes about 6 individual servings

½ cup tapioca pearls
2 cups milk
2 large, ripe peaches, peeled, stoned and cut into small pieces
5 Tbsp honey, divided use

2 Tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick

In a medium saucepan, soak the tapioca pearls in the milk for one hour.

In a small saucepan, heat the peaches, cinnamon and 2 Tbsp of the honey over low heat. Stir well, cover and cook until the fruit softens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the pan with the tapioca soaked in milk over medium low heat along with the cinnamon stick, remaining 3 Tbsp honey and brown sugar. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add 3/4 of the cooked peaches and continue to cook until the tapioca pearls are completely done and the mixture has thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Keep stirring frequently.

Once the mixture has thickened, discard the cinnamon stick and spoon into bowls, jars or ramekins.  Let the pudding come to room temperature, then cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  Serve with remaining cooked peaches and caramel sauce.


Honey Cinnamon Peach Ice Cream

Today’s post will be short and sweet.  It might have something to with the fact that I only have two useable photos for this ice cream.  I know, what kind of food blogger am I?  Will you accept a gratuitous picture of a grooming bunny as recompense?

This is one flexible bunny

In my defense, shooting ice cream on the non-air conditioned porch has its limitations.  I had about 10 seconds to take as many photos as possible before everything turned into a puddle of liquid.

And only two came out.  But I think you get the idea of this ice cream.  You take a honey cinnamon custard base and stir in pieces of chopped up peaches.  We actually had to go out and buy alcohol for this recipe since you need to macerate the peaches in vodka before adding them to the ice cream so they don’t freeze solid in the freezer.

The end result is an amazingly refreshing summer treat that perfectly blends the flavors of peach, honey and cinnamon.  I loved the contrast of the smooth ice cream custard and the bright, sweet peach pieces.  This has definitely been my favorite ice cream this summer.

Honey Cinnamon Peach Ice Cream

Adapted from The Merry Gourmet

Makes about 1 quart

1 ½ cups 2% or whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
5 large egg yolks
2 large peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped into 1/2 pieces
2 Tbsp honey
1 ½ tsp vodka

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk, ¼ cup sugar, salt and cinnamon stick, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until the temperature is 175 degrees.  Meanwhile, put cream in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over it.

In a separate bowl, whisk together ¼ cup sugar with the egg yolks. When the milk mixture is hot, slowly add about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly.  Then, slowly whisk the warmed egg yolks back into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon and reaches 180 to 185 degrees.

Strain the custard into the bowl of cream, stir to combine, and return the cinnamon stick to the custard.  Let the custard come to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours, or overnight.

Next, prepare the peaches.  Combine the chopped peaches with the honey and the remaining ¼ cup sugar in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes, until the peaches have released their juices. Pour into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

When the custard has chilled sufficiently, freeze it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In the meantime, pour the peaches through a strainer set over a bowl to catch the juices. Reserve the juice for another time or discard it. In a small bowl, toss the peach solids with the vodka. About 5 minutes before the ice cream churning is complete, add the peaches to the ice cream maker.

Transfer the ice cream to another container and freeze until the ice cream is firm, about 3 hours, and enjoy!


Sweet Potato Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Today, let’s pretend it’s fall.  Let’s think of cool breezes carrying the slight chill of inevitable winter.  Let’s think of leaf peeping and pumpkin patches and multicolored mums sitting out on everyone’s doorstep.

Let’s not think about how it’s supposed to break 100 in New England today.  A few days ago, Luke and I talked about moving to Alaska.  But then we’d never see our families, and I don’t think there are many software engineering jobs up there.

So we’re stuck near Boston where it’s hot, sticky, muggy and gross.  So I’ve made something with the flavors of fall to distract my mind from the magma flow that is today’s weather.  Thankfully we were able to put an air conditioner in the kitchen last night.  Whewww.

These cookies taste pretty much like fall incarnate.  Warm spices, cinnamon chips and mashed sweet potato all wrapped up in a buttery cookie with oatmeal added for extra texture.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy oatmeal cookies, as long as they aren’t oatmeal raisin. Ew.

If you’re looking to whisk your taste buds away to a cooler, more comfortable place, these cookies just might do the trick, if you can stand to turn on your oven that is.

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted loosely from My Baking Addiction

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter; softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup mashed sweet potato (or pumpkin puree)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy.

Add sweet potato, egg and vanilla extract; mix well. Add flour mixture, combining until all ingredients are incorporated. Fold in cinnamon chips.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely and enjoy!

Homemade Poptarts

There has been a recent movement in the food blogging world that calls for people to make certain staple foods at home, instead of buying a mass-manufactured version.  I am certainly a proponent of this idea, as I think homemade versions are almost always better than their store-bought counterparts.

When you make these foods at home, you know exactly what goes into them; no unwanted preservatives, dyes or other chemicals that you can’t pronounce.  Perhaps this is what makes the “homemade” touch so delicious.  Or maybe we can taste the love and goodness being transferred into these goodies as our family members or friends painstakingly take the time to make something homemade instead of running to the store real quick.

Whatever the secret ingredient is, homemade just seems better to me.  Even in the poptart realm.  And believe me, I’ve eaten a lot of poptarts in my day.  Including the great sounding, but rarely living up to the real thing flavors like hot fudge sundae or chocolate chip cookie dough.

I’d still take one of these homemade ones any day.  Homemade poptarts are remarkably easy to make, and the many different filling ideas out there make them even better.  I like to use up whatever I have on hand, which in this case, was a little container of cinnamon and sugar from a previous recipe.

Cinnamon sugar poptarts anyone?  I also used nutella as a filling for the chocolate dough-ed poptart.  Now, you may be wondering why my poptarts are so heterogeneous.  Well…this is because I kind of cheated.  Whenever I make a pie or tart and wind up with extra dough, I wrap it up, pop it in the freezer, then thaw it out later to make poptarts.  Obviously, I had a few different kinds of leftover dough in the mix, so I didn’t actually use the dough recipe below.  Whether you make these with leftover dough or fresh, I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the result.  I mean, come on, you just made your very own poptarts!

Homemade Poptarts

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes about 8-10 poptarts

For the dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
2 Tbsp milk

For the filling*:

½ cup brown sugar
1 -1 ½  tsp cinnamon, to taste
4 tsp all-purpose flour

cinnamon chips (optional)

4-6 Tbsp nutella
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling

Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Work in the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk the egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured surface if necessary.

Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins or up to 2 days.

Next, make the filling.  *These measurements make enough to fill about 9 tarts.  If you want some poptarts with nutella filling, I’d recommend halving this recipe.  In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon, flour and cinnamon chips is using.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 20 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″.  Repeat with the second piece of dough.  Cut each piece of dough into thirds – you’ll form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.

Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. This will be the “inside” of the tart; the egg is to help glue the lid on. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. Place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Cool in pan on rack and enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Banana Bread Snickerdoodles

Heads up guys, this post is a wee bit introspective, so feel free to skip to the recipe.  For those of you still with me, I’ve been turning over a question in my mind recently.

That question is about voice.  Specifically, my voice and how I represent it here on Bashful Bao.  Sometimes I feel like my writing style is everywhere at once, but at the same time, I find it difficult to pick one mode of writing and stick to it.  There are times when I want to tell stories punctuated with phrases like oh-muh-gawd and other spelled-out colloquialisms, and there are times when I want to describe a dish to you in a manner that would speak to your inner foodie.

I can’t decide, so you guys are stuck with both.  Perhaps a blurring of the two is where my style lies, though it stills feels like I’m trying to figure it out.  Please bear with me folks, and in the meantime, enjoy some cookies.

I’ve made banana cookies in the past, but these are definitely my favorite thus far.  The ones I’ve made before were sometimes too soft, to the point where after a day, the outer layer of the cookie was so moist, it would come away if you touched it.  These, on the other hand, are moist but not excessively so, with a subtle banana flavor that tickles the palate.  I added cinnamon chips because, well, I like cinnamon with my bananas.  Feel free to add chocolate chips, or perhaps candied walnuts.

Banana Bread Snickerdoodles

Adapted from Mind Over Batter

Makes over 4 dozen cookies (feel free to halve this recipe)

3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

large pinch of nutmeg

3 medium sized very ripe bananas, peeled and sliced

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp banana syrup (from reduced banana juice)

 For the sugar topping:

½ cup light brown sugar

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

      In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, spices and set aside. Place sliced bananas in a microwave safe bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and make several slits in the wrap. This will allow steam to vent. Microwave on high until the bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer the bananas to a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl and drain, stirring and mashing the bananas with a fork to release the liquid. You are going to end up with a bit less than ½ cup of liquid, and about ¾ cup of banana puree. Transfer the banana puree to a small bowl and set aside.

Transfer the reserved banana liquid to a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Cook until the liquid is syrupy and reduced to about 2 Tbsp, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the liquid to cool.

In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugars and the banana puree and mix until well combined. Add the egg, vanilla extract and banana syrup.  Carefully add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients about one cup at a time. Mix just until incorporated after each addition. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill at least an hour, or until dough becomes slightly firm.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and set aside. In a small bowl, mix cinnamon and brown sugar.

Remove cookie dough from refrigerator, and using a large spoon, scoop out dough and roll into balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar, making sure the dough balls are well coated. Place sugar-coated dough balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use a glass with a flat bottom or your palm to flatten the balls. If desired, sprinkle additional sugar on the flattened cookies.

Bake the cookies for 10-14 minutes, or until they are slightly firm to the touch.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes, and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely and enjoy!

Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins

It’s another super special Hop Day with Izzy!  And no, it’s not because it’s finally warm enough for her to start stretching out in her litter box.  Though it is cute.

It’s because today is my BFF Diego’s birthday.  He’s also graduating from college this week, so many, many congratulations to him!  Check out this vintage photo of us hanging out in Puerto Rico.  Yeah, I know we’re pretty awesome, especially me in my colorful little girl bikini.

That year was also the last one that I let my mom decide now I got my hair cut.

I wish I had a more festive baked good to ring in my friend’s birthday, but I thought making a cake for him that he couldn’t actually eat might be torturous.  So I went with a slightly less enviable choice, the muffin.

Hey, you know you like muffins.  And these babies are packed with flavor from mashed sweet potato, brown sugar and a menagerie of spices.

Top them off with some turbinado sugar, and you’ve got yourself one lovely breakfast.  Slap on some cool whip and a candle, and you’ve got yourself a tiny birthday cake.

Or just stick with the breakfast idea.

Spiced Sweet Potato Muffins

Adapted from Scientifically Sweet

Makes 12 muffins

One large sweet potato (about 8 oz)

½ cup packed brown sugar

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp orange zest

2 large egg whites

½ cup milk

1/3 cup canola oil

turbinado sugar for toping

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 12-cup muffin tin; set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the sweet potato until very tender, about 15 minutes.  You can also roast the sweet potato by wrapping it in foil and baking it at 400 degrees for about an hour.  It takes longer, but it caramelizes the sugars and brings out more flavor.  Your choice.

After the potato is cooked, peel it (the skin should slide off) and transfer it to a medium bowl.  Mash it with a fork or potato masher, then switch to a wooden spoon and beat in the sugar.  Set the bowl aside to cool slightly.

In another medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt; set aside.

Stir vanilla extract and orange zest into the sweet potato mixture.  Add egg whites and beat until pale, thick and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Stir in milk and oil.  Add in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, but do not over mix.

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling them to just below the brim.  Sprinkle some turbinado sugar (or brown sugar) on top of each.  Bake until golden brown, 16-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, remove and serve.

Pumpkin White Chocolate Blondies

Yesterday Luke and I attended our first and only wedding expo.  We were there for one specific reason: to sample the cake of a certain bakery so we could make a decision on where to get our wedding cake.

We accomplished this task about 10 minutes after the expo started.  Then we decided to nibble on a few of the provided hors d’oeurves and wander around carefully.  I say carefully because we just wanted to see what other kinds of booths there were, and not be assaulted by the salespeople attending them.  We already have all of our other vendors set, so we were just there to look.

 The woman at the front table was quite surprised to see us leave so early, but no reason to hang about needlessly since our decision was made.  With our extra time, we decided to go to the mall, looking for a new pair of corduroy pants for Luke.  I ended up getting a pair of jeans at the Gap for $7, but there were no corduroys to be found.  We also went to Trader Joe’s, to stock up on some of Luke’s favorite frozen food, as I’ll be away for a few days starting this coming weekend.

Ok, so that’s the life update, now onto the food.  I’m sure I must have proclaimed my love for pumpkin baked goods at some point, but here’s another out-of-season recipe to prove it.

These bars are thick and chewy, with just the right amount of pumpkin flavor.  I also like the pumpkin/white chocolate combination.  The original recipe called for semisweet chocolate, but I wanted to do something different.  Maybe next time I’ll use butterscotch morsels.  Oh goodness….to the kitchen!!!

Pumpkin White Chocolate Blondies

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Makes one 9X13” pan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp pumpkin-pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree

2 cups white chocolate chips

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Add pumpkin puree and mix well. The mixture will look somewhat curdled, but don’t worry about it.  Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in white chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake bars for 35-40 minutes or until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.

Cool bars completely in pan. Cut into squares and serve.