My Top Three Baking Tips

My Top Three Baking Tips

IMG_2808 (2)Fall is my favorite time of year for baking. It’s finally cool enough to turn on the oven but it’s not yet the holiday season so I have more leisurely time to bake. I find baking relaxing and enjoyable so when I have the time to bake I am pretty content.

In light of this, I thought that I would share with you my top three baking tips and what works well for me. I started this blog five or so years ago to encourage myself to cook more. While I think it definitely has served its purpose, I find that I still love to bake more. Here are my top three tips and I hope you find them useful!

Tip #1: Oven Temperature 

One thing that can be a bit tricky is understanding your oven. It really can make a difference in how you bake. I would say this is one part of a recipe that you may need to adjust in order to achieve a perfect bake. For example, I have found that my oven runs slightly hot, but just barely. Most of the time I find that I can just bake cookies or cake at just slightly under the allotted baking time in the recipe and they will turn out perfectly. You may try adjusting the temperature you bake at as well to see if that helps you achieve a better baked final product.

Tip #2: Follow the Recipe

When it comes to baking, following the recipe exactly is an absolute must. Since most of the recipe is based on chemical reactions the measurements need to be fairly exact in order for the result to end up tasty. I think this might be why I enjoy baking so much more than cooking, there are a set of rules that must be followed, and I like to follow rules! It keeps everything organized and in order.

Tip #3: Use an Electric Mixer

If you bake a lot and find that you can invest in a stand mixer, do it!! I promise you will love it and your arms will be so grateful. Unless you enjoy the arm workout from mixing! But I have found that I can’t beat things as well, or nearly as efficiently as with a stand mixer. A hand mixer is a great option as well and is usually a less expensive choice than a stand mixer. This is my stand mixer and I love it, but there are other options out there too that work just as well.

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I find these three tips to work well for me and I hope they help you as well!

xo,

Hillary

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S’mores Dip

S’mores Dip

IMG_2759When I think of an All-American treat, I think of either apple pie or s’mores. I’ve shared a delicious carmel apple crisp in the past, but I have a new recipe that you will love. This s’mores dip is warm, gooey and very easy to make, especially when you don’t have access to a campfire for roasting marshmallows.

As a young child I remember that we would have a couple of campfires near the beach throughout the summer and always roast s’mores. As I’ve gotten older and busier we haven’t made the time for such a relaxing evening summer activity as much as I would like to. Plus, with how hot it was this summer and the immense amount of wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, I have no desire to have a campfire right now.

So when my husband mentioned how much he would like to have a s’more the other night, I decided to make them but in a much simpler way. You only need a few ingredients and about 15 minutes to indulge in the perfect S’mores Dip!

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Ingredients:

1 bag of marshmallows

1 bag of chocolate chips

Graham crackers

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease the bottom of a glass pan (I wouldn’t use a size bigger than an 8×8 inch pan, unless your making this dessert to serve more than four.) Place enough chocolate chips to just cover the bottom of the dish completely. On top of the chocolate chips place several marshmallows to cover the chocolate chips. Miniature or large-sized marshmallows will both work. Place in oven and bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven when marshmallow tops are golden brown and serve immediately with a side of graham crackers. Enjoy!

xo,

Hillary

 

Fudge Brownies

Fudge Brownies

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Every Monday night you can find me on the couch watching The Bachelorette. I don’t know what it is about these reality TV shows but they always suck me in. I have to say that Rachel this season is very poised, intelligent and positive. I’m excited to see who she ends up with.

While I’m watching the show, I love to have dessert. I pretty much have dessert every night which isn’t the best decision for my waistline, but I just love having a treat at the end of the day.

One of my go-to desserts are brownies. Most of the time I will just make them from a box since it’s a lot quicker, but the homemade ones are always so much better.

These brownies that I’m sharing with you are pretty dense but they are packed with chocolate flavor. You could also add chocolate chips in to add a bit more chocolate if the following isn’t enough for you.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking powder

Optional chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8×8 inch square pan. In a microwavable bowl melt butter. Remove from microwave, put melted butter into mixing bowl and stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Make sure to add eggs slowly once the mixture has cooled some to avoid getting scrambled eggs. Beat in cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder. If you like chocolate chips in your brownies feel free to mix them in. Spread the batter into greased pan. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Enjoy!

xo

Hillary

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

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I love JIF peanut butter. There I said it. I know, it’s not the most healthy or “cleanest” version of peanut butter. But I’ve tried the natural and organic brands and I just always end up going back to it. I grew up eating it so maybe it’s comforting or a reminder of my childhood, but I will probably always favor it over other nut butters.

Since we are talking about peanut butter, one of my favorite foods to put peanut butter on is waffles! It’s just the best, you should try it! Unfortunately, I have found that waffles aren’t the most filling breakfast and so I’ve been on a mission to find a more filling option.

Every morning I eat breakfast around 8:30am and then by 10:00 or 11:00am I’m always really hungry and end up eating a snack. Well after eating one of these peanut butter oatmeal bars for breakfast, I was set for the morning!

They are really dense, super easy to make and kept great for several days after I baked them. With how busy life is with an infant and trying to keep up with him and everything else, I’m always happy when I can have a ready to go breakfast at my fingertips.

IMG_2293IMG_2299IMG_2303I followed this recipe exactly. And when I make these again, I plant to add in some chocolate chips just to make them a bit more decadent. Enjoy!

xo

Hillary

Strawberry Lemon Bread

Strawberry Lemon Bread

 

Since being pregnant, the only craving I have really had has been lemonade. I know, not super exciting but at least it’s not really weird. 🙂 Lucky for me, I found this delicious recipe that also incorporates fresh strawberries into the mix which are in season here in the PNW and finally on sale at the grocery store! I had initially planned on using strawberries from our garden, but 12 small strawberries wasn’t quite going to work for this recipe. Sadly our garden just hasn’t been producing as much as it did last year, but the weather hasn’t been quite as hot either so that could be why.

Once I made the bread it disappeared within two days it was that good! The lemon offers a nice slightly tart balance to the sweetness that comes from the strawberries. It’s taken a lot for me to not take the other loaf out of the freezer and devour it…

When making the bread I doubled the recipe so that I could freeze the bread and we can enjoy it after the baby comes. This bread is perfect for breakfast with a little bit of peanut butter or for brunch on the weekends.

*This recipe could easily be made gluten-free by just substituting the flour for a gluten-free version.

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xoxo

Hillary