Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Coffee Cake

Coffee cake is great for breakfast…or lunch…or dinner…or any time in between…along with a perfect cup of coffee…(next post—Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee…go figure(?!))…

 

 

The perfect coffee cake is moist and tender…with a perfect gooey middle layer of dark cinnamon filling…and a crumbly streusel topping.….with lots and lots of crumbs.

 

This is a simple and quick recipe for a delicious, homemade coffee cake made from scratch…and best of all, you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry or fridge…that will be great for making ahead of time and serving for a special brunch or holiday breakfast.

By the way, I used to hate it when I was growing up and my mom would make a cake…saying that it would taste better tomorrow…dang it..I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow…I wanted a piece right then and there…

Same with this coffee cake…I want it as hot as my coffee…straight out of the oven.

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Prep Work

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Grease and flour 9″ springform or Bundt pan.

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Making the Streusel

  • 1/2C flour
  • 1/4C brown sugar
  • 1-1/2tsp cinnamon
  • 3Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4C chopped walnuts, optional

Combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Note that making your streusel by hand will help make the streusel crunchier.

Cut in butter with a whisk.

Pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble.

 

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Making the Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • 1C sour cream
  • 1-1/4C milk
  • 1C sugar
  • 2C flour
  • 1-1/4tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

     

Mix together your wet ingredients—eggs, vanilla, sour cream, and milk.

 

Mix together your dry ingredients—the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.

Combine the two mixtures. Mix until the batter is smooth, fluffy, and resembles frosting, about two minutes.

Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle half of the streusel mixture…about three cups… evenly over batter.

Top with remaining batter.

Spread evenly using a spatula.

Sprinkle the rest of the streusel evenly over the top of the cake..

 

 

 

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Baking Your Coffee Cake

Bake at 350 for about an hour…or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least thirty minutes before carefully transferring the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Amaranth…The How

 

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Now What?!

So now that we have all run to the store and grabbed the biggest bag of amaranth that we could find, you could simply boil the amaranth and eat it plain…but what’s the fun in that?!

What else can we do with amaranth?

You will find that the nutty and toasted flavor of amaranth also works well in many dishes…including breads, muffins, soups…

So let’s get boiling mad in the kitchen and start letting off some steam together…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Amaranth…The Why

So now that you know what amaranth is, why should you care…what is the nutritional benefit…why should you add amaranth to your diet…why is amaranth considered a superfood?

Amaranth is a “relative” of other extremely healthy foods that you probbly already have added to your diet, possibly from birth—such as beets, spinach, and quinoa,

Amaranth is a great source of protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.

Let’s look at the nutrients that amaranth provides…

 

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The Numbers—Key Nutrients

Based on one cup serving of amaranth, here are some important uumbers…

Calcium...112% DV…116 mg…The calcium that can be found in amaranth is important for bone repair and strength. Not getting enough calcium in your diet causes your bones to become weak and pliable….increasing your risk of breaking a bone and developing osteoporosis.

Fiber…20% DV…Amaranth contains more fiber than any other gluten-free grain, even more than superfoods such as quinoa. The fiber in amaranth is good for your digestive system….(need I elaborate…fill in the blanks yourself)…

 

Folate…14%DV…54.1 mg…The folate in amaranth helps the body copy and synthesize DNA, which is especially important for pregnant women, because a folate deficiency can keep the growing baby’s cell from growing properly…possibly resulting in  birth defects as spina bifida or causing heart and limb malformations.

 

 

Manganese …105$ DV….This is over 100$ DV of manganese,…Maganese is especially important for diabetics because it helps reduce high blood sugar levels by helping your body converrt amino acids into sugar and maintain the balance of sugar within the bloodstream.

Protein…The protein found in amaranth is important for…
  • aiding in digestion
  • building muscle mass
  • controlling mood swings
  • decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage
  • helping to naturally balance hormones
  • making you feel full quicker and requiring more work for the body to digest than fast-acting refined carbs
  • preventing weight gain by
  • supporting neurological function

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Other Nutrients

  • Caroohydrates….48 grams
  • Copper…18%DV…0.4 mg
  • Far… 3.9 grams
  • Iron…25%DV …5.2mg
  • Magnesium…40% DV…160mg
  • Phosphorous…36%DVC…364mg
  • Potassium…9% DV…352 Mg
  • Selemium…19% DV…13.5mg
  • Vitamin B6…14% DV…0.3mg
  •  Zinc…14%…2.1 mg

 

 

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Other Health-Related Issues

In addition to all of these nutrients, amaranth also provides each of the he nine essential amino acids and aantioxidants.

Now let’s look at what all of these nutrients mean as far as your health…your muscles, bone, and skin…your cardiovascular health…your mmune system.

1. Controlling Cholesterol Levels…Amaranth is a considered a cholesterol-lowering food…having been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol…even by up to 50%.

2.  Controlling :Your Weight…Amaranth can help you maintain your goal weight for many reasons, including…

  • amaranth strengthens your bones, which means that you can exercise without having to worry so much about breaking a bone
  • fiber found in amarant keeps your digestive system regulated and reduces inflammation
  • high levels of lysine, an amino acid, helps your body produce carnitine, a nutrient that is important for converting fatty acids into energy and helping lower cholesterol
  • protein keeps you full longer and increases endurance levels

3. Dealing with Gluten Sensitivity…Many people are either allergic or sensitive to gluten, the protein found in wheat…but amaranth is gluten-free. Problems associated with gluten could include…

  • arthritis
  • bone and joint pain
  • celiac’s disease
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • infertility
  • miscarraige
  • poor memory.
  • skin rashes

4. Keeping Your Bones Healthy…The calcium that can be found in amaranth is important for bone repair and strength. Not getting enough calcium in your diet causes your bones to become weak and pliable….increasing your risk of breaking a bone and developing osteoporosis.

5. Reducing Inflammation…Inflammation is caused by the accumulation of dietary and environmental toxins in the body…making your immune system so overworked and weak that it can no longer defend  body tissues against damaging defense cells and hormones.

Inflammation is associated with just about every health condition, including…

  • leaky gut syndrome
  • arthritis
  • fibermyalgia
  • irritable bowel disease
  • gout

Amaranth helps reduce this inflammation.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Amaranth…The What

The other day as I was making my sandwich for lunch, I noticed that my bread was called “Ancient Grain”…I thought to myself, wonder what that means…hope it doesn’t mean that my bread has been around since ancient times…if that were the case, the bread would probably be stale…and the sandwich would probably make me sick.

So as I did research on out next cooking method—boiling—I found that one of the most commonly boiled foods are grains and have decided to explore this topic of “ancient grains” and grains in general for a while….beginning with amaranth.

 

 

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Ancient Grains

Ancient grains are those grains that existed thousands of years and continue to thrive today….such as amaranth…which has been cultiivaed as far back aa 8,000 years ago.

Aramanth was originally harvested in Mexico and was in fact the central staple of the Aztec empire…possibly making up to 80% of the calories in their regular diets.

 

 

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The Aztecs

The Aztec people  used amaranth for medicinal purposes….believing the grain to had healing powers.

Amaranth also played a significant role in their culture.

They even held an annual festival each December. This festival was a tribute to their god Huitzilopochtli. The Aztecs would prepare for this festival by decorating their homes and trees with paper flags and fasting. The people prepared for the whole month of December, probably like many of us do each December now to pay homage to our God.

During the festival they would sing songs…offer up prayers to this god…and eventually end  the festival  by offering a human sacrifices.

Not only that…they would also make statues of this god out of amaranth seeds and honey….eventually cutting this statue into small pieces and eating it once the feast was over.

In fact, even the name of the grain has religious importance…having been derived from either the Greek word amarantos, meaning “one that does not wither,” or “the never-fading.” …or the Hindi word Amar which translates to the the word “immortal.”

This all took place until the sixteenth century when Cortez “discovered” the Aztec civilization and  Spaniards began moving into the land The Spanish immigrans of this  “Spanish conquest” began fervently,  and often forcefully, trying to convert the Aztecs to Christianity.

They declared any  foods that had previously been involved in “heathen” festivals and religious ceremonies of the Aztec people—such as amaranth—as illegal…burning most of the amaranth plants and heavily punishng anyone caught with the grain.

After this Spanish Conquest, the grain almost went into extinction, but complete eradication of amaranth proved impossible. The seeds from the amaranth plant have in fact spread around the world.

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Amaranth and Your Own Diet

Amaranth has a sweet and nutty taste.

Technically amaranth is not actually a grain at all, but a seed

As far as nutritional value, amaranth is a gluten-free grain that is one of the best protein sources for vegans. Amaranth also contains high amounts of many important amino acids, minerals, and vitamins

Let’s now look more closely at the nutritional value of amaranth….and why the Aztecs believed that amaranth had healing powers…and then we will see how amaranth is a common ingredient in many dishes in the following countries—Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, China, Russia, India, and Nepal,.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making Perfectly A-Peelin’ Boiled Eggs

I play piano for church quite a bit…and have worked with severaql differeent singers and other instrumen talists…

And the one thing I have learned is that the songs that everyone knows and everyone and their brother requests that you sing—such as Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Aft…those songs that you’ve sung or played for only how long now….always end up being the hardest to put together because we take them for granted and each have our own version/expectation that we think that everyone else should prefer also.

The fact that the simpler and most common things are often the most difficult holds true in the cooking world as well.

Most of us have been boiling macaroni since pre-puberty and became brave enough to start boiling eggs the day after that.

You would think that we would all have the art of egg-boiling down well-mastered by now…

But are we really making the most perfect hard-boiled eggs that we could possible make…

Would we even know the perfect hard-boiled eggs if we ever saw it?

 

 

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The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

Before we start learning how to make the perfect hard-boiled eggs, let’s first consider what we expect from the perfect hard-boiled eggs…as far as color, the shell, texture, and the yolk.

  • Color…no nasty gray ring around the yolk
  • Texture…firm whites and yolks, but not rubbery
  • The Shell…slips right off, making peeling the eggs quick and easy
  • The Yolk…creamy and mellow

 

 

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Ingredients

Obvously the first thing that you will need to have whenever you are making boilee eggs is an egg. In addition to the eggs, you will need cold water, Ice, and salt.

 

 

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Equipment

As far as quipment, you will need…

  • Large slotted spoon
  • Saucepan or stockpot with a fitted lid
  • Timer
  • Tongs
  • Bowl for the ice water bath once the eggs have boiled
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Prep Work
Place a single layer of uncooked eggs in a large saucepan or stockpot. Do not stack the eggs on top of each other or overcrowd them.

Add enough cool water until there is about an inch of water over the eggs.

Add a pinch of salt.

Cover with a lid.

 

 

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Cooking

bring water to a rolling boil over high heat; Many people claim that adding salt, vinegar or baking soda to the boiling water makes the  eggs not only easier to peel, but also helps them taste better….so if you are going to use any of these, add them now.

Reduce heat to medium-high..

Once the water has reached a rolling boil, set the timer for the desired time. ..typically this will be anywhere from five to sevcen minutes…and boil them.

To be more specific…

  • 3 minutes for very runny soft-boiled eggs with just-set whites
  • 4 minutes for runny soft-boiled eggs
  • 6 minutes for creamy, custard-y “medium”-boiled eggs
  • 8 minutes for firm (but still creamy) hard-boiled eggs
  • 10 minutes for firm hard-boiled eggs
  • 12 minutes for very firm hard-boiled eggs.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

A Watched Pot Never Boils

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

I Don’t Even Know How to Boil Water

Yeah, I know…I said that we would crawl our way up the Raw Foods Pyramid one food at a time…one tier at a time…

But…

My family will never be content to eat nutritional yeast and raw sweet potatoes for the rest of their lives.

So instead I have been getting acquainted with all the different cooking methods…what foods work best for which technique…how to use each method in creating not only meals that are healthier, but also more delicious.

I began looking at these different cooking methods by starting with what I thought were “moist cooking methods”…specifially sauteeing, pan frying, and deep frying.

Let’s consider a few characteristics that make certain cooking methods “moist” cooking methods…

  • 1. Moist-heat cooking methods involve cooking food with, or in, some type of liquid—such as steam, water, stock, or wine. Lately I have learned that many people do not consider these three methods to be “moist” cooking methods because…but, hey, we’ve already talked about it…so let’s move on and not join in on that debate.
  • 2. Moist-heat cooking methods involve using lower temperatures—ranging from 140°F to 212°F—(yeah, I know, we just talked about frying foods at 300-ish degrees…just go with it)…
  • 3. Moist-heat cooking methods soften tough fibers—such as meat protein or plant cellulose….which can be good or bad depending on the food that you are figuring out what to do with.
  • 4. Moist-heat cooking methods are typically simple and economical.
  • 5. Moist-heat cooking methods are more likely to preserve and maintain the water-soluble vitamins and other nutrients of the food, taking advantage of that food’s nutritional potential.
  • 6. Moist-heat cooking methods preserve and even add moisture to the food as it is cooking…important for cooking foods that need softening—such as hard vegetables, tough meat or dry grains and beans….
  • 7. Moist-heat cooking methods bring out more of the natural flavor in the food.

We have already looked at sauteeing, pan frying, and deep frying.

Some more common moist-heat cooking methods are…

  • boiling
  • braising
  • poaching
  • simmering
  • steaming
  • stewing

So let’s get boiling mad together in these next few posts, okay?!

You probably alreadty know how to do this cooking method called boiling…most of us have been boiling stuff since we were making our own macaroni and cheese out of a box when we were teenagers…assuming that you were borb before they started making macaroni and cheese is single-serving microwavable cups.

Yet boiling is a cooking method…and our goal at this point is to learn about all of the most commonly used cooking methods…

So let’s talk about boiling for a while.

 

 

 

What is boiling?

Boiling is a moist-heat cooking method that involves immersing food in a liquid that has been heated to 212 degrees F. This hot liquid then transmits its heat to the food being cooked.

This temperature is called the boiling point…the point where the pressure of the liquid equals the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding atmosphere.

As liquids boil, you will see bubbles forming and then exploding on the surface of the liquid.  These bubbles are caused by water vapor rushing to the surface.

The food that you boil should be sturdy enough to withstand the aggressive water without being damaged…because the rough agitation of the water can actually damage the food.

 

Commonly  boiled ingredients include pasta, grains, green vegetables. dried pasta, dried legumes, rice, noodles, potatoes, and eggs.

 

How long you boil the ingredient depends on several facttos—such as what the ingredient is, your personal preference,  how you were brought up….(for example, back in Mississippi we cook our peas along with some bacon practially all day before serving)…how important maintaining the food’s original color, texture, and flavor…whether or not you care if you deplete the nutrients of the ingredient…and so forth…

Ingredients an either be added to cold water and heated along with the water…ior added to the water once the water has already started boilling…depending on the characteristics, of what it is that you are cooking…(more on this later)…

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Let’s All Get Boiling Mad Together

Yeah, I know…I said that we would crawl our way up the Raw Foods Pyramid one food at a time…one tier at a time…

But…

My family will never be content to eat nutritional yeast and raw sweet potatoes for the rest of their lives.

So instead I have been getting acquainted with all the different cooking methods…what foods work best for which technique…how to use each method in creating not only meals that are healthier, but also more delicious.

I began looking at these different cooking methods by starting with what I thought were “moist cooking methods”…specifially sauteeing, pan frying, and deep frying.

Let’s consider a few characteristics that make certain cooking methods “moist” cooking methods…

  • 1. Moist-heat cooking methods involve cooking food with, or in, some type of liquid—such as steam, water, stock, or wine. Lately I have learned that many people do not consider these three methods to be “moist” cooking methods because…but, hey, we’ve already talked about it…so let’s move on and not join in on that debate.
  • 2. Moist-heat cooking methods involve using lower temperatures—ranging from 140°F to 212°F—(yeah, I know, we just talked about frying foods at 300-ish degrees…just go with it)…
  • 3. Moist-heat cooking methods soften tough fibers—such as meat protein or plant cellulose….which can be good or bad depending on the food that you are figuring out what to do with.
  • 4. Moist-heat cooking methods are typically simple and economical.
  • 5. Moist-heat cooking methods are more likely to preserve and maintain the water-soluble vitamins and other nutrients of the food, taking advantage of that food’s nutritional potential.
  • 6. Moist-heat cooking methods preserve and even add moisture to the food as it is cooking…important for cooking foods that need softening—such as hard vegetables, tough meat or dry grains and beans….
  • 7. Moist-heat cooking methods bring out more of the natural flavor in the food.

We have already looked at sauteeing, pan frying, and deep frying.

Some more common moist-heat cooking methods are…

  • boiling
  • braising
  • poaching
  • simmering
  • steaming
  • stewing

So let’s get boiling mad together in these next few posts, okay?!

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Facts to Never Forget about Frying Foods

For years I have honestly been afraid to deep fry. Seemed liike every single time I tried to fry something, I end up getting splashed with hot grease and my hysband ends up finishing the job.

I laugh and say that he cookes on top of the stove, and I cook in the oven.

But lately I have been practicing the art of deep frying, and actually enjoy it…especially considering that deep frying gives you such good, but bad for you, foods as onion rings and French fries.

1.Choose the Right Oil…It is important that you choose an oil that has a smoke point higher than the recommended frying temperature…such as canola, peanut, and soybean oil. As far as the amount of oil that you need, you will typically need one or two quarts.

2. Clear the area around your workspace….and create an assembly line…arranging things.in the following order from left to right……

  • Food to be fried
  • Batter
  • Stove with pot of hot oil
  • Wire rack with paper towels underneath to put the food on after it’s cooked.

3. Clean the Oil While Cooking...Keep the oil clean while frying by removing any breading or coating that is simply floating in the oil after taking out each batch. by using a fine mesh stainless steel strainer or spider to remove this debris…Otherwise, these will burn and make your food taste burnt.

4. Cook at a High Temperature…Your oil should be somewhere around 375 degrees before adding your food…otherwise you’ll probably end up with food that has an overcooked exterior and an under-cooked exterior…food that is heavy and  greasy, not crisp and light.

It is best to use a candy thermometer to check the temp of the oil before adding your food.

Believe it or not, it will also take more time to cook your food to cook.

Your ultimate goal is to have the hot oil instantly seal the outside and cook the inside without burning the surface.

5. Cook your food in small batches…Don’t overcrowd the pan. Make sure to let the oil rise to temperature again right after removing the first batch and adding the next batch because this will lower the temperature of the oil quickly..

Your temperature needs to be somewhere between 325 to 375°F before adding in your first batch of food…because your food is always colder than the oil

The temperature of the oil is probably the most important factor in determining how crispy the crust ends up being.

6. Cool Your Food After Cooking…Draining your food on a cooling rack will allow you to quickly absorb any extra oil from the surface. Otherwise your food will not have as much of a crunchy exterior.

Carefully Lower your food into the oil so that you don’t get splashed with hot oil. 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Beignets

My husband and I were stationed about ten years ago at Fort Polk, Louisiana. This was interesting. Being from Mississippi, you would think that I would be right at home in the Deep South…

But…

 

Louisiana is a whole different world…

And Louisiana has some of the best food in the country…

Especially the beignets…

 

 

 

Beignets, the official state doughnut of Louisiana since 1986, have been popular within New Orleans Creole cuisine ever since being brought to New Orleans in the 18th century by French colonists.

These “fritters”are made from deep-fried choux pastry are traditionally prepared right before consumption, doused in powdered sugar, and eaten fresh and hot.

Today beignets from the Café du Monde, along with their coffee with chicory and café au lait, are quite famous…

So here’s a recipe for making the perfect beignets…

 

 

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The Ingredients

  • .1-1/2C lukewarm water
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 egg, s,slightly beaten
  • 1-1/4tsp salt
  • 1C evaporated milk
  • 7Clour
  • 1/4C shortening
  • Nonstick spray
  • Oil, for deep-frying
  • 3C powdered sugar

 

 

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The Dough

Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Beat eggs, salt and evaporated milk together.

Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture.

Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture.

Add the shortening.

Continue to stir while adding the remaining flour.

Remove dough from the bowl.

Place onto a lightly floured surface.

Knead until smooth.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray.

Put dough into the bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap or a towel.

Let rise in a warm place for at least two hours.

 

 

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Frying 

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees

Add the confectioners’ sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4″ thickness.

Cut into 1″ squares.

Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color.

Drain your beignets as they finish cooking.them for a few seconds on paper towels,

Toss them into the bag of confectioners’ sugar….then holding the bag closed and shakong to coat evenly.