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Home for the Holidays: Baking Essentials

baking, baking utensils, calphalon, emile henry, holiday baking, holiday desserts, home, home for the holidays, kitchen, kitchenaid, le creuset, nordic ware, OXO

1. Le Creuset of 4 Stonewear Cocottes w/ Cookbook, 2. KitchenAid 5-Quart Artisan Stand Mixer, 3. OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Mixing Bowl Set, 4. Nordic Ware Snowman Cake Mold, 5. Calphalon Classic Jelly Roll & Brownie Pan Combo, 6. Emile Henry Le Grande 12" Pie Dish

One of our favorite things about the holiday season is the liberty to indulge in our favorite desserts. Diets can wait until the New Year! That’s what resolutions are for, right?

Why not get the baker in your life (or yourself) a gift that keeps on giving with some of the best baking tools around?

In the spirit of sweet indulgence, check out this delicious recipe for a classic pecan pie!

Irresistible Pecan Pie by IHART44

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons white sugar

1/2 cup butter, chilled

4 tablespoons ice water

3 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons dark corn syrup

3/4 cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 pinch salt

1/2 cup pecans, finely crushed

1 cup pecans, quartered

1 cup pecan halves

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. To make crust: In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and white sugar. Cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually sprinkle the water over the dry mixture, stirring until dough comes together enough to form a ball.
  3. On a floured surface flatten dough ball with rolling pin. Roll out into a circle that is one inch larger than pie dish. Place pie shell into dish and refrigerate until pie filling is complete.
  4. To make pie filling: In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, light and dark corn syrups, brown sugar, butter, salt and finely crushed pecans. Spread quartered pecans over bottom of refrigerated pie crust. Pour syrup mixture over top of pecans, and then arrange pecan halves on top of pie.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for one hour or until firm; let cool for one hour before serving.

*Recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com®

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Bombastic Banana Bread Bonanza

banana bread, recipes, dessert, convection ovens, cooking, housewares, kitchenware, baking

We definitely recommend picking up a Calphalon XL Convection Oven for your kitchen. For those aren't privy to the different between convection ovens and conventional ovens, convection ovens allow for fast, even cooking with a consistent temperature throughout, while conventional ovens can have pockets of warm and cool air. From toasting to broiling, the super-efficient XL Convection Oven from Calphalon gives you lots of cooking options while taking up less counter space. Large enough to easily accommodate a whole chicken, a 12-inch pizza or a big batch of brownies, the Calphalon XL is our go-to for Melissa’s Bombastic Banana Bread, the best banana bread this side of Shepherdsville, KY. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

4-5 huge bananas mashed

1 c sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 3/4 c flour

1/2 c (4 oz = 1 cube) butter softened

1 c Ghiradelli Chocolate Chips (if you really want to satisfy your sweet tooth)

Directions

PREHEAT oven 350

Mix dry ingredients together

Add softened butter and eggs mix

Add mashed bananas mix

Mix will be sticky and lumpy - so don't be scared.  

Bake at 350 for 55 minutes

We hope you enjoy Melissa’s Bombastic Banana Bread as much as all of us in the Blogbus. What are some of your favorite convection oven recipes?

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Saving Money in the Kitchen: Easy Apple Bread

It seems like everywhere you go in the fall, there’s the smell of apples in the air. You may find fresh baked pies in the local bakery, hot apple cider in cafes, and even apple butter at local craft fairs. All these treats are incredibly tempting, but the prices can be a bit expensive. Instead of giving in to all those highly priced treats, why not save money and make them in your own kitchen?

First of all, saving money begins by saving money on fresh apples. While many grocery stores now offer a large variety of apples, the prices can be a bit high. Not to mention that these apples are usually shipped in from another state or even from across the county. Instead, why not visit a local apple orchard? Apple orchards have the largest selection of varieties and the best prices. You’ll save even more money if you pick the apples yourself.

Next, find good recipes. Nothing is worse in the kitchen than preparing a recipe and it turning out to be a flop. Instead, choose recipes from sources you’ve come to trust. Ask your mom for the pie recipe she made when you were little. Ask your grandmother for that special apple cake recipe. Or, turn to some of the top recipe websites, such as Kraft Foods.

I hope I’ve given you reason to trust my recipes and if so, I hope you enjoy this one as well.

Easy Apple Bread
Makes 1 Loaf

4 large Honey Crisp or Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and chopped
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Cook the apples, water, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat until fork tender.
2. Allow the apples to cool.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Cream together the butter, sugar and eggs with an electric mixer.
5. Stir in the apples, flour, and pecans.
6. Pour batter into a nonstick loaf pan.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted in the center of the loaf and comes out clean.

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Healthier Lifestyle Week by Week: Activities to Reduce Stress

It doesn’t matter how healthy you try to be, stress can always undo all your hard work. Who hasn’t experienced coming home after a long day and skipping dinner because you’re too tired and stressed to eat? Or, even worse, a bag of chips and a candy bar are washed down with a large bottle of soda. Stress can ruin a healthy lifestyle. Learning to cope with stress should definitely be a healthy lifestyle change you make in the New Year. In this week’s blog, we’ll begin to discuss some of the ways you can handle stress so that it doesn’t ruin your healthy lifestyle.

Many people find that working out helps relieve stress. This is a wonderful way to reduce stress levels, because exercise is healthy. It isn’t for everyone though. Some of us are simply too wiped out by stress to be able to exercise. When I get stressed out, I turn to relaxing activities. First of all, I brew myself a cup of tea. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of summer; a cup of hot tea always relaxes me. Best of all, I add a bit of Splenda to make it seem like a treat. Then, I turn on some music or get out a book to read. In other words, I take a bit of me time. Taking time for yourself allows you to escape, if only for a few moments.

A few other activities that seem to reduce stress levels include cooking, baking, gardening and crafts. The key is to choose something that you love doing but never have time for. Heck, sometimes all it takes is skipping that quick shower and enjoying a long, hot bath.

What are you waiting for? Break out the casserole dish , book, gardening tools or whatever makes you happy and say goodbye to stress. Also, don’t forget to keep tuning in for more ways to cope with stress.