West Valley View piece on my newest Chicken Soup for the Soul story

Posted by on Sep 8, 2020 in anthology:nonfiction, Blog | 0 comments

My local paper the West Valley View did a story about my nonfiction tale in the new release Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Cats. Read that here!

Finn and Snake
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Bready or Not Original: Mixed Nut Bars

Posted by on Sep 2, 2020 in Blog, blondies, Bready or Not, nutty | 0 comments

This has been a nutty year. Time to make it nutty in a delicious way with these Mixed Nut Bars.

Bready or Not Original: Mixed Nut Bars

The amount of nuts here is the equivalent of the can size found in many American stores, but I buy my nuts in bulk. (I’m cheap like that.)

Bready or Not Original: Mixed Nut Bars

Use whatever combination of nuts you like. I would recommend having at least two kinds mixed in, to make it fun. Really, throw in what you like.

Bready or Not Original: Mixed Nut Bars

If you’ve followed Bready or Not for a while, you know I love caramel chips. They are awesome in this recipe! They make these bars sweet without it being overkill.

Bready or Not Original: Mixed Nut Bars

Make this to share with numerous folks. You essentially end up with a 13×9 pan of little candy bars. I imagine that they will keep well for days or even a week, but I can’t testify as to how long. When my husband took these to his work (in those halcyon days when that was allowed), they were gone in hours.

Bready or Not Original: Mixed Nut Bars

These mixed nut bars are like little candy bars, crunchy and just sweet enough. Caramel chips aren't made of actual caramel, but act like chocolate chips in baked goods.
Course: Appetizer, Breakfast, Snack
Keyword: almond, caramel chips, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans
Author: Beth Cato

Equipment

  • 13x9 pan

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick

Nutty layer

  • 11 1/2 ounces mixed nuts
  • 1 cup caramel chips plus extra 1/2 cup for top, optional
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line a 13x9 pan with aluminum foil and apply nonstick spray.
  • In a small bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the cube of butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Dump into prepared pan and compress into an even layer; a strip of waxed paper and a heavy glass make this easier.
  • Bake base layer for 10 to 12 minutes, until it looks set. Sprinkle nuts over the baked dough.
  • In the microwave, melt 1 cup caramel chips with the 2 Tablespoons butter by cooking for 20 second increments and stirring well between each pass, until smooth. Stir in corn syrup and vanilla extract. Pour over the nuts to cover as much as possible.
  • Bake for 12 minutes. If adding extra caramel chips, do so now, covering any thinner areas atop crust. Bake another 5 minutes.
  • Cool completely at room temperature. Use foil sling to lift contents onto a large cutting board. Slice into bars.
  • Store at room temperature in sealed containers.

OM NOM NOM!

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    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    Posted by on Aug 26, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, breakfast, cheese galore, French, yeast bread | 0 comments

    This Jam and Cream Brioche Tart is probably among the most extraordinary things I’ve ever baked, and that is saying something.

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    First of all, the end result is gorgeous. Golden, thick crust freckled by pearl sugar. Marbled cream cheese and contrasting jam, with flecks of vanilla bean throughout.

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    The tart is as delicious as it looks, too. The enriched dough is sweet and soft, providing a luscious base for the different kind of sweet-and-soft offered by the filling.

    This is a showstopper of a dessert or breakfast.

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    The only unusual ingredient involved is the Swedish pearl sugar. I bought it on Amazon. I consider it a worthwhile investment, as there are a number of other pastry recipes I want to try that also use it. Plus, heck, you could even throw them on waffles or fruit or whatever.

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    Another not-quite-so-obscure ingredients I suggest you use is vanilla bean paste. This is VERY useful if you’re making fancy desserts because you get the flecks of vanilla beans without the high cost of using actual vanilla beans.

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    In a cream cheese filling or frosting, those flecks really stand out, and they add a lot to the WOW factor. Which this tart already has, many times over.

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    Recipe modified from Bake from Scratch, Sep/Oct 2019.

     

    Bready or Not: Jam and Cream Brioche Tart

    Don't be intimidated by the lengthy instructions! The actual process is fairly straightforward, and the result is gorgeous. Use vanilla bean paste for the filling, if possible, as the flecks of bean add a lot to the prettiness of the finished tart. Modified from Bake from Scratch, Sep/Oct 2019.
    Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
    Cuisine: French
    Keyword: cream cheese, french, yeast bread
    Author: Beth Cato

    Equipment

    • 9x9-inch pan
    • parchment paper

    Ingredients

    For Brioche

    • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk or half & half
    • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3 Tablespoons white sugar
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 3 large eggs room temperature and divided
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter softened

    For Cream Cheese Filling

    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
    • 1/3 cup white sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or substitute vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
    • 1 large egg room temperature
    • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

    To Finish

    • 2 Tablespoons fruit preserves use good quality stuff with nice chunks
    • 1 Tablespoon water
    • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Swedish pearl sugar

    Instructions

    • Using the microwave and a safe dish, heat the milk to between 120 and 130 degrees. Set aside.
    • In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the flour, white sugar, yeast, and salt at very low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.
    • Slowly add the warm milk to incorporate. Add 2 of the eggs along with the vanilla, and beat for about 1 minute. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
    • Add butter, about 1 tablespoon at a time, letting each piece incorporate before adding the next, about 8 minutes total. (If it refuses to incorporate, switch back to the paddle for this stage.) Beat until a smooth and elastic dough forms, about 6 minutes.
    • Lightly flour a stretch of counter or tabletop and dump the dough there. Knead it for a minute or so and form it into a smooth round.
    • Apply cooking spray inside a large bowl. Place the dough inside and give it a spray, too, to prevent sticking. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap in a warm spot to rise until doubled, 30 to 45 minutes.
    • Cut parchment paper to line pan going up all four sides. Apply nonstick spray to pan, then lay both strips inside the pan and spray the top-most sides.
    • On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11-inch square. Score a 9-inch square in center of dough (using the pan as a reference, if needed). Fold outside 2 inches over score mark, creating a crust around edges.
    • Place dough in the prepared pan, making sure it is even and fills corners of pan. Cover and let rise until puffed, 20 to 30 minutes.
    • Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese filling. Beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla bean paste (or extract), and salt until well combined. Gradually add cream cheese, beating until smooth. Add egg to incorporate, followed by the flour.
    • Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Using your fingertips to dimple the center of dough back down, leaving outside crust as is. Pour the cream cheese mix into the center of dough. Make small indentations in the cream cheese then add dollops of the preserves. Use a knife to swirl the fruit in a bit more.
    • In a small bowl, whisk together the 1 tablespoon water and remaining egg. Brush the crust with the egg wash, then finish by sprinkling the pearl sugar all over the edge.
    • Bake until the crust is golden brown with the filling set around outside edges, about 35 to 40 minutes. (If desired, check the temp: an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of filling should register 175°F.)
    • Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then use the parchment sling to lift up the tart onto a serving plate or rack. Eat fresh, or let cool.
    • Tart keeps for days well-wrapped in fridge. Eat slices cold, or make pieces even more delicious with a short zap in the microwave.

    OM NOM NOM!

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      Listen to “Toilet Gnomes at War” at The Overcast

      Posted by on Aug 24, 2020 in anthology:story, Blog, podcast | 0 comments

      Are you taking proper care of your household gnomes? You’ll find out the hard way if you don’t!

      My story “Toilet Gnomes at War” is an old favorite for many of my readers, and it has now been podcast for the first time! If you want to start your week with a story that is fun and whimsical with a lot of genuine heart, this is the story for you.

      Listen to it at The Overcast!

      #SFWAPro

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