Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quick Homemade Pizza


In this house, ordering a pizza is always a multi-step process. First, there's deciding to have take-out instead of cooking. I always feel badly about ordering dinner when there's perfectly cookable food in the refrigerator, so this first step tends to take a while as I go back and forth. Once my laziness has conquered my guilt, there's the matter of deciding where to order. Somehow, despite only having about five take-away places near our house, this is always a lengthy conversation. After we've decided on pizza, it's a fifteen minute wait for pick-up. Then another 15 minutes after that to get the pizza home.

This recipe is quicker than all that. I don't think we've ordered a pizza since I've discovered this handy way of making it at home. And it almost goes without saying that homemade pizza is healthier and cheaper.

What makes this recipe quick is that the pizza dough is not given time to rise before baking. That said, this dough is not dense, nor does it like a biscuit (all those crusts in a can taste like biscuit to me). I cut the dough in half, freezing the other half. This gives me a crispy, thin crust, which is how I prefer my pizza. And I get a second pizza out of the deal. The sauce is a simple no-cook sauce that can be prepared at the same time as the crust. Sprinkle on some cheese and toppings, and dinner is done!

This pizza would probably be fabulous baked on a pizza stone. However, I use a pizza pan with holes, which I find works pretty well.


QUICK HOMEMADE PIZZA

for the crust:
1 c warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 package yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 c bread flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

for the sauce:
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

1 (8 oz) bag shredded mozzarella cheese
toppings of choice

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. In the bowl for a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast foams. Add the flour, olive oil and salt to the yeast mixture. Using the bread hook, mix together ingredients on low speed. Once dough has come together, detach the bowl from your mixer, cover with a clean, dry towel and allow dough to rest for 5-10 minutes.

3. While the dough is resting, make the sauce. In a bowl, mix together tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, and seasonings. Taste and play around with the herbs and spices until it's at your liking.

4. Place dough ball on a lightly floured surface. Cut in half, and stick one half in a gallon freezer bag to freeze for later. Roll out to a size to fit your pizza pan or stone. Top with sauce, shredded mozzarella, and any desired toppings.

5. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Source: Allrecipes (crust) and Allrecipes (sauce)

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!


This picture would have been cuter if Sundae would have agreed to wear the Santa hat I bought for her.

Christmas means many things to many people, but to me it means I'm done my holiday baking. Here's what I made for this year:

Oatmeal Cream Pies for my Grandpa
Lemon Crinkle Cookies for my Dad
New York Crumb Cake for my husband's Grandmom
Lighter Taco Dip for Christmas day appetizers
Easiest Ever Fudge because no holiday is complete without chocolatey snacks
Old Fashioned Dinner Rolls as requested by my aunt
Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies for my father in law
No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls for my in laws

And in my infinite wisdom, I decided to produce all this the day before Christmas, knowing we had to wake up super early the next day for an almost 3 hour drive to New Jersey. Planning is not my strong suit.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with great times, and great treats!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pretzel M&Ms Blondies


I love any recipe that gives me an excuse to buy candy. In this case, I had an excuse compelling reason for the purposes of research to try out pretzel m&ms. Pretzel m&ms have been around for a few years now, but I've stayed pretty loyal to my old favorite, peanut butter. But I'm glad I gave these a chance, because I really enjoyed how they worked inside the blondies. I love the combination of salty and sweet. I also appreciate that this recipe comes together fairly quickly and easily.


PRETZEL M&M BLONDIES

1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and then cooled
1 c light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 c (or more) pretzel m&ms

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 pan with foil.

2. Beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the salt. Gradually add in the flour. Stir in the m&ms.

3. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake. Place pan on a wire rack to cool for a bit. Pull out foil and then let cool completely. Cut into 16 squares.

Source: Bake at 350

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Stollen


In my family, stollen is a Christmas tradition. Every year, I would wake up the morning before Christmas to find my Dad pacing around the kitchen and peaking into the oven, yelling at the bread to hurry up and rise already. Every year. Ah, tradition.

Stollen is a century's old German fruit cake. The shape, an oval folded over, is meant to look like a swaddled baby Jesus. The German city of Dresden has laid claim to producing the one true "authentic" stollen, to the point of it's production being regulated. However, seeing as this is Pennsylvania, and not Dresden, I decided to use this stollen recipe I found on the internet instead. I don't know how authentic it is, but it's very tasty. My Dad has used probably a dozen different stollen recipes over the years, and I think this is the best one I've tasted. And in his experience, it's the one that gives him the best results and rises the quickest.

This stollen begins with a sponge which you then use to build the dough. Think of the sponge as a sort of "pre-dough" that you let rise a little before adding all the remaining ingredients. Stollen does seem to take a bit more time to rise than other bread doughs (Dad, I now feel your pain), but it's well worth it in the end. This bread has a cinnamon-sugar filling that I feel is optional. Before serving, be sure to sift on a thick layer of powdered sugar. Justify it as being snow, or something. But, of course, the best part of this bread is enjoying it on Christmas morning and sharing it with family and friends. :)


STOLLEN

for the fruit mixture:
1 c mixed candied fruit
1 c raisins
3 tbsp rum

for the sponge:
1 .25oz package yeast
1/4 c warm water (about 110 degrees)
2/3 c milk
1 tsp honey
1 c flour (the original recipe calls for all-purpose, but I used bread)

for the dough:
1/3 c honey
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into chunks
1 tbsp lemon zest (I zested one lemon and called it a day)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c slivered or chopped almonds
3-4 c flour

for the filling (optional):
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp sugar

1. In a bowl, mix together the candied fruit and the raisins. Toss with the rum. Cover with plastic wrap and occasionally shake to coat the fruit with the rum.

2. Pour the warm water into the bowl for a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Heat the milk to 110 degrees (I do this by zapping it for a few seconds in the microwave). Pour the milk into the bowl. Add in the honey and 1 cup flour. Stir to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place. Let sponge rise for about 30 minutes. It should puff up and appear full of bubbles.

3. To the sponge, add the fruit mixture, 1/3 cup honey, butter, lemon zest, salt, nutmeg, almonds, and 2 cups of the flour. Using the paddle attachment for the stand mixture, mix on a medium low speed for about 2 minutes. It'll look more like a cookie dough than a bread dough at this point. In 1/4 cup intervals, add the remaining flour until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Switch to the dough hook. On low speed, use the dough hook to continue mixing together the dough, adding flour by the tablespoon until dough cleans the bowl. Once dough cleans the bowl, it has enough flour. Use the dough hook to knead the dough for 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Spray a large bowl with some non-stick cooking spray, or coat with vegetable oil. Place the dough ball in the bowl, and flip over so oil coats both sides. Cover bowl and place someplace warm. Let dough rise until doubled, about 1-2 hours.

5. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a clean counter top. Remove dough ball from bowl and place on the paper. Roll dough into a 9 x 13 inch oval. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted butter over the oval's surface. Mix together the cinnamon and 3 tablespoons sugar and sprinkle over the melted butter. Fold the dough in half lengthwise (the parchment paper really helps this step). Transfer the stollen, still on the paper, to a baking sheet. Cut any excess paper that doesn't fit the baking sheet. Cover the stollen with a dry, clean towel. Place somewhere warm and allow to rise again for about 45 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack. To serve, sift powdered sugar over top.

Source: Food Network

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday, Crazy Sweet Tuesday

Monday, December 19, 2011

Soft Gingerbread Cookies


The holiday season completely sneaked up on me out of nowhere, and I find myself utterly unprepared. Is it just me, or has Christmas come faster than usual this year? A week from Christmas and I have not decorated, put up a tree, or braved an over-crowded shopping mall. And I definitely have not been cranking out the Christmas cookies.

That said, I made sure I carved out some time this weekend to make these Soft Gingerbread Cookies. This is a recipe a family friend has used for decades. Every year, she would use it to make my younger brother the cutest advent calendar. She would wrap 24 of these cookies in plastic and attach them to a ribbon. My brother would then snack his way down to Christmas! These cookies stay remarkably soft day after day, so you can make these quite a bit in advance of when you'd need them. The spices in these are just right, and they have the perfect amount of sweetness. I'm sure Santa wouldn't mind gobbling a few up!


SOFT GINGERBREAD COOKIES

2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 c molasses

1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Set aside.

2. Cream together the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and then the molasses. In small batches, mix in the dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl between each batch. Refrigerate dough for about an hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on parchment, leaving plenty of room between them. Dip the bottom of a drinking glass into flour and shake off the excess. Press the drinking glass onto each dough ball to flatten them.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday, Crazy Sweet Tuesday

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cowboy Beans


I'd like to think I'm a decent cook. An advanced beginner, perhaps. But the one area where I really lack in inspiration and technique is side dishes. I tend to focus my energy on one main dish, after which I just want to slap it on the table and declare dinner to be done. I know that's bad. I'm working on it. Starting with this recipe.

These Cowboy Beans are an excellent side dish. Tasty, relatively quick to make, and inexpensive. What more could anyone want? I've also eaten this alone for lunch (I had to do something with my test batch), and, while I wouldn't call this dish heavy, necessarily, it's pretty hearty. I personally love beans, especially at this time of year with the weather getting cold. Beans make me think of Texas and places south where winter doesn't suck so hard. I find dishes like this incredibly warm and comforting.

The only real I change I made from the original recipe I used was to swap out chorizo and replace it with bacon. I did this because I thought it would be easier to use of the rest of a package of bacon as opposed to being left with a random amount of chorizo. And I really think the smokiness from the bacon worked well in this dish. These beans are not particularly spicy, so heat lovers might want to add the whole jalapeno.


COWBOY BEANS

2 slices bacon, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large tomato, diced
1 15oz can pinto beans, undrained
3/4 c water
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a 2-quart stockpot, cook the bacon over medium-high heat. Drain grease, leaving some behind to help cook the vegetables.

2. Turn down the heat to medium. Add onion to the bacon and cook until tender, or about 4 minutes. Add jalapeno and cook for another minute. Stir in the chili powder and oregano. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add in the tomato and heat through for about a minute. Add the can of pinto beans and water.

3. Bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Source: Food Network Magazine

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Potato Chip Dip


Whenever there's a holiday get-together, I usually find myself on appetizer duty, and I've had a lot of dip recipes on the brain as of late. Most of the dips I make are meant to be eaten with that master of multi-tasking, the tortilla chip. However, I got a request for a dip to accompany potato chips, which led me to this recipe. Potato chip dip recipes are surprisingly hard to find, and most involve some kind of soup packet. This recipe is similar to the familiar, pre-packaged french onion chip dip but with a fresher, nicer taste. Goat cheese is not usually my thing, but its tang is much appreciated in this dip. It's on the expensive side for an ingredient (I am no foodie), but if there were ever a time to splurge on dip-making materials, the holidays would be it.


CHIP DIP

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 garlic clove
1 c sour cream
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 c chopped chives

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in the onion and season with some kosher salt. Cook the onion until it caramelizes and becomes soupy. This should take about 20 minutes.

2. Combine the caramelized onion, garlic clove, sour cream, goat cheese and chives in a food processor. Pulse until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Refrigerate dip for at least an hour before serving.

Source: Chow

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pecan Sandies


I always thought Pecan Sandies were the exclusive creation of the Keebler elves. That turns out not to be true, and Pecan Sandies can be made at home. This was my first try at making cookie dough with the food processor, and I found it to be a very quick and easy process. These cookies would be excellent with tea or coffee.

PECAN SANDIES
from The New Best Recipe

1 1/2 c chopped pecans, plus more pecan halves for topping cookies
1/4 c powdered sugar
1/2 c light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
12 tbsp (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk

1. In a food processor, pulse together the pecans and sugars until pecans are ground. Add flour and salt and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until dough starts to look like wet sand and rides up the side of the bowl. Run the food processor and add in the yolk while it's running. Dough should come together into a ball.

2. Remove ball from food processor and knead a few turns on a clean surface. Roll dough into a 12 inch log, and cut in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

3. Remove dough logs from freezer. Unwrap and roll on a clean surface to fix the flattened side (your logs will be flat on the bottom). When log is fully round once more, rewrap and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove logs from refrigerator. Slice into 1/4" slices and place on parchment paper. Press a pecan half into the top of each slice.

5. Bake for 22-24 minutes, rotating baking sheets half way through baking. Cookies are done when edges start browning. Allow cookies to cool on wire rack.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Resources


Sundae has nothing to do with this post, but I'd feel bad posting without a photo.

My oven and I decided to take a short break from each other, so I checked out for the last week. That gave me more time to look up recipes on the internet (as if I needed an excuse). I'll be back to my regular posting tomorrow, but, for now, I thought I'd share some of my favorite on-line recipe resources:

Allrecipes- One of the first online recipe resource, and still one of the best. Recipes are submitted by site members, as well as companies like Kraft and magazines like Taste of Home. There's really nothing you can't find at this site. I use Allrecipes as a source for this blog all the time.

Epicurious- Very much like Allrecipes, but slightly higher-brow. Recipes are submitted both by members and its magazine partners: Bon Appetit and the now-defunct Gourmet.

Betty Crocker- For some reason, I was in the dark about this resource until a couple of days ago. I want to make nearly every recipe I've seen on this site. It full of simple, accessible recipes-- exactly what you'd expect from Betty Crocker-- put together in a nice format.

King Arthur Flour- Tons of bread and bread machine recipes, as well as other baking recipes. As a bread lover, I particularly appreciate this resource. Tested, well-reviewed bread recipes can be hard to track down.

Tasty Kitchen- Spearheaded by the Pioneer Woman, this is another great member-driven recipe resource. Also a very nice blog attached to the site. I have noticed that sometimes recipes disappear from the database, however.

I hope you'll check out some of these great resources and find them as useful as I have!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lasagna


This is a beloved recipe in the Cats and Casseroles household. I make it every Thanksgiving and most Christmases, and it's something my family looks forward to every year. I call it my "holiday lasagna," because it's a dish I reserve for special occasions. It does take a bit more time to prepare than a lasagna made with a jarred sauce, and certainly more than a frozen one, but it's totally, totally worth it.

This lasagna is incredibly yummy. The sauce is what makes it truly special, in my opinion. I love the combination of the sausage with the ground beef and all those herbs. The sauce is thick and rich, and has just the perfect balance of flavors.

Part of what makes this lasagna a perfect holiday dish is that it can be made ahead. When I hosted Thanksgiving, I would make this two days ahead of the big event and store it in the refrigerator. When I have company over, it's nice to enjoy time with them instead of being squirreled away in the kitchen preparing dinner.


LASAGNA

for the sauce:
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
3/4 lb lean ground beef (I often use a whole pound, since it's easier to find)
1/2 c minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

to build the lasagna:
12 no-bake lasagna noodles (I highly recommend Barilla)
1 16 oz  container whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
pinch black pepper
1 8oz bag shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onion and cook for a couple of minutes, or until translucent. Add in the sausage and ground beef. Cook until both sausage and beef are cooked through with no pink inside. Drain off excess grease. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Turn down the heat to medium-low.

2. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Stir in the sugar, basil, fennel, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, and parsley. Allow the sauce to simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat as needed.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta, egg, salt, parsley, and pepper.

5. To build the lasagna: Spoon some sauce to cover the bottom of a deep 9 x 13 metal pan with straight sides. Top this sauce with 6 no-bake lasagna noodles. Spread 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella and 1/4 Parmesan on top. Cover with meat sauce. Put down another 6 noodles and repeat the layers, but save the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses for last.

6. Cover the lasagna with foil. Bake for 25 minutes, and then remove foil and bake for another 25 minutes. Let lasagna cool down for about 15 minutes before serving.

Source: allrecipes

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cranberry Clafoutis


Up to this point, my relationship with cranberries has been limited to the jellied kind in the can. This dessert has changed that for me. This recipe is a great way to serve up the traditional Thanksgiving berry in a new and tasty way. My family has already requested I bring this to our holiday celebration.

A clafoutis is a French dessert that is traditionally made with cherries. The cherries are topped with a flan-like batter and then baked. This version uses cranberries instead. And let me assure you, it is delicious. Normally, I find cranberries too tart. However, suspended in the sweet batter, they provide the perfect compliment. Of course, a little powdered sugar and a dab of whipped cream never hurts, either!


CRANBERRY CLAFOUTIS

1 c cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 c plus 2 tbsp sugar
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs
3/4 c heavy cream
3/4 c whole milk
2 tsp orange zest

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a 8 inch square glass baking dish. Sprinkle 2 tbsp sugar over the bottom of the dish.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 1/2 c sugar, flour, salt, eggs, heavy cream, whole milk and orange zest. Make sure to smooth out any lumps.

3. Spread the chopped cranberries over the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the batter on top of the cranberries. Bake in oven for 32 to 34 minutes, or until edges brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack or trivet for about 15 minutes before serving. Serve with powdered sugar and whipped cream, if desired.

Source: Martha Stewart Living Magazine, November 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Old Fashioned Dinner Rolls


My husband, despite being north of 35 years old, still eats like a teenager. It wouldn't be uncommon for him to eat 3 or 4 pieces of lasagna at dinner and then wander around the kitchen a few hours later looking for a snack. I'd be concerned, but the man is on the thin side and has a clean bill of heath. So instead I'm just jealous I don't share his metabolism.

I began making dinner rolls as a way to stretch the grocery budget while keeping my husband full. Dinner rolls are inexpensive and filling. The only problem was, I couldn't find them in the stores. I'm not exactly sure when or why the dinner roll became an extinct species. But it encouraged me to make my own.

I've tried at least a dozen different roll recipes. This is my husband's favorite. It's made in the bread machine, but is easily adapted to a stand mixer.


OLD FASHIONED DINNER ROLLS

1 c water
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
3 1/4 c bread flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp bread machine yeast
2 tbsp melted butter

1. Place ingredients (except melted butter) in your bread machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.

2. Run dough cycle. When complete, remove dough from machine and rest on a lightly floured surface. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit for 10 minutes.

3. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Divide dough into 15 equal pieces and roll into balls. Place balls in glass baking dish. Cover and place in a warm place to rise for about 40 minutes, or until doubled.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush tops with melted butter.

Source: Betty Crocker's Best Bread Machine Cookbook

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Butternut Squash Pie


It's getting to be that time of year again. The time for pie.

Move over pumpkin, because butternut squash has arrived. When I first heard about butternut squash pie, I immediately put it on my must bake list. I was intrigued with the concept of turning an ingredient I find generally underwhelming into a delicious pie. The person who recommended this recipe to me assured me it would be similar to pumpkin pie, but better. Boy was she right. This pie has a sweeter, lighter, fresher taste than any pumpkin pie I've ever eaten. It's made completely from scratch, which is a bit time consuming but not really that much more difficult than opening up a can. For those pumpkin diehards out there who would like to try this recipe, swap out the squash for one pie pumpkin.

This pie was only the second pie I'd ever made. And if I can do it, so can you. Jump right in and impress your Thanksgiving guests this year with a from-scratch butternut squash pie!


BUTTERNUT SQUASH PIE

for the crust:
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
4-8 tbsp ice water

for the pie filling:
1 large butternut squash
1 c light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 eggs
3/4 c evaporated milk
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla

1. Start by making the crust. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until you've achieved pea sized chunks. Add water one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork. Add enough water so that the dough starts to come together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and shape into a disk. Refrigerate for an hour.

2. While crust is in the refrigerator, roast the butternut squash. To do this, slice the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds. Line a baking pan (a jelly roll pan is ideal) with aluminum foil. Grease foil with a light coat of cooking spray. Place squash, cut side down, on foil. Pour 1/2 c water into the baking pan and loosely cover squash with another piece of foil. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 50 minutes. Let cool.

3. Scoop out innards of roasted butternut squash and place in food processor or blender. Pulse until pureed. Reserve 1 1/2 c of the puree, saving the rest for another recipe.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together the butternut squash puree and the brown sugar. Beat in the eggs, evaporated milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, flour, melted butter, and vanilla. Mix until well combined.

5. Lightly coat a 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Remove pie crust dough from refrigerator and roll out on a floured surface. Gently lift up dough and press it into the pie plate. Crimp the edges and cut off any excess. Pour filling into crust.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until set. Let pie cool on rack before serving.

Source: Southern Food at About.com

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Veggie Dip


In developing this recipe, I was inspired by Debbie Does Dinner. I love the idea of a low-calorie and low-fat veggie dip. It makes sense, doesn't it? If I'm going muster up the strength to bypass the cookies and snack on some carrot sticks, I don't want to ruin the effort with an unhealthy dip.

This dip uses Greek yogurt as its base, which has a similar taste and texture to sour cream but sports a much friendlier nutrition label. One batch of this recipe contains roughly 75 calories and 4 grams of fat, and makes enough to share with a couple of friends.


VEGGIE DIP

1/3 c fat-free Greek yogurt
1 tbsp light mayonnaise
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp freeze dried chives
1/8 tsp onion powder

1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Enjoy with cut veggies.

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pinterest Favorites Friday

I find Pinterest a very useful tool in my mission to procrastinate from housework as much as possible. It's also a wonderful place find recipes and craft ideas. Today, I thought I'd share some of my favorite finds:



I love this tip from All Things Homie on how to make breakfast sandwiches for a crowd. Isn't this ingenious? This would be great to try over the holidays, or whenever you have a house filled with guests.


What a neat idea from Picky Palate! This would be fun to do with left-over scraps when making holiday pies. Kids would go crazy for these. So would I, for that matter. Then again, I am still at least 87% kid.


Mashed potatoes and pies are great, but for those of us who don't want to completely bust our waist lines, this yummy looking chicken and tomato pasta dish from Skinny Taste would be a nice reprieve from all the heavy holiday cooking.


These diy reusable bowl covers from The Farm Chicks are just brilliant. Sometimes I get tired of wrestling with plastic wrap. And the sewing instructions are simple enough that even I can make these. I think.


Ok, so this has nothing to do with food. But it's penguins wearing sweaters! You can read more about why New Zealand penguins are rocking these life-saving duds over at Fashionista. I knit and would be seriously tempted to make a bunch of these, but apparently the penguins' closets have already been filled.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cookies


These cookies combine two great fall-appropriate flavors: pumpkin and ginger. Gingersnap fans will love these. Pumpkin lovers will be happy as well. You can't go wrong with a classic cookie like this. My taste testers agree. I sent a box of these off to work with my husband, and the box came back with nary a crumb.


PUMPKIN GINGERSNAP COOKIES

2 1/3 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 c sugar (plus more for rolling cookies)
1/2 c canned pumpkin
1/4 c molasses
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the pumpkin, molasses, egg and vanilla extract. Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for at least an hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

4. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and coat each ball with sugar. Place on lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until tops of cookies crack. Allow cookies to cool on sheet for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Source: Two Peas and Their Pod

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Monday, October 24, 2011

French Onion Soup


French onion soup has always been a favorite of mine. It's the perfect dish for fall. Warm, comforting and rich.

When making this, you might feel like you're slicing an insane amount of onion. I use a 6-quart stockpot when preparing this recipe, and the onions nearly fill it to the top. However, a half hour of careful care and steady heat reduces them to just enough to cover the bottom of the pot. It's almost magic. I always make a point of cooking the onions a tad more than I think I should. Short of blasting the heat, it's hard to overdo the onions, but it's very easy to underdo them. No one wants crunchy onions in their soup. Trust me.

The biggest change I made to the original recipe was leaving out the red wine. I never have it on hand, and it's too expensive to justify buying just for soup. Plus, I don't like it. While the recipe calls for vidalia and red onion, feel free to use any jumbo yellow onion in their place (often the yellow onions are the cheapest).


FRENCH ONION SOUP

4 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
3 15oz can chicken broth
1 15oz can beef broth
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 dried bay leaves
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8oz swiss cheese, shredded
1 baguette, store bought or make your own

1. In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add in the onions and salt. Cook the onions, stirring often, for about 30 minutes, or until your onions are caramelized, dark golden brown in color, and syrupy.

2. Pour into the chicken broth and beef broth into the stock pot. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Season with a bit of pepper (unless you used a low sodium broth, you probably don't need to add salt). Add in the bay leaves. Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen up any caramelized bits. Cover the pot and simmer on medium for about 20 minutes.

3. Fish bay leaves from pot and stir in balsamic vinegar. Place a piece of baguette in each soup bowl (you can get 6-10 servings from this recipe). Ladle soup over bread and then top with some of the cheese. Heat bowls under the broiler until the cheese bubbles and browns. Wait a minute or two for bowl to cool down some before serving.

Source: allrecipes

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper, Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cream Cheese Pound Cake


Don't let the modest name or appearance of this cake fool you. It's like crack baked into a bundt. It's moist and dense, and the cream cheese gives it a wonderful tang.

Traditionally, I haven't been a fan of pound cakes, or bundt cakes for that matter. But I'm beginning to see the beauty in their simplicity. I love how a bundt allows me to throw ingredients into one pan and be done with it. It's attractive enough and tasty enough to forgo the frosting. Also, there's something homey and retro about the bundt. It reminds me of a time when neighbors visited neighbors to gossip over coffee and cake. I don't even know my neighbors. Although maybe I would if I brought over some of this pound cake!


CREAM CHEESE POUND CAKE

1 1/2 c (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 8oz block cream cheese, softened
3 c sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
3 c all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease the insides of a 10-inch bundt cake pan.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Gradually beat in the sugar, frequently scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add in flour and salt and mix just to combine. Mix in vanilla extract.

3. Pour batter into bundt pan. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack.

Source: Elizabeth's Edible Experience

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Baked Mozzarella Sticks



Mozzarella sticks hold a dear place in my heart. They've been a favorite of mine ever since I remember. I allow myself to indulge in them as a treat every time I'm at a Sonic (which isn't often enough, because, sadly, the closest one is an hour's drive).

But as much as I love mozzarella sticks, I find the process of making them unappealing. Dip the cheese in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, then fry and watch the cheese ooze out into the oil. No thanks. It tends to make a mess of me and my kitchen, and it still does not taste as good as I can get from a pizza shop.

These baked mozzarella sticks change the game. They are not like any other mozzarella stick I've ever had. Instead of breadcrumbs, each cheese stick is tucked inside an egg roll wrapper and then baked. While different than a traditional mozzarella stick, these are just as tasty.


MOZZARELLA STICKS

12 egg roll wrappers
12 string cheese sticks
water
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Place an egg roll wrapper on a clean surface, with one of its points facing you. With a pastry brush dipped in water, moisten all the edges. Place a string cheese at the bottom point of the wrapper and start rolling. Tuck in the sides as you roll. Place seam down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat for the rest of the egg roll wrappers.

3. Brush the tops of the sticks with the olive oil. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Then place under broiler to finish. Sticks are finished when the edges turn golden brown and cheese just begins to ooze at the seams. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a marinara dipping sauce.

Source: Taste of Home

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have been baking chocolate chip cookies since forever. My brother and I used to be in charge of making the annual toll house Christmas cookies. We'd make huge double batches, although almost as much cookie dough would wind up inside our mouths as on the baking trays. Not that I eat the dough anymore. Well, maybe a pinch here and there. But I'm mostly reformed, and isn't that what counts?

When I saw these cookies on the Pioneer Woman's new cooking show, I knew I had to try them. I love everything malt. As it turns out, these cookies don't have an overwhelming malty taste. You do get a hint of it, but I doubt you'd notice it without being told it's in there. Or maybe my palette is just not refined enough. In any case, these cookies are still worth making. I love how thin and chewy they are. The only change I made to the original recipe was to use semi-sweet chips instead of milk chocolate chips. To me, a chocolate chip cookie needs a semi-sweet morsel to be complete.


MALTED CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c light brown sugar
3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c, rounded, malted milk powder
1 12oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla and malted milk powder. Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Spoon cookie dough onto prepared sheets, leaving plenty of room between each dough ball. These cookies spread quite a bit. Bake for about 10 minutes. Allow cookies to rest on sheet for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Source: Pioneer Woman

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Slow-Cooker Jambalaya


I inherited a love of Cajun food from my Dad. Not that he is at all Cajun. He just likes the food. New Orleans is one of my parents' favorite destination spots, and they've vacationed there several times. I've never been, but maybe someday. Until then, I can bring the Big Easy to me with this jambalaya.

I'm always happy to find a slow-cooker recipe I enjoy. I'm not a huge fan of what crockpots do to most proteins, chicken in particular, but this recipe works out great. I'm not accustomed to a ton of spice, and this was just on the side of being too much for me. I might halve the spices next time and go from there. Also be sure to keep the rice separate for storing left overs, otherwise it'll suck up all the broth. Ask me how I know.

EDIT (9/19/13)- First, thank you to everyone who has made this my most viewed recipe, and has circulated it around Pinterest! I love seeing it still pop up there still to this day. There have been many comments about the categorizing of this recipe as a true Jambalaya. Some of you feel very strongly about this (some so strong I had to delete a few nasty comments-- come on, folks, perspective). Adding the rice straight into the crock pot and allowing it to cook there for about two hours before serving should solve this issue for those who like this drier. I personally like it with a more stew-like consistency, but I'm from Philadelphia-- what do I know? :)

SLOW COOKER JAMBALAYA

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut up into small pieces
1 lb andouille sausage, sliced
1 28oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 c chopped celery
1 c chicken broth
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 c instant rice

1. Place all ingredients except rice in slow cooker. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.

2. Cook rice according to package instructions. Add rice, as desired, into each individual serving of jambalaya. Store rice separately from rest of stew.

Source: Allrecipes

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nutella Scones


This is another recipe I was inspired to bring to you through the wonders of Pinterest. Not because this recipe came to me through Pinterest; it's from one of my favorite cookbooks, Baked Explorations. But because my pin board has made it clear that Nutella is all the rage. Remember those commercials about how Nutella was a healthy part of breakfast because it was made with skim milk and a "hint" of cocoa? Most of us know that Nutella is more like chocolate with a hint of something else (and who cares about what that something else is when there's chocolate to focus on!). Those commercials seemed ridiculous. Yet, that's about the time Nutella recipes started popping up all over the place. Hmm... maybe that was the goal all along. Pretty sneaky, Nutella.

So how many times can I use the word Nutella in one paragraph? A bunch, apparently!

Making these scones, I did have to make a change to the original recipe. My dough was too dry and would not come together. I added an extra 1/4 cup cream, and it worked like a charm. After doing some research, I discovered other cooks made the same change, and so I feel confident enough in it to write this change into the recipe. I also ignored all warnings about overworking the dough and went to town with my kneading. These scones needed it.

The end results were very tasty. They had the richness of chocolate but restrained from being too sweet. I enjoyed the hazelnuts, but think it would be equally good without them. These scones are definitely on the larger size. I don't know that you'd get too many complaints about that, though!

NUTELLA SCONES

2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c dutch process cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
1 egg
3/4 c heavy cream
3/4 c hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 c Nutella

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until you achieve pea-sized crumbles. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and cream. Pour into the flour mixture. Using a spatchula or fork, start to work the wet into the dry, getting the dough to start to come together. Add in the hazelnuts. Once the dough has come together, knead it a few turns.

3. Shape dough into a rectangle, about 6 by 12 inches. Spread 1/4 c Nutella on the dough. Roll up the dough along the long side. Stand dough roll on one of it's ends and then squish it down to form a disk. You will probably get Nutella on your hands during this step. Try to power through. Cut the disk into eight wedges, placing each wedge on the lined baking sheet.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes. Allow scones to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, drizzle the tops with the remaining 1/4 c Nutella (microwave for a few seconds first to get a more drizzly consistency).

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mini Pies!


Yes, the title of this recipe needed the exclamation point at the end, because this is such a cute and fun recipe. These mini pies are the perfect little treat for the upcoming holiday season.

These actually started as a recipe malfunction. I was attempting to make pie pops for a friend's baby shower, but I could not get them to stay on their sticks. No matter what I tried, nothing worked. In frustration, I pulled out all the sticks and it clicked in my mind that I didn't need them. The concept behind the mini pie (or baby pie as the case might be) was cute enough on its own. Also, once I ditched the popsicle idea, I solved the potential problem of ladies' dresses getting ruined by blueberry filling. As it turns out, pie is easier and cleaner to eat when not held vertically on a stick. Go figure.

As I've mentioned before, I hate pie crust. Every year at Thanksgiving, we have one dessert at the table for "the people who don't like pie," which is code for Abby. I'm very lucky to have a family that appreciates my quirks. The reason I've never liked pie crust is that all the ones I've ever eaten tasted like chalk. From my perspective, to make a pie was to take a perfectly good filling and ruin it.

Well, I think I'm going to have to eat my words on pie, and I have Kelsey Nixon to thank for it. Her show, Kelsey's Essentials, is what inspired me to make mini pies. I always taste whatever I make before serving it to someone else, and when I tested these before the baby shower, I had a revelation. I like pie. If it's made with a butter crust, like these mini pies are. I asked around and discovered that all the pies I'd been eating were made with vegetable shortening. The butter in the crust makes all the difference. Instead of tasting dull and pasty, the butter crust tastes sweet and complements the filling perfectly. Thank you, butter, for being amazing.

One of the best things about these mini pies is how creative you can be with them. I used fruit fillings for mine, but you could fill them with Nutella, a cinnamon mixture, pumpkin, a nut mixture, or even something savory. No matter what filling you chose, these will be a huge hit whenever you serve them.


MINI PIES

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
4-6 tbsp ice water
1 egg, beaten
turbinado sugar
filling of your choice

1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Add in the butter and quickly work it into the flour using a pasty blender. Blend until you've achieved pea sized crumbles. Add 4 tbsp ice water and, using a fork, bring together dough. If needed, add some more water. Shape dough into a small disk and wrap in saran wrap. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. On a floured surface, roll out pie dough until it's about 1/8" thick. Using a 2 1/2 inch (or similar sized) round cookie cutter, cut all the rounds you can from the dough. Gather dough and roll out again and cut rounds. Repeat this until you've cut all the rounds you can, trying to get an even number.

4. Place half of the rounds on the prepared baking sheet. These don't spread, so don't worry about placing them too close together. Spoon a small amount of filling into the center of each round. Cover filling with one of the remaining pie dough circles. Using a fork, crimp together the edges of the mini pies.

5. With a pastry brush, coat the tops of each pie with the beaten egg. Sprinkle on the turbinado sugar. With a paring knife, cut three small vents on the top of each pie. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 12-16 mini pies depending on the size of your cutter.

Tips if using a canned fruit filling: Use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut up large chunks of fruit into smaller bits that will more easily fit in your mini pie. For a juicy filling, like blueberry or cherry, strain the filling using a fine mesh strainer. Run a rubber spatula along the outside of the strainer to draw the gooey part of the filling away from the fruit. Too much liquid in the filling will cause the mini pie to burst at the seam and leak all over the place. A little bit of leaking at the sides is not bad as long as most of the pie stays together.

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes


I made these along with the Apple Harvest Cupcakes I posted about earlier this week. It's no coincidence that both cupcakes are topped with the same delicious cream cheese icing. I didn't have time to both bake and ice the cupcakes the day of the event. I wound up baking them the night before and then frosting them the next morning. Making one large batch of icing saved me time over making two different buttercreams. And a couple of people at the luncheon declared it the best icing they'd ever had, so apparently I made a wise choice. Sure, it could have all been exaggerated flattery, but, hey, I'll take it!


PUMPKIN SPICE CUPCAKES

for the cupcakes:
2 1/3 c all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 c sugar
3 eggs
1 c pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c milk

for the icing:
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.

2. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.

3. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in pumpkin puree and vanilla. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix just to combine. Then add 1/3 of the milk and mix to combine. Continue alternating between batches of flour mixture and milk until all ingredients are incorporated.

4. Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool on a wire rack before icing.

5. To make the frosting: beat together the butter and cream cheese, then beat in powdered sugar and vanilla. Spread onto cupcakes with a spatula or use a pastry bag and tip.

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Homestyle Fries


I might not be a meat and potatoes kind of girl, but put a french fry in front of me I will eat it. I probably should feel some shame about this, but I don't. I've excused myself on the grounds that I don't like potatoes any other way. Cut it into a chip or mash it, and suddenly I'm no longer interested. French fries are my one starchy weakness.

I came up with this recipe for Homestyle Fries as a way to recreate my love for fried potatoes in a way that is healthier for me. Also, it involves no piping-hot oil, which is always a bonus.

There are many things to love about this recipe. You can prepare these in minutes, and they can bake at whatever temperature you need them to. It's hard to ruin a potato. These can be served alongside a burger, but they are equally appropriate on the side of some scrambled eggs. Most important of all, these potatoes are super yummy. They develop that all important firm on the outside and soft on the inside texture. And the dried thyme provides the perfect bit of seasoning for the red potatoes.


HOMESTYLE FRIES

1 lb red potatoes
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Note: I often bake mine at 350 because of other things I'm baking at the same time. I add an extra 20 minutes to the baking time and finish them off under the broiler.

2. Scrub and then pat dry the red potatoes. Dice them. In a large bowl, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Spread potatoes out on a large baking sheet.

3. Bake for about 25 minutes.

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Apple Harvest Cupcakes


As I've mentioned before, I do a bit of catering. Right now, it's mostly through word of mouth. One day, I'll make up some business cards, complete my website, and go legit. But this works for right now.

I made these cupcakes for a luncheon honoring a group of hard-working volunteers. The hostess of the event had her home decorated in an Autumn theme, so I figured cupcakes inspired by fall flavors were the way to go. And what says fall like apples?

When I came across this recipe, I was unconvinced. There is no butter in these cupcakes. I'm so accustomed to using butter, and usually quite a bit of it, in my baking, that the idea made me a bit uneasy. But I'm glad I worked through my hesitations and gave these a try.

One of the risks of making a cupcake like this is winding up with a muffin covered in frosting as opposed to a true cupcake. These definitely pass the true cupcake test. One thing these cupcakes didn't excel at was tasting like apple. Don't get me wrong, the apple taste is there. However, one or two people mistook them for a carrot or spice cake, and I can see how they'd make the mistake. Eat enough Autumn-inspired goodies with the same spices in them, and it can get a bit muddled. One way to fix this for the apple lovers out there: increase the chopped apple by 1/2 c and decrease the walnut by 1/2 c.

I got the recipe for these cupcakes from the sensational Betty Crocker's Big Book of Cupcakes and the recipe for the cream cheese frosting from Buttercream Bakehouse.



APPLE HARVEST CUPCAKES

for the cupcakes:
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c salt
3 c chopped tart apples (like Granny Smith)
1 c chopped walnuts

for the icing:
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.

2. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, vegetable oil and eggs. Add in the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, vanilla and salt. Mix until combined. Stir in the chopped apple and walnuts by hand. Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling each one about 2/3 full.

3. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake in the middle of each pan comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.

4. To make the frosting: beat together the butter and cream cheese, then beat in powdered sugar and vanilla. Spread onto cupcakes with a spatula or use a pastry bag and tip.

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Thursday, September 29, 2011

TexMex Enchilada Casserole


This casserole kicks it old school. In the 1950s and 60s, the cheese enchilada was a staple on almost any Tex-Mex restaurant menu. The "cheese" in these enchiladas was velveeta, which was paired with onions and rolled into corn tortillas that were topped with something called chili gravy. It's not a dish you're likely to come across on a modern menu, at least not around here.

Chili gravy was considered a hybrid between a traditional brown gravy and a Mexican chili sauce, and it was an absolute essential in any Tex-Mex kitchen. Back in the middle of the last century, restaurants played with traditional Mexican dishes to make them seem more familiar to their Anglo-American customers. That said, to my American taste buds, chili gravy actually has very little in common with brown gravy, other than its color. As far as I'm concerned, this is a good thing.

For those who are used to enchilada sauce from a can, chili gravy is definitely within the comfort zone. It's a sauce with more flavor than heat and a familiar mix of spices. Once you know how to make this chili gravy, you'll never have to buy another can of enchilada sauce again.

So why a casserole? Honestly, I cannot roll a corn tortilla without breaking it, and I have tried every method out there. Rolling enchiladas is time-consuming and tedious, and the filling always leaks out. On the other hand, a casserole is easy and fun to put together.

This recipe is adapted from The Tex-Mex Cookbook, by Robb Walsh.


TEXMEX ENCHILADA CASSEROLE

for the chili gravy:
1/4 c unsalted butter
1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp chili powder
2 c water

for the rest of the casserole:
12 corn tortillas, torn in half
8 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
8 oz montery jack, shredded
1 bunch green onion, chopped

1. In a small bowl, combine all the spices for the chili gravy: black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, and chili powder. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour. Whisk for about 3 minutes, or until a light brown roux is created. Add in the prepared spice mix. Continue heating, whisking continuously, for another minute. Pour in the water, whisking to combine with the roux. The sauce should begin to thicken. Turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes. If sauce gets too thick, add more water (I always wind up adding at least 1/4 c).

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. To layer the casserole, start by coating the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish with some of the chili gravy. Top with 12 of the tortilla halves. Top with 1/2 of the cheese and 1/2 of the green onion. Top with remaining tortilla halves. Pour remaining (or less) over top. Top with remaining cheese and green onion.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbly.

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September Stuff

I try to make one post a month that's not a recipe. Not more than that, because I know what people like, and people like recipes. Not less, because I like a pinch of variety here and there. So I thought, what could I talk about during the month of September that's not food related? And I drew a blank.



That's because I've been consumed with food for the past few weeks. I made these Apple Harvest and Pumpkin Spice cupcakes for a luncheon this week. I'll have the recipes for these up on the blog next week. This weekend, I have a really cool mini-pie idea for a baby shower. If I can pull it off, it'll be awesome. Fingers crossed.

Does anyone know a good place to find cute cupcake liners? The kind you bake the cupcake in, not the kind your wrap around an already baked cupcake.


I'm not able to find as much time for thrift shopping as I used to, but I'm still finding some nice pieces. Since some pieces are just too nice to bake with, I've been using Pyrex to decorate the house. A good portion of our home is still relatively empty since we moved here almost 3 years ago. It could use a little Pyrex sprucing.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cake Batter Cookies


I've been seeing cake batter recipes all over Pinterest. Cake batter pancakes, cake batter blondies, cake batter truffles. At the heart of the cake batter phenomenon is the "funfetti" cake mix, which is, from what I gather, yellow cake with sprinkles in it. It's a concept I find intriguing and horrifying at the same time. I felt compelled to try it. So I jumped on the cake batter bandwagon and hoped for the best.

These. cookies. are. so. GOOD! I can't confirm whether they taste like cake batter, since I've never eaten cake batter. But I can promise that they are crazy tasty (and crazy addictive to boot!). I love the chewy texture of these, and love that they bake rather flat. The cookies didn't last long, not because they went stale but because we ate them all. This recipe is a keeper for sure. I might try playing with it to bypass the box mix, but I'm very happy with it as written.


CAKE BATTER COOKIES

3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 1/4 c funfetti cake mix
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla

1. Stir together flour, cake mix, and baking soda. Set aside.

2. With an electric mixer, cream together butter with the sugars. Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Scrape sides of bowl and beat for another minute or so. Add in dry ingredients. Mix just to combine. Cover your mixing bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets. Keep in mind that these cookies spread (it's part of their charm), so leave about two inches between each scoop. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Source: Lovin' From the Oven, who adapted the recipe from Stephanie Cooks

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper Thursday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Foodie Friday, Sweets for a Saturday

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sour Cream Coffee Cake


Have you ever had days that you're just not "feeling it." Well, that's where I am with blogging right at this very moment. I think I'm just tired. Sundae is going through a phase where she doesn't want to be more than a few feet away from me at any time. This has resulted in her jumping up and down on me at 4 AM. Although, I'm pretty sure that from her perspective, I'm the one with the problem. After all, by that time of the morning I've been sleeping, not paying attention to her, for hours. What's my problem, right? There's a reason I'm not mom material, because I love to sleep. That's why I got a cat. I thought we shared the same interests. Sundae's really throwing me for a loop with this perpetual toddler routine of hers. She's just lucky I love her insanely ridiculous amounts and that's she so freaking adorable, even at 4 in the morning.

So, basically what I'm saying, as long winded as possible, is that I don't have much to say today about this coffee cake. It's delicious. It stays moist. It's a recipe I've tried many times with no fail. It cooks in a bundt pan, which I love. It has a delicious cinnamon and pecan filling. But that's all I can think to write about it.

I need a nap. I'll kick it into gear for next week, promise!


SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE

for the filling:
1 c chopped pecans
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp sugar

for the cake:
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 c sugar
2 large eggs
1 c sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

2. In a small bowl, combine the filling ingredients and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

4. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Fold in sour cream and vanilla. Gently fold in the flour mixture.

5. Pour about 1/3 of the batter into prepared bundt pan. Sprinkle 3/4 of the filling mixture into the pan. Top with remaining batter and then sprinkle with remaining filling.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack before removing from pan. When removing, keep in mind that the top of the coffee cake is facing up in the bundt pan, so you'll need to flip the cake twice when unmolding.

Source: The Essential New York Times Cookbook

This recipe is shared with Melt in Your Mouth Monday, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Tuesday Talent Show, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper Thursday