Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TWD - Cookies Galore

So I missed a couple weeks of posting, but I have been baking. I make "Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies" (pgs. 146 & 147 in Baking from my Home to Yours) on multiple occasions and also tried out the "Buttery Jam Cookies" (pg. 80). Thanks to Ulrike of K├╝chenlatein for choosing Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies and to Heather of Randomosity and the Girl for choosing the Buttery Jam Cookies.

But since it is the holidays and I would love to get back to hanging out with family and (unfortunately) I have to do some research work for school....so here are some pictures of the baking. Sorry for the limited comments.

Oh and I used Strawberry Jam for the jam cookies :) And Christmas sprinkles for one batch of the sugar cookies and just random sprinkles for the other one. Also I opted for slice and bake method for the sugar cookies. The first time I froze the dough for about 45 minutes because I was short on time, and the second time I refrigerated the dough for the full 4 hours as suggested. Both came out fine, I just accidentally left one of the batches in the oven too long and they got a bit dark...;)

Here is a picture from the baking extravaganza 2008. I think I washed and reused the KitchenAid about 4 times (I also made a double batch of almond biscotti and a batch of blondies, all from Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking from my Home to Yours)). In the background you can see my husband working on the bacon bowties (really easy, just get thinly sliced bacon and cut it in little pieces big enough to wrap around a club cracker. Then bake at 200 for 2 hours (ish...not sure exactly) and when the bacon bakes it cinches up and makes the crackers look like bowties...can be eaten right away or refrigerate and eat the next day).

The next "week" (I am a bit behind) is supposed to be the Butterscotch Pudding...but I am really not a fan of butterscotch, so I will probably skip that one. And then next is the New York Cheesecake, which I am definitely looking forward to :) (hopefully I will get it done and posted in December...we shall see).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TWD - Linzer Sables AND Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

So I definitely made this Thanksgiving Twofer Pie (actually 2 of them) the Monday before Thanksgiving. So I could have posted it when I was supposed to last Tuesday. But there was a little extension to allow for the holiday, allowing us to post as late as Sunday...so what do I do? Forget about it until yesterday. And to top it all off I made a third pie on Thanksgiving day itself (the first 2 were given away).

Anyways, this pie is superb. I adore pumpkin pie, but have never really liked pecan pie because it is just too much sweetness. But this pie is a perfect blend of the two. Baking it was really easy too.

Thanks to Vibi of La Casserole Carree for choosing the perfect pie for Thanksgiving (see her site or page 321 of Baking from my Home to Yours for the recipe).

Linzer Sables

This week's recipe was chosen by Dennis of Living the Life. I am in finals this week in school and so life is pretty crazy for me. I was really wanting to not do this week, but then I chose to join this group, and I do enjoy baking, so I decided to go for it. My husband had also told me that he doesn't like this kind of cookie so to not be offended if he didn't eat them....this was going to be a great week.

But I made them anyways. They are super simple to whip up. The recipe can be found on Dennis' blog or on pages 134-136 of Baking from my Home to Yours. I didn't make them into cute little sandwiches because I was short on time. And I halved the recipe. But they are great on their own with some powdered sugar and milk :) I think they would be better though in sandwich form with some chocolate in the center...yum.

Anyways, as you can see we have already eaten 4...the rest will soon be gone as well :) Stay tuned next week for Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies on pages 146-147.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TWD - Kugelhopf

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Kugelhopf chosen by Yolanda of The All-purpose Girl. If you would like to see the recipe, please either buy the Dorie's cookbook or see Yolanda's blog for the recipe. Also you can check out all the other TWDer's here to see all there Kugelhopf success. Check out my fancy new bundt pan for this challenge :) Not exactly the right pan for the job, but it is close enough.

Okay...so I will let you in on a little secret...I didn't read the recipe through all the way before I started....turns out this is a very time intensive process. 1 1/2 hours for the first rise, 2 hrs (with 1/2 hr beating down of the dough) then chill in the refrigerator all night, and then a final rise out of the fridge for 2 more hours.

Now I will let you in on a second little secret...I would be lying if I said that I followed this recipe to a tee. So I started this recipe at about 9pm last night and I was uber tired. So I let it rise for about an hour and then "slapped it down" and put it in the fridge overnight. I probably would have skipped this challenge if I had read through the whole thing before starting it last night...but I figured that out after I had the dough.

So other than the rise times, I used chocolate chips in the dough instead of raisins, mainly because I didn't get a chance to go by the grocery store and get raisins...actually I had planned on putting dried cranberries in it instead. The chocolate chips were good in it, but they all sunk to the bottom of the dough.

The final result was okay. It would have probably been better if I had followed the rise times it probably would have been better. Also I think I agree with a lot of the TWDers that thought that this dough was a little bland. Probably worse though since my chocolate chips all fell to the bottom and were not spaced out as they should have been.

So here is my so-so Kugelhopf. I guess this is 2 recipes that haven't been so good...but I also don't have much experience with breads...so I think that it is still good that I am doing this whole weekly challenge thing, the main reason I wanted to join was to become a better baker...so sorry if you are looking at this blog for amazing results each time ;)

Next week's challenge is: Arborio Rice Pudding, White, Black (or Both) on pages 412 and 413. But I probably will chose to skip this week...1. because I am not much of a pudding fan and 2. because I have a "midterm" next Tuesday (yes...you heard me right, a midterm within the last 3 class days this semester...ridiculous). Check on the TWD blog for everyone else's pudding.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

TWD - Rugelach

Rugelach is this week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick, chosen by Grace of Piggy's Cooking Journal. They are essentially dough crescent rolls with jam/chocolate/nuts/etc filling. They are excellent. Please either get the recipe from Baking from my Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, or check out the recipe from Piggy's Cooking Journal. I chose to use shaved bittersweet chocolate, cinnamon sugar, blackberry and raspberry jam, and chopped pecans. I pretty much followed the recipe...but I wasn't too precise on amounts for the filling and I just spooned out the cream cheese to what I thought 4 ounces would be.

This was the week of "make do with what you have". I came home from work yesterday and we just didn't want to go back out to the grocery store. Yes maybe we should have gone before we got home, but we forgot. Which lead to me making Rugelach with what I had on hand....which turned out to be about 1 ounce of regular cream cheese and 3 ounces of strawberry cream cheese to make up the total 4 ounces of regular cream cheese I should have used. And you might be thinking, well that sounds good...I mean the filling has fruit base in it as well. But what you might not realize is that I am not a strawberry flavoring fan. I love strawberries, but almost can't stand anything with strawberry flavoring.

Also...I don't have a food processor. But I tried to do the same effect with my KitchenAid slicer attachment. It worked...more or less. I suppose I could have used the blender, but I didn't know if I would ever get the cream cheese and butter out of the bottom of the glass.

BUT as a testament to my laziness, I used the strawberry cream cheese. And it wasn't bad. The dough didn't puff like it should have, but I think that is because I misunderstood it when Dorie says to rotate your pan from top to bottom, front to back midway. I read it to mean that 1/4 way through you rotate it, 1/2 you put it on top, 3/4 you rotate again....so I think maybe opening the oven that many times didn't help me much.

Also you are supposed to heat up your jam on the stove. Well I wanted to use blackberry jam on half and raspberry on half...and didn't want to dirty up a pan just for that. So....

YES...I decided to microwave the jam. Which was not by downfall...it would have worked (and did work later on) but I just hit the 3 minute button thinking that I would stop it after it "liquefied". But I forgot because I realized I didn't put flour on my mat before I rolled out my dough, so I was scraping it off again and redoing it... (I know...what is this the 10th mistake I made so far???)....so I forgot. And 3 minutes later I hear the fateful ding. And I know what horribleness that is in store. The glass bowl was not savable...the jam had formed sort of a rock hard molten sugar layer that would not come off once it cooled.

Alas, after all these substitutions and mistakes....and the not puffing....the rugelach were good. Both me and my husband ate one out of the oven and my husband thought they would be better cold. So this morning, fresh from the refrigerator we had another one each, and they are good. I think, personally, I would like them better using regular cream cheese...and if they were puffed...but they were good. My office-mates seemed to like them too :) Please check the blogroll for everyone else that participated this week. From the pictures I have seen, they seemed to have better results :)

Up next week: Kugelhopf on pages 61-63. I don't even know what this is, so it should be interesting, so check back next Tuesday :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TWD- Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

The title says it all. These cupcakes have a TON of chocolate in them. There is both cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate in the cupcakes themselves and even more bittersweet chocolate in the icing. I am not a super sweet chocolate eater. I am more drawn to fruity sweets than chocolate itself. But these cupcakes are a more refined chocolate taste that is sweet but also has a bitter kick. So thanks to Clara of I Heart Food4Thought for picking this week's recipe. The recipe is on pages 215-217 from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

I pretty much stuck to the recipe as Dorie states it in the cookbook except that I added about a teaspoon of instant coffee with the intention of making the cupcakes have a coffee kick. I didn't add too much, because I was worried the flavor would be overwhelming...unfortunately I didn't use enough and you can't really taste it in the cupcakes.

Also I tried to use my cast iron muffin tins again this week. Since I used them I couldn't really use muffin liners, because the cups are a little smaller than a regular size. I tried to coat the cups with butter and flour as Dorie Suggests, but the cupcakes didn't fair to well when I was trying to get them out. Great looking tops, but the bottoms mostly got stuck. They still taste really good. My husband ate one before I could even melt the chocolate for the icing.

So I had to think of another way to present the cupcakes other than the normal way. That is why they are in a pie pan with the icing smothered all over them. So...presentation is poor this week, but the cupcakes are good. I also did not have the problem a lot of TWDers were having with the cupcakes being dry. I cooked them the whole time, but I also added a splash of olive oil in the dough to add a little moisture.

Next week's recipe is Rugelach. . . never heard of it before, so it should be interesting :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TWD - Pumpkin Muffins

So this week's TWD recipe was Pumpkin Muffins chosen by Kelly from Sounding My Barbaric Gulp! (what a name). If you would like the recipe, please either buy the book, Baking from my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or you can find it here.

Now, if I told you I was looking forward to making this recipe, it would be an understatement of the year. I am not going to lie, pumpkin spice bread/muffins/pies shout "FALL!" to me. And I LOVE fall. Even here in Texas were it is still in the 80's...I can pretend it is fall a little easier when I have a pumpkin muffin in my hand and a pumpkin waiting to be carved outside my door.

I thought this recipe was great. It has pecans and raisins in the mixture and sunflower seeds on the top. It was a perfect combination of pumpkin to non-pumpkin ratio. I did the recipe verbatim except that there was a bit of a mixup at the grocery store.... I knew I needed quite a few spices...and a few of those spices I needed to buy. But did I actually check my cabinet and figure out which ones I needed before I went to the store? NO....so there I am asking my husband which he thought we had and we decided that surely we already had bought nutmeg and we needed allspice. Only to come home and see that I had allspice and no nutmeg. But did that stop me from not making these muffins? NO. I thought I had read somewhere that allspice and nutmeg were sort of interchangeable (please don't beat me over the head too hard if this is wrong).

Either way, with the allspice instead of nutmeg, they were still pretty good. But they were missing a little ummpf of spice kick from the nutmeg. It also didn't stop us from eating/sharing all the muffins. I made these Sunday and there are none left. AND I just went to the grocery store and returned my allspice and got the nutmeg...so I plan to make a new batch tonight....oh I can't wait.
For something fun/random, I made my muffins in cast iron muffin tins. I know some other people with TWD didn't need to cook their muffins the full 25 min at 400, but mine came out perfectly right on time. I think that maybe the cast iron helped even out the heat. (also check out the super cute pumpkin pot holder my mom sent us for Halloween...so cute).

So long story short, everyone should make these muffins. They are super easy....just make sure to add the nutmeg ;)
Sigh...I love fall. This weekend we are going camping and I have hopes that it might be slightly chilly (you know like high 60s ;) . I suppose we shall see. Next week will be Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes. So check back if you need your chocolate fix.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Black Bean Chicken Chili (aka the greatest chili ever)

Okay so maybe I exaggerate a bit, but this chili is really good. I have never been a fan of kidney beans and because of that I usually either don't make chili or make bean-less chili...which is just not really chili.

Anyways, so I came across this recipe, from the Homemaking Homesteader, for black bean chicken chili. I had to scale it down a bit because it is just me and my husband eating it and there is really only so much chili you can eat before it goes bad ;). Also I am more a fan of using canned veggies because I don't have the time to soak fresh beans/corn/etc.

So all this being said, I have made this recipe about 3 times so far and it is so good I crave it. I love the chicken in it instead of the greasy beef. And I think the corn gives it a sweet crunch that pairs perfectly with the spicy chili-ness. And I think it is pretty healthy as far as chili goes.

This Monday I was having a chili craving, and so I came home to make it. Turns out I only had one can of black beans...and being my lazy self I didn't want to go out again to get another can. So I rummaged around in the pantry and found a can of black eyed peas that I think my husband bought while I was out of town.

Now I am not a black eyed pea eater, not sure if every family does this, but my family growing up had this tradition that you cook a big pot of black eyed peas on New Years and you eat them for money, or luck, or something like that. My parents always made me eat at least one pea every year.

But the can of black eyed peas was really the only other thing I had. And I reasoned that black eyed peas pretty much take on the taste of whatever they are in, so I tossed it in.....and it was.......GREAT. I have to say, if I ever have to eat black eyed peas, this would be how I would choose to eat them :) You really couldn't taste it much that they were in there. If anything it gave it a more homey taste (in a good way). Two days later and there is none left, which I feel makes it a success :)

So here is the "real" recipe I usually use. Last time I had some zucchini so I tossed it in too, this time I also didn't have the onion....both times it was good. I think that is what I like most about this recipe, it is adaptable. And not very exact on measurements :)

Black Bean Chicken Chili (adapted from the Homemaking Homesteader)
2 cans black beans (or a can of black beans and black eyed peas)
1 can rotel
1/2 cup (or 1/2 a can) corn
1/2 onion chopped
1 Tsp minced garlic (or you can use garlic power if you wish) Chicken (I usually use 2 chicken breasts for the amts listed above)
1 Tsp - 2 Tsp Chili Powder (start with one Tsp and then build up as needed)
1 Tsp (ish) hot sauce

Cook black beans on medium. Dice onion. Cut chicken into one inch pieces. Cook Chicken, onions (and zucchini if you have), and garlic in a skillet until chicken is cooked through. Add chicken/garlic/onion mixture, rotel, and corn to beans. Also add chili powder (taste before adding too much) and hot sauce. Simmer for 5-10 minutes to heat everything thoroughly.

Monday, October 13, 2008

TWD - Lenox Almond Biscotti

So this is my FIRST EVER Tuesdays with Dorie post!! I am so excited to join the ranks of the other hundreds of bakers that vow to bake a recipe a week (most of the time) from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours. I just got my book in last week and I couldn't wait to get started. I hope that though this constant baking that I become a little more of a natural at baking and not have to rely so much on recipes to do anything ;) This week Gretchen of Canela & Comino chose Lenox Almond Biscotti, if you would like the recipe please go to her site, or buy the book (I just drool looking through the pages :) .

I am a Biscotti fan (especially covered in chocolately goodness), but never in my wildest dreams did I think that this was something that I could make on my own. Dorie gives such excellent directions though, it really was relatively easy.

Since it is my first stab at a Dorie recipe, I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter. The only real change, if you can even call it that, is that I used crushed almonds. I bought whole almonds thinking that I could slice them myself....but it is pretty much impossible to slice almonds. So I gave up and used my KitchenAid chopper to get the job done. I likes the smaller pieces in the finished product.

The picture below was taken before I realized that I forgot to put parchment paper under the biscotti. Luckily I realized it before the first bake.

One thing that I didn't expect was how much the dough would spread once I put them in the oven. I kinda hand to smoosh (sp?) it with my fingers so they wouldn't meet in the middle.

Also, as many people commented on the TWD website, I was unable to get my biscotti to stand up. I think it was probably mainly due to my uneven cookie sheet.... It would have been so cute to "stand them up like a marching band" as Dorie suggests. But nevertheless, the Biscotti were fabulous :) I found myself wishing it wasn't 10:30pm and a cup of coffee would not keep me up.

And here are some pictures of the final product. I loved the almond flavor of the biscotti. They held up well in the coffee and really were great. Now that I know how easy they are to make I will definitely be making them again. I really wanted to dip them in chocolate, but I was tired when the biscotti finally got done baking so the chocolate dipping didn't happen. Next time I will do the chocolate....there really is nothing better than chocolate dipped biscotti.

Come back next week for Pumpkin Muffins (oh I can't wait!!).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pasta Attempt #1 Pictures

Picture above is of the uncooked pasta (also one of the pasta dough balls in the back). Picture below is of the finished meal. I just marinated the meat with some store bought marinade and cooked it.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pasta Attempt #1

So I have been food blog stalking for awhile now, and I have to tell you that I love reading how people have adapted recipes and daunting feats they have tried and share their knowledge with others. Pasta is one of those daunting feats for me. I have seen many different people's recipes, but the one I finally decided to try after I got some KitchenAid Pasta making attachments was a basic pasta recipe on pg. 376 of Cooking by James Peterson (which is an amazing cookbook with loads of pictures and instruction on basic cooking techniques for everything) and a mushroom cream sauce from the same cookbook. I am having trouble with uploading pictures, so I will add the ones for this into the blog itself.

Here is the recipe for "Fresh Egg Pasta Noodles" taken from Cooking by Peterson
6 large eggs, or as needed
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

To make dough (by hand):
1. Form the flour into a well and break the eggs in the center. Add some olive oil.
2. Stir in eggs with fingers slowly (don't let eggs break through the wall).
3. Continue until eggs are integrated and dough starts to form.
4. Use a pastry scraper to pull up the edges of the dough from the counter.
5. If dough is still flour-y then add some more egg (egg yolk or whole egg).
6. Continue to work the dough until it comes together into a ball.

To roll out dough:
1. Split up into 4 sections and flatten it out a bit before running it through the pasta roller attachment.
2. Start out at the widest setting (1 on the KitchenAid rollers) and pass it through the roller.
3. Fold over and run it through again.
4. Repeat until the dough has the feel of "suede".
5. Then once the dough feels right, reduce the width of the rollers (either by one or two levels) and run through each level once until you get to about level 6 (out of 8).

Then I ran it through the linguine cutter attachment. When I did think I had some really really long pasta sheets. I just sent it through the cutter as is. Next time I repeat this I think I would cut the sheets into smaller length before cutting it because it will be hard to cut shorter later.

For the pasta sauce I used the "Mushrooms Tartufati" sauce from page 383 of Cooking by Peterson mainly because I had some cheese and heavy cream left over from another meal. I must admit I am not a huge fan of this sauce but I am not partial to cream based pasta sauces. I just had some heavy cream that needed using. (but if you like cream sauces I am sure this one is great :)

Mushroom Tartufati sauce from Cooking:
1 pound cultivated mushrooms, preferably cremini (I am slightly ashamed to say I used canned)
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Slice mushrooms paper thin (or just use what you have). Saute mushrooms in the butter or oil. Season with salt and peeper, pour in cream, and simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Cook fresh pasta in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes. Pour sauce over noodles and toss to mix up sauce. Cover with the cheese.