Thursday, July 21, 2011

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

I asked my husband today if he hates that I'm always experimenting in the kitchen (I made cabbage soup the night before for dinner.  He was hesitant but ate two big helpings).  His response was "No, because we're always trying different things we probably wouldn't have before."  Naturally I made another new recipe tonight.  Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

We had steak, potatoes and fruit lined up and originally I had planned to not have a bread with dinner (I'm trying to cut bread down to only 2 meals a week) but I was cruising through Mommy's Kitchen and found her recipe for The Best Buttermilk Biscuits.  They sounded simple enough and look absolutely delicious.  I gave it a try.  The recipe says to bake for 13-15 minutes but mine took about 20 minutes for the insides to be done, which made the outsides darker and crispier and the insides light and fluffy.  My husband said he actually preferred the crispness on the outside. 

Best Buttermilk Biscuits
Makes between 10-14 biscuits

1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick real butter)
2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
additional flour
(for counter surface to knead dough)
2 tablespoons melted butter

Cut butter with a sharp knife or pastry blender into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle butter slices over flour in a large bowl. Toss butter with flour. Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender until crumbly and mixture resembles small peas. (I used my hands) Cover and chill 10 minutes. Add buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 3 or 4 times, gradually adding additional flour as needed. With floured hands, press or pat dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches). Sprinkle top of dough with additional flour. Fold dough over onto itself in 3 sections, starting with 1 short end. (Fold dough rectangle as if folding a letter-size piece of paper.) Repeat entire process 2 more times, beginning with pressing into a 3/4-inch-thick dough rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches). Press or pat dough to 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with a 2-inch round cutter, and place, side by side, on a parchment paper-lined or lightly greased jelly-roll pan. (Dough rounds should touch.) Bake at 450° for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; brush with 2 Tbsp. melted butter.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Can you guess what this is?

Can you guess what I made today using this

and this

Have you got it?  I'll give you a hint.  I scream, you scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM! 

If you guessed cookie dough ice cream, you are so right.  I've had this crazy craving to make homemade ice cream but thought it too intimidating to make by hand since we don't own an ice cream maker.  Then I found this post by Amanda and I just couldn't resist.

I love recipes that I can remember in my head.  Those recipes that have only a few ingredients and don't require much work.  Kind of like spaghetti.  Three ingredients, noodles, hamburger (or turkey if that's what you like) and sauce (although in my 8 years of making it I have moved up to using 6 ingredients).  And 3 steps, boil noodles, brown meat, stir in sauce.  Easy!  This recipe is just like that!  Easy.  My 6 year old could do it by herself if she could hold the beater long enough to whip the cream to stiff peaks - we totally tried today but she gave up after a minute.  Held out longer than I thought.  Anyway three simple ingredients, and three simple steps.  You will be very thankful of me to have this little bit of knowledge in your head.  And ice cream will never be too far away :)

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/2 -2 quarts

2 C. (1 pint) Heavy Whipping Cream - make sure this is very cold
1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1-2 Tablespoons Vanilla (depends on how strong you want it)

In one large bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.  This took me about 7 minutes.  Now do you see why my 6 year old couldn't last?  Back to the directions.  In another large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and the vanilla.  Fold in the whipped cream.  Pour into a 2 quart container and freeze for 6 hours.

This is what it looks like just before going into the freezer.

*You can choose to add any mix ins you want once you fold in the whipped cream.  Amanda has some really delicious looking mix ins on her post found here.  We chose to add in cookie dough. And it's soooo yummy!!

Our version of a delicous, and not nutritious dessert!!

Happy Baking :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cracked Sugar Cookies

I'm always browsing sites looking for something new to make or another variation of something I already make.  It's, like, the thing I do when I'm bored.  Let me just set my background for you.  I'm the kind of person who enjoys reading cookbooks rather than adult books.  Literally, when I bought 4 new cookbooks this passed April, they sat at my bedside so I could read them while my husband was playing his video game before bed.  I read them straight for a couple weeks and just enjoyed looking at the pictures and tagging the pages I'd love to try.  I enjoy cooking.  Some days more than others.  And I have noticed it's definitely more enjoyable when my husband is home rather than deployed, when my cooking enthusiasm is at it's lowest. 

So I was browsing one day and came across another version of a sugar cookie recipe.  I immediately read some reviews and started baking them, because honestly who doesn't need another sugar cookie to add to their recipe collection.  The recipe is quick and easy.  It's a drop cookie so no need to chill and roll out, although I'm sure you could.  I would just chill for an hour and then roll on a lightly floured surface to 1/4" thickness before cutting out.  The cookie itself is on the smallish side but great straight from the oven.  I did notice once it had cooled and sat for a couple hours, it wasn't as chewy as it was when hot.  Kind of crunchy tasting.  But nonetheless still tasty.  If you are anything like me, here is another sugar cookie to add to your box.

Cracked Sugar Cookies
Makes 4 dozen.. I halved and it only made about 18

1 1/4 C. Sugar
1 C. Butter
3 Egg Yolks
1 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 C. Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar

Preheat oven to 350*.  Lightly grease cookie sheets.  Cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.  Add flour, soda and cream of tartar.  Stir until just moist.  *This is where I thought I had ruined my dough.  It comes out very crumbly.  I noticed, however, in the next step it comes out fine.*  Roll dough into walnut size balls.  Don't flatten.  Place on greased cookie sheets 2" apart.  Bake for 10 minutes or until golden and have slightly cracked tops.

Variation:  Roll dough balls in sugar before placing on cookie sheets.  This way was my favorite!!

Happy Baking :)

Nutella Brownies for Two

I'm in the process of making a family cookbook, something with history that I can look at and see recipes from generations passed.  And naturally when you decide to make a family cookbook you decide it's a GREAT idea to go through all your recipes on the computer, in cookbooks and in folders so you can rewrite them all to put in a binder, that way you yourself have a "Master" Recipe Folder with everything your husband and precious Cubs love that you make.  Am I right?  I've been working on this cookbook for about 3 weeks now and yesterday I got this great great great idea that it would be fun to make said "Master" Recipe Folder.  Typing the recipes would have been a better idea, you say?  Well you are right, except my ancient printer won't work with my new laptop, so there :)

There I am on a Sunday morning, given the chance to sleep in while my adorable and awesome husband lets me sleep in while he prepares breakfast, and I'm sitting in bed with a new notebook, a bunch of cookbooks, the laptop and folders, writing out every recipe my family gave the thumbs up approval of.  It took me all day, but I managed to write out every recipe I could find with star rating.  By the time I went to bed, my eyes hurt, my back hurt from sitting slouched all day and my thumb was numb.  Yes, numb!  I couldn't feel my thumb at all when I went to bed.  It's now been 24 hours since then and I still have no feeling on the right side of my thumb.  How awful?  You know how your foot feels when it falls asleep and it's starting to "wake" back up?  Tingly feeling?  That's the constant feeling I've had all day.  Not fun! 

In my process of going over all my recipes, I found one I haven't made in awhile that definitely got quadruple star rating from.. well me!  It was Nutella Brownies, but oh have I got a recipe for you.  Nutella Brownies for Two.  It might be a really bad, bad thing you have this in your possession.  For one, then you will always have a small batch of brownies readily at your fingertips.  And second, it has Nutella in it.  Now do you see why this is very bad?  It's super easy to make and if you are alone, easy to eat by yourself, especially with only four brownies per batch.  Yes, another reason why it's dangerous! 

I realize the recipe makes four and I have only pictured three.  Naturally when they came out of the oven, I had to try one.  For testing of course ;)

I love the soft and moist inside of a brownie, but my favorite part of a batch of brownies are the side pieces where there is one side crunchy while the three others are soft.  Because of this, I made these in a muffin pan.  I think it was perfect because the portions were already made for you.  The only other thing I could think of to make these in was a mini loaf pan but in that case you would have to use 2 mini loaf pans to get the four brownies.  If you try these and can find anything better to make these in, please please let me know.

Now the recipe calls for 1/2 an egg.  Yes, I realize this is somewhat awkward to do, but it was truly the only thing I could think to do.  What I did was just beat an egg in a small bowl and then just poured half the egg into the mixture.  Again, if there is another way to do this, please let me know.  I'm completely open to suggestions.  But until then, I'll just make them my way :)

Nutella Brownies For Two
Makes 4 brownies, 2 for each person.. PERFECT in my opinion :)

2 Tbl salted butter
2 Tbl cocoa powder
1/4 C. sugar
2 Tbl nutella
1/8 C. or 1 oz melted chocolate, I used milk chocolate
1/2 egg
2 Tbl flour

Zap butter and cocoa powder in the microwave for 45 seconds.  Whisk until smooth.  Add sugar, nutella and melted chocolate; smooth.  Whisk in 1/2 a beaten egg.  Fold in flour. 

Grease 4 muffin cups and spoon batter evenly into prepared cups.  Bake at 350* for 15-17 minutes.  If inserting toothpick to check for doneness, toothpick should have moist crumbs on it.  Brownie center should not be runny.  Cool slightly, if you can.


Happy Baking :) 

Of course, I wrote down the original recipe that yeilded 12 servings (or 9 depending on how you like to cut your brownies.. I like big brownies) and did not write down who the creator is.  If you know who he or she is, please let me know.  I'd love to give credit where credit is due!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Best Frosting I've Ever Had

I've been asked to do a Wedding cake in the fall since I dabble in making cakes.  I'm extremely excited about it and went full force into research as to what I need to do for a wedding cake.  In the process, I stumbled upon some first time wedding cakes and in one site there was an interesting frosting recipe that had been used to frost a wedding cake.  Of course, I immediately had to try it out.  As with most recipes I can't just wait to make it until I need it.  No, I have to make it right then and there, especially if all the ingredients are on hand.  And in this case, they were.  So at 10 o'clock at night I was making this cake and frosting.

My rushed 10pm cake. 

I wouldn't say this is the BEST frosting I've ever had like the name suggests, but it's pretty good, easy and convenient since it doesn't require whipping cream and a bag of powdered sugar.  I actually found it better once the frosting had sat on the cake for a couple hours and definitely didn't find it good after refrigeration.  I'm not sure if it is just my refrigerator it didn't work well in, but I found refrigerating the cake made the frosting get really hard and when you try to cut the cake, it separated from the frosting.  So, again, I would suggest not refrigerating. 

My biggest critic (my wonderful husband) was very fond of the fluffiness of this frosting and the fact it isn't as sweet as most are.  Even my buttercream I usually make is slightly sweeter than this frosting. 

If you plan to make this frosting, let me give you a few pointers I learned when making this a couple times.  One batch will make enough frosting to layer two 6 inch cakes together and crumb coat the stacked cakes.  I used a double batch to stack, crumb coat and frost a 6 inch cake and had about 1/4 cup leftover that I used to frost 12 mini cupcakes.  It doesn't make a huge amount like most buttercream frostings do, so keep this in mind when making it.  I would say it probably gave me about 2 1/2 cups of frosting, but I'm not the best at estimating  :)  Also, when it's time to add vanilla, I found it better to add when the flour/milk mixture was warm, not hot but not completely cooled.  I whisked the vanilla into the mixture and found that to be better than using a spoon.. in my opinion.  Then whisk again just before adding to the sugar/butter mixture. 

The Best Frosting I've Ever Had
5 Tbl Flour
1 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Butter (I softened mine but I saw some who didn't)
1 cup Granulated Sugar (take note, this is not POWDERED sugar)

For the rest of the instructions, please visit Pioneer Woman for The Best Frosting I've Ever Had.

This was my second attempt at the frosting and as you can see there are some balls of flour/milk mixture at the top.  This is why I suggest whisking in the vanilla in when warm.

This might be the reason why I needed to use a double batch of frosting.. lol.  I like a nice thick layer of frosting.. or rather a little bit of cake to go with my frosting :)

Happy Baking!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Another great Picky Palate Cookie

Not a very interesting title, but I'm really not THAT good at making up titles.  Kind of envious of those who are able to come up with witty titles for their posts.  But anyway, I couldn't look over Jenny's great cookies and not want to make them all, so naturally I made another cookie the very next day!  Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter Cookie Stackers were just calling my name so when I made my peanut butter run I also bought cap'n crunch cereal for these little bad boys.  I don't normally buy sugary cereal because A.) my husband and I don't allow our girls to eat it (good reason right?) and B.) my oldest has very sensitive teeth so sugary ANYTHING is only in moderation (so for example the chocolate fudge peanut butter cookie stuffed cookie I made the other day she and my youngest had one and Mommy had the rest.. hehe).  Back to what I was saying, I don't normally buy sugary cereal so the girls thought it was a real treat to have it in the house.  I let them each have one bowl of it for breakfast the next morning and that was, I think, good enough for them because it's been in the pantry now for 2 weeks and they haven't asked for it again.  Ok, you caught me.  I made these cookies a few weeks ago and am blogging about them now. 

These cookies are A-MAZ-ING!  I put in a little more crushed Cap'n Crunch than was called for because, well, it just didn't look like enough to me and I am the one making them so it really doesn't matter if I want to add more or not, right?  The cereal really brings out the peanut butter in these cookies and gives it a slight crunch.  Not too much, though, almost just enough.  Completely delicious!

Now since my girls don't eat a lot of sugar AND I had just made the Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter Cookie Stuffed Cookies, I ended up giving away most of these and freezing a few more for my husband.  Everyone who tried 'em were asking for more and the recipe.  You seriously won't be disappointed with these cookies.

The next cookie on my list to try from Picky Palate are the Ice Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I just need to give my family a little break inbetween the cookie baking :)

Stuffed Cookies OH MY

Stuffed cookies?  Shut the front door!  I thought oreos were the only stuffed cookies in the world.  Not anymore.  Jenny over at Picky Palate has a wonderful collection of STUFFED cookies.  Seriously what could be better than a cookie stuffed with another cookie? 

I can't even remember what brought me over to her beautiful (I say beautiful because nothing is more beautiful than seeing pictures upon pictures of seriously amazing looking cookies.. well not just cookies but meals and appetizers and side dishes and so on) site, but I'm so glad it did.  I was first impressed with the Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter Cookie Stuffed Cookies.  Mmmmmmm!  I immediately had to make it myself.. ok well not immediately because I first realized I only had a teaspoon of peanut butter (my youngest LOVES peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) and I needed 1 full cup.  Hmm.. so I had to wait a day to make it.  And here is how my stuffed cookie came out

Mine has a whole lot more peanut butter oozing out than Jenny's.  I kind of made bigger peanut butter balls than I'm asuming I should have but I certainly am NOT complaining about that and neither were my girls.  These were absolutely delicious!  And rich too! 

If you'd like to see Jenny's Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter Cookie Stuffed Cookie just click here.  Browse around her site for more cookie recipes.  You'll be glad you did!

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at artisan bread but get overwhelmed just thinking about it?  Yeah me too.  Or so that was until I found this great cookbook while perusing The Good Cook's site titled "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day".  In five minutes a day?  Yes, in five minutes a day.  It's unbelieveable.  And easy.  And after seeing that picture, who wouldn't want to make artisan bread?  Not this girl, that's for sure!

Easter Challah Bread

The wonderful part of this cookbook is how it takes literally 3 minutes to whip together the ingredients for a "Master Boule".  Then you just loosely cover your mixing bowl and let sit for a couple hours to double in size.  You can then either pull off a chunk of dough for use immediately or put in the refrigerator until ready to use.  My personal preference is to make it up a day ahead of time and use it once it's been the 'fridge.  That makes the rolling around part easier because it isn't as sticky.  You now have readily available bread you can take out of the refrigerator  any night of the week and all you do to prep it is roll it around in your hands a couple minutes and let it sit for 20 minutes to rise.  Super simple and incredibly delicious.  The best part.. each "Master" dough recipe makes enough for 4 loaves.  That means you don't have to mix up the dough half a dozen times in one week.. because you know you will want to make this bread every night.  Another great reason is that it keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.. but it won't ever stay that long.  Trust me!  Or you can freeze the dough for later use.  I've never tried that so I'll definitely take your word on it if you try it out.

The writers have put together 100 recipes you can use the dough for, which is amazing.  Every recipe I've tried in the last two months have been wonderful, but my husband's absolute favorite is the challah bread.  I made this for our Easter dinner in place of the egg bread I traditionally make (challah and egg bread are actually similiar recipes - if you knew that, GREAT, good for you.  If you didn't, well now you do).  It's also very good as french toast the next morning.  Another great bread is the brioche, also similiar to challah but richer in flavor.  And the brioche dough makes wonderful sticky pecan cinnamon rolls - also in the cookbook.  I've included pictures below of a couple of the recipes I've made.  For any of these recipes you can visit Artisan Bread in Five.  They also have a wonderful Facebook page. 

Sticky Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Brioche Dough - half has been sprinkled with raw sugar for french toast the next morning

Pretzels - I halved the recipe to make 4 large pretzels, half with cinnamon sugar and half with coarse sea salt