Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pita Bread using a bread machine

The dough in this pita recipe is mixed by a bread machine. I own a Sunbeam bread machine , and the small investment ($60) was very much worth it . I find that my boys can make any yeast dough using a bread machine. If you don’t have a bread machine, you can prepare the dough by hand. See directions below.

1-1/4 cups whole milk. Warm it for about 30 seconds in the microwave.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups bread flour. Bread flour is a high-gluten flour. You can find it in most supermarkets next to the other flours. You can also try making these with all-purpose flour, but I always had the best results using bread flour.
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon Bread Machine Yeast. Just like bread flour, you can find Bread Machine Yeast next to the other baking supplies in most supermarkets. Check the date to make sure it’s fresh. The original recipe says it’s OK to use Active Dry Yeast, but as far as I know Instant Yeast is a better alternative to Bread Machine Yeast, since both don’t need to be activated with a warm liquid and are simply added to the other ingredients.

1. Add ingredients to a 1.5 or 2-pound bread machine according to manufacturer’s directions (usually liquids first, then dry ingredients and finally yeast). Select dough cycle. When cycle is complete (my machine takes 1.5 hours), remove dough from machine. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

2. Divide dough into 10-12 portions.

On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a 5-to-6-inch circle.

Cover dough and let rise about 30 minutes or until slightly puffed. It’s best to find a warm, draft-free spot for this.

3. On a greased baking sheet arrange 5-6 dough rounds. Bake in bottom of a 450 degree F (230 degree C) oven for 4 to 5 minutes (I find that 3 minutes is just perfect) or until bread is puffed.
Remove from oven.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sleeping Beauties

Auntie Alex having a slumber party with Baby Laila .... I can hardly believe that Laila is almost 15 Months Old.

Lemon Sugar Cookies

These cookies have a great light texture, a bit chewy in the middle and slightly crispy on the edge. Rolling the cookies in sugar right before baking really finishes the cookies and gives them a great texture and sweetness. Without that extra bit of sugar, the cookies are a little on the plain side. Even though there is a fair amount of sugar in the cookies, they’re not too sweet. They do taste quite a bit like lemonade - refreshing, flavorful and perfect for spring. I used yellow decorating sugar for a more dramatic effect.

Lemon Sugar Cookies
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp lemon zest
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 375F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Gradually mix in the flour at low speed, making sure to incorporate all of the flour and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Place remaining 2-3 tbsp sugar in a small bowlShape 1-inch balls of dough, roll in the sugar and place on prepared baking sheet.Bake for 9-11 minutes, until set but not browned (or only very lightly on the bottom). Edges should be slightly firm.Cool cookies on the pan for a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 4 dozen

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Samoa's Girl Scout Cookies

Homemade Samoas (a.k.a. Caramel de-Lites) Courtesy of Amanda's Cookin


1 cup butter, soft

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

up to 2 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, followed by the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (it’s possible you might not need to add milk at all). The dough should come together into a soft, not-too-sticky ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough is very sticky.Roll the dough (working in two or three batches) out between pieces of wax paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or slightly less) and use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and use a knife, or the end of a wide straw, to cut a smaller center hole. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are set. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
8 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)

Preheat oven to 300.
Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it gets too firm to work with.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate.Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes about 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies.
Note: These cookies are fairly time consuming to make, but if you take your time and have fun with them, the results will be worth it. That said, if you want something a little bit quicker, try baking a batch of Samoas Bars instead, which require no rolling and cutting of the dough!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Garlic Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

Garlic Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
1 lb penne pasta
1 ½ cup broccoli
1 ½ to 2 cups cooked chicken
1 Tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic can add extra (we did)
2 Tablespoons flour
¾ cup chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons parsley flakesRed pepper flakes (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 to ½ cup grated parmesan cheese (can add extra we did)
Cook pasta according to directions. Melt butter and add garlic in medium sauce pan cook over med heat for 1 min.Add flour and cook for another min stirring constantly, Stir in broth and milk and cook stirring until sauce boils and thickens, Add chicken and broccoli and stir, Add parsley, salt, pepper, pepper flakes and cheese. Stir till cheese is melted. Add pasta and toss till covered. Serve with extra parmesan on top. This was very yummy and fairly easy to make .

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Easton's Easy Strawberry Shortcake

Okay so this is what happens when you turn a teenager who needs a "midnight snack" loose in the kitchen without supervision.....
2 Twinkies
LOTS of Whipped Cream
Sliced strawberries (until it looks KEWL)


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quick Thai Peanut Noodles

This is a recipe from Our Best Bites. Don't be scared of peanut butter in the sauce--although it sounds gross, it's a pretty solid staple in peanut-sauce-y dishes because of it's smooth texture and intense peanut flavor. Even better, it's fresh, quick, easy, relatively healthy. This is a short version to my Thai Chicken Peanut Noodle recipe

Quick Thai Peanut Noodles

1/2 c. chicken broth
3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1-2 tsp. Sriracha chili sauce (1 is mild with a bite, 1.5 is medium, 2 is hot)you can substitute 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 1 tsp if you want it spicier
1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh minced ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
8 oz. linguine noodles
Chopped green onions
Chopped cilantro
2 limes, cut into quarters
Chopped peanuts
Cook noodles in salted water. In the meantime, combine chicken broth, peanut butter, chili sauce, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk until smooth and remove from heat. Toss cooked noodles with sauce and divide among 4 bowls. Sprinkle with green onions, cilantro, chopped peanuts, and garnish each serving with 2 lime quarters. Before ating, squeeze lime juice over noodles and stir to combine.
*If desired, you can add meat to this dish by stir-frying shrimp or very thinly-sliced chicken (partially freeze it first) in some olive oil with a couple cloves of garlic, some fresh ginger, some green onions, soy sauce, and a small squirt or two of Sriracha chili sauce.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Homemade Bagels

1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 cups water, warm (100-110F)
4 cups bread flour (not all purpose)
1 tbsp salt
1 egg, for egg wash
Optional Seasonings:
Poppy Seeds
Onion Powder (I used chives because I didn’t have this on hand)
Sesame Seeds
Kosher Salt
In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) combine yeast, sugar and water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in flour and salt. Mix dough thoroughly until it comes together in a large ball, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add an additional tablespoon of flour or water, if needed.
If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If using a stand mixer, knead dough with the dough hook until elastic, about 8 minutes on a low speed. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
When dough has risen, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal pieces (first quarters, then halves). Shape each piece into a tight ball, pinching the corners together at the bottom of the dough. When all the balls are shaped, let the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with a clean dish towel.
Once dough balls have rested, the bagel shape can be formed. Using your fingers, poke a hole through the center of each dough ball. Stretch out the dough into a ring with your fingers and be sure to make the hole a little larger than you want the finished bagel to have, as it will shrink slightly while the bagel is expanding during the baking process. Let bagels rest for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil and preheat the oven to 400F. (I used a deep dish skillet because it’s wider.) Line a baking sheet with paper towels and another baking sheet with parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal.
Working four at a time, drop the bagels carefully into the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes on each side. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, transfer bagels to the paper towels to drain for a moment, then place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining bagels.
Brush boiled bagels with lightly beaten egg (a pastry brush is a good tool for this) and sprinkle with seasonings. Bake for 24 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack (bagel will soften slightly as it cools). Slice and toast to serve.

Cookies for St. Patrick's Day

We received these cookies as a yummy Christmas Treat from the "Clarks". I thought they would make a great St. Patricks Day cookie.

Pistachio Thumbprints
1c soft butter
1 egg
2 c flour
1/3 c powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 (3.4 oz.) package instant pistachio pudding mix
Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg, vanilla and extract, mix well. Combine flour and pudding, add to the creamed mixture. Shape into 1” balls. Place 2” apart on greased cookie sheets. Make a thumbprints in the center of each cookie with your finger or the back of a spoon. Bake @350 degrees for 10-12 min. cool.

2 Tbsp soft butter
2 c powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp cream
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. almond extract
Drop or 2 of food coloring (optional)

Cream butter, sugar and extracts. Add food coloring to mix. Spoon filling into center of cooled cookies. This is easier with a pastry bag and a star tip.

1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 tsp. shortening
Melt white chocolate chips and shortening together and drizzle over the filled cookies you can top with sprinkles if desired.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Carrot Cake Cookies

I joined the "Cookie Carnival" and was excited to try March's recipe for these great cookies. I made them with raisins and some without both were very good. My husband enjoyed them without the creamcheese filling. I found this to be a big hit with my family........Enjoy

Inside-Out Carrot Cake Cookies
March Cookie Carnival Recipe

Active time: 20 min Start to finish: 45 min

Makes about 13 cookies. I used a small cookie scoop and made 15 sandwich cookies

1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
1 scant cup walnuts (3 oz), chopped
1/2 cup raisins (2 1/2 oz)
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup honey

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 2 baking sheets.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in carrots, nuts, and raisins at low speed, then add flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Drop 1 1/2 tablespoons batter per cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 12 to 16 minutes total. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

While cookies are baking, blend cream cheese and honey in a food processor until smooth. ( My family preferred a traditional cream cheese icing )

Monday, March 2, 2009

Apple Galette's

One way to ease yourself into pie making, is to start with a free-form pie or tart known as a galette. To me, an apple galette may sound fancy, but it’s really just an informal apple pie. Simply preheat your oven and get to work on the filling. Make your crust and roll into small circular shapes place filling in the center and gather the crust around the edge no need to get fancy it is supposed to look "rustic" like the picture I sprinkled mine with cinnamon sugar . Doug says it rates around a 9.5 on the dessert scale. Experiment with your favorite fillings.

Apple Pie\ Galettes

4 ½ C. Flour
1 ½ TBS Sugar
1 ½ tsp Salt
6 TBS Butter
1 ½ C. Crisco
¾ Cup Buttermilk
Blend with a fork , add buttermilk and lightly mix with your hands. Just until incorporated.
Roll out between waxed paper. Makes two double crusts. Enough for 8 small galettes or 2 double Crust Pies.
Double the filling for use of entire crust recipe or freeze crust in two
disks ...crust freezes well.

Filling (for 1 pie or 4 small galettes)

6 or 7 granny smith apples sliced 1/8 in thick
¾ C. Brown Sugar
¼ C. White sugar
2 TBS Cornstarch (slightly Heaped)
Sprinkle Mixture over apples, sprinkle nutmeg& cinnamon, cut 2 tbs butter over top.
Bake at 390* for 15 min turn down oven to 350* for 15 minutes or crust is golden brown....enjoy

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Granny's Potato Salad

This is a basic potato salad nothing fancy but it tastes good!
4 med. potatoes
4 lg. eggs
4 lg. pickles (Granny likes garlic or banquet dills)I used dill pickle relish and 2 tbls of pickle juice.
2 green onions
Tiny dab of mustard
¾ C.Best Foods mayonnaise
½ C. Miracle Whip
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil potatoes until done, yet still firm. Let cool, peel, and chop into half inch cubes. Hard boil eggs. Let cool, peel, and chop. Chop pickles; slice green onions. Combine above 4 ingredients. Mix mayonnaise,miracle whip* adjust the mayo to your liking some people enjoy more mayo than others , mustard, and salt and pepper. Serve immediately or chill first. Enjoy. Serves 6.