Sunday, February 28, 2010

No Knead Artisan Bread

If you are afraid of making bread or feel like it is too time consuming, then this recipe is for you. You can make bread for 40 cents a loaf. This recipe creates a crusty artisan bread and a dough that can be made in advance. 

Artisan Bread 
from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day and The Italian Dish
(Printable Version)

makes four 1 pound loaves.

3 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 tablespoons granulated fast acting yeast (2 packets)
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached all purpose white flour

Mixing and Storing the Dough

1.  Warm the water slightly.  It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100 degrees F. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. 

2.  Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5 quart bowl or a plastic container with a lid.

3.  Mix in the flour - kneading is unnecessary.  Add all of the flour at once, measuring the flour by scooping it and leveling it off with a knife.  Mix with a wooden spoon - do not knead.  You're finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches.  This step is done in a matter of minutes.  The dough should be wet and loose.

4.  Allow to rise. Cover with a lid (not airtight).  Lidded plastic buckets designed for dough storage can be purchased many places.  (I used a plastic square food storage container at my local grocery store.  I just make sure that the lid is not snapped on completely).  You want the gases to be able to escape a little.  Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on top), about two hours. Longer rising times will not hurt your dough.  You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature.  So, the first time you try this method, it's best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours) before shaping a loaf.


5. Shape your loaf.  Place a piece of baking parchment paper on a pizza peel (don't have a pizza peel - use an unrimmed baking sheet or turn a rimmed baking sheet upside down).   Sprinkle the surface of your dough in the container with flour.  Pull up and cut off about a 1-pound piece of dough (about the size of a grapefruit), using scissors or a serrated knife.  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball as you go.  Dust your hands with flour if you need to.  This is just to prevent sticking - you don't want to incorporate the flour into the dough.  The top of the dough should be smooth - the object here is to create a "gluten cloak" or "surface tension".  It doesn't matter what the bottom looks like, but you need to have a smooth, tight top.  This whole step should take about 30 seconds!  Place the dough onto your parchment paper.

6. Let the loaf rise for about 40 minutes (it does not need to be covered).  If it doesn't look like it has risen much, don't worry - it will in the oven.  This is called "oven spring".

7.  Preheat a baking stone on the middle rack in the oven for at least 20 minutes at 450 degrees F.  Place an empty rimmed baking pan or broiler pan on a rack below the baking stone.  This pan is for holding water for steam in the baking step.  (If you don't have a baking stone, you can use a baking sheet, but you will not get the crisp crust on the bottom.  You will still have a great loaf of bread.  Baking stones are cheap and easy to find - Target carries them - and are a must for making pizzas, so go out and get one as soon as you can.)

8. Dust the loaf with a little flour and slash the top with a knife.  This slashing is necessary to release some of the trapped gas, which can deform your bread.  It also makes the top of your bread look pretty - you can slash the bread in a tic tac toe pattern, a cross, or just parallel slashes.  You need a very sharp knife or a razor blade - you don't want the blade to drag across the dough and pull it.  As the bread bakes, this area opens and is known as "the bloom".  Remember to score the loaves right before baking. 

9.  Bake.  Set a cup of water next to your oven.  Slide the bread (including the parchment paper) right onto the hot baking stone.  Quickly pour the water right into the pan underneath the baking stone and close the oven door.  This creates the necessary steam  to make a nice crisp crust on the bread.  Bake at 450 F for about 25 - 30 minutes.  When you remove the loaf from the oven, you will hear it crackle for a while.  In baking terms, this is called "sing" and it is exactly what you want. 

10.  Cool.  Allow the bread to cool for the best flavor and texture.  It's tempting to eat it when it's warm, and that's fine, but the texture is better after the bread has cooled.

11.  Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use for up to 14 days. Every day your bread will improve in flavor.  Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them.  When your dough is gone, don't clean the container.  Go ahead and mix another batch - the remaining bits of dough will contribute flavor to the next batch, much like a sourdough starter does!


Chocolate Chip Cookies version II


I have a great go to chocolate chip cookie recipe and have not tried any new ones until now. I was intrigued by the use of bread flour and melted butter. The results were amazing.  It is a toss up as to which cookie I like best. These cookies were great and disappeared quickly. Make sure to chill your dough on this one...Enjoy.

Chocolate Chip Cookies II  (printable version)

recipe from Alton Brown

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 8 cookies per sheet. Bake for 11minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings

I made this dish for dinner last night. I can't remember where I got this recipe, I wanted to try it because it did not use cream of chicken soup like some recipes. The only change  I would make would be to use a whole chicken and boil it creating my own broth. 

Chicken and Dumplings (PRINTABLE VERSION)

Use a tall sauce pan, or a big pot
Heat a 32oz carton of chicken broth with about as much water (32oz) – it’s totally fine to dilute the broth, because you’ll be adding chicken pieces
Cut up 1.5 lbs or so of chicken breast (or whatever part of the chicken you like) into bite-sized pieces, and add it to the broth and water (NEXT TIME I AM GOING TO BOIL A WHOLE CHICKEN AND MAKE MY OWN BROTH)
Dice half a white onion (or a whole one, if you’re bold) and drop it in the pot
Chop up 3-4 carrots, and add to the pot
Add one can of corn
Add one can of green beans( I used peas and carrots)
Maybe 2-3 pieces of celery chopped up, if you have it
Drop in a bay leaf if you have one. Remove before serving.(I tell my kids that, anyways) Feel free to add other spices. Just experiment. It always turns out great.
While the chicken soup is simmering, prepare the dumplings…
Mix in a metal bowl:
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt (or a little less)
4 Tbsp chopped parsley – I never measure this. I just chop up a good handful.
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk (I use whole milk)
4 Tbsp oil (I use olive oil, but canola or whatever should work)
Barely stir together for soft dough!
Drop in 12-16 spoonfuls onto chicken stew. They’ll probably sink a little, but no worries. Just spread them around the pot.
Put lid on pot and DO NOT REMOVE for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Easy Chili

If your in the mood for a great chili with a little kick then this recipe is for you. My husband requested I make this recipe after having this chili at the Blue and Gold Banquet. I served it with this cornbread.
Easy Chili
(Printable Version)


1 pound ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

4 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno

chile peppers

1 (29 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (16 ounce) can chili beans, undrained

salt and pepper to taste


1. In a large saucepan over medium high heat, combine the ground beef, onion and bell peppers. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until beef is browned. Drain excess fat.

2. Add the chili powder, garlic, bay leaf, cumin, chile peppers, tomatoes, tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in the beans and heat through.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Buttery Peas with Thyme

I needed a great vegetable to serve with my Swiss Cheese Chicken for Sunday Dinner and this side dish was perfect. Yet another great recipe from My Kitchen Cafe. 

Buttery Peas with Thyme

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 medium onion)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
3 cups frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the peas and thyme and cook, stirring often, until the peas are just heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with black pepper (and additional salt if desired) and serve immediately.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Breakfast Cookies

These cookies were a big hit. Perfectly Crun-chewy and made with Whole Wheat flour. A great alternative to granola bars.
(Printable Version)

½ c. shortening
½ C. butter (softened)
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour (white or whole wheat, I used wheat)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
2 c. "Special K" or other flaky breakfast cereal. 1 c. oatmeal
Raisins, dates, nuts, etc. optional (I used 1 cup coconut)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In larger mixer bowl, beat shortening,butter, sugars, and eggs and vanilla until light and creamy. Gradually blend in flour mixture. Stir in oatmeal and breakfast cereal, and raisins or dates etc. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheets. A great breakfast or snack.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I saw these cupcakes on Real Mom Kitchen today and had to try them. The only problem I had is that I did not have a "Red Velvet" Cake Mix in my pantry. I opted for a devils food mix and the results were phenomenal. These cupcakes were moist and the icing was almost too good to be true. I topped mine with sprinkles. I am making these for a Valentines party using the listed ingredients!!! Did I mention how yummy they were?
Red Velvet Cupcakes 
1  pkg.  (2-layer size) red velvet  cake mix
1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
1 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
1 square BAKER’S White Chocolate, shaved into curls

PREPARE cake batter and bake as directed on package for 24 cupcakes, blending dry pudding mix into batter before spooning into prepared muffin cups. Cool.
MEANWHILE, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Gradually beat in sugar. Whisk in COOL WHIP. Spoon 1-1/2 cups into small freezer-weight resealable plastic bag; seal bag. Cut small corner off bottom of bag, Insert decorating  tip. Pipe on your cupcakes and decorate with white chocolate shavings or sprinkles.
Keep refrigerated.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Bars

I saw this recipe on My Kitchen Cafe and tried them out immediately. What a great ,fast, yumy treat . Perfect for last minute treat for scouts, after school etc., it is just as the name implies "Thick and Chewy" .

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Bars

(Printable Version)

Makes a 9X13-inch pan of bars

2 1/8 cups (10 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2 (3 1/2 ounces) cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips (use your preference of semisweet, bittersweet, milk, white, peanut butter...the options are endless!)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position. Line a 9X13-inch baking pan with foil, letting the excess hang over the edges of the pan by about 1 inch so you can grab those edges and pull the brownies from the pan after they have baked. Spray the foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk the melted butter and sugars in a large bowl until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in the chocolate chips and turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula.

Bake until the top of the bars is light golden brown, slightly firm to the touch, and edges start pulling away from sides of pan, 24-28 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the foil overhang and transfer them to a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sugar Cookies with Glace` Icing

I have been wanting to try this cookie and icing recipe ever since I saw it on Our Best Bites. Valentines Day seemed like a great time . This was my first time using this type of icing . The result was perfect (I need to fine tune my decorating skills ) but they were great and the icing sets so you can actually stack the cookies without making a big mess. Make sure you allow them to dry overnight. Enjoy

Sugar Cookies with Glace` Icing

1 C real butter (no substitutions!)
1 C sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 t almond extract (you could use vanilla instead)

3 C flour

1 1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Add in eggs and extract and mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to co
mbine. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.

Shape the dough into 2 flat disks and wrap in waxed paper and place in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours. If you want your cookies to hold their shape well, the dough needs to be chilled properly.  A great tip to speed things up is to immediately roll dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper and place on a flat surface in the fridge. It will chill super fast and be ready to go in no time.

When you're ready to roll out dough lightly sprinkle flour onto your work surface and roll out dough with a rolling pin.

Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes. The baking time really depends on how you like them. If you like them really soft under-bake them. In my oven, about 8 minutes does it. However if you're making large cookies, or ones with small parts or heavy frosting, you might want to be careful because they might break when they're super soft.
About 8 minutes will get you a really soft cookie, a few minutes longer (when they start to just brown around the edges) and you'll get just a little crispiness around the edges and then a soft center, bake even longer (and roll thinner) and you'll get a buttery, crispy cookie that will just melt in your mouth. Any way you do it, they'll taste good. Remove onto cooling racks when you're done and let cool completely. I honestly think these even taste better the second day.

Glacé Icing

1lb powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 C)
6T C whole milk (low-fat actually works, but use whole if you can)
6T light Corn Syrup (6T is equal to 1/4 C plus another 2 T)
1 t extract (I use almond because I use almond in my sugar cookies)
With a whisk, combine sugar and milk until smooth (no lumps!) Then stir in corn syrup and extract.

You will use this same recipe for both glazing and piping. The way it is right now is the consistency you want for glazing. It's smooth and thin, like in the picture below. It easily runs off the whisk in a pretty thin drizzle.

To prepare the icing for piping, you just add more powdered sugar. Just eyeball it. You can't really mess it up because if it's too thick you just add more milk and if it's to thin, you add more powdered sugar. I add it in small amounts until it's a good consistency. For me, it's when it gets to a point where it's relatively hard to whisk it by hand. When I pick up the whisk, it still runs off, but in a very slow, thick stream now, like this:

Take your glazing icing and separate it into bowls if you want to color it. I decided to do red (more pink, but I love it!), green, and blue. And I left my piping icing white. Use gel food coloring (you can find it at craft or cooking stores) for more intense colors.

There are a few ways to use icing like this. One way is to just glaze the cookie and leave it like that. I'm going to glaze it and then pipe a decoration on top. So the first step is to glaze. Take a small spoon and drop a spoonful of glaze onto a cookie. (Do one at a time, I'm just doing 3 for picture-taking-fun)

Then take a small spoon (baby spoons work great) and gently spread it out to the edges of the cookie. If you want the cookie completely covered, you could just hold it by the bottom and dip it in, then place it over a rack to let the excess drip off.

You need to wait for the icing to set before you pipe on top of it. It doesn't have to be completely dry, but just set on top. An hour or two will probably be enough, but it depends on humidity and everything, so just barely touch the top and don't smash the glaze because it will probably still be soft underneath. If it's dry to the touch you can go ahead and decorate.