Sunday, November 07, 2010

Maple Sandwich Cookies

I've been dreaming about quitting the 'ol nine-to-five corporate America job and starting my own bakery. I'm not sure how feasible it is at this time in my life, but I'd like to think that in the near future I'll be able to open something in the Minneapolis area. I've received nothing but praise and compliments on the stuff I bake, so hey, why not?

I decided to try out this recipe I found on Sweet Pea's Kitchen. I buy and consume a lot of maple cookies and candies when I travel to Canada, so I figured that these would work in a pinch til I get there again. I did not have a maple leaf cookie cutter, so I used my Montreal shot glass to cut round discs out of the dough.


The problem that I had with this recipe is that 2 teaspoons of baking powder seemed like an awful lot. The point of baking powder is to have the cookies rise just enough to not make them heavy and hard. I think that the two teaspoons added to this recipe is too much. The cookies rose to fast and fell (and spread out) too much while baking. If I were to make this recipe again, I'd probably use one generous teaspoon.

Oh, they are tasty, but they didn't turn out how I expected them too. The cookie is too thin and too crispy*. The filling is delicious, but could also use a little more maple flavor. I guess trial and error could make this a really delicious cookie.


Now, on to the recipe.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 2 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 cup butter, room temperature
  5. 1 cup sugar
  6. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  7. 1 large egg
  8. 2 teaspoon maple extract
  9. 4 tablespoon butter, room temperature
  10. 1 cup confectioners sugar
  11. 2 tablespoon maple syrup


Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and maple extract; beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  3. Divide dough into two balls and flatten each ball into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator onto a lightly floured surface.
  5. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Use a maple leaf cookie cutter to cut out cookies, placing on prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake cookies in preheated oven 8-10 minutes, or until edges just start to brown.
  7. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 3 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
  8. While cookies are cooling, make the filling by creaming butter in a stand mixer. Add confectioners sugar and maple syrup and beat until combined and smooth.
  9. Using a knife or spoon, spread the filling onto the backside side of the cookie. Top with another cookie, backside down. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

Yields: 36 two-inch cookies


*I stored these in an airtight container over night and when I tried one this morning it was chewier and more maple-y tasting than last night. Maybe that's the secret?

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Olive Cheese Bread

A friend of mine asked me what I thought about making some bread this past weekend. I was pretty excited as I'm new to the world of bread. Our first attempt at a loaf of whole wheat beer bread turned out awesome a few weekends ago, so we wanted to experiment with something completely different. He found this wonderful recipe for Olive Cheese Bread and we made it our mission to try it.

We went to Whole Foods and purchased our bread flour, olives, and cheese. I had a few packets of yeast hanging out at home, so I brought them along to his house. We sliced up the green olives and measured out the cheese. Added flour and sour cream. He mixed up all the ingredients, greased up an enormous stock pot so it had room to grow, let it sit for 2 hours, punched it down, and waited some more. The only problem? It did not double in size.

We looked over the recipe and wondered what was wrong. Was anything wrong? Why wasn't the dough filling up the entire stock pot like we imagined? Why after 2 hours does it look like it gained a bit of a belly, but not the massive amount of girth we were expecting? We shrugged our shoulders and decided to just carry on.

Finally we put it in the oven and waited, mouths watering, enjoying the smell coming out of the kitchen.

When we decided the top was sufficiently brown and toasty, we took it out of the oven. I swear it took all of our energy not to cut into it right away. After letting it cool for what seemed like an eternity, we sliced into it.

It was delicious.


This bread did not turn out like any bread I've ever had. It was dense and moist and had so much flavor from the cheese and olives that I was pretty surprised. Spread a little butter on top of a slice and you're in heaven.

But we kept asking each other: is this how it's supposed to turn out? The photo in the recipe wasn't all that great, so it was hard to tell if it should be a dense bread or a fluffier bread. Did we not use enough flour? Was the yeast dead? Is 1/2 cup sour cream too much? We are novices when it comes to baking bread, so we had so many unanswered questions.

We've decided that it doesn't matter. This Olive Cheese Bread was so delicious just the way it turned out that we decided that yes, this is how it should be. That's how we roll.

Recipe:

1 cup of warm water
1 package of dry yeast
Teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of sour cream
4 even cups of bread flour
1 cup each of black olives and green olives
1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese
Greased bread loaf pan
Greased large mixing bowl (stainless steel is best)

1. Dissolve your package of yeast in one cup of warm to hot water. Be sure the yeast has completely dissolved in the water before adding it to any other ingredients.

2. Adding the ingredients for making the best olive cheese loaf you have ever had is next. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, sour cream, olives and the package of cheese. Mix around a bit and add yeast solution to the mixture.

3. Knead mixture until it forms a dough. Add dough to greased mixing bowl and cover with towel for about 2 hours until the dough has risen twice it's original size.

4. Punch dough in the middle to release the air that has accumulated, once it has risen after two hours of resting. Place inside greased loaf pan, cover once again for about 30 minutes and allow it to rise again.

5. Place inside 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Remove from oven, slice, and enjoy.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've been away for quite a long time, but now I'm back and sharing my recipe for awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I recently purchased a KitchenAid mixer. I don't know how I survived this long without one. I love it and make almost everything with it.

My brother purchased me some awesome silicone cookie sheets for Christmas. He got them on QVC. I know I'm one of 300 people who have used them, but I have to add my two cents and say they are awesome. They were a bit stinky at first, but that smell did not carry over into the cookies. And I could care less if, down the road, they stain. That just adds flavor.

On to the recipe!*

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

1 cup granulated sugar (I used 3/4 cup granulated sugar)
1 cup brown sugar (I used 1 1/4 cup brown sugar)
1 cup butter or margarine, softened (i used unsalted butter)
2 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Place sugars, butter, eggs, and vanilla in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl. Turn to Speed 4 and beat about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl.


Turn to Stir Speed. Gradually add baking soda, salt, and flour to sugar mixture and mix about 2 minutes. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape bowl. Add chocolate chips. Turn to Stir Speed and mix about 15 seconds.


Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375* F for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from baking sheets immediately and cool on wire racks.



*came with my KitchenAid mixer

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Thrown Together Chicken Pot Pie/Chicken 'n Dumplings

We desperately need to do some grocery shopping. I scraped together some stuff we have in our fridge and cupboards and came up with this super easy version of either chicken and biscuits or pot pie. You choose.



I based it on a recipe I found online, but made my own version. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to make this. Enjoy.

1 lb chicken breast, cut into cubes.
1 can of cream of chicken soup
Half bag of frozen corn (you could used mixed veggies, too, but corn was all I had)
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of chicken broth
1 can of your favorite biscuits (I used the reduced fat Grands)
salt, peper, garlic, and other spices to taste

Directions:

Heat a deep saucepan over medium heat. Add 1tbs vegetable oil and cook the chicken cubes until they are brown. Add chicken broth and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed. Add corn and cook for about 5 minutes, or until corn is tender.
Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Pour into pan and increase heat to high. Mix thoroughly and bring to a boil. You'll want to cook this until it becomes thick, about 10 minutes.

While your chicken mixture is cooking, separate four of the 8 biscuits and press four of them into the bottom of a greased deep dish pie plate (or whatever else you have on hand - I used a roasting pan because it was all I had) and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven (biscuits will be slightly doughy) and pour chicken and corn mixture on top of baked biscuits. Use the remaining four biscuits to top the chicken mixture. Place back into oven for another 15 minutes. Cook until biscuits are brown on top.

Enjoy!

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Eggplant Parmesan

Yesterday I made the most delicious eggplant parmesan I've ever tasted. I've never actually made it before, so I was super proud of the way it turned out. It's not as good as my grannie's eggplant parm, but it's pretty damn good.

The first thing I did was cut the eggplant in thin slices. Since it was the first time I'd ever made it, I was unsure of how long it would take to cook. So I figured the thinner the better.

Then I whisked together two eggs, 2 tbs of milk, and a pinch of salt in a bowl. I also mixed about 1 1/2 cups of italian breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese together in a shallow dish. I then dredged the eggplant in the egg wash and then coated each piece in the breadcrumb mixture.

I fried up the eggplant slices in a hot (but not too hot!) frying pan coated in olive oil. I cooked each piece for about 3 minutes on each side, or until they were crispy and brown. Keep in mind that the eggplant absorbs a lot of the oil, so you may have to add more oil as you go.


After you fry up all the pieces, lay them overlapping in the bottom of a nonstick baking pan. I only own this roast pan, but it works just the same.

After you've put one layer of eggplant in the bottom of the baking dish, spread on a generous layer of your favorite spaghetti sauce and about a handful of your favorite brand of mozzarella cheese.
Layer the remaining eggplant on top of the cheese and sauce and then cover that layer with more sauce and cheese. Bake in the over at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Or, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.


So, in one hour I went from having an eggplant and other various ingredients sitting on my counter to this...a warm, bubbly, delicious dinner. It turned out so delicious that I know I will make it again soon. I split it up into freezable portions so I'll have it ready to eat when I get home from work. This was a very cheap and very easy meal. If I break it down, it cost me about $5 for all the ingredients. That's pretty good, especially since I'll be eating this for at least a week.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Krups Ice Cream Maker

My awesome Mother In Law bought me a Krups Ice cream Maker for my birthday last week. I've been too busy to try it until today. Ironically, it's about 60 degrees in my apartment. Not exactly ice cream weather. But I wanted to try it out anyway.

I decided that my first ice cream recipe would be a simple cream/half-n-half/sugar base. If this turns out well I will try more of a custard base with egg yolks and the whole nine yards.

I froze the ice cream bucket for well over a day. It recommends no less than 24 hours in order to have a successful batch of ice cream made. I used the following ingredients:
    1 cup heavy cream
    1 cup half and half
    1/2 cup sugar
    1tsp vanilla extract
    pinch of salt

I made sure to mix the ingredients super well so all the sugar was dissolved.

The assembly of the machine is super easy. I read some reviews on Amazon.com about how people found that the paddle didn't stay in or the top didn't fit on. Or worse, that the motor didn't snap into place right. But I had none of these problems. I don't even think this machine is very loud. In fact, the kitchen is just 10 steps away and I can't hear it. You can hear it in this video because, well, I'm right on top of it:

video

After about 25-30 minutes, the paddle switched directions. That's the signal that the ice cream has finished. I poured in three chopped peanut butter cups to the mix. They weren't enough to make any difference in the taste of the ice cream, but it was tasty anyway. The final product is like a soft serve consistency:

I spooned it into a tupperware container and put it back in the freezer. In about 4 hours it should firm up and taste a little better. I already washed all the parts and stuck the bucket back in the freezer in case I want to make another batch later on. I mean, really. Home made ice cream in 30 minutes? How can you beat that?

So far, I love this little machine. It's small, quiet, and I had no troubles putting it together. I want to make all sorts of new and exciting flavors of ice cream. The big problem I'm having is actually waiting the 45 minutes until I can try it and see how it tastes!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Enormous Delicious Fudge Brownies

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know that 1) I love to bake and 2) I tend to stick with pre-packaged cake or brownie mixes. For the longest time I've been telling myself that it's just easier that way. Until today, that is.

I love food. I love desserts more. I really want to work at a bakery or restaurant. But what kind of place would want me, a woman, who uses pre-packaged mixes? So I decided to ditch the mix and make a pan of delicious brownies from scratch.

I am so glad I did. They took the same amount of time that a packaged mix would, but taste infinitely more delicious. I used the Wuolett Enormous Brownies recipe from their website. Here it is:

In a glass mixing bowl, combine:

• 3/4 - cups melted Butter
• 4 - squares un-sweetened baking Chocolate
Microwave Butter and Chocolate until melted (on high about 2 minutes)

Add:

• 2 - cups Sugar, then mix
• 3 - large Eggs, then mix
• 1 - tsp. Vanilla
• 1 - cup Flour, then mix
• 1 - cup large Walnut pieces and chunks of premium-grade Bar Chocolate (Gently fold in – don't over-mix)

Stir Sugar into Chocolate until well blended - stir in Eggs and Vanilla, mix in Flour, stir in Nuts and Bar Chocolate. Pour into a 9x13 buttered baking dish and bake 30-35 minutes and 350° (325° in glass pan), until toothpick in center comes out with fudgy crumbs (do not over-bake).

I had to bake them about 45 minutes, but that's because my oven stinks. I let them cool for about 20 minutes and then I dug in. OMG these are the most delicious brownies I've ever tasted. They are not too sweet but totally soft and chewy.

And to think I made them with my own two hands! And the best part is that they probably cost less per pan than the pre-packaged-nuts-included kind you can get at the grocery store.




I'm never making packaged brownies again. Now I have to cut them up into squares and freeze half of them. If I don't, my husband will eat them all in one sitting and all my work will be gone in a flash.

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