Friday, August 30, 2013

Chocolate Mini Doughnuts

Rob surprised me with a mini doughnut pan that arrived in the mail yesterday. He sure knows the way to my heart. And it doesn't work out so shabby for him when he comes home to a variety of triple chocolate mini doughnuts either. Gifts for the kitchen are really a gift for everyone. 

Especially for my toddler who ripped open the box, popped all the bubble-wrap and then proceeded to help me make a big batch of chocolate mini doughnuts. It was a happy afternoon, with only a mild sugar crash in the evening. 

If you happen to have a mini doughnut pan lying around, why not whip up a batch of these awesome little treats? They're sure to put a smile on your face

Chocolate Mini Doughnuts
adapted from Food4Tots
Makes: 3 dozen mini donuts

1¼ cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Pre-heat oven to 400. Grease mini doughnut pans with cooking spraying or butter.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and oil. Pour dry ingredients into bowl, and mix until batter is smooth.  

Pour the batter into a piping bag and fill each doughnut mold ¾ full.

Bake for 4-6 minutes or until when a toothpick inserted into the doughnut come out clean. Allow the donuts to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then invert them onto a cooling rack.

Chocolate Glaze

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tbs. shortening
1 Tbs. corn syrup
1 tsp. hot water

Microwave chips, shortening and cornsyrup at 30-second intervals until melted, stirring each time. Stir in hot water until mixture is smooth. Dip doughnuts in glaze and top with desired sprinkles. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Honey Florentines

Sometimes I really want dessert but don't feel like putting in a lot of effort. That's not to say that I don't enjoy making complicated desserts - I most definitely do. But some nights I'm tired or I've left it too late, and that's when a recipe like this is just amazing.

It hardly dirties any dishes, takes just a few pantry staples in very small portions, and is ready in about 10 minutes start to finish. Not to mention they look classy as hell. I mean, look at that thing. Glorious.

Honey Florentines
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies

makes 1 1/2 dozen

2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. flour
a pinch of coarse salt

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a small saucepan, melt butter, sugar and honey. Off the heat add in flour and salt, stir until smooth.

Working quickly, drop 1/2 tsp of batter at a time onto a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet at least 3 inches apart. Bake until golden brown, about 6 minutes.

Allow to cool on the pan and remove cookies carefully using your fingers.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Oven Roasted Tomato Bisque

I've been getting pretty adventurous in the kitchen lately. Like making homemade croissants (Annie's Eats has you covered on that front) and deciding to cook my way through a cookbook of biblical proportions and making my own recipes, like this amazing tomato bisque.

Also in kitchen news, Rob has (at least for the moment) overcome his lactose intolerance. My world is one big dairy indulgence party right now. So you may be seeing some new and exciting recipes soon. Maybe a resurrection of Sweet Life is on its way again. 

No promises, but I'll try. Because I love you.

Oven Roasted Tomato Bisque
serves 4

2lb ripe tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. olive oil
2cups (16oz) chicken broth
¼  cup basil, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
¼- ½ cup heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut tomatoes into wedges and place skin-side down on parchment. Evenly distribute onions and garlic over tomatoes; season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 35-40 minutes.

Transfer roasted tomatoes, onion and garlic to a large pot and add broth, basil and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.  

Transfer soup to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until almost smooth (I like mine a with a bit more texture). Return to pot and stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Freezer Friendly Chicken Enchiladas

I used to be very lukewarm towards enchiladas. In fact, I really didn't like them much at all. Then a couple years ago, Rob pressured me to make some because he really wanted them. It was the first time I'd ever had homemade enchilada sauce, and it opened up my world to so much awesomeness.

Enchiladas are quite possibly one of my favorite meals now, so long as there's no tinny store bought sauce to be found anywhere nearby.

And these just elevate my love for enchiladas to a whole different level because this recipe makes 3-4 casseroles that can cook straight from the freezer. Oh yes, you heard me right.

It's a bit of work to make this big batch, but so worthwhile. Just think about how satisfying it will be to pull a ready made casserole from the freezer after a long, hard day while you're chopping a mountain of onions. You can also break up the assembly - I often make the sauce and store the chicken mixture until the next day before rolling the enchiladas - to make things easier on yourself.

Freezer Friendly Chicken Enchiladas
adapted from The Best Make-Ahead Recipes

makes 3-4 13x9 inch casseroles

1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
9 cloves of garlic, minced (about 3 Tbs)
6 Tbs. chili powder
4 tsp. ground cumin
4 tsp. ground coriander
4 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/4 inch strips
6 (8oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 (12oz) can pickled jalapenos, drained and chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
24 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded (about 6 cups)
30-40 soft corn tortillas

In a large pot, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine spices.

Add garlic and spices to the pot and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken to the pot and stir until it is completely coated with the onion-spice mixture. Stir in tomato sauce and water, bring to a simmer and cook until chicken is done, about 8-10 minutes.

Pour the chicken mixture through a large mesh strainer over a large bowl, pressing on the chicken mixture with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much sauce as possible. Store enchilada sauce in freezer-safe containers in 2 - 2 1/2 cup servings. (Let cool to room temperature before freezing)

Place chicken mixture in a large bowl and refrigerate until cool enough to handle. Add jalapenos, cilantro, and 4 cups of cheese (the remaining cheese is for topping the casseroles), and stir until combined.

Place 1/4 - 1/3 cup of filling in the center of each tortilla, roll, and place into casserole dishes. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, then aluminum before freezing. (or bake immediately, instructions below)

To Serve Immediately: Preheat oven to 350F. Top casserole with 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce and 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until cheese is melted and filling is heated through, about 20-30 minutes. Serve additional sauce alongside enchiladas.

To Serve From Frozen: Preheat oven to 400F. Remove plastic wrap and aluminum foil from casserole dish and bake, uncovered for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, defrost enchilada sauce in the microwave (3-5 minutes on high).

Remove from oven and top with 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce and 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and continue to bake until cheese is melted and filling is heated through, another 20-30 minutes. Serve additional sauce alongside enchiladas.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Easiest No-Knead Peasant Bread

Yes, this loaf of bread is more than halfway eaten. I made it last night...

This is, by far, the easiest bread you will ever make. It is my new favorite bread recipe. I’ve been making it like crazy all winter. And if you take about 5 minutes of hands on time out of your day, you’ll be a convert too. I pretty much guarantee it.

This recipe found its way to me in one of those rare, serendipitous moments on Pinterest, when I was feeling productive enough to actually make something the moment I pinned it (this has happened only two or three times, with amazing results I might add).

Easiest bread ever, you say? Well, we’ll see about that. I mean, I had my fair share of convenient bread recipes. I was a bit skeptical. But it’s true, friends, there is no easier bread out there that I’ve found.

And sweet baby Jesus is it delicious! The first time I made it, my husband and I ate the entire loaf while it was still warm. Lucas may have eaten one piece. But seriously, it’s oh-dear-god-I-just-ate-a-whole-loaf-of-bread good. I don’t think it gets much better than that (and if it does, I’m not sure I want it to…).

Easiest No-Knead Peasant Bread
adapted from Alexandra Cooks

makes one 9x5” loaf

3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
1 ½  teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½  cups lukewarm water
2 ¼ teaspoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons active-dry yeast

In a large mixing bowl whisk the flour and the salt. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl (or your glass measuring cup), dissolve the sugar into the water. Gently stir in the yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes, mixture will be very foamy. Add yeast mixture to the flour bowl. Stir until a sticky dough ball forms. The dough will be very wet.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 ½ hours. (When I’m making bread in the winter, I like to preheat the oven for 60 seconds then shut it off. With the door closed it retains a nice warm [not hot] temperature for the dough to rise.)

Grease a 9x5” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter (I always use my 1.5qt Pyrex loaf pan. I like to be able to keep an eye on that golden crust through the glass.) Preheat oven to 425°.

Using two forks, punch down your dough, scraping it from the sides of the bowl, which it will be clinging to. You want to loosen the dough entirely from the sides of the bowl, and you want to make sure you’ve released the excess air in the dough. Using the forks, scoop the dough into your prepared baking pan. It’s best to scoop it up fast and plop it in the bowl in one fell swoop. Let the dough rise for about 30 minutes or until it has risen to just above the top of the loaf pan.

Bake for 10 minutes at 425°. Reduce the heat to 375ยบ and bake for 22 to 25 minutes longer, until crust is a nice golden brown. Remove from the oven and turn the loaves onto cooling racks. Cool in the loaf pans for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

And eat a piece while it’s still warm with a bit of butter on it. There’s just nothing better.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cinnamon Love Knots

Holy mother of tasty, these rolls are good. I mean, like, next level goodness. Quite possibly the most scrumptious bread/roll recipe I will ever share with you. That good.

Now I'm not going to lie here, these yeast rolls are a labor of love, but I swear to you,  they are worth every bit of effort. And if you aren't an early riser they're just dandy for brunch or an afternoon snack or whenever the mood strikes. And unlike some yeast rolls which can be a bit sub-par after they cool down, these are still great the next day with coffee or tea. There really is no downside to these delectable rolls other than the waiting around for rising times, which is a small price to pay for this much delicious.

Seriously, they are amazing. Go forth, my friends, and make them immediately.

Cinnamon Love Knots
adapted from Taste of Home 2001 Annual Recipes

makes 3 dozen

2 packages (1/4oz. each) active dry yeast or rapid rise yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 - 115F)
1/2 cup warm milk (110 - 115F)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 - 5 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

 Combine cinnamon and sugar for topping in a shallow bowl, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Add milk, butter, sugar, eggs and salt and mix until combined. Stir in enough flour to form a stiff dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft free area until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch dough down and divide into 3 portions. Cover two portions with plastic wrap. Shape remaining portion into 12 balls; roll balls into 8 inch ropes. Dip ropes in melted butter, roll in cinnamon sugar, and tie into knots, tucking the ends underneath. Repeat with remaining portions of dough.

Place knots on lined baking sheet; cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F, and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"Healthy" Cheez-its

a delicious snack paired with Elmo's World = toddler heaven
Do you ever have one of those days where you're feeling so productive that you find yourself staying up late organizing or cleaning or (my go-to) cooking some new exciting treat? Yesterday was one of those days for me. I did a mountain of housework, tackled some nagging errands and cooked some healthy and delicious quinoa cakes for Rob and I. Then dinner was over, Lucas was sleeping and I was left to my own devices while Rob did his workout.

So I stared at food on the internet, because seriously, it's like the best time-waste ever. Does anyone else out there browse foodgawker for hours pretending it's menu planning? I hope so, because I do it all the time.

But after a few minutes, I found I couldn't sit still. I had all this super productive energy flowing through my body. So I found a recipe that I had all the ingredients for and set out into the kitchen to make some psuedo-healthy copycat cheez-its. Which, despite their rocky start (I have no food processor) still managed to turn out pretty dang delicious and were not as big of a pain as I thought they would be.

Plus they make me feel like one of those granola crunching moms who cloth diapers and does extended breastfeeding and sews/knit all her child's clothing and toys. You know, except for the fact that Lucas is totally watching TV while eating those homemade crackers. Oh well.

"Healthy" Cheez-its
adapted from Perry's Plate

makes about 50-60 crackers

4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2-3 Tbs. milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Combine the cheese, butter, flours, onion powder, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade. (I did this by hand with a pastry cutter. It's doable, but not ideal. You'll need to use some real elbow grease to pull it off without a food processor.) Pulse to form a ball, 1 to 2 minutes. If dough does not come together, add additional tablespoon of milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface. Roll out the dough until it is 1/8 to 1/16 inch thick. Using a pastry wheel or knife, cut the dough into 1-by-1 squares. Prick the center of each cracker with the blunt end of a skewer. Place the crackers on the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 1/2 inch between crackers.

Bake until crackers are just slightly brown on the edges, about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking. The crackers will crisp up as they cool. Let them cool completely on a wire rack.
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