Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Recipe Review

As I skimmed through my Google Reader today looking for recipes, I realized that almost every blog I follow has done some type of recap for 2010. Since I learned a lot more about blogging and recipes in 2010 than 2009, I figured it was a good idea to hop on the 2010 recap train.

I tried really hard to just pick 10 of my favorite recipes from this year, but I couldn't. Many of these recipes have been made multiple times and I just couldn't choose between them. So I ended up with the following recipes in no particular order.

Quick & Easy Lasagna
As a kid I wasn't a big fan of lasagna. Once I realized that you could substitute cottage cheese for ricotta, lasagna became one of my favorite foods. The best part about this recipe is that its so quick to make and can easily be changed to use spinach, mushrooms or anything else that you'd like.

Shrimp Bisque
 One of my favorite recipes! I was hesitant the first time I made this because of the strange color that is created when you add half and half to tomato sauce. I'm glad I continued on with the recipe because its delicious and perfect for any time of the year.

 Mushroom Mac & Cheese
 The cheese powder/sauce in boxed mac and cheese has always been strange to me. Cheese shouldn't look like that and should never be that color. For years I refused to get anywhere near the boxed stuff and the thought never crossed my mind to make my own, until I stumbled upon this recipe on Annie's Eats. Creamy, cheesy, and really filling!

Maryland Crab Soup
As a Maryland resident, I felt it was just wrong to not share a recipe for our famous crab soup. Sure, every place you go will have a different recipe and sometimes a different flavor, but I felt it was my duty to express my love for Old Bay.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Red Wine, Cherry & Rosemary Sauce 
Yes, its a complete mouthful of a recipe but its so easy to make and so tasty! For a long time Tom had asked me to stop making pork chops and come up with something else. Days later this recipe appeared in my Google Reader and I knew I just had to make it. If I couldn't win by preparing this, I'd give up on making pork entirely. I think you know the result.

Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto
If you know anything about me, you know my love of risotto. Once I mastered a delicious risotto base, I became somewhat obsessed with finding new ingredients to add. Another reason I include so many risotto recipes on here is because I want people to get over the fear that risotto is hard to make. Its not!


Mango Habanero Chicken Sandwiches
I'll never forget the random night where Tom and I decided to order sandwiches from Domino's. They were the only pizza place we had found that delivered, but I don't like Domino's pizza. Tom mentioned that they also had sandwiches now. As soon as I looked at the menu, I knew I had to try it. And then, as soon as I had my first bite of the sandwich, I had to recreate it.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes
I never liked cheesecake all that much until I had it in a cupcake size. I also never liked pumpkin. Well, two things changed this year. I began to like both and I made this amazing recipe.

Crockpot Spaghetti & Meatballs
I never ate a lot of meatballs when I was growing up. My mom would just make a meat sauce to add to spaghetti and we'd eat it that way. I came across this recipe online, pretty soon after receiving my crock pot and I knew I needed to try it out right away. I love being able to come home and have dinner waiting for me. :)

Parmesan Herb Chicken Tenders
Would you believe me if I said that I didn't really like chicken tenders? I've never been a big fan of breaded foods. They always ended up kind of mushy and mushy is just not a texture I like in my food. I got tired of making the same things over and over again with chicken so I decided to try these out. I am SO GLAD I did. Its like a grown up chicken tender with great flavor and they are great with honey mustard dipping sauce, BBQ dipping sauce or on top a garden salad with Ranch dressing.

Shrimp Scampi

I became a lot more comfortable cooking with shrimp this year and I owe it to this recipe. Its quick and easy to make, doesn't include a ton of ingredients and is delicious!


Cinnamon Rolls
Just another one of those recipes that I never thought to make on my own. I really need to move away from all of the prepackaged foods we still use start making my own. These weren't the typical Cinnabon type cinnamon rolls but they were still really tasty and super easy to make.

Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites
Another recipe I hesitated to make just because of the word "pretzel". I had tried making pretzels before and lets just say they didn't turn out well. However, these turned out great! They do take a bit of time to prep, and I had no idea it would make 30 or more of them, but as an appetizer for a party, they would work out perfectly.

Ultimate French Onion Soup
It's been about 2 weeks since I made this soup and I still think about it. I used up all of the good adjectives while describing it in the post, so I'll just let you click on that. I definitely plan on making this again soon!  

Overall 2010 Recap
I created my blog towards the end of 2009. It started off as just a place to post things, recipes, thoughts, stories, whatever. As I started cooking more and more and people began to tell me they were interested in my recipes, I made the decision to change up the blog to become focused on cooking.

Although I'm still not posting as much as I'd like to, I think I've included a lot of good recipes during this year and I can't wait to add more recipes in 2011. I'm rather proud of myself for finally mastering the art of using yeast. I'm thrilled at the new and fancy kitchen gadgets I get to use and I've completely fallen in love with my Kitchenaid Mixer. I have named her Betty and she is my best friend in the kitchen.

For 2011, I hope you all have extra time to experiment in the kitchen, find a new recipe that you absolutely love, and become more confident in something cooking/baking related. Have a safe and happy new year!
 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thumbprint Cookies

I made these cookies earlier in the week, but I finally have time to blog them. The caramel and strawberry preserves ones are my favorites. Next year I think I'll pick up some other flavored preserves to try out.

Thumbprint Cookies
Source: Amanda's Cookin'
Yield: 4-5 dozen
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 3 3/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup orange juice
    • 1 egg yolk
    • fillings of your choice,
(I used strawberry and pineapple preserves, caramel sauce and apple butter)

Directions:
1. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and then slowly add in the orange juice. Once well combined, add in the flour in small doses until everything is well incorporated and a soft dough forms.
2. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 375.
4. Scoop teaspoons sized chunks of dough and roll into a ball with your hands. Place the dough on a cookie sheet and use your thumb or pointer finger to press down the center of the dough to make a deep indent. Repeat with all of the cookies on the sheet. Spin the cookie sheet around and press down the dough on the other side to make the indent even on both sides and to avoid your filling leaking out.
5. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and fill the indents with your choice of filling. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for 5-6 minutes more. Transfer to wire cooling racks.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

Merry Christmas!
I am exhausted! I think too many weekends of baking has done me in.  I can't wait to go take a nap, but first I decided I'd share the cinnamon rolls I made this morning. 

I found the recipe on allrecipes.com and had to alter it because its for a bread maker. Luckily someone had left a review saying that it was just as easy to use a stand mixer. I also needed to increase the cinnamon and sugar amounts because it just didn't look like enough. 


Cinnamon Rolls
Source: www.allrecipes.com
Servings: 12 rolls

Dough Ingredients:
    • 1/2 cup warm milk
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 tbs. butter, softened
    • 1 egg
    • 3 cups AP flour
    • 1 envelope rapid rise yeast
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 3/4 tsp. salt
    • 3 tbs. butter, softened
    • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup sugar

    Icing Ingredients:
    • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp. butter, melted
    • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 tbs. milk 

Directions:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, water, 2 tbs. butter, rapid rise yeast and egg. In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Slowly add the flour mixture into the stand mixer and mix on low speed until a soft dough forms. 
2. Switch to the dough hook attachment and mix for 6-8 minutes until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle. 
3. In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon and sugar. Smear the dough with the softened butter and then sprinkle with almost all of the cinnamon sugar mixture. 
4. Starting with a long end, roll up the dough tightly until it forms a log. Sprinkle the roll with the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture. Cut the dough into 12 pieces, approximately 1 1/2 inches wide. 
5. Grease a 9x13 baking pan and place the rolls in the pan. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes. The rolls will almost double in size. 
6. Preheat the oven to 375. Combine the melted butter, milk, vanilla extract and confectioner's sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until a thick frosting forms. 
7. Bake the rolls for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Spread the frosting over the rolls. 

So, what did you get for Christmas? I got an Alton Brown cookbook, the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid, a new Chef's knife, two new bras, make up and tons of candy in my stocking.

She doesn't look too pleased, does she? ;)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Spicy Mixed Nuts

After I made sugar coated pecans for the first time I wondered if other nuts would be just as good with a spicy flavor instead of sweet. And so was born the Spicy Mixed Nuts.

Spicy Mixed Nuts
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: ~ 1 lb. 
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Ingredients:
    • 17 oz. can fancy mixed nuts
    • 2 egg whites
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp. chipotle chili powder (or just chili powder)
    • 1 tsp. cumin
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat to oven to 350. Spray two baking sheets with non-stick spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy.
3. Add in the spices and sugar and whisk until a paste forms.
4. Add the nuts to the bowl and stir until they are coated.
5. Transfer the nuts to the baking sheets and spread out into even layers.
6. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven, stir/toss, and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

YUM!


Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Last summer I was flipping through an old magazine at my aunts house and I came across a picture of chocolate covered pretzels. I couldn't believe that of all the baking/cooking/random stuff in the kitchen that I do, I never thought to make chocolate covered pretzels. I mean really, who doesn't love something dipped in chocolate?

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels
Source: Unknown
Servings: approximately 20 pretzels
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Ingredients: 
    • 10 oz. package pretzel rods
    • 8 oz. milk chocolate
    • sprinkles for decorating

Directions:
1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate stirring frequently.
2. Once the chocolate has melted, roll one end of the pretzel in the chocolate. I had to tilt the pan and use a wooden spoon to scoop some of the chocolate on the pretzel because of how long it was.
3. Shake different types of sprinkles over the chocolate.
4. Place the pretzels in a shallow dish making sure that they aren't touching. Refrigerate the pretzels for 20-30 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened.
5. To store, layer the pretzels in an air-tight container between layers of wax paper. The pretzels will be good for 1 week.

The only thing I can say thats slightly bad about these pretzels is that the chocolate lightens in color once it cools so it doesn't have that rich brown color as it does when its first dipped.

Holiday Baking Menu

Of course, with a week (and half a day) left until Christmas I made the decision that I'd make holiday treats for my co-workers and our families. I have no idea how I'm going to get all of this done since I created a pretty impressive menu, but I'm determined to get almost everything done this weekend.

We still don't know yet what days we're seeing each of our families so hopefully that will buy me some time and I can make some stuff on Christmas Eve or the day before.

Work Holiday Treat Containers
- chocolate chip cookies
- snickerdoodle cookies
- decorated sugar cookies
- chocolate peanut butter surprise cookies
- caramel popcorn
- caramel chocolate squares
- sassy salted nuts



Family Holiday Treat Containers
- chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, chocolate peanut butter surprise, and decorated sugar cookies
- sugar coated pecans
- chocolate truffles
- caramel chocolate squares
- caramel popcorn
- sassy salted nuts
- chocolate covered pretzels

Yes, I fully realize that I may be crazy. But, I have the chocolate chip cookie dough made and currently hanging out in the freezer. I'm cheating on the snickerdoodle and sugar cookies, I bought pre-made packages of each, I made the chocolate covered pretzels tonight and I'm currently multi-tasking by making the sassy salted nuts while I bake the chocolate chip cookie dough brownies for a Christmas party tomorrow.

Tonight I plan on making the caramel popcorn, sugar coated pecans, chocolate truffles and since I finally decided to buy meringue powder for royal icing, I'm going to make up two batches of that tonight for my sugar cookies. Tomorrow I plan on making the chocolate peanut butter surprise cookies and the sugar cookies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ultimate French Onion Soup

For the longest time I was on a search for the perfect ramekin so I could make recipes like creme brulee and french onion soup. It never occurred to me until I was reading Joelen's recipe for french onion soup that I could just as easily broil the bread in the oven and add it to the soup. Of course, the next day I finally found the perfect set of ramekins.

Actually, they aren't anything special. They're standard white ramekins from Walmart, but it took me forever to find a set of 4 that matched and were the same size. You'd think this would be an easy task, but it really wasn't.

I made a few adjustments to the recipe, like I substituted sliced Provolone cheese for Gruyere since the middle of no where doesn't carry Gruyere cheese.


Ultimate French Onion Soup
Source: Joelen's Culinary Adventures adapted from Tyler Florence
Servings: 6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 3 onions, sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1 cup red wine
    • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
    • 3 tbsp. all purpose flour
    • 1/2 loaf Italian bread, sliced
    • 4 slices Provolone cheese
    • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In a large pan melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook the onions until caramelized and soft, about 25 minutes.
2. Add in the wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Remove the bay leaves and thyme.
3. Add the flour to the pan and stir well until all of the onions are coated. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes.
4. Add the beef broth and bring the soup back up to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook for 5-10 minutes more.
5. For the bread, preheat the broiler and arrange slices of bread on a foil lined baking sheet. Top bread with slices of cheese and broil for 1-2 minutes until bread is toasted and cheese is melted.
6. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the melted cheese bread.

The verdict? OMG. Drool. Never in my life have I wanted to be a cheesy piece of bread floating around in a bowl of soup until that moment. The soup was perfectly seasoned, it had just the right amount of onions, the bread got all soggy delicious in the soup, there was this amazing rich flavorfulness and the cheese had the perfect amount of stringy gooeyness. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to eat the soup slow to enjoy all of the flavors or if I wanted to gulp it down because it was so tasty.

In the end, I opted to be an adult and eat the soup properly. But that doesn't mean you have to.

Tom mentioned that the soup would make a wonderful au jus. So, the leftovers are currently hanging out in my freezer until I can make au jus sandwiches. Sandwiches au jus? ...whatever. You know what I'm trying to say.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Next year I really need to rethink my holiday baking schedule. It doesn't feel like December to me at all. I blame most of it on the wedding. We skipped over or rushed through so many holidays this year with preparations for the wedding, that it kind of feels like I lost an entire year. I'm not ready for Christmas. I'm not ready for 2011!

I've been really tired lately, I'm blaming it on the cold weather, and by the time that I get the apartment clean and go to the grocery store on the weekends, I'm really not interested in cooking or baking. Having a class on Monday nights has also played into it, but at least this Monday is my final class...well, until 1/18 when I start a Principles of Purchasing class, but at least that is online.

I feel like a bit of a bad blogger, since this cookie recipe is taken directly from the back of a package of chocolate chips, but I decided I'd feel worse not blogging anything. =)

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Nestle Tollhouse
Yield: 60 cookies
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Ingredients:
    • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 package of Nestle Mini Chocolate Morsels

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter. Add in the granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until well combined.
4. Add one egg. Wait until the egg is completely combined in the mixture before adding the second one.
5. Gradually, add in the flour mixture. I do this in about 3 parts to avoid the flour flare up that occurs if you add too much at once.
6. Add in the chocolate morsels.
7. Transfer rounded tablespoon sized drops of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes.
8. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to continue cooling.

I learned a couple of years ago after a truly exhausting day of baking 6 different types of cookies that refrigerated dough is so much easier to work with. Never again will I use dough directly from the stand mixer bowl (unless the recipe specifically says not to refrigerate).

To Make Later:
Scoop the cookie dough into a log shape on a large piece of wax paper. Roll up the dough and then wrap plastic wrap around the wax paper. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Remove dough from fridge and use a butter knife to cut into 3 or 4 pieces. Using your fingers, break off chunks of cookie dough and roll into tablespoon sized balls. Place on the baking sheet and bake as directed above. I was a bit concerned that my cookies would take longer than the recipe indicates since I went right from the fridge to the cookie sheet, but they took exactly 10 minutes.

My snickerdoodle cookies did not turn out well at all, so I'm going to try again either during the week or next weekend. This week I plan on blogging the breakfast burritos I made yesterday, the mac and cheese we're having tonight and probably the french onion soup that we're having later in the week.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

I was never a big fan of green bean casserole until I came across a recipe that used cheese instead of cream of mushroom soup. I like cream of mushroom soup and would even be tempted to add fresh mushrooms to green bean casserole, but sometimes you just need a cheesy green bean casserole.

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole
Source: Inspired by allrecipes.com
Servings: 6
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Ingredients:
    • 10 oz. green beans, fresh or frozen*
    • 1/2 small onion, chopped
    • 1 tbsp. butter
    • 1/2 tbsp. all purpose flour
    • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 slice provolone cheese, cut into bite sized pieces (optional)
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1/2 cup French Fried Onions
* If using frozen green beans, let thaw and drain before cooking

Directions:
1.  In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Once the butter is melted, add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes until the onions are translucent and tender. Add the flour and stir to coat.
3. Add in the milk and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat slightly and add in the cheese(s).
4. Place the green beans in a baking dish (8x8 or 9x13) and pour cheese mixture over the green beans. Top with the French fried onions.
5. Bake the green bean casserole for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and the fried onions are browned.

Pork Loin with Cranberry Sauce

Since I'm going to be really busy with work all of this week, I'm blogging as many recipes as possible today.

Ever since Tom mentioned that he was going to make a real effort to eat vegetables, I've been determined to make him try as many things as possible that he would never eat before. Cranberry sauce is one of them. I figured if I added enough sugar, he'd definitely eat it and I was right!




Pork Loin with Cranberry Sauce
Source: With a Cherry on Top 
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. pork tenderloin, fat trimmed
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
    • olive oil
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1/2 cup cranberry sauce, recipe follows  
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Season both sides of the pork with salt and pepper.
3. Place the pork in the skillet and sear for about 1 minute on each side until a brown crust forms.
4. Transfer the pork to a roasting dish and place in the oven. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the pork reaches 160 degrees.
5. Add about 1 tbs. of olive oil to the pan and saute the onions until they become tender. Add the chicken broth and rosemary, stirring well to combine.
6. Add the cranberry sauce in and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let thicken.
7. Remove the pork from the oven and let rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes. Slice the pork and serve with the cranberry sauce on top.

Cranberry Sauce:
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup sugar

1. Bring the cranberry juice and sugar to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add the cranberries and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.

I really love cranberry sauce and now that I know Tom will eat it too, I will definitely make this recipe and others a lot more often. I served this with roasted red potatoes in garlic sauce and green bean casserole. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

When I saw these cookies in my Google Reader I knew I needed to make them right away. Chocolate and peanut butter is always a delicious combination. Well, you knew that because of Reese's right? Actually, if you love the Reese's peanut butter cup, I have something even better and more amazing for you to try. It's a Peanut Butter Meltaway Egg from Gardner's Candies.

Tom introduced me to this lovely combination of a milk chocolate shell with creamy peanut butter goodness inside. He grew up in PA near where these are made and it was pretty much a tradition that they would get one of these every year. Unfortunately, its a seasonal (Easter) item, but I highly recommend bookmarking the link and ordering them as soon as they are available. You won't regret it.

Anyway, back to the cookies. (Yes, I did use leftover wedding napkins to photo the cookies on. I thought it would be a nice change from the black, white and brown plates I have.) :)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Source: Pennies on a Platter
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
    • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for dipping
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 egg
    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. In a medium sized bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, butter and 1/4 cup of the peanut butter until smooth. Add in the vanilla and the egg.
4. Gradually add in the flour mixture and (unless you have more than one mixer bowl), transfer dough to another bowl and set aside.
5. Cream the remaining 3/4 cup of peanut butter and the powdered sugar together until smooth.
6. Scoop a generous tablespoon of the cookie dough into your hand and flatten into a circle. Add a small amount of the peanut butter to the center of the dough. Fold up the ends of the dough around the peanut butter and roll into a ball.
7. Dip the cookie into the extra sugar and roll around until coated. Flatten the cookie with your hand and place on the cookie sheet.
8. Bake the cookies for 7-9 minutes.

I'm not quite sure why my cookies didn't turn out like they were supposed to. Maybe my butter was a bit too soft (I microwaved it since I was too impatient to wait for it to come to room temperature on its own) or maybe its because I realized after the fact that my cocoa powder had expired a month ago. Oops! Either way, my cookie dough was really sticky and as you can see from the pictures, my cookies didn't stay together in cute little rounds, they flattened out while baking.

They still taste good though! Next time I'll exercise enough patience for the butter and since cocoa powder is already on my list, I know it won't be expired! Also, I believe this will make about 48 cookies. Since I had such issues with the dough, I made 24 and then just tossed the rest of the dough and peanut butter filling.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Homemade Pizza

For the longest time, I never cared one way or the other about pizza dough. Those pre-made packages of pizza dough were perfectly fine with me. Tom on the other hand hated them. Which resulted in us buying a lot of pizza out instead of ever making it at home.

At some point either he or I must have mentioned this fact to his mother who suggested that we buy Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix and use the directions on the side to make it into pizza dough. It took 5 minutes of searching up and down the aisle at the grocery store before we finally found the only two boxes of the dough. I made pizza that week and it was definitely better than those pre-made doughs, but I still wasn't impressed. The Pillsbury mix worked, but I still thought there could be room for improvement.

And then one day, while I was searching the grocery store for yeast (really, they should keep it in the baking aisle), I came across a packet of Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast. At this time in my cookaholic-ness, I still hadn't mastered the art of breads or working with yeast, but I wanted to give this a try. Obviously, it turned out pretty well or I wouldn't be blogging it.

Apologies in advance for the crappy picture, I was too hungry to plate the pizza properly so hopefully the border makes up for the plain white paper plate. =)


Homemade Pizza
Source: dough directions on back of yeast packet
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Ingredients:
1 packet Fleischmann's Pizza Crust Yeast
2 cups flour, divided
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup very warm water (120-130 F)
3 tbs. vegetable oil
1 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (can be omitted)
1 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese
pizza sauce
cheese
toppings

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or pizza pan.
2. Combine 1 cup flour, yeast packet, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the water and vegetable oil and mix together until combined.
3. Add 1/2 cup flour and continue mixing until a soft dough ball forms. The dough will be slightly sticky. If necessary, add additional flour.
4. On a floured surface (I use 1/4 cup) knead the dough for 4 minutes until smooth and elastic. I usually add another 1/4 cup of flour to keep it from sticking.
5. With floured hands, press the dough out onto the cookie sheet or pizza pan to your desired thickness.
6. Drizzle the 1 tbs. olive oil over the dough and use a brush to spread over the dough. Sprinkle the garlic powder, Italian seasonings, crushed red pepper and Parmesan cheese over the dough.

7. Bake the dough for 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven and add pizza sauce, cheese and toppings of your choice. Bake for an additional 7-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the crust is lightly browned.
8. Let cool for 1 minute before cutting into slices.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Weekly Menu 12/5 - 12/23

I've been a crappy blogger for the past week. I made the Crock Pot Potato Soup but since we weren't big fans of it, I decided not to blog about it. Then I made Emeril's Sloppy Joe's and completely forgot to blog about them too. Since there are still some leftovers in the fridge, I might heat up a sandwich just to take a picture and blog it.

But it seems if I am ever a crappy blogger, I go overboard trying to make up for it. Which is probably why I decided at 10 PM at night to plan out dinners from now until Christmas. Why? I have no idea. We're not so busy that I won't have time to do it on my usual night. I'm mostly doing it because I feel like if I plan out the next 2.5 weeks of meals, there's a better likelihood that I'll actually make them.

Sunday 12/5 - Pork tenderloin with cranberry sauce, roasted red potatoes and green beans (I didn't get a chance to make it this past week)

Monday 12/6 - Chicken noodle soup

Tuesday 12/7 - leftovers (Tom won't be home until late, C will be out of state, and I'll be working until close to 10 PM)

Wednesday 12/8 - Spicy shrimp pasta (Yeah, also something I was supposed to make this week)

Thursday 12/9 - Emeril's mushroom smothered steaks and risotto

Friday 12/10 - Mushroom, broccoli and red pepper melts

Sunday 12/12 - Mac and Cheese (a new recipe I want to try)

Monday 12/13 - leftovers (its the last night of my class)

Tuesday  12/14 - Pork chops with mushroom potato gratin

Wednesday 12/15 - French onion soup

Thursday 12/16 - Spaghetti and garlic bread

Friday 12/17 - Jerk chicken with mango salsa

Sunday 12/19 - Maple and brown sugar pork tenderloin (sides to be determined)

Monday 12/20 - Emeril's pan roasted chicken and oven crispy fries

Tuesday 12/21 - Shrimp bisque with bread

Wednesday 12/22 - Lasagna

Thursday 12/23 - Grilled cheese and tomato soup

It is possible with the amount of bread I plan on having with the meals above that I'll just make some of my own. And now, since December is really the month where everyone goes absolutely crazy baking, I decided to include the desserts I plan to make this month.

Dec 4th/5th - Cleta Bailey's Toffee Squares (Pioneer Woman) and Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies (Pennies on a Platter)

Dec 11th/12th - Snickerdoodle and Chocolate Chip cookies

Dec 18th - Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Dec 19th - 24th - chocolate covered pretzels, caramel corn, more cookies, and possibly more sugar coated pecans.