Dec 30, 2013

My Favorite Recipe Blog Posts for 2013 (some of these were yours too)

This post takes a look back at my favorite blog posts for 2013 for each month. I hope you enjoy this look back as much as I did.

Boef bourguignon

January: Boef Bourguignon

Even though I wrote about several great bread recipes last January, this recipe is my January favorite for three reasons: First, the flavor is amazing. Second, it brings back great memories of a wonderful evening we had with great friends. Third, It took two days to prepare and was crazy complicated with lots of hands on time, but represented a challenge I had always wanted to complete. Did I mention that it was so worth it?

General Tso's Chicken

February: General Tso's Chicken

This was the second dish I'd ever prepared in my wok, the first being this Asparagus, Leek, and Pea Stir Fry. This was very tasty dish. The chicken was so good, and like any good Chinese take-out, made a great breakfast the next morning. This is also my first post besides the Hokkaido Milk Bread to get a lot of extra attention, especially on Pinterest. Woo hoo!

spicy parmesan and herb grissini

March: Spicy Parmesan and Herb Grissini

These grissini are so addicting. They are crunchy, spicy, and cheesy. I was particularly proud of these because I had attempted them before and was less successful. They actually require running the dough through a pasta maker, which made me happy to justify yet another kitchen gadget purchase. 

March also was the first month in the short life of this blog that one of my photos and recipes, the Crescia al Formaggio, was stolen and passed off as someone else's on the Internet. I found it on his blog, his Facebook page, his G+ page, and his ScoopIt page. I found out this practice is pretty common and a lot of not so nice people do this. I learned a lot about digital copyright "take down" notices. Now, whenever I recognize someone else's content on another person's page or site, I let the owner know. 

Pain à l’Ancienne Baguettes

April: Pain a l'Ancienne Baguettes

Besides the fact that these baguettes are delicious, airy, crunchy, and wonderful, there are a couple of other reasons why I love these so much. First, this was the first photograph that I submitted to Tastespotting and it was accepted. Yay! Second, this recipe was originally posted by Yvonne, The Bitter Baker, who had adapted one of my posts to create these baguettes. She has a such beautiful blog. I was so flattered to see that she created these wonderful baguettes from my ciabatta post that I had to try making them myself. 

slow cooker baby back ribs

May: Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

My grandsons LOVED these ribs, and when they love my cooking as much as they loved these, I get so much pleasure. That is reason enough to choose this as my favorite post for May. This post also garnered a lot of attention on Pinterest, and continues to pop up from time to time as a re-pinned post. 
Oh... and these ribs are so easy to make.

Pure Levain Country Bread

June: Pure Levain Country Bread

Have you ever made a loaf of bread that you were so proud of that you could not keep walking back into the kitchen to admire it (and frankly, stick your face into it for the wonderful aroma)? This bread was the one for me. This was the first loaf for which I tried using Ken Forkish's method. The dough is 80% hydration, and is 100% leavened by starter/levain. Oh, and this was the first (and only) photograph I submitted to Foodgawker, and it was accepted! Yay! 

Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Bread

July: Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Bread

This was a difficult decision, because there were a lot of tasty posts last July. I think I picked this one because it takes raisin bread to a higher level with the use of starter and a high hydration dough. It's also just plain delicious and makes a wonderful breakfast toast. Maybe next week my July favorite would be these Cornmeal Sables (they are so pretty!), but for right now, the raisin bread it is. 

August: Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic Tartlets

I had a hard time choosing between this recipe and the Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. Both are amazing. The pulled pork continues to be one of my most popular posts. This photo above went a little crazy on Reddit. Reddit? I haven't spent any time there, but I've heard you are supposed to share other people's posts over your own at a 9:1 ratio (don't quote me on this), so thank you kind soul who shared this. I just like it because it's so sophisticated and flavorful. I had to make both caramelized onions and a balsamic reduction before even thinking about assembling these little tarts. I felt so fancy when I was done. P.S. They were goooooood. 

Overnight White Bread

September: Overnight White Bread

I chose this bread as my September favorite for two reasons. First, it has such an amazing structure and flavor, and I am really enjoying learning how to work with such high hydration sticky dough. Second, we took these loaves with us on vacation at a beach house in central California where we stayed with dear friends for a week. We spent the time talking, laughing, cooking, eating, and mixing some of the best martinis and G&Ts with Counter Gin and Q Tonic. We made toast with this bread every morning, and even used it instead of hamburger buns when we barbecued. These friends are such a comfort to me. Awesome memories. 

French baguette

October: The French Baguette and the Un-Massachusetts Roast Beef Sandwich

What I love about this post: I finally conquered my nemesis, baguettes, with the amazing baking by hand technique and dough temperature management. I learned to slow roast tomatoes and pickle red onions. I also learned how to slow roast a fairly inexpensive cut of beef, producing juicy roast beef that is pink from edge to edge. I also got to participate in a virtual "book tour" for this amazing new book, Baking By Hand: Make the Best Artisanal Breads and Pastries Better Without a Mixer.

Bittersweet Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tarts

November: Bittersweet Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tarts

I love this post because of a number of reasons, not the least of which was that I had to carry this tart all over the house and yard chasing the evening light in order to get a decent photo. Even more significant was that Mr. K said "you have outdone yourself. This is amazing." I love that my sister noticed the 45 year old Royal Worcestershire Regency Green china. Those were the days, registering for "fine china" and "everyday china." I also love that my bread baking friend Ron Photoshopped this picture on Facebook to depict a bite taken out of the tart. I'm still not thrilled with this photo, but I was thrilled with the dessert. In fact, it was not an easy month photography wise, with daylight savings time going away. 

Thai cabbage salad

December: Thai Cabbage Salad

My second choice for December was these seriously good sandwich cookies, but in the end, this salad was my favorite. It is crispy and delicious, and the dressing is amazing. There's nothing sentimental about why I love it. I just can't seem to get enough of it. The ingredients stay crunchy so you can make it in advance, and it just feels healthy eating it. 

So there you go! These are my favorite blog posts for 2013. 

Thank you so much for visiting my little space and making my day. You lift my heart. xoxo

Dec 28, 2013

Lardy Cake

Lardy Cake from Karen's Kitchen Stories

"Lardy Cake." Is it a cake? Is it a bread? This might be a Saturday Night Live Shimmer skit.

Lardy cake is actually a yeasted sweet bread originating from southern England. It is also known as Lardy Bread as well as many other names, according to the Interwebs (just do a search on "lardy cake"). Evidently, it is a tea time and holiday treat, originally made with yeasted dough, lard, spices, and dried fruit.

This is a "modern" lardy cake recipe, which substitutes butter for the lard. The recipe for this dough contains only 35 grams of fat (a little over 2 T), in this case, butter. The filling contains 100 grams of butter (a little more than 1/2 C).

Lardy Cake from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This bread/cake was chosen by Lien of Notitie van Lien of The Bread Baking Babes for the December Bread for the Babes and Buddies to bake. Check out her post for fabulous step-by-step photo instructions to create this great laminated dough. I forgot to add the raisins (I weighed them and then discovered them sitting on the scale after I had layered the dough), and the bread was fine without them.

The flavor is comparable to cinnamon rolls, but much lighter. The bread is delicate and ethereal, with layers that you can peel off and enjoy... and it's way easier than croissants.

Lardy Cake from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Lardy Cake

Ingredients

Bread

375 g bread flour
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 T sugar
3/4 tsp salt
35 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
200+ ml milk, warmed to about 100 degrees F (I had to use a bit more as it was a very stiff dough)

Filling

100 g butter, softened
75 g dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
75 g raisins (I left these out)

1 egg, for a glaze

Instructions

  1. Mix the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer, place it in an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, and allow to rise, covered, until doubled. Mine took about an hour. The dough can also be kneaded by hand. 
  2. While the dough is rising, prepare a 9 inch cake pan or springform pan by spraying it with spray oil, and lining the bottom with parchment. Spray the parchment. 
  3. Mix the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg with a spoon until creamy. Add the raisins if using. 
  4. Roll the dough out onto your counter to a 10" by 20" rectangle. 
  5. Spread the filling over 2/3 of the rolled out dough (lengthwise). 
  6. Take the part of the dough that does not have filling on it and fold it over to cover half of the filling on the rest of the dough. Fold the other side over the first fold, like an envelope. Pinch all of the seams closed. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. 
  7. Using a rolling pin and your hands, gently roll and press the dough into a 12" by 6" rectangle, fold it into thirds, cover with plastic, and let it rest for 5 minutes. 
  8. Repeat three more times. Work gently with the dough so that the dough does not break and you squeeze out all of the filling. A bit of mine squished out, but not too much. You can also patch holes as needed.
  9. Once you have finished folding the dough, press it into the cake pan as best you can. It will fill in the gaps when rising and in the oven. 
  10. Cover with plastic and allow to rise until doubled. Mine took about an hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  12. Lightly slash the dough with a sharp razor or knife (I'm not sure why) in a cross hatch pattern, and brush with the egg wash. 
  13. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until an instant read thermometer reads about 185 to 190 degrees F, and the top is a deep golden brown. 
  14. Allow the bread/cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, and then remove from the pan, peel off the parchment, and allow to cool on a wire rack. 
  15. Serve warm or at room temperature. 
This recipe is from Warm Bread and Honey Cake: Home Baking from Around the World.

Update: I'm pretty excited to report that an English friend from the Artisan Bread Bakers Facebook page let me know that Lardy Cake is "a traditional West Country tea bread with slightly different recipes from different counties." Mine, without the raisins, is similar to those from Hampshire. So there you go!!!

Sharing with Yeastspotting

Dec 26, 2013

Chinese Burmese Chili Chicken

Chinese Burmese Chili Chicken

This Chinese Burmese Chili Chicken represents a combination of Chinese and Burmese cuisines. It also includes Indian spices such as paprika, cumin, and chili powder.

The ingredients also include skinless chicken thighs cut into large pieces. onions, ginger, bell peppers, fish sauce, garlic, Anaheim chilis, and zucchini.

Chinese Burmese Chili Chicken

The ingredients are really fresh tasting, and are a wonderful contrast to the last few weeks of traditional holiday foods and baked goods.

After prepping all of the ingredients, this dish takes just a few minutes to stir fry, and the flavors are amazing.

Chinese Burmese Chili Chicken

The sauce in this stir fry has so many dimensions.

This stir fry recipe comes from Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young. Wok cooking has become a bit of an obsession for me, and this dish is one of my favorites. Plus, the ingredients aren't too exotic and are pretty easy to find.

Get a wok, make this dish, and get hooked on wokking!

This recipe, with rice, serves 3. As part of a multi-course meal, it serves 4.

The recipe can be found at Saveur.

Dec 23, 2013

Homemade Turkey Soup


Homemade turkey soup

We have been making this homemade turkey soup every year after Thanksgiving or whenever we have a turkey carcass. It has been a big production year after year. Originally I made the soup using my mom's recipe. Eventually, maybe about 10 years ago, Mr. K took it on. The results are always phenomenal. He's really good at this. 

Homemade turkey soup

This year, I wanted to give it a try again. To quote Carrie Bradshaw.. "hello lover!"

Homemade turkey soup

There is a lot of leeway in making this soup depending on how much of the ingredients you have available so don't sweat it if you have more or less of the ingredients in this recipe.

Homemade Turkey Soup

Turkey Stock

Turkey carcass that has been stripped of most of the turkey meat. Add any additional parts such as wings. Break it up into pieces as best you can
Water
Leftover turkey gravy, optional, unless you want want a clear liquid 
1 large yellow onion, quartered
3 roughly chopped carrots
6 to 8 sprigs of fresh parsley
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Celery tops from one bunch of celery
10 peppercorns

Soup Ingredients

2 cups each of sliced carrots, onions, and celery
3 new potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces, peel left on
4 T chopped parsley
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 - 2 T turkey or chicken demi-glace or Penzey's soup base (optional)
1 small can of of chopped tomatoes
2 or 3 cups of cubed leftover turkey
1 squeeze of Sriracha, Tapatio, or another hot sauce
1 T tomato paste
Any leftover vegetables (I used leftover green beans for this soup, but frozen peas are also good)
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the stock:

  1. Place the carcass pieces into an 8 quart stock pot or Dutch oven and cover with water to about an inch above the bones. 
  2. Add all of the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Heat to a low simmer and cook for about 4 hours. 
  4. Using tongs, pull out of the large bones and vegetable pieces and discard. 
  5. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and discard any debris that is captured by the strainer.
  6. Refrigerate the liquid overnight. 
  7. The next day, scrape off any fat from the top of the gelatin. 

To make the soup: 

  1. Heat the stock and add the carrots, onions, celery, and potatoes. 
  2. Add the parsley, garlic, poultry seasoning, demi-glace, and tomatoes. 
  3. Simmer on low until the carrots and potatoes are cooked but still firm.
  4. Add the cubed turkey, the hot sauce, and the tomato paste. 
  5. Bring to a simmer and add any other cooked vegetables you like. 
  6. Add about 1 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Add more to taste. 
Stock recipe inspired by Simply Recipes

Dec 20, 2013

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

The recipe for this chocolate babka comes from my friend Olga who contributed it for the Bread of the Month (aka the BOM) for the Artisan Bread Bakers Facebook group. This is a wonderful supportive group of bread bakers, both pros and amateurs, showing off their wonderful breads and helping each other with questions and tips.

Chocolate Babka

The dough for this bread is lovely, and really easy to work with. It starts with a sponge.

Sponge you ask? It's a small amount of dough that is allowed to ferment for a few hours before the final dough is mixed, in order to develop flavor.

I cut Olga's recipe in half to make a single loaf. To make a beautiful ring loaf, double this recipe and bake it in a big angel food cake pan.

Chocolate Babka

Ingredients

Sponge

2.5 ounces bread flour
1/2 tsp instant yeast. I used SAF Gold
2.75 ounces water
1 T honey
2.62 ounces eggs (about 1 1/2 large eggs)

Dough

11.65 ounces bread flour
3/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1.75 ounces egg (about 1 large)
1.25 ounces oil
2.12 ounces honey
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar

Filling

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/8 C sugar
1/8 C Dutch process cocoa
1/4 C butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Early in the day, mix all of the sponge ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 4 hours. 
  2. Add all of the dry ingredients on top of the sponge, recover with plastic wrap, and allow it to sit for 1 to 2 more hours. 
  3. Add the eggs, oil, and honey to the bowl and mix on medium low speed for 5 minutes. Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a few minutes more. The dough should be slightly tacky.
  4. Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket and allow to rise, covered until doubled, about 1 to 2 hours. The room temperature will affect the rising time. 
  5. Deflate the dough by pressing it down and folding it over itself like a business letter. 
  6. Let the dough rise in the container again, covered with plastic wrap, until doubled (you can also refrigerate the dough overnight). 
  7. Place the chocolate chips and butter in a double boiler and stir until smooth. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and stir. 
  8. Roll the dough out into a 15 by 15 inch square on a lightly floured surface. 
  9. Spread the filling over the rolled out dough. 
  10. Roll the dough up like cinnamon roll dough and seal the seam. Stretch the roll out to about 18 to 20 inches long by rolling it back and forth. 
  11. Coil the dough into a snail shape, and then stand it up to form a loaf shape. 
  12. Press the loaf into an oiled loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap. 
  13. Let rise at room temperature until it has crowned over the top of the pan, about an hour. 
  14. Brush with egg wash and bake at 350 degrees F until it reaches 175 degrees F internally, about 50 minutes. 
  15. Let cool in the pan for about 5 to 10 minutes, and then de-pan and cool on a wire rack. 
Shared with Yeastspotting

Dec 18, 2013

Thai Cabbage Salad

Thai Cabbage Salad from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Can I just tell you? This Thai cabbage salad is amazing. I could eat mass quantities. The ingredients in the salad are really just vehicles for the totally captivating dressing.

Thai Cabbage Salad from Karen's Kitchen Stories

I needed to find a salad to accompany this Asian flavored pot roast. This one worked perfectly.

Thai Cabbage Salad from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This recipe produces a large amount of salad, but that's okay because the ingredients are pretty sturdy, and leftovers hold up very well. Next time I need to bring a salad to a potluck, this will be the one. It's also perfect for after you have over indulged on too many sweets. And... it's just plain delicious.


Thai Cabbage Salad

About 20 servings.

Ingredients

Dressing

1/2 C rice vinegar
1/4 C soy sauce
2 T honey
1 T chile garlic sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
1/2 C vegetable oil

Salad

1 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced (you can also use 1/2 head of green cabbage and 1/2 head of red cabbage)
3 carrots, grated
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 C chopped cilantro leaves
1 C unsalted dry roasted peanuts, chopped

Instructions

Dressing

  1. In a small bowl or jar, mix all of the ingredients except the oil. 
  2. Add the oil and mix or shake until fully emulsified.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 5 days.

Salad

  1. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients and toss.
  2. Add enough dressing to moisten and toss. 
Enjoy!

Dec 16, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint and Chocolate Chip Cookies

The dough for these chocolate peppermint and chocolate chip cookies contains mini chocolate chips and crushed candy canes. Making these cookies reminded me that I really should bake more with chocolate and peppermint.

Chocolate Peppermint and Chocolate Chip Cookies


The dough is really easy to work with and is not very persnickety. I broke all of the baking rules and used a cold egg and microwaved the butter to soften it. The hardest part is keeping track of the timing of each baking sheet... bake for 8 minutes, add the topping, bake for another 2 minutes, cool for 4 minutes.. I used two timers to keep track and only got confused once.

The result? A totally delicious cookie. Chocolatey, pepperminty, buttery, and a just enough salt to give it that salted chocolate taste that is soooo good.

Chocolate Peppermint and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 40 to 45 cookies

Ingredients

9 ounces semisweet mini chocolate chips, divided
1 C crushed candy canes, divided
1 3/4 C unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 C minus 1 T Dutch process unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 C unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 T vegetable oil
3/4 C sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Place a rack in the upper third of your oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F and line 3 baking sheets (you don't necessarily need 3, but this worked for me to always have a cool baking sheet) with nonstick parchment paper. 
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add 3/4 C of the chocolate chips, 1/3 C of the crushed peppermint candy, all of the flour, cocoa, and baking powder. Pulse a few times, and then process until everything is finely ground.
  3. Place the butter, oil, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment until fluffy and light colored. 
  4. Add the egg, salt, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. 
  5. Using a rubber spatula, mix in the flour mixture and the rest of the chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop out the dough to from 1 1/4 inch balls and place them about 2 inches apart on the parchment. 
  7. Press them down with your fingers or the bottom of a glass to a 2 inch round.
  8. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 8 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven, and sprinkle each cookie with some of the crushed peppermint. Spray the bottom of a glass with spray oil, and press the candy into the cookies. Return the sheet to the oven and bake for 2 minutes more. 
  9. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 4 minutes. Move the cookies to a rack and cool completely. 
  10. Repeat with the rest of the dough. 
  11. You can keep these in an airtight container for up to 10 days! You can also freeze them for a month. 
This recipe is slightly adapted from The All-American Cookie Book. I've loved everything I've made from this book.

Dec 13, 2013

Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies

Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies

These Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies are reminiscent of Italian bakery cookies. What's so appealing about these cookies is the lovely vanilla flavor... and the magical effect of lots and lots of sprinkles!

I made them with two types of sprinkles, as well as chocolate jimmies.

Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies

A party in a cookie!

The texture of these cookies is soft and light, yet they still hold up well as cookies. The dough is really easy to work with, and the cookies are super good. I took these to work and they pretty much disappeared. Fast.

Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies

Ingredients

1 ½ C flour
1 3.4 ounce pkg instant vanilla pudding
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
¾ C butter, slightly softened
1 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
Lots of sprinkles (about a cup)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a small bowl
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar on medium high until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. If you are using a hand held mixer, it may take longer
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated
  5. Add the vanilla and mix briefly
  6. Mix in the dry ingredients until just incorporated, about a minute
  7. Place the sprinkles in a small bowl and using a tsp scoop or a spoon, form the dough into balls and roll them in the sprinkles to fully coat
  8. Place them on the baking sheets and bake for 9 to 10 minutes, one sheet at a time
  9. Cool on a wire rack and store air tight for a few days 
Inspiration: Delicious Meliscious who got it from Sweet Bella Roos

Dec 10, 2013

Candy Coated Marshmallow Pops

Marshmallow lollipops

I had my grandsons over on Sunday and we made these cute little marshmallow pops.

Marshmallow lollipops

I have a huge collection of sprinkles in my house for sprinkle emergencies. When my oldest grandson was about five, we would regularly bake a little five inch layer cake, frost it, and he would proceed to decorate it with sprinkles, M&Ms, and frosting swirls. I had one of those Easy Bake Decorating Pen Kits and he would have so much fun with it. In the end, the cake would have every single color and type of sprinkle available on top of it, and would be dripping with frosting swirls.

Marshmallow lollipops

It's been a while since we've made treats together, so when I spied a big bag of marshmallows at the grocery store, I just knew I had to make these with "help" from the boys.

Of course, I let the boys loose on the rest of the sprinkle collection, and each one of them took home a box full of their own multicolored marshmallow pop creations (plus a bag of mixed sprinkles).

As much as I love to make complicated multi-step dishes that, as a good friend says, "require algorithms and graphs," these are so fun to make with kids, are adorable as part of a holiday table, and are actually pretty tasty. I have an Electric Chocolate Melting Pot (of course I do) that I used to keep the chocolate warm after melting it in the microwave, but it is not necessary (still, it's really convenient). And marshmallows are fat free!

Candy Coated Marshmallow Pops

Ingredients and Supplies

1 bag of marshmallows
1 12 ounce bar/bag of almond bark or candy melts in the color/flavor of your choice
Sprinkles
Shortening and/or paramount crystals
Lollipop sticks (can be found at craft stores)
Styrofoam blocks (for drying the pops)

Instructions

  1. Melt the candy in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted. 
  2. If the candy is too thick, add shortening or paramount crystals, 1 1/2 tsp to 1 T, until the candy reaches a consistency that is easy to work with. You can remelt the chocolate/candy melts as needed to keep it at the right consistency. 
  3. Dip the sticks into the melted chocolate and stick them 3/4 the way through into the marshmallows. Allow the candy to harden. 
  4. Swirl the marshmallows into the melted candy, and then tap the marshmallow over the bowl to shake off excess. 
  5. Over a plate, sprinkle the pop with sprinkles. 
  6. Place the stick into the styrofoam and allow the pops to harden, about 30 minutes. 

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop | Hosted by MealPlanningMagic.com

This the final week of 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Brenda of Meal Planning Magic. Yay! Don't you think these marshmallow pops would be perfect on a holiday party table? 

Dec 9, 2013

Cracked Wheat Bread

Cracked Wheat Bread

This cracked wheat bread is delicious and nutritious. You get a ton of fiber without a lot of strong whole wheat flavor.

Cracked Wheat Bread

What is cracked wheat you ask? It's whole wheat berries that have been crushed or chopped. To use cracked wheat in bread, you soak it in boiling water first, and then add the rest of the ingredients to make the bread.

The resulting bread is perfect for toast, sandwiches, and especially sliced and slathered in butter. I suspect it will not last long in this house.

It's incredibly easy to make and the dough is really easy to work with. Give this bread a try. You can make your own healthy bread!

Cracked Wheat Bread

Cracked Wheat Bread

Recipe slightly adapted from Red Star Yeast

Ingredients

1 1/4 C plus 1 T water
2 T vegetable oil
4 ounces cracked wheat (I got mine from King Arthur Flour)
14 ounces bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 T sugar
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast

Instructions

  1. Bring the water to a boil and add the oil. Pour it over the cracked wheat in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow the mixture to cool to about 90 degrees F.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir together until all of the ingredients are combined.
  3. Knead with the dough hook for about 7 minutes, adding water by the tablespoon if the dough is too stiff. The dough should be smooth but not sticky. 
  4. Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled in a warm spot in your kitchen. 
  5. Flatten the dough into a 14 by 7 inch rectangle and roll into a loaf starting with a 7 inch side of the rectangle. Pinch the seams together and place the loaf, seam side down, into an oiled 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. 
  6. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it crests over the top of the loaf pan. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  8. Bake the loaf for about 35 minutes until the interior of the loaf reaches about 190 degrees F and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  9. Cool on a wire rack. 
  10. Slice and enjoy!
Sharing with Yeastspotting

Dec 8, 2013

Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels | Avid Baker's Challenge

Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

This month the Avid Baker's Challenge group is baking these hot buttered soft pretzels from the King Arthur Flour recipe site. This recipe is super easy and fast, so if you have a craving for soft warm pretzels, you can whip these up in less than an hour and a half.... and you can eat them right out of the oven!

The dough starts out fairly slack and sticky, but after the first rise, it is really easy to handle. Since this is my first time trying to form pretzels, I was really happy to see the King Arthur Flour blog page for shaping instructions. (You can see my pretzels prior to baking on my Instagram page.)

In lieu of pretzel salt (what? An ingredient I don't have? How can this be?) I sprinkled coarse sea salt on my pretzels, Once these pretzels are removed from the oven, they are brushed generously with melted butter.



Verdict? On the first day, these are tasty, but more like hot dinner rolls than the soft chewy pretzels you might buy from a pretzel vendor. That being said, Mr. K immediately ate two of them.

They warm up wonderfully the next day in the toaster oven (I actually toasted them) and are a bit more chewy, more like the soft pretzels from a vendor. Would I make them again? Yes. After I've ordered the pretzel salt. =)
Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

Hot Buttered Soft Pretzels

Ingredients

For the dough:

298 g unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
7/8 to 1 C warm water (depends on the humidity, because it's winter here, I used all of the water)

For the topping:

1 C boiling water
2 T baking soda
Coarse salt such as kosher or pretzel salt
3 T unsalted butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Place all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir until fully combined. Knead with the dough hook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Form the dough into a ball and coat it with flour. Place the dough into a plastic bag and let it rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. In the meantime, prepare the topping by combining the boiling water and baking soda and stirring until the baking soda is dissolved. Allow to cool. Pour into a 9 inch square pan. 
  5. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Let the pieces rest for 5 minutes, uncovered.
  6. Roll each piece of the dough into a 28 to 30 inch rope and shape into a pretzel. 
  7. Place four pretzels in the water bath for 2 minutes, basting the tops of the pretzels with the water. 
  8. Place the pretzels on the baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with the salt.
  9. Repeat with the next four pretzels.
  10. Let the pretzels rest on the baking sheet, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  11. Bake the pretzels for 8 or 9 minutes, until they are golden brown. 
  12. Brush immediately with the melted butter. Use up all of the butter. 
Serve warm.

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Dec 7, 2013

Chinese American Shrimp with Lobster Sauce | Wok Wednesdays

Chinese American Shrimp with Lobster Sauce | Wok Wednesdays

This Chinese American Shrimp with Lobster Sauce is probably not the most photogenic dish, but it is amazingly flavorful. Amazingly.

Hardest part of making this shrimp dish? Finding fermented black beans. Fortunately I am part of a fabulous Wok Wednesdays community, so as I wandered through my local Asian market unable to locate said beans, and unable to get help from the employees, I turned to my Wok Wednesdays friends and posted my plea for help. Within minutes, someone posted which aisle as well as a photo of the package of the beans. Others chimed in with their feedback as well. What an amazing community!

Chinese American Shrimp with Lobster Sauce | Wok Wednesdays


Another thing I learned? Lobster sauce does not contain lobster. All righty then.

This dish contains shrimp, clam juice, cornstarch, soy sauce, pepper, garlic, ginger, ground pork, Thai chili, fermented black beans, egg, and scallions. It involves peeling the shrimp and boiling the shells in the clam juice to create the lobster sauce. It's pretty cool watching the shrimp shells turn pink as they boil in the clam juice.

The egg and scallions are added during the last few seconds of stir frying, and give the dish it's "cloudy" look. Just know that it is totally flavorful. You just want to eat it. And eat it some more.

The members of the Wok Wednesdays group are wokking their way through Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge. We get assistance from Grace herself when we have questions about the recipes and wok cooking. How cool is that? To get the recipe for this dish, check out page 179 of the book. You won't regret it. Every recipe in this book has been a revelation.

Dec 6, 2013

Homemade Turkey Pot Pie

Homemade Turkey Pot Pie

The only problem with this turkey pot pie is that you will want it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's filling, comforting, and the perfect dish for leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

Homemade Turkey Pot Pie

I love pot pies. Along with meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese, they the ultimate comfort food.

Homemade Turkey Pot Pie

You don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to make this pot pie. You can buy a turkey breast or turkey legs and roast them for the filling. If you don't like turkey (and why not?), this recipe also works for chicken.

I found and adapted this recipe from the Thanksgiving leftover section of  The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays: 140 Step-by-Step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations.

This has got to be one of the most illustrated step-by-step cookbooks ever. If you like illustrations in your cookbooks, this one's for you. I definitely do, and I also love pretty food photos.

I was originally looking for a turkey soup recipe, but this pot pie looked so delicious that I ended up buying a turkey breast just to make this dish. The original recipe says that it's 12 servings, but we managed to stretch it to four. It was that good. In addition, you can make the filling a day before assembling the pie. In fact, I roasted the turkey breast on day one, made the filling on day two, and assembled and baked the final dish on day three.

How's that for a make ahead dish?

Homemade Turkey Pot Pie

Ingredients

4 T butter
3/4 C finely diced onions
3/4 C finely diced carrots
3/4 C finely diced celery
2 C chopped or shredded turkey meat
1/4 C flour
3 C low sodium chicken broth
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 dash hot sauce (optional)
1 T chopped fresh thyme
1/4 C heavy cream
1 recipe pie crust of your choice or store bought pie crust
One large egg + 1  tsp water, whisked to use as an egg wash

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  2. In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. 
  3. Saute the ingredients for about 3 minutes, until the onions are soft. 
  4. Add the turkey, add the flour, stir, and then continue to cook for another 2 minutes. 
  5. Add the chicken broth, turmeric, salt, pepper, hot sauce, thyme, and cream.
  6. Stir and bring to a simmer. Let cook for about 3 minutes, until thickened. 
  7. Pour the filling into a deep dish 2 quart pie dish or casserole dish. 
  8. Brush the edges of the pie dish with the egg wash and cover the filling with a pie crust round. Arrange the pie crust so that it will stick to the edges of the pie dish.
  9. Slit the pie crust with a sharp knife and brush with the rest of the egg wash. 
  10. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is a deep golden brown. 
  11. Serve in bowls with shards of the crust on top. 

Dec 4, 2013

Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dark chocolate chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate dough. Chocolate chips. Just chocolate.

These cookies are rich and chewy, and completely decadent. Plus, you can make the dough in advance,  refrigerate or freeze it, and bake the cookies when you need them. Perfect for holiday gifts, right?

Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies


The dough for these cookies is formed into a log, refrigerated or frozen depending on your timeline, and then sliced and baked. You will need to place the cookies two inches apart on your baking sheet, because the dough will spread quite a bit.
Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I used a mix of mini semi sweet and large bittersweet chocolate chips in these cookies. This dough could easily lend itself to other combinations and flavors.

Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

155 g unbleached all purpose flour (about 1 1/4 C)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C room temperature unsalted butter
100 g light brown sugar (1/2 C firmly packed)
6 T granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
4 T Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted through a strainer
170 grams bittersweet chocolate chips
170 grams semisweet mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar on medium speed for about a minute. 
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix for another minute. 
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture and mix for another minute. 
  5. Add the cocoa powder and mix until just incorporated. 
  6. Add the chips and mix briefly until mixed in. 
  7. Divide the dough in two and form into two 9 inch long logs and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. 
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  9. Slice each log into 16 pieces and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. 
  10. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for about 14 minutes.
  11. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. 
  12. Keep in an air tight container for up to four days. 

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats Blog Hop | Hosted by MealPlanningMagic.com
I am participating in 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic. Check out all of the treats everyone made this week!