Sunday, November 14, 2010

So cool!

I will never shuck or boil corn on the cob again!

Just trim off the brown strings/dry bits of husk at the end of the corn, leaving the husk enclosed around the corn.

If your corn is old or very dry, you can soak the corn husks and all in water for 15-20 min.

Pop in a 350 degree oven for 30 min, and voila, delicious corn on the cob, complete with a wrapper to use as a handle!

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob from the Food Network

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sticky Chocolate Icing


This frosting is AMAZING. It is not the texture of a chocolate buttercream. Fresh made it is sticky and gooey. It will harden up a bit depending on the room temperature (it will definitely set up in the fridge). It is still good after several days in the fridge, and even after going in the freezer and thawing. I did not try to pipe this.

Because I followed exactly Pioneer Woman's recipe and she has lots of excellent step-by-step photos and instructions, I am just linking you to her recipe.


Cupcake Graveyard




One of the things I actually did end up making for my sister's massive Halloween party was cupcakes. I came across this idea from Allrecipes for a Cupcake Graveyard, so I followed this idea for the decorations. I was experimenting, so I tried both Pioneer Woman's Sticky Chocolate Icing, and the Chocolate Chip Icing in my mom's recipe book. The former was AMAZING, but the latter was not a great consistency until I added quite a bit of melted chocolate, butter, milk and powdered sugar, thus totally altering the recipe. So I will not post that recipe for you.




I went WAY overboard on the number of cupcakes and cookies (some were made into ghosts and pumpkins too) I made. The photos linked here are just a small portion of the huge number I made. I also got a new set of pastry decorating tips and bags so I had a bit too much fun with frosting at 3 AM!!!!


I made both chocolate and yellow cupcakes. Because I was making these along with texas sheet cake, pumpkin bars, and all of the decorating and cookie cutting, I thought this would be a great chance to use the cake mixes languishing at the back of my cupboard (hopefully for the last time).

I used the Triple Chocolate Chunk cake mix from Betty Crocker which was quite good. I also used a Betty Crocker Butter Yellow cake mix which was not my favorite (I don't tend to like cake mixes that use butter). I used sugar cookie dough that I had frozen from a few weeks before. I simply let the dough warm up a bit in the fridge, and then used a knife to cut out the tombstones. I also had some pumpkin shaped, orange York peppermint patties which I used to top some of the cupcakes with the Sticky Chocolate Icing. That was a delicious combo.



Texas Sheet Cake


This is an old family favorite. Straight from my mom's cookbook. Above, it is decorated for my brother-in-law's birthday, which falls dangerously close to Halloween.

Cake Ingredients:
2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter
1 c. water
4 tbsp. cocoa
2 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream (light sour cream is just fine, and it also works to combine 1 tbsp. white vinegar and skim milk)
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cake directions:
1. Sift the 2 c. white sugar, 2 c. flour, and 1/2 tsp. salt into your KitchenAid mixing bowl (sifting doesn't appear to be necessary, from my experience).
2. Put 2 sticks of butter, 1 c. water, and 4 tbsp. cocoa in a non-stick skillet on medium. Bring to a boil VERY carefully. Do not move from this pan. Stir frequently, turning over the sticks of butter, and once they are soft enough breaking them up, so that they will melt through. Also run you wooden spoon around the edges quite frequently to prevent the cocoa from hiding there and burning. As SOON as it starts to bubble, remove from heat, continuing to stir until you pour the mixture out of the hot skillet. Usually, you will know if you've burnt the mixture-the cocoa will be clumpy, and it will smell. However, I always take a taste to make sure the mixture has not been burnt, because if it is, it will ruin the whole cake.

ALTERNATE METHOD FROM PIONEER WOMAN (might help prevent unfortunate burning incidents, although I have never tried this):

Melt the 2 sticks of butter in the saucepan on medium. While it melts, boil 1 cup water. Once the butter is melted, add the 4 tbsp. of cocoa (all with the heat still on) and stir to combine. Then add the boiling water. Let bubble 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Her recipe with photos is here. However, be warned that you should still follow the ingredients in my recipe, because she omits the essential cinnamon. Also, she almost doubles the amount of butter you want in the frosting.

3. As soon as the cocoa, water, butter mixture bubbles and melts, pour it into the KitchenAid bowl with the flour, sugar and salt. Mix well with the KitchenAid.
4. Add 2 eggs, 1/2 c. sour cream, 1 tsp. soda, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Mix again until everything is combined, using a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to incorporate all ingredients.
5. Pour into a greased cookie sheet pan (Pam is fine). Commercial baking sheets are the best.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting Ingredients
1 stick butter
4 tbsp. cocoa
6 tbsp. milk
1 lb. bag powdered sugar (I do this by eye until the consistency is right-- it is less than one bag)
1 tsp. vanilla

Frosting Directions
1. Dump (or sift, if you've got oodles of free time) half of the bag of powdered sugar into your KitchenAid bowl. Add the 1 tsp vanilla.
2. Using the method described in step 2 of the cake preparation (except for with only 1 stick of butter, and 6 tbsp. of milk rather than 1 c. of water). All of the necessary DON'T BURN THE CHOCOLATE warnings still apply.

Again, you can use Pioneer Woman's method, although I haven't tested it. For the frosting, her method is to:
Melt the stick of butter in the saucepan on medium. Once the butter is melted, add the 4 tbsp. of cocoa (all with the heat still on) and stir to combine. Allow mixture to start bubbling. Once it starts, allow to bubble 30 seconds ONLY. Turn off the heat. Then add the 6 tbsp. milk.

3. Pour the chocolate mix from frosting step # 2 over the ingredients in your KitchenAid bowl. Mix using the wire beater attachment. Use spatula to scrape down sides and bottom. No need to beat the frosting -- we are just trying to combine ingredients here.

4. Add more powdered sugar as needed, until the mixture is nicely pourable but not runny. Notice my version of the frosting is a bit more pourable than Pioneer Woman's because of the reduced butter.

5. Pour all over the cake while the cake is still warm and still in the pan (I usually let the cake rest only 5-10 minutes before getting the frosting on top).

Pouring the frosting over the warm cake allows the frosting to seep into the cake, and results in moist perfection!

Maid-rites






This is a cross between my mom's stand by recipe for Maid-rites (this is an Iowa thing, more commonly known as sloppy joes) and Pioneer Woman's version of Sloppy Joes.
Basically, I like the extra kick of flavor that Pioneer Woman adds.

Ingredients

1 lb. ground beef (I use very lean ground beef)
1/2 of a large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove (crushed)
1/4 of a bell pepper, chopped
1/3 of a small hot pepper (serrano or jalapeno)
1 c. ketchup (minus 1 tbsp.)
1.5 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. mustard
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 drop hot sauce or 1/8 tsp. ground habanero pepper
A few grinds of black pepper
.5 tsp. crushed red pepper
.5 tsp. chili powder
A grind of sea salt (optional)

Directions
1. Brown the ground beef.

When I did this, I used SIX POUNDS of beef. Below you can see, that is ALOT of beef.


Here, the meat is all browned up, but look at that fatty juice it is sitting in! Go to step 2 to remedy this.



2. Drain off some of the fat. I usually do this by putting an old jar or can on a plate in the sink. I then attempt to pour off the fat into the can, using a spatula or lid to keep the beef from falling out. I keep the clean plate under the can in case any big chunks of beef don't make it in the can. I can add these big pieces back into the pan, and then pour the splattered fat juice off of the plate into the can. Discard the fat (not down your drain).
3. Add the onion, garlic and peppers, and cook for a few minutes until they start to get soft.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce is reduced a bit and the onion is fully cooked.


5. Serve on toasted buns (even better with cheese!).

It was still a lot of meat once it was cooked:

Muesli















This is my copycat of Dorset cereals simply delicious muesli



Since they list percentages by weight of their ingredients, I basically just replicated those for the major categories (oats and whole grains, dried fruit, and nuts). Because it is much quicker to measure in volume rather than weight (and this is not being baked so it does not need to be precise), I recorded the combinations I enjoy by volume of each ingredient.

I eat this every morning, mixed with nonfat Greek yogurt (if plain, I add a tsp honey, or I eat one of the fruit flavors), and fruit (usually a piece and a half -- banana and some strawberries, in various combinations). Below it is pictured with raspberries and apples.













Ingredients

3.5 c. rolled and quick oats
.5 c. wheat germ
.5 c. nuts (unsalted)
1 c. dry fruit (in bits, unsweetened)
.75 c. unsweetened flaked coconut

Directions
1. Measure and crush nuts (I put them in a plastic bag and crushed them with a rolling pin).
If you use whole hazelnuts, toast these separately before you crush them, and then use a tea towel to rub off the skins, then crush (or chop).
2. Toast nuts. I do this in a nonstick skillet on medium high for 2 minutes. You have to watch very carefully and stir so that they don't burn. The coconut can go in for the last minute to toast.
3. While the nuts and coconut are freshly toasted, pour them into a heat proof bowl with the oats, wheat germ, and dried fruit, and stir.

Enjoy!!!



Hearty Multi-Grain Bread

Adapted from Hearty Multigrain Bread (a custom version) on Allrecipes

This competes with the flax and walnut bread for my favorite multigrain bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. nonfat dry milk
  • (the above two can be replaced with 1 1/4 c. skim milk--if I am doing this on time delay, I use the water and dry milk)
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • .5 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  • .5 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds ground
  • 1 tablespoon millet
  • 1 tablespoon quinoa
    • 1 tablespoon quinoa flakes
  • 2 tablespoon rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon barley flakes
  • 2 tbsp. walnuts crushed
  • 2 tbsp. wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup molasses (1 tbsp. of this I use blackstrap molasses)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2.25 tsp bread machine yeast

Directions

  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select cycle; press Start. This can be done on the dough setting and baked in a more country/focaccia like loaf, or cooked fully through in the bread machine.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Honey Wheat Sandwich Rolls

Honey Wheat Sandwich Rolls adapted from this Allrecipes recipe

I copied the nutrition facts from the original recipe -- my amendments should have even less fat, saturated fat and more fiber. They are soft and delicious, and reasonably healthy. I am not watching saturated fat or cholesterol, so I don't mind the egg since it provides good protein.

I made them into 12 rolls, and I think they were too big. Maybe would do 16 next time. Original recipe calls for 14.

  • 1 1/4 cups warm milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons brummel and brown, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • More brummel and brown for spreading.

Directions

  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press start.
  2. When dough cycle has finished, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into desired number of balls (12 makes for large buns -- I would try 16 next time). Use your hands to shape the divided pieces into balls and sort of flatten them (the original recipe said roll dough to 3/4 in thickness). Place on lightly greased cookie sheets (used a butter flavored pam); cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes. When rolls are finished baking, brush with melted butter.

Nutrition facts are for 14 rolls:
Serving Size1/14 of a recipe
Servings Per Recipe14

Amount Per Serving
Calories191
Calories from Fat42

% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4.7g7 %
Saturated Fat 2.6g13 %
Cholesterol 26mg9 %
Sodium 163mg7 %
Potassium 110mg3 %
Total Carbohydrates 31.9g10 %
Dietary Fiber 1.8g7 %
Protein 5.8g12 %
Sugars 6.1g
Vitamin A3 %
Vitamin C<>
Calcium4 %
Iron17 %
** Thiamin27 %
Niacin30 %
Vitamin B64 %
Magnesium8 %
Folate36 %

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sugar

Oh no! Another argument that is going to increase my grocery bill.

This article from the San Fransisco Chronicle makes a good case for only buying C&H CANE sugar!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cream Cheese Frosting



This is a variation of the original from my cousin Shelly's cream cheese frosting recipe that goes with her pumpkin bars:

3 oz cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
.75-1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp. vitamin D milk
Powdered sugar: start with 1 cup, and add until it is the right consistency/taste. I think I ended up at 1.25 cups.

I use the KitchenAid mixer with the wire whip attachment.

Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Then put in the 1 c. of powdered sugar. Throw the vanilla and milk in on top of that and beat some more. REALLY whip it.


PUMPKIN BARS

Some good and bad news from last night's cooking adventures.

The good news:
1) I had time to make one of the things I had planned this weekend. I made the two versions of pumpkin bars as a test. That is probably all I will get to, since we are going out of town at the spur of the moment (leaving early tomorrow!). I cannot handle the spontaneity.

2) Also, I got to see some good old friends tonight, and one subsequently sent me a cooking blog she has been reading. When my husband heard one of the posts was for Homemade Turkey and Chicken Jerky, I realized I would be adding yet another distraction. In return, I promised her links to two site that I like that have information about preserving food (i.e. how long you can store fresh fruits and veggies in the fridge).

They are:


The bad news:

1) I ate two (good sized) pumpkin bars. This is after some inevitable "quality control" tests of the cream cheese frosting. My stomach is less than happy with me.

2) I used to cook almost exclusively late at night. Now I remember why that is a BAD idea. Since it is late, and I was getting impatient. I definitely frosted both types of bars before they were cool. The "bar-like" bars may be slightly undercooked (or I just cut into them too soon). Actually, I think this contributed to the fact that they won round one of the test! They tasted a bit like pumpkin pie, but with cream cheese frosting! Yum! BUT, the bad part of this, is it is not a very good test of the recipe.

3) I did not update the original recipes with my amendments, comments, and pictures. This will happen soon. Here are the originals, plus the cream cheese frosting recipe (which I actually did type up with my changes!)

Here are the recipes:

I altered the frosting with Shelly's recipe and got it to a VERY good point!

Our parents will be guinea pigs today for the two recipes. Verdict and full recipes will come later. I will also post the recipe that I finally recorded this morning for the muesli mix that I make. It is modeled off of the ratios of grains, nuts, and dried fruits in Dorset Cereal's Simply Delicious Muesli.


UPDATE: New winner! Apparently, the bar-like pumpkin bars are only better gooey and warm straight out of the oven and very late at night. Unanimously, my in-laws, husband, parents and I chose Shelly's good old recipe (of course not quite Shelly's recipe--my minor amendments still to come). My mother especially (Shelly is her niece) enjoyed the good old recipe.






Bar-like pumpkin bars

Paul's pumpkin bars from Allrecipes. I have noted changes according to advice from the comments on that site to make them more bar-like.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups white sugar (less, still over 1 c.)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (1/2 c. oil, 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce)
  • 1 (30 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (less than this--a little more than half)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (less than this--a little more than half)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Chocolate chips or nuts?
  • Need to put some vanilla in here!! Pioneer woman does 1.5 tsp for half the size recipe!
Frosting:
  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (more)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir into the pumpkin mixture until thoroughly combined.
  3. Spread the batter evenly into an ungreased 10x15 inch jellyroll pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in preheated oven. Cool before frosting.
  4. To make the frosting, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Stir in vanilla. Add confectioners' sugar a little at a time, beating until mixture is smooth. Spread evenly on top of the cooled bars. Cut into squares.